Austin Rotaractors take up mega literacy drive

RAC Austin Institutes President Deepika Sharma with IPDG Barjesh Singhal (right) and Rtn Ajit Paul Singh Naphrey.

Basic literacy among rural women in Jalandhar has got a major boost with the newly-formed RAC Austin Institutes, RID 3070, taking up a signature drive project titled Meri Pehchaan (My identity) which has earned kudos from DG Barjesh Singhal for  “we train women on how to write simple words, read sign boards, get around places to do things with elementary skills,” said Deepika Sharma, Club President.

Starting the project on Women’s Day, March 8, the 83-member club has so far covered five villages with their basic literacy drive benefitting over 500 rural women. “We make sure that they are able to read and write their names, instead of affixing just their thumb impressions. Then we teach them simple English words and how to form and read sentences,” explains Deepika.

A Rotaractor gives food to an elderly person.

During the weekdays, the Rotaractors invite women to their institute and spend few hours teaching alphabets and simple words in English. “On weekends, three teams consisting of 15 members each fan out to rural areas. We visit gurudwaras, village panchayats and public places where we ask women to gather for literacy classes.” With the help of elementary books and stationery, they get down to work, handholding each trainee during writing sessions.

Rotaractors honour athlete Gurvinder Singh with a cash award.

This is a first-of-its-kind club formed by students of this airhostess training academy in Jalandhar.  “We have taken up Meri Pehchaan as our lifetime project given the mammoth task ahead of us,” she adds. Rtn Ajit Paul Singh Naphrey, Director, Austin Institutes, who is also the Project Chairman, has been the motivating force for the Rotaractors.


Caring for birds

In a drive to care for the animals and birds, the Rotaractors have donated over 100 clay bowls in residential areas such as Defence Colony, Green Park and Mota Singh Nagar so that they can be filled with water. “We are at peak summer, and this project (Save Birds and Animals) is our effort to quench the thirst of birds, pets and bovines who are part of eco-system,” says Deepika. The residents were urged to keep the clay bowls on terraces, balconies and open spaces like courtyards where birds can get water that is so scarce in  the summer months.

An adult literacy programme in progress.

In another initiative, 30 first-aid boxes were given to cab drivers; 100 pollution masks and 100 gloves were donated to garbage cleaners, conservancy staff of the Corporation, gardeners and parking supervisors to make their work less stressful.


Gesture to athlete

Deepika, along with Naphrey, gave ₹10,000 to Gurvinder Singh, an athlete who won a gold medal in the 100-meter sprint at the European Athletics Meet for under-20 held in Kazakhstan recently. “This token amount will encourage him and many such sportsmen to participate in many such international events and bring laurels to the country,” she said.


All-round excellence

Within the first few months after they were chartered in October 2018, the club has excelled in all avenues of service including community and vocational activities, says DRR Pardeep Kumar.

Rotaractors distribute clay bowls for feeding birds to residents in a colony.

Reaching out to rural women in and around Jalandhar with resource material and making them read and write their own names is noteworthy as “it will help them to earn a better livelihood,” he says. Their parent Rotary club, RC Jalandhar Civil Lines, is mentoring the Rotaractors with useful suggestions and tips on expanding their project activities, he adds.

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