Over the last three years, Project WASH of RAC Ahmedabad Narol, RID 3055, is inculcating basic hygiene and sanitation habits among adults and children alike in this city. “In each session, we have at least 15 children and adults who learn from our public demonstration with water-filled bucket as Rotaractors show them how to wash their hands thoroughly with soap. This year, we are consistent in holding the awareness demo, at least once a month, at public space like garden, school, slum area and anganwadi,” says club’s IPP Hemil Acharya. So far, they would have conducted around 25 WASH sessions, but during the pandemic times, “we could not hold it due to restrictions.”
Rotaractors distribute freshly prepared food packets to the children and their families from lower rungs of society at times during WASH demos. “Project WASH has brought us greater visibility among the public and good feedback from the beneficiaries,” says Acharya. Last year the club sponsored a new Rotaract club — RAC New L.J.I.E.T — on the campus of L J Institute of Engineering and Technology in Ahmedabad with 56 charter members. “As there are very few institute-based clubs in the city, we want to promote Rotary in colleges and private institutions. Hence, we started the new Rotaract club which will create a new bonding and fellowship for its members,” he explains.
From July, the Rotaractors start the spadework for Project Rakshika (protection) in which raakhis (traditional bracelets made of colourful threads to express sibling love) are purchased in bulk from Andh Kanya Prakash Gruh, a school for the blind girls, and then sold at the retail markets on days leading to Raksha Bandhan. “We bought 1,500 raakhis made by partially blind girls for Rs.15,000 and sold them mostly to Rotaractors, Rotarians and the public. Funds are mobilised internally for Project Rakshika which benefits the blind school that has around 200 girls from deprived families,” he says.
The club also buys Diwali diyas (earthen lamps) from the blind school and sells them at local markets for “which there is great demand during festival days.” On the second day of Holi, celebrated as Dhuleti by Gujaratis where they spray coloured water and powder on each other, “we organised a zonal meet in which 250 Rotaractors from zone-1 of RID 3055 took part. It was an occasion for networking and fellowship among us. We came to know each other better.”
Friendship Day was celebrated along with Rotaractors of RAC Ahmedabad Midtown under Project Langotiya Yaar (childhood buddy). Multiple games were played and they quizzed each other which created a bond among Rotaractors. I-Day was celebrated with the girl students at the blind school in partnership with RAC Ahmedabad West (Blind), an exclusive club for visually-impaired with around a dozen members. A number of fund games was held and the students were motivated by Rotaractors to excel in their studies.
In another friendship event, Dosti, along with RAC Ahmedabad Prahladnagar, a fun programme was held for children at a slum colony. Saloni Dalal took charge as club president this year in the presence of DRR Saheli Dhiren Shah and DRS Ankit Patel in a grand installation ceremony. In another event, DG Mehul Rathod and DRCC Shyam Kumar presided over the installation of Zonal Rotaract Representative-1 Sulai Shah, with Saloni as secretary; and ZRR-4 Tejendra Vaghela.
Sponsored by RC Ahmedabad Narol, the five-year-old community-based club with 35 members meets twice a month for project reviews, planning and chalking out the implementation process. “We often use online platforms like Google and Zoom to meet and discuss, as professionals find it easy this way to interact with each other,” says Acharya. An annual membership fee of Rs.2,000 is being collected from Rotaractors, “but we are very flexible in the mode of payment and they can pay in instalments.” They have raised the annual fee by Rs.200 after RI’s mandatory dues came into force.
All the funds required for service projects and outreach activities are met through member contributions as well as from the club account. “Till now, we had not sought any sponsors or the help of our parent Rotary in our project execution,” says Acharya who has completed BTech in Computer Science and Engineering (cybersecurity). Having been a Rotaractor for five years, “I am looking forward to become a dual member soon.”
Hemal Acharya will be pursuing a Masters in Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity at the University of Albany, State University of New York. “I will continue to be a Rotaractor while living in the US. Last year, I was also the Rotaract district finance director, apart from being the club secretary, which was a good learning experience for me,” he adds.