Wise Words from Mark Twain 2021-11-26 05:00:00Z 0

From GSE to leadership, my journey into Rotary

Vivek Khandelwal (left) and the 2009 Group Study Exchange team to Switzerland.
By Vivek Khandelwal

In 2008, I happened to see a newspaper ad promoting Group Study Exchange through Rotary. Intrigued, I applied for the program never suspecting the many ways this simple action would impact my life.

Dharmendra Gangrade, a Rotary member who had previously taken part in a Group Study Exchange, oversaw training me and other applicants. The path forward was full of twists and turns, but after a year as an alternate, I was selected for a trip to Switzerland the following year.

I experienced many different aspects of my trade as a retail professional in Switzerland. Our team leader did everything he could to enhance our experience and allow us to gain new insights. The affection and kindness that I received from our host families spoke volumes about the program. I was amazed by every single aspect from the level of training that went into it to all the different presentations we gave and received at clubs both before and after. The generosity of Rotary to offer this level of professional development to non-members astounded me.

Not long after, with all these experiences still fresh in my mind, I received an invitation from the Rotary club that hosted my exchange to join their club. The decision was easy – I wanted to give back in any way I could. But in reality, I have always received as much as I have given or more.
I later had a chance to get involved with another club that spun off of that club as charter secretary and eventually president. I now serve the Rotary Club of Deonar in District 3141 as director of public relations working together with club leaders, something I truly enjoy. I write on a variety of topics and maintain a monthly blog that keeps our community and members informed.

I have also had the good fortune to visit RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, and meet the amazing people who provide support to clubs and districts.

What has kept me in Rotary these many years is the level of engagement that I am able to have with like-minded people who enable me to take part in truly amazing projects. I completely agree with RI President Shekhar Mehta, who has said that the rent we pay to stay on planet earth is the service we provide to our community. I am a Rotary member for life because of the opportunity it provides me to continue impacting the world in meaningful, fun, and engaging ways.
From GSE to leadership, my journey into Rotary 2021-11-26 05:00:00Z 0


Our own Rotarian Mike Dunn and Granddaughter Ashley

Excerpted from The Concord Monitor

There is a place we go, a place that fills a void in our hearts and provides faith in our fellow citizens. This place is simple, a place where people gather to spend time with one another and share meals to provide nourishment.

The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club visits this place often, Rotarian Mike Manning is in fact a regular at this place. The Open-Door Community Kitchen located at the United Church in Penacook is a place we like to spend hours helping those in need. Friends wander in each week in search of a meal and a little companionship, simply looking for a friend to converse.

As Rotarians, we embrace each and every person equally while “placing service above self.” That’s just what Rotarians do.

The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club is honored to have donated $2,000 to the Open-Door Community Center during the month of November. Mike Manning and his team of Rotarians have spent many hours in this place that we go to nourish the hungry.

If you have some time available and would like to join us at the Open-Door Community Kitchen, please contact Capital City Sunrise Rotarian Mike Manning at 603-496-8814.
FEEDING A NEED 2021-11-16 05:00:00Z 0

District Treasure Award 2021 - PDG Rich Berryman

District Treasure Award 2021 - PDG Rich Berryman

Intro Remarks From IPDG Steve Puderbaugh:

“In 2006, District 7870 initiated a special honor for extraordinary Rotarians in our District called the Rotary Treasure Award.
The rst recipient was Al Kerr who exemplified every aspect of Rotary; be it attendance, Foundation support, attracting new members, new club creation and attending District and Rotary International Conventions as well as demonstrating solid participation in community and international humanitarian projects.
The recipients of this award are definitely a Rotary Treasure!

Each year District Clubs nominate candidates for the Award with selection being made by a committee appointed by the District Governor.
The successful candidate needs to emulate and has shown Al Kerr’s level of involvement and dedication to the ideals of Rotary and his focus on ‘Service Above Self.’

This year I am honored to give this award to an individual who has exemplified the ideals of this award.

A quick overview of how this year’s recipient has served Rotary and our district include:
  • Rotarian since 1976 Many leadership positions in the Concord Rotary Club
  • Past President Concord Rotary 1988-89
  • Current President of Capital City Sunrise Rotary District Governor 2014-15
  • Current Chair of District Grant Committee
  • Past-President of District Executive Council
  • Chair of District Golf tournament Committee past 5 years
  • Dental Mission with Amigos de Honduras 2009
  • Dental Missions to Holy Spirit Clinic, Maggotty, Jamaica 2015,2018,2019, 2020
  • Initiator of a Global Grant of Dental/Medical Equipment ($90,000)and supplies to Holy Spirit Clinic, Maggotty, Jamaica
  • Several years as the local chair for the Rotary Leadership Institute
  • An avid supporter of the Rotary Foundation
Without further ado, join me in honoring this year’s recipient of the District 7870 Rotary Treasure Award: Dr. Rich Berryman”
District Treasure Award 2021 - PDG Rich Berryman 2021-11-15 05:00:00Z 0

Doubling down on COVID recovery, ending polio

The Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Ride to End polio team.

By Kristin Brown, past president, Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse

We ride so that others may walk. I don’t know who said it first, but the phrase has become a tagline for Rotary cyclists around the world, pedaling for PolioPlus, logging miles, and raising funds in the global effort to fully eradicate this disease.
Doubling down on COVID recovery, ending polio 2021-11-12 05:00:00Z 0

Assembly information 11-4

Treasurer’s Report - Mike Manning - $54,000. In 3 acc’ts.  The two District Grant projects (ODCK supplies $2000. And Penacook Community Center $4000. Will reduce our funds to $48,000.)
State House Holiday Tree Lighting - November 26th - 4 pm.  We are good for a table to serve HOT CIDER.  Pres. Rich to get there early to save parking spot.  Cider to be heated at Salvation Army at 2pm.  Larry P. To check with Salvation Army to confirm kitchen use.
Pittman Dinner - Jack Prendiville - shooting for December 8.  Cooking at Salvation Army starting at 2pm.
Wreaths Across America - Jim Spain - December 18, 10 am - Maple Grove Cemetery.
Salvation Army Bell Ringing - Larry Phillips keeping sign up list.  Pres. Rich and Mike Manning have volunteered to cover this while Wreaths        Across America being completed.  Reverend Ed will not be able to attend due to health problems.
Speaker List and Assigned Dates - Rich Berryman. All members are obligated to find speakers…when you do:
                 Get their Agreement to speak - in person or by Zoom?
                 Have speaker email or text Pres. Rich for date assignment and I will get all date,
                 contact info and Audio/visual info to Tony.
Children’s book donations to CPL in Speaker’s name - Jack Prendiville (assisted by Tony Gilmore when Jack in Florida and unavailable on Zoom.
Penacook Village Business Association - Pres. Rich to sign us up as members and find out next meeting.  Larry, Tony, both Mikes, and Geof. Interested in attending.
Concord Chamber of Commerce - we are already members so need to find meeting dates and have a CCSRC (or multiple) attend
Main Street Rotary Week Banners - Geoff Souther - have been up for a week and will stay up until City of Concord has banners to replace them so our one-week payment may be good for two or more weeks!!
Assembly information 11-4 2021-11-06 04:00:00Z 0

Lessons in disability inclusion: Does he take sugar?

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

I had just finished keying in my pin number on the card reader at the supermarket checkout counter recently when the cashier turned to my friend and asked, “how does he know which buttons to press.”

Being completely inured to this sort of thing, I watched with interest to see how my friend would react. It is peculiar that when encountering a person with a disability, many people very often address the person accompanying them rather than addressing us directly.
Lessons in disability inclusion: Does he take sugar? 2021-11-06 04:00:00Z 0

How to bring in new member

By Tom Gump, immediate past governor of District 5950 and a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Edina / Morningside, Minnesota, USA
Rotary’s recently launched Membership Society for New Member Sponsors has created a high level of enthusiasm for bringing new members into our organization and forming new and innovative Rotary and Rotaract clubs. How do you attract new members into your club? Or form a core of people interested in launching a new Rotary club? As someone who has brought in more than 50 new members (Membership Society Gold Level), I want to share a few thoughts.

Know why people join Rotary

A great starting point is to review the research we already have for why people join Rotary. Data from Rotary International’s last global survey shows that a majority of respondents said they joined Rotary or Rotaract for local community service and friendship. Respondents also listed personal growth, professional development, and professional connections as important reasons for joining. With this in mind, it’s good to make sure your club can provide these things, and that you advertise them to prospective members.

You have to Ask!

This might seem obvious. But you know what, if you don’t tell them about Rotary AND ask them to join, most people won’t. The survey showed that more than 85% of new members found out about their clubs because a Rotary member personally invited them. Don’t miss out on the opportunity. Ask your family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and other acquaintances to come to a meeting or event, and then follow up on any interest with an invite to join.
How to bring in new member 2021-10-31 04:00:00Z 0

Tips for Keeping Kids Safe

This is excerpted from the website - Human Trafficking in our backyard
Our speaker this week will address this issue
Tips for Keeping Kids Safe
1. Educate your kids about human trafficking. That it is here, what it looks like and to talk to you or another responsible adult if they think they see it. If they are able, have them read In Our Backyard. It will help them recognize the indicators.

