Kochi Rotaractors keen on high-visibility projects

Despite a troubled past and many hurdles to get things in order, RAC Cochin East, RID 3201, is finally raring to go from this new Rotary year. And its immediate PP Shyam Prakash J is confident that his successor Rasif Jiswan will “take our club to new heights creating a new brand identity of its own.”

Charter Day celebration with past Rotaractors. Extreme left is IPP Shyam Prakash.

Some of the key projects done by the 20-member club have sent positive vibes in the neighbourhood and “people are beginning to take us seriously. It all began with Make a Wig project which reaches out to cancer survivors, those with early hair loss and bald-headed people,” says Prakash. The  club joined hands with three entities — Estilo, a unisex salon; Uniclt, a youth group from Kozhikode; and RAC Calicut Central — to launch a mega hair donation campaign across Kochi. While Uniclt made and distributed the wigs, Rotaractors went about creating awareness and sensitising college-goers, youth and the public to donate hair to create wig for cancer survivors. “We met student unions in colleges, radio jockeys at FM stations; and posted cryptic messages on Instagram and social media urging people to donate hair without reservations,” he explains.

And their fieldwork paid off as they had received around 120 donations from groups, institutions and individuals across Kerala. Most of the donated hair was sent to the Regional Cancer Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin Cancer Research Centre and government hospitals.

Creating gender sensitivity among schoolchildren, the ‘Good Touch, Bad Touch’ sessions have struck a chord among students of government schools at Edappally, a city neighbourhood. Rtr Nila Panicker is carrying the project on her shoulders right from day one and so far, her team has sensitised around 180 students, boys and girls, on dealing with such gender-specific issues.

Rtr Nila Sajan Panicker handling a “Good Touch Bad Touch”
session at a government school.

Another pet project, Save Water campaign, has created an impact with Rotaractors pasting stickers at handwash stations in 20 hotels in the city. “We drive home the message through postings on social media including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram so that there is all-round effort to preserve this scarce resource,” says Prakash.

Project funds

If Rotaractors can pay the annual district due of ₹150 , “we can easily pay ₹150 a month to fund our club projects and activities,” he says. Moreover, with good support from their parent RC Cochin East which has a large number of former Rotaractors, “we don’t think hard to fund our events and projects.”

The Rotary club invites Rotaractors for fellowship events, guest lectures and a bunch of Rotarians always make it a point to attend Rotaract meetings. PDRRs Kishore Ranganathan and Hariharan from the parent club have been like mentors to the Rotaractors “offering suggestions and guiding us in many ways.”

Prakash, an employability skills trainer, is the charter member of RAC CMS College of Science and Commerce, Coimbatore. After completing his masters in social work (MSW) at Amrita School of Arts and Science, he joined the present club.

Brand image

While he and his team had to struggle to build the club and “put into place a unified entity working with a sense of purpose after it was revived in 2015–16,” Prakash is looking ahead with optimism.

(From L) RAC Calicut Central IPP Niaz Ahsan, RAC Cochin East Secretary Keerti Nair and its President Rasif Jiswan.

“It is time to create a new brand image for us by taking up community projects in a big way. People should know what Rotary is all about and only then, we can enrol new members,” says incoming President Rasif Jiswan.

The 45-year-old club with college professors, students and lawyers as members held an enrolment drive on June 23 in the course of a fellowship event presided over by Rotarians. “We had interactive meets, fun and games, besides ice-breaking sessions. A special talk on what Rotary and Rotaract are doing to the world enabled the 26 participants to understand our global impact. We are hopeful that a good number from this to become Rotaractors,” signs off IPP.

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