Covid Response - a partnership with Rotary District 3040 in India

a new partnership, initiated in May 2021 to address short, medium and longer term community needs in Madhya Pradesh and Gujerat

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scroll to the foot of the page for the FAQs and how to make a donation

updated 6 June 2021

Some Rotary Clubs in our district asked members of the district team in early May if there was a district response to the covid crisis in India. At the same time, District Governor Marius was speaking to his fellow District Governor in District 3040 in central India. A letter was sent to clubs on 11th May 2021, describing a new district initiative and asking for club support.

Download the full letter (PDF)

Extracts from the letter

"Dear fellow Rotarians


None of us could have escaped the news that India is now being ravished by Covid. We know from our own experiences that this pandemic has had an impact on us, our families, our friends and our country. We also know that the significant issue at the moment in India is oxygenation equipment and that there is a global response from governments, NGOs and agencies. You have been asking us at district level how you can provide financial support and if we had a plan/mechanism to do this.

When going through my final governor preparation, I met and became friends with the governor of District 3040 (Madhya Pradesh and Gujerat), Dr Gajendra Narang. Recently a small team from this district has been meeting with DG Gajendra to look at how we could support those in need in this central part of India, which is badly affected by the pandemic.

There is no benefit or welfare system in India and so those individuals or families whose breadwinner will have been incapacitated and unable to work, lost their job or, as is far too common, lost their life, the family will not be supported in any way.

We want to provide humanitarian support to these people as soon as we can. Our plan is in three phases 

Phase 1: Direct support to those in hospitals through an established foodbank system

Phase 2: Supporting families or individuals who have been impacted by Covid

Phase 3: Skills Centre

All of us involved for the current Rotary year and the next two years recommend this project and partnership to you. We very rarely ask you to support a district initiative in this way but we believe that we have something here which not only will benefit individuals in India right now, but also for many years to come – and most importantly – you and your clubs will be directly linked to information about how our donations will be making a difference."

On 15th May, at our District Assembly, we showed a short video of Marius, David Sutherland (incoming District International Team Leader), John Philip (incoming District Foundation Team Leader) and Gajendra Narang, the Governor of District 3040 (Madhya Pradesh and Gujerat).

And here's another, shorter video, that we will also post on Facebook.

A Personal View

John Philip, the District Foundation Team Leader from 1st July 2021 has significant experience of India, both personally and through Rotary healthcare projects. Here are some of his thoughts:

"In India, most Government Hospitals are underfunded, overcrowded and poorly serviced. People in general do not have confidence in the care they receive from such hospitals and avoid them if they can find a way of doing so.  

The vast majority of healthcare is delivered by the private sector - largely unregulated, expensive and beyond the reach of a large section of the community. 

The pandemic has left a huge section of the community receiving inadequate care in Government hospitals or bankrupting themselves by paying for care in the private sector. Rural India and minority communities suffer disproportionately. 

Most hospitals charge patents for ‘extras’. These extras vary from food, medications, intravenous sets, dressings, sometimes - even oxygen cylinders. 

Inpatients often require an attendant to be present in the hospital to meet the basic needs of ill patients - this could vary from feeding, buying medications and sometimes even some aspects of personal care. 

Patients and attendants must make private arrangements to feed themselves – sometimes buying food from a mishmash of vendors at hospital gates or by relatives taking food parcels into hospitals.  

By enabling our Rotary friends in India to support the victims of Covid and their families at this time of their greatest need we are simply being Rotarians - good Rotarians – offering service above self." 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we make a donation?

If a Club, make a transfer to|:

Bank: Lloyds

Name: Rotary Club of Marlow Thames (Covid Relief)

Number: 72178260

Sort code: 30-95-36

This is an account set up specifically for this purpose.

If an individual, please pay via the link on the website (THIS WILL BE AVAILABLE IN A FEW DAYS). This will link to the Total Giving platform and your donation will flow through to the above Marlow Thames account. Total Giving will reclaim any relevant Gift Aid and pass that, free of charges, to the same bank account. 

Why District 3040 in India?

As we had our Zoom calls to set up this initiative with 3040, we were very conscious that we could easily have been considering the same situation in innumerable other Indian Districts and several other countries in the Indian subcontinent or in Africa. However as the conversation with 3040 quickly showed a good empathy and common purpose (help the victims with humanitarian aid and not provide medical supplies) it rapidly moved to talk of a lasting multi-faceted relationship between the Districts.We from 1090 felt that the best way that we could deploy our limited funds for maximum effect  was to concentrate them in one place and to start with supporting 3040 in the very near future with funds to support their foodbank crisis and move onto longer term support. That’s not to say that we won’t at some time in the future support an initiative into another country but at present all our attention is on helping 3040.

Why is Marlow Thames Rotary Club involved?

Such appeals must go via a Registered Charity, which the District is not.  RC Marlow Thames’ whose Charity account is registered and which is the Club of incoming International Chair David Sutherland, have kindly offered to be manage the UK end of the finances. The cash flows will form part of the Marlow Thames return to the Charity Commission.

How much should my Club donate?

There is no guideline and we fully understand that some Clubs will decide that this is not for them. At time of writing some Clubs have indicated that they will donate £1,000 and another has indicated a £300 donation; all donations will be appreciated.

Why has Total Giving been selected as the personal donation platform?

Amongst the major such platforms they seemed to be the one which resulted in the greatest net benefit to the end charity.

Where will the money go to?

It will be used by Clubs in District 3040, who will in the first instance use it to supplement the supplies of food and water into the Rotary managed food banks which are part of the public hospitals and which are under great strain given the huge increase in patient numbers and the overwhelming demand for supplies.

Are you aware of the Indian government’s tight foreign donations regulations?

Indeed we are and have been since the creation of this project. We know that we can only transfer money to a recipient organisation which has FCRA certification. The DG of District 3040 is seeking a Club which has FCRA certification and which RC Marlow Thames will send money which in turn will then send the funds onto a 3040 Club(s) which support(s) a food bank. The process will be fully defined before any transfer happens.

How will you ensure safe passage of the funds?

Firstly we will require sight of the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) certificate. Secondly we plan to send a relatively small donation through the system to prove it delivers to the desired Rotary Club(s) in 3040 and only then will we send the full amount.

How much do you plan to send?

That very much depends on the generosity of District 1090 and also on the request from 3040. We need to be mindful of the second stage of the plan- the supporting of particularly affected families which 3040 are planning to “adopt” and which we in 1090 intend to be part of. We need to ensure we have at least some funds to be able to send to 3040 to support them as they initiate stage 2.

Should the district team be asking clubs to support a district project?

We know that all Rotary clubs in our district run their own projects and make their own decisions on support for other charities, organisations and projects. And in the district team we have to be very careful to respsect that. 

Rotary International is of course an international organisation with amazing networks and partnerships, some well-established and long running, and others that can be set up quickly in response to disasters or events. 

Some of our clubs have asked over the last year if there is a district or national response to some international disasters, and often clubs want to avoid unnecessary effort if a response has already been set up. 

We hope that this initiative is seen by clubs and Rotarians as an opportunity to support a community in need and also to build a partnership with another district, that could develop in many ways including club-to-club partnerships and maybe even exchange visits.

We were also inspired by the amazing support that clubs and Rotarians across our district have given to their local foodbanks and similar organisations since the pandemic started here in March 2020. 

While the need in our community continues, we can all see that the need for support in India is also great. We hope that clubs in our district might therefore considering support for this new initiative, whether for one phase or all three phases.  

updated 6 June 2021

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