Why be a Rotarian?

Do you like volunteering?   Helping others by sharing your time and skills? Perhaps you have never had the opportunity and just want to learn more?  

Rotary is an International organization of men and women who enjoy: connecting with others both within the organization and local community, helping those in need, and perhaps even finding a new purpose within your own life. The topics range from Education and Health needs, basic Water and Sanitation, and more. Check out www.rotary.org to find out more on the types of projects Rotary supports. Maybe Rotary is the place for you!

Personally, I love volunteering – it’s a bit of an addiction once you get into it! My mom started me at the early age of 10 helping at a recycling center in New Jersey many many years ago. It just grew from there with volunteering with the Girl Scouts and as I got older the Audubon Society, and Farallon marine sanctuary out of San Francisco; so joining Rotary seemed like a natural progression.

I joined Rotary in Bali about 4 years ago with ideas bursting at the seams on how I thought I could help make the world a better place.   Over the years, I’ve learned a few things how to do that just a little better and here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Ideas that come from within the community are most likely to succeed. What “westerners or non-locals” feel is best for a community might not always be what is really needed or desired. Connect with the locals to find out what their real needs are and work towards a solution together.
  2. Build a team; of Rotarians, experts, and locals.
  3. Educate – teach skills how to do things versus giving hand outs which result in better long term success.

The project I’m currently involved in is a Water and Sanitation project located in Karangasem, Bali in the Village of Datah – near Amed.

It all started 7 years ago with an idea coming from one of the most remarkable people I have ever met, Rus Alit.   Rus is a Balinese man in his 70’s with a mission to help villages in the most difficult areas, get water and clean water at that.   Water is life and he knows it well having grown up in a small village in Bali himself.

Rus had been talking with the chief of Datah for many years on how to get water to his village. The stream below flowed strong but access was difficult. It was way down a steep trail into the valley. Getting water up the steep hillside seemed an impossible task. However, Rus had the knowledge how, he was an expert in appropriate technology using only local materials in the most simple and low tech ways. He even started an organization called: BATI – Bali Appropriate Technology Institut. An educational center in Bali that trains locals how to do it simply. The chief was interested but didn’t believe it was really possible. The only obstacle for Rus was funding.

A group of Rotarians from Florida USA were visiting and loved the idea of supporting a water project and with the help of a local Rotary Club (RCBS) to host the project, the ideas grew. A team was formed and the process to get funding began. It took 3 years to get the Global Grant approved but at last it was and the project began.

It started with a training program at BATI – Rus, teaching 15 locals and Rotarian Florian from RCBS how to build their own water tanks using cement and wire. This was a very important step in the process as it gave the locals the knowledge how to build water tanks themselves under the direct supervision of Rus Alit. With this knowledge they could build more tanks around the village as well as maintain the existing system. They took pride in being the ones to provide water to the people within their own village instead of hiring outsiders. The training took 5 days and was held in Tabanan at the BATI training facility. They learned how to make water tanks, water filtrations systems, and how to make a septic system.

Rus Alit with the group of locals from Datah and Nawa Kerti learning how to make water tanks and water filtrations systems using local materials.

Hands on learning building a lid for the water tanks at BATI.

After the training workshop was finished, work began in the village of Datah. 2 kilometres of water pipes were laid along the sides of the stream uphill from where the 4 new 6,000 liter water tanks were built. It was a gravity fed system and no pumps were needed.

The chief was still very sceptical as to how water could run uphill but with a long enough run upstream, the pressure was enough to push it up the last part of the steep hill at the village.

It wasn’t until the system was tested and water flowed out of the pipe that the chief believed it and the smile of amazement on his face told the story.  He couldn’t believe it was really true!   Not only was it running, it was gushing out the pipe!   The 4 water tanks were filled in 2 hours, 24,000 litres of water!   Helping over 1000 families.

Everyone was very excited to see water in the village at last.

Jeni and fellow RCBS members came to the village during each step of the process. “I never gave up hope that this project could become a reality because I knew Rus was just the person who could make it happen. It’s a good feeling to know you have been a small part in helping so many.” Jeni

For Rus and the chief of the village it was a 7 year dream come true!

Thanks to the support of Rotary clubs:  

Lead club:

Rotary Club of Tarpon Springs, Florida USA

Participating Rotary Clubs:

Fernandina Beach Rotary Club, Florida USA

Rotary Club Smithtown Sunrise New York -USA

Lulea Sodra Rotary Klubb – Sweden

Host club: Rotary Club Bali Seminyak Bali Indonesia


by: Jeni Kardinal


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