In a neighbourhood teeming with social projects and residents taking interest in community welfare, the Rotaractors of RAC New Delhi, D 3011, have their task cut out. DRR Ashima Agarwal says that most of the 1,400 Rotaractors are active in numerous projects being implemented by 35 clubs in the district.
Turning the spotlight on their flagship project, she says from July this year, “we have developed a Social Design concept which has been taken up with much enthusiasm by 4–5 clubs. By the end of the Rotary year, we are hopeful that 80 per cent of the clubs would have taken up at least one specific project under the Social Design concept.” Simply put, a Social Design project involves activities that impact the community directly such as plastic recycling, gardening or creating awareness on social issues. RACs New Delhi and Saksham are the first ones to embrace the Social Design project by implementing a novel Vertical Gardening project that involves the recycling of plastic bottles. Here the plastic containers and holders are arranged vertically on public walls, metro pillars, schools, destitute homes and parks so that plants can be grown in these.
We want to make a good sturdy park bench with 70–80 Bisleri bottles and place it in a municipal park.
— Wamil Baluja, President, RAC New Delhi
Once a week, Rotaractors water the plants which are chained through jute ropes so that the entire green symmetry gets adequate circulation of water. “Vertical Gardening does not require much funding as we have plenty of plastic waste dumped all around, while we need plants, manure and permission to use public space or school wall for developing this Social Design project.”
Recycling the plastic has not stopped with just Vertical Gardening for the members of RAC New Delhi. By mid-August, they had collected over 500 plastic bottles and mixed them with high-grade cement to develop school and park benches. “We can make a good sturdy park bench with 70–80 Bisleri bottles and place it in a municipal park. We are awaiting permission for making school benches from the authorities,” says Wamil Baluja, President, RAC New Delhi. The Rotaractors have already built a vertical garden with plastic waste by planting 100 saplings on a public wall in Vikaspuri colony.
With 130 members, this community-based club is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a number of high-visibility projects. They have set up a compact library with two metal racks holding 1,500 books at Ayudham Society, an old-age home-cum-orphanage at Najafgarh, under Akshar Project. “We will lend the books to children and the library will be expanded,” he says.
Through such Social Design projects “we will bring some benefits to the marginalised people. We are still doing research on devising new projects through plastic recycling like setting up natural air conditioners to promote an eco-friendly lifestyle,” says Sanchita Nagpal. Through Project Dhanak, the club has adopted a slum in Vikaspuri to engage the children with mentoring and teaching sessions. “The children are taught basic manners, etiquette, simple math and English. We host an Annual Day for them with culturals. Also, a doctor visits the area once in three months to check the health of children.”
A moral support
While it is always better to have more Rotaractors for project outreach, Baluja says, “though we love to have more hands to execute projects, we have a parent Rotary (RC New Delhi) who is ever ready to give us support in the form of loagistics and resources, when required.” Last year, he recalls, they did a WinS project at a government school in Malvia Nagar which was sponsored by their parent Rotary.