The newly elected president of the Rotaract Club of Verulam describes herself as a humble environmental lover who grew up in a close knit family that influenced the person she is today. Born in Newlands but bred in Verulam, Bhavisthra Ramlagan seeks to bring lasting change to the community of Verulam with her team. Tongaat and Verulam Tabloid managed to chat to Ramlagan before she could start the hard task ahead of her.
TVT: When did you realise you had passion to do community work?
BR: It wasn’t a realisation of passion, coming from a humble, charitable family community work came almost naturally for me.
TVT: What are some of the challenges you have faced throughout your journey of helping those in need in your community?
BR: How do you define in need? Its’ often been a challenge to distinguish between those that have nothing and those that have minimal. The minimal still need supplies or help or whatever their cause may be but the ones that have nothing need it even more. It’s become difficult to balance all that we have and distribute it equally to the parties in need. Furthermore with the economy standing as it currently is sponsorships has decreased over the years.
Companies are struggling to stay afloat let alone sponsor towards charitable drives. Naturally we have had to find a way around this to keep our spirits high. Sometimes the littlest things matter, like time, attention and these don’t cost much I have been involved in community social clubs for a while. However once I had finished university I had some time on my hands and decided to put it to better use than Netflix. Hence, through a colleague at work I joined the Rotaract Club of Verulam.
TVT: What does it mean to you to be a president of the club?
BR: For me, it means my members, my board and our parent club Rotary uMhlanga all have faith in me. It means not letting them and my family down and always puting my best foot forward and upholding the name behind Rotary itself.
TVT: Growing up what did you want to be?
BR: I have always been environmentally conscious so I wanted to be an environmental activist. I got close though, I am an environmental scientist.
TVT: What is one thing you have overcome in your life?
BR: There are many but perhaps the biggest one would be my fear of heights which I conquered when I went solo skydiving.
TVT: What community projects are you involved in?
BR: I am involved with all the Rotaract Community Projects, and we often assist YAHIP, Verulam Environmental Forum, CPF, Verulam Child and Family Welfare Society and many other organisations. Our main projects that we try and assist on a monthly basis are the Igamalihle Orphanage in Inanda which caters for 18 HIV/AIDS orphans from the community and also assisting the Ramakrishna Mzamo Home for disabled children. There are also several other projects and some in the pipeline as well.
TVT: What is the one thing you have been fortunate enough to be part of?
BR: Having being selected as part of the 37th Know India Programme as an Indian diaspora I was fortunate enough to spend six weeks in India and really learn about a different way of life. Before the end of this life I hope to make a difference and a real change in both my community and my career.
TVT: What are some of the things we can see in your achievement list and your proudest moments?
BR: Being the secretary of the Just 4 Sport Athletics Club; President of Rotary of Verulam, Group leader of most group projects throughout university as well as leading a few Rotary projects and participating in the 37th Know India Programme.
TVT: What response have you had from community members?
BR: The economic climate has of course effected the community’s response towards sponsorships. However, Verulam and its residents always pull through. Their hearts are warm thus we always manage to find a way to make our projects happen. It is only because of the generous and giving nature of the Verulam community that the Rotaract Club of Verulam exists.
TVT: What are some of the best compliments have you received?
BR: Probably my ability to be empathetic and that I tend to always try and see the sunshine in all situations.
TVT: What is your other greatest passion that you have managed to do apart from being a community activist?
BR: Finding a job within the environmental field. I live my career and have great aspirations for where I want to go, but right now this is where I want to be.
TVT: What advice would you give for aspiring young people who want to fight for the community and help those in need?
BR: You have to start somewhere, you have to take that first step, and you have to actually move in that direction. It starts small, keep yourself in mind, and don’t stop moving. Joining a club like ours can guide you to where you want to go. We are no saints and we make our mistakes, but we try to make a meaningful difference within our community. Come join our meetings and you’ll definitely love it.
TVT: What is the achievement you are most proud of?
BR: Selected for 37th Know India Programme in 2016 and 2017
TVT: What are your future plans for the club?
BR: In the words of Barry Rassin, ‘I believe now is the time to understand who and what we are and where we should be going’. I want to raise this club to level of self-sustainment, where it’s both an enjoyable group activity as well as doing something with that group energy and vibe. Furthermore, we have such a vibrant group of members from such diverse back grounds that outing together all their ideas and intentions can only lead to food in our community.
I want us to create sustaining projects, projects where the initial investment is required but projects that continue without dependence on us. It’s not going to be easy but I have fantastic board and a great team. We are also a group of people that came together to do good within our community, now that same group has become a family, a support system and most importantly friends. I have no doubt that we can deliver.
TVT: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
BR: My family but more especially my parents. I know their struggle, trials and tribulations that they had to endure to get where they are now and to give me the life that I have. They have worked so hard to make sure my brother and I get what we needed to become good people. They are my true inspiration and my role models.
I sleep better at night knowing that I have …Love and light in my life.
TVT: What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
BR: Late rising,breakfast, brunch or lunch, an adventure, be it to the beach in Umdloti or to the coffee farm in Assagay, family time and definitely an early night.