2. Communicate with your kids, and let them talk to you without judgment. They need to know they are safer with you than anywhere else. One rule we had with our children was that if they did something wrong and they told us before we found out, they might have some consequences but their punishment would be less than if we found out another way.

3. Technology is a big part of how sex trafficking happens with youth. Know your kid’s passwords, know what is on their phone. A good rule is “as long as you live under our roof, we have access to passwords, emails, texts, etc.” Your child’s privacy is important but so is their safety. If you talk to parents whose children have been sex trafficked, without exception, they will all tell you they wish they had monitored their computers, cell phone and activities on social media.

4. Technological devices now exist which include: GPS tracking devices which can be placed on phones, clothes, and in backpacks which help parents and authorities track your child and find them when they first go missing. DNA scent kits which can be used to help authorities and dogs track a scent trail.

5. Know your kid’s friends. Have them over to your home. Feed them a pan of brownies, a batch of cookies and sit down and talk with them. Know where they hang out and what they are like.

6. Get youth involved in positive things, community groups, sports, music, community service, and church youth groups. Surround them with positive peer pressure.
Tips for Keeping Kids Safe 2021-10-23 04:00:00Z 0

Using Raise for Rotary to support polio eradication is a breeze

Jayne Hulbert and her husband, Gene, get ready for the District 5150 Road Rally to End Polio in 2020.
Ed Note: World Polio day is October 24, Capital City Celebrates with banners on the streetlight poles in downtown Concord, NH
By Jayne Hulbert, past governor and Rotary Foundation chair, District 5150

The eradication of polio is personal to me. My sister and my husband’s father both were victims of this dreaded disease when they were only 5 years old. I joined Rotary because of our fight against polio.
Last year, when I learned that Rotary had created the fundraiser site, Raise for Rotary, I immediately knew I wanted to use it. I am always looking for ways to make it as easy as possible for people to donate to The Rotary Foundation. As part of District 5150’s PolioPlus fundraising campaign we set up our first Raise for Rotary website. It was a huge success.

The set-up of the Raise for Rotary site was especially easy – something I am always looking for.  Shortly after I established the site, one of the Raise for Rotary staff got in touch with me to be sure things were going well. I was really impressed!

Useful features

One of the neat things about the Raise for Rotary site is that I am notified immediately when a donation is made. Then I drop a special note of thanks to the individual. Remember, The Foundation sends the official thank you donation notification. It’s great being notified of “surprise” donations.

Another great feature is that other donations can be added to the Raise for Rotary site.  These donations are typically major gifts that I know about.  I check with the donor to be sure we can use their name and donation amount on the Raise for Rotary website. This is a fantastic way to inspire others to donate.

We have now set up this year’s Raise for Rotary polio fundraiser. Kirsten at the Raise for Rotary staff was terrific assisting me in re-naming this year’s fundraising campaign. It’s actually easier for a donor to go to our Raise for Rotary page instead of logging in through My Rotary. We have added flyers for two of our upcoming events: Truffle Shuffle to End Polio on 3 October and the Rotary Race to End Polio to coincide with World Polio Day, 24 October.

Easy updates

The site can easily be updated with thank you notes, flyers, photos and videos, or just about any information you’d like to include. It’s so easy to keep the site updated with new information. Adding those major gifts is a breeze.

We use the Raise for Rotary web link on a variety of announcements, emails, etc. This is a great way to market events as well as to fundraise for PolioPlus. We have a Rotary Foundation event in November – Up and Away with EREY (Every Rotarian Every Year) – and we are seriously considering doing another Raise for Rotary site to support the fundraising efforts at the event.

The Raise for Rotary website is one of the best fundraising innovations Rotary has developed.
Using Raise for Rotary to support polio eradication is a breeze 2021-10-16 04:00:00Z 0

Mongolia's Dramatic Improvement of Maternal Care for Nomads

A woman stands next to her herd of goats on July 25th, 2016, in the Omnogovi (South Gobi) province in Mongolia.
(Photo: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images) Article excerpted from the Pacific Standard
ED Note: In 2014 Capital City was the lead club in a global grant that provided 5 clinics with medical birthing equipment and supplies
By Didem Tali
The least densely populated nation-state in the world, Mongolia has seen its urban population rise steadily since the collapse of communism in 1990s. Today, two million people out of the country's total population of three million live in urban centers, but a quarter of Mongolians still pursue a traditional nomadic lifestyle.
Mongolia's Dramatic Improvement of Maternal Care for Nomads 2021-10-09 04:00:00Z 0

RI President-elect Jennifer Jones announces Rotary’s $97 million pledge for sustainable projects during Global Citizen Live

RI President-elect Jennifer Jones, right, announces Rotary’s $97 million pledge for sustainable projects during the Global Citizen Live event on 25 September in Paris, France. She’s joined on stage with British actress Carmen Ejogo.
by Ryan Hyland
RI President-elect Jennifer Jones, right, announces Rotary’s $97 million pledge for sustainable projects during the Global Citizen Live event on 25 September in Paris, France. She’s joined on stage with British actress Carmen Ejogo.

Rotary International President-elect Jennifer Jones took the stage at the Global Citizen Live concert on 25 September in Paris, France, and pledged $97 million in grant funding from the organization next year for sustainable, Rotary club-led projects.
RI President-elect Jennifer Jones announces Rotary’s $97 million pledge for sustainable projects during Global Citizen Live 2021-10-02 04:00:00Z 0

Empowering girls in Mexico

Sofia Brega founded Activators de Paz Ciudad Juárez, a group that trains other agents of change and develops Positive Peace content for schools.

By Sofía Brega, Rotary Positive Peace Activator and member of the Rotaract Club of Juárez Centro, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Growing up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, I always knew I wanted to work on girl empowerment and the rights of women. I wanted to be an activist for women’s rights, and learned about Girl Up, an organization that strives to advance opportunities for girls to be leaders. It’s a club-based initiative that supports projects that focus on women’s rights and builds awareness of current challenges for women in Mexico and elsewhere.
Empowering girls in Mexico 2021-09-25 04:00:00Z 0

5 ingredients of a successful Rotary club

By Barton Goldenberg, immediate past governor of District 7620 (Maryland and Washington D.C., USA)

Running a successful Rotary club is a bit like baking a cake. You need the right ingredients.

If you’re a baker, you know that a great cake is made up of individual ingredients that come together to produce something special. A great Rotary club is like that, in that it is made up of a unique mix of ingredients. Here are the five that I have found in most, if not all, successful Rotary clubs.
5 ingredients of a successful Rotary club 2021-09-20 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary Peace Fellow reflects on Afghanistan, helping others in crisis

Kiran Sirah Singh at the International Storyelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, a 2011-13 Rotary Peace Fellow and president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee, USA
The news coming out of Afghanistan has been painful to watch. So many of these images of suffering — the cargo plane filled with refugees, and especially the image of the baby being passed over barbed wire to a soldier — reminded me of my own family’s experience as refugees. Forty-nine years ago, they were forced to flee their home in Uganda along with 50,000 others, when a murderous dictator threatened them with genocide.
Rotary Peace Fellow reflects on Afghanistan, helping others in crisis 2021-09-12 04:00:00Z 0

New club makes disability advocacy a priority

By Ken Masson, President, The Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy

The need for human rights for people with disabilities is worldwide. From the largest to the smallest countries, there are opportunities for Rotary to improve the dignity, respect, and quality of lives for people with disabilities. That is why we chartered the Rotary Club of World Disability Advocacy. We saw so many possibilities of what Rotary could do.
New club makes disability advocacy a priority 2021-09-03 04:00:00Z 0

Africa Marks One Year Polio-free

by Ryan Hyland

Rotary joined its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to mark the first anniversary of a historic public health milestone: the World Health Organization’s African region being certified free of wild polio.
Africa Marks One Year Polio-free 2021-08-29 04:00:00Z 0
Capital City Sunrise New Time and Location 2021-08-24 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary projects around the globe August 2021

South Africa
South Africa
Our DGE Randell Barclay is an honorary member of the Blougberg and participated in the sandwich making when he and his wife, Diane were last there recently.
When COVID-19 shutdowns heightened hunger in his country, Rex Ifechukwude Omameh turned his family’s living room into a sandwich assembly area to prepare food for those in need. Omameh, who is a member of the Rotaract Club of Blouberg and the Rotary Club of Blouberg, and his family members made the effort a Friday tradition. Fellow Rotaractors sometimes help prepare the sandwiches, and most of the food is given to the Milnerton Community Action Network for distribution. Omameh has spent more than $1,500 on food, and a bread company has also pitched in to provide some of the bread and soup. Omameh also received contributions to defray the project’s costs as a birthday present.
Rotary projects around the globe August 2021 2021-08-22 04:00:00Z 0

First outbound Rotary Youth Exchange from Nepal

Seema Tamang, third from left, with other Rotary Youth Exchange students
First outbound Rotary Youth Exchange from Nepal
From The Rotary Blog, November 1, 2017

By Seema Tamang, Rotary Youth Exchange student from Kathmandu, Nepal

During the 2016-17 school year, I was thrilled to be the first outbound exchange student from Nepal. Being blind, I have to admit I was a bit scared at first, as home life in the US was much different than in Nepal. I was used to sleeping in the same room with my sisters and with other girls in the dormitory at school. With my host family, I had my own room. But it did not take long to adapt, and enjoy an amazing experience during which I grew in many ways
First outbound Rotary Youth Exchange from Nepal 2021-08-14 04:00:00Z 0

Be a role model for Each One, Bring One


By Elizabeth Usovicz, Rotary International Director, Zones 30 and 31

Rotary connections are powerful, for both current and future members. After 16 months of lockdown, online business and virtual Rotary meetings, I recently met a longtime client for lunch. The restaurant we chose was quiet that day, and the dining area was empty except for one table. 

