A visit to a new facility being constructed by his company, Flint Group, at Vadodara, Gujarat, by Rtn Russell Taylor, secretary, RC Sussex Vale, UK, RID 1145, in August 2013 turned out to be a manna from heaven for over 2,000 students and teachers at five government schools in and around the city. They now have custom-built RO filtration units providing them clean drinking water.
Before taking up the RO installation projects, Taylor’s club, in association with RC Baroda Metro, RID 3060, provided 30 beds for children, who were sleeping on makeshift thin mats on rugged floor, at the Adarsh Nivasi Shala V J Kanya School. Having found a good partner club in Vadodara, he planned to install RO units in five schools Adarsh Kanya School, Pandit Dindayal Upadhyay Prathmik Shala, Shree Patel Shivabhai Lallubhai Sarvajanik Vidyalaya, Samlaya, and two other schools in Dajipura and Desar villages — which were hit hard by water contamination. Students dropped out as there was no provision to supply clean drinking water in these institutions. “It all started with a chat over a cup of coffee Taylor had with us. And the Wheel was set rolling for humanitarian projects since then,” recalled Rtn Nitin Bhate from RC Vadodara One.
Practically all students had to carry a water bottle from home because of the bad quality of bore water at the school. “As many students have to walk a long distance to reach their schools, especially those in villages, carrying a water bottle turned out be quite tedious for them,” said Taylor. While many simply stayed away from school, “those who came without carrying a water bottle from home had to drink the unsafe water and were taken ill. This led to a steep fall in the school attendance,” he recalled.
Over a period of seven years, Taylor and his point man Rtn Nitin Bhate took up the installations of RO units at these five government schools in a methodical manner. The sponsor, RC Sussex Vale, has invested ₹6 lakh (£6,500) that covered the entire design, installation, maintenance and filter replacements for three years, after which the Vadodara club will bear the future maintenance expenses. “We did a detailed survey of each school by talking with headmasters and teachers. Each school had at least 250–300 students. We took pictures of the school premises and shared them with our global partner,” said Bhate. The RO units have different capacities based on the needs of each school. Looking back with satisfaction, Taylor said it was “fun to do such collaborative projects and very rewarding to see the difference they have made to children’s lives.”
School headmasters were glad to report that the average attendance went up by 20–25 per cent after RO installations, and touched almost 30 per cent in village schools. Taylor is all praise for RC Baroda Metro for “their excellent planning and project implementation.”
Sixth water project
Now, RC Sussex Vale has agreed to sponsor a similar RO installation at K H Patel Janpad Vidyamandir School, Khakharia taluk, by joining hands with RC Vadodara One. The project costing ₹1.82 lakh (£1,800) will provide clean drinking water to around 220 students and staff at this school. Technical details and costing which were worked out meticulously in the earlier successful projects would be followed with due diligence in this new RO project, assured Manisha Bhatt, president, RC Vadodara One.