Members were living and breathing the club’s motto on their recent trip to India
“The Rotary Club Prague International has been supporting an initiative in India that encourages families to support their children's primary education for over seven years now,” says Gerry Tipple who recently returned from a trip to India. The purpose of the trip was to take part in this year’s school presentation and also to do a preliminary assessment of the potential for a Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project with a Rotary Foundation global grant.
A group of Rotarians spent one week learning about the obstacles to development and education in Rajasthan by visiting rural communities. They discovered economic pressures, cultural norms and various inhibitions that must be taken into account when designing a project like this. The primary goal is to work with the community and schools to inform children and mothers about hygiene and to provide drinking water, washing facilities and toilets in schools.
“Tens of thousands of children are losing important time at school because of sickness resulting from lack of clean water, toilets and poor hygiene practices,” Gerry explains, emphasizing that girls especially struggle to stay at school once they begin menstruating.
“The people we met everywhere were friendly, open, and generous - and didn’t laugh at us even though we spent so much time peering into their toilets,” Gerry says with a smile, adding that any trip to India is a learning experience.
Gerry Tipple is the Rotary Foundation Chair of the Rotary Club Prague International – one of 34,282 clubs in more than 200 countries and areas uniting approximately 1.2 million people who use their wide range of skills and talents to help others who are less fortunate. The WASH project is just one of many initiatives organized by the members of the club.
Other projects coming up in the next two months include the Dragon Boat Charity Challenge, a major fundraiser for two local charities, a country & western line-dancing dinner to raise money for ICTUS who supports people who have had strokes and a special showing of the film Lida Barova with English subtitles which will raise money for the Rotary Foundation.
Rotarians are neighbors, friends and community leaders who come together to create positive, lasting change in their communities and around the world. Like-minded people find ways to have fun and to provide humanitarian services in the spirit of collaboration and international friendship.
A variety of other purely social events like walking weekends and bike rides are organized to simultaneously offer a fun experience and develop friendships with other international clubs. There are many local projects organized by the club including the Youth Exchange program: an opportunity for students from the Czech Republic to travel abroad whilst the club hosts students from clubs across the world. Last year the club sent one student to Colombo, one to Mexico and one to the USA and they hosted a student from Peru and one from the USA.
Even the WASH project in India has roots in Prague. The clubs involvement in India started with an education initiative that encourages families to support their children's primary schooling by providing uniforms, bags, shoes, blankets, warm clothing, exercise books, writing materials and in some cases even covering school fees. This is funded by the annual “Indian Foods Helps!” campaign which delivers Indian lunches to offices and organizations around the city for two weeks.
The food for the campaign is prepared by Mamun, a Rotarian who runs the Curry House Restaurant. From every meal sold, 60 CZK is collected for the program that also receives personal donations from club members.
“This year we raised 100,000 CZK for the program and that goes a long way in India,” explains Gerry, “We supplied 235 children with bags and uniforms as well as the school with a lot of equipment. It has been our most successful year so far.”
What makes Rotary Club Prague International stand out as a club is the international nature of the members – 15 different nationalities at last count – and the wide range of different backgrounds which brings different perspectives and expertise to social issues and finding unique solution and the passion and perseverance to create lasting change.
“Our trip to India also showed us that we need to find a way of empowering the women of the village who do most of the work but have little economic independence,” says Gerry, proving that the organization always goes the extra mile in projects both at home and across the globe.