Newsletter Oct 2012: SI Madurai

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Soroptimist International is a worldwide service organization for women. We are committed to a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential, realize aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide. Soroptimists inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls through a global network of nearly 90,000 members in over 3,000 Clubs, in 126 countries.

Projects & Events from June to October 2012 Kalikappen Village

I-Day Campaign

AGM & Installation

Don’t Honk Rally

Anbagam School

Charter Day & Launch of Scholarship

DHAN Drive & Inauguration of Dharma Campaign Cosmso Green Park

SI Madurai is affiliated to Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI). It was chartered in 2009 and has been actively conducting various campaigns and projects to improve the life of women and girls as per the needs of the local community.



Hello, Welcome to SI Madurai’s first newsletter. It has been a busy five months since our AGM. We had wanted this to be a year of positive, effective change through awareness, advocacy and action. It gives me immense pleasure to report that we have certainly started off on the right note. Our new strategy of assigning 3 members to coordinate an activity each month is working beautifully. Thanks to the effort and enthusiasm of each of our members, SI Madurai has conducted various projects and activities benefitting the local community. The highlight was the inauguration of the Cosmo Green Park – The first park developed by SI and the launch of the ‘S.I. Madurai Fund for Empowerment through Education’ which provides scholarships for women to continue and complete their education. In this newsletter, you will find details of our projects conducted from June to October 2012. We also had an opportunity to host Ms. Pat Black (President Elect, SIGBI), Ms. Margaret Clark (President Elect, SI Northern England) and SI members from Pune, Banaglore, and Chennai, whose visit has left us feeling encouraged and inspired. On a separate note, Did you know that for the first time in Olympic history, all participating countries had female athletes? The United Nations marked the first International Day of the Girl Child on Oct. 11 2012, by calling for an end to child marriage, and stressing education as one of the best strategies for protecting girls against this harmful practice. We hear of great advancements and effective measures taken to help create better lives for women and girls. There is much to celebrate, but the world still stands in a delicate position. In October 2011, Desmond Tutu announced 14 year old Malala Yousafzai's nomination for the International Children's Peace Prize for actively promoting women’s education in Pakistan. In October 2012, she and her friends were attacked by the Taliban for the same reason. The challenges that girls face are very manywhether it is poverty or marginalization or even violence just for speaking out for their basic rights. It is up to organizations like ours to be the voice of the unheard and its up to each one of us to do our bit. Irish author Edmund Burke once said, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing, because he could only do a little.” I am five months into being the president for SI Madurai (2012-13), and I am grateful and thankful for this opportunity as it has given me a platform to make a difference. It has made me realize, all our work must have such a phenomenal collective impact in the world. Signing off, I’d like to say: Here’s to good women. May we know them, may we be them and may we raise them. Divya Gupta President, SI Madurai (2012-2013)

Soroptimist Quiz 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Where was the first Soroptimist club of the world founded? What was the very first Soroptimist project in the world? Soroptimist International is divided into how many federations? What are the five program areas of SIGBI? Which are the newest two SIGBI clubs? Where is the 78th annual federation conference of SIGBI taking place?


(Answers on page 11)



Kalikappen Village Project The SI members identified Kalikappen, a small village on the outskirts of Madurai as a place where we could contribute towards a better lifestyle for the residents. The Kalikappen Village School has since then, been the hub of a large part of the activities carried out by SI Madurai. Projects to promote health, hygiene and enhance educational facilities for the children have been regularly conducted at the school. - A Dental and ENT check up for the children was conducted with the help of SI member Dr. Rohini Sridhar and her team of doctors from Apollo Hospitals, Madurai. - Footwear (sponsored by Ms. Anitha Rajarajan) was distributed to the children, along with a talk to educate them about the importance of wearing proper footwear. - A discussion was held with the parents of these children, highlighting the importance of proper nutrition and a balanced diet. - A play slide was gifted to the school children of Kalikappen village (generously donated by Ms. Ashika and family) - SI member Ms. Viji Susikar volunteered to spend time with the children and conduct a bi-weekly spoken English class for them. Recently, Ms. Pat Black, the President Elect of SIGBI and Ms. Margaret Clark, the President Elect of SI Northern England visited Madurai along with members from SI in Pune, Chennai & Bangalore. On this occasion, our guests were taken to the Kalikappen School where the students welcomed the guests and exhibited their talent by singing nursery rhymes. Pencil cases and juice packs were distributed to children who were overjoyed upon seeing the guests as well receiving the gifts! Ms. Pat Black was very happy meeting with the students and spoke a few words, which were translated to the students by Dr. Sudha Dheep.