Our fellow diners were two young men of different races. They seemed to be talking about business as my client and I were seated at a nearby table. We didn’t focus on their conversation until our ears perked up like hyper-alert terriers when we heard one of them say, “Rotary.”
Be a role model for Each One, Bring One 2021-08-06 04:00:00Z 0

My Rotary Youth Exchange to Spain


Rotary Youth Exchange student Mia Henderson and a host sister in Madrid, Spain, on National Day of Spain.

Mia Henderson, 2019-20 Youth Exchange Student from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Madrid, Spain

When I was 16, Rotary offered me a chance to experience life beyond anything I had known before. After attending a meeting about Rotary Youth Exchange, I decided to apply to study in Spain.

It took months of hard work to prepare. But before I knew it, it was time to pack up my things and leave. I arrived for my 2019-20 exchange in an unfamiliar country, meeting people I didn’t know, who spoke a language I didn’t speak well. But even though this was my most difficult path yet, I was at peace.
My Rotary Youth Exchange to Spain  2021-07-31 04:00:00Z 0

“Saving the future of our children”: The women fighting polio in Pakistan

Zubaida Bibi leads a team in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the country’s north. © WHO/EMRO
Pakistan is one of two countries where wild poliovirus remains endemic making it essential that the entire country supports the successful implementation of every polio campaign. Women play a critical role, often working at polio’s frontline.

Health interventions and immunization activities are most effective when delivered by women.  During each nationwide polio vaccination campaign in Pakistan, women make up around 62 percent of the 280, 000+ frontline workforce vaccinating millions of children across the country.
“Saving the future of our children”: The women fighting polio in Pakistan 2021-07-24 04:00:00Z 0

How to talk to someone who is vaccine hesitant

Tips to have that talk

by Elizabeth Schroeder

As COVID-19 vaccinations are administered around the globe, you’ve probably seen your social media feeds fill up with joyful vaccine selfies and excited appointment updates. Chances are, you also have someone in your life who’s skeptical. Most of us do — and that has public health officials concerned.

Vaccine hesitancy is often fuel for heated public debate, but conversations about vaccines don’t have to be contentious. In fact, being willing to have them is one of the most impactful ways we can influence global health. As with many emotionally-charged topics, knowing how to start the conversation can be the hardest part. These tips may help you open up a dialogue and get your loved ones thinking differently about being vaccinated.
How to talk to someone who is vaccine hesitant 2021-07-18 04:00:00Z 0

Food bags fill void left by pandemic

Members of the Rotary Club of Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras, check names off a list as they distribute food bags on the island of St. Helene.

By Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen, Rotary Club of Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

I am on a small boat fully loaded with food bags headed for the people of St. Helene, a small island about two miles long and one mile wide, separated by a canal from the island of Roatan. Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands located off the northern coast of Honduras.
As the waves are striking our boat, my thoughts wander to the approximate 1,000 people in 218 households who are in need of the food we’re delivering. Many of whom have no income because they lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Helene has no roads and no infrastructure. Its people are descendants of African slaves brought by the British to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands who then migrated to Roatan after gaining their freedom in the 1830’s.

Last year they got electricity for the first time. And 14 months ago, as the first part of a Rotary global grant, members completed a fresh water project. Phase two of the grant has been approved.

We landed on a Friday in September 2020 at a dock that was built by grant money and the effort of Rotary members. Our trip could not have happened without funds from the Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar (Ontario, Canada) and the Rotary Club of Evergreen (Colorado, USA).
    •    600 masks
    •    250 face shields
    •    bags with food for roughly 30 days
In addition to the food, we provided 600 N95 masks and 250 face shields to residents of St. Helene thanks to a donation from Michael McCarry of Mount Sinai Hospitals in New York City, New York. A special thanks to Sterling Lucas and his boat captains who brought us to the island.

The islanders received their bags of provisions as they were checked off of a list. They then loaded into their boats and flipped up their umbrellas and went back to their homes either by sea or along crooked paths around the island. The bags will provide each family with enough food to live on for about a month.

It was great to see their renewed hope for the future as the supplies gave them the ability to look beyond this pandemic. This is what Rotary is about, Service Above Self and bringing new hope to parts of the world.
Food bags fill void left by pandemic 2021-07-09 04:00:00Z 0

Volcanic ash in West Indies puts animals in need

By Elizabeth Guybert, Rotary Club of Grande Terre Pointe Des Châteaux, Guadeloupe, French West Indies\

Rotarians organized a large-scale collection to feed, shelter, and provide medicine for animals affected by the volcanic ash that destroyed pastureland.

In April, the successive eruptions of the Soufrière volcano devastated part of the island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, leading to an urgent evacuation of the population from the affected areas.
Volcanic ash in West Indies puts animals in need 2021-07-02 04:00:00Z 0

Polio outbreak in Papua New Guinea

In 2019, there were 554 cases of paralytic polio globally. In 2020, that figure more than doubled to 1,216.
On 21 June 2018 it was confirmed that poliovirus is circulating once more in Papua New Guinea after 18 years polio-free. As polio is a highly infectious disease which transmits rapidly, there is a potential for the outbreak to spread to other children across the country, or even into neighbouring countries, unless swift action is taken.

Organizers of the outbreak response are calling for the full support of all sectors of society to ensure that every child is protected. Parents are being encouraged to bring their children to their health centre or vaccination posts to receive the vaccine, free of charge, during a series of immunization campaigns. Disease surveillance is also being strengthened to detect any further transmission of the disease.

The World Health Organization is working with the other partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to support the National Department of Health and the Provincial Health Authorities in controlling the outbreak.
Polio outbreak in Papua New Guinea 2021-06-20 04:00:00Z 0
Staycation Raffle 2021-06-13 04:00:00Z 0

Keeping children safe from polio

The author immunizes a child against polio in India. Ed Note: I have been fortunate enough to visit S.R. Yogananda in his home and have attended his club Rotary meeting.
By S.R. Yogananda, past governor of District 3190 and 2011-14 regional Rotary Foundation coordinator

I had just come back from an assignment overseas in 1987 when I rejoined the Rotary Club of Bangalore East after an absence. I enjoyed the fellowship before meetings when I could connect with all my friends in one time and place. At one such meeting, one of our club leaders talked about Rotary’s top priority to eradicate polio and mentioned an upcoming immunization drive that Sunday.

But that Sunday, I had a wedding to attend of a friend of the family, who I knew would notice if I arrived late. At 06:30 that morning, I received a call from our polio committee chair, reminding me of the event. He was so convincing that I should volunteer that I said yes, even though I was not happy I would be missing the wedding.
Keeping children safe from polio 2021-06-12 04:00:00Z 0

Vaccination education for all our neighborhoods

Members of the Rotary Club of Plano West, Texas, USA, spend Saturdays distributing information about vaccinations on door hangers in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods.

By Alex Johnson, President of Rotary Club of Plano West, Texas, USA

From my town of Plano, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, we see the virus devastating lives in India. Last year, COVID-19 affected people overseas, and then took hold in America. We can counter the threat and stay safe by getting people vaccinated.
Vaccination education for all our neighborhoods 2021-06-05 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary members lead effort to transform childbirth care in Mongolia

Editor's Note: In 2014 Capital City led a global grant providing almost $800,000 in medical equipment and supplies to support maternal and child health for five barely equipped clinics in sparsely populated rural Mongolia.
Julie Dockrill, recipient of Rotary’s People of Action: Champions of Health, led a team of midwives in training health care professionals as part of a comprehensive well-being program that’s saving mothers and babies
by Ryan Hyland

When Julie Dockrill was approached by the Rotary Club of Waimate, New Zealand, to train medical workers in Mongolia in safer childbirth practices, she wasn’t sure how much of a difference she could make — despite her 20 years of experience as a midwife and childbirth educator.

