Right guidance and motivation by Rotary will go a long way in nurturing Rotaractors and RAC Dharmanagar, RID 3240, sponsored by RC Dharmanagar is a good example of how “Rotarians have taken upon themselves the responsibility of creating a right framework for us to thrive in this scenic city which has a huge population of Bengalis,” says DRRE Sandip Das, who is also a Rotarian.
Dharmanagar, located 170km north of capital Agartala, is the second biggest city in Tripura and has a vibrant business community. “We are a team of 40 Rotaractors consisting of students, private firm employees and professionals like doctors, engineers and lawyers. Community projects are discussed at our meetings held four times a month. Our Rotary club offers its rented premises for our general body and board meetings,” explains Das, also charter president and mentor of RAC Dharmanagar. Formed in January 2019 and chartered the next month, this young club is distributing freshly-prepared food packets twice a month to roadside families, destitute and homeless people under a rechristened Project Plate of Happiness. “We have been doing the food project earlier as part of Annapurna Day celebrations in the first week of July, but without much publicity. Now under the rebranded initiative, Rotaractors distribute around 50 food packets a month with liberal donations from our Rotarians and sponsors,” he says.
Sometimes well-to-do families deliver to the club the leftover, untouched dishes from their private parties and social occasions. “We sort them out and neatly package the food items before distribution. But on most occasions, Rotaractors prepare food at their homes, package and supply them to a team of 15 project volunteers who are into distribution. Over the months, the club has received a lot of appreciation from the local communities, and “some well-to-do families also donate food to us.”
Over the last three years, they have installed four sanitary vending machines at the Government Degree College, Dharmanagar, and three government schools, which has benefitted around 1,000 girls. “Our club is probably the first NGO in the city to install a pad vending machine and we have a plan to set up another 3–4 machines by the end of this Rotary year,” says Das.
Defend the Dark
As charter president, he initiated a two-day workshop titled Defend the Dark to provide self-defence training to girls and rural women. “Around 65 participants were taught basic skills in martial arts through four sessions held with the support of All Tripura Thang-Ta Association in December 2019. Senior police officers and martial arts experts took part in this event which was widely covered in the local media.”
Last year (2020–21), the club hosted a zonal conference that saw the participation of 65 Rotaractors from seven clubs and “they had stimulating sessions that honed their organisational skills.” Rtns Pranoy Chanda and Monish Kanti Bhattacharya, past presidents, RC Dharmanagar, are pillars of support to Rotaractors as “they have guided and counselled us on many occasions in the past. Even for want of funds, we approach them and they are ready to help us in whatever way they can,” says Das.
New Rotaract policy
Quiz him on the goals he will pursue as DRR (2022–23), he says, “first, I have to make Rotaractors aware of policy changes Rotary International has brought for Rotaract from July 1. While a Rotaractor has to pay RI dues of $8 a year ($5 for institution-based clubs), he or she needs to register at My Rotary to get a personal ID.” At present, Rotaractors at Dharmanagar pay monthly club dues of ₹100 per head, apart from district fees. “Most of them are ready to pay the new RI dues for Rotaract clubs. I’d like to unite all the 1,200-plus Rotaractors across 62 active clubs in RID 3240 so that the next DRR will have it easy to go ahead with big programmes.” During his term, Das wants to focus on sustaining the number of clubs and Rotaractors and “try to add at least 300 new members to push up their strength to 1,500 by the end of June 2023.”
But to achieve “these modest goals I have to create awareness about the changed Rotaract policy which is a challenge,” says the 29-year-old lab technologist at the Damcherra Primary Health Centre, North Tripura.