We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that the savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.
Mark Twain
Wise Words from Mark Twain 2019-05-18 04:00:00Z 0
Rick Olson visits with children in Tanzania.

By Rick Olson, Rotary Club of Prior Lake, Minnesota, USA

Climate change is an impersonal, ambiguous term, which denotes negative impact on people around the world. But on a recent trip to Tanzania in Africa I met some of the innocents who will be most affected by the increased droughts caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

On a 10-day biking safari to visit Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, we camped in a school yard in a Maasai village west of Arusha, Tanzania. Three boys came to visit, and after giving them some treats, I took their photo with my phone. I showed them the photo, and a boy about 8 or 9 years old gestured to me he would like to hold the phone.

So, I showed him how to take a photo with it and handed it to him. I also taught him how to take selfies and videos. Before long a group of about 15 children were gathered around us, looking at photos he had taken, enlarging the pictures of some of the kids, all to gales of laughter. It was so much fun. Seeing how quickly he learned to use the phone, without our knowing a word of each other’s language, was such a kick.

These Maasai children live in a very dry area. The March-May “rainy” season had not produced a drop of rain by the time I left on 23 March. These young ones and the rest of their tribe are the least capable of adapting to even drier conditions projected by the climate scientists than the desert they already live in, hanging on by a thread. Yet, we in the United States who are in the most wealthy of countries and have produced and continue to produce the most carbon dioxide can’t even agree that human-caused climate change is real, much less agree on what to do about it.

Is it the truth?

As a Prior Lake Rotarian, I join my club weekly in reciting The Four-Way Test. The first two lines are: “Is it the truth?” and “Is it fair to all concerned?” A guest commentary I wrote for the Prior Lake American, Commentary: Acting on climate change can make difference, outlines why it is the truth that climate change is real and caused by humans burning fossil fuel. Is it fair that those least able to adapt to the negative changes bear the greatest impacts while we do nothing? I think not.
We are not helpless in mitigating the consequences of our past and present actions. We as Rotarians can support actions including government legislation that promote feasible measures to effectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We can support Rotary projects that seek to alleviate or reduce the impact of climate change.

Join us in minimizing the damage to not only our economy and our lives, but that of the innocents in Africa and India who will be most affected.
Climate change and The Four-Way Test 2019-05-18 04:00:00Z 0
A child treated during the Rotary Club of Gandevi’s medical mission.

By Parimal Naik, grant coordinator, Rotary Club of Gandevi, India

In January, our club organized a medical mission to provided life-saving health care to the rural and tribal community of Gandevi in the western part of India. Our mission consisted of 26 visiting doctors and paramedics from an association of Indian physicians of Northern Ohio, USA. It was our third trip to Gandevi since 2010, and among 29 medical missions we have organized with the help of grants from The Rotary Foundation. It was pure pleasure to see the smiles on the faces of thousands of recipients, and on many of the team members as well.

We are a club made up mostly of millennials, located in the Gujarat state of India. In advance of this latest trip, teams of Rotarians from my club organized screening camps in nine villages, selected on the basis of need and availability of local resources.
More than 6,200 patients were examined, diagnosed, and given free medicine during the nine screenings. We have a track record of providing free follow-up care to those screened during our “medical pilgrimage projects.”  A total of 784 patients were identified for further care or checkups at four hospitals including Haria L.G. Hospital, Vapi; Yashfeen Cardiac Hospital, Navsari; Gram Seva Trust Hospital, Kharel; and Jamnaba Hospital, Bardoli. We received a $100,000 global grant from The Foundation which allowed us arrange the care at no cost.

Through 31 March, 97 surgeries or biopsies had been performed to remove gallbladders, treat appendicitis, correct hernias and address kidney problems, among other procedures. In addition, cardiologists performed 11 heart valve replacements, 9 coronary bypass surgeries, and 25 angiograms. Ophthalmologists at Lilavati Mohanlal Shah Eye Hospital in Navsari also performed 151 cataract surgeries.

We are extremely grateful to our friends in the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, California, USA, and to Rotary District 5240, who were our international partners on the global grant. District 3060 also supported us with money from their District Designated Funds, and District 1260 and the Rotary Club of Mississagga Center, Canada, partnered with us.

We do not have the words to properly thank The Foundation, our partners, and all who helped with our medical pilgrimage project. Rotary is allowing us to be an inspiration to others by making a difference in our communities. Thank you Rotary and Rotarians for helping us serve humanity.
Medical pilgrimage in India treats thousands 2019-05-09 04:00:00Z 0
The author, third from left, on her Rotary Youth Exchange in Thunder Bay, Canada.

By Xolisile Sithole, former Rotary Youth Exchange student to Canada

It has been more than eight years since I embarked on a Rotary Youth Exchange to Thunder Bay, Canada, from South Africa. In many ways, it still seems like yesterday. It was an incredibly big year for me, having finished high school and qualified for university, and It remains one of my most treasured memories.

Since I was little, I had always been involved with Rotary, as my mother was liaison of her school’s Interact club. Many Saturdays were spent volunteering, whether I wanted to or not. Despite that, I learned to love service and joined the Interact club in my high school. I invested time and poured my heart into the club and served as president my final year.
After high school, I did not want to go to university right away. But I needed to do something as my parents threatened to make me pay rent if I just stayed at home during my “gap year.” Luckily, our host club, the Rotary Club of Azalea, encouraged me to apply for a Rotary Youth Exchange.

Arriving in Canada

I knew deep down the opportunity was going to change my life. But even that was an understatement. I come from a humble family in South African and it was truly a gift that the Rotary Club of arranged to fund my travels.
From the first day I arrived in Canada, hosted by the Rotary Club of Lakehead, I knew it was going to be nothing like South Africa. I instantly noticed the cleanliness of the city. The people were so kind and welcoming. Canada has abundant beauty and the scenery is ever-changing. I loved the autumn leaves so much that my host sister framed them for me to take home. She went out of her way to make my experience there amazing, introducing me to all things Canadian and her own Ukrainian culture. We still keep in touch.

My experience with Rotary was equally unforgettable. I remember speaking at a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards event to a full house of Rotarians. I was so nervous, but the reception was so warm that the words practically flew out of my mouth. Every time I feel a little afraid, I think back to how I was able to speak to that full house.

Things had changed

I was a little anxious to return home. I had developed a routine in Canada and loved all my host families. But when I did, I discovered things had changed. I was drawn to a different kind of friend. My view of the world had expanded. And I know the time in Canada prepared me for the next step in my life.
A little more than a year ago, I moved to China to work as an English as a Second Language teacher. My youth exchange year taught me how to appreciate cultures that were different from my own. And I can move fearlessly in the world because I know that as a member of the Rotary family, I have family everywhere.

It is a privilege to be associated with Rotary and to know that I can continue to help people around the world. I encourage anyone who has a chance to apply for a Rotary Youth Exchange. If accepted, you will never be the same again.
Rotary Youth Exchange expanded my view of the world 2019-05-05 04:00:00Z 0
Jordan Koletic, left, and Robert Smayda Jr. at Rotary Day at the United Nations in 2014.

By Kamlesh Chandan, Rotary Club of Lake Norman/Huntersville, North Carolina, USA

In 2015, I was working at one of the largest Fortune 500 banks in the United States when I read an article on our internal website about a team member traveling to eastern Africa. I found the story intriguing, and reached out to her for more details about the trip and to see if it had a connection with Rotary. But at the time I did not hear back.

Shortly thereafter, I began attending Toastmasters International meetings with a colleague, Robert, from the technology division. We both enjoyed our weekly dose of public speaking, and I learned that he was a young professional looking to become more involved in his community. I shared with him what Rotary clubs had been doing in the Charlotte community, and also told him about our international work. And he expressed interest in joining.

I had put the intranet story to the back of my mind until later that year, when I received my copy of The Rotarian. One of the articles covered Rotary Day at the United Nations and contained a photo of a young lady attending the event and a doppelganger of Robert sitting next to her. In my next Toastmasters meeting, I told Robert about the article and he said it was indeed him and his girlfriend (now wife), Jordan. He went on to tell me about her interest in women’s health issues in east Africa and how she had spoken about the issue at the event.

Two months later, Robert asked me if he could forward my contact information to Jordan, who worked at the bank in the analytics group. She called me, and we talked about her east Africa project. That began a year of conversations. I was shocked she was the same person I had read about on the bank’s website, and I connected Jordan with local Rotary leaders. I was convinced The Rotary Foundation could help her with her interest in pursuing a master’s degree in advanced peace studies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, with a focus on regions affected by conflict.

The chain of events impressed upon me how small our world can be. You never know when the person sitting next to you could be the next Nobel Prize winner, the individual that cures cancer, or just someone who wants to make a difference in the world.
My Rotary club and District 7680 (North Carolina, USA) applied for and received a global grant to fund a $30,000 scholarship for Jordan, who completed a one-year peace studies program in Human Rights and International Politics at the University of Glasgow in 2017. She is now working for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor within the U.S. Department of State. We stay in touch, and Jordan is considering applying for a Rotary Peace Fellowship.

That day made me a believer in 2019-20 Rotary President Mark Daniel Maloney’s theme, Rotary Connects the World.
Rotary makes it a small world after all 2019-04-28 04:00:00Z 0
Representatives from around the world also vote to preserve club flexibility
Photo by Alyce Henson
By Arnold R. Grahl.

Among the most important, the Council elevated the status of Rotaract clubs.  The change broadens the definition of membership in Rotary International to include Rotaract clubs. The change is intended to increase the support that Rotaract clubs receive from RI and to enhance their ability to serve.

“We need to be an inspiration to our young partners, so they will continue doing the great service that they do,” said RI President Barry Rassin when he presented the measure. “This sends a strong message that they are truly our partners in service.”
In many ways, the Rotaract experience will not change. Rotary clubs will still charter and sponsor Rotaract clubs. Rotaract clubs will still have their own standard constitution and their own unique club experience. Members of a Rotaract club will not be called Rotarians. And Rotaract clubs will not immediately pay dues or receive other benefits, such as the official magazine that Rotary members receive. The Board will determine a dues structure over time.

The measure simply expands the definition of membership in Rotary International to include both Rotary and Rotaract clubs.
Every three years, representatives from Rotary districts around the world meet in Chicago, Illinois, USA, to consider changes to the constitutional documents that govern Rotary International. This year’s Council considered more than 100 proposals.

Representatives authorized the Board to pursue changing RI’s charitable status to a section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. It is presently a 501(c)(4). A task force has been studying the possible change for 18 months and says it will offer benefits that include tax reductions and vendor discounts that will reduce expenses.

Dues increase

As for dues, the Council approved a modest increase of $1 a year for each of three years, beginning in 2020-21. The previous Council set dues for 2019-20 at $34 per half year.

With the increase, the dues that clubs pay to RI per member will increase to $34.50 per half year in 2020-21, $35 per half year in 2021-22, and $35.50 per half year in 2022-23. The dues will not be raised again until a future Council votes to change it.

Councils give Rotary members a voice in how our organization is governed. Learn more about the Council on Legislation and the Council on Resolutions on our Council web page or read our live blog of the 2019 Council. 
The Council also changed the name of the General Surplus Fund to RI Reserve, because that more accurately reflects the purpose of the fund. In another vote, the Council approved calling the general secretary a chief executive officer (CEO) in circles outside Rotary, to increase his stature in dealings with other intergovernmental organizations.

A seemingly small but intensely debated action will reduce the number of nonvoting members at future Councils, by removing past RI presidents and allowing only one RI Board director to attend but not vote.

But in some respects, the Council defined itself as much by what it did not do.

This year’s representatives resisted pressure to limit some of the flexibility that the 2016 Council granted clubs, rejecting several measures that would have placed restrictions on clubs. One unsuccessful measure would have required clubs to meet at least 40 times each year.

Many clubs have been using the innovative and flexible club formats to attract new members and meet their current members’ needs.

Representatives also rejected proposals to make it optional for members to subscribe to an official Rotary magazine and to reduce the size of the Council by half and have it meet every two years.

Democracy in action

Several representatives commented on the democratic nature of the proceedings.

“All of the delegates have been very responsible and respectful, no matter what their opinions,” said Adriana De La Fuente, the representative from District 4170 and a member of the Rotary Club of Plateros Centro Historico, Ciudad de México, Mexico. She has attended three previous Councils. “That elevates the trust and respect for our organization.”

Glen K. Vanderford of District 6760, a member of the Rotary Club of Jackson-Old Hickory, Tennessee, USA, said he appreciated the opportunity to represent the people of his district and gather with like-minded people to voice opinions.

“The process allows us to have a road map forward instead of just going day to day,” he said. “I was excited by the outcome of enhancing Rotaract and that we didn’t weaken future Councils, but preserved the ability for everybody to have a voice.”
Council elevates Rotaract 2019-04-19 04:00:00Z 0
Pam Gray and her husband, Brian, (third and fourth from right) at the District 5160 conference in 2018.

By Pam Gray, Rotary Club of Paradise, California, USA

I grew up in a small family. My parents were both only children – that means I have no aunts, uncles or first cousins. As a child, my entire immediate family could sit around a dining table set for eight. My four grandparents, my parents, my sister and I filled the table. There was no additional ‘kids’ table!

Fortunately, my dad was a member of the Rotary Club of Paradise. Our Rotary family consisted of five families, all of similar age, so we had plenty of celebrations with this extended family growing up.

While my biological family grew as I became an adult, so did my Rotary family. Our club had more than 100 members when I joined and there was always something going on.

Family portrait, Christmas.
Helping hands

Club members took action when our home was evacuated in 2008 due to a wildfire. Members went to our home, secured our vehicles and motorcycle, took our animals to their homes and saved our computer with countless family photos stored in memory; all of this while we were at the Rotary International Convention in Los Angeles some 500 miles from Paradise.

After serving as club president, I began working at district jobs which added to my Rotary family tree. Serving several district governors provided tools, and many relationships, that were key to serving as District 5160 Governor in 2014-2015.

Brian and I were involved in a motorcycle accident shortly before the end of our governor year, following a ride for polio eradication. Rotarian friends cared for us and took over Rotary jobs that we were unable to fulfill.

My Rotary path continued on serving our club, district and zone. Again, my Rotary family tree expanded exponentially. The result benefited not only me, but my Rotary club and other clubs in the area.

17 days of wildfire

Then the Camp Fire began on 8 November 2018 and raged for 17 days leaving much of our beloved Paradise as piles of rubble and ash. In less than 24 hours, Rotarians from Santa Rosa, California, were on task to help Paradise. They established a GoFundMe page for our club’s foundation and came to see us sharing their knowledge of rebuilding after a major fire.

Rotarians, not only from neighboring districts, but neighboring states delivered supplies and provided cash aide and gift cards in the tens of thousands of dollars within the first week.

While serving as district governor and visiting 71 Rotary clubs, my Rotarian friends came to know me as “Pam from Paradise” and I chose to share my love for the family of Rotary. Considering all Rotarians as my family, they are returning the sentiment by helping Paradise where they can and providing encouraging words during our darkest days.
Family of Rotary helps after wildfire 2019-04-12 04:00:00Z 0
Rotary members from all over the world will gather in Chicago 14-18 April to consider changes to the Constitutional documents that guide Rotary International and its member clubs.

The Council on Legislation meets every three years and is an essential part of Rotary’s governance. The representatives — one from each Rotary district — review and vote on proposals that seek to change Rotary’s constitutional documents.

This year, the council will consider more than 100 proposals, including one new item and three recently amended motions from the Rotary International Board of Directors:

1. Authorize the RI board to change RI to a 501(c)(3) organization

Proposed enactment 19-117 seeks approval to change Rotary International's charity status from a 501(c)(4) organization to a 501(c)(3) organization under the United States tax code. As a 501(c)(3) organization, RI would be eligible for benefits, such as tax reductions, vendor discounts, and certain corporate sponsorships.

2. To admit Rotaract clubs to RI membership

Proposed enactment 19-72 would acknowledge Rotaract clubs in the RI Constitution and Bylaws and elevate them to being more equal to Rotary clubs. The Board believes that now is the time to emphasize the important role that Rotaract clubs play in the Rotary family by formally recognizing them in the constitutional documents. Rotaract clubs will continue to have their own standard constitution, maintain their own identity as Rotaractors, and preserve their unique club experience but will receive greater support from RI.

3. To amend the term of reference for the Rotaract and Interact Committee

Proposed enactment 19-75 would remove Interact from the responsibilities of the committee in order to emphasize Rotaract as a membership experience distinct from Interact as a youth program conducted by Rotary clubs. It allows the committee to focus efforts on improving the Rotaract experience, which was identified by the strategic plan as showing great potential as a new channel into Rotary. The RI president may still appoint an Interact committee.

4. Revise policy on financial reserves

The RI Board seeks to modernize RI’s policy for reserves to meet future circumstances, in accordance with principles of good governance. Proposed enactment 19-95 would provide a clearer definition of reserves and specify that the appropriate level of reserves is 55 percent of annual operating expenses instead of 85 percent.
Council on legislation to review changes to RI policies  2019-04-06 04:00:00Z 0
The Wenatchee Confluence Rotary Club’s new members class of October 2018. Membership chair Rob Tidd says do something to make new members feel special, like framing their certificates and interviewing them during their induction.
By Rob Tidd, District 5060 membership chair and member of the Rotary Club of Wenatchee Confluence, Wenatchee, Washington, USA

In January, we had 61 members in our club, an increase of about 40 percent from the beginning of the Rotary year in July, when we had 43. Our success has been based on two ingredients: encouraging friendships and promoting fun in Rotary.

But just as important to our growth has been a systematic and continuous follow up with potential new members. Too often a potential new member is approached once and then forgotten. Every club needs a champion or champions willing to take the extra time to stay in communication with every potential new member. I am often asked where I find all these potential new members. Our sources grow as we come up with new ideas. Below are some of the practical ways we have found members:

Follow up on RI membership leads:

Prior to my year as District 5060 membership chair, I discovered that some of the membership leads sent to us by RI were never contacted. I decided to work my way back in time through the leads, going as far back as several years, to see if any of these
individuals were still interested in Rotary.

One gentleman in particular had never been contacted and was enthusiastic to be invited as my guest. Not only did he join, but he asked if his business partner could also be considered for membership. Of course my answer was “yes” and now both are members. These are people who took the time and made the effort to contact Rotary International.

Get referrals from other clubs:

I have found that sometimes a member of another club crosses paths with a co-worker who they think would be a good Rotarian, but because they are co-workers, or they have a boss-employee relationship, they don’t want to invite them to be a member of their club. If something were to happen at work, it could create awkward situations in the club.

Yet that person might be a great fit for another Rotary club. So I routinely go through the membership lists for the other clubs in my area and ask for referrals. I know this works because we have Kyle as a member of our club who was referred to us by a member of another club.

Find leads in your local newspaper:

I get excited every day to see who I might find as a potential member in my daily newspaper. Our newspaper includes information about the movers and shakers in our community, the recently retired, new home purchasers, and new businesses. The list is endless. I craft specific letters and follow up in 30 days. Often it is not even necessary to follow up because the recipient is touched by the letter and accepts the invitation for lunch at my club. I know this works because we have Jeff in our club because he responded to my letter.

Keep organized with a spreadsheet:

I created a spreadsheet with a list of potential new members, and set up a schedule to follow up with these people. My list includes recommendations from club members in my club, people who have given presentations at my club, former Rotarians who left other Rotary clubs in my area due to dissatisfaction or lack of engagement with their former Rotary club, and recipients of the letters I mentioned above. Systematic and continuous follow up is so important. This list helps me stay on track to make sure no one is forgotten.

I hope you find this information helpful. May you also be successful in your quest for new members.
4 dynamite ways to find new members 2019-03-08 05:00:00Z 0
The first-ever Tacoma Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest invited youth to write about the ocean and what it means to them.

By Rosemary Ponnekanti

At first, Hope was reluctant. She was on the verge of flunking school through poor attendance. But when Kathleen Figetakis, literacy chair at Tacoma Sunrise Rotary, Washington, USA, asked the Tacoma senior for one little favor – to put up posters in her school for the Tacoma Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest – Hope agreed. Six months later, she had not only won second prize in the contest, but she also graduated from high school – and helped the inaugural contest to be a wave of success.

Tacoma Ocean Fest began on World Oceans Day, 2018. The brainchild of arts journalist Rosemary Ponnekanti, the festival celebrates arts, sciences and water fun. When Kathleen mentioned to Rosemary that her Rotary club was looking for youth literacy projects, an idea was born – to create a story contest around ocean awareness and conservation.

Local teachers jumped on board. Some folded it into class curriculum, others encouraged students to attend the free poetry and film workshops held at the local library. Local teens were invited to write a poem, make a short film or – new this year – create a data graph about the ocean, its importance to them and the threats it faces, such as plastic pollution, climate change, and endangered orcas.

And of course, there were incentives: prizes totaling $1,000 from Tacoma Sunrise Rotary, plus other donations and a free pizza coupon for every entrant, generously donated by Rotarian Lance Hungerford.

The reaction at the festival, when students summoned their courage to read their poem or watch their film in front of a public audience, was overwhelming.

“This was so powerful – that young people could speak their thoughts, passions and worries about our ocean’s future, and be heard by our community,” said city councilmember Ryan Mello, who presented the prizes. “I was blown away by their skill and commitment.”  Finalists were also invited to read their poems at a Sunrise Rotary meeting, to warm acclaim.

“Tacoma Sunrise Rotary was excited to support the first Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest this year,” said immediate past president Richard Corak. “The contest hit several of our club’s areas of focus, including literacy and youth education, and for good measure targets environmental concerns. We hope to have a long and mutually beneficial relationship in the years ahead.”

Now, the Tacoma Sunrise Rotarians are busy preparing for the 2019 contest. The most exciting change is three additional Rotary clubs are joining, including the Rotary Club of South Tacoma, Rotary 8, and Passport Club of Pierce County.  Thanks to a partnership with Tacoma Public Schools, each school in disadvantaged areas will get a Rotarian volunteer to support teachers to create more success stories like Grace’s.

“This is so powerful – it’s a gift,” said Hannah Gbenro, Tacoma  Public Schools Director of Innovation. “This is the kind of program that gives our kids a voice and inspires them to learn. It’s so exciting.”
Rotary-supported story contest gives Tacoma youth a voice 2019-03-01 05:00:00Z 0
Brazil Rotary clubs held End Polio Now vaccination festivals, which included food, entertainment, local celebrities, games.
By Luiz Renato Dantas

Rotary clubs in Brazil mobilized to help stave off a potential polio outbreak after dangerously low vaccination rates were reported by health officials last year. More than 11 million Brazilian children were inoculated during a massive two-month vaccination campaign, reversing a trend of plummeting immunization coverage.

Brazil Rotary clubs held End Polio Now vaccination festivals, which included food, entertainment, local celebrities, games.
The government said more than 300 cities in the country had low rates of vaccination against diseases such as influenza, measles, and polio. The Ministry of Health called the situation “extremely serious.”

Measles were spreading in an outbreak that eventually sickened more than 1,500 people in Brazil. Health officials worried that poliovirus could also re-emerge. Brazil’s massive national immunization campaign from 6 August to 28 September aimed to vaccinate at least 95 percent of children ages one to five.

The measles cases were concentrated in the northern states where thousands of Venezuelan refugees have crossed the border to escape economic and political hardships. Many haven’t been immunized, because Venezuela’s health system is in crisis.

Rotary leaders in Brazil found the possibility that poliovirus could resurge frightening, said Marcelo Haick, a regional coordinator for Rotary’s End Polio Now initiative. They knew they had to help health workers reach the millions of children who might be vulnerable to the paralyzing disease.

“The campaign was a success,” says Haick, a member of the Rotary Club of Santos-Praia in São Paulo state. “To our great surprise, clubs throughout the country responded in a way unlike anything we have ever seen.”
More than 11 million children were vaccinated during the initiative, reaching the government’s goal of 95 percent coverage, the target recommended by the World Health Organization.

Rotary members went to events and high-risk communities to announce the vaccination campaign. 
According to Haick, every Rotary club in the country participated in the campaign in some way.
Clubs and districts promoted the vaccinations. A majority of clubs, says Haick, produced leaflets and distributed them at schools and at busy street crossings.

Some used other methods to draw attention to the cause:

    •    The International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians rode through the city of Jundiaí, São Paulo, with End Polio Now banners attached to their motorcycles.
    •    Dozens of clubs held End Polio Now vaccination festivals, which included food, entertainment, local celebrities, games — and oral polio vaccine drops. Health officials vaccinated the children who attended.
    •    Clubs installed lighted signs along major highways.
    •    At a major football game, club members in District 4670 took the field during intermission to display a huge End Polio Now banner. Clubs across the country used other sporting events, including bicycle races and marathons, to promote the vaccinations.
    •    Haick and other End Polio Now coordinators encouraged clubs to adopt vaccination centers. Clubs were also encouraged to contact local politicians and health officials at these centers.
    •    Clubs used Facebook and other social media platforms to post informational ads.
    •    Districts and clubs used trucks to announce information about the vaccination campaign at major social and cultural events and in high-risk communities. 

 Pedro Durão, another End Polio Now coordinator, says Rotary’s awareness campaign was widespread. “It was a mass adoption,” he says. “It was gratifying to see the work done by the clubs and districts throughout Brazil. I’ve been in Rotary since 1991 and have never seen such great enthusiasm.”

Rotary leaders in Brazil hope the success of this effort can inspire clubs and districts, not only in their country but also in others that are at risk of a resurgence of polio, to continue to raise awareness of the importance of polio immunization and other potentially lifesaving vaccinations.
Rotary clubs blanket Brazil with polio and measles vaccinations Members help reverse trend of plummeting immunizations by reaching 11 million children 2019-02-23 05:00:00Z 0
Charlie Ruth Castro leads an exercise class for inmates.

Charlie Ruth Castro

By Charlie Ruth Castro, Rotary E-Club of Sogamoso Global, Colombia

I had to go to prison to understand how education for innovation is the path for empowering millions of Latin American and Caribbean women economically. I’ve never committed a crime; I belong to that group of people who believe education is the most sophisticated tool we have to opening any door.

In 2016, I founded MujeresConDerechos.org with the idea of reminding society that all girls and all women are powerful. For this reason, I have dedicated myself to gathering the most influential leaders through summits, marches, and a television program. The attention and support I have received has been converted into generating innovative programs for girls and women most in need.

We had an amazing opportunity in October 2017 to put into practice the methodology of innovation I had created at Harvard University and that I had successfully tested with 1,500 youths living in rural areas of Mexico and Colombia. Now, I would be able to test my theories with 170 women in a medium-security prison in Sogamoso, within Boyacá.

The first day we visited them, the other women who went with me left terrified. A prison is a hell designed to disempower and mutilate human potential daily. However, I insisted we return and begin our program, “Nuevos Comienzos Innovando” (Innovative New Beginnings). The first two months, we dedicated ourselves to working with them on the concepts of confidence, forgiveness, strength, peace, and leadership.

It was incredible to see over a short period of time how these ladies went from being hermits and melancholy, to participating and hopeful with our process. By 22 December 2017, we were capable of laughing, crying, and hugging while we planned powerful goals for a better future.

A prison is a hell designed to disempower and mutilate human potential daily.

My methodology for digital empowerment bases itself on a very simple principle: we are all capable of seeing ourselves as superheroes through the use of innovation when we put our strength to resolving the more general and common problems affecting our community.

These ladies have come to understand that the three problems most affecting women in prison are their separation from their children, the lack of information regarding staying healthy in a highly unhealthy space, and interpersonal disputes about debts owed, that end in shocking punishments, such as the infamous “dungeon” – a dark, cold, and repugnant space where they could be held for up to 72 hours.

With these women, I’ve had the most profound discussions about justice, the economy of crime, liberty, and transcendence. The methodology we used has inspired them to plan their own brand and line of beauty products made from organic herbs. Those least interested in these persons having a decent job and re-entering society are the public servants of the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute of Columbia. The challenges, as well as humiliation, they have produced for the team and the women of our program are innumerable. But advocating for a more just society demands arming yourself with patience, and being creative in order to focus on the solutions and not the problems.

The majority of the women who took part in my program arrived at this prison due to crimes such as drug microtrafficking and theft; some landed here for homicide, kidnapping, or extortion. Almost all of them are mothers, and nearly a third of them are the second generation in their families to commit a crime. Most come from rural areas and bands of poverty within medium-sized cities. Almost all of them chased the fantasy of making money and becoming self-sufficient via the activities that led them to crime. A great many of them know their legal past will mark them and if they do not learn appropriate work skills or work on themselves from within, they are condemned to repeat the same mistake on the outside.

However there are two things that almost all these women share: they come from an impoverished Colombia and they face a culture that is violent against girls and women. My team and I feel grateful these women allowed us to research and work on a reality that affects so many. Despite how difficult it is to believe, we have concluded prisons are where we will find the potential to transform the country. Yes – impossible to believe, but they are.
The women in this prison made it possible for me to understand that the inequality and violence we see in the world today has its origins in gender inequality and lack of access to an empowering education for millions of girls and women.

It is time to invest in the education of innovation for our girls and young women. If we equip them with the tools that allow them to understand problems as opportunities for solution, or go as far as to teach them to use new technologies to create sources of employment, and to achieve excellence in the jobs of today and tomorrow, we can secure their economic empowerment, and we will be supporting the innovative and sustainable industrialization of our countries.
Empowering women in Colombian prisons 2019-02-08 05:00:00Z 0
The Gray’s home after the fire.

By Pam Gray, past district governor and member of the Rotary Club of Paradise, California, USA

While 77 days may seem like a long time, it has been a flash for those of us who were living in Paradise, California, and the surrounding foothills on 8 November, 2018.

My husband and I are members of the Rotary Club of Paradise. I was a District 5160 Governor during the 2014-15 Rotary year, and my husband, Brian, is currently club president. Brian was known as the “First Dude” as we traveled to visit 71 Rotary clubs the year I was governor.

The “First Dude” and I made it out safe along with our Saint Bernard and two cats. While our home is gone, like those of most other Paradise Rotarians and residents of the Ridge, the main building of my funeral home is standing. This is wonderful as we had several folks in our care and we were able to get them to my Oroville location so the families could go ahead with various services they had planned for their loved ones – on just 18 January, 2019.
Brian’s business did not survive even though it was standing when we left town.

We did not leave our home until the afternoon of 8 November because we were awaiting the notification that our ‘zone’ was being evacuated. Zones were developed a decade ago after an evacuation resulted in traffic so bad people could not get off the Ridge and just stayed. The final notification I received was at 9:18 a.m. By noon, our son-in-law was calling from Flagstaff, Arizona, telling us to get out immediately. He was watching the news; we had no news. We walked through each room and said goodbye to our home and to our “stuff.” We told our home she had been great and we were sorry we could not stay to keep her safe.

Typically it would take about 10 minutes to get to the next town. We were fortunate on 8 November we made the trip in an hour and 20 minutes when earlier in the day it took people eight hours.

As fate would have it, the Zone Institute was the following week and Brain and I decided to attend after our very gracious hostess offered to keep the pets while we traveled to Reno, Nevada. It was good to be among so many Rotarians.

How to help

Sonoma Rotarians set up a GoFundMe page the day after the fire that will benefit the Paradise Rotary Foundation. We were able to make some great contacts that are of great benefit to the Paradise Rotary Foundation. We are very grateful for our Rotary family. In between sessions, we spent the time returning phone calls from around the country.
We made dozens of calls each day.

The following week, we had a surprise birthday party for our Exchange Student, Val, from Columbia. Val fled Paradise High School with her host brother (an exchange student to Brazil last year) and made their way to Chico. The youth exchange committee then got her to Burney, California, more than 110 miles northeast of Paradise. During the days since the fire began, the Rotary Club of Vacaville Sunrise about 200 miles south of Burney agreed to host Val for the remainder of the year. While Val desperately wanted to remain with her first host family, it was decided that would be impossible. Three generations of her host family had lost all of their homes and businesses. It was sad to let Val go.

Brian was able to find a place for our Rotary club to meet and we began meeting just one week after the beginning of the fire. We had two meetings before the fire was 100 percent contained on 25 November 25, some 17 days after it began.
What it’s like to escape a wildfire 2019-02-01 05:00:00Z 0
A young girl washes her hands in the new facilities.

By Shahul Hameed, Rotary Club of Singapore (District 3310)

For some of us, it might be hard to imagine life without clean water. We may have suffered the inconveniences of temporary water cuts due to breakdowns or repairs in the water network. And we may have felt frustration after working out at the fitness center if the shower was broken. But those are just minor inconveniences compared to what people in the Huong Nguyen commune live with. Until recently.

It takes a drive over many miles through tortuous and bumpy roads to reach Huong Nguyen commune. It is located in a very mountainous region, close to the Laos border, in the A Luoi District, Thua Thien Hue Province, one of the most affected areas during the Vietnam War. Through the assistance of a Rotary Foundation global grant, a project provided a water supply system and environmental sanitation benefitting 1,252 people in 316 households.

Visiting Rotarians teach the children safe hygiene habits.

The project also enabled construction of 50 hygienic latrines. These play an essential role in keeping waste away from living spaces, which means less disease and better health for all the affected people.

It is expected that all these measures will have an important impact in the health of the inhabitants of the commune. But they are also expected to have other impacts. It will no longer be necessary to travel long distances to bring clean water home, saving time for the inhabitants of the commune, time that might be spent in other profitable tasks, increasing the economic prospects of the whole area.

It is difficult to describe the atmosphere in the training sessions where those living in the commune learn about the new facilities and are taught hygiene. The smiles on the faces of the attendees and the laughter of the boys and girls says much about the joy and happiness that Rotary has brought to this poor commune almost lost in the mountains of Vietnam.
Doing good in Vietnam  2019-01-25 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary Youth Exchange students share stories and ideas with students from a high school for the deaf.
By Daladiana Cunha Lima, co-chair of the Youth Exchange committee for District 4500 (Brazil)
Rotary Youth Exchange is my favorite Rotary program. From my experience, I found the challenges of Youth Exchange are fairly universal. Among these, I believe one of the most important is connecting the students’ exchange year with Rotary’s mission of providing service.

My district hosted about 35 exchange students in 2017-18, seven of which were in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, in northeast Brazil. The other students came from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Germany, Taiwan, and Poland.

At the beginning of the year, I started to think of ways we could add more social value to their exchange year. I came up with the idea of having the exchange students visit a local high school for the deaf. The deaf students belong to a Rotary Community Corps sponsored by the Rotary Club of Natal. The exchange students talk about life and culture in their home countries, and all the students learned the John Lennon song  “Imagine” together in Brazilian Sign Language.

Over the period of two months, this initiative had a great impact on everyone.  I realized that the exchange students we were hosting had the extra challenge of not only learning Portuguese, but also a completely different form of communication, sign language. They became more sensitive to the circumstances of young deaf students.

Brazilian deaf students have never before had the opportunity to meet students from other parts of the world. Both groups learned a lot about each other and about inclusion. For that period of two months, exchange students, deaf students, Rotarians, and staff at the school were all speaking the same language – one of tolerance, respect, and love.

I received a lot of positive feedback when I shared our example at the 38th meeting of Brazilian Youth Exchange Officers later in the year. We had youth exchange officers not only from Brazil, but also other countries like the United States, Denmark, Mexico, and the Netherlands. I am very excited to repeat the project with exchange students we host this year (2018-19).
Learning a common language of respect 2019-01-18 05:00:00Z 0
Alistair Burt, left, the UK minister of state for international development and minister of state for the Middle East, accepts the Polio Eradication Champion Award from RI President Barry Rassin.
By Ryan Hyland

Rotary honored Theresa May, prime minister of the United Kingdom, with the Polio Eradication Champion Award for her leadership and political support toward ending polio.

Rotary International President Barry Rassin presented the prestigious award to Alistair Burt, the UK minister of state for international development and minister of state for the Middle East, at a roundtable discussion on polio eradication on 27 November in London, England.

Rassin told Burt, who accepted the award on May’s behalf, that the UK has repeatedly demonstrated an unwavering commitment toward a polio-free world.
“Britain’s leadership in making multiyear commitments in support of global polio eradication has been an example for other countries to follow,” Rassin said. He added that flexible funding from the UK has given the Global Polio Eradication Initiative  more resources to respond quickly to “dynamic needs.”

Under May’s leadership in 2017, the UK pledged about $130 million to the GPEI for 2017-19, bringing the country’s cumulative support for polio eradication to $1.6 billion — second only to the United States. May has also been a strong advocate for other countries in the G-20 and G-7 to maintain their financial and political support for a polio-free world, Rassin said.

“The UK remains committed to reaching our goal of eradicating polio and ensuring that no child suffers from polio again,” Burt said. “We are very proud of the contribution we have made to setting polio on the road to becoming history. I want to take this opportunity again to thank all those involved in the fight against polio, especially those on the ground working in incredibly difficult circumstances, and Rotary colleagues all around the world who have helped us reach this point.”

Rotary established the Polio Eradication Champion Award in 1996 to recognize heads of state, health agency leaders, and others who have made significant contributions to ending polio. Past recipients include Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Rotary recognizes UK Prime Minister Theresa May with polio champion award 2019-01-13 05:00:00Z 0
8,000 Kilometers to Peace 2019-01-05 05:00:00Z 0
(December 27, 2018)  While most students from low-income families can count on regular meals through the school district’s free- and reduced-price meals program, many of these children go home on Friday afternoon and will eat little again until breakfast at school on Monday morning. The need is still on-going with approximately 43% of the students in the district being food-insecure.  The Backpack program continues to help meet that need on weekends by sending home a backpack filled with healthy food (three suppers, two breakfasts, two lunches and two snacks).
The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club is supporting this effort with a $4,000 Rotary District matched donation to continue the program for a number of students through this school year.
Michael Dunn, Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club presenting 50/50 Rotary District Grant to Fran Philippe of the Friends of Forgotten Children and The Backpack Program.
The Backpack Program for Merrimack Valley (NH) School District 2018-12-27 05:00:00Z 0
This is the time of year when the Rotarians of Capital City are the busiest, giving back.
It started the day after Thanksgiving when we set up our free hot chocolate and cookies table at Concord's annual Christmas tree lighting on the state house plaza.
The Fourth Wednesday of every month, Capital City Members and friends cook an evening meal for the homeless at the Penacook Open Community Kitchen, Here are the volunteers for the 28th of November:
On December first, the thirteen club members rang the bell for the Salvation Army at the local Market Basket Supermarket and raise a record $1,600 in one day.
On the seventh, President Mark set up his photo gear at Concord Photo Service during Midnight Merriment to offer family portraits and a Christmas ornament, courtesy of CPS.
On the thirteenth, with the help of friends and volunteers and caroling group from The Immaculate Heart of Mary, the club members cooked a ham dinner at the Salvation Army and transported and served it to the residents of the 120 apartment Crutchfield/Pittman place Building - an annual event since  2008.
On Saturday, the 15th, the club participated in the Wreaths Across Ameriaca program - Wreaths were laid on veterens' graves in the Maple Grove Cemetary in Concord.
The Fourth Wednesday in December this year is the day after Christmas, our turn to cook at the Penacook Open Door Community Kitchen. Rotarians Jim Spain, and our two Mikes, Dunn and Manning will be preparing the turkey dinner with all the fixings for the homeless that evening.
Capital City takes a break until the first Thursday in January as will this newsletter. Happy Holidays to all!
Holiday Time for Capital City Sunrise 2018-12-14 05:00:00Z 0
Members of the Rotaract Club of Canal Fulton, Ohio, USA, clean and pack potatoes at a regional food bank.

By Evelyn Aaron, Communication Director, Rotaract Club of Canal Fulton, Ohio, USA

If you ask any one of the members of the Canal Fulton Rotary Club why they joined, they will tell you it’s the sense of community that binds us all together. Many of us have spent significant portions of our lives in the greater Canal Fulton area, and we want to provide our children and our town with the same helping hands that we have been offered our entire lives.

Canal Fulton’s Rotary Club is tirelessly active in our community. The annual Mother of All Races event, held on Mother’s Day weekend, is a huge hit. And they are currently one of the driving forces behind our town’s forthcoming YMCA (just to name a few projects). In the last two years, the Interact Club they sponsor at Northwest High School has grown from 25 to over 60 student members, taking on countless projects every year. While these are strong clubs and major forces in our community, there was a gap to be filled. There was no Rotary-sponsored club for young adults to stay active in the community.

Our Rotaract Club quickly grew from the one person who started the group to the five people she contacted and met with in just days, to the 15 friends that came to our first meeting. That base of people has encouraged new people to join as members or simply take part in our service projects.

We all serve to the greatest capacities we can manage, and that is what makes our Rotaract club special. We are busy young adults balancing school, careers, and families, as well as the sports leagues and service initiatives we committed to prior to joining this group. And yet we are making this club a huge success by keeping in contact with one another over our Facebook page and in a group chat, constantly throwing out new ideas, and frequently coming together over pot-luck dinners.

Since our first meeting in June, we have volunteered our time at a baseball tournament for the physically and mentally disabled; at the local high school’s Alumni Football Game; at a volleyball tournament to raise money for a child with cancer; at a service day to clean up the facility and property where we and our Rotary club both meet; at a regional food bank where we spend two hours in the early morning cleaning and packing potatoes; and at our local community cupboard. All of this has been possible through a grant we received when we started this group and with the help of our Rotary club, who with their years of service advise us on projects.

In the future, we plan to purchase gifts for a family for Christmas, cook meals at a local soup kitchen next summer, and lend a hand at Canton’s Total Living Center.

By doing these activities as a Rotaract Club, we are creating that sense of community that we all enjoyed as children. We are excited to see all of the help we can offer and the smiles we can create.
New Rotaract club creates community in Ohio 2018-12-08 05:00:00Z 0
More than 300 participants fill Palacio Hall for the Beetle game world record attempt.

By Joanna Chrzanowska, president, Rotary Club of Marabella-Guadalmina, Spain

The event planning team from the Rotary Club of Marbella-Guadalmina, Spain, was awed by the first sight of the hall they had to fill. We have drawn 80 people to our walks or events before, but aircraft hangar might be the best description for the room we were looking at. It had been generously donated free of charge by Marbella Town Hall, who have been very supportive of the expatriate community. The space was also free of tables, chairs, a sound system, a stage and several other necessities for putting on a large public event.
Founded in 2010, our club is English-speaking with members from a number of different nationalities, including many new Rotarians. We have been effective at fundraising for local and international charities, but why did we suddenly take this on?

Why we did it

We’d love to tell you it was part of a master plan for growth and community engagement. But the truth is it was more like a ball that started rolling and didn’t stop. A member suggested that we could aim for a Guinness World Record in a competitive game called Beetle, which involves throwing a die and drawing parts of a beetle according to the numbers that fall.  Sounded easy. Get lots of people together for a couple of hours. Give them a paper, pencil and die. And film the record attempt.

Several months later we were still working out logistics, how best to sell tickets, what else we would have to offer, how to promote the event, how to get tables and chairs to the venue, and so on.

There were some dark days, doubts and debates, a mountain of emails, and uncertainty until the very last that we would have enough people in the hall to even make the record attempt valid.  A warning for severe rain on the day of the event didn’t help.

Team dynamics like never before

Just before the event, the team working on it pulled out all the stops; united by a strong determination to do the very best they could for the club. Our Events teams are used to working hard, but this was exceptional. Everyone worked effectively, and somehow managed to not fall over from exhaustion, driven by a unity of spirit that arranged furniture, audio, display stands, crowd control, refreshments, publicity, etc.

And yes, despite the weather, well over 300 people came to enjoy the displays, the entertainment, and to take part in the game, hoping to win the beautifully crafted Golden Beetle.

Reach for the moon. Even if you fail, you will be among the stars.

Things weren’t perfect that day. Yet the atmosphere was positive and we built a great connection with the local community.  Sponsorship had already raised money for a charity for Alzheimer’s no matter what happened. The record attempt has still to be ratified by Guinness World Records, but people left the hall feeling it was a success.

The club has been a different place since this accomplishment. There is a feel-good vibe. Our horizons have expanded and our confidence has increased. We are prepared to be less insular, more organised, more dynamic. There won’t be another Beetle event for sure. But the Marbella Town Hall has said we can have the Palacio again next year. What will we do with it?
Who knew attempting a world record could transform our club? 2018-11-25 05:00:00Z 0
Thanksgiving 2018-11-16 05:00:00Z 0
Konrad Niemann, left, and his son by the junk car they used in the Carbage Run. The car was auctioned off, and combined with funds raised by the run, to benefit the Salberghaus, a home for children.

By Konrad Niemann, President of the Rotary Club of München-Münchner Freiheit, Germany

In February, my son and I were driving in Germany when we began passing a bunch of strange-looking cars on the highway. We discovered they were part of a road rally called the Carbage Run, that is essentially a five-day road trip across Europe in a junk car. For the past 10 years, participants have paid about €350 (about $400) to take part in the event, originating in the Netherlands, with cars that must be more than 18 years old and worth less than €500 ($560). Looking at all these junk cars, my son and I thought “what a funny idea for a father-son activity.”

To make the idea even better, we decided we would do the trip as a fundraiser for a children’s home in Munich. The emphasis of my presidential year is children, because they are our future.

We signed up for a German version of the ride that was launched two years ago, that crosses 2,500 kilometers (about 1,550 miles) from Germany, through Switzerland, France, and Andorra, to Spain. We convinced my Rotary club and the clubs of München Residenz and Bavaria to combine support for our trip with €2.30 ($2.60) for every kilometer we drove.

We drove about 500 kilometers a day through breathtaking landscapes. We would get up at 8 a.m. each day to pack our gear and tent and tackle that day’s journey. Each day, you have a choice between a longer and shorter distance, but we always decided to take the longer. It was an excellent bonding experience organizing our day, charting our way, and figuring out how to tolerate the heat (as our junk car had no air conditioning.)

We were able to complete all five days with no major problems. At the end of the road trip, we auctioned off the car and some memorabilia we picked up along the way for €1,600. Combined with the pledges we had received, we were able to give €7,500 (roughly $8,500) to the Salberghaus, a safe house for children who have been removed from their homes by the government because their lives were in danger from violence, drugs, or abuse.

The trip taught me that it isn’t difficult to come up with fun ways to raise money. We do a lot of things in our lives for fun, and spend a lot of time figuring out how to amuse ourselves. But just think how much good we could do if we put some of that time and energy to planning activities that would also make the world a better place. My encouragement to you is to try and combine fun and charity the next chance you get. Trust me, it makes life more exciting. And if you have a family member who is up for it, bring them along for the ride.
Driving a junk car across Europe for charity 2018-11-16 05:00:00Z 0
Members of the Rotaract Club of Juárez Integra in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, by one of the 10 murals they painted in public spaces.

By Yesenia Uribe, Rotaract Club of Juárez Integra, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

I have always been concerned about the situation in my city. Ciudad Juarez is sadly known for a high crime rate and violence related to drug trafficking which creates an atmosphere of insecurity.

I wanted to learn more about how I could implement peace in my community, so I applied to participate in a workshop called A Stronger Mexico: Pillars of Positive Peace organized by the Institute for Economics and Peace. I learned that peace starts in small communities and that we cannot think about global peace if we do not work on it from the roots.

Art for peace

I live in a city with many abandoned and vandalized parks. My Rotaract club decided to create peace murals in each park to unite communities through art and rehabilitate these common spaces. We needed to recover public spaces so the community has a place to gather in a healthy environment and coexist in parks that are in good condition.

At first, we were afraid to make a single mural. We thought it was going to be expensive. And our neighbors were apathetic. Many people didn’t want to help because they didn’t get something in return. But we were determined. We secured sponsors and some club members also contributed. After we painted one mural, we saw how easy it was – nobody could stop us.
Little by little, more participants joined us. First, it was our neighbors, and then other organizations and even local artists offered to paint murals. They saw the results of what we were achieving and wanted to be a part of it.

It took us practically a year to paint 10 murals. (See a video of one project.) Each park’s mural has a different design, but they all focus on peace and leave a positive message.

What it takes to create lasting change

The project has had a huge impact on our community. Places that looked totally abandoned and vandalized have become meeting spaces for the community. We continue to rehabilitate parks and leave peace murals in each of them.

When I joined Rotaract I had a desire to do something concrete for the world. Thanks to the Positive Peace workshop, I learned a lot about how to use the tools at my disposal to achieve my goals. I learned that carrying out projects with lasting change doesn’t take much, only a firm conviction, clear objectives, and a good team.

I invite all young people to get involved in social projects, to be agents of change in your communities, and leave the world a better place than how we found it. Rotaract provides us with an impressive platform to bring our ideas to reality and to start generating innovative projects with great impact.

Yesenia Uribe is a member of the Rotaract Club of Juárez Integra in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. She is a social entrepreneur, concerned about the current situation in her country and her city.
Painting the way to peace 2018-11-16 05:00:00Z 0
Members of the Rotaract Club of Juárez Integra in Cuidad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, by one of the 10 murals they painted in public spaces.

By Yesenia Uribe, Rotaract Club of Juárez Integra, Cuidad Juárez, Mexico

I have always been concerned about the situation in my city. Cuidad Juarez is sadly known for a high crime rate and violence related to drug trafficking which creates an atmosphere of insecurity.

I wanted to learn more about how I could implement peace in my community, so I applied to participate in a workshop called A Stronger Mexico: Pillars of Positive Peace organized by the Institute for Economics and Peace. I learned that peace starts in small communities and that we cannot think about global peace if we do not work on it from the roots.

Art for peace

I live in a city with many abandoned and vandalized parks. My Rotaract club decided to create peace murals in each park to unite communities through art and rehabilitate these common spaces. We needed to recover public spaces so the community has a place to gather in a healthy environment and coexist in parks that are in good condition.

At first, we were afraid to make a single mural. We thought it was going to be expensive. And our neighbors were apathetic. Many people didn’t want to help because they didn’t get something in return. But we were determined. We secured sponsors and some club members also contributed. After we painted one mural, we saw how easy it was – nobody could stop us.

Little by little, more participants joined us. First, it was our neighbors, and then other organizations and even local artists offered to paint murals. They saw the results of what we were achieving and wanted to be a part of it.

It took us practically a year to paint 10 murals. (See a video of one project.) Each park’s mural has a different design, but they all focus on peace and leave a positive message.

What it takes to create lasting change

The project has had a huge impact on our community. Places that looked totally abandoned and vandalized have become meeting spaces for the community. We continue to rehabilitate parks and leave peace murals in each of them.

When I joined Rotaract I had a desire to do something concrete for the world. Thanks to the Positive Peace workshop, I learned a lot about how to use the tools at my disposal to achieve my goals. I learned that carrying out projects with lasting change doesn’t take much, only a firm conviction, clear objectives, and a good team.

I invite all young people to get involved in social projects, to be agents of change in your communities, and leave the world a better place than how we found it. Rotaract provides us with an impressive platform to bring our ideas to reality and to start generating innovative projects with great impact.

Yesenia Uribe is a member of the Rotaract Club of Juárez Integra in Cuidad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. She is a social entrepreneur, concerned about the current situation in her country and her city.
Painting the way to peace 2018-11-10 05:00:00Z 0
Semilla Nueva technician Noe speaks to farmers about their new seed. Photo by Sarah Caroline Müller/Semilla Nueva

By Don Reiman, Rotary Club of Boise, Idaho, USA

Semilla Nueva means “New Seed.” In Guatemala the “new seed” developed by Semilla Nueva is creating new life for some of the world’s most malnourished children.

In March 2013, my wife and I traveled to Guatemala to check out Semilla Nueva, a nonprofit our Rotary club was considering supporting as part of our international service. Our past history with nonprofits taught us it was important to make sure the Rotary club’s resources would be backing a valid and sustainable project. What we found and experienced far exceeded our expectations.

The Problem

In Guatemala, corn has been the staple crop consumed across the country for generations. It’s cheap and easy to grow. But  it also lacks the key nutrients needed in a healthy diet, resulting in widespread malnutrition affecting nearly half of all children in Guatemala. Malnutrition impacts children’s growth, mental development, school attendance, earning potential, and lifelong health. It creates a cycle of poverty among families and communities.
The Solution

Different varieties of corn were tested.

Semilla Nueva realized that in to address poverty in Guatemala, they had to address malnutrition. Our Rotary club and others partnered with Semilla Nueva through a Rotary Foundation global grant.

Through trial and error, Semilla Nueva developed an innovative approach. They entered the Guatemalan corn market, offering farmers a more nutritious corn seed. This seed, called Fortaleza F3, is biofortified with more quality protein and zinc than normal corn; both vital to healthy development. Compared to similarly-priced seeds, it also yields larger harvests at a lower price, helping farmers with their income.

Our 2013 trip allowed us to witness the process Semilla Nueva used to identify and develop the new seed. What we saw convinced us that Rotary dollars were being used in a responsible, productive program. We focused on three major aspects of the Semilla Nueva program:

    1.    We worked on the test farm where multiple varieties of biofortified corn were grown side by side. This allowed for a comparison of seeds to see which ones produced the best corn in Guatemalan soil and climate.
    2.    We traveled to local farms, taking soil and crop samples and spoke to the farmers. One of the brilliant approaches used by Semilla Nueva was to encourage the more progressive farmers to plant a small portion of their farm using the new seed. The benefits of the new seed were irrefutable when seen next to the traditional crop. At harvest, the quantity and quality of the corn proved the superiority of the new seed.
    3.    Finally, we met with Semilla Nueva’s leadership and discussed their vision, business plan, and long-term strategies for sustainability. A key to their success is engaging scientists, local and national politicians, government representatives, and local farmers.

The Impact

At the end of 2017, Semilla Nueva launched their pilot sales season and within five months they sold out their 1,000 bags of starter seed. Farmers loved the high-quality harvest and profits gained from the seed. More importantly, families, communities, and other consumers were eating more nutritious corn. Today, Semilla Nueva helps other seed companies grow biofortified corn. As of May 2018, their nutritious corn reached 105,698 individuals across Guatemala.

Rotary grant dollars are literally “seed money” for growing a sustainable program to eliminate poverty in Guatemala.
After the successful pilot, they are already planning for next season. We’re working on a new global grant so Semilla Nueva can produce and sell more bags and types of seeds. The goal of getting biofortified corn to all communities throughout Guatemala is becoming a reality. With their corn reaching tens of thousands, and ultimately hundreds of thousands of people, Semilla Nueva and Rotary are fighting malnutrition and reducing poverty.
Fighting malnutrition with better corn 2018-11-03 04:00:00Z 0
The innovations making a difference to outbreak response.
Nigeria is one of only three countries in the world with ongoing wild poliovirus transmission, alongside Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Rotary is a part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is focused on strengthening surveillance to find and respond to the virus, wherever it emerges, and closing immunity gaps to protect the population and stop the virus from circulating. The programme is also committed to advocating for sustained political commitment and ensuring necessary financial resources and technical support for polio eradication at all levels.

Long distances, an ever-changing environment and minimal infrastructure are only a few of the barriers that the Lake Chad Task Team faces as they conduct polio vaccination and surveillance activities in response to wild poliovirus detected in Nigeria in 2016. Overcoming these hurdles isn’t easy, but innovations ranging from geographical information systems (GIS) technology to boat-side vaccination are going far to ensure that every child is reached with lifesaving vaccines.