At the time, Dockrill wasn’t very familiar with Rotary’s work, nor was she aware of the high infant mortality rate in Mongolia, an Asian country located between Russia and China. But she agreed to participate if it meant saving the life of even one child.
Rotary members lead effort to transform childbirth care in Mongolia 2021-05-29 04:00:00Z 0

5 reasons to give to The Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Club of Andong-Central, Korea, provides horticultural training for students with special needs as part of a global grant made possible by your donations to The Rotary Foundation.

When you make a donation to The Rotary Foundation, you are helping Rotary members make a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world. Here are five reasons to make Rotary your charity of choice any time of the year.

    1.    Accountability

Our accountability and transparency have earned The Rotary Foundation 12 straight years of four-star ratings — the highest possible — from independent evaluator Charity Navigator. More than 90% of Foundation funds are spent directly on programs. No high administrative costs dilute your gift.

    2.    Impact

We partner with other organizations to increase our impact and make your donations work even harder. When you give to PolioPlus, for example, you have the satisfaction of knowing that every $1 Rotary commits to polio eradication is matched by $2 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Thanks to this partnership, all donations to end polio (up to $50 million per year) are tripled, providing critical funding toward creating a polio-free world.

    3.    A record of success

Rotary unites leaders who have the skills and resources to tackle some of the world’s most difficult problems and deliver sustainable, long-lasting results. For decades, Rotary has been a leader in the battle against polio and with the help of our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we have reduced cases by 99.9% since 1988. The infrastructure developed to facilitate both immunizations and eradication is being used to fight and protect against other diseases as well. For example, the method known as contact tracing was critical to containing an Ebola outbreak in Nigeria in 2014.

    4.    Global reach

Our 1.2 million members span the globe, uniting people who have a common desire to serve others. From teaching children to read in Ecuador to a microcredit program in Indonesia, Rotary members identify local problems and use Rotary’s vast network and the resources of The Rotary Foundation to take action in their communities.

    5.    Bringing about peace

Peace holds a unique status in Rotary.  We approach peace not as an abstract concept, but as a living, dynamic expression of human development. As a humanitarian service organization, it is both a cornerstone of our mission and one of our six areas of focus – one of the main ways in which our members make their mark on the world.

Each year, the Rotary Peace Centers train some of the world’s most dedicated professionals to resolve conflicts and promote national and international cooperation. Rotary Peace Fellows study in a two-year master’s degree program or a professional certificate program at Rotary’s partner universities. Rotary members themselves also address the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources. Our collaboration with the Institute for Economics and Peace is providing free, self-guided training to individuals who want to be peacebuilders in their communities.
5 reasons to give to The Rotary Foundation 2021-05-22 04:00:00Z 0

Sewa International to Distribute 7482 Oxygen Concentrators and 250 Ventilators in India; Jack Dorsey of Twitter Donates $2.5 million


Rotary International is not well organized to support ongoing disasters. District 7870 is working with Sewa International to provide donations in support of the Covid19 crisis in India. Here is what Sewa is doing.
Houston, TX (May 13, 2021) – Sewa International has procured 7,482 oxygen concentrators, 20,500 pulse oximeters, 250 ventilators, 256 co-ventilators and other much needed medical equipment and has shipped most of these to India via UPS over the past two weeks. Working with its partners in India, Sewa International has distributed more than 4,000 medicine kits, and 5,000 essential kits. As Indian hospitals and care agencies struggle to meet this dire medical emergency, Sewa volunteers have been working across the country, in small towns and big cities to offer information about hospital bed availability, medical equipment distribution, vaccinations, and testing for COVID-19. Sewa International has already spent more than $7.5 million procuring and shipping equipment, and helping distribute needed medicines, food, and other supplies.
Sewa International to Distribute 7482 Oxygen Concentrators and 250 Ventilators in India; Jack Dorsey of Twitter Donates $2.5 million  2021-05-16 04:00:00Z 0

A day in the life of a vaccination volunteer


By Jill Johnson, member communications team lead, Corporate Communications, Rotary International

My cheeks hurt from smiling, which was weird because I wore a mask all day. It’s not as if anyone saw my smile, but I couldn’t help it. It was a great day.

I volunteered at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in my town on 15 April. I worked the registration desk, checking people in for their appointments. It’s a fun assignment because you interact with so many people. There was the young man who told me he just woke up — it was 1:00 p.m! There were the teenagers born the year I graduated high school who didn’t laugh at my lame attempts at jokes. And there was the young man with autism who, as his mom filled out the paperwork, sang me a song and showed me how he could dance.

I’ve always wanted to volunteer but struggled with finding the “right thing.” When Rotary members were encouraged to work with their local health organizations to support vaccination clinics in their communities, I thought, “I could do that.” I may not be a Rotarian or a Rotaractor, but I am a part of the Rotary community. And this felt like the “right thing.”

While the registration desk is fun (and busy), I also liked being a vaccination assistant on previous volunteer shifts a week earlier. There’s more time to chat than at the registration desk, so you get to interact with people in a different way. I’ve listened to residents talk about how excited (and nervous) they are. I’ve seen their faces light up when the vaccination is over and they didn’t feel a thing. I’ve heard more people say “thank you” than I can count.

While it’s mostly a joyful and positive experience, there have been some challenges. There was the patient who was there with her caregiver. She had a disability and was deaf, and was also very afraid — she really wanted her mom. Another man arrived in a wheelchair with his parents and started to get angry when he realized he was getting a vaccination. As a non-medical professional who works behind a desk all day, it was an eye opening experience.

When my shift was done, I was exhausted, but in a good way. I still had work to do and two kids to take care of, but I felt accomplished and happy. I had no idea volunteering would have this effect on me. I’m already looking for more clinic shifts to volunteer for.
A day in the life of a vaccination volunteer  2021-05-08 04:00:00Z 0

The logistics of shipping and storing vaccines

by Elizabeth Schroeder

A mass, worldwide vaccination effort is crucial to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic — but the logistics of getting it done are incredibly complex. Two of the most complicating factors? Storage and transportation. 

Distributing vaccine doses is much more elaborate than simply putting vials in a box and loading them onto a truck. From the time a vaccine leaves the manufacturer to the time it’s administered to a patient, it needs to be kept in ideal and highly specific conditions. For example, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine needs to be stored at a frigid -70° C.  That’s why the success of large-scale immunization efforts is dependent on a reliable cold chain: a system of safely storing and transporting vaccines at recommended temperatures.
What makes up a cold chain?

A seamless cold chain combines three equally important elements:

    •    Equipment: in most cases, the best storage option is a pharmaceutical-grade unit, specially designed for housing vaccines. Unlike the freezer where you keep your ice cream, these can cost upwards of $15,000. Specialized portable coolers are also important for moving vaccines from one location to another.

    •    Personnel: staff and volunteers tasked with handling vaccines must be thoroughly trained on safe storage and transportation practices. This is particularly important because different vaccines require different conditions.

    •    Processes: vaccinating facilities must have clear, detailed, and up-to-date instructions for vaccine handling — plus contingency plans in case of emergency. What if the facility loses power? What if there’s a weather event? These questions and more should have thorough answers.

What happens if the chain breaks?

Vaccines can only protect against disease if they’re delivered safely. Overexposure to heat, cold, or light can compromise vaccine quality. Not only does this diminish the vaccine’s effectiveness; it also leads to wasted vaccine supply and financial loss. Between spoiled vaccines, replacement costs, and administrative expenses, cold chain errors cost healthcare shippers billions of dollars a year. 

How we help

For more than 30 years, Rotary members have been supporting the safe transport of polio vaccines to every corner of the globe. When it comes to COVID-19, we’re just as committed to bringing vaccines to all. Learn more about how we’re playing our part: http://on.rotary.org/covid19efforts.
The logistics of shipping and storing vaccines 2021-04-30 04:00:00Z 0

What every Rotary club should know about running Virtual/In-Person meetings

This week the club Zoom meeting will include the 25-minute video meeting referenced in this story.
By Jim Marggraff, Entrepreneur and Member of the Rotary Club of Lamorinda Sunrise, California, USA

Four years ago, my wife MJ surprised me with an unearthly question. “How can we keep Mars-bound astronauts connected with their loved ones on Earth?”

This question sparked a journey, though not yet to Mars… Instead, I embarked on a journey to understand social isolation on Earth, to develop new ways to connect remote loved ones using advanced technologies, to found another company, my seventh, Kinoo.family, and to become even more deeply engaged with Rotary!

