After over eighteen months of work, it seems only fitting that Dryden Rotary’s participation in a Basic Education and Literacy Global Grant Request be submitted  to Rotary International during March which in Rotary is “Literacy” month.
In the spring of 2013, Dryden Rotary committed a contribution of CAD$10,000 to a literacy project in the slums of Dhaka and Kulna, two cities in the country of Bangladesh.  The money was to improve the education of mothers and children. The project was the brain child of two Canadians Tanyss and GEM Munro, who, using a foundation The Amarok Society started a program called “Mothers of Intention”.
Mothers attended a “school”.  But it was not a school in the normal sense. The school was a rented shanty of the type that the families in the slum lived, only it was used for the purpose of a one room school. Teachers were trained and hired to teach the mothers, who often worked as well. Each mother had to promise to teach 5 children, either her own, or her neighbors.  

Global Grant

A Global Grant is a way for a small contribution from one or more Rotary Clubs to grow into a large grant to do a really large project.  All projects are calculated in American dollars.
For example a $1000.00 contribution from club A in District One can be combined with $1000.00 from Club B in District Two. Each of those clubs can then request from their Districts matching District Global Grants of $1000.00. The Club and Districts can then submit a request to Rotary International for funds from its “World Fund”. If approved, RI may match the club contribution at 50 cents on the dollar and the district funds, dollar for dollar. So in this case $2000 started by a Rotarian at the club level can be leveraged into a $7000.00 project.
Each project has to have a lead “host” club and a lead “sponsoring” club. In this case, the lead “host” club is the Rotary Club of Dhaka Midtown while the lead “sponsoring” club is the Rotary Club of Belleville. The host club's responsibility is to monitor and audit the expenditure of the grant dollars and the implementation of the grant management plan.

Dryden’s participation in a Global Grant

In Dryden’s case it joined with 10 other Rotary Clubs, (9 Ontario, 2 BC) with a combined club contribution of USD$32,640.00. Since the lead club in the Grant application was the Rotary Club of Belleville, Rotarians from that club wrote the application. This had to be done on-line.

This picture of the Mother's attending Amarok's Suzanne Women's School, taken on World Women's Day, 2015, is dedicated to the memory of Dryden Rotarian Suzanne Borst, who in March of 2011 organized the Club's first fund raising benefit for the 'Mothers of Intention' Program and the Amarok Society Foundation. 

Although the 11 clubs represented 6 Districts only three Districts were asked for matching Grants, Districts 7070 (6 of the clubs), District 5550 (1 club) and District 7090 (1 club) Together the 3 Districts approved USD $15,700.00. This qualified for a request of USD $32,020 from RI’s World Fund, however, only USD $24,964 was request for a total project cost of USD $73,304.

Summary of the Project

The Global Grant is officially assigned the number GG1421961 and titled “Digital Skills into the Mothers of Intention Literacy Program”.
The objectives of the global grant are described as:
This project develops and implements administrative tools using technology for curriculum development, student evaluation and record management through simple document and database systems. Rotary funding of these tools and methods will enable Amarok Society to reach more students in the poorest slums of Dhaka in a shorter period of time while ensuring quality and sustainability.
Building digital literacy capacity of mothers and teachers is a new venture for Amarok Society, a small NGO that has been operating in Bangladesh for the past eight years. A mother learns how to read, write and numeracy and in turn each Mother teachers 4-5 children in their home.
Developing Digital Skills, a new method for Amarok, enables the teachers to track progress, to demonstrate and compare to Bangladesh government schools, to share their own progress and that of the children they teach and also to analyze trends for improvement and accountability. Purchasing and using low cost tablets create more opportunities to enhance oral literacy through drama and community activity.
Specific activities are:
1) to purchase low cost tablets designed specifically for use in developing countries; hire community facilitator to train users how to manage and secure tablets;
2) to create teacher's instructional manuals in English, Bangla and Math to be used on the tablets;
3) to create 'quick tests' to determine grade level in Bangla, English and Math; training workshops on use of tests;
4) collecting of basic demographic information and test data for comparing with Bangladesh government school norms;
5) train users to collect data on children's progress and
6) purchase equipment and software for video story-telling to strengthen oral literacy.
The grant application is very detailed and runs to 12 pages, while two appendices one on “Grant costing” runs to 9 pages and one on a “Financial Management Plan” runs to 6 pages. Further legal documentation was required of the two lead clubs plus the Amarok Society in the writing of Memorandums of Understanding.
As Rotarians all of this work was done voluntarily. It took well over 1000 person hours. Had these hours been billable hours the cost of the writing the grant request would have exceeded the grant request itself.

The Rotary Club of East York’s Recent Contribution.

In January of this year a Rotarian, Nick from the East York Club, who also owns a travel company arranged a two week trip for Rotarians to visit the Amarok Schools of Bangladesh.

Rotary Trip January 2015


Back Row L-R: Nicole Soucie (Brantford) Carmela Dowker, Nick Lawley (East York) Bruce Dowker (Mission BC) GEM Munro, Bruce Mayo (Ottawa) Kazal (Schools Coordinator in Kulna) Kuntal (Country Coordinator)

Front Row L-R: Jacquie Macri (Toronto), Janet Chalmers (Mission BC), Barbara Mayo, Angela Macri (Toronto), Judy Bartel

The four minute video below, by Jacquie Macri, is a compilation of the story of that trip.
Paragon Travel is organizing another trip for Jan., 2016. Anyone interested in a truly meaningful trip far beyond the ordinary can contact Nick Lawley and Paragon Travel at or (toll-free) 1-888-461-0231.