BENGALURU: Come September, Kannadigas from across the globe will converge in the US in Dallas, Texas, to celebrate World Kannada Conference organised by North America Vishwa Kannada Association (NAVIKA). The person who is at the helm of this global meet is Dr Renuka Ramappa, the first woman president of NAVIKA. But for this sprightly 75-year-old gynaecologist, who specialises in robotic surgery, overseeing a convention of this scale isn’t as much a challenge as it is a matter of pride.
“I feel privileged and proud to serve Kannadigas residing across the globe,” says Dr Renuka who is also one of the founders of Florida-based NAVIKA. It has been a long journey for the doctor, who graduated from Mysore Medical College, got her DRCOG, or Diploma of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists from England and moved to the US in 1975. She trained in obstetrics and gynaecology at a Miami hospital and after her MD, began practising here.
She has managed to not only balance her career and home but also played an active role in helping the 2-lakh strong Kannada diaspora in the US. Through NAVIKA, and prior to that Shreegandha Kannada Koota, Dr Renuka has played apart in ensuring Kannadigas in the US remain connected to their roots. She was also in the chair for World Kannada Convention in Orlando.
Apart from helping the diaspora bond through celebrations like Ganesha-Gauri festival, Deepavali, Rajyotsava, Sankranthi and others, NAVIKA conducts picnics, annual health fairs, yoga and spiritual sessions, business summits, social and women-related meets and literary as well as cultural programmes, where artists from Karnataka are invited.
Dr Renuka has also spearheaded the launch of 'Yuva Soochi' scheme, which aims to help and guide students of Karnataka who wish to pursue higher education in the US. “Our purpose is to help young Kannadigas who are in distress and need assistance. We provide relief to them,'' she said, adding their main objective is to involve and unite all Kannadigas residing across the globe.
Through Kannada Kali programme, the GenNext too is able to learn the native language.
The support from her family, including two children who are also surgeons, has helped her through, she says. “My children would say, ‘Mom, please go ahead and do community service. We might not be able to achieve what you have but we will try to do our bit’,” says Dr Renuka.