To celebrate friendship and fellowship (and to escape the heat!), on 28th of July, SI sisters: Ms. Lakshmi Murugesan, Ms. Anitha Rajarajan, Ms.Chithra Ganapathy, Dr. Manju, Ms. Rukmini Palanivel Rajan, Dr. Haripriya, Ms. Selvi Santosham and Ms. Jeyanthi Annamalai made a quick trip up the hill to visit SI Kodaikanal members. Projects were discussed and fun was had! It was great opportunity to create new bonds of friendship and strengthen old ones. We’d like to thank the SI Kodai members for their lovely hospitality. :)

AGM, Valedictory & Installation Ceremony The SI Madurai AGM, Valedictory and Instillation ceremony was held on 27th June, 2012 at Hotel Sangam, with all our members dressed in pink. We celebrated the end of a successful year and talked about the road ahead for SI Madurai. The evening ended with a lovely dinner hosted by outgoing President Anitha Rajarajan and incoming President Divya Gupta.

Ms. Divya Gupta - President Ms. Anitha Rajarajan - Founder President/ PAC Ms. Lakshmi Murugesan - Vice President Ms. Sabina Ali - Secretary Ms.Jayanthi Raja - Treasurer Ms. Jeyanthi Annamalai - Membership extension con. Ms. Valli Anamalai - Club Representative Dr. Uma Kannan - Press & Publicity Ms. Sujatha Srinivasan - Friendship Link Coordinator Ms. Rukmini Palanivel Rajan - Fund raising con.

An Ode to Fall So, we don’t really have a fall/ winter season in Madurai, but here is a tried & tested recipe for an easy Sweet potato pie that’s perfect for the cool, rainy windy days from October to December! Ingredients: (Makes 6 servings) 6 sweet potatoes -- cooked, peeled, mashed 1/4 cup thickened milk 1/4 cup orange juice 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons butter, melted 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3/4 cup brown sugar (or ½ cup white sugar) 1/3 cup butter, melted 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (maida)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one pie dish and set aside.

2. Blend together the sweet potatoes, evaporated milk,

orange juice, vanilla, ½ cup sugar, salt, 3 tablespoons butter and cinnamon. Pour into prepared pie dish. 3. Prepare the topping by mixing together the 1/3 cup butter, brown sugar, flour. 4. Spread over pie filling and bake for 45 minutes or until hot.




Anbagam School Visit ANBAGAM, the Home of Love and Friendship, was founded in Madurai, INDIA, in1970 by Dr. Manuel A. Thangaraj and his wife, Mrs. Mary Thangaraj, with the help of concerned citizens, the Government of India and International Relief Agencies. Their mission is: • To serve the mentally handicapped children and promote their full development, irrespective of race, caste, creed and community, • To train these children in the practical activities of daily living and help them become useful citizens, • To provide a home for destitute • children and • To train personnel for services to children with special needs. For more information, please visit their website: In July 2012, The members of SI Madurai paid a special visit to the children of Anbagam school. We met and interacted with the children who were overjoyed to see us. Biscuits were distributed and the children accepted them with great enthusiasm. The SI members spent about half a day with the children, who opened up to us easily and showed us their crafts, their dance skills, played games with us and sang songs for us. They showed us their greeting cards, scarves, crafts, incense sticks etc. that they had learnt to make as a part of their vocational training. SI members were more than happy to purchase these handmade items from them and help them raise funds. As we began to leave, they asked us to come back soon (with chocolates this time!). The joy on their faces touched our hearts and we all agreed that sometimes, the best gifts we can give these children, were the gifts of affection, care and time.




