RAC Pune Kalyaninagar, RID 3131, celebrated India’s 75th Independence Day by supporting the education of 75 children from underprivileged families under its Project Dnyanganga. “We were disturbed to hear about instances of children forced to stop education, especially after the Covid pandemic, because their parents had lost their jobs and couldn’t afford the fees. We came across stories about school dropouts being made to step up as breadwinners in many families to make ends meet. My domestic help’s child was also one such victim,” says club president Shraddha Shantaram Sonawane. A discussion on the topic among the club members led to the idea of adopting as many children as possible and fund their education for the current academic year. To commemorate Independence Day, they decided to help 75 children. The club chartered in 2005 has 40 Rotaractors.
With guidance from club advisor Siddhesh Gaikwad, a team of Rotaractors started with data collection to identify children who needed help. They collected data from schools and social organisations. “We verified every child’s data to ensure that our help reaches the right people,” she says.
The club was able to raise ₹5 lakh through personal contributions from members and donations from friends and family. “We approached politicians and entrepreneurs too. Initially they were concerned. Some of them asked us if we were adopting a school and when we explained our initiative everyone was happy to be a part of it. Several Rotarians too supported the cause.”
Member of Parliament (Bangalore South) Tejasvi Surya and Amit Thackeray presided over the distribution of cheques, in two phases, to the parents of the shortlisted children. “We did the third phase on our club’s Charter Day (Aug 26), making the day a memorable one for all of us,” says the club president, adding, “it gave us so much satisfaction to realise that we have given the most valuable gift — the gift of education — to these children. Working for this project was indeed an enriching experience for all of us.”
We said to people, don’t eat pizza for a day, instead donate that money for a flood victim. And that worked wonderfully.
– Shraddha Sonawane, president, RAC Pune Kalyaninagar
Shraddha recalls a similar project last year when the club rose up to help flood victims in Kolhapur. The Rotaractors raised ₹5.5 lakh then and bought groceries with the collected funds. They packed 1,000 kits and distributed to the flood-affected people. “Back then we had an effective strategy. We said to people, don’t eat pizza for a day, instead donate that money for a flood victim. And that worked wonderfully,” smiles Shraddha.
The club is all geared up to distribute blankets next month to the inmates housed in an institute for the mentally-challenged in Pune to beat the winter chill. The members are planning on a mega donation camp during the World Rotaract Week in March 2023 as part of the nation-wide Mahadan programme.