A Rotary cricket blood bank in Pakistan


The International Fellowship of Cricket Loving Rotarians, IFCR, is one of the largest and most successful of the many Fellowships within Rotary International. It organizes Cricket Festivals around the world every two or three years and in non-festival years, teams visit each other's countries to play cricket. In addition, IFCR has become a forum of fundraising - and a matchmaker for Matching Grant projects within Rotary International. The Rotary - Give Free Blood Bank in the City of Gujranwala, Pakistan, is a result of such a matchmaking of Rotarian cricketers. For some, the project therefore also has become known as the Rotary Cricket Blood Bank.


Here is the story:Rotarians from Australia and Pakistan embraced the idea of a Rotary blood bank in the Pakistani City of Gujranwala during the Fourth World Rotary Cricket Festival in Hunter Valley, Australia, in November 2004 and worked on the project for more than a year.


The basic lab equipment for the blood bank was acquired through a Matching Grant project between Rotary Club Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia District 9800, and Ruryila Rotary Club, Gujranwala, Pakistan, District 3270 - with support from  The Rotary Foundation.The project had a budget of 24,979 US Dollars. A local Rotarian had donated the building site.


The Rotarian cricketers' blood bank project opened in July 2006 under the name of Give Free Blood Bank. The administration of the blood bank was placed in the hands of a local registered NGO, the GIVE Development Foundation, while the Rotary Club Ruryila in Gujranwala, a city with a population of 1.1 million people, assumed the supervising responsibility.


"Since its start, the Give Free Blood Bank has provided more than 6000 pints of blood to the needy and deserving patients in the city of Gujranwala and surrounding areas who can not otherwise afford the help," Sajid Pervaiz Bhatti, the cricket playing chairman of the blood bank sums up in a report to ourblooddrive.org.


"Blood is especially provided to those kids who are suffering from bleeding disorders such as Haemophilia and Thelisemia," Sajid Bhatti says.


According to the blood bank chairman, the level of safety follows the international standards. Every blood donor has to pass the viral tests and a brief blood donor history is taken before bleeding. Currently, the blood bank is providing only whole blood. As the next step, RC Ruryila plans for the provision of blood component therapy, of which this community is "in dire need. Our goal is to provide these blood components free to patients, who have no other place to go for such gratis service within a distance of 200 kilometres," Sajid Bhatti says.


The blood bank collects blood from volunteer donors at camps within the local community, including various educational institutions. In addition, Rotary Club of Ruryila organizes seminars on non-remunerated blood donations. At the end of such seminars, appreciation certificates and shields are given to volunteer blood donors in recognition of their life saving contribution.


For its efforts, the Rotary Club Ruryila has received the Awardfor Best District community project within District 3270.


Pakistan Red Crescent Society explains at its website about blood donation: "Islamic law urges every Muslim to be in constant support of his community, and makes it a legal requirement in many cases. . . Therefore, if giving blood to a patient is necessary for his survival then, according to Islam, it becomes mandatory to donate blood." With an estimated population of 170 million people, Pakistan is the second most populous Muslim nation in the world.


Rotary Club Ruryila has also decided to establish an  AIDS/HIV Awareness Center in the City of Gujranwala, which will be offering  free testing and counseling.  To establish such a center, RC Ruryila is looking for one or more interested Rotary clubs abroad for a Matching Grant project.  


Sajid Bhatti was president of RC Ruryila in 2001-02, he served as Assistant Governor the following year, and he is a Multiple Paul Harris Fellow. He is the founder and chair of IFCR Pakistan Chapter and serves on the IFCR Board of Directors as the Pakistan Representative. He has attended IFCR cricket Festivals in Australia and Sri Lanka. Sajid Bhatti has held several offices at the district level in D-3270, and serves now as District Chairman 2008-09 for the promotion of the Rotary International Convention in Birmingham.




Rotary Club Ruryila organized a blood drive on Feb. 16, 2009. at Punjab Group of Colleges at Gujranwala Campus where 113 volunteer blood donors donated blood for needy patients. The blood camp was inaugurated by the Director of the Punjab group of  Colleges. Before donating blood, all volunteers had to pass their viral screening tests and their history was taken by a doctor. Nine  students were refused to donate blood due to Hepatitis C positive in the screening test. (Report to GNBD by Sajid Bhatti).




Since its inception in 1993, IFCRhas raised over 110,000 pound Sterling for Rotary humanitarian projects in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa, Fiji and Australia - primarily due to contacts made while touring the countries and playing cricket. IFCR World Chairman, Mike Jackson from the Rotary Club of Fordingbridge, District 1100of Great Britain, says that, "whilst the Rotary Fellowships exist primarily for Rotarians to share their common hobbies and interests, this donation also shows that they remain true to the philosophy of Rotary and are eager to do well in the world."


In the history of Rotary Club Hawthorn, Australia, the matching grant project with Rotary Club Ruryila, Pakistan, is one of several notable humanitarian projects: "During 2005 we organized a project to set up a Rotary Cricket Blood Bank in Gujranwala, Pakistan. Our partner club was RC of Gujranwala Civil Line. The total funds available for purchase of equipment there was just under USD 25,000. The land on which the Blood Bank was established was kindly donated by a local Rotarian."  


A recount of the cricket festival event in Australia states: "There were fourteen teams from seven countries and around 300 people who participated during the week. The teams were from Australia, UK, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa. There were also exchange students from France and Austria plus the RI World President Elect Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar from Sweden, so you could say there were 10 countries involved. $20,000 was raised for Australian Rotary Health Research Fund."


On a personal note, Sajid Bhatti pays special tribute to two Rotarian friends for making the blood bank project come through: Richard Groom from RC Hawthorn, " . the man who made it possible with all his effort, which  is admirable, to make it successful from the initial to the final stage regarding financial assistance and moral support. Very special thanks go to Mike Jackson, Chairman of the International Fellowship of Cricket Loving Rotarians, who introduced us to a folder of IFCR. And his club, RC Fordingbridge, has contributed to the project with about 450 US Dollar."

Next Cricket Festival of the International Fellowship of Cricket Loving Rotarians, IFCR, will take place in South Africa in 2010.


Sajid Bhattican be contacted at cell phone 92-300-7416682 or by e-mail bhatisaj@yahoo.com,


Go to PHOTOS to see pictures. 


Send your comment to:editor@ourblooddrive.org