Independence Day Campaign The project received an enthusiastic response from the public and was well covered in the local newspapers. Click to see the quiz:

SI Madurai and the Flag Foundation of India joined hands to carry out a special project to increase awareness about our national flag on the 15th of Aug. 2012. The Tri-color represents every Indian religion, language, culture and region. Hence it is the greatest symbol of our unity in diversity. When we display the flag, we rise above narrow considerations of religion, language, region, gender etc. and it reminds us of being, first and foremost, an Indian. To take this unity beyond pure symbolism and translate it into action, on the 15th of August 2012, 5000 miniature flags and flyers carrying a quiz about the Indian flag (conceptualized by the Flag Foundation) were distributed to the general public, at various points in the city, by SI members and volunteers from Thiagarajar College. In addition to the above, 100 posters carrying the quiz, were displayed at prominent locations including: schools, government offices, police stations, hotels, hospitals, shops, malls, gyms etc. from the 14th of August until the end of the month. The purpose of this project was to create awareness about the little known facts about the Indian Flag, to create unity in the society by strengthening the patriotic bond and to help our community rise above the various divides commonly found in our society.


On 23rd January, 2004, after a long and hard legal battle fought by Mr. Naveen Jindal (Industrialist, sportsman & Member of Parliament), the Supreme Court of India ruled the display of the national flag by every citizen on all days of the year, as a fundamental right. Thereafter, Mr. Jindal founded the Flag Foundation Of India. The primary vision is to popularize the display of the national flag.



Don’t honk! Rally Against Noise Pollution On 12th of August 2012, TOPKIDS (Child/Youth Guidance & Counselling Centre) and TOPSKILZ (SoftSkills Training Centre) conducted ‘The TOPKIDS Don't Honk Challenge 2012’. This was a motor rally with a twist. For two, three and four wheeled vehicles, the ‘quiet rally’ involved a treasure hunt where participants shuttled around the city hunting for clues, in their chosen mode of transport but without the use of horns. The event addressed the issue of the increasing level of noise pollution in the city due to traffic and honking. The purpose of the rally was to create an awareness on how noise pollution damages physical and mental health. It aimed to increase awareness among the vehicle users to reduce the unnecessary use of horns, and to convince everyone that we CAN drive without honking in spite of Madurai’s traffic situation. When the event was introduced to us by one of our members Dr. Sudha Dheep, we realized that we had started ignoring the incessant honking, sirens, musical air horns, the jarring mobile phone ring tones, loud speakers in public areas etc. and had started accepting this cacophony as a part of our daily lives without realizing the effect it was having on our ear drums! The team of SI Madurai jumped on this bandwagon for change and took the opportunity to participate and contribute towards this socially relevant and important cause.

The Girl Effect (Video) International Day of the Girl brought everyone together and all over the world, inspirational things happened for girls. The UN called for an end to child marriage, and everyone from global leaders to girl champions spread the word that the time has come to listen to the girl, believe in her and invest in her – now. Click to watch: 7



DHAN Drive & Dharma Campaign

It was during the SI members’ Kodaikanal visit that the idea of the DHAN drive project was born. An art workshop was planned for the orphans and semi orphans of the Birds Nest Foundation. The project was coordinated by SI member Ms. Selvi and the SI Sisters in charge of the August month activities – Ms. Chitra Ganapathy & Ms. Sujatha Srinivasan. With the help of Mr. Babu Bhaskar the art teacher at Lakshmi School, we turned a dull Sunday into a colorful afternoon of fun for the 35 children at Birds Nest. Mr. Bhaskar patiently showed the children various techniques of drawing and painting. This was the first time the children had attended an art workshop and they enjoyed every minute of the session. At the end of the session, a school bag with geometry box was given to each child. As a sequel to the workshop the paintings were framed and were up for the sale to raise funds for further social work. At this juncture, we are grateful to Ms. Margaret Clark (President Elect SI Northern England) who bought 25 of the paintings from the Madurai club.

