An International Inner Wheel Welcome.

A visit to Dahanu, Maharashtra.

Over the Christmas period my husband, Ron, and I planned a visit to India so that he could visit some of the education projects in which I have an interest.

A few nights were spent in Mumbai to enable us to get over the journey and attend the Christmas services at the CNI Wesley Church, a short walk from our hotel. On Boxing Day, 2015, we were off to Pune for the chance to visit the projects of <www.doorstepschool.org >. A packed programme gave us little leisure time but Ron saw much that he had previously only heard of, so now he knows some of the activities that I keep talking about!

From Pune we had a 3 hour drive back to Mumbai and after lunch a further 2hours took us to Dahanu, a town of approximately 50,000. Our friends had arranged for us to visit some ‘Tribal’ projects and for me there was an invitation from the Inner Wheel Club of Dahanu, to visit some of their many projects and share lunch at a ‘Chicco’ plantation. Dahanu club was founded in 1997; it has 30 members and is very busy but distances keep them rather isolated from the hub of their district 314 Mumbai, and from having guests at their meetings.

Visit to Dahanu

The welcome I received was overwhelming, as I was the first overseas visitor they had welcomed and, additionally, their founding President, Mrs Karandikar, was the great-aunt of my friend’s husband!

ISO, Mrs Pranjali Phata and the lady who will be next president of the club met me and my friend, Mrs. Geeta Karandikar by the Banyan tree. They were beautifully attired in their Saris and sitting on a scooter! As we had space in the car, they abandoned the scooter and drove with us. I learnt that, after discussion within the club, they had decided to dress in their Saris for the occasion. A little further on, we met another two ladies, also on a scooter, and followed them to see some of the projects with which they are involved.

We were in one of the “Tribal” areas, with very isolated groups of rural people, having very poor facilities and living in “mud hut” style housing, with many needs to bring them up to even basic modern standards. The IIW club have done much to improve the lives of the people but, of course, much still remains to be done. I was taken to where they had raised the funds to build a dam/reservoir that holds back the water at monsoon time and enables the paddy fields to be irrigated without carrying water such long distances (mostly the women’s work). Where a village track meets the main road, the club are currently having a bus shelter built for protection in the monsoon. Another ongoing activity is putting up solar powered street lights along the tracks. It is dark most nights by 6pm. Water pumps have been laid on in some villages …. The list goes on!

The club have some members who are doctors and they, with colleagues, run annual clinics in the villages, giving free medical help to the mums and children with a follow up where needed. A simpler but much needed activity was standing in the market, reminding shoppers not to use plastic bags … but be more eco aware and take reusable bags to shop.

Visit to Dahanu Visit to Dahanu

After a long morning we stopped at the ‘Chicco’ plantation where the club members were waiting to meet us and to share a meal. There were 9 past presidents present and the Rotary President who had been active in getting an IW club in the town. There were 25 of us altogether who sat down to eat, a typical local meal which I thoroughly enjoyed, except for the very sweet bits!

Friendship, Fun and Service, I was given the hand of friendship, had great fun and was shown the difference made when we serve those around us. To me that is Inner Wheel. Thank you Dahanu, District 314.

Isabel Sinclair Buxton District 5

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