Posted by Sean Paddy on May 06, 2017
The 2017 Rotaract Outstanding Project Award recognized the Rotaract Club of the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, for launching a three-year project to improve lives in the rural community of Ranugalla. The club, which represents Rotary District 3220 (Sri Lanka), hopes to empower residents through sustainable education and economic development initiatives. 
During its first year, the club opened a library and science lab for the local school and helped students prepare for college entrance exams and careers. It also targeted infrastructure, bringing clean water into homes and building bridges to link neighborhoods flooded during the rainy season. To stimulate economic growth, the club opened a weaving cooperative for female entrepreneurs.

"Rather than initiating a project to donate materials, we thought a project to address all the issues in the village would be much more beneficial to all,” says Chamal Kuruppu, president of the University of Moratuwa Rotaract club.

Best multidistrict project went to Rotaractors in Brazil for their campaign to combat hate crimes in online communities. More than 1,000 Rotaract members from 34 Brazilian districts planned activities during World Rotaract Week in 2016, adapting the campaign to their communities — such as partnering with a university to design a workshop series on Internet hate crimes — and using their social networks to spread messages of diversity, inclusion, and peace.
This year, over 300 projects were nominated in 52 countries. The awards recognize the best single-club project, best multidistrict project, and outstanding service projects in each of six geographical regions. The best single-club project and best multidistrict project receive $500 each for future service activities and will be invited to inspire other Rotaractors at the Rotaract Preconvention in Atlanta.

These clubs received regional recognition:
Asia Pacific: Rotaract Club of ePerformax, District 3810, Philippines
The Rotaract Club of ePerformax, in collaboration with its sponsor Rotary club, the Rotary Club of Pasay Cyber City and the Rotarians Against Child Exploitation, and local police, developed a curriculum to support young people’s emotional and physical well-being. Club members not only trained young people to recognize bullying and defuse situations that could become dangerous, but also created a school garden to keep them active, healthy, and self-sufficient.

South Asia: Rotaract Club of Lote, District 3170, India

For years, the rural community of Gavathan, India, has had a river winding through it, but no clean water or electricity. The Rotaract Club of Lote sought to harness the river’s natural resource to improve lives. Its project resulted in the construction of a small dam, pipes for irrigating crops, and a turbine-operated plant that is powering 61 streetlights.

Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia: Rotaract Club of Izmir Ekonomi, District 2440, Turkey
The ongoing conflict and refugee crisis in Syria has affected nearly everyone in neighboring Turkey, including its schoolchildren. To help Syrian and Turkish students overcome their differences and focus on their shared human rights, the Rotaract Club of Izmir Ekonomi hosted workshops in two primary schools. After the workshops, which were organized with help from the Council of Europe, the European Law Students’ Association, the United Nations, and child psychologists, the young students were asked to express their feelings through painting. “We saw in the paintings that their thoughts changed in a positive way,” said a member of the Rotaract club.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Rotaract Club of Cotonou Phare, District 9102, Benin
The Rotaract Club of Cotonou Phare undertook a multiphase project to bring clean water and improved sanitation facilities to a local orphanage. The first phase involved drilling a well for the facility’s kitchen and bathrooms. In the second, club members worked with their sponsor Rotary club and other service organizations to refurbish the toilets.

Latin America: Rotaract Club of Pau dos Ferros, District 4500, Brazil

More than 25 organizations and businesses supported the Rotaract Club of Pau dos Ferros in its efforts to boost the rural community of Varzea Nova. Over 13 months, the club helped establish Internet connectivity in the town, provided medical exams and services, led childhood education sessions for infants and parents, organized vocational training for adults, and hosted a cultural festival.

USA, Canada, and Caribbean: Rotaract Club of the University of Lethbridge, District 5360, Canada

Rotaractors from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta raised $36,500 to update kindergarten facilities in the community of Mazatlan, Mexico. By collaborating with the local government and Rotary clubs, Rotaractors ensured that the funds were used for teachers’ salaries and for buying new plumbing and classroom spaces for about 70 students.
By Sallyann Price