While few Rotarians are likely to find ourselves hurtling toward the red planet, many of us do understand the feeling, if not the risk, of social isolation, and the desire to remain close to our friends and families.  Strikingly, within months of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, nearly 80% of Rotary clubs embraced Zoom, or other video conferencing software, to host virtual club meetings and stay connected.
What every Rotary club should know about running Virtual/In-Person meetings 2021-04-22 04:00:00Z 0

Mount Washington Foliage Season Raffle

Capital City Sunrise Rotary is raising funds for its Concord, NH area and international projects.
Win a fall foliage stay for two nights and tickets on the steam powered Mt. Washington Cog Railway
Nights of October 2 & 3, 2021 at the 4-star Omni Mount Washington Bretton Arms in Bretton Woods
• Two day stay for two persons, in a luxurious room with two queen-size beds and a nicely appointed seating area
• $250 for meals and incidentals
• Two front-row seat tickets on the Mount Washington Cog Steam Locomotive Railway for Saturday, October 3rd
• Magnificent Mount Washington autumn foliage scenery
All proceeds will benefit the charities of the Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club, Concord, NH and its international service projects.
Only 300 tickets to be sold
One winner will be drawn on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. The winner will be notified by email. Prizes are not exchangeable.

Mount Washington Foliage Season Raffle 2021-04-11 04:00:00Z 0
Fall Foliage Staycation Raffle 2021-04-05 04:00:00Z 0

My best day as a vaccination volunteer

Steven Sanbo registers people at a vaccination center in Yavapi County, Arizona
By Steven Sanbo, past governor of District 6690 and Zone 30 assistant Rotary coordinator

What I recall most are the hundreds of faces. Faces of hope. Faces of relief, gratitude, fear, joy, excitement, desperation, anxiety and yes, faces with tears all hidden behind masks during my volunteer shift at a mass vaccination center in Arizona, USA, on 26 February.

The only other time I had seen hundreds of faces filled with so much emotion was leading a Rotary mission trip in Guatemala in November 2014 to open a trade school. That morning an earthquake measuring 7.4 magnitude hit the San Marcos region 40 miles from where we were working. It was the largest earthquake to hit Guatemala since 1976.
That afternoon I and two other Rotarians volunteered to be first responders with Shelter Box leaving at 04:00 the following morning for San Marcos. You could see it on their faces. The villagers cried for help, support, food, water, shelter, hope for missing family members amid the destruction and crumbled houses. I was there to provide hope.
My best day as a vaccination volunteer 2021-04-03 04:00:00Z 0

Peace: Today for tomorrow


By Maria Kliavkoff

What difference can one conversation, one action really have? As a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada living and working in the border area between Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia, I have always had a passion for peace. By good fortune, I have had the opportunity to meet four RI presidents, and I asked each what polio eradication has taught Rotarians about peace. The answer that inspired me most came from past RI President Barry Rassin, who told me “peace happens one conversation at a time.”

I chose to reflect on this answer in one of my favorite places, the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (WGIPP) – the first International Peace Park created by U.S. and Canadian Rotarians in the early 1930s. It is truly a “place of peace,” as the first peoples of the area called it centuries ago. As a director of the park’s association, I had been attending annual meetings and having peace conversations with other Rotarians.
Peace: Today for tomorrow  2021-03-27 04:00:00Z 0

Paroles sages de Mark Twain

Une femme mariée française ne peut même pas entrer dans une ménagerie sans mettre en doute la pureté de cette ménagerie.
Mark Twain

Paroles sages de Mark Twain 2021-03-21 04:00:00Z 0

Le Rotary et la vaccination contre le COVID-19

Six gouverneurs de district des zones 33 et 34 ont collaboré avec le ministère de la santé et les services sociaux de Caroline du Nord (États-Unis) pour contribuer aux efforts de vaccination contre le COVID-19. Les gouverneurs ont créé une liste de contacts de chaque Rotary club de leur district qu'ils ont fournie au ministère de la santé de l'État, qui l'a à son tour communiquée avec les services de santé locaux. L'État a également dispensé aux membres du Rotary de tout l'État une formation sur les vaccinations, afin de leur permettre de sensibiliser le public. Les membres se sont portés volontaires sur les sites de vaccination locaux pour aider les agents de la santé en matière de logistique, y compris la saisie de données, l'organisation des files d'attente et l'enregistrement des patients. Découvrir cet article sur Rotary Voices et partagez ce que font vos clubs pour contribuer aux efforts de vaccination sur Rotary Showcase.

Le Rotary et la vaccination contre le COVID-19 2021-03-21 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary clubs fight COVID-19 in a big way

Quentin Wodon

By Quentin Wodon, Rotary Club of Washington Global, USA

How do we measure the magnitude of the investments made by Rotary clubs in the battle against COVID-19? This is not an easy question to answer, but in my Rotary and professional life, I often deal with assessing impacts. So the question intrigues me.

Back in June of 2020, Rotary International released a statement that it had allocated $20 million in grants to fight the pandemic. (Read how Rotary is encouraging clubs to cooperate with local governments and health organizations on the rollout of COVID vaccines). But we all know that that amount is just the tip of the iceberg.

Club foundations

A few years ago, I estimated that there were close to 4,000 local foundations at the level of Rotary clubs and districts just in the United States alone. At the time, the assets of The Rotary Foundation were just above one billion dollar. Local Rotary foundations filing forms 990 with the Internal Revenue Service had close to $775 million in assets. This did not include assets owned by 1,854 local Rotary foundations that did not file a form 990 because they have gross annual income/receipts of less than $50,000.

It is likely that annual charitable donations by local Rotary foundations in the U.S. exceed those of The Rotary Foundation simply because they distribute a larger share of the funds they raise the same year. And many club and district foundations focused their charitable work on the pandemic in the last year. Hence the total funding provided by the Rotary community was undoubtably much higher than $20 million.

A few examples

I can share a few examples anecdotally of what Rotary clubs in my area of Maryland and Washington, D.C., have been doing:
    •    The Rotary Club of Metro Bethesda provided $53,000 to support three local nonprofits on the frontlines.
    •    The Rotary Club of Columbia Town Center donated nearly $60,000 worth of personal protective equipment to local senior care facilities, nine of which are in Howard County.
    •    The Rotary Club of South Frederick County aimed to give $60,000 to meet the county’s needs.
    •    The Rotary Club of Annapolis organized its yearly crab fest as a drive through. It typically raises each year $45,000 to $65,000 depending on the weather for nonprofits around Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, again in the past year with some focus on COVID-19 responses.
    •    The Rotary Club of Baltimore launched a $30,000 initiative to help feed first responders during the crisis.
    •    As for the Rotary Club of College Park, it mobilized hundreds of volunteers to distribute meals.

It would be interesting to know what the total amount donated by Rotary organizations and Rotarians globally to fight COVID-19 has been so far, as well as how many volunteer hours have been committed by members in their community’s response toward the pandemic. I would not recommend sending a survey to all Rotarians, or even to all clubs, as we already receive enough surveys, and there is no need to run such “censuses” where everybody is asked to respond. Rather, at the level of a country or internationally, sampling methods could be employed.

The big picture

But the more important take away is this: Rotary has been contributing in a big way to the fight against COVID-19. And we all have a role to play in communicating the good that we are doing. Apart from statistically measuring what we are doing, we should share our stories. Rotary leadership is encouraging clubs to share your efforts on Rotary Showcase. And you can promote what you are doing through your local media.

We belong to a great organization. Let’s continue to roll up our sleeves and help the world turn the corner on this pandemic. And let’s invite others to join us.
Rotary clubs fight COVID-19 in a big way 2021-03-12 05:00:00Z 0

Myanmar refugees charter new club in Indiana

Members of the Southport International Rotary Club in Indianapolis load boxes of food for a food drop.

By Jeff Lake, Rotary Club of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

I began to work with the nonprofit organization Chin Community of Indiana in 2016 after our club’s foundation granted them $250,000 over five years, with a three-year extension through 2023. Many Burmese Chin, fleeing persecution in their home country, have chosen Southport as their new home. Almost 20,000 Chin live on the south side of Indianapolis, making it one of the largest concentrations of Chin people outside of Myanmar.

I was asked to be the liaison to the Chin organization and one of the first things I did was to create a Chin Support Committee. This committee meets quarterly to determine what type of additional assistance the Chin residents need. All along, I have worked closely with their leadership. It was decided a couple of years ago that starting a Satellite Club of Chins and non-Chins would help them assimilate into the greater Indianapolis community.

The satellite club meets at The Chin Center, which is the heart and soul of the Chin community. It took some time but in the fall of 2020, they had 22 members and applied to receive a charter to be their own Rotary club. Importantly, the president of this new club, Southport International, is a Chin. Though I’m a member of the Rotary Club of Indianapolis, the host club, I attend most of their meetings, whether in-person or via Zoom.

The Chin club members take great pride in telling people that they are Rotarians. They will hold a Charter Night as soon as all of us are able to meet in-person once again. The Executive Director of the Chin Community of Indiana, is a member. I have done some volunteering at the Chin Center to help them with questions that their five-person staff aren’t able to answer.

When I talk about the Chin community, I find myself saying “we”, because I have developed a deep relationship with the Chins, who are honest, hard-working, and very grateful to be able to live in the Indianapolis area.

