It was a call that got us started and had us scrambling madly for the next two weeks. DG Babu Peram called me one fine morning to say that Rotary International President Barry Rassin would be in Chennai between Oct 5th and 7th for the Rotary Institute and that I should email him requesting him to inaugurate the Cognizant 25 School project. This initiative to renovate Government schools with the funds from Cognizant Outreach has been the toast of the District and we felt it would be fitting if it was flagged off by the RI President himself.  So, off I shot an email and bingo, in two hours flat, the President himself replied saying he would be happy to do it. ‘Thank you for all you are doing’, he graciously concluded in his email.
Srini Rao is the first person to call for any emergency work to be executed in style. I was happy he took upon the challenge. There were a few restrictions imposed for the visit – the RI Prez cannot come out of the hotel or travel to the far off schools and only 15 minutes was allowed in view of his tight schedule. We concluded that the only possible way he could inaugurate was by releasing a coffee table book and by seeing a film on the project at the hotel itself. This required quite a bit of work to be done before the D-day which was fixed as Sun, 7th Oct. And we had an intervening fellowship to Langkawi too.
Srini got into the act and roped in Revathi and Annette Sruti Sada. Photos of the work being carried on were readily available with Nagarajan. A professional videographer quickly shot the raw footage at the schools. Sowmya Ravi and Vikram Srinivasan gave the voice over professionally and soon we had a lovely coffee table book and film ready, just in time for the Sunday event.
The Cognizant 25 Schools project, branded as Rebuild 25, is a significant renovation initiative entrusted to RC Madras East by Cognizant Outreach. After much due diligence, RCME was chosen as the implementation partner for this US $ 550,000 project on account of the club’s reputation to implement big projects as well as the succession plan that is in place, for the project was expected to span more than one Rotary year. The requirements were scoped in each of the 25 schools identified and there was a budget of approximately US $ 20,000 for each school. Selection of contractors, execution and quality control were RCME’s responsibility. A team led by Rtn Nagarajan, our member and an expert project manager, is handling the assignment very capably.
7th Oct 2018 was a red letter day in the annals of RCME for a serving RI President visited the club’s project for the first time. At 6.30 pm, Rtn Barry Rassin walked into the meeting room at Hotel Leela Palace to a tumultuous welcome by the large numberof our members who had gathered despite yet another fabulous award function that morning. After my customary welcome speech that I restricted to less than 2 minutes, we had Mr Deepak Prabhu Matti, Director-CSR, Cognizant and Global Head, Cognizant Outreach, speak on the project. He commended our club’s implementation of the project and had very nice words for us. RI Director, Basker Chockalingam, who was instrumental in bringing the Prez to our club, complimented us on bagging this huge project. Rtn Barry Rassin himself gave an inspiring speech thanking our members for bringing about a change in the lives of 8000 students in the 25 Govt schools. He also released the Rebuild 25 coffee table book. He keenly viewed the film on the project that vividly captured its salient features in a lovely Q & A format that was ideated by Revathi and Sruti.No meeting is complete without the customary group photo and Rtn Barry obliged the members and anns present.
It was truly an event that showcased the capability of RCME. And hats off to the district administration for choosing this project, that has indeed redefined Corporate -Rotary partnership, as fit to showcase to Rotary’s top leadership.

For more photos please click the below link