It was a Diwali with a difference for us this year. We were happy to brighten the faces of so many neglected people in our town through our club,” says Sanjeev Kathirvel, President of RAC Tirupur Gandhinagar, D 3202.
The Rotaractors, accompanied by barbers, went on a grooming spree to trim and shave unmaintained hair and put on new clothes for 100 mentally-challenged people and beggars on the roadside.
It was an idea put forth by fellow member Kanageshwari. “She is a very active Rotaractor and is associated with few other NGOs too,” says Kathirvel. Kanageshwari wanted to replicate the initiative of the New Deiva Trust, an NGO she is working with, and the idea was readily accepted by the Rotaractors.
So how did you manage to make the mentally-challenged people sit down for a hair cut? “Oh, that was easy. We first gave them food packets and water. When they started eating, we cajoled them for the haircut.” However, there were instances where a few of them ran away when they saw the barbers armed with scissors. While it was easy to handle the beggars, “we had to them that we are getting their hair cut and they readily sat down, but not before demanding their share of food.”
Kathirvel recalls how they had to rip open the shirts, often torn, dirty and soiled, of the mentally-ill, and put on new clothes for them. “But at the end of the day, the entire project gave us so much satisfaction, that was more than any other activity. And even now when we see the same people by the roadside, better groomed and presentable, it makes us very happy.”
The club members observed November as a ‘No shave’ month, at the end of which they shaved their overgrown beards with each one contributing enough to make ₹25,000. “We gave the money for the treatment of a 10-year old cancer patient,” says Kathirvel.
The club has lined up a bike rally to promote literacy and traffic awareness, and a cultural programme as a fundraiser.