Empowering rural women in and around Pune district of Maharashtra by leveraging the crowdfunding platform Milaap has boosted the morale of Rotaractors of 122 Rotaract clubs of RID 3131 who have jointly executed this three-phase, time-bound project. Now, DRR Akash Chikate is planning to further expand Project Dhaaga (thread) to the next set of beneficiaries with the sale proceeds of cotton kurtas and eco-friendly bags made by 100 rural women.
It all started with Rotaractors creating an India Book of Records for “raising maximum money online in 24 hours for charity purpose’ in July 9–10 last year. “An adjudicator came to Pune and gave the record title consisting of a gold medal and citation to us in the presence of PDG Prashant Deshmukh and district Rotaractors on July 31,” recalls Chikate. The amount of ₹6 lakh raised through crowdsourcing was used to purchase 100 sewing machines. Rotaractors formed teams to sell tea, conducted cake-baking workshop, took up awareness drives to promote the event, held dance workshops, sold Rotaract merchandise, homemade chocolates and made gift hampers to mobilise donations for the 24-hour crowdfunding platform. “Each club was given a target of ₹10,000 and some of them achieved the target with multiple events and awareness, promotional drives.”
“We identified 100 women who had undergone basic training in sewing and needlework, but could not use their skills for want of tailoring machines. Project Dhaaga addressed their need by donating 100 tailoring machines to them,” he explains. The project also aimed to strengthen the self-help groups, known as bachat gats, in Pune with the support of Rotarians.
World Rotaract chair PDG Ravi Vadlamani expressed happiness over the “success of our crowdfunding platform and said this is the way forward for the Rotaractors to take up large impactful projects,”
After raising money and identifying the beneficiaries in the first phase, “we shifted gear to the second phase where advanced training was given to them for three months (Nov-Jan) with the support of panchayat officials of Shel Pimpalgaon village in Khed taluk near Pune.” Before their training started in November, DRR Chikate donated the tailoring machines to the women in the presence of DG Anil Parmar, Rtns Meera Bharvirkar, Santosh Kamble and Anup Dandge, “who have all contributed to the success of the project.”
Raw material like fabrics and other accessories were also given to the women to create kurtas; “and the leftover cotton fabrics after production were used for making cotton bags. Now we are into the third phase during which we have already procured 1,000 kurtas (10 kurtas for a machine) and will begin our sales from July 25,” says Chikate.
While a part of the sale proceeds will go to the beneficiaries to enhance their livelihood, “the other half will go to buying another set of 100 tailoring machines to reach out to more women in rural Maharashtra.” During the Rotaract Assembly on the sidelines of Rotary zone institute in Vizag, World Rotaract chair PDG Ravi Vadlamani expressed happiness over the “success of our crowdfunding platform and said this is the way forward for the Rotaractors to take up large impactful projects,” recalls Chikate.