Remote, rural India benefits from Rotaract projects

Project Muskan Chair Asif Khan (next to ambulance) along with RAC Jagdalpur President Unnati Mishara (to his left) and other Rotaractors.
Project Muskan Chair Asif Khan (next to ambulance) along with RAC Jagdalpur President Unnati Mishara (to his left) and other Rotaractors.

Project Muskan, an ambulance delivering eye and dental care and being implemented by Rotaractors of RAC Jagdalpur and members of RC Jagdalpur, RID 3261, has become a leitmotif of Rotary across 20 revenue districts in Chhattisgarh.The two-year-old project with this medical bus worth  ₹8 lakh houses a sophisticated mini-clinic replete with diagnostic kits and gadgets to treat patients.

A food distribution project of RAC Atoma Balaghat.
A food distribution project of RAC Atoma Balaghat.

This mobile unit has reached out to 4,000 villagers. “But for this Rotary facility, the villagers in and around Jagdalpur would not have been able to access medical care at their doorstep,” said DRR Rahul Shrivastava. Asif Khan is the Chair of Project ­Muskan and he is assisted by three Rotarian doctors in taking care of medical ­supplies, and drafting paramedics and specialists for regular trips to villages. All the 30 Rotaractors of RAC Jagdalpur volunteer for this medical mission. “The happy smiles of the villagers are our reward and that encourage us to do even more for them,” said the DRR.


Remote, far-flung areas

Comprising 16 Rotaract clubs and around 2,000 Rotaractors, RID 3261, is spread across Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, “where the remoteness of these areas combine with the social and economic backwardness of the people to make the community projects that much more arduous,” said Shrivastava. But college students and young professionals do come forward to make Rotaract an eventful journey in ‘Service above Self’ like in the case of Project Sapna being executed by RAC NIT Rourkela.

RAC NIT Rourkela holds Project Sapna on menstrual hygiene.
RAC NIT Rourkela holds Project Sapna on menstrual hygiene.

Launched in March, Project Sapna holds awareness sessions and workshops on menstrual hygiene for rural women on a regular basis. The NIT’s Literacy and Cultural Society Vice-President Prof Upendra Gundala inaugurated the maiden workshop in which through PPTs and audio-visual show, the Rotaractors highlighted the need to adopt best hygiene practices during menses. “This project showcases the need to follow scientific means during menstrual cycles,” said Shrivastava. The NIT Rotaractors work closely with their professors who act as mentors.

From Diwali onwards, all the 35 Rotaractors at RAC Atoma Balaghat have been distributing food packets twice or thrice a month with the support of local Rotarians. “Rotaractors also donate and mobilise resources for the delivery of food packets to the needy, poor families in Balaghat, a tehsil in Madhya Pradesh. This is one of the more successful projects in our district as the homeless and needy families look forward to this gesture in the small town.”


WinS programmes

A one-year-old club, RAC Rising Stars Bhilai conducts a range of WASH in Schools programmes at a government high school with the support of its parent club, RC Bhilai Greater. The Rotaract club in which DRR ­Shirvastava was the charter president has 15 members and he is all praise for “the support extended by the Rotarians.”

After a drinking water unit and handwash station were installed at this adopted school in Bhilai, a bustling town in Chhattisgarh, “we hold regular sessions on hygiene and sanitation practices.”

Left: A WinS programme of RAC Rising Stars Bhilai.
Left: A WinS programme of RAC Rising Stars Bhilai.

Shrivastava is disappointed that he could not hold the scheduled ­Rotaract discon tited Udaan in April due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Once the national lockdown is lifted, RACs Atoma Balaghat and Jagdalpur will launch an intensive campaign against coronavirus from August. “We are drawing plans to launch a major campaign against the virus in the district and these two clubs will begin this work immediately after the lockdown is lifted,” said Shrivastava.

The DRR has inducted five new clubs and two more Rotaract clubs will be inaugurated before June-end, taking the club strength to 18. While he welcomes the move to elevate Rotaract as part of Rotary, “I am not for removing the age-limit for Rotaractors as older members will pose some problems for us. Also, it will affect Rotary membership in the long run as more youth will try to remain in Rotaract itself.”


However, he welcomes dual membership which opens the gateway to Rotary for aspiring Rotaractors. “But high membership fee for Rotarians is a big dampener as college students with no steady income will not be able to become Rotarians,” he said. A pastry chef by profession, the DRR is gearing up to open his start-up company named The Sinful Love, a bakery and patisserie outlet, in Bhilai at the earliest. n

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