Six months or so ago, I was asked to be a member of their Board of Directors, which includes five others, who are all Chin leaders in the community. As Rotary continues to create innovate new clubs, hopefully clubs will reach out to invite those who are from different countries. While there may be a language/cultural barrier at first, with patience, those barriers can be minimized and Rotary’s reach in the U.S. can expand greatly.
Myanmar refugees charter new club in Indiana 2021-03-06 05:00:00Z 0

Safety committee supports clubs through pandemic


Juliet Altenburg

By Juliet Altenburg, DGN, District 7390 (Pennsylvania, USA)

Last June as I ended my term as president of the Rotary Club of Mechanicsburg-North and started my role as a district governor-nominee, I was feeling the enormity of COVID-19 in my paid job, personal life, and Rotary club.

In my professional job as a nurse, I am the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Trauma Systems Foundation (PTSF). PTSF oversees hospitals that are trauma centers in Pennsylvania. Hospital staff shared with me the stress of caring for patients while trying to protect themselves and their families. They were often the “family” of patients that died alone and were physically and emotionally exhausted.

Meanwhile in my mother’s nursing home, the virus swept through the facility at an alarming rate. Among 86 residents, over 70 tested positive and 11 died. I received daily messages of more and more staff being impacted which contributed to staffing shortages. Meanwhile in my club, we pivoted to online Zoom meetings but were still unsure of when and how we should reconnect in person. Furthermore, how should we keep risk at a minimum while doing service activities in the community?

With this in mind, I asked District Governor John Anthony if we could form a committee focused on supporting the district’s clubs on how to serve safely. We would educate Rotarians on how to be safe with any in-person events including fundraisers, service activities, and club meetings.

With DG John’s enthusiastic support, the District 7390 Safety Committee was launched. Within two weeks of asking for volunteers, 12 Rotarians with expertise in education, food handling, childcare, public health, nursing, contact tracing, and public relations came together to form a plan. The result of that plan was the formation of a COVID-19 Safety Guidance document for all clubs that would teach them principles of meeting and serving safely. That document was part of an overall communications plan that included enhancing the district website by forming a COVID-19 page.

That page not only contains a guidance document, but signage, guest information, and the most current CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Rotary International announcements related to COVID-19. As news spread on depth of expertise on the committee, various Rotary committees requested support to provide recommendations for implementing risk mitigation strategies for events including RYLA, Youth Exchange, and the Multi-District Conference. As committee work continues plans include:

    •    Conducting webinars for Rotarians and the public related to COVID-19 safe practices and scientifically based information regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.
    •    Collaborating with local public health organizations in providing vaccination support
    •    Increasing public media presence including messaging on digital billboards
    •    Forming a subcommittee to develop District Crisis Management Guidelines

Our goal is to one day focus on other aspects of safety as we serve the public, but for now, we are proud to be supporting our clubs and the world at large in advocating for safe practices and vaccine distribution as COVID-19 ravages the planet. One day we will be together without masks, but for now we will serve the public and each other proudly as we support one another during this challenging time.
Safety committee supports clubs through pandemic  2021-02-28 05:00:00Z 0

A 'Blue Baby' Returns to The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Mike speaks to Johns Hopkins Hospital President Redonda Miller.
Editor's note: Mike Edenburn spoke to Capital City from Cebu, the Philippines on 2-18-2021
by Gary Logan.

On a recent August morning, Hugh Michael Edenburn walked into the atrium of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center at his usual swift pace. When information receptionist Elyse Geber learned who the 76-year-old visitor was, however, she had to catch her breath.

“Oh my God,” she greeted him, placing her hand on her heart. “You’re history.”

On Oct. 2, 1945, Edenburn, then 2 years and 7 months, underwent the “blue baby” operation to repair a congenital heart defect that had taken the lives of thousands of infants until the groundbreaking surgery was developed and introduced at Johns Hopkins in 1944. As a former respiratory therapist at the Children’s Center, Geber knew all about tetralogy of Fallot, the deadly condition marked by a bluish or “cyanotic” tint to the child’s skin due to the lack of blood flow to the lung. She also knew the history of the landmark surgery led by Alfred Blalock, of the essential diagnostic work by pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig and of the critical laboratory studies by surgical technician Vivien Thomas. To have a patient in front of her three-quarters of a century later, Geber felt, was astonishing. Colleagues aware of his arrival were equally thrilled.

“As a heart surgeon at Johns Hopkins, it’s a fantastic honor to meet you,” said Robert Higgins, director of the Department of Surgery. “This is the place that initially gave us the ability to treat people with heart disease. To be in the presence of somebody who was treated by the person who started it all is pretty remarkable.”             “You are an example and a reminder of our past, of innovations in cardiac surgery and how pediatric cardiology came to be a specialty,” said Shelby Kutty, co-director of the Blalock-Taussig-Thomas Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “Your visit has helped me think through the history of the Blue Baby operation and the extreme collaboration that made it possible.”

“Amazing!” added Johns Hopkins Hospital President Redonda Miller, shaking her head as Edenburn, trim and beaming with energy, approached her in the lobby of the Billings Administration Building, the home of the original hospital. “Do you feel well?”

“Yes, of course,” answered Edenburn. “My doctors tell me my blood chemistry is that of a very healthy 25-year-old. I got the results in my computer; I can show you,” he added, leaving Miller doubled over with laughter.
When Edenburn was a toddler in Waterloo, Iowa, his health was dramatically different. Without enough oxygen to reach his lungs, doctors informed his mother, he would be bedridden by 3 years old and dead by 5 or 6. Prepare yourself, they said.

Instead, after reading an article in Collier’s magazine about Blalock’s revolutionary surgery, she prepared to take her son to Baltimore. He was a candidate for the procedure that provided a second chance at oxygenation by joining an artery leaving the heart to an artery leading to the lungs, a procedure that came to be known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt. Taussig logged Edenburn into her patient registry as Blue Baby #44.
A 'Blue Baby' Returns to The Johns Hopkins Hospital 2021-02-18 05:00:00Z 0

For a Majority of Americans, ‘Carpe Diem’ is the New Motto in 2021

From Good News Network
Nearly six in 10 Americans are planning to make ‘carpe diem’—Latin for seize the day—their new mantra after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new poll.

The survey asked 2,000 Americans about the impact COVID-19 had on their lives and what lessons they’ve learned. It found 68% are planning to emerge from quarantine as new people. In fact, seven in 10 polled are planning to live each and every day to the fullest post-pandemic.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Life Happens, a nonprofit educating consumers about the importance of life insurance, the survey found that 71% of respondents value the little things in life more than ever because of the past year.
Some of the ‘small wins’ Americans are pursuing at this time included speaking to their families more (45%), speaking their minds more truthfully (43%), and taking more vacation time when it’s safe to do so (42%).

Four in 10 respondents also shared they plan to be more confident and express themselves creatively as a part of this small-win revolution.

This isn’t to say respondents aren’t focusing on big life decisions during this time, however, as three quarters of those polled said it’s important for them to get their finances in order in 2021.

In fact, achieving financial security is the most important milestone for Americans to achieve for the second year in a row (38% in 2021 compared to 36% in 2020).

Faisa Stafford, President and CEO of Life Happens said: “Traditional milestones and outlooks on life have been upended, leading many to reevaluate what’s important in life and their relationships. For many, the past year has emphasized that there is no better financial security for your loved ones than life insurance, with our survey showing that more than a quarter (29%) consider getting life insurance a ‘small act of love.’”

Another important milestone for Americans includes becoming debt free—up 8% compared to last year’s survey (26% in 2021 compared to 18% in 2020).
For a Majority of Americans, ‘Carpe Diem’ is the New Motto in 2021 2021-02-14 05:00:00Z 0

Open Door Community Kitchen

The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club gathered on January 27th and fed those in need of a nourishing meal. We shared food, conversation and even smiles. Each month our club comes together for the common good of people that are in need. During these challenging times it is so very important to remember the way that it used to be. As you travel about each week please take a moment to converse with a lonely person, hold a door, pay for a meal or just smile. Nice really does matter.
~ Jim Spain
Open Door Community Kitchen 2021-02-07 05:00:00Z 0

Cap City Participates in 2 Million Mask Donation

In coordination with the Rossi Family Foundation’s Rotary 2 Million Mask Project, The Capital City Sunrise Rotary picked up 2000 masks on January 12th in Bedford, NH.
These masks were distributed to five of the Concord, NH schools.  The number of masks distributed were as follows:  Merrimack Valley HS and Elementary school (800), Bishop Brady HS (400), Concord Christian Academy (250), Parker Academy (250) and St. John’s Regional Elementary/Middle School (300). 
Each of the schools receiving masks expressed their sincere gratitude for these donations in this time of the Covi19 Pandemic. 

Cap City Participates in 2 Million Mask Donation 2021-01-23 05:00:00Z 0

Italian Rotarians screen homeless for COVID-19

Healthcare workers apply rapid serology tests to consenting homeless individuals on the streets of Palermo, Italy, to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless and those who help them.
Italian Rotary members through a partnership between the Rotary Club of Palermo, the Associazione Francesca Morvillo, and Karol Strutture Sanitarie, launched a screening campaign to help stop the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population of the City of Palermo. It is part of the ongoing efforts of Italian Rotarians to use their skills and connections to counter this pandemic.

