By Binish Desai, a member of the Rotary Club of Bulsar, India, and a former Rotary Youth Exchange student India

India is my Nation
Valsad is my Station
Helping is my Aim
Binish is my Name

I’ll never forget the introduction I used as an exchange student.
This year, I have had the outstanding opportunity of not only meeting other youth exchange students from around the world, but of being recognized by my Rotary community as an outstanding alumnus. My youth exchange took place in 2009-10 almost six years ago, and yet my Rotary experience feels like it’s just beginning.

Binish Desai takes part in the Polar Bear Plunge.

During my exchange to Waukegan, Illinois, I searched for opportunities to be a part of the community and help out. For this I took up a challenge called the Polar Bear Plunge, which involved jumping into a frozen Lake Michigan in the heart of winter! I collected the highest amount any individual had ever collected for the event to support Special Olympics. In recognition of my community service, the town of Waukegan gave me their ambassador pin, and my host school district awarded me with a Superintendent’s Leadership Award. I was most honored to be named a Paul Harris Fellow by my host club.
But it’s not the recognition that drives me. You could say I’ve been serving my community since I was young. At the age of 11, I had an urge to invent things that would help society. I created a brick made out of paper waste and chewing gum that is one of eight patents I own.Just a few years after my exchange year, I started my own company to provide low cost eco-friendly building materials and today I am chairman of the BDream Group of Industries. We take industrial waste and process it with a specially formulated base, then form it into bricks that are dried using solar power.

My inventions help recycle a large amount of industrial waste every day and provide low cost houses and toilets to rural India. We also provide subsidized toilets to local Rotary projects. Giving back to Rotary in this way is important to me.

Binish’s toilets are stronger, cheaper, and more durable than conventional ones

Binish’s toilets are stronger, cheaper, and more durable than conventional ones

I joined the Rotary Club of Bulsar in 2015 because I believe in what Rotary does. I was honoured to be nominated by my district and selected as one of the zone winners of the Rotary Alumni Global Service Award. Being one of the youngest youth exchange students to be nominated for this award humbles me, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

My father is an active Rotarian, so I grew up around Rotary. I live a dream every day; a dream I started at age 11, that was made a reality as a Rotary Youth Exchange student, and that I have lived ever since.