One of the objectives of SI Madurai is “Concern for the downtrodden”. Keeping this theme in view the SI sisters coordinating the August month activities identified a trust in Madurai which is doing yeoman’s service in this area. The Thiyagam Women Trust is a centre for the physically disabled women where employment is provided to them by running tailoring units and computer centers. The Thiyagam Trust is run by Ms. Amuthashanthi – a dedicated individual who is striving for the upliftment of women. Based on the discussions with her, the needs of the Thiyagam Trust were assessed and all SI members were requested to donate new and second hand household goods that could be used at the Thiyagam trust. The members responded enthusiastically by donating items like Kitchen utensils, computer accessories, clothes, books, a tailoring machine etc. We are grateful to the SI sisters for joining hands to help the less fortunate from 12 villages, through the Thiyagam Trust.

Quoting Ms. Selvi, “It is with a sense of fulfillment we look back at the workshop that was therapeutic as well as fun for children.” 8



Charter Day

Launch of the ‘SI Madurai Fund for Empowerment through Education’ In conjunction with the SI theme ‘Educate to Lead’, S.I. Madurai has launched the “S.I. Madurai Fund for Empowerment through Education” scheme. Initiated by Divya Gupta, this fund will provide scholarships to facilitate the education of deserving female students at college level.

S.I. Madurai celebrated its second charter day on 14th Sept. 2012 by honoring Dr. (Mrs.) Kalyani Mathivanan, the first woman Vice Chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University as the ‘Woman of The Year’. Dr. Nandini Murali introduced the Vice Chancellor and highlighted her extra ordinary service & dedication to the field of education. It is customary for the S.I. Madurai to celebrate its charter day, every year, by honoring eminent women, who have distinguished themselves, in their chosen field. Followed by Dr. Natchiar & Ms. Lakshmi Ramatullah, the first woman Vice Chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University was honored this year. The Citation was presented to Dr. Kalyani Mathivanan by Dr. Uma Kannan and Mrs. Anitha Rajarajan. Presentation of the Plaque was done by the SI Madurai President, Mrs. Divya Gupta.

This year, 11 deserving female students from Thiagarajar College and Fathima College were chosen and they have received scholarships (totally amounting to Rs. 75,000) to continue their education. The scholarships will fund their entire course thereby helping them earn an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. This scholarship scheme is an ongoing project and will be extended to all deserving women students in all colleges of Madurai city in the future. This year the scholarships were generously sponsored by Anitha Rajarajan, Divya Gupta, Jeyanthi Annamalai, Mridula Ramesh and Lalitha Anand.

The Vice Chancellor was then inducted as an honorary member. Three more new members were inducted- Gitanjali, Subathra and Gaurie. SI Madurai Welcomes our new members! SI member, Chithra Ganapthy hosted some interesting games and the evening ended with a delicious dinner at Kadambavanam.

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” – Brigham Young




Inauguration of the Cosmo Green Park On October 2nd 2012, we took a significant step towards the greening of Madurai. The much awaited inauguration of the Cosmo Green Park took place in the presence of Margaret Clark, (President Elect of SI Northern England), our SI guests from Bangalore: Matilda, Laura & Margaret, from Chennai: Naina, Lalitha, Anuradha & Chitra, from Pune: Dr. Anupama, Nisha and Neerah. The Park was inaugurated by Dr. Nantha Gopal, Corporation Commissioner of Madurai and Ms. Pat Black (President Elect SIGBI). The park project has been an on going project initiated by SI member, Ms. Anitha Rajarajan and made possible by Ms. Rukimini Palanivel Rajan who gave us this opportunity to design and develop the worlds first SI Park. It all started off with an SI project involving the local student community. A competition was conducted for the Architecture students of Thiagarajar College of Engineering. As a part of their curriculum, they were asked to design and present the layout of the park. The project stimulated their creativity and helped the students feel a sense of belonging and commitment towards Madurai. The design of the winning team was executed and the park finally took shape. It was a pleasant morning on the 2nd of October and our guests were given a traditional welcome with an elephant garlanding them with flowers. Dr. Nandini Murali was the emcee for the event. Ms. Divya Gupta said in her welcome address, “We must teach children to love nature before we ask them to protect it�. This was followed by Dr. Nantha Gopals speech where he mentioned the urgent need for green spaces the city. Ms. Pat Black was full of praise for the worthy projects done by our club in such a short span of time. Representatives of the Cosmo Club and the PTR trust also shared similar views. The event ended with many ideas for future projects including the park maintenance activities and nature related projects for children.