Volunteers of the Morvillo Association who usually take turns in the distribution of meals and care packages to the homeless, went to the locations where those packages are typically passed out. Serology rapid tests were conducted on samples of capillary blood (a drop obtained by pricking the fingertip) collected from homeless individuals. The samples, taken on a voluntary basis by a health worker operating out of a camper provided by the Morvillo Association, helped identify individuals infected with the virus.

Rotary Club of Palermo president Vincenzo Autolitano explained the purpose of the project is to identify COVID positive individuals for the protection of the homeless and volunteers who serve them. He also thanked Karol Strutture Sanitarie for embracing the project and providing the health workers and tests needed for the screening.

The President of the Morvillo Association, Giancarlo Grassi, also expressed his appreciation for the attention shown in this time of health emergency to volunteers and the marginalized. (See this post in Italian on Voci del Rotary).
Italian Rotarians screen homeless for COVID-19 2021-01-23 05:00:00Z 0

3 ingredients to keep members happy

Members of the Metro Bethesda Rotary Club enjoy a service project.
By Barton Goldenberg, member of the Metro Bethesda Rotary Club, Maryland, USA
I had the pleasure to be invited recently to an online Rotary discussion regarding member apathy. We were two past district governors, an assistant governor, two past club presidents – one from a large club and one from a smaller club— and a community service chair from a large club.

The topic was why some (many?) Rotarians are reluctant to participate or get involved in Rotary activities. Based on a district-wide survey of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic I facilitated in June at the end of my governor year (results are posted on our district website), we knew we would be facing membership challenges this Rotary year, particularly around member engagement.

Many clubs are honorably focusing on member acquisition by pro-actively reaching out to all parts of their local community. These clubs realize diversity is critical for long-term club health and engagement. Many of these clubs also have created a welcome process to ensure prospective members have a great experience when visiting a club or participating in a service project.
3 ingredients to keep members happy 2021-01-09 05:00:00Z 0

Our long history of giving

Coit House, shown after 1874, in Dunbarton Road (now Clinton Street) location across from the intersection with Silk Farm Road. Courtesy of Ohrstrom Library
By Jim Spain, President of the Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club
For The Monitor
There are times of the year when giving becomes very popular and the heart grows fond for those in need. Our community has always been fortunate to be home to many kind individuals and businesses that set annual objects and budgets that include many charitable causes. To this very day, the kindness bestowed upon the less fortunate is still very relevant and practiced by many. As Christmas approaches, we witness donations on so many levels: a hot dinner for the hungry, warm clothing to ward off the cold New Hampshire winter, services provided by professionals to those that are unable to pay, colorfully wrapped Christmas presents left under the Christmas tree for a child.

During the Civil War era in Concord, there were many children who found themselves unfortunate victims. These children, commonly referred to as War Orphans at that time, were destined for poverty and hardship due to circumstances that they were not able to control.

Many women did not survive childbirth and the children were raised in single-parent households by the surviving fathers. With life somewhat transient and the ability to travel limited, some single-parent households did not benefit from extended family where they could find help raising children. The mortality rate documents the life expectancy of the era to be much younger than it is today, eliminating grandparents in some cases.

As the War of the Rebellion grew and each community was required to meet a quota for enlistments, many young men, single parents, were destined to become soldiers during this Civil War. Short term arrangements were made, but the war lasted longer than any expectations at enlistment time. Sadly, many of the young soldiers who boarded the train south and left their children behind in Concord never returned. The children became casualties of war and consequently bequeathed the name orphan to the young children they left behind.

Many communities such as Concord rallied behind their local war orphans with much kindness and support. Sadly, some children were left on the streets to fend for themselves while others were fortunate to find families. The people of Concord, under the auspices of St. Paul’s School, were quick to organize and create a safe home for the orphaned children in April 1866 and the Concord Orphanage was both established and maintained for many years after the Civil War.

The orphaned children of Concord were fortunate to find support from St. Paul’s School where the rector and Mrs. Coit supported them. It was in 1874 the orphanage home was transferred from St Paul’s School to a board of trustees becoming an institution under the diocese.

The original charter for The Orphan Home of Concord that was approved on June 26, 1874, was amended in 1897 in the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives changing the name to Coit House and finding the orphanage to be free from taxation.

As funding continued through the generosity of the citizens of New Hampshire, a new brick building was constructed for the children on Dunbarton Road just across from Silk Farm Road.
As each and every Christmas approached many local clubs and organizations provided good cheer to the children at the Coit House. Clothing was provided, medical and educational support was donated, and there were entertainment and gifts along with a visit from Santa Claus.

At this special time of the year, it is important to reach deep within our hearts to help those in need. Food and shelter, gifts for the children or perhaps just a conversation with the elderly is appreciated more than you will ever know. Kind words from a kind person at Christmas hold much meaning for us, just as they did for our ancestors so very long ago.
Our long history of giving 2021-01-02 05:00:00Z 0

A Change of Pace - Travel Photos

This week, as a change of pace, your editor is going to show a few photos taken during his travels.
A young girl in Trojes, Honduras just after her family had a Pure Water for the World household water filter installed.
A Change of Pace - Travel Photos 2020-12-12 05:00:00Z 0

Oil Company Surrenders 15 Land Leases on Sacred Native American Land

During a ceremony in Washington, DC this Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Interior announced it was canceling 15 energy exploration leases on land that is sacred to Native Americans.

The Badger-Two Medicine area is an expanse of wilderness stretching along the Montana mountain line that is home to the Blackfoot people. For the last 10,000 years, Blackfoot members have found cultural identity in the 130,000 acres of the Badger-Two Medicine land. The tribe has vehemently protested and opposed the land leases since they were signed without their consultation almost thirty years ago.
The oil and natural gas company in question, Devon Energy Corp, acquired the land leases after merging with another company. Company president David Hager surrendered the land after acknowledging that the pristine landscape was not theirs to invade. The process of fracking that would have gleaned the natural gas could also have harmed the water supply which is in close proximity to the leased parcel.

There are two land leases left on the holy land that are still owned by other energy companies, but the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, is determined to prevent them from drilling on the Blackfeet territory.
“This is the right action to take on behalf of current and future generations,” said Secretary Jewell. “Today’s action honors Badger-Two Medicine’s rich cultural and natural resources and recognizes the irreparable impacts that oil and gas development would have on them.”
Oil Company Surrenders 15 Land Leases on Sacred Native American Land 2020-12-06 05:00:00Z 0

Bring sunshine to a stormy day

Taking part in a service project in Manila.

By Maria Elena “Marilen” Tronqued-Lagniton, past president of the Rotary Club of Cubao Edsa, Quezon City, Philippines

I shall pass this way but once. Any good that I can do or kindness I can show let me do it now.

But what if today was the last day of your life? Would you be fulfilled with how you have invested your time? Would you have any regrets? Time is the currency we begin each day with. It is our most valuable and most limited asset.

Rotary has taught me how fortunate I am, and how blessed I am to be able to make and deepen friendships by working alongside others in service. It is like sunshine on a rainy day. And as Rotarians, we need to share our story with others, so they, too, can see that sunshine and join us.

I was urged to join Rotary by family members. Like many, I approached Rotary with some hesitation. Too much was going on in my world as senior vice president of two major hospitals in the metro area. Rotary was at the bottom of my priority list. That is until my eyes and heart were opened.

The chair of the Board for the hospitals I worked for was Robert Kuan, past governor of Rotary District 3830. He had none of that hard-hitting, arrogant harshness that clouds power and success. This man was at his best and most inspiring when he talked about Rotary. From Banaue, the mountains in the northern Philippines to Korea to China – it seemed like all he ever did was Rotary. But no, it’s just that ALL he ever wanted to talk about was Rotary.

Medical mission opens eyes

One day, I took part in a medical mission to a province north of Metro Manila to feed a group of indigenous people. They had to travel all night from their homes in the mountain just to have access to care. This level of effort was more than I could comprehend.
As the children started chasing balloons around an open hall, I was struck by how simply things like a napkin or a glass of drinkable water, were an extravagance for them. As a breeze carried the stench of garbage from down the street on this humid summer day, I wondered how they could really get used to that smell.

I knew then why I needed to go on that medical mission. Even though I work at a hospital and see people in need, I still find myself irritated by simple annoyances, like a cup of coffee gone cold, or a computer that freezes up on me.

As I began to take part in my Rotary club’s service projects in poor areas of our city, I increasingly saw how often I take for granted basic necessities — a roof above my head, a refrigerator to keep food cold, and clean running water. Things like air conditioners, smartphones, cars, even hepa filters to purify our air during this pandemic, are luxuries that simply don’t exist a few short miles away.

