With Abhiyan-Ile Iwe, Ishk, Lagos Island Rotary brings hope, says Tandon
Rotarian Sanjeev Tandon is passionate about Nigeria and its people. However, beyond this passion is a man whose life is devoted to community development.As a Rotarian of close to three decades, Tandon has exhibited a determination to bring a change in every community that he has lived and worked, which invariably, is one reason he joined the club.
Tandon, who has a degree in engineering, began his romance with the club in 1990, when he joined Rotary Club of Marble Rocks, Jabalpur. He later became president of the club, which is in Rotary International District 6660 from 1994 to 95. The club was declared best Rotary Club of the district in 1995.
From 1995 to 1996, he was Governor’s Special Representative (GSR) to form a new club – Rotary Jabalpur North, and between 1996-97, he was Governor’s Group Representative (GGR).
When Tandon came to Nigeria, he joined Rotary Club of Victoria Garden City (VGC). He was there from 1999 to 2000.“Everybody is joining Rotary Club, specifically, because it affords you opportunity to do service work for the community,” he said.
Only recently, Tandon was installed as the second president of Rotary Club of Lagos Island. The club, which has Indians as majority of the members, 75 per cent, was chartered on June 2, 2016. It has a membership that makes it a mega club.
“Within one year, it has become first mega club in Nigeria. A mega club is one with membership of over hundred. In Rotary Club, the minimum number of members required in a club is 25. From 31, when we started, the number has grown to 114. Our target is to have more so that we would be able to do more charity work,” he said.
Having spent decades in Nigeria, the Vice President Project, Kewalram Chanrai Group is desirous of better healthcare for the average Nigerians in order to promote healthy living in the country.
Last month, the club paid for the services of medical experts from outside the country that carried out different surgeries in Sagamu with mostly expensive medical facilities anybody can boast of, and at the end of that exercise, “those facilities were left behind for use of humanity at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu annex. The facilities are worth over N130 million,” Tandon said.
According to him, this is what Rotary Club of Lagos Island has been doing since inception in 2016: charitable work in around its neighbourhood. While unveiling service projects of the club for 2017-18, Tandon identified nine project areas earmarked for the year. They include, Project Ishk, Artificial Limb Projects, which is facilitated by the global grant from Rotary International. It is a joint project with Rotary Club of Singapore and Tolaram Foundation.
“Rotary Club of Singapore is contributing $18,000 to the project,” he said, adding, “a minimum of 1500 artificial limbs are to be provided at no cost to the recipients.” He also listed Project Abhiyan-Ile Iwe. Abhiyan is a Hindi word for project. It project involves adoption of Teslim Elias and Union Baptist School, Adeniji Adele Road, Isale Eko, Lagos as schools that need immediate attention.
“We went there and discovered that the schools were in terrible shape. We want to take over the schools and support them; we are not taking over for one year. It will be taken for five years, within which we will provide the children with necessary requirements for better learning conditions. That is the first major project we want to do.”
Also, listed is the project mission for vision. This is collaboration with Rotary Club of Palmgrove. A minimum of 1,000 cataract surgeries will be done free of cost. Last year, the two clubs performed 1,200 beneficiaries. But this year, 1,500 patients are being targeted: 1,000 in the mainland and another 500 jointly with Geeta Ashram.”
Others include, Blood Donation camps, which is in collaboration with Kewalram Chanrai Foundation, Tolaram Foundation and other corporate houses. Last year, three camps were opened, but this year, there are plans for six.“Our target is to get a minimum of 200 blood units,” he noted.Also in the radar of the club is, Project Haryali (Green), a mega tree plantation exercise. This is in line with the Rotary International’s effort at greening the world. The project is themed Plant a tree, Save a life.
“The project will start in the two schools adopted by the club. We want to develop the culture of tree plantation because of the environment and climate change. Every country in the world is involved in the plantation. The culture of tree plantation has to start in Nigeria, especially, I the cities, where a lot of carbon is emitted into the air,” he said.Diabetic detection camp; Clean water facilities – minimum clean water facility in five schools, Participation in Polio awareness rally/ programmes, which is a burning issue in the heart of Rotary International. “We want to Nigeria to record zero case,” he said.
Cancer Awareness Programme – Breast Cancer/ Prostate Cancer are also activities that the club will engage in the next 12 months.“More of this can be achieved if we collaborate and help communities around us to develop fast and the economy will also grow through this means,” said the Paul Harris Fellow.
Tando said that the club would strictly follow its mission and objectives of providing service to others, promote integrity and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through its fellowship of business, professionalism and community leaders. “To encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise.”
He said that Rotary International is an international service organization whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a non-political and non-sectarian organization open to all people regardless of race, colour, creed, religion, gender, or political preference.
While not dismissing the fact that the club could be elitist because there is no fee charged for membership, the different projects embarked on by the clubs means people will commit their funds.
There are 34,282 member clubs worldwide and 1.2 million individuals known as Rotarians. However, “the Rotary Community Corps (RCC) is a volunteer organization with an estimated 157,000 non-Rotarian men and women in over 6,800 communities in 78 countries.
In collaboration with Telenoetica and Life Skills Consultants Africa Limited, the club is organising free vocational training on soft skills, MS Excel, masonry, generator mechanic, among others, to empower Nigerian youths.Empowering citizens reduces crime rate, unemployment, youth restiveness, corruption and economic upheaval.
The Paul Harris Fellow is also the General Secretary – Indian Cultural Association, Nigeria and member, Indian Professional Forum, Nigeria.Describing the bilateral relationship of India and Nigeria, Tando said it dated back in 1940 till date both countries have had a cordial relationships that have seen India established a lot of companies in Nigeria that have promoted employment in the country. He said Indians are investing heavily in medicare.
Tando advised Nigerian government to channel its resources to develop the agricultural sector so as to end poverty, unemployment and boost the economy of the country. He said further that Nigeria has a lot of man power and if trained and channelled into agriculture the economy would grow through food export and the country would have enough food for its citizens while many youths roaming around the streets will be engaged into agriculture. He also stresses the need for standard education that promotes science and technology, which helped, developed nations to advance and remain competitive globally.
“I am working in Kewalram Chanrai Group as Vice President, Projects. Kewalram Chanrai group has rich history of 153 years with extensive business reach across Africa with multiple businesses spread across 10 African countries focusing five verticals – Agriculture, auto, transport, food and fast moving consumable goods (FMCG) and Healthcare,” he said.
Tandon is happily married to Mrs. Geetika, a past president of Inner Wheel Club of Jabalpur Central (1995 to 1996). Geetika is president of Indian Women Association, Lagos, Nigeria. She is also a charter member and Director, Rotary Club of Lagos Island. Their marriage has produced three children, all past Interactors, and were even presidents of Interact Club.