Traveling via speedboat reduces the time it takes to reach the islands from days to hours. The team has invested in vessels dedicated for polio eradication activities, freeing them to travel at a moment’s notice to investigate a case of acute flaccid paralysis or deliver vaccines. These stable, tough boats are specially chosen for long distance journeys.
Arriving on an island, the team supervises the activities of community-based vaccinators, ensuring that every child receives two drops of polio vaccine and that their finger is stained purple to distinguish from those children not vaccinated. Vaccination activities happen in markets, villages, and nomadic settlements. Recruiting women and men to work in their local communities increases vaccine trust and acceptance. This is one of the key lessons learned over the course of the global polio eradication program.
As temperatures soar, it’s critical that the polio vaccine is kept cool, which is an immense challenge in places where there is little or no electricity. A game changer for the team has been the introduction of dedicated vaccine refrigerators, some solar powered, painstakingly transported and installed on several island villages. This means that vaccines can be kept cold, reducing the amount that must be transported by the team for each campaign, and limiting vaccine waste.
Protecting against polio in Lake Chad 2018-10-27 04:00:00Z 0
Hand washing demonstration
Vera Allotey demonstrates hand washing to school children in Denkyira, Ghana.

Editor Note: Rotary International partners with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support lasting, positive change in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). This is part of a series of occasional blog posts from local Rotary members describing their visits to project sites.

By Vera Lamiley Allotey, Rotary Club of Accra Dansoman

In July, I left my home with fellow Rotarians to visit Upper Denkyira East in the central region of Ghana to see progress on water and sanitation projects. Despite riding in a very new vehicle, the ride was bumpy due to poor road conditions. But we enjoyed talking and learning about the Rotary-USAID partnership during our more than six-hour journey. I was encouraged by what I saw and the impact Rotary is having in the region.

After a necessary meeting with the municipal assembly in Denkyira, we arrived at a secondary school to inspect latrines that had been built. The headmaster welcomed us and showed us the changing room that had been created for girls. I showed the students how to properly wash their hands using the bucket stands that we donated to the school and two students were asked to demonstrate the proper techniques to their friends. We then moved to the borehole and the project manager led us in a series of stroke tests to determine the water flow from the pump. All was in working order.

Welcome innovations

I learned about some very innovative and creative things the headmaster was doing with the help of the PTA. He had set up a fee to be collected from parents that could be used to purchase toilet rolls, disinfectant and sanitary pads for girls to make sure there would be a continuous adequate supply. Sanitary pads were dispensed according to need, and one male and female teacher were placed in charge of dispensing toilet rolls and pads, cutting down on waste. The facility and supplies have really reduced the rate of absenteeism on the part of girls during their menstruation cycle. This is a very good thing.

We also made a courtesy call to the town chief, because it was in walking distance and we wanted to pay appropriate homage to him as custodian of the land. He had also helped ward off unscrupulous individuals who had wanted to intrude on the facilities before their completion. We conveyed to him our gratitude and he told us how pleased he was with the project and promised to help us make sure it continued.

The next day, we toured the market in Dunkwa before heading to Dunkwaso to visit the second project site, a toilet facility for a special school affiliated with the Methodist Church that teaches children with disabilities. I had many conversations with the head teacher, PTA members, and specially-trained teachers, who explained how they integrate visually and hearing impaired students into normal activities to enhance their emotional, psychological, and social well-being, preparing them for their years beyond school.

Rotary is very good

I was encouraged when the PTA chairman informed us that they would be deducting money from the PTA dues to buy disinfectants for the facility and employing someone to maintain it. I recommended they get in contact with the Community Development Unit of the Assembly, whose mandate is to train youth how to use various disinfectants and soap. They could get the supplies at a cheaper rate and also provide valuable skills to some of the youth that they could use later.
After we bid our goodbyes, we promised to visit within the next quarter to check on the upkeep of the facility. All in all, it was an enlightening trip. And I left feeling that Rotary is indeed very good.
Improving sanitation in a school in Ghana 2018-10-18 04:00:00Z 0
LA 72 held this commemoration of the mass murder of 72 migrants by the Los Zetas drug cartel in San Fernando, Mexico, in 2010. Photo courtesy Giorgio Algeri

By Giorgio Algeri, 2010-11 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland, Australia

On a late evening in August, a family of eight migrant persons from Honduras arrived at the refugee shelter where I was serving as a short-term volunteer in Tabasco, Mexico, near the border with Guatemala. The family of three adults and five children, most below the age of 10, had fled their country for security reasons and were renting a tiny room in Tabasco awaiting asylum. The son of the landlord came home drunk and threatened the family with a machete, forcing them to leave all their belongings behind.

Luckily, nobody was injured. Yet, they were still shivering and crying when I welcomed them at the shelter, a safe haven where immigration authorities, federal and local police officers, and scoundrels are not allowed to enter. To calm them down, I highlighted the safety and hospitality of the place before addressing any basic needs such as clothing and personal hygiene kits.

Racism and xenophobia

As a humanitarian and development worker over the past 10 years, I have seen the desperation of those in need in a variety of settings including post-conflict countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The accounts of the migrants and refugees from the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) and the violence they suffered in their country of origin reminded me of similar horrific stories from migrants and refugees traveling along the Libyan migration corridor from Africa to Italy to Europe.

States themselves are ultimately responsible for preventing xenophobic and racist acts that threaten the lives of economic migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable groups. Nowadays, however, an increasing departure from the values of humanity and solidarity is increasingly leading to a rise of violence, discrimination, and human rights violations against these vulnerable groups.

A clear example is the emerging migration crisis in the Mediterranean Sea and the recent tension between Spain, Malta, and Italy over the fate of 630 migrants and refugees that remained stranded between Sicily and Malta for about a week.

Worsening human rights

The decision by the Italian Government to deny NGO ship access to Italy’s ports or not take in migrants and refugees rescued off the coast of Libya denotes an alarming worsening of the human rights situation in Italy. It further represented a violation of international humanitarian law for the repatriation of vulnerable migrants to Libya, a war-torn country in North Africa. Propaganda and anti-migrant alliances are creating a climate of hate and violence against migrants and refugees across Europe.

The one thing most vulnerable migrants and refugees have in common is a desire to live safely with dignity. Existing initiatives and programs such as the above shelter play a crucial role and provide a safe pathway for such vulnerable groups. But everyone has a responsibility to promote acceptance of the rights of others (one of the key pillars used by the Institute for Economics and Peace to measure peace).

You don’t need to be a humanitarian worker to make a difference. Anyone can contribute by raising funds, holding an event to commemorate the rights of refugees, or taking part in social media campaigns. You can also volunteer in service projects that promote a culture of positive peace and create a more constructive dialogue between migrants, refugees, and host communities. It’s time to stand up for the human rights of migrants and take action now.
About the author: Giorgio Algeri is a former Rotary Peace Fellow with a Master’s Degree in Asian Studies from Lund University, Sweden and a Master of International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland, Australia (2010-2011). He has been working with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations in about 10 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The right to a better life 2018-10-14 04:00:00Z 0
Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have had to take bold action in the historic fight to eradicate polio. At Rotary’s 6th annual World Polio Day event on 24 October in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, we’ll highlight the monumental and innovative steps that are getting us closer to our goal. We’ll also celebrate 30 years of achievements by the GPEI.

In 1988, when Rotary and its partners founded the GPEI, the paralyzing disease affected 350,000 children. Our collaboration with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and later the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, local health workers, and national governments has helped reduce the number to just 15 cases of wild poliovirus this year.

This year’s event will be livestreamed from The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, known as the “birthplace of American medicine.” It is one of the oldest professional medical organizations in the United States.

Global health experts and celebrities will discuss our remarkable progress toward a polio-free world. Patience Asiimwe, the protagonist of Rotary’s upcoming virtual reality film, “Two Drops of Patience,” will introduce the movie. A sneak peek from Rotary’s documentary “Drop to Zero” will also be featured. Jeffrey Kluger, senior editor for Time magazine, will discuss his experience traveling to Nigeria with Rotary to report on polio eradication. And we’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the GPEI.

World Polio Day is observed on the 24th of October to honor the birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk, who led the development of the first polio vaccine.
World Polio Day reviews the bold steps taken to end polio 2018-09-21 04:00:00Z 0
A project to provide clean water to all of Lebanon’s schools is uniting leaders from many of the country’s diverse religious, cultural, and political divisions.

In 2011, Rotary members in northern Lebanon decided to install new tanks and water filters in a few nearby schools with the help of a Rotary Foundation grant. The idea caught on and a few other clubs followed suit.

Two years later, District 2452 Governor Jamil Mouawad and other district leaders saw the potential of creating one giant water project that could reach every school and involve all 24 of the country’s Rotary clubs. They formed a committee to handle publicity and gather technical knowledge, while each club was asked to provide volunteers, contribute funds, apply for grants, and secure contributions from outside organizations.

“Every student has the right to drink clean water. It goes without saying that clean drinking water leads to less diseases, healthier students, and consequently, better education,” says Mouawad. “The bigger the challenge, the greater its positive impact on humanity.”

While clean water is the main objective, the leaders also saw the effort as a means of helping heal Lebanon’s long history of sectarian strife. A civil war divided the country from 1975 to 1990, leaving an estimated 120,000 people dead. In recent years, Lebanon’s government is a shifting coalition of religions, political parties, and sects.

Lina Shehayeb, president of the Rotary Club of Aley, is a Druze by faith. Shehayeb says working alongside club members who are Catholic, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and Muslim to promote the project has deepened her understanding of those with different religious or political views.

 “We are building peace and understanding,” she says. “There has never been anything quite like this in our country.”

Even the distribution of club responsibilities is designed to foster peace. Each club is responsible for a certain number of schools, some in their area but some in a totally separate region. The clubs nominate a project coordinator, find qualified suppliers, arrange for sponsors, and allocate contributions from sponsors, district funds, and global grants to finance the installation of filters in the schools.

“For example a club from Jounieh, a Christian resort town north of Beirut, might be assigned schools in the southern mountains near the Israeli border, an area that is considerably poorer and primarily Shia Muslim,” explains Mouawad. “After all, who — no matter what their political or religious views — could argue with providing clean water for children?”

The effort could not have come at a better time. With the crisis in Syria, Lebanon’s population is ballooning with refugees, including many school-age children. By improving the schools these kids attend, Rotary members are laying the groundwork for future peace in the region.

The committee is working in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, World Vision, UNICEF, and the Red Cross. Red Cross volunteers take water samples in each of the schools a few times a year and send those samples to the Lebanese Agricultural Laboratory Institute for testing.

According to the committee’s technical team, it will cost roughly $2,500 a school to install water tanks, filters, and provide ongoing monitoring. About 200 schools have been covered so far. The goal is to reach all 1,535 schools within three years.

By Arnold R. Grahl
Water project unites Lebanon clubs across all divides 2018-09-15 04:00:00Z 0
A Navajo family enjoys their newly installed solar light.

By A.J. Holzer

As I landed in the Durango airport, cramped into a small airplane, my entire Rotary career flashed before my eyes. I had joined Interact at the beginning of high school as a way to help my community and connect with others. And for most of my high school years, I was able to do just that, growing as a leader and learning from my peers. The experience was uniquely personal – all I knew of Rotary was my club and the work we did in the community. But in the summer of my sophomore year, my knowledge of Rotary was about to explode to an entirely new level.

As president of my Interact club, I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I felt like a minnow tossed into the ocean. I was overwhelmed by the colossal reach of Rotary around the world. I learned about projects ranging from complex irrigation systems that allow for farming in Turkana, Kenya, to establishing an array of financial help for poor villagers in Guatemala. I met passionate Rotarians from all corners of the world, and was instantly inspired to look for a way to become involved at this level.

On the reservation

After a year as club president, I decided to do something about this desire. I browsed this blog for information about great projects, and found a write up about the Navajo Solar Lights Project. After hours of research, I emailed founder Joe Williams, who told me more about the project and I discovered a shared passion for Rotary service. He invited me to apply to be a summer intern with their project, to spend a week and a half in the heart of the Navajo reservation. I knew this would push me out of my comfort zone, but I was ecstatic for the chance to have a positive impact on the lives of others.
A.J. Holzer installs a solar light on the Navajo reservation.

During the week and a half, I developed a completely new outlook on service. With other volunteers, I helped install solar lights in more than 15 homes. These lights mean the world to Navajo elders who don’t have access to electricity. Not only does it increase their safety and well-being by eliminating the harmful effects of kerosene lamps, but it provides a measure of  independence.

There is an incredible unity and resiliency on the reservation. During my first install in White Rock, New Mexico, we drove out into the desert past buildings until we came to a small cluster of homes. The elders and children in the community had come together to support each other around food and fun, and I immediately felt welcomed and loved.

Outside your comfort zone

Throughout my internship, the relationships I formed with others transformed me the most. I learned so much about Rotary from Joe Williams and other members of the Durango Rotary Club. And from the Navajo elders, I learned about resiliency and their ability to endure hardships.

There are many ways to serve. But what Rotary offers is the chance to get outside your comfort zone, and expand your horizons. Rotary brings people together across all ages. By working within the boundaries of the Rotary Youth Protection Guide, Rotary clubs provide a perfect environment for youth to explore and for Rotary members to invest in the future.
Who knew installing solar lights could have such meaning? 2018-09-07 04:00:00Z 0
In 2009, Salvador Rico stood in the waters of the Russian River in Northern California with other members of the Rotary Club of South Ukiah. They were there for a river cleanup, during which they removed toilets, refrigerators, car parts, and garbage. That event led to an ambitious initiative called Cleaning the Rivers of the World.
After participating in the Russian River cleanup, Rico’s thoughts turned to the Ameca River, which flows past his father’s farm in western Mexico. That was where, he believed, his oldest sister contracted the poliovirus that killed her in the 1960s.
The Rotary clubs of Ameca, Mexico, and of Rohnert Park-Cotati and South Ukiah, California, clean up the Ameca River. “I always hoped that someday I could go home and do something to turn all the sewage into pristine waters,” says Salvador Rico, the Rotary member who organized the clean up.
“My older siblings would play in the river,” he says, “and that particular river carried sewage from the city of Tala.”
Rico also thought of another river, the Lerma, which runs near his old elementary school. His teachers would let children play in a pristine tributary that flowed from a canyon but not in the main channel of the Lerma, which carried trash and toxic waste from Guadalajara.
So when Rico’s district governor, Helaine Campbell, asked clubs to carry out a signature water-related project in 2013-14, Rico proposed a cleanup of the Ameca River.
With the help of Vicente Paredes of the Rotary Club of San Pedro de Tlaquepaque, Mexico, who connected people and worked on logistics, the Rotary clubs of Ameca, Mexico, and of Rohnert Park-Cotati and South Ukiah, California, carried out the first Ameca River cleanup day in April 2014. They have since organized more cleanups of the river.
That project eventually expanded to become Cleaning the Rivers of the World, which has challenged Rotary clubs across the globe to clean up a river. The initiative has been adopted by the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group as part of the Annual World Water Day Challenge, as well as by the Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group. Rotarians have organized cleanup projects in Colombia, India, Nigeria, Peru, Turkey, and Venezuela, as well as in other parts of Mexico and the United States.  
In 2018, Rico joined his fellow Rotarians in a project on the Lerma River. “As a kid, I always hoped that someday I could go home and do something to turn all the sewage into pristine waters,” he says. “Now I can say, with a clear conscience, that I did everything I could to leave a better world for our kids.”
– Frank Bures
A challenge to clean the world's rivers 2018-09-01 04:00:00Z 0
EVANSTON, Ill. (August 15, 2018) — Rotary today announced nearly $100 million in grants to support the global effort to end polio, a vaccine-preventable disease that once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children each year.

The announcement comes as Nigeria marks two years without any reported cases of wild poliovirus, following four reported cases in 2016.
“The fact that no new cases of wild poliovirus have been detected in Nigeria points to the improved surveillance and rapid response protocols Rotary and its Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners have established, particularly in insecure and inaccessible areas,” said Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. “While this progress is promising, it’s time to redouble our efforts so we can continue to maintain the political and financial support necessary to end polio for good.”

While significant strides have been made against the paralyzing disease, wild poliovirus is still a threat in parts of the world, with 10 cases in Afghanistan and three cases in Pakistan this year so far. As long as a single child has polio, all children are at risk, which underscores the need for ongoing funding and political commitment to eradication.

To support polio eradication efforts in countries where polio remains endemic, Rotary is allocating the majority of the funds it announced today to Afghanistan ($22.9 million), Pakistan ($21.7 million), and Nigeria ($16.1 million).

Further funding will support efforts to keep 12 vulnerable African countries polio-free:
    •    Cameroon ($98,600)
    •    Central African Republic ($394,400)
    •    Chad ($1.71 million)
    •    Democratic Republic of the Congo ($10.4 million)
    •    Guinea ($527,300)
    •    Madagascar ($690,000)
    •    Mali ($923,200)
    •    Niger ($85,300)
    •    Sierra Leone ($245,300)
    •    Somalia ($776,200)
    •    South Sudan ($3.5 million)
    •    Sudan ($2.6 million)

Africa will also see $5.8 million in funding for surveillance activities and $467,800 for technical assistance. Additional funding will go to Bangladesh ($504,200), Indonesia ($157,800), Myanmar ($197,200), and Nepal ($160,500), with an additional $96,300 funding surveillance in Southeast Asia. The remainder of the funding ($6.6 million) will go to the World Health Organization (WHO) for research activities.

Rotary has committed to raising $50 million a year to be matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, yielding $450 for polio eradication activities over a three-year period. To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.8 billion to fight the disease, including matching funds from the Gates Foundation, and countless volunteer hours since launching its polio immunization program, PolioPlus, in 1985. In 1988, Rotary became a core partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative with the WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Gates Foundation later joined. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to 22 confirmed in 2017.
Rotary announces US $96.5 million to end polio 2018-08-24 04:00:00Z 0

Francine Falk-Allen
Falk-Allen is author of the book Not a Poster Child: Living Well with a Disability

By Francine Falk-Allen
One of the first misconceptions that confronted me as a handicapped child was that people – children, adults, everyone – would often say, “I saw your picture on the March of Dimes poster!!”  The March of Dimes was a campaign initiated to pay for polio vaccinations and patient care. Most of the patients were young children, who were the most prone to severe aspects of the disease. People were asked to send in “even a dime” and there were coin collection placards put out in stores, churches, gas stations, anywhere that people might be able to spare a dime. (A dime in 1950 would be worth about ninety cents in 2018.)

At first, when I heard that comment, I thought that somehow my picture was actually being used for the March of Dimes poster, and I was excited to learn this. I looked forward to seeing myself the next time I saw a placard around town. There I’d be, Francine Allen, the poster child. But I soon saw that it wasn’t my picture, though the girl was about my age, around five or six, wore a brace, used Kenny sticks (a half crutch with a canvas arm band), and had hair similar to mine, although hers was not in the meticulous ringlets my mother created to draw attention away from my limp. (If I looked pretty, it helped to make up for my defect, a concept I have never been able to drop.)

I asked Mama if I was going to be the March of Dimes girl, and she assured me that I wasn’t, and that there were no posters out there with my picture on them. I was a little disappointed, but what bothered me more was that people didn’t recognize that it was not me, that any little girl with Kenny sticks and brown hair looked the same to them. It made me a little angry, that that was my identity: The March of Dimes Poster Girl.

It is possible of course that people thought, “What a brave little girl,” when they saw those posters, and that they thought the same of me. But I didn’t think of that when I was five-and-a-half. I was just perturbed that people could not see it was not me, and that I didn’t have a face to them, I had a limp to identify me. That’s one of my too early adult thought processes, required by the disease that took me away from home and into a hospital for six months when I’d barely just learned to run.

I was not a poster child. Not in reality and not in terms of the smiley, optimistic, never-bothered attitude that is often wished for in disabled people. Certainly that winsome courage is more appealing for the purpose of collecting donations!  No, I was “head strong,” independent, ready with a smarty-pants retort, a girl who got out of a wheelchair and onto crutches before I was four years old, growing up a little too soon and missing some of the carefree aspects of childhood.

Later generations in the United States and Europe have not had to face these same issues, at least not with polio, and for this we can be thankful. Wouldn’t it be great if this deadly virus were eradicated once and for all, and all children could live without its specter? It is possible, and with the commitment of Rotary, we are moving toward that goal.
Who is that poster girl? 2018-08-19 04:00:00Z 0
By Diana Schoberg Photo by Daniela Prado Sarasúa
Román, a member of the Rotary Club of Reñaca, Chile, is the national coordinator of a  program that has helped thousands of children in Chile with cleft lips, cleft palates, and other birth defects – including this stranger who now wanted to give Román a hug.
She told me, ‘This is my Rotarian smile.’ It was a very gratifying moment.

The project got its start in 1993 when San Francisco (California) Rotarians, led by Peter Lagarias and Angelo Capozzi, sponsored a medical mission that performed reconstructive surgeries in Chile. That was the beginning of Rotaplast, a program that evolved into a nonprofit organization that has since sent teams to 26 countries.

In 2004, Rotarians in Chile assumed leadership of the program in their country. Over the years, Chilean doctors became more involved and eventually the program expanded to include breast reconstruction for cancer patients.

“It’s a great commentary on Rotary that you’ve got people in a Spanish-speaking country and people in an English-speaking country working together to get things accomplished,” says James Lehman, a plastic surgeon who joined the Rotary Club of Fairlawn, Ohio, USA, after working with Rotarians in Chile.

In February, Lehman and a team of U.S. surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses visited Iquique, a Pacific port city and tourist hot spot about 80 miles south of Chile’s northern border. With financial help from the nearby Collahuasi copper mine, local Rotarians coordinate and pay for the medical team’s food, lodging, and in-country transportation. (Visiting doctors pay for their flights between the United States and Chile; an Ohio-based nonprofit funds the travel of some support staff.)

More than 250 potential patients lined up early on a Saturday morning outside Ernesto Torres Galdames Hospital to try to get a spot on the team’s schedule. They had come from all over Chile, including a family who had traveled from Concepción, 1,400 miles to the south. About 600 children are born each year in Chile with cleft lips and palates, and though the government established eight centers to treat those abnormalities, the long wait list means corrective surgery can lie years in the future. “The demand exceeds the supply of people to take care of the patients,” Lehman explains.

Using four operating rooms – one for cleft lip or palate, one for ear reconstruction, one for breast reconstruction, and one for other issues – the team got to work. Patients were chosen based on need and on the complexity of the surgery. By the end of their stay, the surgeons and their staff had operated on 82 patients. In many cases, however, the complete reconstruction may take multiple surgeries, and some patients return several years in a row to complete the procedure.

But the final surgery doesn’t always signal an end to the relationship between a patient and Rotary. Román, who has coordinated the program since 2004, recalls an occasion involving the young woman he encountered in the department store. At Román’s invitation, she described her transformational cleft lip and palate surgeries at a Rotary district conference in Chile in 2012. Moved by her story, many in the crowd of 300 broke into tears, dazzled by her Rotarian smile.
A reason to smile 2018-08-11 04:00:00Z 0
 Actor Russell Crowe and Italian soccer star Francesco Totti attend a special screening of the Oscar-winning movie "Gladiator" inside the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Proceeds of the event went to End Polio Now.  Courtesy of CineConcerts/©Musacchio&Ianniello
By Ryan Hyland
Actor Russell Crowe and co-stars of the Oscar-winning movie “Gladiator” gathered 6 June for a special End Polio Now fundraising event inside the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Produced by CineConcerts and presented by Forum Music Village, Gladiator in Concert: Live at the Colosseum, showed the 2000 movie on a 65-foot HD screen to more than 300 people.

During the screening, conductor Justin Freer led the Italian Cinema Orchestra with vocal soloist and co-composer Lisa Gerrard in performing the entire soundtrack live to picture with the images, dialogue, and special effects preserved. Guests included, Italian actress and Rotary polio ambassador Maria Grazia Cucinotta, celebrity chef Cristina Bowerman, local Rotary members, Italian dignitaries, and “Gladiator” fans who purchased tickets to support Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. The event was spearheaded by Rotarian Alberto Cecchini, a member of the Rotary Club of Roma Nord-Est, Italy.
More than $500,000 was raised for polio eradication efforts. 

Crowe, who won an Academy Award for his performance, was joined by fellow castmates Connie Nielsen and Tomas Arana. Italian soccer star Francesco Totti and some of his AS Roma teammates attended the event and signed jerseys that were auctioned off.

“The event is not just about reuniting with Russell and other cast members … but also to raise awareness about Rotary International’s work in ending polio forever,” Nielsen said during the event. “I believe we all have the collective power and responsibility to help empower those around the world, and promoting health care is essential.”
‘Gladiator’ stars reunite at End Polio Now event 2018-08-04 04:00:00Z 0
Participants in the Peace Fellows Retreat represented nine nationalities who had worked in more than 100 countries.
By Mayer Ngomesia, 2006-07 Rotary Peace Fellow, Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

After a two-hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu along a winding road, 10 Rotary Peace Fellows and I from around the world gathered in the village of Nagarkot, nestled in the Kathmandu Valley at the foothills of the Himalayas for the third Rotary Peace Fellow Leadership Retreat. It was a rare opportunity to step back and reflect on the difficult realities and high-stress environment of our peace work, and to ponder, why the work we do matters.

Made possible by a generous donation from The Benter Foundation, the retreat was both simple and complex. Jenn Weidman and Charlie Allen (Chulalongkorn Class of 2010) from Space Bangkok, an organization working to promote resilience and innovation, facilitated the retreat. On one level, it was a straightforward opportunity to ponder the uncertainties of our field and build our resiliency. Yet, on another, the complicated nature of our work, and the diversity of our perspectives, added a rich complexity to the event.

From cooking to jazz

Collectively, we represented nine nationalities who have lived and worked in over 100 countries. We currently serve on the ground in some of the most intractable situations including ongoing conflicts from Afghanistan to South Sudan or post-conflict Columbia. We manage socioeconomic development and political affairs initiatives across the world, from Laos to Ethiopia. Our stories are even more multi-layered, considering that our experiences include swimming across a Norwegian fjord, performing as a jazz musician, earning respect as a traditional Thai martial artist, and earning national acclaim as a cooking guru.

Like most retreats, various tools were used to evoke reflection. As people who are by nature skeptical to any formulaic assertions about our work, it could not be taken for granted that the haikus, wood carving, exercise, poetry, meditation, hiking, introspections, etc., would create their intended purpose. Yet Space Bangkok, the retreat facilitators, made it work. The complex mix of experiences amplified the point that working for peace is indeed multidimensional. This is central to the Rotary Peace Fellowship, which uniquely forges multifaceted, global clusters of Peace Fellows.

Inevitably though, the question that arises is: Why does this even matter? Turns out, that is maybe the simplest part of all. Peace does matter. To you, me, and especially to those for who it matters most. Sometimes, creating the space to ponder our complicated role in it all is one of the most important things we can do.
Retreating to advance peace 2018-07-28 04:00:00Z 0
A giant artificial reef in the shape of a Rotary wheel restores marine life and protects the livelihood of several fishing villages in the Philippines

By Quincy Cahilig

Rotary members partnered with local fishermen to build an artificial reef that helped save the fishing industry in Atimonan, Quezon Province, Philippines.

In the calm blue waters of Lamon Bay lies a source of pride for local fishermen and a submerged salute to Rotary: an artificial reef in the shape of a Rotary wheel.

The wheel has helped restore the local fishing industry, which was devastated by large-scale commercial fishing vessels that used dynamite, cyanide, and fine mesh nets from the late 1990s through the early 2000s.

Fishing is considered the lifeblood of the area’s coastal villages, including Balubad, Lubi, Talaba, and Kilait, and for years, village fishermen fought to protect the waters that fed their families.

In 2005, the fishermen turned to the Rotary Club of Atimonan, Quezon Province, Philippines, for help. They decided to build an artificial reef.

The club partnered with the Rotary Club of Madera, California, USA, on a Rotary Foundation grant to help fund the project, which would cost more than $1 million.

They built the reef in the shape of a Rotary wheel, which just happens to have plenty of surface area for coral to grow on and plenty of nooks for fish to shelter in. Made of steel-reinforced concrete, it’s 600 meters from the coastline, measures about 4 meters tall and 21 meters wide (13 by 70 feet), and weighs several tons.

Today, the wheel, touted as the biggest artificial reef in the Philippines, is covered with coral and has withstood several typhoons. It attracts fish, including jacks, surgeonfish, mangrove red snappers, groupers, longfin bannerfish, flounders, pompanos, batfish, and barracudas, among other marine creatures.

“Before the reef, the fishermen were barely able to catch a kilo [2.2 pounds] of fish apiece,” says Oca Chua, past president of the Rotary Club of Atimonan and the project’s chair. “Today they catch fish weighing up to 2 kilos apiece a day.”

Protecting the fish has been just one benefit of the effort. The reef also became a tourist attraction that boosted the local economy. Fishermen build bamboo rafts and rent them to tourists who visit the reef to eat, rest, dive, and even feed the fishes.
Rotary Wheel Reef 2018-07-20 04:00:00Z 0
By Sharon Bay, a member of the Downtown Breakfast Rotary Club of San Diego, California, USA

I had only been a Rotarian for a year, and was eager for another opportunity to serve, when I was asked by the committee chair of District 5340’s MusiCamp Youth Exchange if I would be interested in hosting two talented musical students for three weeks that summer. My husband and I had hosted an exchange student from Bolivia several years prior and had enjoyed the experience. This would only be for three weeks, and we felt we knew what to expect, so we enthusiastically said yes.

We hosted two high school boys who both played violin; Jonas from Germany and Jon from Canada. Jonas spoke enough English to have a conversation, but after three weeks he was at ease. We loved having classical music in our home and our neighbors also enjoyed it. The boys quickly became friends with the 18 other members of the Musicamp, and performed in three public concerts, before enjoying the sights of San Diego – theme parks, shopping, and surfing on the beach.

Every evening we ate dinner and talked about Germany, Canada, and the Untied States. As they shared their home experiences, we found many similarities. I tried to introduce them to many different foods.

Two years later, Jonas emailed me that his sister, Paula, one of six siblings, was accepted to MusiCamp and asked if she could stay with us. We felt honored that he had had a good experience with us. Paula arrived with her cello and Isabella, who interestingly was Jon’s sister, from Canada brought her violin. The girls quickly became friends. We again enjoyed their our hosting experience.

A worldwide ensemble

Each year the program is similar. In 2016, we hosted Grace from Ireland (violin) and Sylvia from Spain (cello). This last summer Clara, number three from the same German family, played violin and Hannah from Ireland, played the cello, filling our extra bedroom.

My husband and I were fortunate to go to Germany this past summer and stay with the German family. It was great knowing some of  their close-knit family before we went. Their grandpa spoke a little English while we were there; which the grandkids had never heard him speak before.

The program is now in its fourteenth year. In the past, students have traveled from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Northern Ireland, Poland, Romania, Russia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Taiwan, Hungary, Mexico and many other countries.

We are hosting number five this summer, but as yet unsure who we will be lucky to host. This music program is breaking down barriers one student at a time. Musical friends are becoming REAL friends.
Music Camp breaks down barriers 2018-07-12 04:00:00Z 0

By Teresa Schmedding and Arnold Grahl Photos by Alyce Henson

Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, was presented with Rotary’s Polio Eradication Champion Award in recognition of Canada’s contributions to polio eradication.

Trudeau accepted the award at the Rotary International Convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“Let there be no doubt we are winning the battle against polio,” Trudeau said. “I want my children to grow up in a world without polio. Together I know we will make that happen.”

Canada has been a strong contributor to polio eradication efforts for decades.

In 2017, Canada pledged US$75 million to help eradicate polio, bringing its total contributions to roughly $640 million.
“Prime Minister Trudeau has committed Canada to remain a strong partner until polio is completely eradicated,” said RI President Ian H.S. Riseley. “With the unwavering support of the Prime Minister and the Canadian government and their strong assistance with continued vaccination efforts, I’m confident we will rid the world of polio.”

Canadian Rotary members have also contributed more than US$38 million.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepts award for polio eradication 2018-07-08 04:00:00Z 0
All plenary sessions were held in the Air Canada Center where the Toronto Raptors play.
Thirty-seven Rotarians from District 7870 made the trip
The ususal impressive graphics.
Toronto Rotary Convention 2018-06-30 04:00:00Z 0
Local News

Jun 16, 2018

Hannah LaClaire
Staff Writer for the Nashua Telegraph
NASHUA – Rotary clubs across New Hampshire and Vermont are raising funds to help families in Honduras meet one of life’s most basic necessities: the access to clean drinking water.

Partnering with Pure Water for the World Inc., (initially a Rotary project in the early 1990s and now a nonprofit), Rotary District 7870 is working to raise $26,000 for Las Trojes, Honduras.

Las Trojes is a mountainous region of the country with over 62,000 people in hundreds of rural, dispersed communities, according to Pure Water.

These families collect water in small streams of runoff from the mountains. This water is also used for cooking, bathing, laundry and livestock, and is contaminated with pathogens such as E. coli and giardia, according to Rotary 7870 Past District Governor Tony Gilmore.

The majority of families in the area only have access to the contaminated water, which increases risk of disease and results in “a persistent cycle of poor health, reduced time in school and at work, and contributes to the cycle of perpetual poverty,” Rotary information states.

Pure Water for the World seeks to break that cycle by installing biosand water filters in homes and building bathrooms with hand washing stations.

While $26,000 may seem like a relatively small feat for 59 different clubs to raise, that money translates to 40 homes with 40 biosand water filters and 38 latrines, a boys and girls latrine and wash station and filter for their school and teacher hygiene training.

The money will also help provide filter testing in the months after installation as well as another trip to help the community remove parasites, Gilmore said.

The Hollis Brookline Rotary club has already donated $5,000, he said, while another New Hampshire club also generated $10,000.

While officials are on their way to meeting the goal, they are still seeking donations.
“The sooner we raise (the money), the sooner we can get to work,” Gilmore said.

For more information on Las Trojes, or to donate, visit https://purewaterfortheworld.org/where-we-work/honduras/trojes/.
Rotaries donating money to help Hondurans 2018-06-18 04:00:00Z 0
Members of the Rotaract Club of Birmingham attend The Rotary Club of Birmingham’s Annual Rotary Trail Party in May. From left: Erica Murphy, Mary Meadows Livingston, Jeris Gaston, Amanda Martin, and Uma Srivastava.

By Jeris Burns Gaston

If you told me twelve years ago upon finishing my Rotary Ambassadorial Program year in Dublin, Ireland, that this was just the start of an adventure, I would have been hard pressed to believe you. The program itself was such a unique and enriching experience that improving on this worldview changing year seemed impossible. However, as I enter my thirteenth year as a member of the Rotary family, I now realize that being an alumnus is just the beginning.

While in Ireland I was a member of the incredible Dublin Central Rotary Club; a close-knit group I remain connected with to this day. Unfortunately, there was not quite the same type of club experience available for a recent graduate student when I returned to Birmingham, Alabama, USA. After working for a few years and establishing myself as a young professional, a new opportunity arose. To my surprise, the opportunity was not as a Rotarian but as a Rotaractor.

Spirit of Rotary alive and well

Although I wasn’t familiar with this program, I quickly realized that the Rotary spirit was alive and well within Rotaract, especially the new Rotaract Club of Birmingham, Alabama, USA. In the now fourteen years since its founding, this club has gone on to not only enhance my Rotary experience, but also to change the conversation about how Rotaract members can truly partner with Rotary worldwide.

Last year, I was honored to serve as our club’s president. Simply put, the Rotaract Club of Birmingham is a unique establishment to lead. At 300 members, our organization is one of the largest community-based clubs in the world. We have our own non-profit foundation run by our members which funds two internationally award-winning signature service projects. Accolades aside, we are constantly challenging each other to improve on leadership development, service and membership engagement.

During my year as president, I often referenced my days as an Ambassadorial Scholar. While traveling around Ireland speaking to Rotary clubs, I was introduced to different service projects and Rotary customs. I realized that Rotaractors have an incredible amount to learn from Rotarians and vice versa. I was determined to show my club the wide net that Rotary International casts, and did so by challenging the group to “Think Global and Act Local.” I hoped to impress upon the club members the value of broadening their worldviews by learning more about RI Programs, attending conventions and starting the conversation about International Service opportunities.

Rotary Scholar lens

My time as a Rotary Scholar provided me the lens by which to challenge our club to do more within the Rotary framework, while also cementing strong ties with our sponsor Rotary Club and other clubs around town. I am now a member of our sponsor club, The Rotary Club of Birmingham, so my Rotary adventure continues. Ultimately, I want all our members to become Rotarians, to continue within the Rotary family, and to elevate their professional and personal development.

I’ve seen firsthand the outcome and the personal growth that occurs when you put Service Above Self. Without the Rotary ambassadorial experience as a starting block, my Rotary story would have ended before it began. Being an alumnus kickstarts a lifetime of learning, engaging, and bringing about positive change in your community and worldwide through the Rotary family.
Becoming a Rotary alumni is just the beginning 2018-06-16 04:00:00Z 0
Members of the Dupont Circle Rotary Club at a tree planting event.
By Mandy Warfield, president, Rotary Club of Dupont Circle, Washington D.C., USA

The Rotary Club of Dupont Circle was started six years ago by a group of Rotary alumni, and since then, the club has grown to include many other facets of the community, including individuals who have not had any previous experience with Rotary.

Over the last few years, our club has continued to attract and retain alumni members. Sometimes RI finds the alumni and introduces them to our club, and sometimes the alumni find us. We are lucky to have naturally open and social members, and everyone makes a concerted effort to make any visitor feel welcome. One of our Rotary alumni members, Molly, recounts, “When I started attending meetings, no one treated me like a joke or a second-tier Rotarian because I was so young. Fellow members treated me as an equal who had ideas and skills to contribute to the club.”

Our club meets at a neighborhood bar and we meet in the evening. This rather informal environment also allows us to keep dues at a minimum, which is often a swaying factor for younger members. Because we are a small club, we’ve adopted an “all hands on deck” approach in order to execute on our club’s goals; new members frequently become active members of our committees, and even volunteer to step up into the committee chair role. Their fresh insights and perspectives have helped our club grow and have shaped our club over time.

Our service opportunities also reflect this “all hands on deck” approach. Another of Molly’s reasons for joining our club were “the hands-on service opportunities the club offers.” She says, “I like getting to get my hands dirty planting a tree or digging out invasive plant species in a wetlands. Almost all the service events Rotary Club of Dupont Circle does involve that level of activity and commitment.”

What are some tips we have for attracting and retaining Rotary alumni or other young professionals?

    •    Get people involved immediately. New members are interested in your club because they want to make a difference. Ask your prospective member to help plan a service project or take a leading role on a committee.
    •    Explore financing options. If paying dues is the only thing standing in the way of a member joining your club, it is worth sitting down to have a candid discussion to explore other options. Perhaps another existing member would be willing to support a portion of the dues.
    •    Be curious. Ask them questions about their work life and previous experiences with Rotary. Connect them with someone in the club who might have a similar previous experience.
    •    Most importantly– Have fun!
How our club attracts and retains alumni as members 2018-06-10 04:00:00Z 0

Visalia Rescue Mission in Visalia, California, USA.


By Ryan Stillwater, a member of the Visalia County Center Rotary, California, USA


On my walk to work on a recent morning, air crisp and clear after an overnight rainstorm, I walk past a man sitting on the street corner. I immediately recognize him as a former resident in our Life Change Academy, who left early on in the program. I nicknamed him Logan, due to his striking resemblance to one of my favorite X-Men comic book characters — with his muscular frame and prominent dark sideburns and stubble. This morning, he is angry and making loud threats against a man (not present) who had very personally wronged him. “Are you ok?” I ask. “No!” he screams, eyes fixed on an invisible enemy. I am standing with Wolverine – the enraged persona of the gentle man I had known.


I became a Christian at the age of 15 and was baptized in the Pacific Ocean a year later with blue-dyed hair and a head full of ambition to do great things. In the years that followed, I would travel to Vancouver, San Francisco, and what is now South Sudan. I saw remarkable (and terrible) things – hopeless drug addicts, prostitutes of all ages, and a desperate mother holding a sick infant miles from medical aid. I imagine these experiences contributed to my becoming a Rotarian at the age of 31.


I’m pretty sure my father hated these trips – not because I was helping others, nor because he is Jewish and these trips were Christian-affiliated – but because he loves me and wants to keep me safe. Also, as he once told me, “There are plenty of people you can help here in your own community.” He was right, which brings me back to Wolverine.


I stood there for just a moment with a decision to make. I could respond with a gracious, yet shallow, apology for his troubles and wish him luck. Or, I could engage. I chose the latter and awkwardly sat down next to him, full cup of coffee in one hand and a stack of papers in the other. I wasn’t convinced he recognized me and I discerned the need to tread softly – to listen and choose my words carefully.


It turns out, his 18-month old daughter had been removed from his custody three months ago. Suddenly, I had a window of opportunity to connect and to encourage. “I would hate for you to make a decision that further separates you from your daughter’s life.” He tears up. “She is young enough not to remember this situation, which means you have an opportunity to get your life together…to become whole and be in her whole life.”


What started as a scary interaction in which I feared for my own safety turned into two grown men (and near strangers) hugging each other on a street corner at 8 o’clock in the morning. I don’t think he hugged me and cried because of my advice, but because I felt led to say, “Logan, I believe in you.”


It would have been easier to move on, but that would have served self way more than another. As you and I pause in these moments and take them as opportunities to build goodwill and better friendships (especially with those hurting in our communities) more Wolverines may remember they have a different name, potential, and purpose.


No matter what you believe or how good of a person you are, you can’t protect yourself or your loved ones enough to avoid the everyday tragedies of life. So let’s risk a bit more in the day to day and seek opportunities for service in the mundane commutes. As Rotarians, “service above self” is not a motto we excuse ourselves from in the face of opposition, or even danger – we press in.


About the Author: Ryan Stillwater is the Director of Development for Visalia Rescue Mission located in California’s Central Valley – which operates a 12-month, residential drug and alcohol recovery program for men and women (Life Change Academy). Ryan serves as the Faith Community Representative on a County Task Force on Homelessness, as well as other local boards and committees.

Why you want to risk 2018-06-03 04:00:00Z 0

High school students work on posting flags for the event.

By Cheryl M. Scott, a member of the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club, California, USA

Imagine a sparkling lake, surrounded by rolling hills dotted with red, white, and blue flags flapping in the gentle breeze. Picture a three-year-old boy with a miniature flag, running beside the patriotic spectacle…or a high school senior in cap and gown, smiling proudly for her picture-taking mom in front of the colorful backdrop. Now, imagine an Army veteran, dressed in a beret and fatigues, leaning on his cane for support in his slow, deliberate walk among the sea of American flags.

These and other heartwarming sights are the reason my anticipation builds each year as Memorial Day approaches. As a 25-year member of Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club, this event – Thousand Flags – is my immediate answer when I’m asked, “What’s your favorite club event?” In fact, this is the event that took my Rotary commitment to a whole new level.

As Rotary clubs in the United States consider how to connect people across the generations in order to serve, impact, and improve our communities and our world, Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club hit the jackpot in 2014 when we introduced Thousand Flags. The three-day event honors military heroes who have fallen in the line of service (consistent with Memorial Day’s traditional purpose), and also salutes all current and past members of the military, and local first-responders as well.

When Rotarian Becky Brooks approached Breakfast Rotary about the possibility of creating the project, club members were intrigued. But they knew an undertaking of this magnitude would require a lot of planning and many volunteers. Brooks knew it was possible, especially considering our community’s commitment to honoring those who serve. She was right.

Rotarians, high school clubs, cub scout troops, football teams, and even an occasional passerby will spend the first morning of their three-day weekend posting flags in spots carefully selected and marked by a crew of professional surveyors that volunteer for the event.

I especially enjoy the early part of that first day, where small teams – people of all ages and backgrounds – move quickly to complete the project in time for an 11:30 a.m. opening. The conversations are unpredictable! I’ve overheard talk about the weather, the last day of school, college plans.One time I heard a Coast Guard veteran ask a Marine vet “how many people are in a Marine platoon, anyway?” People are brought together at Thousand Flags. They are brought together by Rotary!

When the large center flag is lowered at dusk each evening, a quiet crowd gathers to hear the playing of taps and to watch the high school color guard fold the flag and present it to our club president.

At the end of Monday’s ceremonies, which feature patriotic music and local speakers, many attendees will walk away with a folded flag that they have sponsored in honor of someone they love.

This Memorial Day, Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club will celebrate the 5th Annual presentation of Thousand Flags. I can’t wait to see what kinds of connections are made this year!

Thousand Flags event connects community 2018-05-24 04:00:00Z 0
Children at their school in Jhang, Pakistan, before the project provided new chairs, blackboard, and books.

By Michelle Tanner, past president Rotary Club of Matamata, New Zealand

A random Facebook message with an invitation to present at a Rotary polio conference in Lahore in 2014 was the start of an amazing journey that took me from rural New Zealand to Pakistan and culminated in a project to improve the education of children of garbage pickers in Jhang, Pakistan.

While I was in Lahore, Rotarian Khalid Haider invited me to his home city of Jhang, three hours west of Lahore. There he took me to visit the Rotary Education Center Dar-ul-Ehsan, established in 2002 and funded by his Rotary club, Jhang Saddar. I was impressed at the efforts of the local Rotarians, and appalled that, in the 21st century children were educated in these conditions. They wrote on slates! There were hardly any books, almost no furniture, in fact virtually nothing. Just a willingness on the part of the children to learn and of the teachers to teach. The Rotarians were doing all they could but they needed help.

I returned to New Zealand to seek the support of my fellow Rotarians. In July 2016, when I became president, this was our international project, supported by a district grant.

I emailed the news to Khalid who went into action rallying support from other overseas Rotarians who had visited and pledged support and setting up a Facebook page. Building work commenced in January 2017 and was completed in months.

Sadly, Khalid died just weeks before the opening ceremony but he saw the work completed and we dedicated the development to him. The inauguration of the “Rtn. Mian Khalid Haider Block, Rotary Literacy Centre” was a day that I will remember forever. The transformation was stunning. Classrooms renovated and furnished; new classrooms built; and computers, tables, chairs, blackboard, and books installed. In addition, our new Interact club’s first project, a book drive, provided additional books for the pupils. But it was the children that made the day. They glowed with excitement and anticipation. I look forward to following their progress.
Literacy center dedicated to Pakistan Rotarian 2018-05-18 04:00:00Z 0
Eric Lee and his wife hand out supplies to refugee children in Bangladesh.

By Eric Lee, a member of the Rotary Club of Cheat Lake, West Virginia, USA

Service above self was the underpinning of our aid project for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh this year. The project was a colorful example of how Rotary works around the globe in the service of others. Clubs from the United States and Bangladesh delivered dry goods to Rohingya refugees in the Bahlukali camp along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in February.

The Rohingya are an ethnic minority who fled violence in Myanmar for refugee camps in southern Bangladesh. More than 700,000 refugees have entered Bangladesh since August 2017, and most came with just the clothes on their back. They are in desperate need of food, supplies and basic sanitation.

Cox’s Bazaar is the closest city to the Rohingya refugee camps, and the Rotary Club of Cox’s Bazaar engages other clubs and various non-profits to facilitate the delivery of goods and services. The Rotary Club of Cheat Lake in West Virginia, USA, coordinated efforts with Cox’s Bazaar Rotary to deliver clothing, personal hygiene products, and water purification tablets to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Challenges like transferring goods, security on the ground, and obtaining proper authorization were managed between the two Rotary clubs. The goods were purchased and shipped from wholesale markets from the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka. Once the products arrived in Cox’s Bazaar, then our group worked in a small bungalow on the Bay of Bengal preparing separate packages for men and women.

Maji, or tribal captains, are village leaders that manage groups of about fifty families. They were instrumental in helping coordinate with the army and determine fair distribution across thousands of refugees. Many refugees were shaking as they came through the line to receive their package. Some were sick, some were visibly scared.

Distribution went off without a hitch, in part, because members from multiple Rotary clubs made a significant contribution to the project. Together they established resources and logistics for the safe and successful distribution of aid. Rotary clubs around the world should look to examples like this for ideas on future refugee service projects.
Assisting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh 2018-05-11 04:00:00Z 0
Participants in the RYLA from the Netherlands and Germany collaborate to develop a strategy.

By Cédric Schad

I am a 19-year-old law student at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Through the Rotary Club of Bad Bederkesa, Germany, I had the chance to take part in a Dutch-German Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) seminar in Nordhorn this year. It was an amazing experience. When I arrived on that Friday for the “Proud to be European” seminar, I didn’t know what to expect. But luckily, I wasn’t the only one.

None of the other 23 participants (ages 18-28), knew each other either. They came from different regions of the Netherlands and northwest regions of Germany. From the first get together, though, there was a great spirit of openness and friendliness.

The first part of the program was designed to stimulate discussions about the European Union. We had the chance to exchange our thoughts about personal and general benefits of the European Union. What I remembered the most was that we all felt proud to represent European values such as democracy, equality, and peace. In addition, we got an idea of how important cooperation between European countries is to solve common problems.

For example, Professor Stefan Kuks, Chairman of the Dutch Waterboard Vechtromen, told us about the collaboration between Dutch and German offices necessary to control overflowing waters in the area of the river Vecht and prepare the nearby area for any possible consequences.

The second part of the seminar was dedicated to teaching us to work together. The challenge was to quickly assemble a team and build trust. Groups of four to five people had to develop strategies for a business game, which involved coming up with ways to make the people living in a fictitious country in Europe the happiest on the continent, and then present those ideas. We were given no limits to our creativity.

Especially in this second part, we faced the challenges of making decisions under pressure while sharing responsibility. But we figured it out quite quickly, and soon gained each other’s trust, which I guess was the case for all the teams. We developed an incredible team spirit and were able to use our different strengths for optimal results. To help our collaboration, one or two coaches observed each team’s interactions and offered constructive feedback.

Participants use different props to work out their strategies.

An added attraction was entertainer Richard de Hoop, who used music to visualize Belbin Team Roles to help us support each other and build on each of our strengths as a team. But most importantly, what will last are the friendships that we built in such a short time through our collaboration and through relaxed conversations during social time at the bar in the evenings.

It is an amazing feeling to get to know so many interesting personalities and to spend some unique moments with them. I hope to stay in contact with them, despite the geographical distance between us. So far, we keep in touch through social media groups and exchange news daily.
Trust unlocks creativity at European youth seminar 2018-05-04 04:00:00Z 0
By Rotary International

The people have spoken. With a majority of internet user votes, Rotary.org won the prestigious Webby People’s Voice Award for best association website. The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences announced the winners on 24 April.
Rotary International's revamped website has been chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences as one of the best association websites in the world.

This year, internet users cast over 3 million votes worldwide. And with over 13,000 entries from nearly all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries, this year’s contest is the biggest Webby Awards ever. Winners will be recognized at the Webby Awards’ 22nd annual ceremony 14 May in New York, New York, USA.

The Webby Awards are the leading international honor for excellence on the internet. Rotary was one of five websites nominated in the best association category. The other nominees were the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, 11th Macau Design Biennial, Trade Works for Us, and the Center for Court Innovation.

Rotary was also nominated for a Webby Award whose winner is chosen by the academy. That award went to the Macau Design Biennial.
Rotary.org wins Webby People's Voice Award 2018-04-29 04:00:00Z 0
Jireh Mabamba, second from left, with members of Rotaract in Minnesota.
By Jireh Mabamba
Sometimes, all you need is a chance – that one opportunity of a lifetime. Rotary gave me that chance.
I grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human life has little value. Children are taken from their families and forced into the army, women are raped daily, and men are killed in front of their loved ones. Massacre is the norm. The only way to survive this brutal environment is to flee the country, and when I was nine, that’s what my family and I did.
We moved to South Africa, a country that was foreign to us on so many levels. The language and the currency were different. We knew no one. Of the few people that showed us kindness, most were Rotarians. They came forward and helped us when we needed it most. At that time, I knew nothing about Rotary. In 2007, Rotary Youth Exchange students from Australia, France, Germany, and the U.S. came to my school for their year abroad and it was through them that I truly became interested in Rotary.
I learned about fellowship, the value of friendship, and what it means to serve. The more I learned of the work of the Rotary Club of Durban Berea, the more my interest grew. When I completed high school, Rotary International gave me the opportunity to be an exchange student in Duluth, Minnesota, USA.
My life changed in so many ways during my exchange. I grew as a leader by surrounding myself with Rotarians who were leaders of action in their professional field and their community. I contributed to hands-on projects that made immediate impact in the community. When I met other youth exchange students, I was exposed to new cultures, traditions, and languages. My experience built my self-confidence, allowed me to be more globally competent, and it gave me an opportunity to make lifelong friends.
When I returned to Durban, South Africa, after my exchange, I joined the Rotaract Club of Durban Berea to be with people my age who knew the value of serving others. This allowed me to further develop my leadership skills, to network, and to continue having fun with like-minded people.
I was accepted at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, allowing me to return to the U.S. in 2013. I built upon the relationships that I had developed during my exchange year with host families and Rotarians to found the Twin Ports Rotaract Club in Duluth. I started this club because I felt empowered by Rotarians from Durban and Duluth. My goal was to form a group of vibrant and dynamic individuals who enjoy serving their community, a group that does not discriminate based on gender, race, or nationality.
Twin Ports Rotaract has done several service projects in Minnesota, South Africa, and recently in Guatemalan communities. When I look back, I can see how my life has been completely transformed by the generosity of the people I met through the Rotary Youth Exchange program. Today, I am more passionate about empowering others and making a significant impact in the lives of the people I meet because of the Rotarians who took the time and believed in me.
The opportunity that changed my life 2018-04-20 04:00:00Z 0
Yannis Comino with ShelterBox aid supplies.
By Yannis Comino

Both my mother and father are members of the Rotary Club of Morisset, and their club’s constant promotion of ShelterBox gave me the idea to seek the exchange. I am currently working on a bachelor’s in Development Studies with the hope of pursuing a career in the aid sector through either community development or disaster management, so I was thrilled when my exchange was approved.

As I walked through the doors of ShelterBox headquarters, I was greeted by a youthful, vibrant, and enthusiastic team. I was impressed by their morning meetings, as they sit in front of four large television screens analyzing the current deployments and tracking global news of the day.

My task was to dive through post-deployment reports to identify contacts. Reading through these reports and generating a contact list the organization can use in future deployments, I got a real taste for the work they do. I was able to work alongside, and gain a deeper understanding of, the affiliates programme. This work was fascinating, but the greatest experience was sitting in on meetings and working will fellow colleagues who share my humanitarian virtues.

As I look back over my six-week immersion in disaster relief operations, and the logistical conundrums that must be resolved for any successful aid deployment, I am more certain than ever of my desired career path.

I truly believe this was the beginning of a lifetime of experiences. This kind of work will enable me to merge my two passions: helping others and exploring new destinations and cultures. My exchange has already led me to become more involved with the Morisset Rotary Club. I shall be going to Tanzania  later this year to help undertake a project to provide needed equipment for a hospital in the city of Morogoro.

I extend a big thanks to the Rotary Club of Truro Boscawen, who hosted me for my six-week exchange, and the Rotary club back home for kick-starting this adventure. But my biggest thanks has to go to Jane and Andrew Parker who put up with a stranger staying in their house for six weeks. It is a good thing I head back as the Australian summer draws to a close, as I dare not get back into a swimsuit after eating all of Jane’s amazing food. This New Generations Service Exchange has ignited my flame for humanitarian service, one I hope will continue to burn brightly for many years to come.
Unexpected lessons from my disaster relief experience 2018-04-15 04:00:00Z 0
Plant trees, we’ll plant seaweed

By Parry Monckton, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia

In early March, members of my club joined the Operation Crayweed team at Mona Vale Beach to restore the denuded reef on the Sydney shore coastline. We decided to help plant a Crayweed forest as part of our unique response to RI President Ian Riseley’s challenge for Rotary members to plant trees around the world. Underwater trees, you see, are just as important, if not more so, to restoring the health and vitality of the world’s oceans.

