More than inducting new members or doing big budget projects, RAC Madurai North, RID 3000, is taking up impactful programmes and community initiatives “which will inspire service-minded people to join Rotaract as our work will have its brand recall value,” says club president K Madhusudhan.
The two ongoing projects — letter exchange with Rotaract clubs across the world and Sarithara Saturday (historical Saturday) where Rotaractors and public are invited to speak on niche issues like health and nutrition, education, sports, career and personality development with a view to share ideas and bond with each other, apart from being a platform to develop oratorical skills — are being run successfully and may give birth to fruitful agreements in the near future. “We hope to enter into twin club pacts with foreign clubs at the end of letter exchange schedule. So far, we have exchanged letters on social media, Apps and through email with 35 clubs including around 5–6 foreign Rotaractors,” explains Madhushudhan. Through exchange of letters, Rotaractors strike friendship by sharing Rotary values as this has opened a bonding platform, he says.
Around 55–60 participants including 40 Rotaractors log in for zoom webinars on weekends to hear views on special topics in Sarithara Saturday. “We have a set of regular visitors to this online event and have plans to convert this group into a Rotaract Business Forum that will hold meetings at a venue and opens up opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.”
Covid relief, other projects
Grocery kits, food packets and cash doles of ₹1,000 each are being given to migrant, daily wage families to ease their pain during lockdown. “So far, around 200–220 families have benefitted from our food and cash donations to families in Madurai. Due to logistics, we could not extend this food aid to suburbs and nearby places,” says club trainer R Lokesh Kumar, a PDRR who mentors the Rotaractors on project implementation. Twenty Rotaractors are involved in fund collection, purchasing groceries and packaging them for distribution to needy families.
Project Anna Seva donates 25kg rice bags to Hands of Compassion, a special home for mentally-challenged people who are treated, given nutritious food and comfortable stay and then sent back to their homes. The Rotaractors have delivered groceries and dress material to 30 inmates of this special home during the lockdown.
Along with Karpipom, a local NGO, the club is holding a series of child sexual awareness camps in government schools over the last two years wherein sensitive issues like ‘good touch, bad touch’, misconduct and stalking are taking up with students in government schools. “Due to Covid, we are unable to hold awareness sessions this year. Before the pandemic, we had reached out to over 50 schools and 5,000-plus primary students in Madurai, Karur, Dindigul and also to college students of Anna University, Trichy,” explains Kumar. With a tagline ‘No more Hasini’ the Rotaractors hold fun games and interactive sessions with children to elicit in a subtle way if they have been victims of sexual abuse in the recent past.
Smart training was given under Arivuchudar Project to students of 25 government schools across eight revenue districts including Madurai, Trichy, Dindigul, Perambalur and Pudukkottai. With the aim to inculcate reading habit among children, Little Libraries were set up in five government schools in Madurai. They have roped in Naturals, a salon chain, for Project Gift in which they collect bundles of hair and make it into wigs for donation to cancer survivors. “While people are coming forward to donate hair during lockdown, the salon is keeping us informed on when they will resume operation,” says Kumar.
Among the 75 registered members, only 50 are active in this community-based club. “We are not really kin to expand membership as we are looking for just 10 new Rotaractors this year to carry forward our projects which are being sustained over the years with a bunch of passionate youth,” says Madhusudhan. Their parent Rotary, RC Madurai North, plays a supportive role in Rotaract projects and “some of the Rotarians come forward to purchase material and other resources for our ongoing programmes and help us to find sponsors when we need them,” says Lokesh Kumar.