Of soaps and chocolates

DRR MVB Manognya Rao with a child after teaching him to wash his hands.

Here are a group of Rotaractors from D 3020 who brave irate parents and yet persevere to provide basic literacy to rural children. “If we give them pencils and books, the children refuse to accept. But give them chocolates and they will stretch out their hands for more,” says DR R M V B Manognya Rao. She is talking about the trips the Rotaractors of RAC Vizag Metro make to the hamlets of Araku Valley and the surrounding villages of Visakhapatnam.

Initially all Rotaract clubs of the district began their WinS projects by visiting government schools across Andhra Pradesh and educating students about personal hygiene, use of toilets and proper handwashing practices. They would distribute soaps to the children and cleaning material such as broomsticks, floor and toilet cleaners to the schools. “We work as two teams; while the first group visits the schools and provides orientation to the students, the second group visits the same schools after a couple of months to ensure follow up and also refurbish the supplies of soaps and cleaning material,” she says. To ensure sustainability, the Rotaractors have reached out to 109 schools so far, covering 6,000 children and they intend to continue this project for the next two years, in collaboration with Districts 3202, 3250 and 3291.


Educating children

“The parents and children are happy to receive us thus far. But when we call the children for studying they don’t want to come and the parents also tell us to leave them alone. ‘We don’t want them to study. We want them to work with us. If they go to school, who’ll be there to help us?’ they say. If the child is able to earn even `50  a day they are happy,” says Manognya. Most of the women work in tea plantations while the men go out to cut wood or work in restaurants.

But in some hamlets, the Rotaractors are providing computer education and English classes with the support of their parent club RC Vizag Metro. They also help the Rotarians in their medical camps in these regions.

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