Time and development have not been kind to the Sydney reefs. Pollution killed off a lot of the Crayweed before better sewage treatment and extended outfalls were put in place in the late 1980s. The quality fo water has improved dramatically. Unfortunately, seaweed forests do not return all by themselves. Enter Operation Crayweed, which has already had great success in eight sites around Sydney. The Mona Vale reef site will be the ninth seaweed forest planted.

Club members gather, measure, and record.

Club members gathered, measured, weighed, recorded and observed the quality of marine life on the individual kelp plants. These had been transported there from an earlier collection in the day from well-established reefs south of Sydney. Fifteen healthy plants were then put into each of nine pre numbered labelled green mesh bags then closed and fixed with cable ties. Three scuba divers from the University of New South Wales/Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences of Operation Crayweed (including leader, Dr ‘Ziggy’ Marzinelli and his team) floated them out from the beach to a predetermined reef site and anchored them down with clips and ropes with five preplaced stainless steel anchors to 45 bolts in the reef.
They were placed into about three to four meters of water, which took several. Our members were busily engaged in their scientific activities and sealing the mesh bags and carrying them to waiting divers. After repopulation of the reef, these nets and anchors will be removed.

The sites will now be revisited periodically. The Crayweed ‘forest’ that will emerge in the next 6 to 12 months will gradually take over the reef in coming years allowing the return of crayfish, fish, and all manner of other marine life to restore the natural underwater habitat lost in past years and for future people to enjoy.

Individual plants don’t have the effect a forest will, but clubs or members wishing to help can purchase these underwater “trees” to contribute to a future planting by contacting our club. Look at it as a way of responding to Riseley’s challenge if you wish. There is plenty of shoreline reef off of Sydney in need of restoration.  Operation Crayweed will give us periodic updates on the health of the forest of weed.
Plant trees, we’ll plant seaweed 2018-04-07 04:00:00Z 0
Villagers in Vanni Pallugollewa, Sri Lanka, welcome the visiting Rotary members.

By Katie Conlon, PhD student at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, USA

Winding along the bumpy backroads of Sri Lanka and through intermittent rice fields and jungle, our group took hours of navigation skills to find the last village. But as we turned a corner, we got a first glimpse of the village’s welcoming committee, a 50-deep motorcycle “motorcade” assembled to escort us to the Nawa Teldeniya Water Project.

It was a very impressive entourage for the village to drum up. The bus and motorcycle cavalcade rode with us for the remaining kilometers to the village, and our procession grew as villagers came out of their homes and fields. By the time we reached the entrance of Nawa Teldeniya, the entire village had assembled.

The motorcade passed over the role of leading the procession to the village’s traditional Kandyan dance troupe. Rows of young children dressed in immaculate white temple attire gifted us with flowers and kowtows. The dancers wore colorful, traditional costumes adorned with silver chest pieces and headpieces that glistened in the sun as they whirled, drummed, and danced their way backwards into the heart of the village. This was a magnificent welcome for a newly formed friendship and international partnership involving a Rotary global grant project.

The gift of clean water, a basic human right, sparked this joy and enthusiasm on the part of the villagers. For centuries, rice farming in the north central provinces of Sri Lanka has depended on man-made reservoirs that collect and store water during the rainy seasons. In recent decades, chronic kidney disease is linked to agricultural fertilizers and pesticides that pollute the reservoirs, irrigation canals, and ground water. This ground water in turn fills the community wells that supply drinking water. Hundreds die every year from this disease.

The pollution is irreversible. The only way to remove the dissolved heavy metal ions responsible for the disease is through the process of reverse osmosis. Through a global grant from The Rotary Foundation awarded to the Rotary Club of Colombo, Sri Lanka and eight Rotary clubs from District 6600 in Ohio, reverse-osmosis plants have been built and are now providing clean water in seven rice-farming Sri Lankan villages affected by chronic kidney disease. Each water plant serves 1,400 people. And there is sufficient funding to build five more such plants in the next several months; bringing the grant tally eventually to 13 centers.

Over the course of two weeks in January, the delegation of nine Rotarians from Ohio and eight from Colombo formed a core group, and numerous Colombo and North Central Province Rotarians joined for various stages of the water filtration center tour to see the fruition of the past year’s work and officially commemorate the completed centers.

Committed to the motto “service above self,” these Rotary clubs have partnered to address the crucial overlapping problems of access to clean drinking water and preventing chronic kidney disease, both of which create an unbearable situation for livelihoods and health in the north central province villages in Sri Lanka.

Back in the village, the revelry of the day continues, and smiles and warmth radiate from everyone present. After being entertained by dance and song, the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the water filtration center begins. The commencement plaque reveals the names of the national and international Rotary groups who partnered for this project. Commemorative photos are snapped. The reverse osmosis machine is fired up and water is poured for a round of cheers. Nothing tastes sweeter than the first sip of clean water after decades of drinking polluted water. For Rotarians and villagers alike, this day of clean drinking water is a day that will not be forgotten.
Water is building friendships, changing lives in Sri Lanka 2018-03-30 04:00:00Z 0
Wakhan, Afghanistan. Photo credit: John Winnie Jr., WCS-Afghanistan

“Water is the driving force of all nature,” Leonardo da Vinci observed more than 500 years ago. His observation is just as relevant today — water’s role in maintaining the health and balance of natural ecosystems remains as vital as ever. But on a planet that is growing warmer and more crowded, freshwater resources and the ecosystems that depend on them are being strained as never before.

This year, as the world prepares to celebrate World Water Day on March 22, attention is being focused on our relationship with nature. Specifically, how can we interact more sustainably with the natural environments around us to become more effective stewards of water, the world’s most vital resource? USAID recognizes that environmentally responsible water resources management serves a key role in improving everything from economic development prospects and human health outcomes to resilience in the face of intensified cycles of flood and drought. To that end, USAID — along with more than 16 other U.S. Government agencies — declared in the recently released U.S. Government Global Water Strategy that preservation of the planet’s natural environments is a key component to making sustainable improvements to water supply and human health.
World Water Day 2018: Unlocking Nature’s Potential to Create a Water-Secure World 2018-03-22 04:00:00Z 0
Albert Essien, left, visits the stream that is a source of water for the village.

By Albert Essien, Rotary Club of Tema Meridian, Ghana

Fante Mayera is a medium-size rural community of about 800 people in the greater Accra region of Ghana. In August, I visited the community with the manager of the Rotary-USAID partnership in Ghana and other officials to meet with villagers and check on the progress of a borehole and latrine. I had been part of an initial visit with my Rotary club in 2016 to assess conditions there, and it was exciting to return and see the difference this important collaboration is making.

The main occupation of the people in Fante Mayera is farming. The community is connected to the National Electricity Grid so inhabitants have access to a power supply. The community had an existing hand-dug well, which was installed a decade ago. But over time, the quality of the water had become very bad. When we arrived at the well site, the apron was hanging off from erosion and the hand pump was not working. To fetch water, villagers had to use a bucket and rope. The color of the water resembled tea.

In spite of the poor quality, the community still used it. As we stood by the well interacting with residents, I saw children come around with buckets to fetch water. In the dry season, the well dries up, and when that happens, the community shifts their attention to a stream which is some distance away. From the hand-dug well site, residents led us on a 20-minute walk to the stream.

During my earlier visit in 2016, I remembered seeing a snake swimming in the water, an indication of the dangers the people are exposed to meeting their daily water needs. We impressed upon them the need to get a platform people could stand on to fetch water, so they wouldn’t have to walk into the stream. As part of the collaboration, Rotary and UAID are providing the community with a water supply system based on a mechanized borehole.

Next we visited the primary school to inspect construction of two 4-seater KVIP latrines. I was glad that the girl’s latrine had a changing room with a washing trough connected to a water source. This feature is a requirement of my club’s menstrual hygiene program, under which we distribute washable menstrual kits to school girls.

We were shown the existing latrine which was in a very bad shape. We were told that community members used to come to the school to use the existing latrine, but the heads of the PTA and School Management Committee gave us assurances this would not happen with the new facility. The community seemed very appreciative of the latrines being constructed, so we felt convinced they would not allow anybody to mess them up.

The community members are very appreciative of what Rotary is doing for them. It is my hope that in the not-too-distant future, I will return to witness the completed WASH facilities in use, as our club continues to work with Rotary’s partners to support, train and mentor the community in water and sanitation management and hygiene education.
Clean water for Fante Mayera, Ghana 2018-03-17 04:00:00Z 0
Villagers in Basari Akura use a newly installed pump.

By Johnson Pewudie, Rotary Club of Hohoe, Ghana

Basari Akura is a predominantly farming community in the Volta region of Ghana. The nearly 1,000 people that live there lack access to sufficient clean water, undermining health, education, and productivity of both adults and children. My club, the Rotary Club of Hohoe, is working with USAID and the government to extend the benefits of the Rotary-USAID Partnership water, sanitation and hygiene program in Ghana to Basari Akura.

On 27 July, I visited Basari Akura with the partnership program leaders in Ghana: Ako Odotei, chair of the project management committee and Theophilus Mensah, the project manager. We were also joined by a member of the Rotary Club of Ho, the other Rotary club in the Volta Region, and a local representative from our USAID partner, Global Communities.

We went with community leaders to the site of a new borehole that Rotary and USAID are drilling about 500 meters from a stream that inhabitants depend on for water. The project manager made us aware that the water test and pump test results were satisfactory. The chair of the community’s water and sanitation committee (WATSAN) who was with us expressed his joy at the addition of a new water source, which in his words, will ease the pressure and struggles for clean water.

We learned that the 935 people living in Basari Akura depend on an existing borehole, which was insufficient for the number of inhabitants. Squabbles and even fights erupt due to misunderstandings about whose turn it is to use the borehole. Students spend most of their after school hours fetching water instead of studying.

The slow-flowing stream that supports the current borehole, as a source of water, is very bad. The water was greenish. We saw and heard frogs around, as well as cattle foot prints in the mud. We were told that the stream dries up in the dry season. I would have never imagined that, within the same country, some have to resort to frog-infested water, which they share with cattle, while others, especially in urban centers, enjoy clean tap water.

The community leaders told us that they used to suffer from Guinea worm until the arrival of the existing borehole. The most common current ailments are malaria and diarrhea.

Despite the challenges, we noted that the community has a very good WATSAN committee of nine members, five of those women. The committee has a good accounting system, collecting a monthly fee from users of the existing borehole, depositing it in a bank, and using it for maintenance. They had already designated two people to be their pump maintenance personnel.

By the end of our visit, we had the rare privilege of witnessing the first flow of water from the new borehole funded by the Rotary-USAID Partnership. It was clean and flows well. It is our intentions and hope to continue working in collaboration with our partners and Basari Akura to ensure that the community maintains good management practices of the water facility, and also explore other avenues we can to make life and health better for the community.
Water flows from new borehole in Basari Akura  2018-03-10 05:00:00Z 0
John Cena
The road to eradicating polio has been a long and difficult one, with Rotary leading the fight since 1985. Going from nearly 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 10 so far this year has required time, money, dedication, and innovation from thousands of people who are working to end the disease.

Here are five things you may not know about the fight to end polio:

1. Ice cream factories in Syria are helping by freezing the ice packs that health workers use to keep the polio vaccine cold during immunization campaigns.
2. Celebrities have become ambassadors in our fight to end the disease.
They include WWE wrestling superstar John Cena, actress Kristen Bell, action-movie star Jackie Chan, golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, and world-renowned violinist and polio survivor Itzhak Perlman.
3. Health workers and Rotary volunteers have climbed mountains, crossed deserts, and sailed to remote islands, risking their lives to vaccinate children against this disease. Rotary has funded more than 1,500 motorbikes and 6,700 other vehicles, as well as 17 boats, to make those journeys. Vaccinators have even traveled on the backs of elephants, donkeys, and camels to immunize children in remote areas.
4. In Pakistan, the polio program emphasizes hiring local female vaccinators and monitors. More than 21,000 vaccinators, 83 percent of whom are women, are achieving the highest immunization coverage rates in the country’s history.

5. Thanks to the efforts of Rotary and its partners, more than 16 million people who otherwise might have been paralyzed are walking today. In all, more than 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated since 1988.
5 things you may not know about ending Polio 2018-02-25 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary gives $53.5 million to help eradicate polio and challenges the world to continue the fight to end the disease.
Photo by Khaula Jamil
Rotary is giving $53.5 million in grants to support immunization and surveillance activities led by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

More than half of the funds will support efforts to end polio in two of the three countries where polio remains endemic:
    •    Afghanistan: $12.03 million
    •    Pakistan: $19.31 million

Further funding will support efforts to keep 10 vulnerable countries polio-free:
    •    Cameroon: $1.61 million
    •    Central African Republic: $428,000
    •    Chad: $2.33 million
    •    The Democratic Republic of Congo: $6.48 million
    •    Ethiopia: $1.82 million
    •    Iraq: $2 million
    •    Niger: $1.71 million
    •    Somalia: $3.29 million
    •    South Sudan: $835,300
    •    Syria: $428,000

An additional $731,338 will fund research to be conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), and another $518,000 will go toward technical assistance in West and Central Africa.
While significant strides have been made against the disease, polio remains a threat in hard-to-reach and underserved areas and conflict zones. Despite a historically low case count, as long as a single child has polio, all children are at risk, which underscores the need for continued funding and political commitment to eradication.

Rotary has committed to raising $150 million over the next three years, which will be matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, yielding $450 million for polio eradication activities, including immunization and surveillance.
Rotary started its polio eradication program PolioPlus in 1985, and in 1988 became a partner in the GPEI, along with WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation later became a partner. Since the initiative launched, the incidence of polio has plummeted by more than 99.9 percent, from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 22 confirmed cases in 2017 (as of 25 January). Rotary has contributed a total of more than $1.7 billion — including matching funds from the Gates Foundation — and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries from polio.
Rotary gives $53.5 million to help eradicate polio 2018-02-18 05:00:00Z 0
By Hank Sartin, Rotary editorial staff

District governors-elect got their first look at the 2018-19 presidential theme Be the Inspiration Sunday at the International Assembly, an annual training event for incoming district leaders. RI President-elect Barry Rassin urged the audience to build a stronger organization by inspiring a younger generation and by getting the word out to the community at large about the work Rotary does. “I will ask you to inspire with your words and with your deeds: doing what we need to do today, to build a Rotary that will be stronger tomorrow; stronger when we leave it, than it was when we came.”

We caught up with incoming district governors after the theme was announced to get their thoughts on being the inspiration.

Charles Tondeur, Rotary Club of Hazebrouck-Merville, France (District 1520): “I think Rotary needs to be open to new ideas, and this theme encourages us to think about ideas that will inspire our members. Inspiring is about bringing new energy.”
Yoko Hattori, Rotary Club of Tokyo Hiroo, Japan (District 2750): “This theme is clear and direct, which is going to be useful and powerful for the leadership in districts. He’s asking us to think about how we take care of our Rotary family, but also how we inspire beyond Rotary.”
Malcolm Kerr, Rotary Club of Cobram, Australia (District 9790): “I thought the theme was, well, inspiring. I especially like the way he talked about the sea connecting us all. We have to inspire our districts, we have to inspire our clubs, we have to inspire our individual members, and we have to inspire in the world beyond Rotary. It’s a pyramid of possibilities.”
Jim Cupper, Rotary Club of Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA (District 6360): “What I really liked was Barry Rassin’s emphasis on the environment and how we’re going to fit that into the things that Rotary does. Be the Inspiration is easy for most of us to work into our message to our districts and our leadership teams. Part of inspiring our clubs will be training them to use the amazing tools that Rotary has.”
Linda Murrary, Rotary Club of South Everett/Mukilteo, Washington, USA (District 5050): “The theme is so important to Rotary right now, when we all need inspiration. Barry Rassin talked about getting the word out, so I’m going to go post the theme and talk about it on Facebook tonight! His message on membership is so important, urging us to be open to new ideas. ”
Incoming district governors prepared to Be the Inspiration 2018-01-19 05:00:00Z 0
With peace makers from around the world at the International Institute on Peace Education conference in Innsbruck, Austria
By d’Arcy Lunn, 2016-18 Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University, Tokyo
Take visiting 15 countries over five months, then add in any number of training events, an internship, research, attending conferences and events, and meeting two Nobel Peace Laureates, and you get an amazing formula for gaining skills in peace building. The final and most important result of this equation, though, will be what I eventually do with it all. I have some ideas about that.
d’Arcy, left, with Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee and former Rotary Peace Fellow Wisdom Addo at a PeaceJam event in Liberia.
The Rotary Peace Fellowship is a wonderful opportunity to earn a Master’s in Peace Studies at an esteemed university. With it comes an Applied Field Experience (AFE) where Fellows spend time almost anywhere in the world learning about peace with practitioners, academics, and others associated with peace in various ways.
The variety of Peace Fellows is as diverse as the applied field experience opportunities. In my class there was a Fellow from Bangladesh pursuing his field experience in Geneva, a Fellow from Sierra Leone and Gambia in Nigeria, from Argentina in Bolivia, Australia in Israel, and from the United Kingdom in Tanzania and Thailand.
I am originally from Australia, but have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel for the better part of the last 17 years. So I used the five-month applied field experience to see and experience as much as possible during a round-the-world trip that began in Japan and included North America, Europe, West Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
During my field experience, my focus shifted from researching the way people perceive peace in different contexts (conflict, non-conflict, and post-conflict) to engaging in dialogues for reconciliation during an internship with Search for Common Ground in Liberia. I also took part in conferences centered on engaging youth in peace and educating people about peace.
I was not the most comfortable in the traditional classroom setting but out in the field my understanding flourished alongside highly engaging and effective educators, practitioners, and ambassadors for peace. The opportunity still seems like a dream.
A few of the very many highlights include:
  •     Taking part in two conferences in the mountains of Switzerland, one on preventing violent extremism and the other on the inclusion of children in decision making and peace processes at the Caux Peace Forum
  •     Learning and growing as a proponent of peace with a dynamic and enriching network of 100 peace educators in Austria
  •     Receiving over 250 responses from dozens of countries around the world to my online survey about people’s perceptions on the culture of peace. Add your voice
  •     Interviewing over 10 inspirational peace professionals and practitioners on their theories of change
  •     Supporting a program to establish community dialogue for reconciliation in Liberia on converting the temporary peace following their civil unrest to long-term peace and prosperity
  •     Working with Rotarians in Jordan to connect UNICEF, WHO, and Rotary with a school for polio eradication advocacy and engagement in proactive peace
  • A few unexpected opportunities also came up as part of my field experience:
  •     Being an observer for the first round of elections in Liberia, a fascinating and hands-on look at their democracy leading up to, during, and after the election
  •     Meeting two Nobel Peace Laureates, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia and Jose Ramos Horta from Timor Leste, and hearing their stories of courage and advocating for peace. They have become role models to me.
  •     Taking part in two workshops at a youth peace conference in Liberia and Singapore with PeaceJam, bringing together local youth and Nobel Peace Laureates
I’m humbled and grateful, and come out of this experience with a high resolve to make peace an active and important component of my life and future. I hope to polish and refine all the small lessons and insights I have learned to create Teaspoons of Peace – small but significant choices, decisions, and actions creating more peace in the world.
I couldn’t have imagined a better opportunity than my applied field experience to engage, learn, and grow in my understanding and practice of peace. Thank you Rotary.
Teaspoons of peace that will last a lifetime 2018-01-13 05:00:00Z 0
Anil and Tulsi Maharjan on a project site in Nepal.

By Tulsi R. Maharjan, a past district governor and member of the Rotary Club of Branchburg, New Jersey, USA
For this father and son combination, Rotary is about much more than belonging to a humanitarian organization. It’s about making a difference in the world.

When you’re a part of Rotary, you’re really making a difference, both locally and internationally. When you think about all the wonderful things Rotary has accomplished, who wouldn’t want to be part of one of the most successful humanitarian organizations in history.

I recently took the helm as president of the Branchburg Rotary Club for the sixth time.  I am a charter member of the club, which started in 1988. This time around, I am honored to have my son serving in the same Rotary club.

Previously, Anil has been a member of an E-Club in our district, but this year he decided to join my club. He is a CPA and graduate of Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and works for MarketSmith as Director of Innovation. He believes in Rotary’s service projects and all the impact they are making around the world with various Rotary Foundation grants.

Father and son working on the Asha Rays of Hope project.

It has been fun working on projects together. We have been involved with the Asha Project in Nepal to provide scholarships, microcredit and home building for the earthquake victims since the major earthquake in 2015. We have already completed three humanitarian missions to Nepal together and are planning a fourth in early February.

Now, it’s additionally nice to bounce ideas off of one another as part of the same club. Branchburg Rotary has just received a $95,000 grant to implement a microcredit project in Nepal and we are working on a second computer grant.

My son’s interest in Rotary was sparked by listening to me talking about various local and international projects during the past 29 years. “We’re pretty good at raising money and giving money away to different organizations,” he says. “But I really like the hands-on service projects, where you can see you’re making a difference.”

I would say one of the best things I ever did in my life was join the Rotary Club of Branchburg, because our members are just the most generous members I’ve ever known.
Father, son team up to make a difference  2018-01-07 05:00:00Z 0
From all of us at Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club 2017-12-20 05:00:00Z 0
Ako Odotei, chair of the Ghana Host Committee of the RI-USAID collaboration, greets Rotarians from the U.S. during the West African Project Fair in Accra.

By Theophilus Mensah

In early October, Rotary Foundation Chair Paul Netzel was on hand to open the West Africa Project Fair in Accra, Ghana, where Rotary and USAID are partnering to improve sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene in six regions of the country.

The project fair, as the name suggests, involves Rotary clubs across the West Africa sub-region, and is in its 12th year. It serves as an excellent forum for local clubs to show off their projects and establish partnerships with international clubs to secure the financial and technical support needed to implement projects in the region.

The Ghana Host Committee of the H2O Collaboration decided it would be good to have a booth at the fair, to showcase this unique public-private partnership, build awareness, and seek the support of new technical advisers and financial donors. As project manager of the committee, I assisted Ako Odotei, the committee chair, in setting up our booth and providing information. We were located near a staircase, which turned out to be a very strategic location.
We welcomed members from the Rotary clubs of Accra, Accra Legon, Accra Dansoman, Sunyani Central, Tema, and Accra RRC, many of whom expressed support for our efforts. Frank Owusu Debrah, past president of Sunyani Central, noted how important it is to help Rotarians gain a clearer understanding of the project. He believes it will dispel any negative perceptions and motivate more members to give toward meeting the $200,000 Rotary has agreed to raise in each country.

Rotarians in Nigeria and Niger were also excited about the water and sanitation improvements, and expressed interest in developing a similar WASH program in their home country.

All in all, I was very pleased with the results of the fair, which was well organized and well attended. We were able to provide valuable visibility to the collaboration.
Improving access to water in Ghana 2017-12-10 05:00:00Z 0
Pakistan health workers are replacing traditional paper-reporting with accurate and timely cellphone-based reporting. 
By Ryan Hyland Photo by Khaula Jamil

Mobile phones and simple text messaging may be the keys to victory in the world’s largest public health initiative: the eradication of polio.

As the disease retreats from the global stage, thriving in only a few remote areas in three countries, it’s up to health workers to deliver vaccines and share information with speed and accuracy.

Health workers in Pakistan are receiving cellphone and e-monitoring training at the Rotary Resource Center in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 
Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are strengthening the lines of communication by giving cellphones to health workers in Pakistan and Nigeria, where a single text message could save a life.

In Pakistan, Rotary has been working to replace traditional paper-based reporting of maternal and child health information, including polio immunization data, with mobile phone and e-monitoring technology.

Community health workers across the nation have received more than 800 phones through a partnership with Rotary, the Pakistani government; Telenor, the country’s second-largest telecommunications provider; and Eycon, a data monitoring and evaluation specialist. Organizers plan to distribute a total of 5,000 cellphones by the end of 2018.

Health workers can use the phones to send data via text message to a central server. If they see a potential polio case, they can immediately alert officials at Pakistan’s National Emergency Operations Center. They also can note any children who didn’t receive the vaccine or parental refusals – and record successful immunizations. In Pakistan, the polio eradication effort aims to reach the nation’s 35 million children under age five.

The result is a collection of real-time information that officials can easily monitor and assess, says Michel Thieren, regional emergency director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergency Program.

Pakistan health workers are replacing traditional paper-reporting with accurate and timely cellphone-based reporting. 
“Cellphone technology signals tremendous progress in the polio eradication program,” says Thieren, who has directed polio-related initiatives for WHO in Pakistan. “The data we collect needs to have such a granular level of detail. With real-time information that can be recorded and transcribed immediately, you can increase accuracy and validity.

“This gives governments and polio eradication leaders an advantage in the decisions we need to make operationally and tactically to eliminate polio,” Thieren says.

Beyond polio

Health workers also are using mobile phones to monitor a multitude of maternal and child health factors.
Pakistan’s child mortality rate ranks among the highest in the world, according to UNICEF, with 81 deaths under age five per 1,000 live births.

But mobile technology can help reduce those deaths, says Asher Ali, project manager for Rotary’s Pakistan PolioPlus Committee.

“Our health workers, including community midwives, are tracking pregnant mothers,” Ali says. “When a child is born, they can input and maintain complete health records, not just for polio, but for other vaccines and basic health care and hygiene needs.”
They also can monitor infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and influenza-like illnesses, as well as child malnutrition and maternal health concerns.

“If there is a problem with the baby or the mother, we can send information to the government health departments immediately, so they can solve the issue quickly and adjust their strategies,” Ali says.

Cellphones also facilitate follow-up visits with families, because health workers can send appointment reminders over text message.
Pakistan and Nigeria replace paper-based reporting with fast, accurate cellphone messaging 2017-12-03 05:00:00Z 0
Pure Water for the World, Inc. started in 1994 by Rotarians from Brattleboro, VT and was established as 501(c)(3) in 1999. Our Rotary District 7870 has a long history of supporting PWW’s sustainable safe water programs, which empower vulnerable children, families and communities to thrive. This project continues that commitment.
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The kids will thank you!
National Day of Giving - Giving Tuesday 2017-11-26 05:00:00Z 0
Wise Words of Nelson Mandela 2017-11-26 05:00:00Z 0
By Geoff Johnson Photo by Monika Lozinska

On the 99th anniversary of the end of World War I, more than 1,200 people gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for Rotary Day at the United Nations.

Representing 87 countries, they convened on Saturday, 11 November, at the Palais des Nations, originally the home of the League of Nations, and dedicated themselves to the theme introduced by Rotary President Ian H. S. Riseley: “Peace: Making a Difference.”

“The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace have always been among Rotary’s primary goals,” said Riseley. “It is past time for all of us to recognize the potential of all of our Rotary service to build peace, and approach that service with peacebuilding in mind.”

For the first time in its 13-year history, Rotary Day at the UN was held outside of New York.

Rotary Day concluded Geneva Peace Week, during which John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International, noted the “close and longstanding ties between Rotary and the UN in (their) mutual pursuit of peace and international understanding.”

Rotary members “can transform a concept like peace to a reality through service,” said Ed Futa, dean of the Rotary Representatives to the United Nations. “Peace needs to be lived rather than preached.”

During a Rotary Day highlight, Hewko introduced Rotary’s 2017 People of Action: Champions of Peace. He praised them as “an embodiment of the range and impact of our organization’s work,” and saluted them for providing “a roadmap for what more peaceful, resilient societies look like.”

Rotary honored six individuals, who each made brief remarks. They were:

    1.    Alejandro Reyes Lozano, of the Rotary Club of Bogotá Capital, Cundinamarca, Colombia: As "part of the generation that grew up with uncertainty and fear,” as he put it, Reyes Lozano played a key role in negotiating an end to the 50-year conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Now he's using a Rotary Foundation global grant to lead peacebuilding efforts among women from six Latin American countries.

    2.    Jean Best, of the Rotary Club of Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and gallowayScotland: “Without peace within ourselves we will never advance global peace,” said Best, explaining The Peace Project, the program she created to help “the future leaders of peace” develop the skills they need to resolve the conflicts in their lives.

    3.    Safina Rahman, of the Rotary Club of Dhaka Mahanagar, Bangladesh: “Education is a powerful and transformative vehicle for peace,” said Rahman, a passionate advocate for workers’ rights and workplace safety who also promotes and provides educational and vocational opportunities for girls. 

    4.    Ann Frisch, of the Rotary Club of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, USA: Frisch’s Civilian-Based Peace Process introduced the radical concept of “unarmed civilian protection” in war zones around the world. “Sustainable peace,” she said, “requires strong civilian engagement.”

    5.    Kiran Singh Sirah, Rotary Peace Fellow: As the president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA, Sirah uses stories to foster peace, nurture empathy, and build a sense of community. “Stories matter—and I believe they matter a lot,” he said.

    6.    Taylor Cass Talbot, Rotary Peace Fellow: Currently based in Portland, Oregon, USA, Cass Talbot partnered with SWaCH, a waste-picker cooperative in India to form Pushing for Peace, which promotes safety, sanitation, and dignity for waste pickers in Pune, India. Her advocacy displays an artistic flair: her Live Debris project creatively addresses issues of waste on a global scale.

Alejandro Reyes Lozano, of the Rotary Club of Bogotá Capital, Cundinamarca, Colombia: As "part of the generation that grew up with uncertainty and fear,” as he put it, Reyes Lozano played a key role in negotiating an end to the 50-year conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Now he's using a Rotary Foundation global grant to lead peacebuilding efforts among women from six Latin American countries.
Later, the six honorees participated in workshops devoted to sustainability and peace, as well as a workshop on education, science, and peace designed by and for young leaders in which Rotaract members from around the world played a prominent role.

Dr. Michel Zaffran, the director of polio eradication at the World Health Organization, provided an update on efforts to eradicate polio. They noted the tremendous progress made by Rotary, WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other partners in eliminating 99 percent of all global incidences of polio.

Returning the focus to peace, Zaffran said: “This same international relationship (that’s eradicating polio),” he said, “can be used to achieve world peace.”

Zaffran was joined Her Excellency Mitsuko Shino, the deputy permanent representative of Japan to the international organizations in Geneva and co-chair of Global Polio Eradication Initiative's Polio Partners Group.

In his keynote address, Riseley made a similar observation. “The work of polio eradication, has taught us . . . that when you have enough people working together, when you understand the problems and the processes, when you combine and leverage your resources, when you set a plan and set your targets — you can indeed move mountains,” he said. “And the need for action, and cooperation, is greater now than ever before.”
Rotary Day at the United Nations pushes peace from concept to reality 2017-11-16 05:00:00Z 0
Story and photos by Levi Vonk
There are two inescapable elements of southern Mexico.

The first is dust – desert rock ground to a powder that finds its way into your every crevice: the backs of your knees, the folds of your eyelids. You cough it up as you drift to sleep and discover its brume settled across your bedsheets in the morning. The second element is violence. I found both on the gritty tracks of the Beast.

Among those apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border between October 2015 and January 2016 were 24,616 families – the vast majority of them from Central America. 
Over the past half-century, millions of Central Americans have crossed Mexico from south to north, fleeing poverty, decades-long civil wars, and, most recently, brutal gangs. To escape, migrants used to ride atop the cars of the train line known as the Beast.

In July 2014, Mexican immigration officials announced a plan called the Southern Border Program; part of it entailed closing the Beast to migrants. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said the plan would create new economic zones and safeguard migrants’ human rights by securing the country’s historically volatile southern border. Instead, the number of migrants beaten, kidnapped, and murdered has skyrocketed. Some have even been victims of the black-market trade in organs.

In early 2015 I had just completed my studies as a Rotary global grant scholar, earning a master’s degree in the anthropology of development. I had studied how trade and development initiatives in Mexico could make people’s lives more perilous, not less. To learn about what was going wrong, I went to southern Mexico to use the skills I had gained through my global grant studies.

Southern Mexico is poor and rural, made up of small pueblos and subsistence agriculture. In some ways, I felt at home. I grew up in rural Georgia, and I became interested in immigration after teaching English to farmworkers harvesting cabbage, berries, and Christmas trees in the foothills of North Carolina. Many of the men I worked with were from southern Mexico. Their descriptions of the violence brought by drug and human trafficking led to my interest in the region.

Shelters house migrants including children traveling with family members as well as young people on their own.
To understand how the Southern Border Program was affecting people’s lives, I stayed in migrant shelters, which are not unlike homeless shelters or temporary refugee camps. They are often without reliable running water or electricity, but they do provide migrants with a warm meal and a place to rest before they continue north.

At first, shelter life was a shock to me. Sick or injured people arrived nearly each day. Severe dehydration was a big problem, and some people had literally walked the skin off the bottoms of their feet. I was there when a gang member entered the shelter to kidnap someone, but shelter directors stopped him.

By the time I arrived, shelters along the tracks of the Beast had seen the number of migrants dwindle from 400 a night to fewer than 100. Shelter directors explained that the number of Central Americans fleeing into Mexico each year – around 400,000 – had not fallen, but because immigration agents were now apprehending anyone near the Beast, people were afraid to approach the shelters. These safe havens had been transformed into no-go zones. “This is a humanitarian crisis on the scale of Syria,” one director said to me, “but no one is talking about it.”

In the shelters, I chopped firewood, cooked dinners, and scrubbed kitchen floors. I changed bandages and helped people file for asylum. And I lived and traveled with migrants headed north, recording their stories – about why they left, where they hoped to go, and what they had faced on their journeys.

In 2015, shortly after finishing his studies as a Rotary Foundation global grant scholar, Levi Vonk went to Mexico to work with migrants. He has written about what he saw, and about the experiences of migrants themselves, for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, and National Public Radio. For Rotary Foundation Month, we asked him to describe what he has done and learned. Vonk studied at the University of Sussex, England, sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Shoreham & Southwick, England, and Charleston Breakfast, S.C. His master’s degree in the anthropology of development and social transformation led to his becoming a 2014-15 Fulbright fellow to Mexico. He is now a doctoral candidate in medical anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley.
Mildred, a single mother of three, was fleeing gang members who threatened to kill her family if she didn’t pay them a protection fee. Ivan, the oldest brother of six, singlehandedly resettled his entire family in Mexico – including his elderly mother and his two toddler nephews – after hit men tried to kill them in their home in Honduras. Milton had lived in New York City for years – and had sheltered ash-covered pedestrians in his apartment during the 11 September 2001 terror attacks – before being deported.

The things I learned were terrifying. Instead of shoring up Mexico’s borders, the plan had splintered traditional migrant routes. Those routes had been dangerous, but they were also ordered and visible. Migrants knew approximately which areas of the train passage were plagued by gangs. They were prepared to pay protection fees – generally between $5 and $20. They traveled in groups for safety. And they were often close to aid – a shelter, a Red Cross clinic, even a police station.

The Southern Border Program changed that. Hunted by immigration officers, migrants traveled deep into the jungle, walking for days. Gangs, which had previously extorted money from migrants, now followed them into these isolated areas to rob, kidnap, or simply kill them.

The Southern Border Program has failed as a development initiative. Not only has cracking down on immigration made southern Mexico less safe, but the increased violence has deterred business investment that the region so desperately needs.

During my time as a Rotary scholar, I learned to look at development differently. We often think of international aid in terms of poverty reduction, and we often see poverty reduction in terms of dollars spent and earned. The anthropology of development aims to analyze global aid in another way. We pay particular attention to how initiatives play out on the ground to determine just what local communities’ needs are and how those needs might be met sustainably and, eventually, autonomously.

Axel Hernandez, whose parents brought him from Guatemala to the United States as an infant, has been deported twice; he now lives in Mexico. 
When I was living in migrant shelters, we often received huge, unsolicited shipments of clothing from well-intentioned organizations. Had they asked us, we would have told them that their efforts, and money, were wasted. In fact, directors had to pay for hundreds of pounds of clothing to be taken to the dump when space ran out at the shelter.

Among the things shelters actually needed, I learned, were clean water, better plumbing, and medical care. But shelter directors did not just want these items shipped over in bulk; they needed infrastructure – water purification, functioning toilets, and access to a hospital, along with the skills and knowledge to maintain these systems themselves.

Of course, as one shelter director told me, “Our ultimate goal is to not be needed at all – to solve this migration crisis and violence and go home.”

Rotary’s six areas of focus mesh neatly with these goals. Such measures require money, but more than that, they require in-tense cultural collaboration to make them sustainable. Who better than Rotary, with its worldwide network of business and community leaders, to understand the challenges and respond effectively?
One way Rotary is responding is by funding graduate-level studies in one of the six areas of focus. After his global grant studies in anthropology of development at the University of Sussex, my friend Justin Hendrix spent several years working in a Romanian orphanage, helping to provide the children there with the best education possible. Another friend, Emily Williams, received a global grant to get her master’s degree at the Bartolome de las Casas Institute of Human Rights at Madrid’s Universidad Carlos III and now works with unaccompanied Central American minors and victims of trafficking in the United States. My partner, Atlee Webber, received a global grant to study migration and development at SOAS University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies); she now works as a program officer with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

Rotarians understand that to have the most impact, we need to learn from other cultures. As global grant scholars, that’s what we aim to do – during our studies, and afterward.
In Mexico’s migrant shelters, a Rotary scholar puts his education into action 2017-11-03 04:00:00Z 0
Donald MacRae Awardee-Zone 24 - Rotary Districts from Canada and Alaska and Zone 32 - Rotary Districts from the US North East Coast
Each year, these two Zones honor dedicated Rotarians or Rotary-based organizations for their international humanitarian work.
This year’s Donald MacRae award winners are long-time Rotarians who have each spent a lifetime of philanthropy and dedication to make lives better in Ethiopia and Haiti.

Leo Seguin Zone 24

A past president of the Westlock Rotary Club in Alberta, he has spent 30 years improving lives in Ethiopia. Leo’s involvement dates to the mid-80s famine that struck that country. Through Rainbow for the Future, an Alberta-based organization Leo started in 2004 to focus on development work, he has been instrumental in raising $10 million that has helped one million people in Ethiopia by focusing on improved food security, clean water, schools and medical equipment.
The organization also stresses education and healthcare,
especially for girls and women. One of the first projects undertaken by the club was to fund a hostel for girls and young women. Because Ethiopia’s Karayu people follow the rains in search of fodder for their animals, the girls are not able to go to school, but instead, they marry at a very early age. Rainbow for the Future and Westlock Rotary built the hostel so the girls can pursue an education and delay marriage. Leo shares the story of his work in his book, Where a Bird Meets a Fish in the Sky.
Donald MacRae Awardee-Zone 32

Dr. Jerry Lowney - Zone 32

A member of the Norwich, Connecticut club in D-7980, he has devoted time, talent, and treasure to serve the poorest of the poor in Haiti over the past 25 years.
What started in 1982 as a short-term mission trip to provide dental care has become a lifelong passion to improve health of Haiti’s poorest. In 1985, Jerry founded the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF) which offers basic healthcare services to the 200,000 people living in the Jeremie region of Haiti.

HHF has developed a feeding program that offers 24-hour care for children suffering from chronic malnutrition. It has an inpatient maternal center for village women in high-risk pregnancies, and also provides routine maternal and pediatric care, and has helped to found a school of nursing.

For more than 25 years, Jerry has traveled to Haiti every three months to operate the Haitian Health Foundation, provide dental care, and more. His work has received wide-spread praise, and in 2013, the White House named him a Rotary Champion of Change.
Rotary Zones' 24 & 32 Donald MacRae Award Winners 2017-10-22 04:00:00Z 0
EVANSTON, IL (October 2, 2017) — More than 1 billion people around the world live in inadequate housing according to the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. Through a partnership between Rotary and Habitat for Humanity, more will have access to safe and affordable housing across the globe.

The partnership will facilitate collaboration between local Rotary clubs and local Habitat for Humanity organizations, enabling Habitat to extend their volunteer pool by tapping into Rotary’s 1.2 million members in 200 countries and regions.

“Habitat’s aim to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope aligns perfectly with Rotary’s commitment to make positive, lasting change in communities around the world,” said Rotary General Secretary John Hewko. “With Habitat’s expertise and the power of Rotary’s volunteer network, we will help build the foundation for stronger communities.”

“The values of our organizations are so closely aligned, and the desire to help others runs deep for both groups. That makes us such a perfect match,” said Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan T.M. Reckford. “So many Rotarians have worked alongside Habitat and the knowledge, experiences and connections that are so strong in local Rotary clubs will make them valuable Habitat partners in many communities worldwide.”
Rotary members develop and implement sustainable projects that fight disease, promote peace, provide clean water, support education, save mothers and children and grow local economies. These projects are supported by more than $200 million awarded through Rotary’s grants programs.

Habitat for Humanity joins a list of Rotary service partners including, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, Peace Corps, Dollywood Foundation, the Global FoodBanking Network and Youth Service America (YSA).

About Rotary

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world.

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 1,300 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.
Rotary partners with Habitat for Humanity 2017-10-14 04:00:00Z 0
A Rotary volunteer administers polio drops to a child missed by earlier rounds in Pakistan.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
                                                                                                              Henry Ford

By Alina A. Visram, manager, Pakistan National PolioPlus Committee

When I first joined Pakistan’s PolioPlus Committee (PNPPC) as a manager close to eight years ago, polio eradication seemed within our reach. I used the opportunity to study poliomyelitis beyond just perceiving it as “a crippling disease.” I researched the causes and consequences; the types of polio virus; modes of prevention; and how elusive the virus can be given the right conditions.

Then in 2012, the dynamics of my country changed. We were faced with hostile militants, who refused to allow polio teams to vaccinate children in their territory. Our front line workers were regularly targeted for their work during campaigns.

Alina Visram bonds with the community in Pakistan.

Children were deprived of polio vaccine in several regions occupied by the militants making it inaccessible and hard to reach. Common myths and misconceptions were rife in most backward communities. Our biggest hurdle was “how do we change their mindset,” while they eyed us with suspicion and disdain.

We expanded our motley crew to a larger team. Together we worked closely with our polio partners to devise strategies and innovative approaches to overcome the odds; through placing Resource Centers in high risk districts; targeting nomads and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) through Permanent Transit Posts (PTPs); creating awareness in illiterate communities through speaking books; conducting workshops with enlightened religious clerics; and encouraging Rotary clubs to hold health camps in impoverished districts.

Meanwhile, polio cases spiraled across the country and in 2014 we reported over 300 cases of the wild poliovirus. In the years that followed, we worked with unwavering diligence and commitment in collaboration with the government of Pakistan to restrict polio transmission. Today, we have only five cases of polio stemming from the wild virus and only 11 globally, as of the end of September.

World Polio Day 24 October was established by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. It marks the long and arduous journey all endemic countries have struggled against, to eradicate polio.

The last mile is the hardest, but we are so close to the finish line.
Overcoming obstacles to polio eradication in Pakistan 2017-10-06 04:00:00Z 0
One Recent Day in Puerto Rico 2017-10-01 04:00:00Z 0

By check

Payable to: The Rotary Foundation DAF
Memo line: Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Fund #608
Mail to: Rotary DAF, c/o NRS, 12 Gill Street, Suite 2600, Woburn, MA, 01801

By credit card

Online at: https://www.your-fundaccount.com/rotary/HowToContribute.asp

Account name: Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Fund
Account number: 608

By wire transfer

To the account of: Boston Private Bank & Trust Company
ABA number: 011002343 
For credit to: The Rotary Foundation
Account number: 943423732 

For Further Credit: TRF DAF
Account name: Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Fund #608

You must fax a copy of the wire authorization to +1-781-658-2497 to complete the transfer.

How to contribute to the Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Donor Advised Fund 2017-09-01 04:00:00Z 0
In July Ormoc Bay on the western side of Lete Island in the Philippines had a 6.5 magnitude earthquake. Many residents lived in poorly built cinder block houses which crumbled and left them homeless. Ormoc Bay Rotarians hosted our District 7870 Group Study Exchange Team in 2009. Some members of that team have kept in touch through Facebook.
Cap City helps Ormoc Bay Rotary (Philippines) after Earthquake 2017-08-26 04:00:00Z 0
Rotary Peace Fellows at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

By Dessa Bergen-Cico, a Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

One thing I have learned through my experiences traveling and working around the world is that people are more alike than they are different. Moreover we embody our expressions of joy in similar ways.

Anyone who has ever visited Thailand has likely heard the phrase same, same when trying to make a purchase from a vendor or negotiate the menu in a restaurant. Same, same is an English phrase used by Thai people, it means that two or more items are similar, or cost the same amount.
A common phrase in Thailand.

A similar phrase is same, same…but different. This can mean many things from same price but different items to these items are not the same at all. This may be confusing but I find these phrases endearing and I like to think of them as an allegory for humanity. In other words, we are all pretty much the same and we also have unique differences.  We are same, same…but different.

Rotary International is a perfect example of how similar people are around the world; and Rotary reflects the innate human desire to help one another. The Rotary mission of placing Service Above Self has drawn together more than 1.2 million members in more than 35,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary is evidence that we are really same, same.

There are certainly differences between us. For example, there are many cultures and each culture has subcultures. Moreover within those subcultures there are differences of opinion and many different personalities. However, if one were to make a list of the differences between people and cultures the list would be finite. That is to say there is a limit to the number of things we can identify as being different between people.

On the other hand there is a seemingly infinite list of things we can find that are similar between people. We are similar on a cellular level; in fact there is less than .01 percent difference in the human genome between people. We all have similar needs. At our core, each human being needs a sense of security, belonging, and wants to be respected. Virtually everything else stems from efforts to satisfy these basic needs.

We all laugh the same.

People laugh the same across all cultures and enjoy music and sports in similar ways. Each person wants to feel joy and embodies that feeling in similar ways (like the young girl in the picture with the camel at right).

Music brings people together from many cultures. Our instructor Jan Sunoo sparked an interest in playing the ukulele among a group of Peace Scholars. We recently had the joyful opportunity in Krabi to connect with people from around the world listening to Thai musicians singing both Thai Reggae music and peace protest songs in English from the greats like Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Although we could not verbally communicate when not singing we established a special connection through music and dancing.

Sports diplomacy, or cultural connection through sport, is another wonderful way for people to connect across and within cultures. This approach is being used by several Class 23 Peace Scholars and is the basis of the peace work of our visiting instructors Tom Woodhouse and Sombat Topanya. Every morning and evening you can see throngs of people from all over the world in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park enjoying exercise and sports together. The scene is the same in New York City where people gather in free open public spaces to do yoga together, cycle and run. Everyone enjoying the opportunity to engage their mind and body.

Really, we are all same, same!
We are all same, same…but different 2017-08-20 04:00:00Z 0
Head of Ritaliza Secondary School, Sister Mary Masway,
“The sisters, with Rotary’s support, further prepare the children for formal schooling and encourage residents to realise their potential, despite their circumstances.”
Rotary oversaw the transference of Upendo’s management to the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in 2003, who specialise in the care of the sick. Previously, the sisters would bicycle up the long and dusty road to Upendo each week to tend to the foot and leg sores of those with leprosy. Rotary’s offer to the sisters to take up residence at Upendo was happily accepted.
In the years since, they have greatly improved living conditions and provision of health care services and hygiene education. The sisters, with Rotary’s support, further prepare the children for formal schooling and encourage residents to realise their potential, despite their circumstances.
Thankfully, leprosy rates in the area have declined in the decades
since Upendo’s establishment, with the facility instrumental in reducing incidence and spread. Today, Upendo has branched out to care for the poorest of the poor, as well as leprosy sufferers.
Monica is currently attending St Ritaliza Secondary School, a boarding school close to the Kenyan border.Stuart recently returned to Tanzania and was delighted to meet Monica, accompanied by Head Sister Agatha of Upendo.
“New Zealand Rotarians can be proud of their contribution to helping children like Monica on their way to anow bright future,” Stuart said. With the support of a group of New Zealand Rotarians, leprosy victims and their families in Tanzania are receiving the care they deserve.
With the support of a group of New Zealand Rotarians, leprosy victims
and their families in Tanzania are receiving the care they deserve.
Cared for with love 2017-08-12 04:00:00Z 0
The Kuehn family, on sofa, during their stay in Vancouver, stranded by wildfires. Ray and Joanne Moschuk, rear, hosted the family.
By Past District Governor Chris Offer, member of the Rotary Club of Ladner, British Columbia, Canada

Wildfires in the forests of British Columbia are common but the fire season in 2017 has been one of the most destructive in many years. At its peak, 40,000 people were evacuated from farms, villages, and cities. More than 1,000 fires were burning 100,000 hectares. Numerous highways were closed, isolating large parts of the province.

Meanwhile, in the hope of moving permanently to Canada, and after more than a year filling out forms for a two-year, Canadian work permit, Barbara and Gregor Kuehn and their four young children finally arrived in Vancouver from Switzerland. They were en route to a ranch in Redstone, west of Williams Lake, British Columbia, an isolated part of the province’s interior, where they expected to work for the next two years. With all roads to their destination blocked by wildfires, they didn’t make it and they had no place to stay. Rotary stepped in to help.

When their future employer found out they were stranded in Vancouver, she found the family a motel room and also put out an appeal on social media, seeking a temporary place for the family to stay. As luck would have it, her good friend, Kristin Brown, is on Facebook, on staff at Rotary International Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, and is a member of the Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse. Kristin shared the story with a Rotary contact from British Columbia who gave her my name and Kristin contacted me. I told Kristin to have her friend call me and after I spoke with her friend on the ranch, I sent an appeal to the 50 members of my Rotary club. In response to my billeting request, Ray and Joanne Moschuk of Ladner Rotary opened their home to the family.

After settling the Kuehns in their temporary lodging, we invited them to a Rotary event: an outdoor fundraiser with activities for the whole family. While there, they met Delta Member of Parliament Hon. Carla Qualtrough who, in addition to her Cabinet post, is the chair of the Prime Minister’s committee coordinating the federal government response to the wildfires in British Columbia. Qualtrough, who recently toured the wildfire-stricken areas, gave the family an update on the fire situation. The Kuehns still can’t get all the way to Williams Lake, but they now have a truck and a trailer and hope to leave Vancouver by the end of the week. They will drive part way and camp.

Rotary has been described as the original social network. This is the network in action, Rotary: Making a Difference.

Update: The Kuehn family left Vancouver 27 July, the highway having finally opened, and with their truck and RV trailer, have been camping their way to their ranch in Redstone.
The Rotary network at work 2017-08-05 04:00:00Z 0
Interactor Gabriel Kenji from Brazil is combating the deadly "Blue Whale" game with "White Whale," a social media project that promotes peace and self-esteem.
By Ryan Hyland
Horrified by stories about an online suicide game called Blue Whale, Gabriel Kenji of Brazil decided to create a game to counter the dangerous online trend, and hopefully, save lives.

The Blue Whale Challenge is a chilling suicide game allegedly run by a social media group. The game preys on vulnerable adolescents and teenagers, who are instructed to complete a set of challenges over a 50-day period. The tasks begin harmlessly but become increasingly more dangerous, including self-punishing, and end with the teenager being urged to take their own life.
“When I first heard about the horrific game, I thought it was a problem far away from Brazil,” says Kenji, a member of the Interact Club of Pinhais, Parana, Brazil. “Once it reached my country I realized this type of evil can be anywhere. I had to do something to alert others about the seriousness of the problem.”

The game may have originated in Russia where more than 130 suicides have been allegedly linked to the game. The online trend has caused significant concern in Western Europe and South America, particularly in Brazil, where alleged suicide attempts from the game have cropped up in at least eight states. At least two suicide cases in the U.S. have been linked to the online fad. The title is said to refer to blue whales that beach themselves purposefully to die.

While no one can prove the existence of the game or identify who is behind these suicidal challenges, what is clear is that young people are ending their lives and documenting it on social media.

So Kenji decided to do something about it. He devised a social media game that he named White Whale to help boost self-esteem, self-worth, and peaceful interactions among young people.

Challenges include forgiving yourself for mistakes, exercising daily, discovering new facts about people in your life, participating in volunteer activities, and posting positive messages on social media.

We want to show young people that they can make small changes to change the direction of their lives.
Gabriel Kenji  Interact Club of Pinhais, Parana, Brazil White Whale is a way for teenagers, who may be vulnerable to the suicide game, to engage in positive activities and feel valued, says Kenji. He chose the name White Whale because he says the color white signifies peace, purity, and clarity.

“We want to show young people that they can make small changes to change the direction of their lives,” says Kenji, who will enter college this year to study dentistry. “There is another path for teenagers to take that is far removed from an action like taking their own lives.”

Fellow Interactors and local Rotaract club members are helping to spread the word about White Whale by passing out brochures and information at bus and train stops, busy intersections, and to friends and family. They also helped Kenji create some of the game’s challenges. “I’m so grateful that my club and others people in the Rotary family are taking a small idea and making it big,” he says.

According to Kenji, about 4,000 people have shared the White Whale’s Facebook page with a reach of nearly 30,000.

Kenji says he’s already seen tangible results from the game among his own friends. “I’ve had friends tell me that the game is giving them the courage to reconcile broken friendships. It’s great to see. I hope this is just a start.”
Interactor from Brazil combats a deadly online gameWhite Whale designed to promote peace and self-esteem 2017-07-29 04:00:00Z 0
Residents of a remote village in the Toledo district of Belize use their solar lamps.

By Audrey Cochran, a member of the Rotary Club of Northwest Austin, Texas, USA

Tonight Amelia Ramirez sits with her younger siblings at their kitchen table. A stack of books sit on the table and Amelia smiles as she reads. She no longer fears being burned by a kerosene lamp. The fumes that had irritated her eyes and made her cough are gone. She no longer begs her mother to stop before her school work is done because of the heat, the bugs, and the fumes caused by the kerosene lamp she was previously forced to use. Amelia’s family received a solar lamp from Rotary District 5870.

Nearly one quarter of the world population lives without access to electricity or safe light. As a result millions suffer from burn injuries each year, most of which are children. These families see by kerosene lamps, candles and open flames, all of which are dangerous and toxic.

According to the World Health Organization respiratory illness is the number one cause of death in children under 5 years of age that live in areas without access to electricity. Rotarians are taking action to change this. Working with the Grid Earth Project, a Texas based 501(c)3 Charity, founded by Rotarians from the Northwest Austin Rotary Club, safe solar light is being provided to families forced to live off the electrical grid. It’s a worldwide problem requiring a worldwide solution.

The Northwest Austin Rotary Club has just completed District 5870’s 2016-17 World Community Service Project. Over six hundred families in remote villages of the Toledo District of Belize received household solar lamps. The impact is immediate and the change results in 100 years of progress in a single day. The solar lamps were hand delivered to each of the eleven villages, whether by four-wheel drive trucks, by boats, hiking or pack horses. Every lamp was placed directly into the hands of these families in need.  Seventeen clubs from District 5870 participated in this year’s project.

