Why we embarked on preventive adolescent cervical vaccination
By Christy Anyanwu
ChWe have a heart of gold and we are simply called Change Maker. Rotarian President Kamlesh Jain is the CEO, Excelminds Corporate Services, Excelminds Jobs, Lagos. With leadership trainings and guidance in India, the Gulf, Europe and Lagos, she aims to help people realize their true potential in their personal, relationship and professional lives.
Recently another feather was added to her cap as the first woman president of the Lagos Island Rotary Club. In a colorful investiture ceremony attended by leading business leaders and philanthropists, Rtn Kamlesh Jain spoke with the Sunday Sun about his plans, his perception of Nigeria and many of things about the little girl.
How do you feel being the first woman president of this club?
First of all, I am both honored and privileged to have this opportunity to serve as the 6th President of the Rotary Club of Lagos Island. It would be an honor to take on such a strong responsibility in the service of one of the most respected Rotary clubs in District 9110. I express my sincere gratitude for their trust in me as this Rotary Year’s leader. .
When did you join Rotary and why Rotary?
I joined this club in 2016. It was five years ago. I am a professional trainer. I do corporate training. I empower young people for work and I also recruit. I have noticed that there is a lot of unemployment in Nigeria and people need it. In doing so, I started to train them and help them find a job. My husband founded the Rotary Club and is a chartered secretary. When he started the club I was not ready to go because I knew they were more in charity and I was already in that, I am already doing vocational training and I help people find a job.
Did you come directly from India to Nigeria?
I have been staying in the Gulf countries for over 20 years. I have stayed in Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrin, having stayed in these countries; Africa is another place to explore. We have heard so many bad things about Africa, but when I got here I found it totally different. The media is something that has given Africa a bad image. I always tell people that Nigeria is such a lovely place, lovely people, lots of business potential. The country is very safe, I even travel at night and I am not disturbed. You see good and bad things happening everywhere and in all countries, but you cannot assess the people or the country by just one incident. You really have to come, see for yourself, that’s what I’m telling people about Nigeria.
What do you like about Nigeria?
Nigerians appreciate knowledge, appreciate wisdom, when you give them something they really appreciate it and they give you back so much. Living here for the past five years is so amazing. So much love, appreciation and they appreciate you who have something they can learn. They are open to learning. They are so flexible. They are so grateful. Gratitude is so much in Nigeria. That’s why I love Nigeria.
As president, what are your projects and visions during your mandate?
Projects like free cataract surgeries. We need at least N15 million to handle the 15,000 surgeries we plan to do. We also screen for cervical cancer. We’re targeting 1,000 girls to take on cervical cancer screening and that’s vaccination, we need about $ 35 million to make that happen. I am already, prepared and completely enthusiastic about it. We intend to collect these funds from different companies with CSR activities; as part of these CSR activities, they help us manage these projects. We would go to these companies to ask for their support. For the cervical cancer program, we are also seeking support from Rotary International. We have already applied for the Rotary International Grand Mondial. We have projects coming up October 11-22, 2021 in Kano and Lagos. Our President of the Eye Surgery Project Department, Rtn Hiro, has just revealed the free start of this year’s free cataract surgery camp for 800 beneficiaries. These days we have noticed that cataracts which used to be a problem for the elderly, but surprisingly small children these days are now becoming victims. I was amazed when one of us, Rtn Manu Lalwani, President of the Mission for Vision Project, spoke about these eye defects. The polio awareness camp and contribution are also essential for me.
Tell us more about cervical vaccination and why this passion for the little girl and women, is it because you are a woman?
Vaccination is every three months. Each girl receives three doses of vaccination every three months. We do screening for young girls aged 13 to 19; it’s a very bad thing that happens to these little girls. Out of a thousand screening tests, nearly 20 to 30 girls could test positive for cervical cancer. What we are doing is giving them a preventive vaccination. Nigerian girls are going through so much on this, we have to focus on this. Another thing is that we are distributing sanitary napkins to 10 schools three months ago and we are giving these napkins to the final year students due to the unsanitary conditions, the girls were not able to manage the hygiene of their body . We also adopted the girls’ school by donating books to the school library. We give them good books to read, that’s all to empower the girl. If you empower the girl, you empower the whole country. Women are agents of change as daughters, sisters, wives and mothers and grandmothers and it is done effortlessly. Rotary gives ordinary women the opportunity to do extraordinary things. By working with like-minded women and men, they develop and build on their existing strengths and become leaders in action. The work that women in Rotary around the world do in public and behind the scenes is incredible. Women are both the “mover and agitator” in our clubs, but they are also very well represented in leadership positions in clubs, districts and beyond across Nigeria. I am proud to mention that we have 40 percent female members in our club and board of directors.
As a leader, what does service mean to you?
Service to me is making the person next to you happy. My immediate environment, I start with them. If I can make just one person working with me happy, I’m happy. I start with them. Then, the people who help me in the concession, the electricians, the cooks, all those who work in my concession, I allow them to have lunch with me. It gives me happiness. Treat a loved one. Do not go far and elsewhere to please someone. Start in your immediate environment. Your driver, your cooks, before you go to the community. Normally give accommodation to our boys for the staff and their children are there. I don’t have to go far and they love me for it. (Pointing to a black teenage girl) This is my team; she took care of me like no one else. She’s like my daughter.
What lessons have you learned from life?
Kindness and humility are stronger than power and pride. Having new experiences, cherishing relationships, and living a healthy life are worth more than wealth and fame.
They call you Change Maker President, why?
I no longer accept the things that I cannot change… I change the things that I cannot accept, this is a quote from Angela Davis. And I will do this through the lens of my personal leadership journey, applying the passion I have for change and the ways I know my club can achieve it through collective leadership and collaboration. I look forward to continuing my growth as a leader! And I would look forward to enlisting the support of my capable GM, AG, BOD, our advisor, members and kind sponsors.
Your simplicity is greatly admired; does it have anything to do with growing up?
My mother is like me. Growing up when I was cooking, the first thing she did was serve food to anyone who walked through the door. You can be a cleaner, a caretaker, anyone who comes to my house, the first thing is you have to eat. She said if they are happy we are happy. She left me almost eight years ago and I really miss her. If she had seen me like this today when I was inaugurated, she would be happy. A sentence she said to me in Hindu when she left is interpreted as: “You can accomplish anything in your life if you want to.” If you feel defeated from the bottom of your heart, you are already defeated, but if you are a winner on the inside, you will win ”.
You have a supportive husband, how did you meet him?
We met in India courted for three years and her 33 years old we are married now. We have two boys. One is in Spain. He works with Amazon, the other is in New Zealand, he is a software engineer and another is a biotechnologist in India. They are all doing very well. I also have a daughter-in-law who looks more like a girl to me. I wish to have a granddaughter as my daughter-in-law. She is a lovely girl.