By Thamilarasu Ramaswamy, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Madras Vadapalani, Tamil Nadu, India
This is my Rotary story. In November of 1995, heavy rains created floods that uprooted trees and ravaged agricultural fields in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, paralyzing many communities. The district of Tiruvannamalai was the hardest hit. District administrators worked hard to help those affected by the floods, providing food and clothing.
In one subdistrict known as Sengam, there are many weavers who make dhoties and sarees on manually operated hand looms operated by wooden pedals. Many of these looms ended up under water, destroying the equipment and the ability of these weavers to carry on their craft and make a living. In addition, many lost all or most of their belongings.
The district collector called the secretary of the Rotary club of Tiruvannamalia in the late morning to request their help and by early afternoon, an army of Rotary members had gathered. Rotary members S. Giridharan and B. Soundararajan brought two 200 kilogram bags of rice, and members lined up to separate the rice into five kilogram bags and seal them with a candle. Other Rotary members contributed cloth bags to help store the rice, and items of clothing.
The Rotary members braved flooded roads following the Housing Minister and district collector to reach Sengam, about 12 kilometers from the city of Tiruvannamalai. They reached the area by evening, with everyone amazed by the spontaneity and quickness of their response.
The team spirit exhibited by Rotarians was tremendous and clear for all to see. The district administration realized these Rotary members were in the best position to help, and they delivered assistance when little else was available. Everyone who took part was deeply satisfied by their efforts. The district administration recognized the club with a special honor on India’s Independence Day.
I will always remember the willingness of these local Rotary members to help. And today, Rotary continues to make a difference in communities around the world.