Reigniting the spirit of service

From the albums

Reigniting the spirit of service

In 1976, it came as a birthday cake to initiate Altrusa International Inc, Bangalore, a selfless, professional service organisation in the city. Four decades ago, the fresh spring of fellowship was full of amity, loyalty, tolerance, reciprocity, service and achievement, etched out on the pin that we wore proudly at each meeting.

They were not mere alphabets but studded gems that Mamie L Bass coined in 1917. Padma Bharthi from Madras sponsored this international organisation in Bangalore; this black and white photograph taken at my residence preserved the event!

Right royally, we entered into social milieu and met the needs of the vulnerable section of women in starting crèches, UKG and LKG for children of mothers working in the farm on the outskirts of Bangalore.

We conducted a nutrition and health programme for the mothers of the children and gave them supplements of iron and calcium missing in their diet. Altrusa International Foundation gave us a prestigious grant of 1,000 dollars for this project.

Our club was one of the three clubs outside the USA to receive this. We also received a grant from the Social Welfare Department of Bangalore. We held vocational guidance seminars in several women’s colleges, encouraging them to enter into different vocations, since at that time job-oriented courses did not exist.

Bangalore University vice-chancellor, Mr Jayaram, was a chief guest at one of the seminars held at Senate Hall. We began giving scholarships to the needy students who were halfway through their education in school or college.

I remember that we also raised funds through various music programmes. We had the famous Anup Jalota singing ‘ghazals’ and Manna Dey mesmerising the audience with his songs at Chowdiah Memorial Hall. We also took part in the annual women’s jumble sale with other voluntary organisations.

To enlighten and encourage women, we held a seminar titled ‘Women’s Role in making the World a Happy Home’. In this seminar, speakers like Dr Prema Nandakumar, Dr Mariamma Vergese and the international president Margaret Inch took part.

Two students, Cheryl from Olympia, Washington Club, and Elizabeth from Bangalore, were exchange students, who had the opportunity to study, live and also experience different cultures. Members of the Olympia Club even visited our club.

The counterpart Altrusa organisation in Madras, Bombay and Bangalore met periodically. It was a proud and privileged opportunity to be guests of the then governor of Maharashtra, S M Krishna. Prema Krishna was one of the ten founder members.

This fellowship gradually lost its original freshness. However, I kept my affiliation with the international organisation and attended the 57th Altrusa Convention held at Rotorua in New Zealand. I persevered with them to revive this organisation.

Silvia D’Jean Silverman was so pleased with the efforts taken to revive that she came all the way from Chicago to present a fresh charter on October 28, 2016. She inducted emphasising the board members’ role as different musical instruments and the president as the conductor to create a harmonious melodious symphony of this international organisation.

Its registered office is now in Smt VHD Central Institute of Home Science, under Altrusa International of Bangalore, India Inc, under community college. Social service, which was taken casually earlier, is now an academic subject. The president is Dr Roopa Jayaprakash, the head of the department of human development and community college.

Principal Prof Ramakrishna Reddy has been very encouraging and the organisation, which was totally women-centric, has opened its doors to men. It was more than a coincidence, rather preordained, that Ms Prema Krishna lit the lamp once again when the fresh charter was received. This has made the original fountain of Altrusa’s spirit spring back into action!

(The author can be contacted at shakkubhooma@gmail.com)

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