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Published On: Wed, Oct 16th, 2019

Rotary Club of Lake Worth Beach

Pres. Brian and Rebecca Burns

Boca Raton, FL – Rebecca Burns, the art director at the PB Habilitation Center spoke about giving the clients at the Center, who are all disabled in some way an opportunity to express themselves through art.

Using the different media that are available to them, be it, oil paint, pen and ink, pencil, video, digital art, photography etc.

One person paints with her feet, while others have special easels which attach to their wheelchairs.

Events are sponsored at the Habilitation Center which members of the artists’ families participate with the artists which is great fun for all.

On December 14 there will be an “Undiscovered” art festival for all artists to show and sell their work-Artists with disabilities, students, emerging and established artists will exhibit side by side.

The Lake Worth Beach Rotary Club will sponsor the purchase of supplies and special needs equipment needed for this show.

Water and peace in the Aral Sea basin

Every living being and every local economy depends on water. In my country Kazakhstan, the source of our water comes from seven major rivers that we share with our neighbors. Six of those originate in other countries including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia. In Central Asia, access to water and conflict resolution are closely intertwined.

About a year ago, I was fortunate to be one of seven water professionals selected by Rotary District 5340 for a Rotary Foundation global grant scholarship to take part in the Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program, a collaboration between the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in The Netherlands, the University for Peace in Costa Rica, and Oregon State University in Oregon, USA.

The situation in the Aral Sea basin is very unique. Former water management policies have left the Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world, a fraction of its size and contaminated by high salinity. It has lost 90 percent of its area in just 30 years, with dramatic consequences for health, local economies, and the environment. Water shortages exacerbate tensions.

The situation has affected relationships between the Central Asia countries and between water experts in the region. There is disagreement on the amount and timing of water coming from upstream Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to downstream Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Upstream countries want to boost their economy by producing cheap electricity, building dams. Downstream countries heavily oppose that because their agriculture needs water in summer time. Water policies by one country can drastically impact others. That is why cooperation between neighboring countries is not a choice, it is a matter of survival.

Through my studies so far, I have learned how other regions of the world are coping with similar problems as my region is facing. In realizing how many years it took those regions to cooperate, I am more optimistic about my own Aral Sea basin. My optimism has also increased working with the other scholars in this program, water practitioners already working in the sector, learning together not only about water but about cooperating while studying. I believe that collectively we will be able to change our water resource management for the better.

I am more resolute than ever that practices of the past should be left behind. Studying Water Cooperation and Diplomacy has helped me realize that when managing water, we should consider every impact at all levels and include all stakeholders for consultations and decision-making.

What I love about working in water resource managing is that you can bring about positive changes in the world. You do not become rich working in the water field in Central Asia. But I am happy knowing that I am contributing to the peace and well-being of the people in my region. And I am thankful to Rotary for advancing my understanding.

By Botagoz Sharipova, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

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