Water RYLA focuses on conservation in India
The Alaknanda group built a rooftop water-harvesting system (top) for a local school during Water RYLA 22-24 August, in villages of Kelva Beach, Palghar, India. (Bottom) The Ravi group completes a reservoir dam. Photo courtesy of Water RYLA
Work on several health-related club projects in western India gave Rotarian Bal Inamdar a firsthand view of the plight of villages that lack usable water.
So, aiming to improve health, hygiene, and cash crops for farmers through cleaner water, Inamdar in August convened the first water-themed Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) workshop.
"Today's youth needs to be made aware of water-related problems," says Inamdar. "They need to be stimulated to think about solutions. Water RYLA has opened the minds of our future leaders about the importance of clean water and created an opportunity for a hands-on experience."
During Water RYLA, held 22-24 August, 160 participants from District 3140 were divided into four groups to develop water-harvesting projects in villages of Kelva Beach, Palghar, India.
Each year, thousands of young people ages 14 to 30, who are chosen for their potential as leaders, attend an all-expenses-paid RYLA seminar, camp, or workshop to develop leadership skills.
RYLAs that focus on a theme or world issue such as safe water, poverty, or global climate change, are becoming more popular according to the RI Programs Division. The benefit of thematic RYLAs is twofold: They tend to appeal to a broader age range than a RYLA that covers basic leadership skills, and their themes encourage participants to focus their ideas of leadership, citizenship, and responsibility.
"This is a qualitative addition to the existing structure of RYLA," says Inambar. "The goal is to have a sustainable impact on communities."
Three weeks before the RYLA workshop, participants were divided into four groups, each named after a river in India--Ravi, Yamuna, Luni, and Alaknanda (R.Y.L.A.). Each group researched and conducted a water project that had to be completed in a single day.
Two groups, Ravi and Luni, created reservoir dams along rivulets. The Yamuna team constructed a contoured embankment to catch rainwater running from the mountains and hills. And the Alaknanda group, made up of 28 hearing-impaired students, built a rooftop water-harvesting system for a local school.
On the last day, the projects were judged by two water scientists from Eureka Forbes, a water purification company based in Mumbai, that also gave the teams free technical support.
Inamdar, a member of the Rotary Club of Mumbai West Coast, Maharashtra, says the training will enable participants to help Rotary clubs in their own communities launch water projects. He estimates that 15 to 20 projects will be developed this year by District 3140 clubs because of Water RYLA.
"Thematic RYLAs are a way forward for many underdeveloped areas," says Inamdar. "Participants leave RYLA as theme experts and are able to exchange ideas with leaders in their community."
To learn more about organizing a thematic RYLA on one of the presidential emphases, contact your Resource Action Group zone coordinator.