The club is now kicking off our 2017-18 World Community Service Project. The goal this year is to provide safe solar light to 1,000 families in the Toledo District that are still living in darkness. For as little as $100 your club can become a partner in this district wide project.  Together we can change the world one light at a time.
Solar lamp project delivers light in Belize 2017-07-23 04:00:00Z 0
Sam F. Owori, Rotary International president-elect, died unexpectedly Thursday as a result of post-operative complications from a planned surgery.  
Sam was a member of the Rotary Club Kampala, Uganda, for 38 years.
“Rotary has become a way of life for me – with the intrinsic value and core belief in mutual responsibility and concern for one another as a cornerstone,” Sam said when he was nominated last year. “I feel immense satisfaction knowing that through Rotary, I’ve helped someone live better.”
Sam's term as Rotary’s 108th president would have begun on 1 July 2018.
“Please remember Sam as the outstanding, hard-working Rotarian he was,” said Rotary International President Ian Riseley. “In this difficult time, I ask you to keep his wife, Norah, the Owori family and Sam’s millions of friends around the world in your thoughts.”
Under Sam’s leadership, the number of clubs in Uganda swelled from nine to 89 over the course of 29 years.
Sam saw in Rotary members "an incredible passion to make a difference," and wanted to "harness that enthusiasm and pride so that every project becomes the engine of peace and prosperity."
Sam was the chief executive officer of the Institute of Corporate Governance of Uganda (ICGU), whose mission is to promote excellence in corporate governance principles and practice in the region by 2020. Previously, he was executive director of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and managing director of Uganda Commercial Bank Ltd. (UCB) and director of Uganda Development Bank.  He has also served as corporation secretary of the Central Bank of Uganda (BOU).
He had served as member and chairman of several boards including FAULU (U) Ltd (now Opportunity Bank), The Uganda Heart Institute, the Centre for African Family Studies (CAFS), Mulago Hospital Complex, Mukono Theological College, and the Kampala City Council.
Sam also was the currently vice chair of the Hospice Africa Uganda, and member of the board and chair of the Audit Committee of PACE (Programme for Accessible Health, Communication and Education) in Uganda.
“Sam was a special person in so many ways, and his unexpected death is a huge loss to Rotary, his community and the world,” Riseley said. “In addition, we are establishing details on plans to celebrate his life as they become available.”
Rotary President-elect Sam F. Owori diesRotary President-elect Sam F. Owori diesRotary President-elect Sam F. Owori dies 2017-07-14 04:00:00Z 0
By Arnold R. Grahl

The first time Noel Jackson jumped out of a plane, it had nothing to do with raising money for polio eradication.

The Michigan dentist had received a gift certificate from members of his staff to go skydiving because they knew he was into adventure.

“It is definitely a defining moment,” says Jackson, a member of the Rotary Club of Trenton, Mich., of that first jump at 14,000 feet, done in tandem strapped to a professional skydiver. “The rush of the free fall is beyond anything I have ever experienced before. Just the speed and acceleration is unbelievable. You don’t even have time to figure out if you are enjoying it or not; it’s just a sensation that happens.”

Jackson did enjoy the sensation, so much so that he agreed to do another jump, with Shiva Koushik, a Rotarian friend in nearby Windsor, Ont.
The two men were waiting for this second jump when their wives came up with the idea of enlisting other jumpers and raising pledges for polio eradication.

In August 2014, a jump in the skies of northeastern Michigan raised $15,000 for Rotary’s polio eradication campaign. Matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the effort contributed $45,000 to the cause.

Since 1985, when Rotary committed to polio eradication, the organization has contributed more than $1.5 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize children against the disease. In that time, the number of polio cases has dropped 99.9 percent, and only three countries remain where the virus has never been stopped: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. While World Polio Day, 24 October, serves as an important opportunity to remind the world of the need to finish the job, raising money and awareness is a year-round effort for many.

Late-night recruiting

Julie Caron, a member of the Rotary Club of Toronto Skyline, heard about plans for the Michigan fundraising skydive after being invited to speak at a leadership training event in Koushik’s district.

Julie Caron and 10 members from Toronto Skyline and surrounding Rotary clubs plunged earthward in their own tandem skydive, raising several thousand dollars for polio eradication.  
“We were in one of those friendship rooms after the conference … when Koushik began talking about the skydive,” Caron says. “We all got really excited and signed up.
“I don’t like to back out on things I say I’m going to do, even if it’s the middle of the night,” Caron says. So she began raising money and drove down to Michigan to do the jump.
She also took the idea back to her own club, whose members are mostly young professionals looking for fun things to do. This past July, 10 members from Toronto Skyline and surrounding Rotary clubs plunged earthward in their own tandem skydive, raising several thousand dollars for polio eradication.
Caron hopes to make it a yearly event.

“Polio eradication is definitely something I am passionate about,” she says. “It’s not a hard fundraiser to put together at all. You just call around and pick a place, and then you begin asking people if they would rather jump or pay up in pledges.”

Jackson, who’d jumped out of the plane in his “Captain Rotary” outfit, says he personally raised $4,700 for the Michigan skydive using Caron’s approach.

A recent jump in Michigan raised $45,000 to help end polio.
I would go up to people and tell them we were skydiving for polio and give them two options,” says Jackson. “I would tell them I was paying $180 out of my own pocket to jump, so if you are not going to jump, you have to pay $180. Most people would say, ‘OK, you got it.’ ”

Floating like a bird

Koushik and his wife are active in other ways to rid the world of polio. They have been on several trips with their Rotary district to immunize children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and particularly enjoy showing off their native country, India, from which they emigrated to Canada about 30 years ago. They are planning to take part in another National Immunization Day in Pakistan next year.

Still, the skydive will hold a special place in Koushik’s heart.

“This is one of the highlights of my polio eradication efforts,” he says. “It’s such a feeling of freedom. The first time out of the plane, you have very little idea what is happening; you are free-falling so fast. But once that parachute opens, you look around and say, ‘Wow!’ It’s such a great feeling to be able to float like a bird.”
Skydivers raise thousands for polio eradication 2017-07-09 04:00:00Z 0
This year President Geoff gets to change the gavel from his right hand to his left!
Changing of the Gavel 2017-07-02 04:00:00Z 0
Photo by Tim Deagle
In a world where intolerance and violence fueled by religious differences are seemingly increasing, one Rotary club in Indonesia is showing how diversity can help prevent a pandemic threat.

When the Rotary Club of Solo Kartini in Surakarta, Indonesia, formed 25 years ago, its members drew criticism from the predominantly Muslim community.
The club’s members were mostly Christians, atypical for a country where more than 80 percent of the population is Muslim. Religious leaders were skeptical of Rotary’s secular mission and wary of intrusion.

Undeterred, the club started recruiting more members. Today, the 72-member, all-female club includes both Muslims and Christians.
And the effort they have put into breaking down barriers and fostering respect and understanding among club members has reinforced the club’s capacity to address dengue fever, one of the biggest public health threats in tropical cities like Surakarta.

Dengue fever is a virus transmitted by mosquitos that flourish in tropical urban environments like Surakarta. There is no effective treatment; once infected, victims experience sudden high fevers, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.

Launching an effective public health initiative to prevent the disease requires volunteers with deep knowledge and connections to the community who can craft specific and sustainable solutions. And that means being able to build relationships across religious, cultural and socio-economic lines.  

The Rotary Club of Solo Kartini in Surakarta, Indonesia, installed white tiles on more than 3,500 tubs. The tiles make it easier to see and clean mosquito larvae, which helps prevent dengue fever.
Rotary member Mariam Kartonagoro says her club’s diverse makeup – particularly its abundance of mothers and professionals of varied ages and backgrounds – enhances their effort to fight dengue fever. “The fact that we are different does not create trouble, but it strengthens our relationship,” she says.

In collaboration with the Rotary Club of Westport, Connecticut, USA, and the local ministry of health in Surakarta, the Muslim and Christian club members have been able to help reduce the risk for dengue fever by interrupting the breeding cycles of carrier mosquitos.
The first step was to implement a startlingly simple, low-cost strategy: line the dark cement bathtubs, common in Indonesian households, with white tiles so mosquito larvae is easier to see – and remove. In five years, the club project modified more than 3,500 tubs in two neighborhoods.

But tiles weren’t enough. The club needed to change habits and behaviors that contribute to infections, which required building trust to educate the community.

“Our main focus is to educate and invite people to be aware of health issues, hygiene, and the importance of a clean environment,” says Rotarian Indrijani Sutapa, one of the dengue project leads. “This takes a very long time to teach.”
Community social workers teach homeowners how to empty and scrub infested tubs twice a week, close the lid on water containers, and bury waste that can collect water.

The fact that we are different does not create trouble, but it strengthens our relationship.

Siti Wahyuningsih, Surakarta’s director of public health, hopes to extend Rotary’s white-tile project to other parts of the city.
“Health is a shared responsibility between government, society, and the private sector,” she says. “The government can’t do it alone. We as a community must embrace all of our strengths, and Rotary is a big one.”

The club hopes to see more people crossing cultural lines to help each other.

“Rotary has a very diverse membership, and we can be examples to others in the way we work. After all, when we give help, we do not ask about the religion of the person whose tub we replace. We think in a much more global way,” says Rotarian Febri Dipokusumo. “And we try to foster relationships with people who may have different beliefs or thoughts. We can become friends here in Rotary. Maybe this way, we can inspire Indonesia and the world.”
Muslim and Christian women work together to prevent dengue fever in Indonesia 2017-07-02 04:00:00Z 0
Jessica Compton enjoys the view on Mount Sunday, located in the middle of the South Island in Kakatere Conservation Park.

By Jessica Compton, Rotary Global Grant Scholar to New Zealand

As a child, I dreamed of teaching. But it took until my junior year of college to return to that dream. My undergraduate coursework had prepared me for the content, if not the pedagogical strategies, to effectively engage and teach adolescents English – reading, listening and viewing; writing, speaking, and presenting.

I figured I would pick up the rest of what I needed in graduate school in order to be able to teach. But I had no idea it would be in New Zealand. Through the benevolence of a global grant scholarship sponsored by District 7570, I earned a Master of Teaching and Learning at the University of Canterbury in 2016.

Compton and Sha Litten (right). Says Compton “she was my mentor teacher on my first teaching placement — a delight to work with and learn from.”

The experience of living abroad in New Zealand was both memorable and life-changing. Along with all the tramps (Kiwi lingo for hiking) in such a stunningly beautiful country, I learned to be a culturally responsive teacher. My courses and teaching placements intentionally focused on how to improve the learning experience and outcomes of students from low socio-economic backgrounds, predominately in Māori schools. Last year, I arrived quite ignorant, but ended up learning so much (“heaps,” as they say in NZ) about Māori culture, the fundamental importance of relationships in the classroom, and how to teach in a discourse of inclusion that benefits all learners.

I think my living in New Zealand achieved “the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace,” which is Rotary’s fourth guiding principle. I understand a different culture; indeed, one that didn’t seem all that different on first landing.

Back in the United States, I have effectively become an ambassador for Māori tikanga. In August, I will begin my first year teaching English in an impoverished community, with a largely marginalized student body. The specific circumstances of my future students may be different from those I taught in New Zealand, but after my year there, I am so much more aware of people’s cultures and how to embrace and build on place and space in the classroom.

In teaching – and in all of life – seeking service above self, I have found one whakataukī, or Maori proverb, to ring particularly true:
He aha te mea nui o te ao? (What is the most important thing in the world?) He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. (It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.)

As I venture into this coming school year, may people and the building of relationships be the core of my teaching, service, and love. My deepest thanks will forever extend to both the Roanoke-area and Riccarton Rotarians for your partnership and support in aiding my career as an educator.
The most important thing in the world 2017-06-24 04:00:00Z 0
Roughly 40,000 Rotarians attended the International Conference in Atlanta
The Westin Peachtree
PDG 2012-2013 classmates Tony Gilmore and Joe Clancy with Past Rotary President Wilf Wilkensen at the Alzheimer's booth in the House of Friendship at the Conference
Following the Beyond Borders Dinner at the Aquarium, a beautiful sunset.
Rotary International Conference - Atlanta 2017-06-16 04:00:00Z 0
By Muhammad Talha Mushtaq, a member of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar and the Rotary Club of Jhang Metropolitan
When I joined Interact back in 2009, I had no idea the path it would set me on or that it would change my life forever.

I enjoyed many successful service projects with my fellow members of Interact, as we assisted victims of the great flood of 2010. One-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area and 20 million people were directly affected by floods. We were able to collect a sizable sum of money and donations in kind during three days of scorching July heat. It was then that I understand the meaning of this quote by Oprah Winfrey:
“The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give.”

As soon as I turned 18, I joined the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar along with some of my friends from Interact, and continued to enjoy service projects that included installing libraries in five different schools, distributing school bags and stationary, helping deliver food rations to the needy, and holding a family festival attended by almost 10,000 people.

When I learned that the Rotary Club of Jhang Metropolitan was conducting a free medical camp for the poor in my hometown of Jhang, I wanted to join that club, too. This is something Rotary now allows, dual membership in Rotary and Rotaract, and I jumped at the opportunity. Rotary clubs provide young leaders like us with expanded opportunities for projects on a much larger scale.

Each week in my Rotary club, I get to listen to informative speakers on a variety of topics, learn what is going on in my community, and carry all that back to my Rotaract club. I can share ideas with them and inspire them to get more involved. Likewise, I have become the face of Rotaract to my Rotary club, sharing with them the issues that our important to my fellow Rotaractors.

Dual membership allows me to be a bridge. There are so many opportunities to welcome present members of Rotaract or program alumni into Rotary. I decided to serve as my club’s membership chair next year because I am convinced there are many who are willing to join Rotary, but just need proper guidance. For example, recently, my Rotary club invited six Rotaractors who had also been in Interact with me to enjoy the benefits of dual membership.

It is a love for humanity and our fellow countrymen that compel us to play our part. Both Rotary and Rotaract give us the platform. I will have the added joy of serving as my district’s Rotaract Representative in 2018-19, the same year that my father, Muhammad Mushtaq, will be serving as the district’s governor.

Rotary and its programs for young leaders have enabled me to develop my personal and professional skills. I find it much easier to meet new people, make friends, and speak in front of groups. I have learned to be more patient and listen before I speak. I have learned the value of helping others and giving. And I have a new outlook on life. My love for this organization knows no limit.
The benefits of dual membership in Rotaract, Rotary 2017-06-06 04:00:00Z 0
There is great interest for Grassroots Peacemaking in many areas around the world. Grassroots Peacemaking Groups, in different parts of the world, take advantage of formal and informal networks of leaders in Rotary, the United Nations, the Holy See and many NGO’s.
Rotarians are active in Grassroots Peacemaking around the world!
In peace, everybody wins! In war, everybody loses!

Studies show that there are no winners in modern wars. Peace is the only way to win. Once the conflicting parties realize this key fact, it becomes in their own self-interest to pursue peace.
1.2 million Rotarians in more than 35,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 215 countries and territories around the world share a passion for enhancing communities and improving lives across the globe. The members embrace their diverse background and unite to exchange new ideas, apply expertise, and implement improvements that transform communities.
Rotary’s peacemaking history goes back to the days when Rotary was active in the creation of the United Nations. The U.S. State Department asked Rotary International to help develop the Statutes of the United Nations. Rotary also organized and managed the United Nations charter meeting in San Francisco 1945. Forty-nine of the delegates from different countries were also Rotarians.
Rotary Grassroots Peacemaking Groups have made positive differences in conflicts between Argentina and Chile, Cyprus, India and Pakistan and between China and Taiwan.
We have also started to see interest for Grassroots Peacemaking in Zimbabwe, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Russia, Ukraine and Mexico.
Rotarians are active in Grassroots Peacemaking 2017-06-04 04:00:00Z 0
The Rotary club’s project trained teachers for an after school program designed to empower girls, like those above, to stay in school.

By Elizabeth Usovicz

Last April, I led a Vocational Training Team (VTT) to Malawi. The global grant project of the Rotary clubs of Limbe (Malawi) and Kansas City-Plaza (Missouri, USA) installed solar lighting in schools and trained primary school teachers in an after-school program designed to empower children, especially girls, to stay in school.

As in many countries, girls in Malawi face several challenge along their path to an education, including early marriage, teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. Malawi is called “The Warm Heart of Africa,” and with an average annual income of about $255 per capita, tenacity is more than an admirable trait. It’s a survival skill. Here are some of the traits, conditions and needs affecting the girls of Malawi in their quest for an education.
Multitasking: Village girls learn how to multitask from their mothers, walking barefoot several times a day from the village water pump with 70-pound buckets of potable water on their heads, babies on their backs, and another child or two by the hand. I saw village girls supervising younger siblings while pounding maize, herding goats, and trying to get homework done. These girls exhibited a tenacity that humbled me.

Tradition: According to a United Nations Development Program background paper on Malawi, 47 percent of girls finish standard 8 – the equivalent of the 8th grade. Family influences, the tradition of early marriage and teen pregnancy can easily discourage a girl’s plans for the future. A girl who intends to go to secondary school and then to college or university must have strong, quiet determination, as well as encouragement.

Role Models: I met dozens of girls who told me they aspired to become businesswomen, doctors, nurses or accountants. Most had never had an opportunity to meet women working in those professions. The village girls who succeed in getting an education are the future role models for other village girls.

My VTT experience has given me a global perspective on the value of girls’ education. With tenacity and encouragement, it’s my hope that the girls of Malawi will reach their aspirations.
The girls of Malawi 2017-05-12 04:00:00Z 0
More than 240 Rotary members and guests gathered in Brussels, Belgium, on 8 March for Rotary at the European Union.
Nikita Philippi
By Bryant Brownlee

More than 240 Rotary members and other guests gathered in Brussels, Belgium, on 8 March for Rotary at the European Union, a special event that explored how Rotary and the European Union can work together to achieve peace.

The meeting was the first of its kind at the European Union (EU) and was modeled on the tradition of Rotary Day at the United Nations. Rotary members, EU officials, and business leaders at the two-hour event asked how business and civil society organizations like Rotary can work with the EU to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build more peaceful and stable societies.
Françoise Tulkens, a professor and former vice president of the European Court of Human Rights, moderated the meeting, which included presentations from Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs, and fisheries; Jean de leu de Cecil, general secretary of the board of Colruyt Group; Rene Branders, president of the Belgian Federation of Chambers of Commerce; and John Hewko, Rotary general secretary.

Vella emphasized the importance of working with business and civil society to achieve the development goals. He also recognized the important role Rotary can play in this global effort.

“You have a massive asset, your vast network, and you can use it to bring community stakeholders together in order to turn the SDGs into reality. Rotary International is uniquely placed to create transformational alliances between business and civil society, pushing forward the implementation of our common agenda,” said Vella.

Hewko highlighted Rotary’s efforts to address the ongoing migration crisis and foster inclusive economic development.
"At Rotary, we believe that we can only respond by forming smart partnerships in which the EU, governments, civil society, the private sector, and other organizations all play an important role. This is why the growing relationship between Rotary and the European Union is a cause for optimism,” said Hewko.
Because the EU supports the global polio eradication effort, organizers of Rotary at the European Union are confident that there are other opportunities for collaboration between the organizations.

The event was coordinated with the European Commission and organized by Michel Coomans and Hugo-Maria Schally, RI representatives to the EU, with the support of Kathleen Van Rysseghem, Philippe Vanstalle, and Nathalie Huyghebaert, the governors of the Rotary districts in Belgium and Luxembourg.
Rotary members meet with EU officials to examine Rotary’s role in achieving peace 2017-05-04 04:00:00Z 0
Kay Fisher, bottom row far right, with her Interact Club in Clemson, South Carolina, USA.
By Kay Fisher, a member of the Rotary Club of North Mecklenburg, North Carolina, USA
Growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, I never learned how to swim, how to play the piano, or how it would feel to go to church on Sunday mornings. The opportunities were there. The new YMCA offered swim lessons, my grandparents bought me a new piano and offered to pay for lessons, and churches were close to my house. But these were all things my dad felt only “plastic people” did.
That was his word for those whose education afforded them a seemingly easy white collar life. My father had dyslexia, a condition not well understood in the 1950’s, and because of it he struggled in school. His insecurities growing up in a college town led him to drinking at an early age. As a plumber, he felt someone who didn’t get their hands dirty working was too self-absorbed on appearances and achievement to care about anything or anyone else.
When I was 13, my mother and I left him in the middle of the night. We moved to the hometown they both shared — Clemson, South Carolina, to live with my grandparents. It was a culture shock to go from suburban Atlanta to a small college town but gave me insight into my dad’s adolescence. Although I felt I was betraying him with my new facade, I decided being accepted in this new environment was more important and I wanted to join the group of kids whose parents he would have called plastic.
Fisher’s high school yearbook photo.
In high school, the most popular extracurricular club was Interact. I joined and developed a love of service. Our club was active and there was a service project almost every week. We tutored elementary students, cleaned highways, visited nursing homes and a few of us went to a battered women’s shelter. I saw these kids as friends who cared about other people and other things greater than themselves.
At the end of the year, our sponsoring club hosted the Interactors at their weekly lunch meeting. We had learned Rotarians were leaders, professionals, business owners and well respected community members. I loved Interact and wanted to learn more about this Rotary Club which had provided me opportunities to serve our community. I read aloud The Four-Way Test and learned Rotary was about Service Above Self. I met Rotarians who were welcoming and took an interest in me. They wanted to know about our club and the projects we had done. The experience forever changed the trajectory of my life and my image of leadership.
I graduated from Clemson University and now run a real estate business with my husband in Cornelius, North Carolina. I am a board member of the Rotary Club of North Mecklenburg, Davidson Lands Conservancy, and Our Town Habitat for Humanity. I am humbled by the opportunities to serve my community and am grateful to those Rotarians who created Interact. A moment of goodwill has the power to change the next generation of leaders.
My path into Rotary 2017-04-30 04:00:00Z 0
By Erin Biba Photo by Andrew Esiebo
For a 13-month-old boy whose family lives in northeastern Nigeria, escaping Boko Haram was only the beginning of a long, difficult journey.
When his family finally arrived at the Muna Garage camp for internally displaced people (IDP), they had walked more than 130 miles in three days. They were starving, and the camp was only a temporary setup with inadequate facilities, housing more than 15,000 people. But the worst news was yet to come. Health officials in the camp determined the baby had polio.
“It was heartbreaking,” says Tunji Funsho, chair of the Nigeria PolioPlus Committee and a member of the Rotary Club of Lekki Phase I. Funsho met the boy on a trip he took in August to three of the country’s IDP camps. “At least (the family was) able to escape Boko Haram. The child was able to walk but with a limp, and was quite malnourished.”
If it weren’t for the polio surveillance system that the World Health Organization (WHO) has in place at every one of Nigeria’s IDP camps, Funsho says, the boy’s polio could have easily gone unnoticed. In fact, it was a shock to the entire polio eradication effort in the country that a case existed at all.
An estimated 15,000 people live in the Muna Garage camp, an informal settlement on private land.
The country hadn’t had a case since July 2014 and had been removed from the list of polio-endemic countries. But in August 2016, routine surveillance methods, which include sampling of sewage and wastewater to look for viruses circulating in the wild as well as monitoring and investigating all cases of paralysis in children, discovered two cases of polio in Borno state – one of them the 13-month-old. (Two more cases were subsequently reported.) Polio wasn’t gone from Nigeria after all.
“The new cases devastated us. Even one case is unacceptable. It’s very unfortunate we are in this position, but we are recalibrating our efforts to end this disease,” Nigeria’s health minister, Isaac Adewole, told Rotary leaders during a meeting at Rotary International World Headquarters at the time. “We consider this situation a national emergency.”

The importance of surveillance
The polio surveillance system, carried out mostly by WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two of Rotary’s partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, consists of several parts. First, doctors and other community health workers such as healers and traditional birth attendants monitor children for paralysis. “Most times cases are not discovered at a medical facility – they’re discovered at home by the volunteer community mobilizers and people who are paying regular visits,” Funsho explains. “They find a child that is limping or unable to use a limb they’ve used before. They’re trained and they know the questions to ask.” If they discover a paralyzed child, the health workers report the case to WHO, which sends a surveillance team to collect stool samples from the child and his or her siblings for testing.
The second part of the surveillance process involves local authorities collecting samples from sewage systems or, in places that don’t have adequate sanitation facilities, rivers and bodies of water near large settlements. The samples are sent to a lab, one of 145 in the Global Polio Laboratory Network, which looks for the poliovirus. If it is found, the samples go on to a more sophisticated lab where scientists perform genetic sequencing to identify the strain and map where and when it has been seen before.
The worldwide scale of these surveillance efforts is massive and costs roughly $100 million every year. For the most part, these activities take place only in countries that don’t have adequate health systems already established. In the U.S., for example, if a child showing signs of paralysis visits the doctor, the necessary tests for polio are already a part of the working health system. But in countries that don’t have such a robust system, WHO takes on that responsibility. That means investigating more than 100,000 cases of paralysis around the world every year to rule out polio.
In Nigeria’s IDP camps, surveillance is more complicated. Before people enter, they are screened by security agencies (there have been several cases of suicide bombers trying to infiltrate the camps). Next, at the camp’s health facility, doctors evaluate the new arrivals’ overall health and screen them for polio. Volunteers then document what villages they have traveled from, using the information to track who is in the camp, where they are within the camp, and who their family members are.
Poliovirus in Nigeria last summer shocked eradication efforts 2017-04-21 04:00:00Z 0
Lerch, third from left in rear, at a round table discussion with her Coalition colleagues and women in the Afghan military.
By Bethany Lerch, former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, 2010-2011

I knew little about Rotary eight years ago when my former high school counselor encouraged me to apply for an Ambassadorial Scholarship. He was retired, but still active in Rotary, and knew a master’s was my next step. At the time, I had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and knew I needed to go to graduate school. But where and how?

Through a Google search, I learned Rotary was an international service organization. Intrigued, I applied for the scholarship and made it to the district interview, where I was asked what I wanted to do, really do. The question took me by surprise. Unsure how to answer, I stuttered that I hoped to change the world someday. I remember looking at the floor thinking, how far-fetched.

Less than a week later, I received the call that I had been selected. What if, I wondered, my acceptance had to do with wanting to “change the world” someday?

The University of Saint Andrews was my graduate school home. I pursued Terrorism Studies in hopes of better understanding the phenomenon that was killing so many, so often. In spring, two faculty members took me and a dozen classmates to the Middle East to see the context of that particular enduring conflict for ourselves. It was crushing.

I zeroed in on Afghanistan with my research, marveling at the country and investigating its history of, and tendency toward, violence as a means to an end. If ever there was a country that baffled historians and social scientists, Afghanistan is it. From the Anglo-Afghan wars to the Taliban to Al Qaeda, Afghanistan remains a bit mysterious.

It took four years of independent work and international travel before I finally made it to Afghanistan as a trainer on Gender Integration and Resource Management with the U.S. government. My job was to meet incoming Coalition personnel and teach them about the overall mission, as well as the country’s political and cultural terrain.

I arrived believing in making a change, forging ahead with equal rights for women, and telling others about doing the same. Less than a month later, a young Afghan woman named Farkhunda was brutally killed by a mob in downtown Kabul. Big questions set in. Mostly I wondered if we had the right approach: What if it was all too much, too soon?

My second job in Kabul took me from NATO headquarters into the city, where I worked with Afghan consultants to help their countrymen in the Ministries of Defense and Interior. Our team included strong Afghan women. Zahra was one of them. She demonstrated competence, courage, and commitment to rebuilding her country.

Zahra explained that she hoped to attend graduate school abroad. Like my guidance counselor before me, I told her about Rotary scholarships. Unfortunately, when we turned to Afghanistan-based Rotary groups, we found them unable to facilitate the global grant application.

As an alternative, I turned back to my hometown Rotary clubs in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA. Would they be willing to help Zahra? They were.

The Afghan Education Project kicked off with a small group: representatives from two Oshkosh Rotary clubs, folks from the University of Wisconsin campus in Oshkosh, and I (in Kabul). The university waived out-of-state tuition; a Rotary club provided the sponsor letter to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul; and Rotarians donated to fund the cost of Zahra’s in-state tuition for a graduate degree in Educational Leadership and Policy.

Now in her second semester, Zahra has achieved all A’s. She is gainfully employed on-campus, for which she receives free room and board and meals. She is researching more about women’s access to education in Afghanistan, specifically how ethnicity and regional cultural norms impact their access. Upon her return to Afghanistan, she plans to work in educational policy. She’d like to integrate more literacy components, diversity lessons, and tolerance best-practices into the national curriculum.

I’ve always suspected that changing the world is possible. Rotary helped change my world, then did the same for Zahra. Just as Rotary makes a difference through its global organization and local presence, so, too, will Zahra’s future leadership in Afghan education make a difference for countless young students in Kabul and beyond.

Bethany Lerch is the founding President of Rotaract Oshkosh, graduate of the University of Saint Andrews, and former Coalition Military Advisor in Kabul, Afghanistan. For more information on the Afghan Education Project, including how to support it, visit www.able-to.org.
Changing the world is possible, through Rotary 2017-04-07 04:00:00Z 0
More than 240 Rotary members and guests gathered in Brussels, Belgium, on 8 March for Rotary at the European Union.
Nikita Philippi
By Bryant Brownlee

More than 240 Rotary members and other guests gathered in Brussels, Belgium, on 8 March for Rotary at the European Union, a special event that explored how Rotary and the European Union can work together to achieve peace.

The meeting was the first of its kind at the European Union (EU) and was modeled on the tradition of Rotary Day at the United Nations. Rotary members, EU officials, and business leaders at the two-hour event asked how business and civil society organizations like Rotary can work with the EU to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build more peaceful and stable societies.

Françoise Tulkens, a professor and former vice president of the European Court of Human Rights, moderated the meeting, which included presentations from Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs, and fisheries; Jean de leu de Cecil, general secretary of the board of Colruyt Group; Rene Branders, president of the Belgian Federation of Chambers of Commerce; and John Hewko, Rotary general secretary.

Vella emphasized the importance of working with business and civil society to achieve the development goals. He also recognized the important role Rotary can play in this global effort.

“You have a massive asset, your vast network, and you can use it to bring community stakeholders together in order to turn the SDGs into reality. Rotary International is uniquely placed to create transformational alliances between business and civil society, pushing forward the implementation of our common agenda,” said Vella.

Hewko highlighted Rotary’s efforts to address the ongoing migration crisis and foster inclusive economic development.
"At Rotary, we believe that we can only respond by forming smart partnerships in which the EU, governments, civil society, the private sector, and other organizations all play an important role. This is why the growing relationship between Rotary and the European Union is a cause for optimism,” said Hewko.

Because the EU supports the global polio eradication effort, organizers of Rotary at the European Union are confident that there are other opportunities for collaboration between the organizations.

The event was coordinated with the European Commission and organized by Michel Coomans and Hugo-Maria Schally, RI representatives to the EU, with the support of Kathleen Van Rysseghem, Philippe Vanstalle, and Nathalie Huyghebaert, the governors of the Rotary districts in Belgium and Luxembourg.
Rotary members meet with EU officials to examine Rotary’s role in achieving peace 2017-04-03 04:00:00Z 0
Ghana, a country with a population of 28 million on West Africa’s Gold Coast, was once famous for its gold. Today, it’s one of the world’s major suppliers of cocoa and also produces oil and diamonds. But even in a country with all of these precious commodities, it may be that nothing is as valuable, particularly in rural areas, as clean water — liquid gold. Since 2009, Rotary and USAID, the world’s largest government organization to deliver civilian foreign aid to address extreme poverty, have worked together to support lasting, positive change by improving access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries like Ghana.

As Rotary marks World Water Day on 22 March, Rotarians are invited to learn more about the Rotary International-USAID International H2O Collaboration, how it solves seemingly unsolvable problems in Ghana, and how those approaches can be used in other countries.

“We do more than just provide clean water and sanitation. We help bring about lasting change through education and advocacy — showing people what to do with the new resources and ensuring policies are in place to preserve the changes,” says Erica Gwynn, Rotary International’s manager of the RI-USAID partnership.

For 2015-18, the collaboration has committed $4 million each to Ghana, Madagascar, and Uganda. Rotary is providing $2 million of the total per country, with $200,000 for each country needing to be raised by individual Rotarians, clubs, and districts.

Work is underway in Ghana, with 91 communities scheduled to have new wells by 2018, establishing an improved water source, reducing illness, and increasing quality of life for residents. The project in Ghana will also add 122 latrines in schools and health clinics, bringing sanitation facilities to thousands in rural areas. But providing access to clean water and sanitation is only part of the project. Extensive hygiene and sanitation training will be offered in each community, in partnership with local Rotarians and Global Communities, an international nonprofit that is working with USAID to provide local contractors. Rotarians will also work with local and national governments to advocate for improving water and sanitation policies.
Rotary-US AID Bring Liquid Gold to Ghana 2017-03-25 04:00:00Z 0
Lt. D.F. Pace speaks to the Rotary Club of Philadelphia. Members encouraged then-Commissioner Charles Ramsey to solicit applications for the peace fellowship.
By Bryan Smith Photograph by Matt Stanley

The tension is palpable as we cruise through a neighborhood of dilapidated row houses in one of the toughest parts of Philadelphia. Buildings jaggedly rise from the street – like a mouth full of busted teeth.  Lt. D.F. Pace nods to acknowledge a stare. He understands.  

In his 15-year career with the Philadelphia Police Department, Pace has taken pride in being naturally tolerant and level-headed, qualities that helped him rise through the ranks.

But he is human. To maintain a level head under pressure, at times he uses several techniques he learned through the Rotary Peace Fellowship program.
In 2010, Pace applied for the intensive three-month professional certificate program in Thailand. The idea had come to then-Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey through a suggestion from the Philadelphia Rotary Club, the 19th-oldest Rotary club in the world. Pace relished the challenge. “As soon as I saw it, I said, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’”  

Even before events like what happened in Ferguson (Mo.), I saw an unease developing between police and the community. I thought, ‘If we don’t get a handle on this, the lid’s going to come off.’ Lt. D.F. Pace saw the fellowship as a way to defuse a developing powder keg. “Even before events like what happened in Ferguson [Mo.], I saw an unease developing between police and the community,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘If we don’t get a handle on this, the lid’s going to come off.’”

The growing tension between police and residents also troubled members of the Philadelphia Rotary Club. They considered a few ideas until Joseph Batory, then scholarship chair of the club, had a light-bulb moment: the peace fellowship.

“Sometimes the obvious is right in front of us,” says Batory. “It finally dawned on me that a police officer is at the very forefront of violence prevention and peacebuilding and, as such, would be a great fit for Rotary’s three-month certification program.”

In D.F. Pace, known as “D” to friends, Batory believed the club had found the perfect candidate: “He was an up-and-coming young lieutenant with patrol experience on the streets, but he’s also a lawyer and thus well-versed in the legal aspects of proper policing,” he says. “He reflected Commissioner Ramsey’s vision of creating a new generation of police officers with enhanced professionalism, dramatically improved judgment, and dedication to being instruments of peace.”

Friction, racial and otherwise, between police and the people they protect is not new. But the killings of unarmed black men by police in recent years, captured on camera phones and broadcast on the nightly news, have indeed touched a match to the kindling that Pace and others saw piling higher and higher.
Philadelphia has not had the kind of headline-grabbing police-involved shootings that St. Louis, Chicago, and New York have had. However, it ranks in the top 20 in murder and crime rates among big cities in the United States. Almost from day one, Ramsey (who retired in January 2016) looked for innovative ways to avoid the former and reduce the latter.

“Ramsey’s a forward thinker,” says Pace. “He was always looking for ways to infuse new ideas into his police department.” Even so, when Philadelphia Rotary Club members pitched the peace fellowship to Ramsey, they kept their expectations low. But when Batory met with the commissioner, Ramsey took out a notepad and listened intently. He liked the idea and put out a citywide memorandum inviting officers to apply.

Each year, Rotary selects up to 100 individuals from around the world to receive fully funded academic fellowships at a peace center. These fellowships cover tuition and fees, room and board, round-trip transportation, and all internship and field-study expenses.

In just over a decade, the Rotary Peace Centers have trained more than 1,000 fellows for careers in peacebuilding. Many of them go on to serve as leaders in national governments, nongovernmental organizations, the military, and international organizations like the United Nations and World Bank.
Pace says his cohort included a labor relations specialist, a women’s rights advocate, educators, and lawyers.
Police officer takes the lessons of the Rotary peace program to the streets of Philadelphia 2017-03-16 04:00:00Z 0
By Jane Lawicki

What motivates everyday women to do extraordinary things — to positively change the lives of people halfway around the world while inspiring so many folks at home?
Three Rotary members answered that question at a celebration of International Women’s Day hosted by the World Bank at its Washington, D.C., headquarters 8 March.
Razia Jan, the founder and director of the Zabuli Education Center, was honored on International Women's Day.  

Speaking to an audience of more than 300, with thousands listening to the live-stream, Razia Jan, Deborah Walters, and Ann Lee Hussey told their personal stories and explained what inspired them to build a girls school in Afghanistan, assist people living in a Guatemala City garbage dump, and lead more than 24 teams to immunize children in Africa and Asia.

“I’m so inspired to see the faces of the children, what they’re learning, how to stand up for their rights, to have ambition ... to want to do things that may even be impossible — to have dreams,” said Jan, a member of the Rotary Club of Duxbury, Massachusetts, USA.
An Afghan native now living in the United States, Jan has worked for decades to build connections between Afghans and Americans while improving the lives of young women and girls in Afghanistan.

Founder and director of the Zabuli Education Center, a school that serves more than 625 girls in Deh’Subz, Afghanistan, Jan said the first class of students graduated in 2015 and a women’s college will open soon.
Dr. Deborah Walters, a member of the Rotary Club of Unity, was honored by the World Bank at International Women's Day.  
The girls school teaches math, English, science, and technology, along with practical skills to prepare them to achieve economic freedom within a challenging social environment.

 Walters, a neuroscientist and member of the Rotary Club of Unity, Maine, USA, has served as a volunteer for Safe Passage (Camino Seguro), a nonprofit organization that provides educational and social services to children and families who live in a Guatemala City garbage dump.

Walters, known as the “kayaking grandmother,” traveled from her home in Maine to Guatemala in a small kayak to raise awareness of the plight of the residents.
Hussey, a member of the Rotary Club of Portland Sunrise, Maine, has made the eradication of polio and the alleviation of suffering by polio survivors her life’s work.

A polio survivor herself, she’s spent the past 14years leading teams of Rotary volunteers to developing countries to immunize children during National Immunization Days.

Ann Lee Hussey was honored for her lifelong work in polio eradication.
She often chooses to lead or participate in NIDs in places that don’t often see Westerners: Bangladesh, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and remote areas of Egypt and India. There, the need is greatest, and the publicity and goodwill that the trips foster are critical in communicating the urgency of the need for immunizations.

“These women exemplify what the World Bank is striving to attain every day with the twin goals of ending extreme poverty within a generation and boosting shared prosperity,” said Daniel Sellen, chair of the World Bank Group Staff Association. “They illustrate the power of women to change the world and improve people’s lives through innovative and impactful projects in education, economic development, and health.”
Women share stories of humanitarian service on International Women's Day 2017-03-12 05:00:00Z 0
Head of Ritaliza Secondary School, Sister Mary Masway, and Sister in Charge Upendo Rehabilitation Home, Sister Maryagatha Massae.
With the support of a group of New Zealand Rotarians, leprosy victims and their families in Tanzania are receiving the care they deserve.
When PDG Stuart Batty and the late John Somerville travelled to Tanzania in 2001, their journey took them to the Upendo Rehabilitation Home for Leprosy Sufferers in Maji ya Chai. The centre was home to 150 men, women and children, including widows of leprosy victims and families where both parents suffered the debilitating, though curable, condition.
The Rotary Club of Arusha, Tanzania, established the home in 1995, providing accommodation for leprosy sufferers and their families. Prior to this, victims had been forced to scrape together a living on the streets and take up residence on a nearby riverbank. Upendo, which means “cared for with love”, improved their welfare considerably, though improvements were necessary to make facilities and resources accessible.
John and Stuart asked how New Zealand Rotarians could assist the effort. The suggestion of helping the children of Upendo led to the launch of Project CHEF, an acronym for Clothe, House, Educate and Feed.Since then, many children have been assisted by the effort, such as Monica Maiko, who has been supported by the Rotary Club of East Coast Bays, NZ, since she was a baby, with the nickname “Happy”.
Rotary oversaw the transference of Upendo’s management to the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in 2003, who specialise in the care of the sick. Previously, the sisters would bicycle up the long and dusty road to Upendo each week to tend to the foot and leg sores of those with leprosy. Rotary’s offer to the sisters to take up residence at Upendo was happily accepted.
In the years since, they have greatly improved l iving condi t ions and provision of health care services and hygiene education. The sisters, with Rotary’s support, further prepare the children for formal schooling and encourage residents to realise their potential, despite their circumstances.
Thankfully, leprosy rates in the area have declined in the decades since Upendo’s establishment, with the facility instrumental in reducing incidence and spread. Today, Upendo has branched out to care for the poorest of the poor, as well as leprosy sufferers.
Monica is currently attending St Ritaliza Secondary School, a boarding school close to the Kenyan border. Stuart recently returned to Tanzania and was delighted to meet Monica, accompanied by Head Sister Agatha of Upendo.

“New Zealand Rotarians can be proud of their contribution to helping children like Monica on their way to a now bright future,” Stuart said.
Cared for with love With the support of a group of New Zealand Rotarians, leprosy victims and their families in Tanzania are receiving the care they deserve.
Cared for with love 2017-03-04 05:00:00Z 0
Monitor Correspondent Allie Morris reports on GSE Trip to India 2017-02-26 05:00:00Z 0
Abdikheir “Abdi” Ahmed, a 2011-12 Rotary Peace Fellow and immigration partnership coordinator for the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.
By Paul Engleman

Refugees who come to Winnipeg often end up living in areas that are predominantly inhabited by indigenous people.
“Newcomers do not know much about the indigenous life and heritage and, without that knowledge, the first thing they encounter is people who are poor and stereotyped by the mainstream community,” says Abdikheir “Abdi” Ahmed, a 2011-12 Rotary Peace Fellow and immigration partnership coordinator for the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. “Indigenous people may see immigrants as encroaching into their neighborhoods. There is tension between both groups.”
Ahmed works to smooth relations, helping them see they have more in common than what divides them. “Integration is a two-way process,” he says.

In recognition of his work, Ahmed received the Order of the Buffalo Hunt, one of the highest honours for public achievement issued by the Manitoba legislature, in January 2016.

“I never thought what I was doing had this significance,” he says. “But I don’t look at what I have done. I look at what needs to be done to bring about better living standards for people.”

Ahmed, 37, may understand the needs of immigrants better than most.

Originally from Somalia, he and his family fled the conflict there and settled in Kenya when he was a child.

My hope is that in the next 20 to 50 years, if we have more Rotary Peace Fellows around the world who are speaking the same language and taking on a leadership role to create an interconnected world, things will change.

Abdikheir “Abdi” Ahmed

As a young adult, he moved to Canada as part of the national resettlement program. He began working with refugee children who were struggling in school while attending the University of Winnipeg, where he earned a degree in international development in 2007.
After graduation, Ahmed began working at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba.

He learned about the Rotary Peace Centers program from Noëlle DePape, a colleague who had earned her master’s degree at the University of Queensland, Australia, through the fellowship.

 After Ahmed completed his own peace fellowship at Queensland, he and DePape worked together to develop a curriculum for a summer course that they teach to high school students at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, part of a Rotary District 5550 (Manitoba and parts of Ontario and Saskatchewan) program called Adventures in Human Rights.

“We help them view the world from the perspective that everyone’s rights are equal and understand the idea of building a community where everyone’s rights are respected and each person is given a fair opportunity,” he says.

In addition to his work in Winnipeg, Ahmed serves on the board of Humankind International, an early childhood learning center that he co-founded at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya with two Somali friends who also immigrated to Winnipeg. He says it serves 150 children with four teachers, and he hopes to expand it to accommodate the many children who have to be turned away.

Despite the suffering he has witnessed and the daily conflicts he works to resolve, Ahmed is optimistic about the prospects for peace and the potential of the peace centers program.

“My hope is that in the next 20 to 50 years, if we have more Rotary Peace Fellows around the world who are speaking the same language and taking on a leadership role to create an interconnected world, things will change,” he says. “I also hope we can find an opportunity for Rotarians and past peace fellows to collaborate on projects in a more defined way.”

Ahmed and his wife, Saadi, have three sons. He says their oldest, Mohamed, 9, dreams of playing in the NBA and says that with the money he earns, he will build houses for the homeless people he sees on his way to school.

Ibrahim, 7, wants to be a firefighter so he can save people. One-year-old Yussuf has not announced any career plans yet.
Manitoba honors Rotary Peace Fellow for public achievement 2017-02-26 05:00:00Z 0
Students show off their construction skills by making kites out of newspapers during classes supported by the science education program.

By Pauline Leung, a member of the Rotary Club of Taipei Pei An, Taiwan, and past governor of District 3520

On a rainy day in Spring four years ago, I was talking to a few young teachers about the education system in Taiwan. The country was on the verge of extending free education to children through the age of 12, which I thought was a good policy to reduce illiteracy.
However, the teachers had concerns about the impact of the policy on schools in remote areas of Taiwan that have less resources and thereby have a harder time staying competitive. They explained to me that the children in these schools don’t get the extra curriculum trainings necessary to have opportunities to attend college or university.

In January 2014, a report titled “Child Welfare League Foundation” noted a considerable gap between urban and rural areas. The lack of resources in remote areas led to poorer performance by children, many of who were aborigines. Since these children could never catch up, roughly a quarter of them consider dropping out of elementary school. Improving basic education seemed to be extremely crucial in helping eliminate poverty in these areas.

We started to discuss what we as Rotarians could do to help. Our team of professional educators decided we should improve their understanding of basic science, their weakest area, and make it more interesting for them. It was important to do this during their elementary school years, so that they could continue on to senior school and pursue university studies.

In our research, we learned that the National Science Council of Taiwan was cooperating with the Zhong Hwa Institute of Creative Education, to use creative tools for science training which not only increased the learner’s creativity, but also made science lessons more interesting and practical. This was exactly what we needed.

To make our project sustainable, we will provide teachers specialized in this creative science approach not only to teach fourth through sixth graders, but also train the local teachers in order that they can carry on the training for future classes.

The Rotary Club of Taipei Pei An applied for a global grant in 2013. A few other Rotary clubs also joined as well as a district in Korea.
The big smiles on the children’s faces the first time we watched them get excited about learning and use their own hands to explore basic theories of science like simple machines, levers, wheels, axles, gears, pulleys, and energy confirmed that we were doing the right thing. We told ourselves this was just the beginning.

In three years, we used Rotary Foundation funds to reach 20 schools. This year, we are entering into our fourth year and reaching more schools. Thanks to District 3600 and 3700 who used their DDF to become our international partner these past three years, we have been able to carry on a great service program, and believe we will be able to help more remote schools and children into the future.

We are convinced that our contributions to The Rotary Foundation are certainly doing good in the world and serving future generation.
Getting creative with science in rural Taiwan 2017-02-17 05:00:00Z 0
Pakistan and Rotary are cutting through a whirl of migrating families and cultural barriers to turn what was 'a badge of shame' into a model for disease eradication.

By Ryan Hyland Produced by Miriam Doan

At a busy toll plaza in Kohat, Pakistan, a three-member vaccination team is working fast.

Outfitted in blue Rotary vests and flanked by armed military personnel, the vaccinators approach a white van as it pulls away from the scattered stream of traffic, cars rattling east toward Islamabad and west to the nearby border with Afghanistan. One worker leans toward the driver to ask a question as another reaches into a cooler to prepare the vaccine. Among the crush of passengers in the van, they identify one child who has not yet been vaccinated.
There is no time for second-guessing.

There is not even enough room for the boy to crawl toward the front of the vehicle or through one of the doors; a relative must hand the young child to the vaccinators through one of the rear windows. He is quickly inoculated with two drops of oral polio vaccine, and his pinkie finger is stained with purple ink to indicate that he’s received his dose. He cries as the vaccinator hurriedly passes him back through the window. The van speeds off, fading back into the dizzying hum of traffic, as the vaccinators look for the next car and child.

This scene plays out thousands of times a day at transit posts like this one — makeshift vaccination clinics set up at bus stops, border crossings, army posts, and police checkpoints across the country in an effort to reach children who are on the move.

Here in Pakistan, home to almost all of the world’s polio cases just a few years ago, these moving targets require a vaccination strategy as agile and stubborn as the virus itself. At hundreds of sites, teams of health workers verify that every child passing through receives the vaccine.

The interaction is fleeting — faster than getting a meal at a drive-through restaurant — but the benefit is permanent. Another child, another family, another generation is protected, and Pakistan moves one step closer to having zero polio cases.
Pakistan Polio Update 2017-01-19 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary members and Rotaractors took part in World Polio Day activities as part of the West Africa Project Fair.
By Shapreka Clarke, president of the Rotaract Club of Eleuthera, The Bahamas

After an 18-hour flight from The Bahamas, I finally arrived in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on 19 October to participate in the 11th West Africa Project Fair. As I stepped off the plane onto African soil for the first time, I did not know the adventure that was ahead of me, the lasting friendships I would make or how my life would forever be changed. That first moment getting off the plane, I remember being very excited and a little nervous.

Through the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati in California, I was able to embark on this journey with 34 fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors from the United States and The Bahamas. The West Africa Project Fair, the primary purpose of our trip, gave our group an opportunity to discover the various projects Rotarians across Africa are undertaking. It also allowed us to form partnerships with projects we were interested in supporting.

While at the fair, I presented with Rotaractors and Rotarians from the Bahamas, California, and Yenagoa, Nigeria, about our joint Telemedicine Project. Telemedicine allows doctors from California to connect with doctors in under-served areas to consult on diagnoses and treatment plans. Despite the distance, doctors have consistent access to mentors and educational opportunities through telemedicine. Our booth raised awareness about the project and encouraged clubs across Africa to participate, while forming new partnerships with clubs in the United States.

This trip allowed me to better understand how important Rotary is in other parts of the world. I was given an opportunity to engage in field work in the local communities, create strong friendships with the West African Rotarians and Rotaractors, and participate in hands-on humanitarian and health-related work.  It was truly a life changing opportunity.
How my first trip to Africa changed my life 2017-01-15 05:00:00Z 0
Cap City Sponsored GSE Team Member Ali Morris 2017-01-14 05:00:00Z 0
The Choluteca bridge is a suspension bridge in Honduras built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1935 and 1937.

By Neal Beard, a member of the Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA
For the past eleven years, I have traveled to Honduras with many other Rotarians to help on numerous Rotary humanitarian projects in the southwestern part of Honduras near the Pacific Ocean and in the mountains along the Nicaraguan border.

A homestead in southwestern Honduras.

The journey there takes me from Lawrenceburg via Nashville and Atlanta to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and then down a long mountain road that connects with the Pan-American Highway that crosses this bridge. The journey is not as important as what lies on the other side of the bridge. On the other side lies my destination and that is where the adventure begins.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers built this bridge between 1935 and 1937. It is one of the few replicas of the Golden Gate Bridge that still exists, and it controls the flow of traffic from Guatemala to Panamá.

It serves as a metaphor for our work in Honduras, where we try to be a bridge between the advances and prosperity that we enjoy in the United States today and the less-advanced conditions and poverty that lies on the other of the bridge.

For me, it is like traveling back in time about 50 years. It so much reminds me of the poverty and conditions of my early childhood when some homes around us still did not have electricity. A time when we had to rely on the charity of others, when most of the clothes that we wore were used, purchased at a secondhand store, or given to us. A time when we raised most of our food, milked cows, slopped hogs, and raised chickens. A time when we were proud of the things we had and were happy and unknowing of the prosperity that many enjoyed beyond our kin.

Helping the people of Honduras have a better, healthier life is rewarding for me; it’s a way of going back and helping that young woman and child and his brothers and sisters – the young woman and siblings of my youth.

You can’t pay back all of the people who helped you become who you are, but you can pay it forward and help others – that is the reward of Rotary’s humanitarian service in our world.
Crossing the Choluteca bridge 2017-01-08 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary - We've been doing good in the world for 100 years 2016-12-28 05:00:00Z 0
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays 2016-12-21 05:00:00Z 0
For the eighth year in a row, Capital City Sunrise provided Holiday entertainment and a ham dinner for the residents of the Crutchfield building apartments, designated for eligible elderly (age 62 and over) and disabled adults.

Cap City Spreads Holiday Cheer 2016-12-17 05:00:00Z 0
The Mission:  The GSE program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for young business profes­sionals in their initial years of professional life. Rotary districts in differ­ent countries are paired to send and receive professional study groups of four to six non-Rotarian team members and one Rotarian team leader to travel for four to six weeks, staying in the homes of Rotarians when possible.
DG McMann put the word out that he wants to support a GSE team in his year as the Governor.  To fit this mission, a GSE team from our district will visit Rotary District 3181 in January for three weeks.  We will also have an opportunity to host a delegation from Mysore later in the year.  Incidentally Mysore and Nashua are working on a sister city relationship, and this trip will go a long way in fostering this relationship.
The Team: The District GSE committee was convened and selected a GSE team.  The Rotarian team lead is Claudine Husainy from the Milford Club, and four non-Rotarians were selected from more than 10 applicants. The team of non-Rotarians heading out to Mysore are: Suzanne Delaney: Educator & business owner (sponsored by the Nashua Club); Nina Giannotti: International Student Advisor at New England College (sponsored by the Henniker Club); Sarah Marchant: Community Development Director, city of Nashua (sponsored by the Milford Club) and Allison Morris: Journalist, reporter with the Concord Monitor (sponsored by the Capital City Sunrise Club in Concord).
Shown in the picture: Suzanne, Sarah & Nina, Claudine & Allison
The Assignment: During the visit to Mysore, the GSE team members want to observe and learn about the local history and culture, while sharing their own culture with their hosts.  They also want to meet professionals in their fields.    
  • Team lead Claudine:  In addition to leading the team, Claudine would like to continue Peace Projects with youth in India, visit schools and Rotary youth clubs during her visit.
  • Suzanne: wants to learn how children and young adults are prepared and encouraged to use and develop emerging technologies and become innovators
  • Nina: works with students from India at NEC. During her time in India, Nina is excited to directly experience her students’ culture, especially in educational settings. On her return her goal is to share her knowledge with others on campus and increase cultural understanding and thereby bridge the gaps that inevitably occur.
  • Sarah: is looking forward to learning about land use and transportation planning in India and how the Development Authority operates.
  • Allison: is excited to learn how journalists cover local events, especially politics, and how they interview subjects
Join me in wishing them well on the trip.  Upon their return they will be debriefed at the District 7870 conference in April.  I, for one, look forward to hearing about their experiences. 
Submitted by: Krishna Mangipudi, 2016-17 GSE Team Logistics Coordinator
Group Study Exchange (GSE) to Mysore, India  2016-12-17 05:00:00Z 0
On Wednesday, over breakfast with the Rotary Club of Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Dick Smith announced a donation of AU$1 million to Rotary (about US$750,000), citing admiration of Rotary members for the time they devote to others.
The Rotary Australia Benevolent Society (RABS) will administer the funds.

“With 29,500 Rotarians in 1,100 clubs throughout Australia, we have an army of volunteers eager to assist those in need,” says Michael Perkins, RABS chair. “The impact of this donation will be felt throughout all of Australia, from the cities to the Outback. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Smith for trusting Rotary to use his donation to expand our work in this country.”

The society will distribute the funds to Australian Rotary clubs for community service projects, beginning in February. Smith and his wife, Pip, will determine eligibility criteria.

