The government school at Palra (Haryana), tucked away at the end of a narrow, muddy, potholed road, is adorned with festoons and abuzz with activity. The students are all set to receive RI President John Germ who is to inaugurate the spanking new handwash stations and toilet blocks at their campus. WinS Target Challenge Committee Chair Sushil Gupta, Vice Chair P T Prabhakar, Member Secretary Ramesh Aggarwal, Judy Germ and DG Sharat Jain form part of the convoy.
The Rotary Club of Delhi Imperial, D 3012, in association with RC Canandaigua, USA, RI District 7120, and TRF, recently completed a three-star level WinS project in the school. Gender specific toilets, changing room for adolescent girls, a sanitary napkin dispenser and incinerator, group handwash stations, sufficient water supply and RO treated drinking water, have all been given to the school. In addition, it has got solar panel, computers, books for the library and adequate furniture for the classrooms.
“We have followed the global guidelines recommended by WHO for providing water, sanitation and hygiene in low-cost settings,” says the Project Coordinator Vishal Jyoti Jain. The water filters can be easily installed and maintained without hi-tech support and the solar power plant eliminates recurring expenditure.
Five other schools in the village have been transformed by the club, benefitting over 2,500 children. “We plan to cover the remaining three schools in the village in the next two years,” says Club President Ashwani Gupta.
As the Rotary team led by the RI President stops to inspect the handwash station, a group of students cheerfully sing the famous jingle, Hum haath saaf karenge, while washing their hands with soap and water, and an impressed Germ says, “I like that and will recommend this practice to the Board.”
The members of the Interact Club of Aravali Pathways World School, which was sponsored by RC Delhi Imperial, mentor the students, teachers and the School Management Committee (SMC) on the usage and maintenance of all the equipment. They have even transformed the dingy classrooms in schools at the nearby Gairatpur Baas and Aklimpur hamlets with Gond art, engaging the students too in the activity. “The Interactors work hard to bring about a behaviour change among students and their families through hygiene education and the children are also responding positively to this new, healthy atmosphere,” says Jain.
“I was embarrassed to learn that the students didn’t have proper toilet or a sanitary napkin dispenser. But I am happy that Rotary has provided these facilities which the government should have done. I am particularly impressed by the video that the Interactors have developed to teach these rural children how to wash their hands and use the toilet. I am sure that more children will be inspired to enrol in schools and that means better literacy levels,” said President Germ at a programme organised by the SMC in honour of his visit.
Pictures by Jaishree