Books worth reading:

Answers to the Soroptimist Quiz

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn is inspired by a Chinese proverb that says, ‘Women hold up half the sky’. This book is a call to action against one of the most common and widespread type of human rights violations of our times. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalists take us on a journey through the developing world and focus on the oppression of women and girls in Asia and Africa. Kristoff and WuDunn introduce us to inspiring woman who turned their lives around in spite of facing poverty, violence and gender based discrimination. The book depicts the struggles of these women with anger, but ultimately arrives at hope. The authors help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential and shows us how we can each do our part. Two strong, moral voices tell the world how investing in women will change the world. “Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.” Heart felt and inspiring, Half the Sky is said to be one of the most powerful books on the subject. Inspired by the book, ‘Half the Sky’ is now also a multi platform, landmark movement ignited by innovative initiatives and fueled by high profile advocates from around the world. According to the website, “Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is galvanizing even more people to join the burgeoning movement for change.”


1. First Soroptimist club founded in Oakland, California in 1921 2. Their first project was to 'Save the Redwoods' – the great ancient trees that were being felled. They lobbied the legislature, took on powerful lumber companies, and won the support of the public. The result: a major portion of the forest was set aside as protected land and still exists today. 3. Soroptimist International (SI) is divided into four Federations: SI of the Americas, SI of Europe, SI Great Britain and Ireland (SIGBI) and SI South West Pacific. SIGBI alone comprises 355 clubs in 29 countries including India. SI Madurai is affiliated to SIGBI. 4. The five program areas include: Economic empowerment, Environmental sustainability, Food security & healthcare, Learning opportunities, Violence & conflict resolution. 5. The two new SIGBI clubs are: SI Masaka, Uganda & SI Kodaikanal India. 6. The annual federation conference is taking place in Belfast.

Upcoming Events: First Aid Course Learning life skills Christmas Market A stepping-stone into the commercial world: Encouraging women’s entrepreneurship ‘Womens Health Day’ Over 40’s health management Yoga Camp for Girls Self help to stay fit (Dates will be confirmed shortly)


OCTOBER 2012 2


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Photo Wall: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Presentation at Dr. Hema’s House Dinner hosted by Dr.Hema Sathish, Jayanthi Annamalai, Geethanjali Sharmila Siraj July Birthdays: Valli Annamalai, Dr. Uma Kannan, Dr. Haripriya SI Madurai Members at the AGM Dr. Kalyani Mathivanan, ‘Woman of the Year’, addressing the gathering Team SI in their ethnic best Lunch at heritage was hosted by Latha Abiruben, Sabina Ali, Divya Gupta & Lakshmi Murugesan for our out station guests who visited us in October 8. Dr. Manju’s daughter helping us out with the I-Day campaign


Words to live by:

Divya Gupta President 2012-13 Lakshmi Murugesan Vice President 2012-13 Sabina Ali Secretary 2012-13 Jayanthi Raja Treasurer 2012-13 Anitha Rajarajan PAC 2012-13

Newsletter feedback & contributions: Gaurie Gupta |

About Madurai We are writing to you from Madurai. Situated on the banks of river Vaigai, Madurai, is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, India. The name ‘Madurai’, comes from the Tamil word ‘mathuram’ – meaning sweetness. This ‘antique city’ is endowed with a rich cultural heritage. The history of Madurai dates back to the 6th century B.C. Madurai was the much-acclaimed capital of the Pandya kings. Back then, it functioned as an important commercial center of South India. Madurai is famous for its temples, monuments and ancient cultural wonders. It is even called ‘The Temple city’ and ‘The Athens of the East’. Today the vibrant city of Madurai bustles with activity from dawn to dusk. Madurai’s Meenakshi Temple is one of the greatest architectural marvels of India and it attracts thousands of pilgrims every year from all over the world.

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