In 1968, the couple invested in a small taxi radio repair company that grew into a multimillion-dollar electronics retailer. In the 1980s and 1990s, Smith founded Australian Geographic magazine and launched a major food brand, and his aviation feats claimed headlines. In 1983, he completed the first solo helicopter flight around the world.

Smith has contributed to a range of social causes, including Rotary’s polio eradication campaign.

Rotary News
Australian entrepreneur announces $1 million gift to Rotary 2016-12-11 05:00:00Z 0
Members of the Rotary Club of Little Rock, Ark. and Heifer International staff work together to build a hoop house to seal in heat and extend the growing season for farmer Joe Carr.
Photo Credit: Miriam Doan/Rotary International
“Agriculture is the lifeblood of Arkansas; it’s the state’s original business,” says Sharon Tallach Vogelpohl, an Arkansas Rotarian for nearly 20 years. But that business has become more challenging in recent years as row-crop farming has become more commoditized, making it difficult for families who have been farming for generations to make an adequate living.

Vogelpohl, who was club president during the Rotary Club of Little Rock’s centennial year in 2014, says club members wanted to mark the milestone with a project that would have a lasting, local impact. “With all the good that Rotary has done internationally, we wondered what we could do to bring that good home here in Arkansas, which is a very impoverished state,” she says. “What could we do to help our friends and neighbors in our own backyard?” The conversation quickly turned to a farming project.

The Little Rock club (nicknamed “Club 99” because it was the 99th Rotary club chartered) meets weekly at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, which is a tomato’s throw from the headquarters of Heifer International. Heifer is a nonprofit, founded in 1944, that seeks to end hunger and poverty through sustainable agriculture. Given the proximity – and that several Heifer employees are members of the Rotary Club of Little Rock, including Ardyth Neill, president of the Heifer Foundation, and Ben Wihebrink, operations director for Heifer USA – the two organizations teamed up to help Arkansas farmers.

Around the world, Heifer teaches farmers how to increase production sustainably and access new markets. It also helps small-scale farmers form cooperatives, where locals can buy produce directly. The goal is to increase a farmer’s profits by about 30 percent while providing the community with more locally grown produce. A key component of Heifer’s method, and the Arkansas project, is the formation of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) network – a food subscription service in which consumers buy produce in advance at a fixed price, guaranteeing farmers a market for their crops, regardless of how weather or other factors may affect their output.

In Arkansas, Rotarians fund Heifer’s training efforts, including an informational video, and members offer advice in their areas of expertise, like marketing, finance, and business planning. “Heifer helps the farmers with technical expertise,” Neill says. “Rotary gives them access to individual club members who want to help them directly. That means local folks helping local folks to make a difference.”

The project plan calls for the establishment of a financially independent cooperative by 2018, with 45 or 50 farmers. As of last spring, the cooperative had more than 20 farmers. The CSA network, which had more than 150 shareholders in its first year, grew to 400 in its second. While the project is focused on lifting the economy of Arkansas, which has a poverty rate of 19.2 percent, Wihebrink says Heifer wants to replicate the model. “Once we have the model proven, if we go into Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, or another high-need area, the Rotary club will be a natural in,” he says.

The Little Rock club received a global grant of $60,000 in 2013 to fund the project. Individual Rotarians support the initiative by purchasing CSA shares and using their relationships and connections to bring others into the fold. For example, a Rotary connection resulted in Baptist Health, the largest nonprofit hospital system in Arkansas, agreeing to buy CSA shares for use in its cafeteria. The hospital also created an opportunity for its employees. “Rotarian Troy Wells, CEO of Baptist Health, committed to a block of shares which were remarketed to Baptist Health employees with the incentive of being able to purchase them through a payroll deduction program,” Vogelpohl explains. “Baptist Health has been a great partner to the cooperative by promoting the CSA program to its employees and by purchasing shares for use in its cafeteria.”

Wes Ward, Arkansas’ secretary of agriculture, says the conditions are right for the project to succeed. He cites a Heifer study that calculated that Arkansas spends more than $7 billion a year on food, with about $6.3 billion of that food coming from outside the state. “There’s a significant opportunity [to provide local food] in Arkansas, and small-scale producers can take advantage of it,” Ward says, adding that the time is also right on the consumer side. “People want to know where their food comes from, how it’s produced, and who grew it.”

Vogelpohl concurs. “Over the past several generations, we’ve become pretty disconnected,” she says. “This is a way for us to become more connected to our agrarian roots and culture – by knowing where our food comes from and supporting something that’s making a difference in our economy.”

Still, for a farming project to succeed, there is another obvious need: farmers who want to participate. Enter Joe Carr.

Carr left his job at Whirlpool in 1987 to farm crops full time. In 2003, he started a farmers market that grew to more than 60 vendors. “I come from a family of farmers that go back as far as I can remember, to my grandmother and grandfather in Ukraine,” says Carr, who is 62. “After they migrated to America, my grandmother and grandfather raised sweet corn in Florida. I remember running beside the tractor as they plowed the field. In 1967, we pulled up stakes and moved to Arkansas and got into cattle farming, but I never lost my love for crop farming.”

To help Carr increase profits, volunteers from Rotary and Heifer spent weekends at his farm last fall to build a hoop house – a structure of metal hoops, over which durable greenhouse plastic is tightly stretched to seal in heat from the sun. Carr says that on sunny days, the temperature inside the hoop house, which he refers to as the “high tunnels,” can reach 80 degrees even though the outside temperature is 32 degrees. The hoop house allows him to begin planting earlier than if he had to wait for suitable outdoor conditions and extends his growing season by about three months.

“Building the high tunnels, that was a great boost,” Carr says. “That increased my level of production and increased my income.”

He’s eager to continue to improve. “I need to increase my management skills and knowledge about what I’m doing and how to do it better,” he says. “I’m grateful for the support that I’ve gotten.”

“When you find people like Joe who are committed to growing food in a responsible and sustainable manner, it’s really important to support that,” Vogelpohl says.

So far, Heifer and Rotary’s partnership in Arkansas has brought more local produce to the state and increased profits for farmers. “This project has made sustainable farming a viable way of living for many families,” Vogelpohl adds. “That Heifer and Rotary were able to come together to do that right here in our backyard is really gratifying.”

Paul Engleman
The Rotarian
Rotarians, Heifer International help farmers grow economy 2016-11-26 05:00:00Z 0
The Rotary Responsible Business honorees are, from left: Jean-Paul Faure, Stephanie Woollard, Mercantil Banco Universal representative Luis Calvo Blesa, Larry Wright, Annemarie Mostert, Suresh Goklaney, and Coca-Cola Pakistan representative Fahad Qadir. (Not pictured: Juan Silva Beauperthuy.)
Photo Credit: Monika Lozinska/Rotary International
Outside the United Nations building in midtown Manhattan stands an imposing sculpture of a man wielding a sword in one hand and raising a hammer with the other. It reflects a shared goal that Rotary and the United Nations celebrated at the organizations' annual meeting on Saturday, 12 November: to use our strengths and tools to build a more peaceful and just world.

The theme of this year's Rotary Day at the United Nations, "Responsible Business, Resilient Societies," emphasizes Rotary's role as a global network of business leaders using the tools of their trades to build stronger, more prosperous communities.

In his introductory remarks, Rotary International President John F. Germ drew the crowd's attention to the statue, "Let Us Beat Our Swords Into Ploughshares," as he set the tone for the day, which included breakout sessions and keynote addresses on aspects of responsible business, or the philosophy that for-profit enterprise can contribute to positive social and economic development.

"Here is where the UN and Rotary International are working side by side, equipping communities with the tools they need, and empowering them with the will to use those tools far and wide," he said.

Per Saxegaard, founder and chairman of the Oslo-based Business for Peace Foundation, gave a keynote address on the complex relationship between business and broader society, marked by both tension and opportunity. Despite the perception that profit alone motivates enterprise, he says, commercial success and social progress are closely intertwined.

"Societal needs define markets," he said. "I have met many entrepreneurs in my career, and they all have one thing in common: They see a problem, and they say 'I can fix that, and I can do it cheaper and better.' That is the engine of innovation in business. We need that energy to solve the problems at hand," such as hunger or illiteracy. He pointed to the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN's ambitious roadmap for eliminating poverty by 2030 and highlighted the opportunity for businesses to help achieve them.

Other speakers included UN Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo and UNICEF polio chief Reza Houssaini, who provided an update on the polio eradication campaign.

John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International, introduced eight Rotary Responsible Business honorees, six individuals and two corporate partners whose inclusive business practices are bringing employment, mentoring, education, and innovation to their communities.

The individuals honored were:
    •    Juan Silva Beauperthuy, Rotary Club of Chacao, Venezuela: For 25 years, Beauperthuy has helped keep disadvantaged youths on the right track through Queremos Graduarnos, an education program focused on mentoring and skill development, with support from his engineering firm. Today, the program serves more than 700 students in 18 schools.
    •    Jean-Paul Faure, Rotary Club of Cagnes-Grimaldi, France: To encourage young professionals and provide promising new businesses with training and funding, Faure launched a business contest called Le Trophée du Rotary. Now in its seventh year, the program has drawn support from a major bank and has kept past participants involved as mentors.
    •    Suresh Goklaney, Rotary Club of Bombay, India: Goklaney, executive vice chair of a large manufacturer of UV water purification systems, has led efforts to provide clean water in rural villages and impoverished urban areas throughout India. The project has also established centers where local women can sell clean water to generate income.
    •    Annemarie Mostert, Rotary Club of Southern Africa, South Africa: Mostert formed Sesego Cares, a Johannesburg-based nonprofit, in 2005 to offer education and job training, and to teach entrepreneurship and leadership development to women and children. She also worked with TOMS Shoes to provide 1.3 million pairs of its shoes to the country's poor.
    •    Stephanie Woollard, Rotary Club of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: After meeting seven illiterate craftspeople during a visit to Nepal, Woollard founded Seven Women to help Nepalese women make products to sell abroad. The program, which has trained and employed more than 1,000 women in the past decade, also teaches basic bookkeeping and computer skills.
    •    Larry Wright, Rotary Club of Taylor, Michigan, USA: A master gardener, Wright started his landscaping business with a bank loan in the 1970s. In 2013, he led an effort to adapt a microfinance model that had succeeded abroad to offer microloans, business classes, and mentorship to entrepreneurs in Detroit.
The business partners honored were:
    •    Coca-Cola Pakistan has supported the Rotary Pakistan National PolioPlus Charitable Trust since 2010 to promote polio prevention and awareness, particularly through publicity and projects to provide clean water, in one of the few countries where polio remains endemic.
    •    Mercantil Banco Universal supports a project that has trained 6,000 students in 40 universities across Venezuela in social responsibility and leadership, with the goal of encouraging students to use their academic knowledge to respond to the challenges of underserved communities.

In the afternoon, Rotary member Devin Thorpe spoke about the intersection of profit and purpose. Infusing a corporate program with a sense of social purpose pays off, he says, because it breeds loyalty and satisfaction among both customers and employees.

"When a purpose program is profitable, there is no limit to the good that can come from it," he said. "Corporations are made up of people. We in this room bear the responsibility to shape corporate behavior, it is up to each one of us."

By Sallyann Price
Rotary news

Rotary-UN celebration mixes business with diplomacy 2016-11-19 05:00:00Z 0
Capital City has again led the 60 clubs in District 7870 in per capita giving. The club is proud to support the Rotary Foundation and its commitment in supporting the work the charitable work world wide. The Rotary Foundation is ranked number 1 in Charity Navigator.
Capital City leads District in per capita Foundation giving 2016-11-12 05:00:00Z 0
Rotarians partner with a South African group to teach sewing, computers, textiles, welding, and woodwork to Zulu people. The cost of a sewing class is $1,323.
While the picturesque Valley of 1,000 Hills outside Durban, South Africa, offers stunning scenery to visitors, job prospects for the Zulu people who live on tribal land there are bleak. Three years ago, the nearby Rotary Club of Hillcrest addressed the unemployment rate by partnering with Embocraft, a skills training group serving the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The group offers classes in sewing, computers, textiles, welding, and woodwork, with the goal of alleviating poverty.

Hillcrest Rotarians have co-sponsored four sewing courses, each lasting 15 sessions, for Zulu seniors or others who are unable to travel to industrial areas for employment. "There's not a lot of work available, so people have to travel for jobs. That can require taxis or buses, which are expensive," explains past District Governor Peter Dupen.

The participants – 10 or so in each class – learned to sew basic items such as cushion covers, napkins, and pillowcases on hand-operated machines. The community selected the best students from the first three classes to participate in the fourth, which used electric sewing machines donated by Embocraft and the Rotary clubs of Hillcrest, Winnipeg, Man., and Royston, England.

Hillcrest Rotarians, assisted by the Winnipeg club, made upgrades to the Phakama community center, home to the sewing training class – providing a meeting place for seniors, a kichen area, and a day care center on the other side of the building. The club also added upgraded toilets and wash basins.

The sewing project has been a success, Dupen says, and the participants have sold a number of the items they made. Next, Rotarians will offer training to sew uniforms for the community's schoolchildren – giving the craftspeople some income and making uniforms more affordable to locals. "The whole project is very positive, and we're so happy to work with them," Dupen says.

By Anne Stein
The Rotarian
Sewing skills ease job woes in KwaZulu-Natal 2016-11-12 05:00:00Z 0
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Abalimi Bezekhaya
On a drive along the N2 Freeway in Cape Town, South Africa, travelers speed past endless clusters of corrugated metal shacks that fill the sandy Cape Flats area between the airport and iconic Table Mountain.

“I grew up in this area,” says Lloyd Whitfield, a retired dairy products company owner and member of the Rotary Club of Constantia, pointing out where his family once owned land. “There was just bush. I used to ride horses, and we used to shoot game in this area – there was nothing.”

Now, more than a million people are crowded here, the townships established when black residents were forcibly relocated out of “white areas” during the apartheid years. More recently, the townships are the destination for hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking to benefit from Cape Town’s growing economy.

But the rate of migration has outpaced job growth.

The Constantia Rotary Club has helped set up a community garden and farm training center for young residents in Khayelitsha, the largest township. The club is working with Abalimi Bezekhaya, a local organization that helps create income-producing gardening opportunities in the community, and partnered with Rotary clubs in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany to secure a global grant from The Rotary Foundation worth $46,000, on top of a previous matching grant.

“The philosophy behind both projects is to try to get young people, men and women, into the gardens,” says Kelly Winckworth, treasurer of the Constantia club. “Traditionally, this kind of work is older people, and largely women.”

Settled in a grassy park across from a subdivision of modest brick homes is the Moya we Khaya Peace Gardens plot. The garden adds to Abalimi’s farming capacity and creates more financial stability for the organization.

“We grow everything,” says Abalimi operations director Christina Kaba, who works in the garden with about a dozen others, growing pumpkins, green peppers, basil, thyme, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, and lots of other vegetables and herbs. Those vegetables supply Abalimi’s Harvest of Hope venture, which sells boxes of vegetables to middle-class Capetonians for a monthly fee.

The Constantia Rotary Club first developed a 5,000-square-meter garden on city land with Abalimi in 2013, installing infrastructure such as an irrigation system and protective fencing.

“The first challenge was the land,” says Nancy Maqungo, Abalimi board member and farmer. “We wanted the land from 1995 – think how many years. We’ve attended so many meetings, but we couldn’t get the land. But Rotary helped us. That was the first problem that we had. Getting people to come here was no challenge. They did come.”

In fact, the garden was so popular that community members asked the club to help establish another one. That added 5,000 square meters to the original garden, making it an even hectare (just under 2.5 acres).

Another early problem was the sandy soil. “The soil was very poor,” Whitfield says. Compost and manure were added, but no fertilizers, to keep the soil organic.

Finding enough partners to get the funding for the land presented another challenge. Whitfield, a longtime Rotarian and past district governor, interested other Rotary clubs through his many connections. The project was made more attractive by the team of professionals within the Constantia club, including an architect, engineers, project managers, management trainers, and an accountant.

At the garden in November, the growing season was well underway. Rows of green plants brightened the plot. A hadeda ibis, a brown-gray bird with iridescent wings, picked through the dirt inside a tunnel greenhouse. Part of the tunnel covering had been torn away, stolen to become part of somebody’s shack, Winckworth says.

Despite these occasional setbacks – early in the project, all of the water valves on the Rotary-sponsored irrigation system were stolen – farmers say the garden is a safe oasis in the community, providing income, motivation, and a healthy source of food.

“We chat and we help one another in many ways,” Maqungo says. “We learn a lot, because there are quite a number of vegetables that I didn’t even know. … When I came here I said, ‘Christina, what is this, and how do you – ?’ and I would Google the recipes. And I would share the recipes with other women here.”

As interest in the gardens grew, a third project aimed to redevelop an existing garden and build training facilities for young, unemployed people, who could benefit from the knowledge of the older farmers. Not far from the Moya gardens at another site in Khayelitsha, the Constantia Rotary Club helped set up the Young Farmers Training Centre.

The facility is central to keeping local garden plots in use, says Chris D’Aiuto, Harvest of Hope production coordinator.

“What’s neat about this is not only are we engaging youth who do not have jobs and giving them a vocation, but also we’re able to then say, ‘We have land for you in these other community gardens that have space,’” he says. “So not only does it give meaning to some people’s lives, but then also we’re able to give them the space they need to produce.”

The center completed a trial training session in fall 2015 and launched a formal yearlong training program for nine young people in April. Rotary will stay involved until at least September 2017 to ensure the program can run on its own. To that end, Rotary required Abalimi to partner with another organization, in this case Netherlands-based Avalon.

The training offers both practical instruction and theory, covering topics such as soil preparation, seedling production, cross-pollination, organic growing, and climate change.

“I learned a lot every time I attended the classes,” says Zandile Hlangwana, a 25-year-old farmer. “It was very encouraging to work with other young people practically outside, and the way we just discussed everything inside … I think some of us actually found a way toward what we wanted to do in the future after the apprenticeship.

Nikki Kallio
The Rotarian
Growing a future in Cape Town 2016-09-23 04:00:00Z 0
Peggy Tingle with Neal Beard (left) and
Keith Rohling, president-elect of the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club.
By Neal Beard, a member of the Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA

“I was 18 when I contracted the disease,” Peggy said, as she spoke into a lowered, stationary microphone set up at the front of our meeting room.
She spoke from a motorized wheelchair, reading from her notes.

Peggy was the guest speaker at our club meeting recently, and her story underscored for me why we need to remain committed to eradicating this terrible disease of polio. Statistics are one thing, but when you hear someone’s story who has battled the disease, it takes your emotional resolve to a completely different level.

“I had been married for three years and had a one-year-old daughter when I contracted polio,” Peggy continued.

“One evening my husband and a couple of friends went on a night fishing trip. We girls decided our treat would be to go out and eat burgers and shakes and smoke a cigarette. This was during the ‘50’s…The next morning I woke up very nauseated with a severe headache that quickly got worse. The next day my neck was stiff and very painful. My husband carried me to the doctor, who put me in the hospital for a week of test, but they couldn’t determine what was wrong. I talked the doctor into letting me go home, but when I stepped up to go inside, my knee collapsed and I fell to the floor.”
In the polio ward

Peggy saw another doctor who suspected polio and sent her to Nashville’s Vanderbilt Hospital, which confirmed it, beginning a year and a half of therapy at the hospital’s polio treatment center.

“Vanderbilt had an entire floor that was the polio ward. Many people, all ages, from several states were there. They had iron lungs, rocking beds, and portable breathing machines to help the ones who needed it. There was only one elevator to that floor. There was a little open-air room you could visit with relatives on the weekends.”

“I never cried, even when the therapy was very painful. Sometimes a tear would fall out, but one day the main doctor came in and rubbed a sharp instrument on the bottom of my foot. I was able to feel some of it. Then he said, ‘Wiggle your big toe for me.’ I tried my hardest to move my big toe but it would not move. That’s when I finally broke down and cried. To this day, I still cannot move that big toe.”

Peggy was eventually able to return home, where she continued therapy there with the use of braces. The doctors initially told her husband that she would never walk again, but he kept that opinion from her for more than 20 year. Without that to deter her, she eventually learned to walk again, with only a slight limp and halting step.

“I wanted my family to have a normal mom and a normal life too,” she said. “If the school asked the parents to send a cake or pie for some event, I would send them two. My daughter said that she never knew that I was crippled until she attended college.”

Post-polio syndrome

A few years ago, Peggy began to lose the strength in her legs and her overall endurance began to wane. Post-polio syndrome, a wearing out of the good muscles that have been overused to compensate for the atrophied ones, had set in.
She finally had to accept the fact that she needed a motorized wheelchair to get around.  In addition, she purchased a specially designed mini-van with sliding side door and access ramp. It is even equipped with hand controls for braking and acceleration to allow her to drive.
Peggy’s story moved our members to donate more than $3,000 to the PolioPlus campaign and our club isn’t finished yet. I hope her story will motivate you to help us End Polio Now.

Thank you and God bless you Peggy Tingle.
Polio survivor’s fight to live a normal life 2016-09-16 04:00:00Z 0
Minda Dentler becomes the first woman hand cyclist to complete the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle, and 26.2-mile marathon of the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA.
I was born in 1978 in Mumbai to a domestic worker and single mother. At six months old, I was paralyzed from the hips down by polio. The chances of surviving in India until your 18th birthday with a disability are very slim. My mother was unable to care for me and left me at an orphanage. I don't remember much about my time there because I was so young, but I know the conditions were primitive. I had no real hope that my life would become anything of note or that I would have the opportunity to be independent and overcome the burden of a very preventable disease.

I didn't know it then, but several years after I was born, a revolution in the way the world approached polio prevention came to India. That revolution was the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which has reduced global polio cases by 99.9 percent since 1988. But like millions of others in India, I never received the two drops of oral vaccine that protect against the virus. In India, your health is vital to your social and economic opportunities. If you are healthy, you can get a job, and if you have a job, you can get married. Unfortunately, this simple passage of convention seemed beyond my reach. But then my life changed irrevocably once more.

At age three, I was adopted by Bruce and Ann Dentler and joined their family of two children and another adopted son, from Korea. I moved to Spokane, Washington, USA, shortly after my third birthday. Over the next few years, I underwent a series of surgeries on my hips, legs, and back to straighten my body, and I could eventually walk with leg braces and crutches. My parents had the same expectations of me as they did of my siblings and set the tone that having a disability should not prevent me from doing whatever I wanted to do with my life. I had to do the same chores and do my homework. It was a very happy childhood.

I loved to compete, so I threw myself into many activities, from debating at school to playing the piano. I graduated from high school and moved to Seattle to study business at the University of Washington. While in college, I interned at the White House and IBM. I studied abroad in Spain and backpacked through Europe by myself, wearing my leg braces and crutches. Upon graduating, I moved to New York City for a management consulting job. I pursued an MBA, got married, and now work at a large multinational insurance company. Through my example, I hope people can see that a disability shouldn't hinder someone from living a full and productive life.

While living in New York, I met Dick Traum, the first amputee to complete the New York City Marathon in 1976. Dick later founded a nonprofit, Achilles International, which provides free training and support to help people with disabilities participate in sports. He gave me a hand cycle, which is a three-wheeled recumbent bicycle propelled by the arms, and encouraged me to train for a marathon. This opened up a new world of opportunity for me, and I completed the New York City Marathon in my hand cycle in 2006.

My next challenge was thought to be impossible for a female wheelchair athlete: the Ironman Triathlon. I made the transition to triathlon and finished my first Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, and qualified for the world championship in Kona, Hawaii, in 2012.

The Ironman Triathlon requires a wheelchair athlete like me to swim 2.4 miles, hand cycle 112 miles, and push a racing wheelchair 26.2 miles, all within tight time limits for each stage of the course. But at the Kona Ironman, I failed to make the 10½-hour cutoff time for the cycling portion. I was disappointed, but I'd faced harder setbacks before. The failure steeled my determination, and I decided to regroup and try again the next year.
By October 2013, I was back at the starting line for the Kona Ironman in Hawaii for the second time. I was bidding to become the first woman hand cyclist in history to finish the Ironman World Championship. Just as my parents had insisted that I complete the same chores as my siblings, the Ironman event demanded that I complete the course within the same strict time limits as every other able-bodied competitor. I had qualified for the race and earned the right to compete on a level playing field, but if I did complete the race, it would mean something more than achieving another personal goal.

Every stroke in the water and crank forward on my hand cycle were movements for those who could not lift limbs paralyzed by polio. With every rotation of the wheels on my racing wheelchair, I was moving forward for the millions of polio survivors who would never get this opportunity. When I finally crossed the finish line 14 hours and 39 minutes after I started, I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. It was a storybook ending and the realization of a dream that seemed impossible to achieve.

I'd followed Rotary's polio eradication efforts for some time when I had the honor of being invited to speak at a World Polio Day event in 2014. Since then, I've been one of Rotary's polio ambassadors, helping to raise awareness for the End Polio Now campaign. In this role, I was offered an opportunity to return to India for the first time since I was a child.

Last year I set off for the country where most people said polio could never be eradicated. But against the odds, one year after my first successful Ironman World Championship, India did eradicate polio – despite the challenges of crowded slums with poor sanitation, the second largest population in the world, the weakened immune systems of millions living in poverty without proper nourishment. Despite all this, Southeast Asia was certified polio free in 2014.

The enormity of this achievement is clear if you consider that less than a decade ago, India reported almost half of the world's new polio cases. But until the disease is eradicated everywhere, it could easily return. So on my trip, I participated in a National Immunization Day, when 172 million children through age five are immunized against polio.

One of the most memorable moments for me was meeting a polio survivor named Parveen at St. Stephen's Hospital in New Delhi. It was a stark reminder of a tale of two worlds. Here she was, the same age as me, but we are living very different lives. I was adopted and catapulted into a life of privilege. At age 37, Parveen is illiterate, without resources, and has been a burden on her family.

I do not want to see other children become victims of polio and suffer the lifelong effects of a preventable disease. It was heartbreaking to me, and, as a mother, I want for her and all children in the world, no matter their circumstances, to have a chance at a healthy life. Rotary is changing the world, one child and two drops of vaccine at a time.

I've had good fortune at various stages of my life. I was adopted by a loving family after three years in an orphanage. I was given my first hand cycle by Achilles International in New York. I had the support of my family to push me across the finish line in Hawaii. But I hope readers realize that my story is also one of empowerment and personal choice.

Whether you are a polio survivor, a supporter of the polio eradication effort, or even someone who is surprised polio is still a threat – we all have an important choice to make. We can choose to have our children vaccinated and ensure that other parents in our communities do the same. I know what it is to miss out on this life-changing vaccine, as my childhood wasn't the same. In India, I also met Rukhsar Khatoon, the country's last documented polio victim, and it made me realize that when we finally do end polio, our work will not be over.

There are 10 million to 20 million polio survivors worldwide, and they need more than physical rehabilitation. It will be another lifetime's work to ensure that every polio survivor has access to a good education and to prevent stigmatization in communities or the workplace because of a physical disability. The least we can do in the present is to make the choice to prevent more needless suffering by vaccinating our children. And soon, our children, and their children, will live in a world without polio. Just imagine.

Give to End Polio Now Advocate for a polio-free world Join Rotary for World Polio Day

As told to David Goodstone
Ironman triathlete Minda Dentler challenges world to end polio 2016-09-10 04:00:00Z 0
Buildings lie in ruins Wednesday, after a magnitude 6.2 earthquake leveled towns in central Italy. The quake killed at least 241 and left thousands homeless.
Photo Credit: Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday, killing more than 240 people and trapping an unknown number beneath rubble. Tremors were felt as far away as Rome, 100 km (65 miles) southwest of the quake's epicenter.
International disaster relief agency and Rotary International project partner ShelterBox is sending a response team from its headquarters in the United Kingdom to the remote mountainous area of Italy where the destruction is most severe. The response team will arrive Friday, 26 August, to assess the area's needs.
Luca Della Volta, president of ShelterBox Italia, the affiliate organization in Genoa, will accompany the response team. Della Volta is working with the Rotary Club of Rieti in District 2080, the club closest to the earthquake-affected sites, and will meet with officials of the Italian Civil Protection Department, fire department, and Red Cross to coordinate efforts.
If families and individuals made homeless by the disaster need emergency shelter, ShelterBox will send tents and other equipment from its locations in Italy and other sites across Europe. Della Volta says the most urgent need is for tents and relief supplies for the hospital of Rieti, where most of the patients from the destroyed hospital in Amatrice were taken.
"I am truly heartbroken over what has happened," says Della Volta, charter president of the Rotary E-Club of 2042 Italia. "As Rotarians, we are always available to help people in need."
Follow ShelterBox on Twitter for the latest updates.
Rotary Districts 2080 and 2090 in Italy have created a joint fundraising campaign to help communities damaged by the quake. Visit their Facebook pages for more information:
By Maureen Vaught
ShelterBox and Rotary clubs take action following earthquake in Italy 2016-09-02 04:00:00Z 0
Todd Jenkins, a member of the Rotary Club of Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA, talks to clubs all over the world about diversity and inclusion.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Todd Jenkins
The way Rotary member Todd Jenkins puts it, he's the first generation in his family "to do everything": first to go to college, first to fly on a plane, first to visit another country, and the first to live across state lines.
Jenkins, 28, grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. His family worked hard just to make ends meet. So travel and college seemed out of reach.
The eldest of ten children, Jenkins says his goal was to break out of the family status quo and set a positive example for his siblings. He credits his mother with helping him avoid falling into the cycle that was common for young African-American males in his community.
"For a lot of poor minority young men without hope, there were three paths: gangs, jail, or death," says Jenkins, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Fayetteville, Arkansas. "My mom wasn't going to have that for me, so she made sure my time and focus were on education and productive activities. It was all about the books and church activities for me."
With that support and his own dedication, Jenkins excelled in school, earning merit-based scholarships to the University of South Carolina for his undergraduate degree and Illinois State University for his master's.
The impact of being the first in his family to achieve success can't be overstated, he says.
"You don't have a path in your life painted for you. You can create your own path," says Jenkins, who earned master's and doctoral degrees with a focus on minority professional development. "I had to learn how to utilize every resource. I had to break down barriers. If I didn't, I would have gone into a shell of what society thought I should be. I hope I provided a platform for my family members to branch out as much as possible to become what they hope to be."
Rotary opens his world
Jenkins moved to Fayetteville in 2012 to complete his doctorate and take an administration job at the University of Arkansas. He found that campus life alone wasn't fulfilling enough, and was looking for a way to be more engaged in the community. The university's chancellor responded by inviting him to a Fayetteville Rotary club meeting, and Jenkins says he was hooked.
"I didn't know anything about Rotary at first, but after a couple of meetings, I was so impressed with the programs it had to offer," he says. "And the speakers were the movers and shakers of Fayetteville. Going to meetings was like a history lesson about the community I lived in."
When he became a Rotary member at age 24 — another family first — Jenkins was by far the youngest of its 200-plus members. But that didn't deter him from seeking out leadership positions.
Shortly after he joined, Rotary put Jenkins on a plane for the first time, landing him on another continent. His participation in a Rotary New Generations Service Exchange in Brazil took him to a "whole other level with Rotary," he says.
Jenkins spent three months there working on his doctorate, learning how Brazilian university administrators integrate with students. But he experienced more than just academic life; Jenkins says he learned to care about other people in ways he'd never thought he could.
"The same emotions I felt for my family in the U.S. I felt for my family in Brazil. Yes, we were culturally different. But there was so much in common," he says. "Exposure to different ways of life and different customs planted the seeds that would blossom into the things going on in my life now."
Investing in diversity and inclusion
Galvanized by his exchange experience, Jenkins returned to Fayetteville eager to promote change. He became his Rotary club's youth service chair and then district Youth Exchange officer, making him one of the youngest district leaders in Rotary. He's also served as the club's Rotary Youth Leadership Award chair, Rotaract faculty adviser, and Interact sponsor adviser.
When you ask Fayetteville club president Harrison Pittman what Jenkins brings to the club, he responds, "What does Todd not bring to the club?
"Since the day Todd joined, he's been a leader in many ways that have advanced Rotary principles and expanded our membership," says Pittman. "Todd is one of those special Rotarians who exemplifies what present and future Rotary is all about."
His district-level training enabled Jenkins to translate his club's business goals into tangible results.
He'd noticed that, typically, 40 to 50 of the club's 210 members didn't attend regular meetings but had paid for lunch anyway.
Seeing the empty seats as a missed opportunity, Jenkins proposed an Under 35 Rule to the club's board: Half of those available seats can be used to invite young professionals to the meeting free of charge. And if one of these guests decides to join, their dues and fees are cut in half.
Jenkins says this initiative has recruited about 12 new members since it was launched two years ago.
"If people in our community aren't exposed to Rotary, how are they going to know all that we do and accomplish? Bringing in young professionals with a financial incentive is a great way to holistically develop and fill in what's missing," he says.
Pittman is equally enthusiastic. "Young professionals considering joining Rotary are often constrained by the time and financial commitments," he says. "Our Under 35 Rule allows our club to say to interested young professionals: 'We care about you and want you to join us in changing our community and the world.' "
Tie-ing it together
Beyond Rotary, Jenkins is the founder and CEO of Bowtie Development, an international leadership management and professional development firm that focuses on bringing diverse people together to boost organizational productivity and performance.
His affinity for the necktie earned him the nickname "Dr. Bowtie." "I love it! I wish I could be called that all the time," he says with a laugh.
This month, Jenkins is leading a Young Professionals Summit in northwest Arkansas, an event cosponsored by Rotary clubs in the area. The summit's aim is to empower emerging leaders to create positive change within themselves, their workplace, and their community. Says Jenkins: "I want to showcase Rotary and encourage attendees to expose themselves to what we do."
To promote that goal, Jenkins speaks to clubs all over the world about diversity and inclusion. "I don't necessarily like using the word diversity. To me, diversity is 'fullness,' " he says. "I believe Rotary can achieve fullness through investing in our youth and diverse members. I often say to clubs, 'Let's color the Rotary pipeline with our programs like Youth Exchange and membership development.' Those are the people who already have a global experience, which I feel is crucial for Rotary's future.
"Diversity is inviting everyone to the party. Inclusion is allowing everyone at the party to dance the way they want to dance," he adds. "That's what I want for Rotary. Let's all continue the dance."

By Ryan Hyland
Rotary News
Young member uses leadership positions to promote diversity, inclusion 2016-08-26 04:00:00Z 0
The World Health Organization has confirmed two cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in Nigeria, the first cases in the country since July 2014. After passing a year without a case of the wild poliovirus, Nigeria was removed from the list of polio-endemic countries in September 2015. These cases – from two local government areas of Borno state – occurred in July 2016.

The Government of Nigeria – in partnership with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative – will take immediate steps to respond quickly to the outbreak to prevent further spread of the disease. This response will include emergency vaccination campaigns to boost immunity in impacted and at-risk areas, and reinforced surveillance activities to ensure we detect all strains of polio. Because polio knows no borders, steps will also be taken to protect surrounding countries, to ensure all children are vaccinated and to reduce the risk of the spread of the disease.

This news is disappointing for all Rotary members - and particularly those in Nigeria - who worked so hard to help the country stop polio. However, Rotary remains steadfast and fully committed to fighting polio anywhere children remain at risk, including Nigeria and Africa.

Rotary members remain resilient in the face of challenges. Today, we roll up our sleeves and redouble our effort to rid the world of this devastating disease. Rotary members in Nigeria are already hard at work to support the outbreak response, and our network will also be tapped to quickly protect children in surrounding countries.

The World Health Organization is confident Nigeria can end polio. The program has overcome outbreaks before, and we have the tools to do so again in Nigeria. Rotary will not stop its efforts to ensure that every child is born into a polio-free world where they are safe from this paralyzing disease.

Michael K. McGovern, International PolioPlus Chair

Rotary recommits to ending polio in Nigeria 2016-08-20 04:00:00Z 0
I Thought it might be interesting if we had a story from the UK-Editor

After launching the campaign last month, Purple4Polio Ambassador Donovan is stepping up his support for Rotary’s latest initiative which is helping to finally rid the world of polio.
Speaking to the Daily Express, the 70-year-old folk singer believes that his experiences of contracting polio as a child played a huge part in his successful musical career: “I spent a lot of time in bed as a child after having polio while my dad read poetry to me.
“It made me interested in words, writing and being creative. If I hadn’t had that experience maybe I wouldn’t have gone on to write and sing my own songs for the past half a century.
“I feel strongly that having a disability in one area makes you explore others instead. That was the case for me after having polio.”
When Rotary began its commitment to rid the world of polio over three decades ago, there were 125 polio-endemic countries, now only Pakistan and Afghanistan remain, with just 18 cases of polio contracted worldwide this year.
The fact that we are so close to completely eradicating this disease is something which inspired Donovan to get involved. Speaking at the launch of Purple4Polio last month he said, “It is a very important thing, to try and cut it out completely. Kids should not have to have it.”
As part of the Purple4Polio campaign, Rotary has partnered with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to plant purple crocus corms across Great Britain and Ireland. Rotary clubs are teaming up with the RHS’ community-based Bloom Groups and have ordered over six million corms, meaning communities will be covered in a carpet of purple when the crocuses flower in the spring of 2017.
Published: Tuesday 9th August 2016
Donovan continues support for Purple4Polio 2016-08-12 04:00:00Z 0
Photo Credit: Whitney Curtis
From the August 2016 issue of The Rotarian
Quilts may be utilitarian objects, but Rod Buffington’s “quilt paintings” – watercolors on paper that are then covered with small bits of fabric – are geometrics where mathematics and whimsy intersect. Buffington, a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield, Ill., didn’t come up with this unusual method overnight. His voilà moment came as he beheld the mesmerizing quilts made by his grandmother, who lived to 104 and continued her craft until she was 98. To create his works, Buffington lays cotton fabric over paintings he has created, then hand-stitches silk thread through the fabric and paper. A work might include more than 1,700 areas of painting or fabric and take as long as 300 hours to complete. A past governor of District 6460 (Illinois), Buffington has used his skills to raise money to support Rotary causes. His Be a Gift to the World painting, tailored to the theme of 2015-16 Rotary International President K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran, has been reproduced as a print, with more than 100 of the unframed posters sold for $100 each to benefit The Rotary Foundation. In 2003 Buffington inaugurated Rotary Family Day at the Ballpark. Enlisting support from his area district and four others, he and other Rotarians have sold about 30,000 tickets to St. Louis Cardinals games in the past 13 years, raising $355,000 for literacy projects.

Brad Webber
The Rotarian

Member spotlight: Rod Buffington's patchwork of good deeds 2016-08-07 04:00:00Z 0
Photo Credit: Christopher Carruth

From the August 2016 issue of The Rotarian

It’s 3 a.m. on a Sunday, and Katheryne Rosa Barazorda Cuellar is up, preparing to work in her mother’s soup stall in the small Peruvian town of Anta, near the Inca capital of Cusco. Smart and seemingly indefatigable, she has a quick smile and infectious laugh.
Rosa is studying to be a chemical engineer, and she has unmistakable talent and drive. She needs them. Poverty, gender bias, and violence darken the lives of many young Peruvian women, including her.

Rosa is lucky, though. Her family supports her. And for the past four years,  so has Visionaria Perú – a Rotary Foundation-supported leadership and self-empowerment project in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Colorado Rotarians launched the summer program for adolescent girls with career and community-service aspirations. The project team hopes to generate measurably effective and sustainable empowerment projects worldwide. Peru is the first step on that ambitious journey.

In Peru, women suffer higher rates of poverty and unemployment than men. About 50 percent of Peruvian women in the Sacred Valley region, which lies outside Cusco, will suffer severe physical or sexual intimate-partner abuse during their lifetimes, the World Health Organization reports.
Meanwhile, Peru’s environment suffers. Peruvians – particularly in rural areas – endure high levels of smoke from cooking over indoor fires. About 4 million of the country’s 30 million residents lack access to clean water.

Untangling such a knot is difficult.

In 2012, members of the Rotary Club of Boulder’s New Generations pilot satellite club came up with a plan to address all of those problems by concentrating on empowering local women – specifically in their ability to make and act upon their decisions.

The town of Urubamba shares its name with the river that flows past shops, farms, and ramshackle buildings painted with candidate ballot symbols from the 2011 general election – a soccer ball, a mother and child, a purple striped potato, a traditional cap. Downstream, the river snakes far below the misty ruins of Machu Picchu and tumbles toward the Amazon River.

Here, well-heeled tourists may drop $475 apiece – nearly the mean monthly salary in Peru – to ride the Hiram Bingham luxury train from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Visitors glide past squalid barrios where grandmothers bathe in ditches, children may breathe toxic indoor stove smoke, and dogs paw through piles of garbage, seeking food.

On an early January morning in Urubamba’s La Quinta Eco Hotel, young women gather for a weeklong leadership training institute through Visionaria Perú. The girls – the team calls them visionarias (female visionary, in Spanish) – come from both the bucolic Andes and the noisy city. Most receive tutoring, scholarships, and other help from Peruvian nonprofits such as project partner Peruvian Hearts, which supports Rosa.

Sitting in a circle, the young women each take a small piece of paper and write a fear they harbor. They put their paper in a hat, and each (anonymous) fear is read aloud and discussed. Genevieve Smith, a Rotarian and program director of Visionaria Perú, works with them to understand that shame and fear need not stifle their personal or professional growth.

This “fears in a hat” exercise is one of the lessons taught during the institute, in which visionarias are coached on leadership skills, professional growth, environmental awareness, and self-esteem. The training follows a 150-page curriculum developed by Colorado Rotarians in partnership with local Peruvian professors and experts.

“Before, I never really thought much about how I treated myself. I always used to tell myself  ‘You can’t’ and ‘You’re so stupid because you messed up,’ ” one participant says after the training. “But not now. Now I know I should treat myself better. And I know that when I fail, it’s just a chance to learn how to do something  better the next time around.”

At the end of the institute, the visionarias form teams and enter one of three activism tracks: improved cookstoves, water and sanitation, or solar lighting. The activism tracks give participants the chance to exercise their skills by working on sustainable development projects they envision and carry out from beginning to end.

Members of the Rotary Club of Cusco attend portions of the leadership institute to review and provide feedback on the girls’ community project plans. They also participate during implementation of the projects and attend the final celebration to review and support the girls’ achievements. A mentor and local NGOs assist each team in project planning and implementation, and Rotary Foundation-supported vocational training team members such as Smith participate.

The project started in 2012 when Smith, then a Rotaractor, was in Peru through her studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and visited a hogar (home for girls) supported by Peruvian Hearts. There, she asked the girls what kind of support they would need as they got older. She found out that while the students in Peruvian Hearts’ college prep program were smart and qualified to attend a university, they lacked confidence and felt discriminated against because of their indigenous, and often troubled, backgrounds. Smith crafted a project plan to support the girls by the time her bus took her back to where she was staying.

Marika Meertens, a Rotarian with experience at Engineers Without Borders, pitched the Peru project to the Rotary Club of Boulder’s New Generations members. And Abigale Stangl, who has been working alongside one of her instructors at the University of Colorado to produce metrics that show how well the project works, “got on board as soon I heard about the project,” she recalls.

The trio is the driving force behind the project. They assumed roles reflecting their strengths: Smith with planning, Meertens in fundraising (including two global grants totaling $55,000 from The Rotary Foundation), Stangl with project evaluation.

Evaluating the annual program design and execution is one thing. “Measuring empowerment is a different kind of challenge,” Stangl says.
In four years, 55 visionarias have installed 62 cleaner cookstoves, sold 61 water filters and 75 solar lanterns, and addressed 145 students in workshops. Some 1,640 individuals have been touched by this work, Visionaria Perú calculates. Visionarias themselves report positive results in their own lives: 80 percent said participating in Visionaria Perú improved their status in their communities, and 100 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the program improved their capacity to imagine and create change in their lives and the lives of others. “The program helped me a lot because I had visions and goals, but I did not feel capable in making decisions,” says one girl in an assessment. “Now I am capable of making decisions and taking risks for my life.”

Peruvian Rotarians are preparing to take full control of the project once Rotary funding ends this year. Flavio Miraval, past president of the Rotary Club of Cusco, is working to form a nongovernmental organization to carry on the work. Colorado Rotarians have sought local input every step of the way, including cultural adaptation of lesson plans, involvement by local NGOs, and adjusting the program to fit participants’ priorities. That transfer back to local control, the final objective of the Rotary project, is what the group means when it speaks of “sustainability” and is an important component of any vocational training team project.

With all metrics in hand, Colorado Rotarians want to replicate the empowerment program for women in other countries and continents. Since 2014, the team has conducted empowerment, leadership, and business training in 10 countries, including Bolivia, Kenya, India, Uganda, and Guatemala, with funding from USAID, German partner GIZ, and the United Nations Foundation.

The team recently launched Visionaria programs in two Peruvian schools and plans to expand throughout the country. It is designing a mobile-friendly online platform to allow visionarias to share their visions with one another. This team doesn’t think small.

Meanwhile, Rosa believes she will find a good job in chemical engineering “with perseverance and with my sacrifice.” Getting to the university in Cusco is a four-hour trip several times a week, but the time she has put in has borne fruit: She just completed an internship at a top laboratory in Lima, Peru’s capital. That lab offered her a chance to pursue her thesis work this fall. She works hard but is grateful. She is quick to credit Peruvian Hearts for its steadfast support.

And she praises Visionaria Perú, which helps “us to believe more in what we may be able to achieve each day, empower us, and give us strength to achieve our dreams.”

But the young Rotarians behind Visionaria Perú believe that such power and strength existed all along and that their work to unleash adolescent girls’ powerful visions has only begun.

Clint Talbott
The Rotarian
The visionaries: Young women in Peru learn to see a future for themselves 2016-07-30 04:00:00Z 0
Photo caption: 1st Row L to R: Kieran Fahey, Karli Loiselle, Shannon Drouin, Haley Roy, MacKenzie Donovan, Jacob Feretra. 2nd Row: Capital City President Geoff Souther, Kathy Daniels, Tim Daniels
Capital City Sunrise Rotary awards 6 scholarships

Concord, NH – The Capital City club and the Daniels family presented 6 scholarships to graduating seniors from area high schools. All the recipients were chosen not only for their academic achievements but also for their outstanding community service. The Daniels family presented 3 awards as a memorial to past Rotarian, Randy Daniels, to: Jacob Feretra, Bishop Brady; Kieran Fahey, Bow; and Karli Loiselle, Pembroke.

Capital City awarded the Don Miner (founder of the club) Memorial Scholarship to Shannon Drouin, Bishop Brady; Padre Van Patten (long time member and past president) Memorial Scholarship to Haley Roy, Merrimack Valley; and the Mike Dunn (named in his honor for his incredible generosity) Scholarship to MacKenzie Donovan, also from Merrimack Valley.
Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club Scholars for 2016 2016-07-22 04:00:00Z 0
Don Miner passed away 11 years ago – he was the founding member of the Capital City Rotary Club in 1982, its first President and a friend.  Padre Van Patten and I shared officiating duties at his memorial service and this is what I said:
If Don were here, this would be a roast, but since it’s he’s not, it’s a reminiscence.
My first encounter with Don was in the early seventies when we played in a Thursday night golf league. Over a several-year period, we played at Plasawa, Beaver Meadow and Concord Country Clubs and after golf, had a catered supper at the Wonalancet Club at the corner of North State and Pleasant streets. Don, unfortunately, was always on the other team and frequently I’d get paired up against him in a foursome. Don was a fearsome competitor, but just an average golfer. His advantage was his gamesmanship. He’d talk all the way through his opponent’s shots which was especially maddening and distracting to some. I figured out what he was up to and returned him the favor. This brought me some peace when it was my turn to hit.
Don the Rotarian.
In 1982, Don, a member of the Concord Rotary Club, thought it was time to start another Rotary club in Concord. An evening club was best, and he reasoned that a Monday club would be good – to take advantage of Monday holidays. Why meet 52 times a year when you can meet around 45 ?
Using the word determined to describe Don in his quests is like calling Mohammed Ali a good sparring partner. Don launched into creating the Capital City Rotary Club with his typical no holds barred, take no prisoners style.       No one was safe.
He had a unique style of recruiting new members. “And where does your husband work.” He would inquire when introduced to a woman. When asked if he was looking for a date . . . “No, no, he’d reply, “I’m just trying to find out if the husband would be a good fit for Rotary.” This was obviously in the days before women in Rotary.
Bill Wiley was Concord Rotary Club president that year. “I’d arrive at my office on Loudon Road early and Don would have club charter papers ready for me to sign. He would have been there for a while entertaining the receptionist with stories of his sister as ‘Madge’ the Pomolive  salesperson.” John Kennedy, who was that year’s  Rotary District Governor, remembers Don as a great Rotarian, friend and man of action - one who gets it done!
Capital City Rotary club was chartered with 25 members, all of whom were recruited by Don. He was the first president in 1982-83, I transferred to his club that year from Concord Rotary.
Don took his role as the godfather of the Capital City Rotary Club very seriously, phoning the presidents who followed him – sometimes very early in the morning (I remember a 6 a.m. call) or very late in the evening - with tidbits of advice – some seemingly important to him but not necessarily to us. At our house, my young daughters would announce his calls by saying “Dad, it’s that man again”.
Major Wheelock followed Don as President of Capital City. Unfortunately, he  was not able to be here today and emailed me the following:
Don loved his family, interaction with other people, golf and Rotary, perhaps the latter two more than most people will ever know. He invested untold hours getting the new club started in Concord and did it "his way" (which was the way he did most things - - he always had his agenda planned way in advance) An example of that was when he was scheduled to end his term as the first President of the Capitol City Club. It is customary that the outgoing President be given some gift from the club for his/her service and we were thinking that a Paul Harris fellowship or some such thing might be appropriate. However, Don had something else in mind - - he told me (as the incoming President) that he wanted a set of Ping irons and that he had already reserved the set he wanted at the Beaver Meadow Pro Shop. Once again, Don had anticipated and planned what he wanted to happen, rather than simply hoping that we would have thought of golf clubs as our gift to him.      He was an American original!
Don, as you know, was a salesman, but when it came to Rotary, he would definitely ‘kick it up another notch”. It didn’t matter whether it was raffle tickets, sponsorships, or ads for our fund-raising book, Don would outsell all of us. His technique was pretty simple – he’d visit potential targets so many times that eventually they’d buy so he wouldn’t call on them until the next time - -              It worked.
As a consumer Don believed is getting the best deal when making a purchase – he’d often ask for the “Clergy discount”. It certainly produced a smile if nothing else.

Don was tireless in raising funds for good causes in his lifetime – whether as President of Hingham Rotary, it was books for India or a new roof for the White Church in Hingham - to his numerous projects for his Rotary Clubs in Concord. Like it or not, we benefited from his zeal.
Don recently asked “Do you think I’m an Itch?”. Yes, Don, you were – a good, well-meaning itch.
I think all of us would like you back for a good long scratch!
Tony Gilmore
Capital City Rotary's Founder - Don Miner 2016-07-13 04:00:00Z 0
Installing solar panels on the Administration building roof.

By Ron Smith, Zone 32 Rotary Regional Foundation Coordinator
On the morning of March 22, a Global Grant travel team of six people were on their way home from Sierra Leone, West Africa, and found themselves in Brussels airport when the terrorist attacks occurred.
“We were in the secure area of the airport, and the attacks occurred in the unsecured area, so we didn’t hear the explosions,” noted Herb Klotz, team leader from Allentown West Rotary club in District 7430. “We were ushered to the end of the terminal and out onto the tarmac. Eventually, we were bussed to a nearby train terminal, had to make hotel arrangements on the fly and figure out how to get a flight home.” More on Brussels later.
The more lasting story is about the work being done by Rotary and Engineers without Borders (EWB) with the local community and school alumni at the Centennial Secondary School in Mattru Jong, Sierra Leone. The school’s infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war that occurred in Sierra Leone during the 1990s. For two years during the war, rebels used the school as a local base of operations. Before the war, Centennial was one of the best secondary schools in the south of Sierra Leone. The school currently has about 1200 students in grades 6-12.
In 2009, the school alumni submitted an application to EWB asking to rebuild the school’s infrastructure (water, electricity, sanitation, buildings). The Lehigh Valley Professionals EWB chapter (EWB-LVP) accepted their application and began work in 2010. In 2011, District 7430 partnered with EWB-LVP and the Free-town Rotary club to obtain a $50,000 Future Vision Grant for water and electricity for the school. This was a game-changer for the project.
Since that time, EWB-LVP and Rotary have gone on eight trips to Centennial school to install solar-powered running water throughout the campus, solar-powered lighting in classrooms and the administration building (there is no electric grid), toilets in the boy’s and girl’s bathrooms and a new roof on a classroom building.
Both EWB and Rotary emphasize the importance of sustainability on all projects. In 2012, the school implemented a development fee, which is a small student fee collected each term to pay for maintenance and operation of all the infrastructure, including the salary of a maintenance technician. All infrastructure that has been installed in the last six years is in good working order, and that is a major accomplishment in Sierra Leone.
With improved infrastructure, the next step was education. In 2014, the Allentown West (D-7430) and Bo City (D-9101) Rotary clubs partnered on a $30,000 Global Grant with area of focus in Literacy. This grant supplied teacher training, library books, computers, printers and solar power equipment for the library.
The grant has already had a positive impact on the school. For example, the students’ test scores have improved dramatically during the past few years. From 2011 to 2015, the percentage of students passing the BECE test to enter 9th grade increased from 14 percent to 91 percent! Thanks to Rotary and Engineers Without Borders, the school is on its way back to being one of the best schools in Sierra Leone.
As promised, let’s go back to Belgium. After they were evacuated from the airport, the travel team made its way to the Belgian town of Leuven where they booked into a hotel and proceeded to “wait it out.” Cindy Hornaman (Governor Nominee Designate of District 7430 and spouse of Chris who was on the travel team), found the Leuven Rotary Club on the Internet and phoned the contact listed: Frank Op 't Eynde. Frank’s first words were: “Can you give me 10 minutes to get to the hotel?”
The Belgian Rotarian immediately stopped whatever he was doing, contacted his club President, and in less than an hour, the Leuven Rotarians and the Pennsylvania team were in a pub having lunch and planning the trip home. Frank made sure the team had whatever they needed. And the help from the Leuven Rotary Club didn’t end with their departure: The club continued to help two of the team get their carry-on luggage — left at the airport terminal during the attack — safely returned to them.
What remarkable examples of “Service above Self!”
Rotary Team Rerouted by Terrorist Attack – But That’s Not the Full Story! 2016-07-01 04:00:00Z 0
Miss NH 2016 Speaks to Capital City Sunrise 2016-06-29 04:00:00Z 0
Photo Credit: Rotary International / Monika Lozinska
From the July 2016 issue of The Rotarian
The way Cynthia Salim sees it, the fashion industry doesn't have much to offer a young, socially conscious woman like her when it comes to work clothes.

"The fashion industry often does 'sexy' or 'fun' or 'hip,' and things that encourage frequent purchases," the 29-year-old says. "It's very rare that the design community will design something that will make a young woman look credible and influential as well as timeless."

Add "and is ethically made" to that list, and it becomes a tall order that Salim became increasingly frustrated trying to fill when she needed clothes for her job in international affairs in Geneva and later as a management consultant. So she decided to do something about it.

Salim started a company to produce high-quality, classic women's wear constructed of socially responsible materials and made by fairly paid workers in environmentally friendly factories. It took more than two years to source the right suppliers and track down partners who met her high standards, but in April 2015, Salim launched Citizen's Mark, an online retailer that bills itself as "the lifestyle brand of the socially conscious, empowered woman."

