The Rotary Connection
As Rotarians — Derick, a member of the Seattle Club, and Nancy, of the Bellevue Club — we can’t help but see ways to give a leg up beyond micro credit loans among the ladies with whom we work. They, themselves, have taken the initiative to ask for developments that improve their quality of life, as was the case of SRIA borrowers’ request for drinking water. We could not have imagined the thrill of being led by the excited villagers of Muttpattiyarkottam to the bright yellow and blue water tank that stood proudly on high. In early 2012 we had visited the site in a dry, backward region of Trichy District, where the villagers and micro credit borrowers pledged, not only to give their muscle toward soil excavation without pay, but also to contribute Rs. 1,000 (approximately $21, more than a week’s pay) from each family towards implementation of the project.
The official Prosperity Rings inauguration consisted of my pushing aside a thin towel hung by a string line to reveal the plaque you see in the photo. On the tank above were the same lines in Tamil, the local language, headed by a painted Rotary logo. They showed us to the three spigots over a cement trough where we verified that, indeed, lovely fresh water came pouring out. The son of the village chief made sure that we understood he was in charge of maintaining the precious structure.
The capacity of the tank is 10,000 liters, which can serve over 500 people a day. It has an extra outlet pipe which could give out water to another location if the villagers see the need. The water tank construction was primarily financed by a $5,000 grant from the Bellevue Rotary Club and was overseen by the local Rotary Club of Thuraiyur Golden City — a most worthy project.
Also meritorious is the ANISHA tailoring center. It boasts of six new, heavy duty sewing machines and two embroidery machines, on which students were busily constructing garments they were learning to tailor during our inspection of the project. The Bellevue Rotary Club Grant of $2,700 enabled the new center to purchase the machines and accessories, which was overseen by the local Rotary Club of Tiruchirapalli.
Disabled, but lively and accomplished, Roshini teaches a six-month course, three classes a day. Vivid fuscha, gold, and lime colored models of garment styles and fabrics line the walls of the center. Starting in April 2012, 30 girls have now graduated, and 20 more will have completed the course in February 2013. The next students are already on a waiting list. The educational background of the girls varies from 5th standard (3) to 6th-10th standard (24), up to 12th standard, with seven of them having studied beyond. The tuition is only Rs. 150 a month (less than $3).
The most exciting outcome of the tailoring center project has been that some of the graduates are now receiving orders from a government cooperative for two sets of government school uniforms per child and from a quasi government/private cooperative for petticoats as well. All the students anticipate achieving entrepreneurial success — the ultimate goal of the project.
SHWET has long planned for a computer center to teach vulnerable young Dalit girls computer skills for work opportunities, rather than let them be married off into a closed-off, restricted life of struggling and mistreatment. A grant of $5,000 toward laptop computers, a printer, and extra batteries to make up for electricity rationing has just been approved by the Rotary Club of Bellevue.
Stay tuned for that project’s success.