Odisha Rotaractors reach out to tribals

An oral hygiene camp for transgenders at Bharatpur.
An oral hygiene camp for transgenders at Bharatpur.

Public health and literacy, especially education of girl children, will be the priority areas for RAC Ekamra Kalinga, RID 3262, in the coming years. “But most of the Rotaract clubs depend on their parent Rotary clubs for execution of projects for want of resource material and funds. This should change so that our community activities and outreach are expanded in the near future,” says
Dr Soubhagya Muduli, district secretary and club trainer.

A number of health camps are being conducted through the year benefiting a large number of tribals, women and children. Rotaractors from Ekamra Kalinga, along with five other Rotaract clubs from Bhubaneswar, conducted an oral hygiene camp for transgenders at a community hall in Bharatpur, a slum colony on the outskirts.  “We screened 110 transgenders and advised them on oral hygiene,” says Muduli. Project chair Liza Swain, zonal Rotaract representative, took care of logistics and coordinated with Dr Satyabrata Kar and Dr Sipra Dash who screened the transgenders. Started in 2012 as a community-based group, the club has 31 members drawn from various professions including PhD students.

Rotaractors took up a mega tree plantation drive at ­government schools in and around ­Bhubaneswar. “We planted fruit-bearing trees and most of us camped at Uttara, a suburb, to plant saplings at a school,” says the club trainer. A veterinary surgeon who is into research too, Muduli and his team will be doing an e-learning project, as part of TEACH, at Chandaka village. “We will be donating smartphones to 14 students in the first phase for them to attend online classes and it will be expanded to reach out to more rural children at the upper primary school there,” he explains.

 

Project Maithali

RACs Ekamra Kalinga and Barabati are jointly teaching tribals under Project Maithali which aims to provide basic literacy skills to “some of the most backward communities in India.” The families can’t event speak Odia, the native language of Odisha, as they have their own lingua such as Santhali and other tribal dialects.

A health check-up camp at Uttara village along with the parent Rotary club. District secretary Soubhagya Muduli at the centre (sitting).
A health check-up camp at Uttara village along with the parent Rotary club. District secretary Soubhagya Muduli at the centre (sitting).

With the help of a government teacher, the Rotaractors shortlisted 45 tribal students and some adults who are now being taught Odia, English and basic numeracy at Balugaon village in Khordha district. Earlier, they had chosen this hamlet for a food donation drive and were shocked by the pathetic condition of its inhabitants. “Every weekend, a team of 16 Rotaractors visit this tribal area to teach students. Our special focus is on 25 students who are in higher secondary classes and will be appearing for the board exams,” says Muduli.

 

Mentoring from Rotary

From providing funds to resource material and project mentors, Rotaractors depend on RC Bhubaneswar Kalinga, their sponsors, for taking up service projects. Rtn Sharmistha Mohanty, chairman, Rotaract Committee of parent Rotary, inspires Rotaractors with her mentorship. “For largescale projects, our Rotaractors led by club president Saswat Kumar Mishra look up to Rotarians for sponsorship and other help for implementation,” informs Muduli, as “mobilising finance and support systems for our outreach activities with our own effort is difficult.”

Right: Rotaractors at Project Maithali. RAC Ekamra Kalinga president Saswat Kumar Mishra (third from R).
Rotaractors at Project Maithali. RAC Ekamra Kalinga president Saswat Kumar Mishra (third from R).

However, over the last 2–3 years, Rotaract projects in RID 3262 have grown in size and reached out to large beneficiaries, especially in the rural areas of Odisha. “While the district clubs have done 1,030 service projects in RY 2020–21, RAC Ekamra Kalinga has completed 64 projects in all during this period.” In the coming years, the district clubs are looking forward to “increase membership by doing events and programmes that attract youth to Rotaract,” says ­Muduli, adding that at the service level, clubs will be holding more medical camps, health awareness drives and education projects that empower girl children in the next
few years.

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