When Salim talks about how she did it, it's clear that starting her own company was more than just a way to make money. "I've always been really interested in social change," she says, "and this was such an interesting and unique way to create change from a sector and industry that doesn't have as much social change work going on."

It's an interest she nurtured during her undergraduate years at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, a Jesuit school with a strong tradition of social responsibility. It became a central focus of her life when she won a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to pursue a master's degree in human values and contemporary global ethics at King's College London.

"I was so grateful to have had that opportunity, to have Rotary put their trust in me and in that program, which doesn't have a clear career path," Salim says. "But the time I had was really valuable in helping me see that there are so many ways to make change, everyone has a role whether it's in policy or advocacy or business."

At Loyola, Salim met Fred Kiesner, a 52-year veteran of Rotary and the school's chair of entrepreneurship (now retired). Kiesner, who became Salim's mentor, remembers her as "probably the most ethical and socially responsible young person I've ever met."

"A lot of Ambassadorial Scholars do it for the learning and the fun of living in a foreign country, which are not bad reasons," Kiesner says. "Cynthia did it because she knew it was giving her the foundation and knowledge upon which she would build a powerful and impactful life of giving and contributing."

Salim realized there was a market for high-end, ethically made work clothes after meeting "all these incredibly committed, smart women who were socially conscious about all areas of their lives, whether it was the impact they had at work or through their purchases."

Tragedies at poorly built, shoddily maintained factories – such as the Rana Plaza facility in Bangladesh, which collapsed in 2013, killing 1,137 people – have raised consumer awareness of the garment industry's ugly side. Workers at the factory made as little as 12 cents an hour and worked 90 to 100 hours a week, with just two days off a month.

Citizen's Mark will eventually carry a full line of clothes, but for now it has just one item: a blazer available in four styles and three colors that Salim designed herself and calls the quintessential "go to" piece that every professional woman needs.

Salim's search for the highest quality fabric took her to the historic wool mill city of Biella, Italy, where she toured mills and interviewed owners about "their track record in social and environmental responsibility." When she found a mill that purified the water it uses in the dyeing process before returning it to the stream, she signed up. Then it was on to Portugal, home of some of the world's best pattern makers and suit manufacturers, where she found a factory that runs on 30 percent solar power and provides living wages and full health care coverage for its employees.

That all sounds great, but expensive. So it's surprising to hear Salim say that Citizen's Mark's prices, which range from $425 to $475, are "incredibly competitive" with similar brands. "The cost to produce something well and responsibly does not necessarily mean a luxury markup," she says. "In fact, [we're] underpriced compared to the competition, because the competition that's using this [same] level of fabric and construction tends to be in the luxury space, where markups are 8, 10, 12 times" the cost of production. (In fact, a check of women's wool blazers at luxury brand Hugo Boss shows they start upwards of $535.)

Sales are growing steadily, Salim says, and customer feedback has been positive. She says an industry insider told her a few months after launch that the brand "really resonates with a message that's clear and sharp and strong and timely."

But not everyone has been so encouraging. "I've already heard pressure from the industry to market Citizen's Mark as something more fun and hip," Salim says. Her response is that she's catering to a new type of customer – a socially responsible working woman "who loves what she does, does it well, and gets to wear cool, chic clothes."

Kiesner says Salim knows exactly what she's doing. "For Cynthia, her company is just a continuation of her values, ethics, and social responsibility," he says. "I taught entrepreneurship for 45 years, and we talk about social responsibility a lot in my field – an entrepreneur who creates a business that also does good in the world. She is the epitome of that."

By Heather Maher
The Rotarian
Cynthia Salim: Former Rotary Scholar makes clothing with a conscience 2016-06-25 04:00:00Z 0
Illustration by Dave Cutler
From the June 2016 issue of The Rotarian

The sun rises on a new school day. In rural Ganguli, India, 450 students climb aboard school buses. Five years ago they couldn’t have gone to school because the distance from their village was too far to walk.

In San Agustín, Ecuador, students used to attend classes in the town morgue when it rained, because their school had no roof. Since 2012, hundreds of children there have learned to read and write in a real classroom.

Quietly orchestrating these and other projects was Vasanth Prabhu, a member of the Rotary Club of Central Chester County (Lionville), Pa. When he was growing up in India, education was not free, and he saw how hard his father worked to pay for schooling for eight children. Understanding how school can change a person’s life keeps Prabhu working to provide education to those with no access to it, he says.

“I feel that everyone is a diamond in the rough,” he says. “But it must be cut and polished to show its brilliance.” So instead of spending his money on luxuries, he is using it to bring out that brilliance.

There are three ways we can deal with enormous problems and our emotional responses to them. We can let them overcome us until we feel too paralyzed to act. We can bury our heads in the sand. Or we can act. And when we help others, we often find that we benefit as well.

“Taking action allows me to exercise passion,” Prabhu says, “to give it a good place to go.”

James Doty, director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, wrote Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart. “We’re adapted to recognize suffering and pain; for us to respond is hard-wired into our brain’s pleasure centers,” says Doty. “We receive oxytocin or dopamine bursts that result in increased blood flow to our reward centers. In short, we feel good when we help.”

Caring for others brings other benefits, too. “When we engage in activities that help, it also results in lowering our blood pressure and heart rate,” he notes. Research shows that it can help us live longer. And the good deeds we do can inspire others.

On the flip side, Doty says, “People can create mistrust or fear by implying that another group is threatening our safety. When that happens, fear or anxiety makes us want to withdraw into our own group and not care for others. Hormones are released that are detrimental to long-term health. But generally speaking, most people will be kind and compassionate to other people.”

For years, Peggy Callahan has told stories that are hard to hear. A documentary producer covering social justice issues, she’s also a co-founder of two nonprofits working to help people who are enslaved or caught in human trafficking. But perhaps paradoxically, her difficult work brings her happiness, and, thanks to neuroscience research, she understands why. “When you do an act of good, you get a neurotransmitter ‘drop’ in your brain that makes you happy,” she says. And there’s a multiplier effect: “Someone who witnesses that act also experiences that, and remembering that act makes it happen all over again.” She wondered how she could leverage that.

The result was Anonymous Good, a virtual community and website where people post stories or photos of acts of kindness they’ve carried out, observed, or received. For each act posted, website sponsors make a donation to feed the hungry, free people who are enslaved, plant a tree for cleaner air, or dig a well for clean water.

“One act of good is much more than simply one act of good,” says Callahan. “It’s part of a much bigger force.”

Like Prabhu and Callahan, P.J. Maddox – a member of the Rotary Club of Dunn Loring-Merrifield, Va. – has felt the joy of tackling issues that seem too big to face. Rotary projects she has supported include funding a nurse-led clinic in war-ravaged rural Nicaragua. She has also mentored and made a Youth Exchange trip possible for a student otherwise unable to participate because of hardships at home.

“Some problems are so complicated and huge, it could be easy to say, ‘Why bother?’” Maddox says. “But in addition to Rotary’s power of collective talents to make something happen, I realized that the outcome of these projects wouldn’t have been what they were if I wasn’t there. I realized that a single human being can change the world.”

As the sun sets around the globe – as students in India head back home on the school bus, as pupils in Ecuador close their books for the day, and as people in many places are well-fed, free, and happy – the world looks a little different. Because one individual extended a hand, there are people newly ready to change the world tomorrow.

Carol Hart Metzker is the author of Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery and a member of the E-Club of One World D5240.
By Carol Hart Metzker
The Rotarian
Altruism: Individual serving 2016-06-10 04:00:00Z 0

By Pat Killoran, Zone 24 West End Polio Now Coordinator
As part of the End Polio Now strategy, last April The World Health Organization transi•tioned from trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) to bivalent OPV .
What does this mean … and what are the implications?

There are 3 types of polio virus (known as 1, 2, and 3). The trivalent vaccine being used for some time now was designed to address all three types of polio. However, Type 2 wild poliovirus has been eradicated with no cases being detected globally since 1999. Despite the high degree of effectiveness, in the past two years the Type 2 component inthis vaccine has been responsible for 98 polio cases that developed from the vaccine itself (circulating polio vaccine cases). Many of these cases were the result of vaccina•tion campaigns in non-endemic countries. The trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) contains a live but weakened virus, which in very rare cases can genetically revert to an active form of virus (circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, or cVDPV) and, in even rarer cases, can cause paral•ysis (vaccine-associated paralytic polio, VAPP).

Since there is no longer any circulating Type 2 wild poliovirus, the risks associated with the Type 2 component of the Oral Polio Vaccine now outweigh the benefits as follows:
¨     The Type 2 component of the oral vaccine causes around 40 percent of vaccine associated paralytic cases and over 90 percent of circulating vaccine cases.
¨     The Type 2 component of the oral vaccine interferes with immune response to types 1 and 3.

To fully eradicate polio, we need to eliminate vaccine-derived polioviruses by graduallyphasing out oral vaccines entirely. This began in April with the removal of the Type 2 component of the oral vaccine.

The switch in vaccines has been a globally synchronized event that involved every health worker, in every facility, in every country using oral vaccine. All countries — and all health facilities — were required to stop using trivalent vaccine, and any remaining

trivalent stock must be destroyed so as not to put neighboring communities at risk of a circulating trivalent vaccine outbreak. This is a real milestone on the road to polio eradication.

What are the key messages for Rotarians related to this change?

The general public may not be aware that there are 3 types of polio viruses and there•fore may not ask about it. However, Rotarians need to be ready to reassure any ques•tioners that the bivalent oral vaccine simply replaces the trivalent vaccine. It follows the same immunization schedule and has the same attributes for administration as the tri•valent vaccine.

Besides the active bivalent polio vaccine (drops), there is an inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) which is administered by injection and will help to protect children against po•liovirus types 1, 2, and 3 and will also help boost protection against paralytic poliocaused by the Type 2 poliovirus. The IPV is compatible and safe either with the new bi•valent vaccine or, if administered following the bivalent vaccine, offers additional pro•tection against types 1 and 3.
Polio – Bivalent vs Trivalent Vaccines 2016-05-31 04:00:00Z 0
Gary White, chief executive and co-founder of Water.org, explains his organization’s microfinance program to attendees at the World Water Summit in Seoul on Friday, 27 May.
this year's World Water Summit on 27 May in Seoul highlighted the progress being made:
    •    Over the last 25 years, more than 2.5 billion people gained access to improved drinking water, and 2 billion who didn't have adequate sanitation now do.
    •    Child deaths from water-related diseases dropped from 1.5 million to just over 600,000.
    •    The UN Millennium Development Goals' target for clean drinking water was met five years ahead of schedule.

But for the 1.8 billion people whose drinking water remains contaminated and the 2.4 billion without access to proper sanitation, progress is still too slow, said Vanessa Tobin, director of water and sanitation for Catholic Relief Services and one of the event's main speakers.

Mirroring the polio eradication movement

"We need a movement," Tobin declared, saying it should follow Rotary's polio eradication model. "Polio was universal and everyone had one aim: eliminate every case in the world. We need to set a goal that by 2030 every child has safe water and sanitation for life.
"Water and sanitation must be at the top of each country's development agenda," she said.

Gary White, chief executive and co-founder of Water.org, agreed and told attendees that charity alone won't solve the global water crisis. White said that it would take five years and $1 trillion to provide and maintain safe water access for all, but international aid totals only $8 billion each year. His organization is making it possible for people in need to help pay for their own clean water and sanitation.
"People who live in poverty or are coming out of it in developing countries want to pay for water security, not just for practical purposes, but for social and financial purposes," White said.

His organization established WaterCredit, a microfinance program that offers loans to families in need of water connections or toilets. The program's repayment rates exceed 99 percent.

"Giving people the capital to ensure water security gives them the dignity they want and need," he added.

Matching expertise with action

The water summit, the eighth convened by the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, seeks to match industry expertise with Rotary service projects.

Francis Barram, a member of the Rotary Club of Centurion in South Africa, came to the water summit to find partners for a project to clean up sewage-filled rivers in Johannesburg.

"People here [at the water summit] are passionate about finding solutions for clean water. And more importantly, they know what they're doing," said Barram, who joined the Rotarian Action Group last year. "Our club found the need, and we can pull together the support, but we need the technical know-how. This event can help me find that."

Breakout sessions focused on sustainable strategies for getting clean water and sanitation in schools, partnerships, financing, climate change, and safe drinking water systems. Other speakers included Deuk-Mo Chung, director general of the Seoul Water Institute, and Sanjay Wijesekera, chief of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for UNICEF.
Ryan Hyland
Global movement needed to reverse water crisis 2016-05-28 04:00:00Z 0
Dr. Jonas Salk with one of the first children to receive the vaccine. © WHO
Sunday, 12 April, marked 60 years since the Salk polio vaccine was declared safe, effective, and potent. In that time, the number of polio cases has dropped by 99 percent worldwide. With just three countries remaining polio-endemic, we are closer than ever to eradicating this crippling disease.

Jonas Salk’s inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) has been crucial in helping us reach our goal of a polio-free world. Before the vaccine was widely available, in the United States alone, polio crippled more than 35,000 people each year. By 1957 -- two years after the introduction of Salk’s vaccine -- cases in the U.S. had fallen by almost 90 percent, and by 1979, polio had been eradicated there.

The impact on the rest of the world has taken longer. In 1988, when Rotary International launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) with its partners at the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, polio continued to cripple children in 125 countries. Today, polio remains endemic in only three: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. And it has been more than eight months since Nigeria’s last case, making a polio-free Africa a real possibility.

Salk’s vaccine will play an important role in the end-game strategy against polio when 120 countries introduce IPV into their routine polio immunization systems this year. Leading that effort are the GPEI partners and Gavi, a global vaccine alliance, along with Sanofi Pasteur, the largest manufacturer of polio vaccine.

“As more than 120 countries in the world are introducing IPV, we are beginning the last chapter on polio eradication,” said Olivier Charmeil, Sanofi Pasteur’s chief executive officer. “At Sanofi Pasteur, we have had a long-term vision of IPV as the ultimate public health tool able to finish the job started with Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).”

Rotary News

Polio vaccine celebrates 60th anniversary 2016-05-19 04:00:00Z 0

The three Rotary alumni and DSIL Global participants at the Zero Baht Shop, a domestic migrant community that has developed a recycling program that funds insurance and social support programs for the community.

From the coastline of Costa Rica, to the sidewalks of Bangkok, to the jungles of Indonesia, we have been supported as individuals by The Rotary Foundation to make this world a better place; one where service comes before self. As a team of Rotary alumni, we have been able to pull together in pursuit of empowering grassroots social innovators around the world.

Katherine Grennier leads a session for global social impact entrepreneurs in Manila.

The three Rotary programs that have supported us: Courtney’s Ambassadorial Scholarship at the University for Peace in Costa Rica; Hermes’ global grant supported scholarship at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand; and Katy’s Rotary Peace Fellowship at the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand; have been critical experiences in defining our work and the experiences that we create for our participants at Designing for Social Innovation & Leadership (DSIL) Global.

At DSIL Global, we train social entrepreneurs from around the world using a combination of design tools, leadership development, and business frameworks. Above all of this, we weave in themes found when peace and conflict studies, sustainable management, and international development intersect; all skill that we developed as Rotary scholars and fellows.

Our lives would not be the same without the support of our clubs back home, our host communities, and the support of The Rotary Foundation.

In all three of our Rotary programs, we were encouraged to develop a network with local Rotary members who supported and mentored us through our times as Rotary scholars. They were there when we got sick or needed advice on the local bureaucracy. They provided a community for us to engage in service to better the places we lived and help the people we worked with. All three of our programs involve exchanging ideas and experience across diverse perspectives. We shared with and learned from scholars, fellows, and practitioners from over 80 countries. This would not have been possible without the support of Rotary and the global community of Rotarians, alumni, and support personnel.

Today, as friends and colleagues, we are using our experiences to continue finding innovation in daily dialogue and shared experiences. In partnership with the University for Peace, we select people who are ready to make a positive impact in their communities and bring them together to accelerate that impact. In the process, we are developing a global network of innovators who can lean on each other. Five times this year we will be  facilitating our DSIL programs to bring grassroots innovators together in conversation and fellowship in a creative environment to seek solutions to challenges facing Southeast Asia.

Our lives would not be the same without the support of our clubs back home, our host communities, and the support of Rotary. We’re looking forward to working with more Rotary alumni in the future to create an even greater impact. Rotary is empowering people to change the world, and we’re excited to be a part of it. We’re looking forward to providing new ways for Rotary members to apply Service Above Self, and we can’t wait to bring DSIL Global to a community near you.
Alumni of three Rotary programs unite to advance ‘Service Above Self’ 2016-05-15 04:00:00Z 0

Pope Francis greets Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran at a Jubilee audience at the Vatican on 30 April, where 9,000 Rotary members were special guests of the pontiff.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Vatican

Thousands of Rotary members, motivated by a special invitation from Pope Francis, gathered at the Vatican in Rome on Saturday to celebrate a message of compassion, inclusiveness, and service to humanity.

At midmorning, the group -- numbering some 9,000 members from 80 countries -- made its way through the congested streets of Rome, past the tight security surrounding St. Peter's Square, and settled into the area reserved for Rotary in front of St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee audience.

Francis, a 79-year-old Argentine, urged the crowd of more than 100,000, which included members of the police and armed forces from around the world, "to build a culture of peace, security, and solidarity around the world."

His message of peace resonated with Rotary members, including R. Asokan from Tamil Nadu, India. "His message about peace is about accepting. Rotary, which accepts all walks of life, can carry his message to all our clubs, therefore carrying his message to all our communities," says Asokan.

Though Francis is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, his words often reach a wider audience. A poll published earlier this year found him to be one of the most liked and trusted world leaders.

That's what made this event at the Vatican so appealing, says Adriana Lanting, who traveled from California, USA, to attend. "To have such a transcending figure together with a transcending organization like Rotary in the same place is something I just couldn't miss," says Lanting, a member of the Rotary Club of Long Beach.

Madrid Zimmerman, another Long Beach member, isn't Catholic but says Francis has a knack for touching people's hearts regardless of where they're from. "Rotary has the same effect," she adds. "We may have different ways of expressing it, but our [Rotary] action in helping others comes from the same place.

"This event is a reminder that we only have one goal and that's to give service to those who need it. I think that's the message I want to bring back to my club," Zimmerman says.

After the Jubilee audience, Francis met with a small delegation of Rotary members led by RI President K.R. Ravindran. The pope spoke to Ravindran about the importance of vaccinating children against polio and encouraged Rotary to continue its efforts against this disease.
"I have been honored and deeply touched to have had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis earlier today, and to have heard him tell us to continue our fight toward polio eradication," says Ravindran, who is Hindu. "It has given me even more pride in Rotary's past, even more faith in its present, and even more optimism about its future, than ever before."

Mitigating the migrant crisis

On Friday, Rotary hosted a panel discussion in Rome to highlight efforts to alleviate the plight of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. More than 60 million people, including 11 million Syrians, have been displaced by war and violence over the last four years. Such extensive displacement has not been seen since World War II.

In the discussion, moderated by Vatican Radio, experts from the World Food Programme, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) talked about ways to help migrants start over in their new countries.

Rotary General Secretary John Hewko, speaking on the panel, pointed to several initiatives Rotary clubs have undertaken to integrate refugees into society, including computer coding schools and a vocational training project in Rimini, Italy.
"The plight of today's refugees is really a litmus test for today's compassion," Hewko said.

He encouraged audience members and panelists to use their connections to provide the resources and funding needed to address the humanitarian crisis.

After the panel discussion, Bonaventure Fohtung, a member of the Rotary Club of Upper Blue Mountains Sunrise in New South Wales, Australia, said that Rotary and the pope have the same agenda when it comes to helping migrants. Recently Francis took 12 Syrian migrants, three families including six children, back with him to the Vatican after visiting a camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

"We need to go home from this event and set an example. Each club should do something. Just one thing to help these refugees can make a remarkable difference," he added.

The two-day Rotary event in Rome, tied to the Vatican's Jubilee of Mercy and dubbed the Jubilee of Rotarians by organizers from District 2080 (Italy), also included benefit concerts and three fundraising dinners for polio eradication.

By Ryan Hyland
Rotary News
Pope welcomes Rotary to Jubilee audience 2016-05-07 04:00:00Z 0
Investing in clean water could save 2.5 million lives a year. We can't afford not to protect the world's water supply.

Worldwide, more than 748 million people live without access to clean water and at least 3,000 children die each day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water. Rotary is working to change that. For example, members used a Rotary grant to drill more than 20 clean-water wells and to repair another 30 in villages across Ghana. The project also included education about and treatment of Buruli ulcer, a debilitating infection that if untreated can lead to disability and death. Nearly 70,000 people will benefit from this initiative.
Grant brings clean water to thousands in Ghana 2016-04-29 04:00:00Z 0
Kerstin Jeska-Thorwart (left) talks with a nurse at the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital in Galle, Sri Lanka.
Photo Credit: Rotary International / Alyce Henson
From the April 2016 issue of The Rotarian

What Kerstin Jeska-Thorwart remembers is the silence. No birds chirping, no dogs barking, no car engines revving. Nothing. “I’ve never heard such a silence before, and never since,” she says. “I knew something must have happened.”

It was 9:35 the morning after Christmas 2004, and in Sri Lanka, it was a Poya Day, a Buddhist public holiday held every full moon. Jeska-Thorwart, a lawyer from Germany, was on vacation in Hikkaduwa, on the island’s southwestern coast. Any other morning of her holiday she and her husband would have been on the beach, but today they stayed back at their vacation home, up a small hill about a half-mile from the water’s edge, to clean and prepare for guests.

After a few minutes, sound returned, as though it had been switched on. Now she heard people running, crying. She went down the main road to see what had happened. She saw people in swimming suits, shoeless, covered in blood.

They told her there was a big wave.

The tsunami, as she later learned, was caused when an earthquake with the estimated force of 23,000 atomic bombs rattled the floor of the Indian Ocean. The seabed rose 10 feet, displacing 7 cubic miles of water. A wall of water, in some places up to 100 feet high, slammed into countries throughout Southeast Asia and as far away as Africa. All told, more than 230,000 people died in 14 countries, and 1.7 million were left homeless. More than half of the dead were in Indonesia, followed by Sri Lanka, where 35,000 people were killed.

Sri Lanka was hit by several waves that day. They knocked out cellphone service, land lines, electricity, television, radio. Jeska-Thorwart, then governor of District 1950 (Germany), opened up the house as a makeshift first aid clinic. Four days later, when the situation had stabilized, she and her husband, the late Carl-Otto Thorwart – himself a member of the Rotary Club of Nürnberg-Sigena – together with some Sri Lankan friends, drove down the coast looking for clues to the extent of the damage. “We had no information about what had happened,” she says. “Was it only Hikkaduwa that was hit, or other towns too?”

The first city they came to was Galle, about 12 miles south. Conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th century and fortified by the Dutch in the 17th, the city had long served as the main port between Europe and the East. The tsunami killed 4,000 people in the city and damaged 12,000 houses. “Every minute that went by,” Jeska-Thorwart says of her Sri Lankan companions, “they were more and more silent. They were completely shocked. They realized their country was destroyed.”

On the edge of the city, directly across the road from the beach, the group arrived at a hospital. It was Mahamodara Teaching Hospital, the primary maternity hospital in the province of 2.5 million people. “It was totally empty,” Jeska-Thorwart recalls. One of the women in the car had delivered four children there, and when she saw the devastation, she cried out: “Where are the babies?”

When the first wave of the tsunami slammed into the hospital, deliveries had been underway. Although the 10-foot wall around the hospital could not stop the wave, it buffered its force, so the water was only 4 feet high by the time it reached the prenatal ward that faced the sea. The power failed, the backup generator failed, the water supply and sewer systems failed. Patients’ mattresses were soaked with foul-smelling water. The 349 patients were evacuated, first to a nearby temple, then to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, a couple of miles inland. By the time the subsequent waves hit Mahamodara, no patients or staff remained on site. One baby had died.

Upon learning that the patients and staff had been moved, Jeska-Thorwart and her companions went to check on them. Only the most urgent cases had been transferred – others were sent home – and the maternity hospital had been squeezed into 70 beds in the male neurology wing and portions of two other wards at Karapitiya. Jeska-Thorwart saw pregnant women sitting outside in the rain. They lay in beds to deliver and moved to the floor to recover. There were not enough toilets; there was nowhere to eat or drink. “It was a horrible situation,” she says. She asked to speak to a doctor.

Her first words to him were: “Don’t worry. We will help you.”

“Excuse me, may I know your name?” asked Malik Goonewardene, the head of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Ruhuna in Galle and a consultant at Mahamodara Teaching Hospital. He eyed Jeska-Thorwart, who was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, like a tourist.

“I’m from Rotary. I want to help you.”

Goonewardene invited her into a meeting where the Mahamodara doctors were gathered. Jeska-Thorwart explained who she was and asked the doctors to compile a list of everything they needed. (She still has it.)

A few days later, she drove to Colombo, which – because of its location on the island’s western coast – had not been damaged as severely. She asked local Rotarians to email the list to her office in Germany. By the time she returned home on 6 January, her office was jammed with medical equipment, and by 10 January, German Rotarians had shipped the doctors 2 tons of supplies, including scalpels, drapes, arm slings, gloves, three ultrasound scanners, and 1,360 diapers. Less than a month later, they shipped another 7 tons.

And that was only the beginning.

A decade later, Mahamodara Teaching Hospital’s only ward that has not been replaced or refurbished after the tsunami stands empty. Inside, pieces of plaster are falling off the walls. A couple of old bed frames are stacked in a corner, and wires hang from the ceilings. The building dates to the 1800s, when the hospital was built to quarantine South Indian immigrants arriving to work on Sri Lanka’s plantations and vaccinate them against smallpox.

In contrast are the bright and airy new buildings designed by Lakshman Alwis, an architect and a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo. Inside one, lofted ceilings with vents allow the tropical heat to rise, so the building stays comfortable without air conditioning. Large windows illuminate a room filled with beds where women rest, waiting to deliver. Since patients come from all over the province, many arrive before their due date so they don’t have to travel while in labor. The hospital serves the entire socioeconomic spectrum; the wife of its deputy director delivered her baby here.

Within a few weeks of the tsunami, more than 6,000 German Rotarians had donated €1.3 million, and in 2008, The Rotary Foundation supported the project. Other partners included German-headquartered global corporations such as Siemens, Trumpf, and Ejot, as well as a foundation set up by former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who had been vacationing at a coastal resort southeast of Galle when the tsunami hit.

In the past 11 years, this funding has helped renovate or build 10 departments and wards, and provided equipment worth more than €1 million. The Rotary Club of Colombo, which partnered with District 1950 on the Foundation grant, managed much of the construction. Since work started, 160,000 babies have been born and more than 2.5 million women have received gynecological care. In 2014, a year the hospital saw more than 12,000 births, not one mother died – a statistic many Western hospitals would covet. “That speaks volumes about what we have been able to achieve here,” says RI President K.R. Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo.

“When this hospital got damaged and we had to evacuate, it was an absolute calamity. We didn’t know what to do,” says Goonewardene. “Without our donors, including Rotary, who came to our aid from the start, I don’t know how we would have managed.”

The project has included many steps over the years: first, operating rooms and intensive care units for mothers and babies; then the prenatal wards; and, finally, training. Jeska-Thorwart, whom Rotary honored as a Global Woman of Action at the United Nations in November, says they plan to celebrate the completion of the project in January 2017.

Since 2010, a team of doctors, midwives, and nurses has traveled once a year from Sri Lanka to Germany, and another from Germany to Sri Lanka, for training. At the biggest hospital in Nuremberg, where Jeska-Thorwart lives, only a couple of babies are born each day. In contrast, the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital delivers 70 babies daily. Because of the number of births in Sri Lanka, the German doctors get more experience in the neonatal intensive care unit dealing with birth complications. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan doctors get experience on state-of-the-art equipment in Germany.

The neonatal intensive care unit, one of the few air-conditioned buildings at the hospital, is a world of beeps and scrubs and needles. A 19-day-old infant lies in an incubator, connected to a neonatal CPAP machine to support her breathing, donated by Rotary, which equipped the entire unit. The newborn, who arrived two months premature, was transferred here because the hospital has some of the most advanced equipment in the country. “When I started here, I was amazed,” says Selvi Rupasinghe, the chief neonatologist. “Rotary’s contributions have made a tremendous change to neonatal care.”

Outside the unit, a woman holds a sleepy toddler in her arms. The child’s eyes are closed and her head droops as her mother, a dance teacher, smiles and hugs her daughter tight. The child, now 21 months old, was born premature, weighing only 2 pounds. She spent a month in the neonatal intensive care unit and today loves to dance, like many girls her age. “Without all of this equipment, she would not have been able to survive,” says Sumith Manathunga, the hospital’s deputy director.

English isn’t the mother’s first language, but she does know four words: “Thank you very much.”

By Diana Schoberg
The Rotarian
A wave of compassion 2016-04-24 04:00:00Z 0
Photo Credit: Na Son Nguyen
From the March 2016 issue of The Rotarian

The fierce July sun beat down on us as we approached the field where the match was to take place. It wasn’t much of a soccer pitch, with its uneven terrain and rusty poles for goalposts, but the local teens we had met came ready to play. They guided us over the piles of bricks and broken tiles that separate their neighborhood community center from the field behind it and took their positions.

Much like any schoolyard competitors, incursions from grazing cows notwithstanding, players stretched and warmed up, took turns retrieving out-of-bounds balls, and, after the final goal, lined up to exchange high-fives. The Vietnamese contingent handily outscored our group of American Rotary volunteers, but the defeat was far from bitter. The five Rotarians, four Interactors, and two 20-something alumni of Rotary Youth Leadership Awards had already achieved what they had come to Vietnam to do: distribute durable soccer balls to promote play and to spread Rotary’s message of service and goodwill.

The community center sits on the outskirts of Hoi An, a resort town on the South China Sea. Orange and fuchsia bougainvillea blossoms spill over stalls selling scarves and spices at one of Vietnam’s oldest marketplaces, and along the banks of the Thu Bon River, food vendors serve aromatic pho (noodle soup) and banh mi (sandwiches). By night, tourists dine under glowing silk lanterns at the seaside restaurants and hotels.

The kids we met in Hoi An have a few soccer balls on hand, but are just as likely to kick around rocks or bundles of banana leaves. Tim Jahnigen first observed this phenomenon in 2006 as he watched news footage of a refugee camp in Darfur, Sudan. The children on the screen were playing soccer using a bundle of trash tied with twine. Struck by the evidently universal tendency of children to play no matter how difficult the circumstances, Jahnigen set out to develop a soccer ball tough enough to endure the harshest conditions.

Almost 10 years later, One World Play Project – the company Jahnigen founded with his wife, Lisa Tarver – has provided more than 1.5 million durable soccer balls in over 175 countries. The ball itself is made of a proprietary foamlike blend that bounces like a soccer ball but won’t puncture, deflate, or otherwise fall apart.

“Play is vital for humans to thrive,” Tarver says, echoing recent research. “Play is one of the most effective therapies for any kind of trauma or hardship, whether in refugee camps or inner cities afflicted with gang violence – anywhere kids have suffered human rights abuses or the effects of poverty or natural disasters. Play is what allows them to recover and connect with their community.”

Our team of Rotary members and youth program participants from the San Francisco Bay Area brought to Vietnam 2,400 of these balls, bound for schools and community centers. We traveled south from the capital, Hanoi, through the mountains and along the scenic coastline to Ho Chi Minh City and the villages of the Mekong Delta. In each community we visited, we met with local officials, handed out balls, and challenged the recipients to a game – no translation required.

“Play is the universal language,” Tarver says. “You go somewhere and you may not be able to talk to the people, but if you pull out this ball, you’ll be connected, because it’s intuitive. The ball is the connector between the visitors and the community.”

There are no Rotary clubs in Vietnam; they were disbanded in the 1970s. Since 1994, however, when the U.S. government lifted the trade embargo that had been in effect since the Vietnam War ended, Rotary clubs have worked with government approval on several successful projects with local charities.

Sue McKinney, a member of the Rotary Club of Oakland Sunrise, has divided her time between Ho Chi Minh City and her native California since 1994. A lawyer by training and a serial entrepreneur in practice, McKinney has worked on 21 projects in Vietnam, coordinating Group Study Exchange trips, organizing wheelchair distributions and medical camps, hosting dozens of visiting U.S. Rotarians, and tapping into her extensive in-country network to promote Rotary’s work.

The collaboration with One World Play Project also has its roots in McKinney’s Rolodex. She once hosted a GSE participant from California’s District 5170 named Ingrid Fraunfelder, and the two kept in touch. When Fraunfelder went to work for One World Play Project as a program manager, McKinney saw a natural fit for the district’s Interact program. She presented the idea to the district and reached out to contacts at Aid for Kids and Football for All in Vietnam, two local nonprofits that provided logistical support and helped coordinate distribution events.

McKinney also saw an opportunity to expand Rotary’s network and build goodwill through cultural exchange. “Group Study Exchange was my introduction to Rotary 30 years ago,” before clubs accepted female members, she recalls. “I went to Holland on an all-female GSE team, and I’m still in touch with those women. Those connections are for life. It’s a way of networking, and it helped recruit me into the organization. Once I’d seen Rotary at work on the world stage, I wanted to be a part of it.”

For Gloria Garing, a member of the Rotary Club of Freedom, Calif., the trip was an opportunity to honor her late husband, Ward, who served in Vietnam in the late 1960s and died of cancer in 2006. Midway through the trip, Garing made a solo detour down the coast from Hoi An to Cam Ranh Bay, where Ward had been stationed, to deliver soccer balls at a school.

“I wasn’t sure about what it would be like going to a communist country,” Garing says. “Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s with a father in the Navy, the whole idea of communism was, ‘They’re the enemy.’ There was a lot we didn’t know, of course, but there was a real fear.”

Garing met students, teachers, and families in Cam Ranh. “I was surprised by how welcoming everyone was,” she says. Vietnam, she says, is beautiful and interesting, but there was more to the trip: “When we do service work, it’s about the people we meet and the connections we make.”

Vu Dinh, a member of the Interact club at Mount Eden High School in Hayward, Calif., until his graduation last spring, was born in Vietnam, but his family moved to the United States when he was a baby. He had returned to Vietnam only once since then, on a family trip 10 years ago.

“It’s weird to think that one turn of events can change your whole life,” he said as we left a secondary school in Hanoi where he had addressed students in hesitant Vietnamese. “I’m sitting across from these kids, thinking how I could have been in their seats, meeting these American visitors, but instead I’m coming to their school on a tour bus.” Later, after he had reconnected with family members outside Da Nang, he said, “I’m glad my parents came to America, but I’m also glad I have the chance to come back to Vietnam, to spend time with my parents’ brothers and sisters, and see what the world looks like from the back of their motorbike.”

Dinh joined Interact during his sophomore year. He met new friends across the district, participated in leadership development programs such as RYLA, and served as club president in his senior year.

“In high school it’s often repeated that grades stay on your transcript forever. But these clubs teach you that the impact you make stays on these people’s lives forever,” Dinh says. “Interact has given me the opportunity to grow as a person, gain leadership skills, and give back. In Interact we have a structure and a network that allows participants to branch out in different communities and move toward a global community. That’s what sets Rotary apart.”

The way he sees it, our group is bringing that message of inclusion and opportunity to everyone we meet in Vietnam. “We’re giving away these soccer balls, but we’re also giving the opportunity to play and grow as a community through sports,” he says, “and we have the opportunity to let people know Rotary is important.”

The nearly indestructible soccer balls will go on conveying that message, says inventor Jahnigen. “When you go into a community and leave a ball behind, it reinforces the bonds and messages that came with it,” he says. “As long as it’s there being played with, it keeps the connection alive.”

Look for Interactors from District 5170 in the House of Friendship at the 2016 Rotary International Convention in Korea. Learn more about this ongoing project.

By Sallyann Price
The Rotarian
Goodwill games 2016-04-17 04:00:00Z 0
Kerstin Jeska-Thorwart (left) talks with a nurse at the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital in Galle, Sri Lanka.
Photo Credit: Rotary International / Alyce Henson

From the April 2016 issue of The Rotarian
ers is the silence. No birds chirping, no dogs barking, no car engines revving. Nothing. “I’ve never heard such a silence before, and never since,” she says. “I knew something must have happened.”

It was 9:35 the morning after Christmas 2004, and in Sri Lanka, it was a Poya Day, a Buddhist public holiday held every full moon. Jeska-Thorwart, a lawyer from Germany, was on vacation in Hikkaduwa, on the island’s southwestern coast. Any other morning of her holiday she and her husband would have been on the beach, but today they stayed back at their vacation home, up a small hill about a half-mile from the water’s edge, to clean and prepare for guests.

After a few minutes, sound returned, as though it had been switched on. Now she heard people running, crying. She went down the main road to see what had happened. She saw people in swimming suits, shoeless, covered in blood.

They told her there was a big wave.

The tsunami, as she later learned, was caused when an earthquake with the estimated force of 23,000 atomic bombs rattled the floor of the Indian Ocean. The seabed rose 10 feet, displacing 7 cubic miles of water. A wall of water, in some places up to 100 feet high, slammed into countries throughout Southeast Asia and as far away as Africa. All told, more than 230,000 people died in 14 countries, and 1.7 million were left homeless. More than half of the dead were in Indonesia, followed by Sri Lanka, where 35,000 people were killed.

Sri Lanka was hit by several waves that day. They knocked out cellphone service, land lines, electricity, television, radio. Jeska-Thorwart, then governor of District 1950 (Germany), opened up the house as a makeshift first aid clinic. Four days later, when the situation had stabilized, she and her husband, the late Carl-Otto Thorwart – himself a member of the Rotary Club of Nürnberg-Sigena – together with some Sri Lankan friends, drove down the coast looking for clues to the extent of the damage. “We had no information about what had happened,” she says. “Was it only Hikkaduwa that was hit, or other towns too?”

The first city they came to was Galle, about 12 miles south. Conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th century and fortified by the Dutch in the 17th, the city had long served as the main port between Europe and the East. The tsunami killed 4,000 people in the city and damaged 12,000 houses. “Every minute that went by,” Jeska-Thorwart says of her Sri Lankan companions, “they were more and more silent. They were completely shocked. They realized their country was destroyed.”

On the edge of the city, directly across the road from the beach, the group arrived at a hospital. It was Mahamodara Teaching Hospital, the primary maternity hospital in the province of 2.5 million people. “It was totally empty,” Jeska-Thorwart recalls. One of the women in the car had delivered four children there, and when she saw the devastation, she cried out: “Where are the babies?”

When the first wave of the tsunami slammed into the hospital, deliveries had been underway. Although the 10-foot wall around the hospital could not stop the wave, it buffered its force, so the water was only 4 feet high by the time it reached the prenatal ward that faced the sea. The power failed, the backup generator failed, the water supply and sewer systems failed. Patients’ mattresses were soaked with foul-smelling water. The 349 patients were evacuated, first to a nearby temple, then to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, a couple of miles inland. By the time the subsequent waves hit Mahamodara, no patients or staff remained on site. One baby had died.

Upon learning that the patients and staff had been moved, Jeska-Thorwart and her companions went to check on them. Only the most urgent cases had been transferred – others were sent home – and the maternity hospital had been squeezed into 70 beds in the male neurology wing and portions of two other wards at Karapitiya. Jeska-Thorwart saw pregnant women sitting outside in the rain. They lay in beds to deliver and moved to the floor to recover. There were not enough toilets; there was nowhere to eat or drink. “It was a horrible situation,” she says. She asked to speak to a doctor.

Her first words to him were: “Don’t worry. We will help you.”

“Excuse me, may I know your name?” asked Malik Goonewardene, the head of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Ruhuna in Galle and a consultant at Mahamodara Teaching Hospital. He eyed Jeska-Thorwart, who was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, like a tourist.

“I’m from Rotary. I want to help you.”

Goonewardene invited her into a meeting where the Mahamodara doctors were gathered. Jeska-Thorwart explained who she was and asked the doctors to compile a list of everything they needed. (She still has it.)

A few days later, she drove to Colombo, which – because of its location on the island’s western coast – had not been damaged as severely. She asked local Rotarians to email the list to her office in Germany. By the time she returned home on 6 January, her office was jammed with medical equipment, and by 10 January, German Rotarians had shipped the doctors 2 tons of supplies, including scalpels, drapes, arm slings, gloves, three ultrasound scanners, and 1,360 diapers. Less than a month later, they shipped another 7 tons.

And that was only the beginning.

A decade later, Mahamodara Teaching Hospital’s only ward that has not been replaced or refurbished after the tsunami stands empty. Inside, pieces of plaster are falling off the walls. A couple of old bed frames are stacked in a corner, and wires hang from the ceilings. The building dates to the 1800s, when the hospital was built to quarantine South Indian immigrants arriving to work on Sri Lanka’s plantations and vaccinate them against smallpox.

In contrast are the bright and airy new buildings designed by Lakshman Alwis, an architect and a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo. Inside one, lofted ceilings with vents allow the tropical heat to rise, so the building stays comfortable without air conditioning. Large windows illuminate a room filled with beds where women rest, waiting to deliver. Since patients come from all over the province, many arrive before their due date so they don’t have to travel while in labor. The hospital serves the entire socioeconomic spectrum; the wife of its deputy director delivered her baby here.

Within a few weeks of the tsunami, more than 6,000 German Rotarians had donated €1.3 million, and in 2008, The Rotary Foundation supported the project. Other partners included German-headquartered global corporations such as Siemens, Trumpf, and Ejot, as well as a foundation set up by former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who had been vacationing at a coastal resort southeast of Galle when the tsunami hit.

In the past 11 years, this funding has helped renovate or build 10 departments and wards, and provided equipment worth more than €1 million. The Rotary Club of Colombo, which partnered with District 1950 on the Foundation grant, managed much of the construction. Since work started, 160,000 babies have been born and more than 2.5 million women have received gynecological care. In 2014, a year the hospital saw more than 12,000 births, not one mother died – a statistic many Western hospitals would covet. “That speaks volumes about what we have been able to achieve here,” says RI President K.R. Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo.

“When this hospital got damaged and we had to evacuate, it was an absolute calamity. We didn’t know what to do,” says Goonewardene. “Without our donors, including Rotary, who came to our aid from the start, I don’t know how we would have managed.”

The project has included many steps over the years: first, operating rooms and intensive care units for mothers and babies; then the prenatal wards; and, finally, training. Jeska-Thorwart, whom Rotary honored as a Global Woman of Action at the United Nations in November, says they plan to celebrate the completion of the project in January 2017.

Since 2010, a team of doctors, midwives, and nurses has traveled once a year from Sri Lanka to Germany, and another from Germany to Sri Lanka, for training. At the biggest hospital in Nuremberg, where Jeska-Thorwart lives, only a couple of babies are born each day. In contrast, the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital delivers 70 babies daily. Because of the number of births in Sri Lanka, the German doctors get more experience in the neonatal intensive care unit dealing with birth complications. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan doctors get experience on state-of-the-art equipment in Germany.

The neonatal intensive care unit, one of the few air-conditioned buildings at the hospital, is a world of beeps and scrubs and needles. A 19-day-old infant lies in an incubator, connected to a neonatal CPAP machine to support her breathing, donated by Rotary, which equipped the entire unit. The newborn, who arrived two months premature, was transferred here because the hospital has some of the most advanced equipment in the country. “When I started here, I was amazed,” says Selvi Rupasinghe, the chief neonatologist. “Rotary’s contributions have made a tremendous change to neonatal care.”

Outside the unit, a woman holds a sleepy toddler in her arms. The child’s eyes are closed and her head droops as her mother, a dance teacher, smiles and hugs her daughter tight. The child, now 21 months old, was born premature, weighing only 2 pounds. She spent a month in the neonatal intensive care unit and today loves to dance, like many girls her age. “Without all of this equipment, she would not have been able to survive,” says Sumith Manathunga, the hospital’s deputy director.

English isn’t the mother’s first language, but she does know four words: “Thank you very much.”

By Diana Schoberg
The Rotarian
A wave of compassion 2016-04-09 04:00:00Z 0
Marion Bunch (left), a Rotary member from Georgia, USA, whose son died of AIDS, sits with Me Maria, a South African grandmother who is raising her two grandsons after their parents died of AIDS.
Marion Bunch (left), a Rotary member from Georgia, USA, whose son died of AIDS, sits with Me Maria, a South African grandmother who is raising her two grandsons after their parents died of AIDS.

A documentary film produced by Rotary's broadcast media department that features Rotary member Marion Bunch and her work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in underprivileged African communities won two 2015 Telly Awards.

The prestigious awards are given annually to the finest film and video productions. Rotary's documentary, "Rotary Family Health Days" received a Silver Telly, the highest honor, in the online video-documentary category, and a Bronze Telly in the online video-branded content and entertainment category. The documentary was shown by the South African Broadcasting Corporation and throughout Africa.

"What we tried to accomplish with the film was to get the good news and the good deeds out there so that the non-Rotary world can see it," says producer Andrew Chudzinski. "It was a great collaborative project."

The film documents the tremendous burden HIV/AIDS places on African families and communities. It covers the journeys of two women: South African grandmother Me Maria, who is raising her two grandsons whose parents died of AIDS, and Bunch, from Atlanta, Georgia, USA, who became a global advocate for AIDS prevention and the inspiration for Rotary Family Health Days after she lost her son to the disease.

"Because of that one single tragedy, my life's journey changed dramatically, from a very engaged businesswoman to a warrior on AIDS and advocate of human rights," Bunch told senior White House staff in October, when she was honored as one of 10 Rotary Women of Action for 2014. A member of the Rotary Club of Dunwoody, Bunch is the founder and CEO of Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention, a group of members that collaborates with Rotary clubs and districts on health-related projects.

The Rotary Health Days project, now in its fifth year and supported by Rotary clubs in Africa, has grown to deliver free basic health care, including HIV/AIDS screening and other preventive services, to underserved communities in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. It began in 2010, when Ugandan Stephen Mwanje, then governor of District 9211, asked Bunch if the Rotarian group would organize a multisite, comprehensive health event.

"The tremendous burden on the families of those infected by HIV/AIDS -- particularly for older people caring for their terminally ill children and raising their grandchildren, and for children orphaned by this disease -- is incalculable," says Bunch. "This is a story of people coming together to help fight this global killer and other preventable diseases."

The award-winning documentary was a joint project of the public relations and broadcast media staff at Rotary's world headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. In addition to Chudzinski, producer Vivian Fiore, video editor Todd Murphy, and executive producer Stephen Guenther worked on the film.

"We went through many different outlines, thoughts, and angles, and worked closely with Marion [Bunch] on it," says Fiore. "It evolved into a better piece than we all imagined."

In 2012, Rotary won a Silver Telly for its documentary "Doing Good in the World: Growing Local Economies."

By Adam Ross
Rotary News
Rotary wins prestigious Silver Telly for AIDS documentary 2016-04-03 04:00:00Z 0
Wise Words from Mark Twain 2016-03-26 04:00:00Z 0
Rotary and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education scholarship recipients at the April graduation ceremony. From left: Gonzalo Duro (Argentina), Godfrey Baguma (Uganda), Bernice Asamoah (Ghana), Kaycee Okoli (Nigeria), and Temesgen Adamu (Ethiopia).
By Bernice Asamoah

When I first arrived in the Netherlands, I marveled at how clean everything was and how neatly water was channeled through town. It was very different from my homeland of Ghana, and I was struck by the diversity of Delft’s population.

I had arrived in the Netherlands on a scholarship from The Rotary Foundation to study sanitary engineering at the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. The opportunity came unexpectedly, but has turned out to be a career defining moment. I am so grateful to the Rotary Clubs of Kumasi East and Accra who supported my efforts to meet all the requirements for the scholarship.

Social coordinators from the school worked hard to make our stay as comfortable as possible. Our Ghanaian predecessors met us at the airport to greet us and take us to the school on a cold and rainy day. I was already experiencing the Dutch weather! Local Rotary members also went out of their way, despite their busy schedules, to help us and make us feel welcome.

I am confident and ready to begin contributing my part to solving my country’s water management and health issues.

We were taken on so many tours our first week in the Netherlands that I lost count. I learned a lot from the people I met. I was able to relate to the issues they shared about their countries and how they dealt with them. I saw how I could model these experiences to help meet the needs of my country, and the world as a whole.

One gets around the Netherlands principally by bicycle, which proved difficult for me to pick up at first. But eventually I got used to it, and can even say I found it a comfortable and easy way to get around.

My main purpose in accepting the scholarship was to gain knowledge in water and sanitation related issues, which proved totally worth my time. It was an educational journey that included excellent teaching and enlightening field trips. Apart from my studies, I also had the opportunity to meet other students from a variety of backgrounds and learn from their different lifestyles. I left the school a much more rounded person.

This has definitely been an important stepping stone in my career. I am confident and ready to begin contributing my part to solving my country’s water management and health issues. I look forward to striving to achieve Rotary’s motto of “Service above self.”
My UNESCO-IHE scholarship has defined my career 2016-03-26 04:00:00Z 0
Peace Fellows at the 2015 Rotary Convention in São Paulo, Brazil.

By Teree Bergman

When I was an undergraduate, one of my professors expressed the interesting idea that scholars should stop studying the causes of war. He suggested that conflicts occur all the time and that the natural state is war. He proposed that we should be studying the causes of peace, as that is the less common situation.

Paul Harris expressed a similar view in a recorded interview in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1945: “The way to war is a well-paved highway and the way to peace is still a wilderness.”

While Rotary’s number one objective rightly continues to be on polio eradication, the inception of the Rotary Peace Centers program may be the initiative that secures Rotary’s role in the world. Rotary has a long history of promoting peace, and Rotary Peace Fellowships are the embodiment of this long-term interest. In 1923, Paul Harris offered an opinion as to the real mission of Rotary.

“Is there anything more potent than man’s impulse to hate? I think that there surely is and that it is man’s impulse to love. What have we been advertising throughout the centuries? We have been advertising war. The pages of history reek with it. In the days of my childhood, no education was considered well begun until hatred of alien races had been burned into one’s mind. It was surely wonderful advertising and done just in the nick of time. The child mind is a delicate film, wonderfully impressionable. Love is mightier than hate. Give it one half the advertising that hate has had, and there will be no more war.”

The Rotary interest in achieving peace has continued throughout its 111-year history. As past RI President Frank Devlyn said in 2006, “In Rotary we have always practiced and have an ongoing policy of promoting Better Understanding and Peace.”

Rotary was instrumental in the formation of the United Nations and has continued that collaboration for 70 years. Rotary holds regular peace symposia and forums throughout the world.

The Rotary Peace Centers program that Rotary created in 2002 offers great promise for the future, and it is worthy of our support. These peace fellows are the best and the brightest, and they choose to put their talents to work in the study of peace. Your financial gift to the Rotary Peace Centers make you a part of this great effort to promote nonviolent solutions to problems that would otherwise be decided by conflict.
Rotary Peace Fellows poised to change the world 2016-03-19 04:00:00Z 0
Clara Montanez attends a reception in 2013 for the Champions of Change honorees at the White House in Washington D.C.
Photo Credit: Rotary Images
When Clara Montanez was a student, she never heard the word mentoring. The idea of having a role model help you pursue your ambitions was unfamiliar to her.

"You basically chose your career based on personal interest and hoped you could find a job," says Montanez, senior director of investment for Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. "I went the route of getting married and having children first, and started my career later in life. I had no model for how to do that."

That changed for Montanez the day a friend invited her to join Rotary.

"Frankly, I was dragged into Rotary. I didn't see a connection at first," says Montanez, who's been a member of the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C., since 2003. "But then I met several women, including Doris Margolis, who took me under her wing and started mentoring me on how to get more involved. I began seeing the value in having someone I could count on as a mentor, and I have become more of a leader in our club, in my community, and at work."

Rotary's mentoring opportunities motivated Montanez, Rotary's alternate representative to the Organization of American States, to help organize an event for International Women's Day, 8 March. The event, to be held at the World Bank Group headquarters in Washington, will feature Deepa Willingham and Marion Bunch, both previously honored as Rotary Women of Action. Rotary International Director Jennifer Jones will moderate the event, which will be streamed on World Bank Live.

Montanez says Rotary has given her a platform to mentor young women as they balance career and family, as well as manage the challenge of repaying student loans. According to a recent study by the American Association of University Women, the student loan debt burden weighs more heavily on women because of the persistent gap in pay between women and men.

"I think Rotary has given me access to young people, like Rotaractors, and they are ready to accept guidance because Rotary is a safe place to reach out and get advice," says Montanez.

Similarly, Jackie Huie, a member of the Rotary Club of St. Joseph & Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA, recognizes Rotary's mentoring power. In 2007, Huie's club created a program that matches high school juniors and seniors with a mentor in the field they'd like to enter. The program started with 40 students at one high school and has now expanded into schools across the area.

"I got a letter from a girl who came from a poor background, and through the program, she got a chance to meet with an attorney in town," says Huie, president of JohnsonRauhoff, a multimedia company that fosters creative thinking for artists. "It inspired her and gave her confidence to go to school and study law. She got accepted into four law schools and is on her way to becoming an attorney."

Besides the investment in young people's futures, mentoring brings clubs important community recognition. For example, Huie's club has 150 members, a large number for a club that doesn't hold membership drives, she says.

"Everyone in southwest Michigan knows about Rotary," says Huie. "We had a student who wanted to be a CEO for a large corporation. After we arranged for him to meet with the CEO of Whirlpool, his father was so impressed with the whole program that he joined Rotary."

Many of the program's early participants went on to form an Interact club, and there are now more than 200 Interact members at four area schools. Forty of them will travel to the Dominican Republic this summer to install water filters and take part in a medical mission.

"It's important for Rotary to make an investment in young people," says Huie. "My own daughter is in Interact because of my membership in Rotary. I think her world is broader, and she looks at the world differently. We all do, because of what we've learned through Rotary."
By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Successful women mentor youth through Rotary 2016-03-13 05:00:00Z 0
A Rotaract project in Uttar Pradesh, India, is liberating women who emptied dry toilets with their hands by teaching them skills that enable them to earn a living for their families.

Although manual scavenging was banned in India in 1993, it persists in many parts of the country. The women who engage in it, many of them the sole wage earners for their families, make a meager income for their efforts.

Through Project Azmat, members of the Rotaract Club of SRCC Panchshila Park partnered with the international nonprofit Enactus to organize women who had been doing this work into a cooperative, teaching them basic literacy skills and training them to make and market detergent. The project is also replacing dry latrines with two-pit toilets, which require no maintenance and use only a small amount of water to convert human waste into manure, improving sanitation and preventing the spread of disease. More than 120 new toilets have been installed, enabling over two dozen women to earn a living through the sale of detergent. The project was selected as this year’s international winner of the Rotaract Outstanding Project Award.
(Photo above) A woman measures out ingredients to make detergent. Project Azmat is freeing women from hand-cleaning dry toilets for a living by teaching them marketable skills.
Highlighting the scope of youth service in Rotary Every other year since 2003, members of the Interact Club of Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, have teamed up with their sponsor Rotary club, teachers, and firefighters to provide assistance to the Refilwe orphanage, located PHOTO COURTESY OF INTERACT CLUB OF HUGH BOYD SECONDARY SCHOOL near Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2013, the month-long effort included rebuilding the orphanage and a preschool.

