Prafull Karnik, past president of the Rotary Club of Thane East, Maharashtra, India
Our unique partnership with the Rotary Club of Mission Viejo in California, USA, began more than a decade ago when I was president and I was looking for a centennial project for our club. With other members of the club, I visited Nakhwa School in Thane, established in 1964 to provide education for children from low-income families, and was convinced this would be a great opportunity for us to serve.
On a visit to California, I met with the Mission Viejo club and discussed the project, and they were excited to partner with us on a Rotary Foundation grant. We were able to provide benches, electrical fans, glass boards, a water tank, science lab equipment, library books, and six computers with Internet access for the school of 600 plus students. We also purchased four tailoring machines to teach female students sewing and kits to teach electrical skills to male students. We completed the project in four months at a cost of $14,000.
Members in both clubs were very much willing to continue the partnership, and so when a doctor from the Mission Viejo club proposed providing equipment to help a school for the deaf and mute in our area, we jumped at the chance. After a needs study, we combined to raise money and purchase audiometers and establish a sound proof room for speech therapy and audiometry so the school could monitor the progress of every child. The second project was finished in 2007.
Our Rotary district has been involved with many sustainable water projects in the last couple decades, constructing check dams in rural areas. Our district’s water management team assigned us to oversee the building of a check dam and four bore wells as part of a regional strategy. Once again, the members in Mission Viejo came to our help, and we partnered on a Foundation Grant to provide the improvements and give 600 people clean drinking water and a means to irrigate their fields. The project was completed in four months in 2009 at a cost of $11,750. Two years later, we combined for another grant project that built three more check dams.
Last year, we combined with the Mission Viejo club on our very first global grant, constructing four check dams and digging four bore wells at a cost of $33,500. The project is providing drinking water to more than 3,000 and allowing them to have sufficient irrigation to plant two crops a year.
It has been a beautiful partnership that has allowed Rotary members in both California and Maharashtra to work together to help people and improve our community. The connection continues this year with another global grant for five more check dams and bore wells that will benefit more than 4,300 people. We are determined to carry this partnership forward as far as we can, and show the world just what Rotary members can accomplish when we work together!