Connecting Hearts in Service

28th April 2015

- The Hindu

Connecting Hearts in Service

With renewed enthusiasm and energy a new team of Soroptimist International (SI) Madurai-Chapter was installed at a simple ceremony last weekend. The outgoing president Dr.Sudha Dheep pinned the badge on Latha Abiruben, who took over charge with several new projects in her wish list for the year 2015-16.

The SI members dressed in the evening’s colour code — peach — sashayed in their lovely saris that brought out the best of silks, cotton, chiffon, crepe and georgettes and the not-to-be missed pearl accessories.

But behind the elegant get-up what is transparent are the lives that are also so useful, honourable and compassionate. The charming ladies no doubt have control over their own lives. They are educated and confident. They are empowered. But more importantly they use their knowledge and wealth to leverage more resources, support more causes, help more people and pass on to their circles of influence and networks.

It is the motivation to improve the quality of life of others that drives organisations such as these. The SI was started in 1921 by 80 women in Oakland as an international volunteer organisation for business and professional women working to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities across the world. The Madurai Chapter launched in 2010 has 30-odd members from Madurai, Sivakasi, Dindigul and Rajapalayam. Belonging to different professions, they have all joined hands and their hearts to make a difference in the lives of others, lighten the burden of someone and transform the lives of women and girls.

If Dr.Sudha Dheep during her term initiated innovative projects that addressed the challenges faced by young girls, abused women and ignorant mothers (namely, the good touch bad touch, emotion management and leadership skills project in schools, educating college girls on violence against women and pre-marital counselling and awareness and screening health camps for women), Latha Abiruben too has her priorities laid out that will have a socially relevant impact on people.

Latha Abiruben, the proprietrix of Greenvision Vermicompost, is well known for her environment-friendly projects and rallies in her hometown Sivakasi. Under her leadership, the most ambitious SI project for the year is the proposed installation of a solar traffic island. A work in progress, it is likely to be ready by the year end (see Graphic).

The most immediate activity slated is the health awareness programme for women to be launched on May 10 coinciding with Mother’s Day with a free health check-up camp for women at Devadoss Multi-speciality Hospitals. Awareness campaigns on cervical cancer, osteoporosis, prevention of hair loss during pregnancy, motherhood and much more will be carried through the following week observed as Women’s Health Week.

A “Save Earth” marathon will mark the World Environment Day celebration on June 5 along with the launch of the solar traffic island project. SI Madurai will also distribute Go Green stickers to vehicles that get their pollution checks done.

The Soroptifest Organic Expo will be the next big and first of its kind organic fair in the city that will exhort the people to shift towards a natural living. From July 31 to August 2, the mega exhibition will bring under one roof a host of eco-friendly products at Hotel Fortune Pandiyan.

“The lifestyle shift is poised to grow,” says Latha, “with a slow but growing demand for organic and natural products.” The expo will showcase solar and green building products, wind power, organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides, natural fibre, green cosmetics, organic ornaments and apparels, furnishings, fitness and nutrition products. Cooking demos, dance, fashion and mime shows and contests for families and children will add to the entertainment value.

During the past five years the SI Madurai has been working on minimising the use of hazardous plastic material, waste segregation and disposal, responsible waste management, promoting the use of ‘khambas’ for home composting of organic waste, creating and maintaining green spaces in the city such as the Cosmo Green Park near P.T.Rajan Hall and economically empowering the women in their adopted village Kalikapen.

All the projects will continue in the same spirit, says Latha, whose team now consists of Sangeetha as vice president, Divyeah Ramu as the secretary and Jayanthi Raja as the treasurer. All SI members not only share their time, knowledge and talents but also financial resources to light up the lives of the differently-abled and poor and needy girls. Every year, the members individually or collectively offer scholarships to select girls in different categories to complete basic or pursue higher studies.

Service is rooted in love. In a world filled with chaos and strife when somebody stops to give a hand to serve, it only reaffirms the famous saying, ‘not for ourselves alone are we born’.

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