The Interact club produced a video that featured the orphanage renovation, along with other projects such as ice skating to raise funds for polio eradication, collecting canned goods for a local food bank, and participating in a model UN day in San Diego, California, USA. The video — “Our Best Day in Interact” — won the annual Interact video contest for 2014-15, beating out 88 entries from 33 countries. (Below left) The Interact Club of Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, has built a strong tradition of bringing positive change to communities locally and globally.
The Rotary Foundation
Annual Report 2014-2015
Helping women find dignity and earn a living 2016-03-03 05:00:00Z 0
District 7870 conference 2016 will be held in the historic city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We will convene at the newly renovated and enlarged Sheraton Harborside, where we have negotiated aa affordable rate of $695 for a couple, or $495 for a single participant. The cost includes a spacious room for two nights, dinner on Friday night, breakfast and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.

The fun starts on Friday afternoon at 2:00 PM and continues with fellowship and dinner. Be prepared for exciting entertainment that evening.

We kick off the day Saturday morning with breakfast, followed by a full plenary session that ends at noon. For those who play golf, a tournament is scheduled for the afternoon; and for those who don't, a host of activities await. Take a boat trip to Star Island, or enjoy a harbor cruise. Visit Strawbery Banke, the USS Albacore, or Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse within Fort Constitution in New Castle. If you are partial to craft beers, take a brewery tour, or just wander through the variety of interesting shops, all within walking distance of the Sheraton. Whatever you choose to do, it will be an afternoon to remember. Saturday evening brings fellowship at six, followed by a delicious plated banquet. After the evening ceremonies, extend the fun in the hospitality rooms.

Sunday morning starts with an early breakfast for those attending the memorial service where we will celebrate the lives of those lost during the past Rotary year. The third plenary session follows, with awards for excellence and to honor unique and successful club projects. Finally, our exchange students will enthuse over their "awesome" year with their Rotarian hosts, an exercise that always brings tears and laughter. "Let there be Peace on Earth" closes out what promises to be a most memorable conference.
Join us and Be a Gift to the World.
Rotary District 7870 Conference First Time Visit to Historic Portsmouth, NH 2016-02-20 05:00:00Z 0
Actress and humanitarian Sharon Stone gives the peace sign after speaking at the Rotary World Peace Conference on 15 January in Ontario, California, USA.
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Ryan Hyland
On 2 December, a terrorist attack killed 14 people and wounded more than 20 others in San Bernardino, California.

Less than two months later, an event nearby focused on peace: the Rotary World Peace Conference. The two-day meeting on 15-16 January brought together experts from around the world to explore ideas and solutions to violence and conflict.

The conference was the first of five Rotary presidential conferences planned for this year.

San Bernardino County official Janice Rutherford, a member of the Rotary Club of Fontana, California, told attendees at the opening general session that the conference couldn’t be timelier.

“Now more than ever, we need to come together and create peace and reduce human suffering,” said Rutherford, who declared 15 January 2016 Rotary World Peace Day and a Day of Peace for San Bernardino County. “We appreciate your commitment to exploring these options and taking them back to your community and the rest of the world.”

More than 150 leaders in the fields of peace, education, business, law, and health care led over 100 breakout sessions and workshops. Topics ranged from how to achieve peace through education to combating human trafficking to the role the media has in eliminating conflict.

Hosted by Rotary districts in California and attended by more than 1,500 people, the conference is an example of how Rotary members are taking peace into their own hands, said RI President K.R. Ravindran.

“We can’t wait for governments to build peace, or the United Nations. We can’t expect peace to be handed to us on a platter,” said Ravindran. “We have to build peace from the bottom, from the foundation of our society. The valuable information you leave with at the end of this conference will aid you in managing conflict in your personal lives, local communities, and potentially around the world.”

Actress and humanitarian Sharon Stone urged conference attendees to find tolerance within themselves as a way to develop compassion and understanding for others. Noting that today’s technology makes it easy to learn about diverse cultures and beliefs, Stone encouraged Rotary members to embrace differences while learning about others’ work.

“The more we understand the darkness of our enemies, the better we know what to do, how to respond and behave,” said Stone.

Rotary is inching the world closer to meaningful change, said the Rev. Greg Boyle, executive director of Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles-based gang intervention and reentry program.

“Rotary decided to dismantle the barriers that exclude people,” said Boyle, a bestselling author and Catholic priest. “You [Rotary members] know that we must stand outside the margins so that the margins can be erased. You stand with the poor, the powerless, and those whose dignity has been denied.”

Rotary’s most formidable weapon against war, violence, and intolerance is its Rotary Peace Centers program. Through study and field work, peace fellows at the centers become catalysts for peace and conflict resolution in their communities and around the globe.

Dozens of Rotary peace fellows attended the conference to promote the program, learn about other peace initiatives, and help Rotary clubs understand the role they can play.

Peace Fellow Christopher Zambakari, who recently graduated from the University of Queensland in Australia, said the conference is a chance to increase awareness of what others are doing to achieve peace.

“Some people have only a local view toward peace,” said Zambakari, whose consulting firm in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, provides advisory services to organizations in Africa and the Middle East. “An event like this, with so many diverse perspectives, can open up connections and different possibilities to how we all can work towards a more peaceful world."

Other speakers included Carrie Hessler-Radelet, director of the U.S. Peace Corps; Judge Daniel Nsereko, special tribunal for Lebanon; Gillian Sorensen, senior adviser at the United Nations Foundation; Steve Killelea, founder and executive chair of the Institute for Economics and Peace; Dan Lungren, former U.S. representative; By Ryan Hyland

Rotary News
Presidential conference explores routes to peace 2016-02-14 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary members and our partners in the fight to eradicate polio offer our heartfelt condolences and express a deep sadness in the wake of a horrific bomb attack in Quetta, Pakistan, that took the lives of at least 15 security personnel on 13 January.

This tragic attack outside a polio immunization center is a stark reminder of the dangers faced by Rotary, our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and the brave women and men on the front lines of our effort to protect all children from the paralyzing effects of polio.
While the bombing will be investigated, one thing is clear: The security personnel who were killed died because their job was to protect teams of polio immunizers. We applaud the government's commitment to continue the vaccination campaign throughout Pakistan, which is one of only two countries where the poliovirus is still endemic.

Today we pause to honor the sacrifice made by the heroic police officers killed. Yet our 30-year commitment to end polio remains steadfast. Even as we absorb the horror of this bombing, we are redoubling our efforts to educate families and build confidence in the safety of polio vaccines, and to engage community and religious leaders to support our campaign.

We are closer than ever to achieving a polio-free world. Vast improvements have been seen in Pakistan, with more than 80 percent fewer cases in the country than in 2014. In order to stop polio in Pakistan in 2016, we must ensure the safety of vaccinators to reach every child.

And today, our release of $35 million in grants for polio eradication signals our determination to finish the job to which thousands of courageous individuals have committed themselves, and to never forget the sacrifices made by those who lost their lives in this effort.

Rotary News
Rotary condemns deadly attack on polio security personnel in Pakistan 2016-02-07 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary International President-elect John F. Germ announces his presidential theme 'Rotary Serving Humanity.'

Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris, believed that serving humanity is “the most worthwhile thing a person can do,” RI President-elect John F. Germ said, and that being a part of Rotary is a “great opportunity” to make that happen.

Germ unveiled the 2016-17 presidential theme, Rotary Serving Humanity, to incoming district governors on 18 January at the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA.

“I believe everyone recognizes the opportunity to serve Rotary for what it truly is: not a small opportunity, but a great one; an opportunity of a lifetime to change the world for the better, forever through Rotary’s service to humanity,” said Germ.

Rotary members around the globe are serving humanity by providing clean water to underdeveloped communities, promoting peace in conflict areas, and strengthening communities through basic education and literacy. But none more important than our work to eradicate polio worldwide, he said.

After a historic year in which transmission of the wild poliovirus was stopped in Nigeria and all of Africa, Germ said we are closer than ever to ending polio.

“We are at a crossroads in Rotary,” he added. “We are looking ahead at a year that may one day be known as the greatest year in Rotary’s history: the year that sees the world’s last case of polio.”

Last year’s milestones leave just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the virus still circulates. Polio would be only the second human disease ever to be eradicated.

When that moment arrives, it’s “tremendously important” that Rotary is ready for it, said Germ. “We need to be sure that we are recognized for that success, and leverage that success into more partnerships, greater growth, and even more ambitious service in the decades to come.”

Germ, a member of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, encouraged attendees to return to their clubs and communities and spread the word about Rotary’s role in the fight for a polio-free world.

“People who want to do good will see that Rotary is a place where they can change the world. Every Rotary club needs to be ready to give them that opportunity,” Germ said.

Enhancing Rotary’s image isn’t the only way to boost membership. “We need clubs that are flexible, so our service will be more attractive to younger members, recent retirees, and working people.”

He added: “We need more willing hands, more caring hearts, and more bright minds to move our work forward.”

Rotary News
Germ reveals ‘Rotary Serving Humanity’ as 2016-17 presidential theme 2016-01-29 05:00:00Z 0
Susan Davis shares a photo with school children in Pakistan. Davis co-founded BRAC USA to advance the mission of BRAC -- Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee -- which is dedicated to fighting poverty.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Susan Davis
For her work to mitigate extreme poverty around the world, Susan Davis has received many honors. But the 2015-16 Rotary Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award has special significance.

“It feels like a circle of completion,” says Davis, who was a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar in 1980-81, doing graduate studies in international relations at Oxford University in England. “Rotary invested in me when I was young, and now is celebrating the harvest.”

A decade ago, Davis co-founded BRAC USA to advance the mission of BRAC -- Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee -- the world's largest nongovernmental development organization, which was founded after Bangladesh’s partition from Pakistan in the 1970s. The U.S. branch is dedicated to fighting poverty and to creating opportunities for the poor in Africa and elsewhere.

Fulfilling that mission hasn’t been easy. Davis’ work has been disrupted by floods, cyclones, earthquakes, and war. Even worse was the sudden and deadly Ebola epidemic in 2014 in West Africa.

“I wasn't sure how to protect our staff and clients and accompany these vulnerable communities out of this tragic situation,” says Davis, who served as BRAC USA’s president and chief executive officer until her departure this month. She quickly contacted Ebola experts and connected them with BRAC USA’s representatives in affected countries. “I lost sleep and cried with each death,” she says.

Two of those deaths were particularly painful. Ophilia Dede, a BRAC credit officer in Liberia, and her husband succumbed to the virus, leaving behind a little girl. Davis helped set up a scholarship fund for her education.

But she doesn’t allow such painful experiences to deter her.

“The urgency of the need and the tangible opportunities to make a difference keep me going,” she says. “And I have been blessed by seeing two big ideas — microfinance and social entrepreneurship — take root globally.”

From 1987 to 1991, Davis championed microfinance while working as a program officer with the Ford Foundation in Bangladesh. She developed a consortium that raised $175 million, increasing the availability of microloans in Bangladeshi villages to 44 percent from 5 percent, she says. Though debates endure over how much credit microfinance should receive for the country’s progress, conditions in Bangladesh have improved significantly: According to The Economist, life expectancy in the country rose from 59 to 69 during a 20-year span ending in 2010.

Davis also is co-author, with journalist David Bornstein, of the book “Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know.”  And she is involved with Ashoka, a nonprofit organization that supports social entrepreneurship; as a director, she oversaw its expansion to the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

A resident of New York City, Davis is widely recognized for her work in the field of international development. She was appointed to the board of the United Nations Fund for International Partnership in 2012, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and has served on the boards of the Grameen Foundation, the Sirleaf Market Women's Fund, and the African Women's Development Fund USA.

Davis has come a long way from the small town in southwest Louisiana, USA, where she grew up. The Rotary scholarship provided her first opportunity to live abroad. She believes that her Oxford experience allowed her to be taken seriously, and credits it with helping her land a job with the Ford Foundation.

Perhaps most importantly, says Davis, that Rotary-sponsored year gave her an entirely new perspective on power and privilege.

“Oxford was larger than life in my imagination,” she recalls. “But when I became a part of Oxford and got to know the dons and the students, I realized that, whether rich or poor, we were all just human beings and all of us were vulnerable and full of imperfections.”

Davis will be honored at the Rotary International Convention in Korea in June.

By David Sweet
Rotary News
Alumna honoree creates opportunities for the poor  2016-01-24 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary members and our partners in the fight to eradicate polio offer our heartfelt condolences and express a deep sadness in the wake of a horrific bomb attack in Quetta, Pakistan, that took the lives of at least 15 security personnel on 13 January.

This tragic attack outside a polio immunization center is a stark reminder of the dangers faced by Rotary, our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and the brave women and men on the front lines of our effort to protect all children from the paralyzing effects of polio. While the bombing will be investigated, one thing is clear: The security personnel who were killed died because their job was to protect teams of polio immunizers. We applaud the government's commitment to continue the vaccination campaign throughout Pakistan, which is one of only two countries where the poliovirus is still endemic.

Today we pause to honor the sacrifice made by the heroic police officers killed. Yet our 30-year commitment to end polio remains steadfast. Even as we absorb the horror of this bombing, we are redoubling our efforts to educate families and build confidence in the safety of polio vaccines, and to engage community and religious leaders to support our campaign.

We are closer than ever to achieving a polio-free world. Vast improvements have been seen in Pakistan, with more than 80 percent fewer cases in the country than in 2014. In order to stop polio in Pakistan in 2016, we must ensure the safety of vaccinators to reach every child.

And today, our release of $35 million in grants for polio eradication signals our determination to finish the job to which thousands of courageous individuals have committed themselves, and to never forget the sacrifices made by those who lost their lives in this effort.

Rotary News
Rotary condemns deadly attack on polio security personnel in Pakistan 2016-01-15 05:00:00Z 0
Illustration by Gwen Keraval
Naing Ko Ko
Rotary Peace Fellow

University of Queensland, Australia, 2012-13

In 1988, when I was 16, I began to protest with other students for democracy, human rights, and social justice in my home country of Burma, now called Myanmar. Four years later, I was arrested and tortured for two months in an interrogation camp. I was shackled and beaten. I was not allowed to sleep. They put a cloth over my eyes and a hood over my head, so I could not tell the day from the night. They asked me the same questions over and over. It was quite similar to George Orwell’s 1984. After this, I was sent to a special court. I was given no lawyer, just sent directly to prison.

They did not want us to learn in prison, but I had a dream to go and study overseas when I was released. I convinced a guard to smuggle books to me. I received a dictionary to learn English and books on economics and philosophy. I dug a hole in the wall of my cell and hid the books and covered the hole with an image of the Buddha. I studied English at night and in the day I slept.

But one day, I got sleepy and didn’t hide the books, and they were discovered. After that, I was moved to a cell where they kept the dogs. They put me in shackles again and made me behave as if I were a dog. If they called my name, “Naing Ko Ko!” I had to respond, “Woof! Woof!” When the guards came, I had to kneel down and press my face to the floor and not look at their face. They put the food on the ground and I had to eat just with my mouth, like a dog. With water it was this way, too.

At this time, I realized that I would die in the prison if I remained fighting and stubborn. I knew I had to accept the reality and control my mind or I would go crazy in that place. There were others who committed suicide. They smashed their heads against the wall. I didn’t want to be defeated in this way. I did not want to die in front of inhuman wardens.

But I had also to remember that the guards were not educated people. They were part of a system. So I started to talk with them. I said, “Come on. We are just students. We are not murderers or criminals. We only want the right to learn and to make a democracy.” I tried to explain as much as I could, from reading the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi.

Many did not respond at all. But I kept talking. I made my voice loud. After many times talking, some prison guards replied to me. We became familiar and finally like close friends.

After six years and eight months, I was released. I am now fulfilling my dream of studying overseas at Australian National University in Canberra. Of all the prisoners who were arrested in the protests, I think I am the only one who is getting a Ph.D.

More than 3,000 people died during the democracy protests of 1988. Thousands more went to prison like me. We became known as the “88 Generation” because we called for democracy and human rights.

We cannot forget what happened in places like the dog cell. But we must forgive the guards and wardens or we cannot move forward. You cannot make a democracy with rage in your heart. There must be forgiveness. It is important to talk about justice. But revenge and justice are not the same.

For me, the best revenge is to become someone who can work to change my country systematically. I want to return to Myanmar to become a chief policy adviser. I want to work on anti-corruption and anti-poverty programs and social justice, and most of all the peacemaking process. I want the interrogation camp where I was tortured to become a museum so we never forget this part of our history and never repeat it.

As told to Steve Almond
The Rotarian
What it's like to go to jail for your beliefs ... and forgive your captors 2016-01-10 05:00:00Z 0
Happy New Year 2015-12-31 05:00:00Z 0
Happy Holidays 2015-12-18 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary International / Alyce Henson
When Camilla McGill planned her first visit to India about 10 years ago, she couldn’t have known how quickly – nor how painfully – she’d learn one of the trip’s most important lessons.

“I was alone in a hotel, and I had a nightmare,” she says. “I jumped out of bed, caught my foot in the sheet, fell to the floor, and hit my head.” In the morning, she found herself dizzy and disoriented, with a blossoming black eye, but she was determined to keep her first appointment: assisting with a National Immunization Day event with Rotarians at a nearby hospital.

“I didn’t find the hospital I was looking for,” she says, “but I came across a group of nuns who care for tuberculosis patients. They took me in, cleaned me up, and put me back together.” She soon resumed her work, grateful that the strangers’ kindness had sidetracked her.

“As Westerners, we’re often taught to take initiative: ‘Be the leader! Stick to the plan!’” McGill says. “Most of the Indians I’ve met don’t work that way; they work with people. It’s about relationships.”

A decade after that first trip, the relationships McGill has built with Indian, Canadian, and U.S. Rotarians have helped hundreds of India’s poorest citizens in a variety of projects.

Her journey began about 9,300 miles away from India, in the town of Pearland, Texas. When she and her husband moved there from Canada for his job, McGill returned to school to study inter-cultural communication – and joined the local Rotary club. “I went to the 2005 Rotary International Convention in Chicago my first year as a member,” she recalls. “I saw the full international component of Rotary on display. I was amazed to learn that there were grants available to do all kinds of things.”

Through Indian friends back in Canada, McGill had developed an interest in India, and she sensed an opportunity. She took to the Web, browsing posts from Rotary clubs working in the country. Volunteers were needed for many projects, including schools, a maternity hospital, and an eye hospital, with the Rotary Club of Anakapalle, a small town in east-central India. “I contacted them, and I went,” she says.

The hotel mishap aside, that first journey was a success. A $1,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Pearland furnished Anakapalle schools with desks and benches, and later, larger grants from The Rotary Foundation supported projects benefiting the town’s maternity and eye hospitals.

McGill and her husband relocated again after Texas – first to Wilmington, Del., and then, after retirement, to Sarnia, Ont. – but the moves didn’t slow her volunteer efforts. She joined a Rotary club in Delaware and kept working on grant projects. In Sarnia, she joined the Rotary Club of Sarnia-Bluewaterland, which co-sponsored a Rotary Foundation Global Grant project with the Anakapalle club last year at the eye hospital.

“Cataracts are much more common in India than they are here,” McGill explains. “The sunlight there causes some cases, and diet – particularly insufficient food – can play a role. When the eye hospital opened in 2000, the goal was to provide 40 free cataract surgeries per month and dispense eye medications to the poor.” The grant last year provided cataract surgeries for 760 people, medical treatment for about 2,500 patients with other eye conditions, and medical seminars on best practices for improving eye health.

Through annual visits, McGill has witnessed Rotary’s impact on the hospital. “One year we paid for painting and new tiles, and we’ve purchased a new autoclave,” she says. “Many other Rotary clubs from the West have donated ophthalmologic microscopes. Now the hospital could use a phacoemulsifier” – an expensive piece of equipment that uses vibration to pulverize and extract the cataract. It will help improve outcomes for patients with limited access to health care – which McGill describes as the most rewarding part of this work.

Her visits to Anakapalle have allowed her to see how vital the hospital’s services are to the community too. “One day I was visiting the eye hospital, and the staff was smiling and happy and laughing, and I asked why,” she says. “It turned out that a man was coming in who’d had a damaged eye removed at an early age. He had only one eye left, and a completely white cataract was covering that entire retina. The hospital was going to remove the cataract, and the staff knew he would be able to see again. That was exhilarating to see happen.”

She hopes other Western Rotarians pursuing global grant projects will visit potential partner clubs and project sites, she says. “Once that’s done, the grant becomes more than a piece of paper. We can feel what the need is, in addition to knowing what the need is.”

By Anne Ford
The Rotarian
Indian hospital project is eye-opening 2015-12-13 05:00:00Z 0

On Giving Tuesday, CNBC, one of the leading consumer and business news media outlets in the U.S., named its top 10 charities in the world, ranking The Rotary Foundation No. 5. Charities were chosen for changing the world while maintaining excellent financial standards.

5. The Rotary Foundation

This not-for-profit organization works to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace. Using Rotary Foundation grants, Rotary's 34,000 clubs across the globe develop and carry out sustainable humanitarian projects and provide scholarships and professional training opportunities.

One of its biggest initiatives aims at eradicating polio through its PolioPlus program, launched in 1985. Since then, Rotary and its partners, including the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have immunized more than 2.5 billion children, reducing the incidence of polio by 99 percent and eradicating it from all but three countries.

Score: 96.31
From CNBC - The top 10 charities changing the world in 2015 2015-12-05 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary Peace Fellows at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok discuss peacebuilding strategies during a field study.
Photo by Stephanie van Pelt
Bobby Anderson was helping former freedom fighters in Aceh, Indonesia, adjust to life after combat when he heard about the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

Anderson, who became part of the 2010 class of Rotary Peace Fellows, says the program allowed him to reflect upon the work he had already done and gain a larger perspective beyond day to day practicalities.

“To be able to meet other people that had done similar work in other places and to be exposed [during field study] to the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration situation in Nepal was fascinating and helped me change how I think about the way I manage my own programs,” Anderson says.

Through its six peace centers, Rotary is developing leaders to become catalysts for peace in their communities and around the globe. The Chulalongkorn program offers a professional development certificate to individuals already working in fields related to peace.

Unlike the 15- to 24-month master’s degree program, the Chulalongkorn course lasts just three months. Because of the shorter time commitment and emphasis on relevant experience, the program attracts a broader pool of applicants. Chulalongkorn, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, has graduated 355 peace fellows from 69 countries.
Its curriculum emphasizes equal parts instruction and learning from peers.

“There are two main aspects of the program,” says Jenn Weidman, deputy director of the center. “One is the academic skills, what you actually learn, the steps of mediation, theory of analysis, etc. The other is the transformation.”

“We take professional people and remove them from their role, place them in the same space with diverse people for three months, and then challenge everything they’ve ever believed or held dear,” she says. “You get reflection, and we walk alongside and guide that, asking a lot of questions and creating a safe space for discussion. Some come and leave totally different people.”

Professors, from both Thailand and outside the country, are chosen each year for a curriculum that is constantly evolving. Fellows also complete two field studies, one in Thailand and one in a postconflict setting outside Thailand where they put their training into action.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for me as an instructor in the program to be able to interact with people working on the frontlines in Afghanistan, or Kenya or South Sudan, but then also the U.S.,” says Craig Zelizer, associate director of conflict resolution at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and founder of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. “The diversity of participants and the change they are already affecting and what they’ll do as a result of this program are incredible.”

Jennifer Jacobson, a police constable in Canada, attended the center in 2012. She says the group exercises and interactions with classmates altered her views of her work.
“A lot of it is bonding with other people, because you are together all day long, pretty much seven days a week,” she says. “I’ve taken something from every little piece of the program.”

Since completing the program in 2007, Meas Savath, of Cambodia, founded the Cambodian Center for Mediation, which provides training and social dialogue, building conciliation between former Khmer Rouge and non-Khmer Rouge factions. Although the country’s brutal civil war ended more than 35 years ago, Savath says, there is still a lot of mistrust between the two sides.

“In my program, all parties are invited to share their experience and understanding, as well as their perceptions of the two groups, and afterward they have a relationship that didn’t exist before,” he says.

By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Chulalongkorn celebrates 10 years of equipping leaders to build peace 2015-11-28 05:00:00Z 0
Happy Thanksgiving 2015-11-22 05:00:00Z 0
Rotary President K.R. Ravindran has named six Rotary Global Women of Action for 2015. The honorees were chosen for their dedication and service, which has improved the lives of thousands around the world.

“Every day at Rotary I see firsthand how our members work to change lives and make a significant impact,” said Ravindran. “Rotary’s Global Women of Action embody Rotary’s motto, Service Above Self.”

The women will be honored at Rotary Day at the United Nations in New York City on 7 November. They will address attendees and lead discussions on various topics related to their work.

The six were selected by Rotary senior leaders and staff from more than 100 nominees from around the world. They are:

    •    Dr. Hashrat A. Begum, of the Rotary Club of Dhaka North West, Bangladesh, who has implemented several large-scale projects to deliver health care to poor and underserved communities.

    •    Stella S. Dongo, of the Rotary Club of Highlands, Zimbabwe, who leads the Community Empowerment Project in the city of Harare. The project provides basic business and computer training to more than 6,000 women and youths affected by HIV/AIDS.

    •    Lucy C. Hobgood-Brown, of the Rotary E-Club of Greater Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, who cofounded HandUp Congo, a nonprofit that promotes and facilitates sustainable, community-driven business, educational, social, and health initiatives to underprivileged communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    •    Razia Jan, of the Rotary Club of Duxbury, Massachusetts, USA, who has spent decades fighting for girls’ educational rights in Afghanistan. An Afghan native, she is the founder and director of the Zabuli Education Center, a school that provides free education to more than 480 girls in Deh’Subz, Afghanistan. She was also recognized as a CNN Hero in 2012.

    •    Kerstin Jeska-Thorwart, of the Rotary Club of Nürnberg-Sigena, Germany, who launched the Babyhospital Galle project after surviving the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. With a budget of $1.8 million and the support of 200 Rotary clubs, the project rebuilt and equipped the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital, in Galle, Sri Lanka. The hospital has served more than 150,000 children and more than 2.2 million women.

    •    Dr. Deborah K. W. Walters, of the Rotary Club of Unity, Maine, USA, a neuroscientist who has served as director of Safe Passage (Camino Seguro), a nonprofit that provides educational and social services to families who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump.
Rotary honors six women for leadership and humanitarian service 2015-11-15 05:00:00Z 0
Students at a school recently equipped with toilets. Water projects in schools lower dropout rates and prevent the spread of disease.
By Sandy Forster

The young girl shyly held my hand as she took me on a tour of her school — similar, yet strikingly different, from the schools I knew at home, half a world away. The students were eager to have a visitor and excited to show me their work. Since supplies were limited, I could see many students sharing paper, short nubby pencils, and schoolbooks.

I noticed that in the upper primary school grades, four through eight, the classrooms had fewer students, especially girls. The headmaster explained that many children, girls especially, drop out of school to help their mothers bring water from creeks or rivers or when the girls reach the age when their menstrual cycles begin because they don’t have access to bathrooms. He said this particular school didn’t have a water source, nor toilets or even latrines for the students to use.

This first experience visiting a Rotarian-led water and sanitation project site has stayed with me throughout the years. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in School programs are vital for community development and growth. Because of these programs, we are able to see positive changes for families, villages, and nations. School dropout rates decline, health improves as fewer diseases spread, and economic growth accelerates.

In the years following my first WASH trip, I made several more trips to this village. The homes and the school now have easy access to clean water. Toilet blocks have been built at the school and homes have added latrines with toilets. All grades are full with both boys and girls learning, and the dropout rates have declined. Children became ‘teachers’ to parents and grandparents about sanitation and hygiene. Small businesses have grown. And it all began with water.

Now as a member of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG), I have the opportunity to help other clubs and districts with their WASH projects. The action group has teamed up with Rotary to offer a three-part webinar series to assist clubs and districts with their WASH in Schools projects. The series will feature ideas and best practices from experts in the field to help you start or expand your projects.
Sandy Forster is a past governor of District 5810 (Texas, USA) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group.
Enhance your next school water project 2015-11-08 05:00:00Z 0
Students in Ecuador read books they received through an international project sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Annapolis, Maryland, and Quito Occidente, Ecuador. The project is part of an ongoing collaboration between Rotary and the Organization of American States.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Rotary Club of Annapolis, Maryland, USA

Schoolchildren in Ecuador are improving their reading, and their teachers are receiving additional professional development through a collaboration between Rotary and the Organization of American States (OAS).

The effort began three years ago when Richard Carson, RI representative to the OAS, and other Rotary members met with staff at the agency to discuss a set of literacy requirements for schools. They briefed the ministers of education of Central and South American countries on an approach to improve reading skills. Ecuador adopted the plan.

“We flew to Ecuador and met with the vice president of the country, who happened to be a Rotarian, and with many different teaching professionals,” says Carson, a member of the Rotary Club of Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA. “It’s a very successful project involving three Rotary districts and eight clubs.”

To achieve the new academic standards, the program called for additional training for teachers, including how to incorporate new technology into the curriculum. Rachael Blair, who coordinated a global grant project for the Rotary Club of Annapolis, Maryland, USA, said she was moved by how much the teachers appreciated Rotary’s involvement.

“They could not believe that Rotary clubs would take such an interest in their professional development, especially clubs from overseas,” she says. “They reminded me that when you nurture and support others, they shine and bring their very best skills and talents to the table.”

For the past three decades, a network of RI representatives has been strengthening ties with the United Nations, its agencies, and other international organizations, like the League of Arab States and the European Union. The result is bigger projects, like the one in Ecuador.

In Lebanon, Rotary clubs have partnered with the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to teach high school students about the UN Millennium Development Goals, the progress Arab states have made toward reaching them, and the obstacles that remain. The aim is to better educate the younger generation on how they can help achieve the goals.

Michel Jazzar, a member of the Rotary Club of Kerousan, Lebanon, and an RI representative to the UN agency, has also been instrumental in bringing Lebanon clubs together to form a National Rotary Lebanon Fund to coordinate their efforts.

RI representatives monitor activities and advocate for Rotary’s causes within most of the major international institutions. They regularly attend functions at the White House, United Nations, the Commonwealth, and European Union, and they arrange private meetings and organize special events.

Rotary Day at the UN

One such special event is the annual Rotary gathering at the United Nations building in New York City. This year’s event, 7 November, will celebrate 70 years of partnership and give roughly 1,000 members and guests a chance to hear from experts at the UN and exchange ideas on water, sanitation, hunger, poverty, education, and other topics. A morning youth session is open to high school students, including members of Rotary’s Interact and Youth Exchange programs.

“Just by having a presence at the United Nations building and in meetings of [nongovernmental organizations], it’s given Rotary much greater credibility,” says Joseph Laureni, the primary representative to the UN in New York. “We’re not just a name you see on a billboard.”

Deep roots

The roots of the RI representative network actually predate the formal chartering of the UN after World War II. In 1942, Rotary clubs from 21 nations organized a conference in London where ministers of education developed ideas for advancing education, science, and culture across nations. This meeting was the seed of what is known today as UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

Delegations of Rotary members helped draft the UN Charter in San Francisco in 1945 and gave the organization strong support during its early years, until the Cold War turned it into an ideological battleground. Rotary’s participation decreased over the following decades in keeping with its policy against political involvement.

The spark that restored Rotary’s interest in the UN was the launch of the campaign to eradicate polio in 1985
By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Rotary's representative network puts books into the hands of children in Ecuador 2015-10-31 04:00:00Z 0
NEW YORK, (Oct. 23, 2015) — On the heels of historic success against polio in Nigeria and across the continent of Africa, the global effort to end polio is receiving an additional US$40.4 million boost from Rotary to support immunization activities and surveillance spearheaded by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Polio is on track to become the second human disease ever to be eliminated from the world (smallpox is the first). To date, Rotary has helped 194 countries stop the transmission of polio through the mass immunization of children. Rotary’s new funding commitment, announced in advance of the Oct. 24 observance of World Polio Day 2015, targets countries where children remain at risk of contracting this incurable, but vaccine-preventable, disease.
“We are in the final push to end polio, but as long as the disease exists anywhere in the world, all children are at risk,” said Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee Chair Michael McGovern. “With just two endemic countries remaining – Pakistan and Afghanistan –we must continue to raise awareness and funds needed to end this paralyzing disease. Our grants show Rotary’s commitment to staying the course until we wipe out polio forever.”
Following Nigeria’s polio-free milestone, and no cases of wild polio in all of Africa in more than a year, Rotary is contributing $26.8 million to African countries to ensure the disease never returns to the continent: Burkina Faso ($1.6 million), Cameroon ($2.7 million), Chad ($2.6 million), Democratic Republic of Congo ($499,579), Equatorial Guinea ($685,000), Kenya ($750,102), Madagascar ($562,820), Mali ($1.5 million), Niger ($3 million), Nigeria ($6.9 million), Somalia ($4.9 million) and South Sudan ($1.5 million).
Rotary has earmarked $6.7 million to polio-endemic Pakistan, $400,000 to Iraq and $5.3 million to India. The remaining $990,542 will support immunization activities and surveillance.
Rotary provides grant funding to polio eradication initiative partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization, which work with the governments and Rotary members in polio-affected and high-risk countries to plan and carry out immunization activities.
To date, Rotary has contributed more than $1.5 billion to fight polio. Through 2018, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match two-to-one every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication (up to $35 million a year). Currently, there have been only 51 cases of polio reported in the world in 2015, down from about 350,000 a year when the initiative launched in 1988.
Rotary gives US$40.4 million to end polio worldwide 2015-10-25 04:00:00Z 0

llustration by Greg Clarke
From the October 2015 issue of The Rotarian
We Americans like to think of ourselves as “rugged individualists” – in the image of the lone cowboy riding toward the setting sun, opening the frontier. But at least as accurate a symbol of our national story is the wagon train, with its mutual aid among a community of pioneers. Throughout our history, a pendulum has slowly swung between the poles of individualism and community, both in our public philosophy and in our daily lives. In the past half century we have witnessed, for better or worse, a giant swing toward the individualist pole in our culture, society, and politics. At the same time, researchers have steadily piled up evidence of how important social context, social institutions, and social networks – in short, our communities – remain for our well-being and our kids’ opportunities.

Social scientists often use the term social capital to describe social connectedness – that is, informal ties to family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances; involvement in civic associations, religious institutions, athletic teams, volunteer activities; and so on. Social capital has repeatedly been shown to be a strong predictor of well-being both for individuals and for communities. Community bonds and social networks have powerful effects on health, happiness, educational success, economic success, public safety, and (especially) child welfare. However, like financial capital and human capital, social capital is distributed unevenly, and differences in social connections contribute to the youth opportunity gap.

Many studies have shown that better-educated Americans have wider and deeper social networks, both within their closest circle of family and friends and in the wider society. By contrast, less-educated Americans have sparser, more redundant social networks, concentrated within their own family. (By “redundant,” I mean that their friends tend to know the same people they do, so they lack the “friend of a friend” reach available to upper-class Americans.) In short, college-educated parents have both more close friends and more nodding acquaintances than less-educated parents.

Class matters for the density of “close” friendship – the sort of “strong ties” that can provide socioemotional and (in a pinch) material support. Holding race constant, parents in the top fifth of the socioeconomic hierarchy report about 20-25 percent more close friends than parents in the bottom fifth.

Perhaps more important, more-educated Americans also have many more “weak ties,” that is, connections to wider, more diverse networks. The reach and diversity of these social ties are especially valuable for social mobility and educational and economic advancement, because such ties allow educated, affluent parents and their children to tap a wealth of expertise and support that is simply inaccessible to parents and children who are less well-off.

College-educated parents are more likely to “know” all sorts of people. This weak-tie advantage is especially great when it comes to occupations that are most valuable for their kids’ advancement – professors, teachers, lawyers, medical personnel, business leaders – but it is visible even among more traditional working-class connections, like police officers and neighbors.

On the contrary, lower-class parents’ social ties are disproportionately concentrated within their own extended family (and perhaps a high school friend and a neighbor or two), who, because of their own location in the social hierarchy, are unlikely to expand the reach of the parents. Though more-educated, affluent parents have a quantitative edge in the size of their personal networks, even more important is their qualitative edge, in terms of what their friends and acquaintances can do for them and their kids.

Upper-class parents also enable their kids to form weak ties by exposing them more often to organized activities, professionals, and other adults. Working-class children, on the other hand, are more likely to interact regularly only with kin and neighborhood children, which limits their formation of valuable weak ties. When adjusting to college, choosing college majors, and making career plans, kids from more affluent, educated homes engage a wider array of informal advisers – family members, faculty, and outsiders – whereas kids from poor families typically consult one or two members of their immediate family, few if any of whom have any college experience at all. In short, the social networks of more affluent, educated families amplify their other assets in helping to ensure that their kids have richer opportunities.

Connections are important not merely for getting into top schools and top jobs. At least as important as the pipeline from a prized internship to a corner-office job are the ways in which social capital can protect privileged kids from the ordinary risks of adolescence. Studies during the past 40 years have consistently shown that, if anything, drug usage and binge drinking are more common among privileged teenagers than among their less affluent peers. What is different, however, are the family and community “air bags” that deploy to minimize the negative consequences of drugs and other misadventures.

Mentors and “savvy” adults outside the family often play a critical role in helping a child develop his or her full potential. Careful, independent evaluations have shown that formal mentoring can help at-risk kids to develop healthy relations with adults (including parents), and in turn to achieve significant gains in academic and psychosocial outcomes – school attendance, school performance, self-worth, and reduced substance abuse, for example – even with careful controls for potentially confounding variables. These measurable effects are strongest when the mentoring relationship is long-term, and strongest for at-risk kids. (Upper-class kids already have informal mentors in their lives, so adding a formal mentor does not add so much to their achievement.) Measurably, mentoring matters.

Formal mentoring is much less common and less enduring than informal mentoring. In 2013, a nationwide survey of young people asked about both formal and informal mentoring. Sixty-two percent of kids of all ages reported some sort of informal (or “natural”) mentoring, compared to 15 percent who reported any formal mentoring. Moreover, informal mentoring relationships lasted about 30 months on average, compared to roughly 18 months for formal mentoring.

Those national averages, however, obscure substantial class differences in access to mentoring. Informal mentoring is much more common among upper- and upper-middle-class kids than among lower-class kids.

For virtually all categories of informal mentors outside the family – teachers, family friends, religious and youth leaders, coaches – kids from affluent families are two to three times more likely to have such a mentor. Privileged children and their less-privileged peers are equally likely to report mentoring by a member of their extended family, but family members of privileged kids tend to have more valuable expertise, so family mentors tend to have more impact on the educational achievements of the privileged kids. In short, affluent kids get substantially more and better informal mentoring.

The informal mentoring gap is substantial in elementary school and steadily increases as children age through middle school and into high school. As things stand now, formal mentoring barely begins to close the gap. In fact, the modest compensation from formal mentoring is concentrated in primary and middle school and disappears as kids age. In high school, there is no difference at all in the incidence of formal mentoring between rich kids and poor kids. Thus, the total class gap in mentoring (informal plus formal) begins in elementary school and balloons just as the kids most need help outside their families.

In sum, nearly two-thirds of affluent kids have some mentoring beyond their extended family, while nearly two-thirds of poor kids do not. This stunning gap exists not because the poor kids don’t want mentoring; in fact, they are nearly twice as likely as rich kids to say that at some point in their lives they wanted a mentor, but didn’t have one.

One consequence of the mentoring gap is to exacerbate the savvy gap – kids from more privileged backgrounds are savvier about how to climb the ladder of opportunity. [Interviews showed that] disadvantaged 18- and 19-year-olds across the country are baffled about school practices, two- and four-year colleges, financial affairs, occupational opportunities, and even programs (both public and private) specifically designed to assist kids like them, such as educational loans. Their less-educated parents’ limited skills and experience explain part of this, but equally important is the fact that these kids lack the dense networks of informal mentors that surround their upper-class counterparts. One poignant example from our fieldwork arose when a working-class dad asked if he could bring along a younger daughter to our interview with his son, just so she could meet an actual college graduate. Any serious program to address the opportunity gap must address the savvy gap and therefore the mentoring gap.

 By Robert D. Putnam
The Rotarian
Why mentors matter 2015-10-03 04:00:00Z 0

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 25 September that Nigeria is now polio-free.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 25 September that Nigeria is now polio-free and has been officially removed from the list of countries where polio is endemic. It’s been 14 months since any cases of polio caused by the wild virus have been detected there.

With Nigeria’s historic achievement, polio remains endemic in only two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. That means transmission of the virus has never been stopped there.

Nigeria was the last country in Africa where polio was endemic. The continent celebrated its own first full year without the disease on 11 August. Once three years have passed without a case in WHO’s entire African region, officials will certify polio eradicated there.

“Rotary congratulates Nigeria on its tremendous accomplishment in stopping polio,” says RI President K.R. Ravindran. “On behalf of the entire Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we thank volunteers, health workers, and parents in communities across Nigeria for their tireless commitment to ensuring every last child is protected against this devastating disease. In the months ahead, their dedication will remain as important as ever, as we work to keep Nigeria polio-free and to eliminate polio from its final strongholds in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Nigeria’s success is the result of several sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of thousands of health workers, and new strategies that reached children who had not previously been immunized because of a lack of security in the country’s northern states.

Type 2 poliovirus gone for good

In other encouraging news, an independent global health commission officially verified on 21 September that wild poliovirus type 2, one of three strains of the wild virus, has been eradicated worldwide. Although the last type 2 case was detected back in 1999, the confirmation is an important milestone, as Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative prepare to switch from a form of the vaccine that targets all polio types to one that does not protect against type 2.

The announcement by the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication confirms that only two strains of the wild poliovirus remain. Of those, type 3 wild poliovirus hasn’t been detected in almost three years, and wild poliovirus type 1 is endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Funding increase needed to reach final goal

On 25 September, the Polio Oversight Board met to determine the next steps needed to eradicate polio. The group concluded that $1.5 billion in new funding is needed to help Rotary and its partners end polio in the next few years. With Nigeria now polio-free, spending will focus on the most vulnerable children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while continuing to shield millions of children already living in polio-free countries.

“With a fully funded program and global commitment to ending this disease, we have the opportunity to interrupt transmission of the wild poliovirus in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2016, opening the door for certification of a global eradication in 2019,” says Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. “With [Rotary members’] continued support, we will soon see our dream of a polio-free world realized.”
By Ryan Hyland

Rotary News
Nigeria declared polio-free, removed from endemic list 2015-09-27 00:00:00Z 0
Despite historic milestone, country still faces hurdles before being declared polio-free.

Today marks one year since Nigeria last reported a polio case caused by wild poliovirus, putting the country on the brink of eradicating the paralyzing disease.

The last case was reported on 24 July 2014 in the northern state of Kano. If no cases are reported in the coming weeks, the World Health Organization is expected to remove Nigeria from the list of countries where polio is endemic, leaving just two: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Nigeria is the last polio-endemic country in Africa. The continent is poised to reach its own first full year without any illness from the virus on 11 August.

“Every Rotarian in the world should be proud of this achievement,” says Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran. “We made history. We have set Africa on course for a polio-free future. But we have not yet reached our goal of a polio-free world. Raising funds and awareness and advocating with your government are more crucial than ever.”

Progress in Nigeria has come from many measures, including strong domestic and international financing, the commitment of thousands of health workers, and new strategies that reached children who had not been immunized earlier because of a lack of security in the northern states.

“Rotary’s commitment has been the number one reason for the recent success in Nigeria,” says Dr. Tunji Funsho, chair of Rotary’s Nigeria PolioPlus Committee. “We have infected political leaders with this commitment. The government has demonstrated this with political support and financial and human resources. And that went down the line from the federal level, to the state, to the local governments.”

Nigeria has increased its domestic funding for polio eradication almost every year since 2012 and has allocated $80 million for the effort this year.
Funsho also applauds religious leaders who championed the vaccination efforts to families in their communities.

Despite the historic gains in Nigeria, health experts are cautious about declaring victory. Funsho says the Global Polio Eradication Initative partners must strengthen routine immunization especially in hard-to-reach areas, in addition to boosting sensitive surveillance to prevent resurgence of the disease. If no new cases are reported in the next two years, Nigeria, along with the entire Africa region, will be certified polio-free.

“The virus can be introduced from anywhere where it is still endemic, particularly now in Afghanistan and Pakistan, into areas that haven’t had polio in years,” Funsho says. “It is important we keep the immunity level in Nigeria to at least 90 percent.”

For instance, Syria experienced a sudden outbreak of the disease when 35 cases were reported in December 2013. None had been reported there since 1999. “Immunizations become imperative for history not to repeat itself in Nigeria,” says Funsho.

In June, Rotary announced $19 million in grants for continued polio eradication activities in Africa, including almost $10 million for Nigeria. Since 1985, when Rotary launched PolioPlus, the program that supports the organization’s polio eradication efforts, its worldwide monetary contributions to the cause have exceeded $1.4 billion.

“We’ve come a long way and have never been so close to eradicating polio in Nigeria and around the world, but it’s not a time to fully celebrate,” says Funsho. “We have some grueling years ahead of us before WHO can certify Nigeria and Africa polio-free.”
By Ryan Hyland Rotary News
Nigeria sees no wild polio cases for one year 2015-09-18 00:00:00Z 0
The Rollin' with Rotary team, clockwise from top left, Adam Barth, Kathy Fahy, Jason Browne, RI Director Jennifer Jones, and Marie Fallon, stop off at Rotary International Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, on 6 August.
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Alyce Henson
Members of the news media had gathered, along with the mayor of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and a group of Rotary members, on the bank of the murky Detroit River. It was early August and the members were about to amaze the reporters on hand.

Jason Browne and Adam Barth, members of Rollin’ With Rotary, a four-person team of Rotary members who visited a dozen cities this summer, dipped a bucket into the polluted water. The reporters watched as they poured the brownish water into a filter, part of a $1,000 survival kit that Rotary and its project partner ShelterBox distribute to disaster victims worldwide. The water came out clear. Browne, Barth, and their teammates drank glassfuls and grinned broadly.

Then they invited Mayor Drew Dilkens to take a drink. “He survived,” says Rotary International Director Jennifer Jones, laughing. “And the media went nuts!” Jones, who is from Windsor, traveled with the team.

That day, Rotary was front-page news locally and featured on radio and TV. It was the kind of coverage that would be repeated almost every day of the nine-day Rollin’ With Rotary tour, 1-9 August. Says Jones: “Our aim was to make Rotary look cool, hip, and relevant. And I think we did it.”

The trip was a direct outgrowth of Rotary’s Young Professionals Summit, held last September in Chicago, at which Jones had encouraged the young Rotary participants to dream big. Barth, 31, of the Rotary Club of Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA, took that exhortation to heart and came up with the idea for the tour.

His plan was immediately endorsed by Kathy Fahy, 41, of the Rotary Club of Iowa Great Lakes (Spirit Lake), Iowa; Marie Fallon, 40, of the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh East, Pennsylvania; and Browne, 32, of the Rotary Club of State College-Downtown, Pennsylvania. “We were discussing what people don’t understand about Rotary and we said, ‘What would people think if we stopped in their town and did something crazy? That would show them how fun Rotary can be,’ ” recalls Browne.

Some of the fun was on display at Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio, where the team gave away discount coupons. “It gave us a chance to explain Rotary,” says Browne, “and we also went on rides and got people to yell, ‘Let’s Go Rotary!’ ”

At other stops, the team delivered explicitly educational messages about the good that Rotary does. In Perrysburg, Ohio, the team participated in a six-block “water walk,” toting heavy containers of water to demonstrate how women and children in the developing world struggle daily to provide water for their families.

During the drive between Taylor and Ann Arbor, Michigan, the team’s RV – festooned with the Rotary logo -- had a motorcycle escort of more than 80 members of the Wounded Warrior Project. Other drivers pulled off the road to watch, took photos, and were among the people who donated $11,000 that day to help disabled veterans.

While in Ann Arbor, team members participated in an End Polio Now walk that concluded on the University of Michigan campus, in the building where, 60 years ago, the public announcement of the polio vaccine’s effectiveness was made.

And the team even meditated in front of Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, near hand-lettered signs bearing messages like “Pause, Breathe, and Relax With Rotary.” The team members were joined by several local people, including Sensei Mui, a Buddhist priest and the husband of a Rotary member, who was marking the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the team, along with local Rotary members, engaged in three hours of random acts of kindness. Team members gave out cards bearing the Rotary logo that encouraged recipients of the kind acts to pass along the kindness -- and the cards -- to others.
“It helped that nobody (on the team) was afraid to do goofy things,” says Fahy. “We couldn’t have afforded this kind of media coverage.” By the end of the trip, 1,500 people had liked the Rollin’ With Rotary Facebook page

The entire trip was pulled together in just six weeks. Each of the team members contacted Rotary members along the planned route and solicited ideas for attention-getting activities in their area. “We looked for movers and shakers who wouldn’t just ask us to attend club meetings,” says Fallon, who organized the water walk in Perrysburg.

“We’re showing that there are fun, inexpensive things you can do to bring attention to Rotary,” says Fahy. “Don’t wait for permission -- you can just take it and run with it.”

A Rotary grant covered a budget of $12,000, and generous Rotary members all along the route opened their homes for meals and overnight stays. The four never slept in a hotel.

Near the end of the tour, already thinking how much he would miss it, Jason Browne offered a piece of advice to fellow Rotary members: “We would have loved to come to every city in the country. We couldn’t do that, so do something on your own -- anything you can think of to promote Rotary!”

By Nancy Shepherdson
Rotary News
Road trip revs up interest in Rotary 2015-09-13 00:00:00Z 0
Rotary Youth Exchange students visit RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, during a Discover America Bus Trip in July.
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Arnold R. Grahl
When Gabriela Vessani was 12 years old, her mother took her to stay with friends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, for the summer.

“I loved it, so when I heard about Rotary Youth Exchange, I knew that was something I wanted to do,” says Vessani, who is an Interactor from São Paulo.
This year, Vessani participated in the program. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Waterdown, Ontario, Canada, she stayed with four families, one of which included adopted children from different parts of the world.   

“They had seven children, and it was crazy for me. But I loved it,” she says. “It was such a unique experience getting to know all of my host brothers and sisters, and learning about so many cultures.”

Changing lives

Vessani and 104 other Rotary Youth Exchange students visited Rotary World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, in July as part of a 31-day Discover America cross-country bus trip that was a finale to the exchange experience.

“This is the best program Rotary can be involved with, because Rotary is all about changing lives,” says Vessani.

Rotary Youth Exchange has been providing intercultural exchange opportunities for secondary school students ages 15-19 since the 1920s. Students become cultural ambassadors for up to a full academic year, and the host families can help build peace and international understanding, serving one of Rotary’s six areas of focus.

Club benefits

Mike Lubelfeld, an elementary school superintendent and member of the Rotary Club of Deerfield, Illinois, spent weeks making arrangements for his club to host its first exchange student in more than two decades. In August, Leo, a 17-year-old from Indonesia, was greeted at the airport by an enthusiastic welcome committee from the club.

“We have just started the process and, already, there is so much excitement,” says Lubelfeld. “Working with youth of the world is one of the best ways to ensure a better future. And for our club to be able to take part in this cultural exchange is a huge opportunity that will not only benefit Leo but our members as well.”

Building self-confidence

Varda Shah’s family was asked by a friend to host an exchange student two years ago in Mumbai. At first, family members were reluctant.
“We were like, he’s a boy, he’s German, I don’t know how this is going to work,” says Shah. “But we decided to take a chance, and I never would have thought I could grow so close to someone in three months. We still Skype and connect through social media constantly and are always in touch.”

Shah decided she wanted her own exchange experience. She stayed with three host families in New York, learning about camping, tailgating at sports events, and ice hockey. But the biggest change was to her self-confidence.  

“Before, I would never be able to make a conversation with a person I didn’t know,” she says. “Now, I can proudly say it isn’t like that anymore. I can go up to people. I have become more open, more mature.”

Accepting others

Juliana Kinnl of Vienna decided to follow in her older sister’s footsteps and take part in a Rotary Youth Exchange. She was hosted by two families from the Rotary Club of Newtown, Pennsylvania, and says she learned to be more accepting of other people and their differences.

“Meeting exchange students from all over the world, I have grown to accept people for who they are and not to judge them because they are different,” says Kinnl. “I’ve also grown more confident in my own abilities and who I am.”

Growing bolder

Minerva Lopez Martinez of Marcia, Spain, spent her exchange in Canada, hosted by the Rotary Club of Simcoe, Ontario. She said some of her friends at home chose not to pursue an exchange because they felt they would be losing a year of schoolwork. But she has a different perspective on that.

“You have your whole life to go to school and learn. You only have one opportunity for a youth exchange,” she says. “The reason I came on the exchange is that I can be shy, and I didn’t want to be like that anymore. Now, I am trying new things, talking to people I don’t know. It has changed me a lot.”

By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Making a difference through Rotary Youth Exchange 2015-09-04 00:00:00Z 0
Carolina Gonzales Rivas, a scholarship recipient and member of the Rotary Club of Jaltemba-La Peñita, Mexico, talks about how Rotary has influenced her life.
When Mariana Day moved in 1989 to the small beach town of Chacala, in Nayarit, Mexico, she noticed that the surrounding rural areas struggled to maintain schools. And most children weren’t able to go beyond an eighth-grade education. Day, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Bahía de Jaltemba-La Peñita, in Nayarit, had started a local scholarship program before she joined Rotary. Called Changing Lives, the program provided students with high school tuition, uniforms, school supplies, and transportation.

In addition, Rotary clubs from the United States and Mexico have been investing in the education of children in Nayarit since 2003, providing scholarships and libraries and rehabbing school buildings.

The lasting impact in the region is apparent.

“I think the combination of the scholarship program and Rotary’s interaction with the schools has made things seem possible, has changed the climate of education here, and the way the people think about education,” Day says.

One example of Rotary’s impact is Carolina Gonzales Rivas. She was able to attend high school thanks to Day’s scholarship program. Rivas is currently working on her master’s degree and has recently joined the Rotary Club of Jaltemba-La Peñita.

“I think that what Rotary is doing by supporting education and supporting students is to have a vision for life, to have aspirations – that’s what is going to change the world,” Rivas says.

The Rotary Club of Berkeley, in California, USA, along with the Bahia de Jaltemba-La Peñita club and other North American clubs, recently tackled their largest project to date: a monthlong renovation of La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre , a high school in the village of Las Varas. Funding came from a Rotary Foundation global grant and the financial contributions of six Rotary districts covering the 25 Rotary clubs that participated.

A total of 90 volunteers including the school’s teachers, students, and students’ parents, improved the old buildings and built three laboratory classrooms. All three feature new equipment and technology and can be used by local residents as well as students.

Eduardo Dominguez, a member of the Bahía de Jaltemba-La Peñita club, says one of the biggest rewards of these efforts is the fact that a college education is now a real possibility for local students.

“There are many young people in Mexico with huge potential and with much to give, as long as they are given an opportunity,” Dominguez says. “Rotarians are helping those opportunities to occur, for [these young people] to become contributors to their communities.”

By Daniela Garcia
Rotary News
Bringing education to rural Mexican area, one school at a time 2015-08-31 00:00:00Z 0
When Carole Kimutai was growing up in Nairobi, family members were always coming for long stays – a grandparent one month, a cousin the next.
"Anyone who needed school fees would come to Nairobi, and my parents would assist," she says. "Or if my grandmother was sick, she would come to live with us until she was better. It was natural to help others."

