Celebrating 25 years of outstanding Rotaract service

By Erika Emerick

Rotaract is a global movement of young leaders improving their communities, building relationships, and developing professional skills. For the past 25 years, Rotary International has asked Rotaract clubs around the world to nominate their top service projects to the Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards. The Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards is an opportunity for Rotaract clubs to share their success with the global Rotary community and inspire other clubs to develop sustainable and innovative projects. Over the past 25 years, thousands of projects have been nominated to the Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards, showcasing Rotaract clubs’ commitment to making sustainable and innovative impact throughout Rotary’s Areas of Focus across all regions of the world.

The Rotaract Outstanding Project Award nomination form is modeled after the Rotary Global Grants application. With the recent Rotaract policy updates, Rotaract clubs will be allowed to be either an international or host sponsor of a global grant beginning on 1 July 2022. The Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards helps Rotaract clubs to gain experience in applying for grants. 

Nominations to the Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards are evaluated by Rotary International staff and Rotaract Committee members for the following elements: sustainability, community assessment, impact in Rotary’s Areas of Focus, collaboration with Rotary clubs and local experts, promotion of project, and percentage of Rotaract clubs involved in the project.

In the 2020-21 Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards, a record of 675 projects were nominated from 63 countries around the world. From these nominations, six projects were selected as regional awardees, one as the international single-club awardee and one as the international multi-club awardee. And the winners are… 

International Multi-club Awardee – You Are Not Alone Southeast Asia Mental Health Project

Southeast Asia Rotaract clubs reached over 50,000 youth and working adults with a three-pronged response to mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of ongoing efforts to support mental wellness, clubs developed regional empathy circles and virtual educational workshops on suicide, cyberbullying, trauma, and depression. They engaged multiple stakeholders throughout the project, including national mental health organizations and individuals outside of medical professionals, including caretakers, parents, teachers, managers, and legal champions. 

International Single-club Awardee – Manusath Handa (Voice of Humanity), Rotaract Club of University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

“Manusath Handa (Voice of Humanity)” served 500+ visually impaired students in Sri Lanka by creating and sustaining Sri Lanka’s largest educational audiobook library, while designing audio-based vocational training lessons for equal employment opportunities.

Visually impaired students find it difficult to secure university entrance because of the high competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s university entrance exams and a lack of study resources in Braille. The Rotaract Club of the University of Moratuwa focused on bridging this gap by providing digital content on exam syllabi that catered specifically to their needs. The goal of the project was to improve the employability of visually impaired students by developing their English and computer skills which may help with employment opportunities with room for career growth.

The club used a sustainable procedure for volunteers to create audiobooks using just a smart device, from the comfort of their homes, in under 45 minutes. The “Online Audiobook Recording Platform” allows any local/overseas volunteer to submit requested audio recordings. Once submitted, they are screened for proper audio quality and edited by the club using free software.

Africa Regional Awardee – Closer to Home, Rotaract Club of Kololo, Uganda

“Closer to Home” supported disadvantaged women from five local communities by creating an Investment Club, opening a savings account, distributing sewing machines, and providing training for economic empowerment. The Rotaract Club of Kololo partnered with their sponsor Rotary club and 10 local organizations to help fundraise and implement the project.

Asia Pacific Regional Awardee – Cultivar en la Agua: Hydroponics Gardening, Rotaract Club of Zamboanga City West, Philippines

“Cultivar en la Agua: a Hydroponics Sustainable Way to Gardening” introduced a new phase of impact in soil-cured plantation to the affected women of the Zamboanga Siege of 2013 to support a secure food system. The project began with a basic gardening workshop over a single garden plot and eventually developed into a 2,000 square meter vegetable farm. However, the heavy rainy season became a challenge to the farmers so hydroponics, the gardening without the use of soil, was introduced as part of the project. The farmers were able to have greater food security as well as income generation by supplying local markets.

Canada, Caribbean, USA Regional Awardee – Solar Tree Project, Rotaract Club of Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Thanks to the installation of the Solar Tree, an alternative energy source, visitors to a local park are now able to sit in the shade to charge their electronic devices using the power of the sun, while also learning about the benefits of alternative energy. The Rotaract Club of Tortola learned about the needs of the through observation, community outreach, and interviewing community members and a local environmentally-friendly company.

Central Asia, Europe, Middle East Regional Awardee – Gen’hair’ous, Rotaract Club of Tunis-Ennasr, Tunisia

“Gén’Hair’ous” led nine Rotaract clubs around Tunisia to organize hair cutting days in order to collect cut-off plaits and provide customized wigs for children and young girls suffering from chemotherapy-induced hair loss. The Rotaract Club of Tunis-Ennasr worked toward overcoming stereotypes and superstitions as hair is generally associated with sorcery in north Africa while also addressing the psychological impact of cancer.

Latin America Regional Awardee — Água já: maior acesso, melhor qualidade, Rotaract Club of Itabuna Universitários, Brazil

“Água já: maior acesso, melhor qualidade” supported a neighborhood that had a lack of access to drinking water and basic sanitation through education and water treatment methods. The Rotaract Club of Itabuna Universitarios established short, medium, and long-term intervention measures in partnership with the government, local experts, and community residents. Thanks to a district grant, the club purchased ceramic filters for 100 families in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic to support access to clean drinking water at home. 

South Asia Regional Awardee – Project Beacon, Rotaract Club of Islamabad, Bangladesh

“Project Beacon” supported the education and wellbeing of children with new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The club renovated the local school, distributed materials, and provided tutoring and guidance to students.

Learn about ways to increase the impact of your project with resources from Rotary International.

Nominations for the 2021-22 Rotaract Outstanding Projects open 1 August 2021. Follow the Rotaract Facebook page to stay updated on the Awards.

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