Years later, Kimutai was invited to a meeting of the Rotary Club of Nairobi-East, where she instantly felt at home. "I grew up seeing my parents help relatives, and now I am seeing people help quote-unquote strangers," says Kimutai, the managing editor of a Kenyan news website and 2014-15 club president.

That realization led her all the way to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, which she and 38 other Rotarians and friends from District 9212 (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan) spent five days climbing in January. The team raised $40,000 for polio eradication and local projects. Another benefit was the deep relationships they developed with one another during their six months of training and subsequent journey.

"Here we were, these professional people with fancy titles, living in basic accommodations, having dinner on plastic plates, using toilets in the bush," she says. Months after coming back down the mountain, the climbers and their Rotary clubs still enjoy those relationships.

And Kimutai continues to cherish the memories of their time on Kilimanjaro. "It reminded me of my childhood," she says happily. "So much sharing."

By Anne Ford
The Rotarian
Member spotlight: Peak performer scales Kilimanjaro 2015-08-24 00:00:00Z 0
From left to right: Meghan Richardson, Don Miner Scholar; Kathy Daniels; President Roger Howells; Myles Bouchard, Ted "Padre" Van Patton Scholar; Kayleigh Lassonde, Randy Daniels Scholar; not able to attend - Sara Gilliland and Connor Kukla, Randy Daniels Scholars.
Capital City Sunrise presents five scholorships 2015-08-24 00:00:00Z 0
RI President K.R. Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is asking Rotary members to be gifts to the world during his term in office.

This excerpt from the July issue of The Rotarian magazine profiles the 2015-16 RI president.

Before he gives a speech, K.R. Ravindran doesn’t like flowery, adulatory introductions. They make him uncomfortable. The 2015-16 Rotary president would rather keep a low profile and share the credit. If it were up to him, you probably wouldn’t even be reading this article.

Negotiating Days of Tranquility during the Sri Lankan civil war so that health workers could administer drops of polio vaccine? Although it was on his desk that the agreement landed, he says, a lot of people worked to make that happen. Rebuilding 23 tsunami-damaged schools for 14,000 children? He merely led the committee. Taking a label-printing business from a small outfit operating in a space the size of a garage to a global powerhouse in the packaging business that has helped change the value-added tea industry in his country? Well, he simply happened to be in the right place at the right time.

“I’m sometimes introduced as a self-made man,” says Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo. “You’ve got to be utterly egocentric to believe you are self-made. Each one of us is made because so many people helped us become who we are.
One of the reasons I work so much for Rotary is that I have been helped by so many people, and often you never have a chance to reciprocate,” he explains. “The only way you can is by helping others. When the people I help ask me, ‘What can I do?’ I say, ‘Go and help someone else in return.’”

For Ravindran, paying it forward isn’t a fad, it’s a way of life. His theme for this Rotary year, Be a Gift to the World.

By Diana Schoberg
Rotary News
Meet Rotary’s new president 2015-08-15 00:00:00Z 0
Groenendijk and younger kids take a break from jumping on the center's trampoline. Staff say it's her energy that holds Confident Children out of Conflict together.
Photo Credit: LuAnn Cadd
From the August 2015 issue of The Rotarian
The girls were alone. Their families were dead, or gone, or lost in the broken landscape of southern Sudan. They had nowhere to turn, and no one to turn to. Some lived in the market, others in the cemetery. When Cathy Groenendijk saw them, she couldn’t help herself. She offered them tea, then some food, then a place to sleep in her guesthouse.

“In the morning, we would sit together and talk about what had happened the night before,” Groenendijk remembers. “And what I heard I could not believe. I could not believe it.”

One girl’s father had died, and after the funeral, she never saw her mother again. She was living on the streets with some other kids when four men started chasing them. The other girls were faster. She fell behind and was caught and raped by all four men. Groenendijk knew a doctor who repaired the physical damage, saving her life.

Another three girls, ages eight, six, and one, lived with their mother, but they all slept in the open. Groenendijk helped them build a tarped shelter, but the hot sun ate it away. One night, a man snuck in and tried to assault one of the girls. After that, Groenendijk let them sleep on her veranda.

This was in 2006. A peace accord had been signed the year before, ending a 22-year civil war and paving the way for the independence of South Sudan. But the region was still broken in many ways. While the story of its “lost boys,” who traveled hundreds of miles on foot to reach safety during the war, is well known, little has been written or said about the girls who stayed behind, and who were just as lost.
Groenendijk was born in eastern Uganda, where her father grew coffee and bananas on the family farm. She had three brothers and seven sisters, so when she was three years old, she was sent to the capital, Kampala, to live with an aunt. After secondary school, she went on to study nursing.

“When I was in Kampala,” she says, “I used to take the food that was left from our kitchen in the training school and give it to the children who were without food. It was a very, very bad time under Idi Amin, and after.”

It was a time of war, suspicion, and fighting. Between 1971 and 1979, about half a million people died under Amin’s dictatorship. Another 300,000 died under Milton Obote before he was deposed in 1985.
When she finished nursing school, Groenendijk got a job at a hospital in the north of Uganda. “There were so many militias and armed groups, especially among the northern tribes,” she says. “Even after the war, there were militias who were never fully disarmed. They were always fighting.”

Not long after she arrived, she met a young Dutch missionary named Wim, who worked with a relief organization called ZOA that aids people trapped in conflict and disaster zones. The two fell in love, got married, and for 10 years remained in Uganda, mostly in Karamoja, the remote northeast corner of the country.

In 1993, the couple went to the Netherlands. Shortly after they moved, the genocide in Rwanda began to unfold. An estimated 800,000 to 1 million people were killed in 100 days. When the violence subsided, a colleague at ZOA asked if Wim and Cathy would be willing to go to the country. Groenendijk would run a health program, and Wim would do agriculture and food security work in the town of Nyamata, south of Kigali. One of the most devastated areas, it’s now the site of a genocide memorial, at a church where 10,000 people who had gathered for protection were murdered.

Five months after the killing stopped, the couple arrived in Nyamata. Seeing how many children had lost their parents, they took in two foster children – girls who had lost their families. The girls still visit, and one will graduate from college this fall.

“The organization had little money to plan something positive for the children, like a party, to share together, to bring kids together,” Groenendijk says. “So I did a lot of children’s programs, in addition to working.”

In 1998, ZOA asked Groenendijk if she would help establish a health program in Sudan, which, on the map, was the largest country in Africa. In reality, though, it had never been much of a country at all. The south and the north were very different, and since 1955, animist and Christian groups in the south had been fighting for independence from the primarily Muslim north.

During the first war, which lasted until 1972, more than half a million people died. The south gained some autonomy, but when oil was discovered there in the late 1970s, war broke out again. From 1983 until 2005, an estimated two million people were killed; four million more fled to other countries or to camps for internally displaced people. In a country of 12 million, no one was unaffected.

When Groenendijk and her husband arrived in 1999, the fighting was still intense. They lived in rebel territory, in a village called Katigiri. “There were areas with no medical care at all,” she remembers.
“Many people were dying.” They’d lived in conflict zones before, but this time was different. Planes bombed areas that had relief operations. “When we first arrived,” Groenendijk says, “we were bombed as were driving. Every house had foxholes, and when you heard planes flying over, you got out of the house and into the foxholes. We also had one large bomb shelter for everybody, but if a bomb landed on that one, there would be many casualties. So we used several foxholes to spread the risk.”

For nearly five years, she ran the ZOA health program in Katigiri. She made sure health workers were trained, medicines delivered, new health units opened, and transportation arranged for patients. All the while, the bombs kept coming as the war dragged on. When the danger and stress grew unbearable, the couple went back to Rwanda.

In 2005, a peace accord was signed and the fighting stopped. A date was set for a vote on independence. Groenendijk thought of the people she knew there, especially the children who’d lost so much. In 2006, she and Wim decided to return.

Now people were flooding into Juba. In the future capital of the world’s newest country, everything had to be built from scratch, including Rotary clubs. Michael Elmquist had been a Rotarian in Kastrup, Denmark, for more than 20 years when he arrived in Juba in 2008 to work for the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He could see that the area could benefit from Rotary’s work. The country had only 200 miles of paved road. Barely 2 percent of children completed primary school. Infant and child mortality rates were among the highest on every ranking. Everything needed to be restored: families, villages, lives.

“Once in Juba, I realized that the whole country of Sudan [before South Sudan became independent] had only one Rotary club, and that was in Khartoum, over 700 miles away,” Elmquist recalls. “I felt I could not live for three years without access to a Rotary club.”

He started to round up prospective candidates. But because few people in Juba knew much about Rotary, most of the initial recruits were expatriates. And because the streets didn’t have names, people listed their addresses as “the big house with the yellow roof opposite Equatoria Hotel.” Nonetheless, Elmquist soon found the required 20 people. The Rotary Club of Juba was chartered in 2010, bringing the number of Rotary clubs in a country almost twice the size of Alaska, to two.

After she and her husband moved to Juba, Groenendijk started working for an NGO called War Child, but grew frustrated with the slowness of a big organization. She needed to keep pace with the brothel owners who were recruiting girls. So she started her own organization, offering what she had. First, she gave the girls tea, then one meal. Friends would help out.

“For two years,” she says, “I was providing tea and one meal, which was better than nothing. Some of the kids had never had a meal apart from scavenging and eating leftovers from restaurants. Once a week, I would buy a proper meal for all of them.”

She started going door to door, asking for funding. Help started to trickle in. As volunteers and donors appeared, her organization started to take shape. She called it Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC).
Elmquist heard about her work and invited her to join the Rotary Club of Juba. She accepted. “When they saw what I was doing,” Groenendijk says, “they used every opportunity to support us. A lot of credit goes to Michael. I went there and showed pictures of a girl who had been raped, to show what was happening in Juba. After that, a lot of people started paying attention to what we were doing.”

“The job she’s done looking after these children has just been amazing,” Elmquist says. “You can’t believe the difference in the young girls who come in. They don’t talk, they don’t know how to hold a knife or fork or anything. And she trains them and gets them to school. She gets them dressed. She saves them from prostitution, which would be their only source of income.”

Soon Groenendijk started looking for a piece of land. Eventually, she bought some property and built a dormitory that could house about 40 girls. She hired a small staff.

The Juba club continued to support her work, along with other rebuilding projects in South Sudan – which became an independent nation in 2011. At one fundraising dinner, the club auctioned drawings done by the girls at Groenendijk’s center and raised $3,000 for CCC, as well as an orphanage in Juba.

Today, almost 40 girls and a few boys live at CCC, which also issues reports on child prostitution in Juba and the plight of the city’s 3,000 street children. It is not an easy transition for those she takes in – some girls have run away, overwhelmed by structured life. But many more stay. After about a year, Groenendijk says, they get used to living in a house, sleeping in a bed. They learn how to settle disputes without fighting. With time and patience, she helps them adjust. Where the social fabric has been torn, she does her best to mend it. In addition to educating those living at the center, CCC pays school fees for about 600 children around Juba. A few have even gone to Uganda for further schooling. One, named Esther, is at one of the best schools in that country, with plans to become a doctor.

CCC is a lively place. The girls sing and drum before going off to school in the morning, and again when they come home. Hannah Rounding, a British NGO consultant staying at the center, says Groenendijk’s energy and enthusiasm holds it all together: “The girls love her. Everybody calls her mummy. When she’s been away and comes back, the place goes wild. All the girls are so excited – they’re jumping and cheering and clapping.”

“Cathy is a bright personality. She’s immediately endearing, from the first time you meet her,” says program manager John Fenning. “I was blown away by her capacity to love and care for all the children. It’s rewarding, and such a privilege, to be involved in that kind of work, and to see the difference you can make in these children’s lives.”

One evening in the middle of December 2013, the girls heard gunfire. Fighting had broken out between followers of the president, who is ethnic Dinka, and the Nuer vice president, whom the president had accused of planning a coup.

They girls were nervous – only the youngest had never known war. The fighting in Juba went on for days, then slowed while it raged on in other states. At least 50,000 people have been killed and another 1.6 million displaced, in what is now being called the South Sudanese Civil War. Some of the girls have been sent to an orphanage in the city of Yei, seeking safety farther south.

The rest stay with Groenendijk. Together, in a nation of unease, they keep singing, learning, and living under her watch, until they are strong enough to be on their own.

By Frank Bures
The Rotarian
The lost girls of South Sudan and the Rotarian who found them 2015-08-07 00:00:00Z 0
Despite historic milestone, country still faces hurdles before being declared polio-free.

Today marks one year since Nigeria last reported a polio case caused by wild poliovirus, putting the country on the brink of eradicating the paralyzing disease.

The last case was reported on 24 July 2014 in the northern state of Kano. If no cases are reported in the coming weeks, the World Health Organization is expected to remove Nigeria from the list of countries where polio is endemic, leaving just two: Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Nigeria is the last polio-endemic country in Africa. The continent is poised to reach its own first full year without any illness from the virus on 11 August.

“Every Rotarian in the world should be proud of this achievement,” says Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran. “We made history. We have set Africa on course for a polio-free future. But we have not yet reached our goal of a polio-free world. Raising funds and awareness and advocating with your government are more crucial than ever.”

Progress in Nigeria has come from many measures, including strong domestic and international financing, the commitment of thousands of health workers, and new strategies that reached children who had not been immunized earlier because of a lack of security in the northern states.

“Rotary’s commitment has been the number one reason for the recent success in Nigeria,” says Dr. Tunji Funsho, chair of Rotary’s Nigeria PolioPlus Committee. “We have infected political leaders with this commitment. The government has demonstrated this with political support and financial and human resources. And that went down the line from the federal level, to the state, to the local governments.”

Nigeria has increased its domestic funding for polio eradication almost every year since 2012 and has allocated $80 million for the effort this year.
Funsho also applauds religious leaders who championed the vaccination efforts to families in their communities.

Despite the historic gains in Nigeria, health experts are cautious about declaring victory. Funsho says the Global Polio Eradication Initative partners must strengthen routine immunization especially in hard-to-reach areas, in addition to boosting sensitive surveillance to prevent resurgence of the disease. If no new cases are reported in the next two years, Nigeria, along with the entire Africa region, will be certified polio-free.

“The virus can be introduced from anywhere where it is still endemic, particularly now in Afghanistan and Pakistan, into areas that haven’t had polio in years,” Funsho says. “It is important we keep the immunity level in Nigeria to at least 90 percent.”

For instance, Syria experienced a sudden outbreak of the disease when 35 cases were reported in December 2013. None had been reported there since 1999. “Immunizations become imperative for history not to repeat itself in Nigeria,” says Funsho.

In June, Rotary announced $19 million in grants for continued polio eradication activities in Africa, including almost $10 million for Nigeria. Since 1985, when Rotary launched PolioPlus, the program that supports the organization’s polio eradication efforts, its worldwide monetary contributions to the cause have exceeded $1.4 billion.

“We’ve come a long way and have never been so close to eradicating polio in Nigeria and around the world, but it’s not a time to fully celebrate,” says Funsho. “We have some grueling years ahead of us before WHO can certify Nigeria and Africa polio-free.”
By Ryan Hyland
Rotary News
Nigeria sees no wild polio cases for one year 2015-07-27 00:00:00Z 0
Australian Rotary members create a rodeo school for Aboriginal boys in rural Queensland.

The rules of the Shaftesbury Rodeo Academy are simple: no school, no rodeo. It’s a message that teenagers who attend school at Bisley Farm, most of whom have never attended any school regularly, take seriously. Because come Friday night, these aspiring rodeo heroes want to join their friends to ride bulls for a heart-stopping eight seconds, if they last that long.

The school in rural Queensland, Australia, also teaches the boys, who are of the Wakka Wakka Aboriginal people, basic academics and farming skills, including how to care for crops and livestock. It’s a fairly common form of schooling in Australia, an alternative education for students with troubled backgrounds. For many of them, Bisley Farm is the best chance for them to improve their lives.

But rules are rules. In order to participate in the school’s weekly Friday night rodeo, students must attend class Monday through Thursday and do all their work, including helping to manage a herd of beef cattle. Perhaps not surprisingly, student attendance and performance have shot up.

“These are really tough kids,” says Kristian Wale, director of the Shaftesbury Centre, which sponsors Bisley Farm, and a member of the Rotary Club of New Farm, Brisbane. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Indigenous peoples make up 3 percent of the country’s population. But they make up 50 percent of the juvenile detention and 27 percent of the adult prison populations.  

“A majority of the kids [who come to us] can’t read, even if they have been to school,” says Wale. “We teach basic education and social skills and prepare our students for jobs.”

And none of it would exist without Rotary.

Powerful grants

George Grant wanted to do something for the Aboriginal teenagers after attending a Rotary grants seminar in 2010. He was president of the Rotary Club of Bribie Island when he met Wale at the conference. The two began to formulate an idea for a cattle operation near Cherbourg, sponsored by the Shaftesbury Centre.

“When I first took the idea to the club, it seemed too far out in left field. Some members came along easily but others were very noisy in opposition,” says Grant. “They couldn’t see how a club with fewer than 30 members could raise the money required to get something like that off the ground.”

At first, the naysayers seemed right, Grant says, particularly when the scope of the problem began being mapped out. They would have to buy cattle, trailers, fencing, and a school building. Then what would they do with the beef? If the operation was to be sustainable, they would have to figure out a way to get the beef to market.

So they started small: six head of cattle, a trailer, and some fencing. They soon started applying for money through Rotary, more than US$120,000.
Supported by fundraisers from surrounding clubs, the Bribie Island club managed to donate thousands of dollars toward the project.
Undoubtedly, though, many of potential supporters and new club members are drawn to Grant’s enthusiasm for the school his club built from the ground up. “I just love to skite (brag) about it.”

By Nancy Shepherdson
Rotary News
Australian students take opportunity by the horns 2015-07-19 00:00:00Z 0
A student attends a literacy program at the Mercy Education Project in Detroit to build her reading skills. The agency offers free educational programs to improve the lives of low-income girls and women.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Reading Works
Around the world, millions of adults are unable to read or write, and therefore struggle to earn a living for themselves and their families.

Even in the United States, with its considerable resources, there are 36 million adults who can’t read better than the average third-grader, according to the international nonprofit ProLiteracy. In Detroit, Michigan, a widely cited 2003 survey conducted by the National Institute for Literacy found that almost half of residents over age 16 were functionally illiterate -- unable to use reading, speaking, writing, and computer skills in everyday life.
Kristen Barnes-Holiday, director of program outcomes for Reading Works, an organization tackling adult illiteracy in Detroit, says the agencies -- many of them underfunded and understaffed -- that have been trying for years to address the problem there have made little progress.  

Illiteracy affects all areas of life. Those with low literacy skills are far more likely to live in poverty, face health problems because they can’t read prescription labels or instructions, and grow isolated in a world increasingly dependent on computers. And the lack of a skilled workforce, Barnes-Holiday notes, has slowed Detroit’s economic revival.

But she worries most about the impact on future generations.

“A lot of children are raised in households where parents are low-skilled or illiterate, and we all know only a certain amount of learning happens in the classroom,” she says. “We are raising this generation with the expectation that if we pour a certain amount of dollars into their education, we will get better results. But that is only partially true if we do nothing to address the households they are coming from.”

Rotary member Mark Wilson, who also has been involved with Detroit literacy efforts, agrees that adult literacy is not receiving the attention it deserves.

“It doesn’t pull at the heartstrings the same way as when you see a child who can’t read,” says Wilson, a member of the suburban Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe. “But, in fact, it’s a vicious cycle and it perpetuates itself.”

Wilson’s club, along with other Detroit-area Rotary members, partnered with ProLiteracy Detroit to raise money to recruit and train more tutors. Also, members have collected 261,000 books and 587 computers to donate to literacy agencies throughout the city.

A grant from The Rotary Foundation brought a team of literacy experts from Australia to Detroit, to share their expertise with those who are training the tutors. The grant helped launch a weekly program on local television to raise awareness and broaden corporate and community support.

Through the efforts of the volunteer tutors, more than 500 adults raised their reading levels by three grades, according to testing by the Michigan Adult Education Reporting System.

Margaret Williamson, executive director of ProLiteracy Detroit and a member of the Rotary Club of Detroit, said the project has produced benefits even beyond initial expectations.

“Not only do we look at reading, but we look at building the skills the individual will need for employment,” she says. “And what happened was that, through the Rotary network, [these adults] had access to people who knew other people who were willing to give them an opportunity. We had people call us and say, “Do you have a person who would be good for this entry-level position?’ ”

The Rotary members have become better advocates for adult literacy, influencing policymakers at several levels, adds Williamson. Among the results of that advocacy: A financial institution donated a banking center for vocational training, and ProLiteracy received more money for tutor training and has expanded its network of partners.  

“The ripple effect is still benefiting us,” she says.

Wilson also talks about ripples.  

“When you teach somebody how to read, they have that for a lifetime,” he says. “It ripples through the community, one by one. And that was our goal.”

By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Illiteracy traps adults, and their families, in poverty 2015-07-10 00:00:00Z 0
Radiologist Jayantha Mapatona (right) prepares B.M. Tilakalatha for her mammogram at the Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Photo Credit: Rotary International/Alyce Henson
More than 20,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year in Sri Lanka, and many of them prove fatal. The Rotary Club of Colombo, Sri Lanka, set out 10 years ago to save some of those lives by establishing the Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Centre.

In partnership with the National Cancer Control Programme and the Ministry of Health, the center in Colombo has screened more than 35,000 patients, mostly low-income, and detected more than 7,500 cases of abnormalities that required further investigation. The Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, USA, donated a mammography and ultrasound scanner to the center’s breast cancer screening facility.

The Colombo Rotary club is seeking to open early detection clinics in other easily accessible locations throughout Sri Lanka.

Rotary News
Early cancer detection is saving lives in Sri Lanka 2015-07-06 00:00:00Z 0

Members of the vocational training team of eye specialists from India perform an eye surgery in Ethiopia. Photo courtesy Rotary District 3140

By Suhas B. Naik-Satam, past president of the Rotary Club of Bombay Chembur West, Maharashtra, India

In March, during our silver jubilee year, my Rotary club sponsored a vocational training team of ophthalmologists to Ethiopia to improve the abilities and skills of eye surgeons at various medical centers there.

Under the direction of club president S.R. Balasubramanian and led by Dr. Haresh Asnani, a past president of our club, the team of three super specialists included a vitreoretinal surgeon, a pediatric ophthalmologist/squint specialist, and an oculoplastic surgeon/ocular oncologist. Our club partnered with Beyond Eye Care, an organization that manages the India Eye Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

The team conducted medical education programs and clinic workshops on topics including common retinal disorders, diabetic retinopathy, common eyelid disorders, and squint problems. Members conducted classroom lectures and a few practical workshops on pediatric eye disease examination that doesn’t require expensive equipment. They also stressed the importance of timely intervention in childhood squints, eye tumors, and cataracts.

The program benefited around 14 ophthalmologists, 25 postgraduate students, 40 optometrists, and 20 ophthalmic nurses over five teaching sessions, five surgical workshops, and six clinical demonstration sessions.

One of the team members noted the amount of expensive equipment that had been donated but that was just lying around unused because doctors and paramedical staff had not been trained in its use or maintenance. The team spent time teaching them the proper handling of these.
Dr. Akshay Nair, the youngest member of the team, said the whole experience was extremely rewarding. We were able to demonstrate many different surgical procedures as well as have fruitful clinical sessions that involved video-assisted skill-transfer sessions. The demand and need for ocular oncology and oculoplastic specialists is high in Ethiopia, and the next step is to arrange training opportunities in India for Ethiopian ophthalmologists.

The team had discussions with the respective hospital managements to draw up strategy to sustain the benefits of this program, especially at St. Paul’s and ALERT Hospitals and Hawassa University, by facilitating fellowship programs for their doctors and providing technical support for their surgical equipment.

Rotary has yet again played a helping hand by envisioning, executing, and enabling such a worthy project.
India eye surgeons share skills with peers in Ethiopia 2015-06-28 00:00:00Z 0
The continued fight to stamp out polio will receive an additional $40.3 million boost from Rotary in support of immunization activities and research to be carried out by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The funds will be used by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF for polio immunization, surveillance and research activities in ten countries, as well as to provide technical assistance to additional countries in Africa.

The funding commitment comes at a critical time as Nigeria – the last polio-endemic country in Africa – approaches one-year since its last case of polio, which occurred in Kano State on 24 July, 2014. If the current progress continues, WHO may remove Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries as early as September. In addition to the notable progress in Nigeria, no new cases of polio have been reported anywhere in Africa since August 2014.

Experts do, however, strongly caution that it is too soon to fully celebrate. Nigeria needs to go an additional two years without polio to be certified polio-free. Funding and support for high-quality immunization campaigns and surveillance activities will be key to sustaining current gains.

The only two other polio-endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, continue to experience hurdles in polio eradication campaigns including inaccessibility to children and security. Last year, Pakistan saw an outbreak which resulted in more than 300 cases, the highest number in the country in more than a decade. As a result, Pakistan accounted for almost 90% of the world’s cases. However, there has been improvement in 2015. Cases are down nearly 70% over this same time in 2014.

Progress against polio, while significant, remains fragile. Rotary’s funds will support immunization efforts in: $9.9 million in Nigeria; $12.2 million in Pakistan and $2.3 million in Afghanistan.
Additional funds will support efforts to keep other at-risk countries polio-free. The grants include $1 million, Cameroon: $900,000, Chad; $2 million, Democratic Republic of Congo; $1.1 million, Ethiopia; $1 million, Niger; $1.5 million, Somalia; and $1.5, South Sudan. In addition, grants totaling $5.8 million will provide surveillance in African and Eastern Mediterranean regions. Grants to Africa alone total $19 million. In total, Rotary has donated $688.5 million to support polio eradication efforts in Africa over the past thirty years.

This year's World Water Summit focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene in schools.
Almost 200 million days of school attendance are lost every year because of the lack of proper sanitation. Many  diarrhea cases in children result from transmission of disease in schools rather than at home.

“A school is a place where children should feel safe, not a place where they are susceptible to infection,” says Lizette Burgers, senior adviser of UNICEF’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools program.

But the message at the World Water Summit on 4 June in São Paulo was positive: Rotary members and their clubs can make schools healthier places through programs that provide clean water and better sanitation.
“WASH in Schools is about addressing the rights of the children. This forum can help us all learn how to provide a healthy, safe, and secure school environment,” said Burgers. “This will help ensure quality education, because healthy, well-nourished children can fully participate in schooling. It increases school attendance, because students have to spend less time traveling long distances to fetch water. And it encourages children to take pride in their school and community by providing them with a renewed sense of dignity.”

The water summit, the seventh convened by the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene in schools and provided Rotary members with resources and tips for starting their own projects.

Sushil Gupta, The Rotary Foundation’s WASH in Schools committee chair, explained that these projects aren’t just about investing in infrastructure and improving sanitation facilities. A successful WASH in Schools project is also about advocacy. Rotary members were encouraged, when considering a new project, to focus on hygiene education by finding ways to develop healthy behaviors in youths. Gupta said that children are generally more receptive to new ideas than adults are, and they can more easily change their habits and improve practices within families and their communities.

“WASH in Schools is about revitalizing and bringing revolution in societies,” Gupta said. “These young children can become our agents of change, and help us reach our goal of a cleaner, better, and more educated world.”

At a breakout session, Greg Allgood, vice president of World Vision, a leading nongovernmental provider of clean drinking water in rural areas of the developing world, discussed how Rotary members can develop more sustainable and effective WASH in Schools projects by partnering with NGOs and the private sector. With the support of Rotary-collaborated projects, World Vision helped more than 845,000 children gain access to clean water through $85 million in project funding in 2013 alone.

Other breakout sessions focused on the basics of conducting a WASH in Schools program, the importance of changing behavior through hygiene education, and how to address sanitation needs in schools. Carlos Rossin, director of sustainability solutions for PricewaterhouseCoopers, also provided an update on São Paulo’s current drought and water resources issues.

“Rotarians are dedicating their time and leadership to address the need for basic WASH in Schools programs, and the results are already inspiring,” said John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International. “These programs create a cycle of opportunity. It reduces hygiene-related disease, it increases attendance in school, it enhances the learning environment, and it contributes to a student’s dignity. This is an opportunity for Rotary to showcase what we’re all about. And through your work, we will be impacting generations to come.”
By Megan Ferringer
Rotary News
Water summit urges Rotary members to invest in youth 2015-06-13 00:00:00Z 0
Capital City Sunrise Rotarians
For many years, the members of Capital City Rotary have taken care of the Clinic building at Camp Spaulding, a camp for under served youth now managed by the YMCA - this year was no exception. All but one of our Rotarians (one was missing because of short staff at work) arrived to mow, weed wack, rake, paint, clean sinks and fail miserably at replacing a toilet seat. After the sucessful work session, President-elect Rodger provided the supper of huge sandwiches, potato and fruit salad, and sodas.
A little about the camp:
Child and Family Services (NH) is excited to partner with the YMCA of Greater Nashua on the 2015 season of Camp Spaulding!

Camp Spaulding will continue under the ownership of Child and Family Services, while camp programming and operations will be managed by the YMCA of Greater Nashua.  This collaboration combines a 90 year camp history, a newly renovated camp facility, and strong community support, with the recreational programming expertise of the YMCA.

The YMCA will continue the Camp Spaulding legacy of adventure programming that endeavors to improve the lives of campers, during and after the camp experience.  Activities will include swimming and boating, performing arts, archery, woodworking, arts & crafts, high and low ropes courses, and horse-back riding, as well as outdoors living skills, cooking and nature and ecology programs.
Camp Spaulding Clinic Gets Capital City Treatment 2015-06-05 00:00:00Z 0

A young girl takes a bath using a single gallon of clean water.
Photo Credit: Rotary Images/Alyce Henson

According to a 2012 report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, Ghana has made great strides in providing its people with clean drinking water. But access to better sanitation has lagged.

Only about 14 percent of Ghanaians have access to improved facilities, compared with the 54 percent target set for 2015 by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Addressing the issue isn't simple, as pit latrines need emptying, toilets need maintenance, and promoting hygiene requires education.

The H2O Collaboration, a partnership between Rotary and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is working to alleviate the problem. Between 2009 and 2013, the collaboration invested $2 million in water, sanitation, and hygiene initiatives in Ghana, along with equal amounts in the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.

In Ghana, the effort resulted in 57 boreholes, 20 wells, latrines for 41 public schools, three public toilet and shower-block units, and three mechanized water supply and distribution systems for rural communities.

In each community, Rotary members and USAID partnered with Ghana's Community Water and Sanitation Agency to set up local water and sanitation committees that assume ongoing oversight of the improvements. They have also worked with the country's Ministry of Education and its local affiliates to promote a health curriculum that teaches the importance of hand washing with soap, safe water storage, and use of improved household latrines.

The collaboration is poised to enter its second phase this year with commitments of $4 million each in Ghana, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, and Uganda.

Unique strengths

Rotary and USAID both bring unique strengths to the effort. Rotary's global network of members raise money and oversee construction of the improvements. USAID provides the technical support to design and carry out the initiatives, and works to build the capacity of local, district, and regional agencies to operate and maintain the systems and oversee education and training.

"Working with USAID has been great because they have been in the development business for years and have the backing of the U.S. government," says Ako Odotie, a member of the Rotary Club of Tema, Accra, who serves on a committee overseeing the effort in Ghana. "In Rotary, we are volunteers and many individual clubs. USAID is one unit, and that provides strength to our effort."

One of the first steps for Rotary was the creation of a host organization committee made up of Rotary leaders who could steer the project. The committee members sat down with representatives from USAID and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency to determine where the need was greatest; they selected the Volta, Eastern, Central, and Greater Accra regions. Sites were then chosen, and Rotary's share of projects in 114 communities was divided up among 16 clubs.

The clubs met with each community to get their input before seeking bids for projects. Local water and sanitation committees participate in decision-making, donate land for the improvements, set up bank accounts, establish and collect user fees to cover ongoing costs, and receive training in the use and maintenance of the facilities. Health and sanitation teams from local government units and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency regularly inspect and monitor the sites and evaluate reports from the communities.


"Some of the water and sanitation committees have done so well with the fees they get from users that they have expanded things," says Odotie. "In one community where we dug a borehole, they got additional funding from a church camp and installed pump-to-pump water into a tank and built themselves a complete water system."

"Sustainability is built right into the project," notes Robert Holden, who served as international project sponsor for District 7630 (Delaware and Maryland, USA). "When we entered a village, they had to show us their bankbook and deposits, which were enough to keep the projects running. I was very impressed with how much prior planning went into this project, its detail, ingenuity, and foresight."

Odotie says it has been rewarding to see the reaction of villagers to all the improvements.

"Sometimes it is very emotional to see the joy and appreciation on their faces," he says. "When you bring in water -- clean water versus what they are used to drinking, which is very pitiful -- you can tell straightaway that their health situation is improved. This is what I live for. It is what makes Rotary what it is."

By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Rotary, USAID collaboration improves sanitation facilities in Ghana 2015-05-24 00:00:00Z 0
A microloan recipient shows off one of the items she made in her sewing shop.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Marin Evening, California, USA
In the Esmeraldas Province of Ecuador, Rotary members have teamed up with a microfinance organization to provide small loans to poor women, teaching them to sew and bake so they can start or expand businesses.
The Rotary Club of Marin Evening, in California, USA, reached out to 64 Rotary clubs in seven districts including Ecuador's, to raise money, find support from partners, and mobilize local community members for a global grant project.
Keith Axtell, a member of the Marin Evening club, says the effort began in 2005-06, when his wife, Holly, was district governor and was looking for an international project the district could lead and that clubs could join without doing a lot of paperwork themselves. The Axtells took a team of district leaders to explore projects in Ecuador, including one conducted by the Rotary Club of Guayaquil. The club was working with a microcredit organization to turn funds it had raised into seed money for small loans.
"We took a group of people from different clubs in our district to see [this project] and they loved it," Axtell says. "We started out with an initial Matching Grant, and the response was overwhelming. People kept saying they wanted to contribute to the next one, so we just kept going."
Eventually, the Guayaquil microfinance operation had enough capital to sustain itself, so the Axtells' club sought a new partner. It found the Rotary Club of Quito Occidente, which wanted to get involved in microcredit, and the clubs collaborated on a global grant application.
Through a Web search, Axtell found the microfinance organization FUDECE, which was using a lending model developed by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh that has had considerable success.
"We wanted an organization that was really focused on the very poorest people and that used group lending, where people cross-guarantee each other's loans," he says. "They were the only ones in the area offering that, so we chose to work with them."
FUDECE's director suggested that the Rotary clubs focus on the province of Esmeraldas instead of Quito, Ecuador's capital, because the people there were even poorer, and there were no banks where villagers could pool even their meager funds to grow their businesses.
When the project committee met with community members to conduct a needs assessment for the global grant application, members discovered the villagers wanted to learn sewing and baking.
Project leaders in California attended district conferences and visited clubs as far away as Montana to line up support and raise $107,000 in cash and district funds, using Rotary's online application to apply for the grant.
"We're not shy, we will ask for help anywhere," Axtell says. "This project was bigger, so we had to really pull out all the stops."
Most of the global grant, which includes $75,000 from The Rotary Foundation, is providing seed money for microloans. But it's also buying sewing and baking equipment for a training center that FUDECE and the Quito club established to teach loan recipients vocational skills and basic business management. Members of the Quito club have served as trainers, along with educators hired from a government agency and private contractors.
FUDECE organizes the loan groups and provides training and oversight for the co-op that manages the loans and savings and that qualifies additional loan recipients.
"Frankly, I think microcredit is the best way Rotary can help people," says Axtell. "You are helping people improve their economic situation, but you are also helping them help themselves. You are not just giving them something; you are making a loan and you expect them to pay it back."
Axtell tells the story of a woman he met on one visit who had started a business with an old hand-operated sewing machine. With her first loan, she bought an electric sewing machine that enabled her to make items faster and better. With a second loan, she bought a second machine and hired a partner. Eventually, she was able to branch out and buy specialty tailoring equipment and a machine that works with leather.
"She has quite a successful little business there now," Axtell says. "The thing that impressed me was how proud the women were of what they had built. They really learned through this that instead of being victims [of poverty], they can become problem-solvers. We've seen cases where, once they get into that mode, they start working on problems in their own communities."
By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Global grant partnership turns good idea into bigger, sustainable project 2015-05-17 00:00:00Z 0

A nurse immunizes a child at Bwindi Community Hospital in southwest Uganda.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bwindi Community Hospital
For thousands of years, the Batwa Pygmies lived among the silverback mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of southwest Uganda.
But in 1992, the forest was declared a World Heritage Site to protect the endangered silverback, and the Batwa lost their home.
Forced to transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers, they did not adapt well, and their very survival was threatened.

Over the years, Rotary members in the United States, Uganda, and other parts of the world helped with efforts to aid the Batwa. Most recently, those efforts have focused on the creation of a nursing school to serve the entire southwestern part of the country.

Dr. Scott Kellermann, a physician and Rotary member from California, USA, discovered the plight of the Batwa in 2000, when he and his wife, Carol, traveled to the area as medical missionaries to assess the indigenous people's needs. He describes the situation they found: "Abject poverty. No access to health care, no access to education, no clean water, no sanitation, land insecurity, and food insecurity."

The Kellermanns' survey found that 38 percent of the Batwa died before the age of five -- twice the rate of Uganda as a whole -- and that the average life expectancy was 28.

Building a hospital

Shortly after his first visit, Kellermann and his wife sold their possessions, including his medical practice, and moved to Uganda -- where they stayed fulltime until 2009 -- to help the Batwa. Starting with mobile clinics held under trees and with IVs hanging from branches, they treated "200, 300, sometimes 500 people a day," Kellermann recalls. Eventually, they launched a foundation and built Bwindi Community Hospital.

Kellermann's Rotary connections helped to equip it. Projects supported by a series of Rotary Foundation grants and backed by members in Uganda, the United States, and other parts of the world provided an operating theater, a dental unit, generators, solar panels, and clean water and improved sanitation, and taught the Batwa how to raise small livestock to improve their nutrition.

Now, the infant mortality rate is down to 6 percent, and the number of women dying in childbirth has declined 60 percent.

"Rotary has been incredible," says Kellermann. "It doesn't just throw money at a problem. It goes through a local Rotary club so Rotarians on the ground come out to make sure the projects are successful. What Rotary did was look at the broader picture and say, hey, a hospital is great. But you need to prevent these diseases. You need to provide water and sanitation. You need to teach these women how to feed their kids." A project aimed at reducing the incidence of malaria distributed thousands of bed nets to families through tribal healers. "In 2006, we were losing one to two kids every week to malaria," Kellermann says. "After Rotary helped us distribute 25,000 bed nets, we went nine months without a kid dying from malaria. Rates have dropped over 90 percent."

Creating a nursing school

A few years ago, two entrepreneurs, James Jameson and Steve Wolf, met Kellermann while they were in the area to track gorilla. After they learned of the need for a nursing school, they contributed more than $650,000 to plan, design, and build it. The Uganda Nursing School Bwindi opened in November 2013. The pair also paid to send Jane Anyango, a registered nurse at the Bwindi hospital, to Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she earned a master's degree in nursing that enabled her to take over as the school's principal teaching tutor. And they provided iPads, loaded with a year's worth of textbooks, for every nursing student at the new school.

Last year, Jerry Hall, a past Rotary International vice president, led a vocational training team of nursing educators who spent two weeks developing the school's curriculum, instruction, and administration. Hall had met Kellermann during a previous project, when Hall was a Rotary director, and he had become a strategic planning consultant for the hospital.

Hall's club, the Rotary Club of Reno, Nevada, USA, along with Rotary members in Kihihi, Uganda, and 18 other clubs, raised $67,000 for a global grant totaling $247,000 that provided furnishings, classroom supplies, and lab equipment for the school.

Hall says that after the vocational training team returned home, a team member affiliated with the University of San Francisco arranged for Anyango to have access to the university's trove of digital information. Another team member arranged to have flash drives loaded with nursing curriculum sent to the school.

"The technology they have at the school is the first of its kind in Uganda," says Hall. "The chair of the Uganda Nursing Council attended a grand opening celebration during our stay and was blown away by some of it.

"The potential is tremendous," adds Hall. "Once we get trained nurses out to the villages and regional areas, you'll have people with midwifery skills who can deliver children out there safely and provide prenatal care. None of that is available today."
By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Nursing school helps indigenous community survive in Uganda 2015-04-25 00:00:00Z 0

Dr. Gerardo Davalos, a pediatric heart surgeon and member of the Rotary Club of Quito, Ecuador, performs a life-saving procedure on a child in 2012. The surgery was funded through a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gerardo Davalos
Pediatric heart surgeon Gerardo Davalos has treated scores of young heart patients, but one made a particular impression on him.

The day before 11-year-old Josue Ochoa died in 2013, Dr. Davalos, a member of the Rotary Club of Quito, Ecuador, walked into the boy's hospital room to say goodbye. The atmosphere in the room, where family members were gathered, was somber. But one person was smiling and comforting everyone else. It was Josue.

Says Davalos: "I'll never forget how strong Josue was in that moment. He wasn't concerned about himself. He was more worried about his mom and dad. He kept telling them that everything was going to be OK and that he'd lived a great life. He was an amazing child."

And Josue also shared his gratitude with Davalos. "He told me, 'Thank you for giving me a chance to dance at school,' "the surgeon recalls.
Five years earlier, funded by a Rotary Foundation grant that paid for corrective heart surgeries for underprivileged children at Quito's Hospital Metropolitano, Davalos had performed a complicated operation that saved Josue's life.

The ensuing recovery period had been extremely hard for the youngster, who'd had to remain in the hospital for two months after the surgery. But "Josue never complained once; he always had a smile on his face," says Davalos. "He couldn't wait to get out of the hospital and dance."

Over the years, though, Josue's heart problems became irreversible, says Davalos. "But Rotary helped extend his life, and gave him a chance to enjoy things that normal children his age do."

Josue is one of more than 120 children on whom Davalos has performed free corrective heart surgeries since his club, along with the Rotary Club of Wheeling, Illinois, USA, initiated the grant project in 2002.

Connecting with Rotary

After spending five years in Spain for his medical residency, Davalos returned home in 1995 eager to make a difference in the lives of Ecuador's underprivileged children, and looking to use his surgical skills outside his regular duties as a hospital doctor.

"I was a young surgeon with a skill I wanted to share," he recalls. "There are so many needs in Ecuador -- the government can't afford to pay for heart surgeries for poor children. There are very few options out there for them. I wanted to find a way to provide free surgeries to those in need."
A friend of Davalos' who was a member of the Quito club thought Rotary could be the answer. After attending a few meetings, Davalos joined the club in 1998.

"I was very impressed with the variety of professional skills the Rotarians had. I didn't know how to start a project or find connections that I needed to reach these desperate children. Rotarians do," says Davalos, who is director of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Hospital Metropolitano, Quito's leading hospital. "The club gave me options and the support I needed. Their enthusiasm to help those less fortunate was as strong as mine."
Rallying behind Davalos' vision, a number of clubs worked together to obtain grant money, which funded more than 60 surgeries.

"Life can be kind to some people and unkind to others. Those of us who are lucky to be in the position to give back must try to do so," he says. "I'm lucky to have found Rotary, lucky to have found friends so willing to help change lives."

Davalos, who also implants cardiac pacemakers free of charge through the Pacemaker Bank Foundation, adds: "I'm grateful that I can share my gift and make a difference. But those children are more of a gift to me than I can ever be to them."
None more so than Josue.

By Ryan Hyland
Rotary News
Ecuadorean surgeon donates heart to children in need 2015-04-18 00:00:00Z 0

The Race for Humanity held at the Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Rotary District 3140

Rotary members in India selected a popular racecourse in Mumbai to promote Rotary to the tens of thousands of racing aficionados who gather there daily, raising more than $350,000 for club service projects in the process.

And between races, spectators at the Mahalaxmi Race Course were also treated to the Rotary members' attempt at a Guinness World Record as 650 members, 75 of them dressed in white and 575 in black, formed the shape of a horse -- with the Rotary wheel as its eye -- on the lawn of the members' area.

District leaders in western India chose the Mahalaxmi Race Course for their Race for Humanity event because it draws people from all segments of Indian society. They reached out to Gulam A. Vahanvaty, a member of the Rotary Club of Bombay who also is a member of a track committee, to facilitate a deal that enabled Rotary clubs to name seven of the eight races run on 23 November after their respective service projects.

Leading up to race day, each club had raised at least $50,000 for the projects, which support literacy, children's health, and education, among other causes. Betting on the races was left up to the Rotary members but was not promoted as part of the event.

More than 6,000 Rotary members attended the Race for Humanity event, and club leaders distributed 1,500 membership kits to race goers. In addition, Rotary colors and flags lined the paths to the complex, banners hung in every available location, and a five-minute Rotary public service video was shown throughout the event as well as on video feeds to other racing sites throughout the country.

"This was a spectacular event for Rotary in terms of fellowship, bringing together Rotarians and their families in one grand open-air venue," says Vahanvaty. "Rotary's work was showcased across the racecourse through banners and audiovisuals. We also obtained immense public relations through newspapers, radio, and TV covering the event."

Adds Ajay Gupta, governor of District 3140, "It was a delight to be with so many Rotary members and sing our national anthem and unfurl both our nation's flag and the Rotary flag." District 3140 spearheaded the event along with the Rotary Club of Bombay.

The day at the racecourse also included a fashion show, an art camp, a play area for kids, a DJ, and an organized cleanup activity inspired by a nationwide campaign to clean up India's infrastructure.

"Truly, this has to be one of the most significant events that I have had the opportunity to witness in my 42 years in Rotary," says past Rotary Foundation Trustee Ashok Mahajan. "The event not only helped raise funds for Rotary, strengthen district fellowship, and reinforce Rotary goodwill but it also highlighted Rotary's reach and network in society."
By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News
Event at Indian racetrack nets $350,000 for service projects 2015-04-04 00:00:00Z 0
Seung Jin Kim shows off his sail emblazoned with the End Polio Now logo before setting off on his voyage around the globe.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of District 3260
Enjoying calm winds and peaceful Pacific waters, Seung Jin Kim dove off his 43-foot sailboat, the Arapani, to swim with some dolphins nearby. The serenity that day near the equator was a stark contrast to the 60 mph winds and 23-foot waves he had to fight around Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America. But Kim, a veteran sailor and member of the Rotary Club of Seokmun, in Chungcheongnam, Korea, expected such challenges when he set out in mid-October on a 25,600-mile journey around the world. In addition to fulfilling a lifelong dream, Kim is using the trip to raise awareness and funds -- his goal is $200,000 or more -- for Rotary's End Polio Now campaign.

He's now more than halfway through the voyage, which is expected to take eight months. As of 23 March, he'd passed South Atlantic and is now in the middle of the Indian Ocean en route to Western Australia.

"I want to give people the belief and aspiration to create a better and more prosperous future," says Kim, who chose Sailing With Hope as the theme of his voyage. "Rotary is doing that with polio eradication, so I'm sailing around the world in support of the effort to wipe this disease from the face of the earth. I want people to know how close we are."

To spread the word, the Arapani carries a 68-foot mast whose sail is emblazoned with the End Polio Now logo. He hopes people who see the logo will be curious enough to look into his cause.

"The success of our fundraiser depends on how much publicity we get," says Kim. "The bigger the crowd of people we can attract [when he completes the trip], the more money we can raise for polio eradication."

While he is in daily contact via satellite phone with his support team, which includes Korean Rotary members, he acknowledges that the solitary aspect of the journey is difficult. "The toughest part of this trip was the moment I realized I was all by myself in the middle of the ocean. A sullen feeling of loneliness suddenly invaded me," says Kim.

Kim, who expects to return to Korea in late May, will have crossed the Pacific, Antarctic, Atlantic, and Indian oceans.

He says the things he's most looking forward to are a home-cooked meal and being able to sleep under the same roof as his family. But he's already anticipating setting sail again. "I want to do this again, he says, "but with young sailors who have the same dream of sailing around the world."

Kim's journey is sponsored by 18 districts in Korea. The day he set off, Korean Rotary members posted poems, inspirational words, and photos around the marina. "I am so grateful for [the members'] support and encouragement. They are a wonderful inspiration for me," says Kim.

Sun-Hyung Cho, governor of District 3620 and part of the support team, says the district's Rotary members are closely following Kim's progress.
"We are so proud of his voyage around the world," Cho says. "This is important for Rotary because Kim's message can help convince other Rotarians to get more involved in the End Polio Now fight. I believe positive attitudes attract positive reactions from others. Kim's positive thinking has helped gain attraction to our cause."
By Ryan Hyland
Rotary News
Korean sailor makes waves for End Polio Now 2015-03-29 00:00:00Z 0

Members of the Rotaract Club of Monrovia conduct a door-to-door outreach campaign aimed at raising awareness about Ebola prevention.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rotary Club of Monrovia, Liberia
After the first cases of Ebola reached Liberia's capital, Monrovia, last June, local Rotary members feared that the city's limited health care system wouldn't be able to contain the highly infectious, often-deadly disease.

Those fears were realized when infections quickly multiplied, underscoring the speed with which Ebola can spread in an urban center. It was the first time the hemorrhagic fever had threatened a major city since it erupted in West Africa last March.

Now, after months of crisis-level response, and with the number of new cases declining, club members are looking to the long term, planning three projects that will have a sustained impact in the Ebola fight in their community.

"We were at the mercy of Ebola," recalls David Frankfort, a member of the Rotary Club of Monrovia and chair of its Ebola committee. "We didn't have enough trained health personnel or proper medical equipment to handle the onset of the epidemic here."

The Monrovia club quickly stepped up efforts to control the spread of the disease in the city. By October, members had donated 220 noncontact infrared thermometers, 10,000 examination gloves, 100 plastic buckets with spouts for handwashing, 120 pairs of rubber boots for health care workers, 80 mattresses, fuel coupons for Ebola response vehicles, and books for students who had to stay at home after the government ordered the closing of all its schools in June.

The 53-member club is also working directly with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to enhance local support for Ebola patients, health workers, and support staff.

"When this crisis hit, we weren't going to stand by and wait for help to arrive; we created our own emergency action plan," says Frankfort. "We felt a responsibility, as a Rotary club, to show our community that responding to disasters like this is what we are all about."

The Rotaract Club of Monrovia also pitched in, conducting a door-to-door outreach campaign aimed at raising awareness about Ebola prevention and home management. The effort was co-sponsored by the Liberian Nurses Association.

In addition, Frankfort says that dozens of clubs worldwide have assisted Rotary members in Monrovia, including the Rotary Club of Marlow, in Buckinghamshire, England, which raised more than $113,000 for the effort.

Cases drop, response stays strong

The Ebola epidemic, the worst on record, has claimed more than 3,600 lives in Liberia. In the three worst-hit countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, -- the death toll is more than 8,620, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Ebola, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding, is spread through direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids. It has no known cure.
However, the rate of new cases has declined in recent months, prompting the government to end the country's state of emergency in November. But William Martin, senior adviser to Liberia's Health Minister and a member of the Monrovia Rotary club, says more has to be done to end the epidemic.

"Our biggest concern is that this disease doesn't stop at the border. The boundaries of these three countries are poor. People migrate back and forth all the time," says Martin, who serves on the Presidential Advisory Council on Ebola. "Eliminating cases in Liberia isn't enough. We [the government] must continue to prepare for cases."

His club, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is also ready to continue the fight. "I'm extremely proud of what we've been able to accomplish so far. Every one of our members agreed that this outbreak is something we must take on as a challenge," he says. "But we can't stand down."

The Monrovia club plans to institute three major projects for long-term relief. Members will donate $80,000 to an orphanage caring for children who lost parents to the disease. They are buying an oxygen machine for the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, one of Liberia's largest and oldest medical facilities, which lacks proper equipment for Ebola patients. Martin says the machine will be crucial to the hospital's treatment of infected patients. The third initiative is to provide scholarships for people to study health and social work subjects.

Ebola's impact on Liberia was magnified by its deadly reach into the health care system. More than 300 medical workers contracted the disease, and 178 of them died from it. This was a significant blow in a country whose population of 4.4 million was served by only one doctor for every 100,000 people before the outbreak started, according to WHO. That compares with WHO's recommendation of at least one doctor for every 600 people.

As the club's efforts transition from emergency response to long-term relief, members will focus on filling gaps the government can't address, Frankfort says.

"There is going to be a strong focus on community outreach and awareness," he says. "It's crucial that people are educated on Ebola, because taking even a small step back can be disastrous for this country."

By Ryan Hyland
Rotary News
Monrovia club’s Ebola fight not finished 2015-03-23 00:00:00Z 0
The Interact Club of Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, won the $500 grand prize in the 2014 Interact video contest with its entry, “Our Best Day in Interact.”
For the second time in three years, the Interact Club of Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, took the $500 grand prize in the annual Interact video contest, beating 88 entries from 33 countries.

The secret to the club's success isn't just the professional quality of the videos but the stories behind them, says club member Kyle Gomes, who was the director, cinematographer, and editor for this year's three-minute entry, "Our Best Day in Interact." The video, narrated by several Interact members, shows the students decorating Christmas trees at Richmond's City Hall; ice skating to raise funds for the polio eradication campaign; collecting canned goods for a local food bank; participating in a model UN day in San Diego, California, USA; and rebuilding a preschool and orphanage in South Africa in 2013.

The project in South Africa, conducted every other year since 2003, generally includes a team of five Interact members; members of the sponsor Rotary club, Richmond Sunset; teachers from Hugh Boyd Secondary; and firefighters, all of whom spend a month providing assistance to the Refilwe orphanage, located south of Johannesburg.

"We really wanted to emphasize how much of an impact we can make in our community," says Gomes. "Our club is involved in so many projects, it was imperative to us that we show that in our video. We want the Rotary world to know that Interactors enjoy and are motivated to give back."

Club president Melissa Chao was part of the 2013 team that traveled to South Africa, and calls it a "life-altering journey."

The team renovated the preschool that adjoins the orphanage, adding linoleum flooring, expanding the kitchen, creating a patio and awnings, and fixing the roof. "I hope to return to Refilwe to continue the progress I started two summers ago," says Chao.

Gomes will be part of the team traveling to South Africa this July. To raise the $3,500 cost for each student, he and the other Interactors plan to participate in a pledge drive called 24 Without, in which they will fast for 24 hours and refrain from using cell phones and other digital devices. "This will give us a glimpse of what so many children deal with on a daily basis," he says.

Interactors add vigor to small sponsor club

The Hugh Boyd Interact Club, chartered in 2012, has 160 members, almost eight times the total in its sponsor Rotary club, Richmond Sunset.

But what the Rotary club lacks in numbers, it makes up with strength, thanks in part to the Interactors, says Richmond Sunset member and Interact adviser Magdalen Leung. "Their boundless energy motivates our members. We try to include Interactors in all our projects because they add so much enthusiasm," she says.
"It's no surprise the club won the contest again," Leung says. "They represent exactly what Rotary wants from our youth programs. This will help attract more members to their club, which only makes our family bigger and stronger."

Leung says engaging in youth programs is vital to Rotary's future. "Being hands-on with Interactors or Rotaractors by giving them community service opportunities will help these students to be better members of society."

For Chao, the feeling is reciprocal. "Words can't describe how extremely grateful we all are to our sponsor club and Rotary for their leadership, mentorship, and friendship," she says.
Her club plans to use its $500 contest prize as seed money for an upcoming clothing drive for teens at Vancouver Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth.

The three other clubs selected as contes