Telling your Rotary story

I met past district governor Lyne Abanilla when I was a new Rotarian. Neither of us knew at the time how our careers would intertwine. She was vice president of a national English-language newspaper and I was a frequent source for healthcare reporters – not because I knew so much but because I was accessible and willing to return phone calls. I also met past governor Chit Lijuaco, editor of a popular magazine. Through Rotary, both these relationships became deeper and stronger as we served together.

Lyne, Chit, and I get invited to speak at many workshops on public image, because of our background in storytelling. We know the work that goes into doing it well. So we frequently encourage other members to tell their Rotary stories.

By sharing your Rotary story, you might be bringing sunshine to someone’s stormy day. And maybe that’s just what they need to begin a journey in Rotary that will change their perspective on life.
Bring sunshine to a stormy day 2020-11-29 05:00:00Z 0

Turn your fundraiser into a socially-distanced moneymaker

Rotarian Mike Pollard confers with volunteer Janie Griffin about the price of an item at the barn sale.
Editor's Note: Marty and I are District Governor mates of the 2012-13 class
By Marty Peak Helman, Rotary Zone 32 Innovative Club Associate

The Rotary Club of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in my district has held an annual fundraiser every summer, selling donated items during a live auction the first weekend in August. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the club, like many others, faced a problem:

How can a club hold a fundraiser during the pandemic, when traditional sponsors are facing economic hardship, community members have little extra to share, and social distancing alters the rules of what is possible?
During a typical year, the club stores donated items – furniture, boats, cars, bric-a-brac, tools, and books – in a barn until the auction, when members rent trailers and use sweat equity to move it all to a playing field where the items are sorted and priced. The top 200 items are sold by a professional auctioneer while everything else is sold tag-sale-style. The club typically nets over $50,000.

But when the pandemic began in March, the club stopped accepting donations. By May, it was clear the auction and flea market couldn’t take place. Then the club had an idea, and their experience holds a lesson for us all.

Club members realized that they could turn the storage barn into a sales venue, with appropriate masks and social distancing. Tentatively at first, the barn became the scene of an ongoing fundraiser every Saturday morning, averaging $2,000 to $4,000 in profit every week.

“We’ve always gotten calls for donations all year long,” club president Irene Fowle explains. “But now, we tell our donors that we can’t pick up until we sell enough to have space in the barn to take the new stuff.”

Because the donations are coming in more slowly, club members have a better opportunity to value and price the items.

“For example, we were donated two mid-century bureaus by a woman whose mother is moving into a nursing home,” club member Mike Pollard said. “I sent pictures of them to a dealer whom I’ve met through the auction, and we ended up selling them to her for $200 apiece.”

In the live auction, they would have gone for a fraction of that price since it was unlikely two bidders would be present who appreciated that style of furniture.
Other specialty items have sold on Facebook Marketplace and other online venues.

How can your club follow their example?

The first step, club members say, is to think beyond the logistics of the event to determine what makes your traditional fundraiser a success.
Is it the spirit of community the event engenders, or the thrill of finding a bargain? Is it the excitement of the venue itself? Once you’ve decides what makes the event tick, then you can think about how to duplicate that feeling in a virtual world. For example:

    •    A sporting event that includes a shot-gun start (golf tourney, 5K walk or run) can be rethought to take place at specified times over a two or three-week period.
    •    A spectator sport (duck race, polar plunge) can be moved to Facebook Live or videotaped and replayed later on the club or district website.
    •    A fundraising dinner can morph to take-out only, or maybe eat-in-your-car in a parking lot or town park, perhaps with piped-in music or other entertainment displayed on a big screen or building wall.
    •    An indoor event can move to a larger venue; tickets can be sold for specific entry times, or the event can be re-run multiple times for smaller audiences.
If none of these ideas “fit,” club members can think of new fundraising activities that by definition require social distancing: A road rally (where participants remain in their own car); a scavenger hunt (where participants move about in their own “pod”).

By mid-September the Boothbay Harbor club had met and exceeded the highest net that it had ever made at the one-day event, and the club plans to continue barn sales through Christmas. “This is so much better,” auction co-chair Laurie Zimmerli said. “We’re not hauling all that furniture to the schoolyard and back, and we’re getting better prices. We’re never going back to the old auction.”
Turn your fundraiser into a socially-distanced moneymaker 2020-11-21 05:00:00Z 0

Polio - What to Know

Nigerian family on a motorcycle receiving the polio vaccine. By Lisa K. Esapa. View this image or search images by topic on the Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person invading the brain and spinal cord which can lead to paralysis. 1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Of those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. Additionally, even children who seem to fully recover can develop new muscle pain, weakness, or paralysis as adults, 15 to 40 years later. This is called post-polio syndrome. (ED note: there are at least two District Rotarians who have suffered from post-polio syndrome that we know of).
There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines to prevent polio infection. Polio vaccine protects children by preparing their bodies to fight the polio virus. Almost all children (99%) who get all the recommended doses of vaccine will be protected from polio. Therefore, the strategy to eradicate polio is based on prevention by immunizing every child to stop transmission and ultimately make the world polio free.
Polio - What to Know 2020-11-15 05:00:00Z 0

Why I finally joined a Rotary club

Erin Maloney watching a recording of the 2020 Virtual Convention on her laptop. (On screen is her brother, 2019-20 Rotary International President Mark D. Maloney
By Erin Maloney

Until this summer, I had never really thought about joining a Rotary club. Even though I have been involved with service – from anti-domestic violence issues to giving music lessons – for all of my adult life, I was not interested in the traditional model of Rotary (with weekly meetings).

Living in Turkey, I was becoming more interested in reducing human trafficking, as I was concerned that female university students from abroad were being “groomed.” After the COVID-19 pandemic, however, it became more difficult to address this issue.

Meanwhile, I noticed that Rotary was becoming less traditional, open to a “new” kind of Rotarian – someone like me.

Perhaps the opportunities had been there for a while, but I first noticed them while attending the 2020 Rotary Virtual Convention (led by my brother, Mark Maloney, then Rotary International president). I saw three things that convinced me to join.

At the Convention’s first general session, I was impressed by a video about how communities like “Anytown” could have more Rotary clubs, if they broadened from the traditional model of meetings to a different sort of model, so that more “people of action” could participate.

Then, at the Convention’s second general session, I saw an example of a just such a non-traditional Rotary club. I had never seen one like it! It met only twice a month, on Sundays, in a coffee shop – with their children!
Finally, I looked carefully at the “booths” in the Virtual Convention’s House of Friendship. There, I learned about RAGAS (Rotary Action Group Against Slavery), and decided to attend a “Zoom” meeting to learn more about the work of the organization. I was impressed! With Zoom-chat, I asked if there was an international Rotary club devoted to ending modern slavery. I was immediately given contact information for the Rotary Club to End Human Trafficking in Minnesota, with Karen Walkowski as its Rotary Club president.

And the rest is history! I have now been a member of this Rotary club for three months, attending twice monthly meetings, online via Zoom. While a majority of its members live in the US, there are others like me who live around the world. I am impressed with the work and direction of the club.

I am happy that Rotary has broadened its meeting model, to include people of action like me.
Why I finally joined a Rotary club 2020-11-07 05:00:00Z 0

The future of the fight against polio

Concord and Capital City sponsor banners to end Polio in the Capital City
By Ryan Harland
Rotary’s challenge now is to eradicate the wild poliovirus in the two countries where the disease has never been stopped: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Routine immunizations must also be strengthened in Africa to keep the virus from returning there.

To eradicate polio, multiple high-quality immunization campaigns must be carried out each year in polio-affected and high-risk countries. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s necessary to maintain populations’ immunity against polio while also protecting health workers from the coronavirus and making sure they don’t transmit it.

Rotary has contributed more than $2.1 billion to polio eradication since it launched the PolioPlus program in 1985, and it’s committed to raising $50 million each year for polio eradication activities. Because of a 2-to-1 matching agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that means that, each year, $150 million goes toward fulfilling Rotary’s promise to the children of the world: No child will ever again suffer the devastating effects of polio.
The future of the fight against polio 2020-10-30 04:00:00Z 0

Club Named Shelterbox Bronze Hero

Congratulations on receiving ShelterBox HERO recognition for Rotary Year 2019-2020.

Your support is very much appreciated.

Your club is listed on our HERO page www.shelterboxusa.org/hero

1.6 million people have been sheltered since 2000, we could not have reached them without clubs like yours.
COVID 19 has not stopped our efforts, your help has provided aid to over 87,000 people so far in 2020.

Thank you for being a ShelterBox HERO!

Club Named Shelterbox Bronze Hero 2020-10-18 04:00:00Z 0

PDG Paul Bordeleau

Paul played for the Capital City Charter night in 1982 at the Old Highway Hotel. He was Governor in 1984-5.
Paul E. Bordeleau, 96, passed away September 27, 2020 at the CMC after a brief illness.

He was married to Wilma Sloan Bordeleau who predeceased him in 2010 after 62 years of marriage.

Paul was born in Lowell, MA, raised his family in Framingham, MA, and moved to Bedford, NH in 1971 where he spent the rest of his life. He was a D-Day veteran in WWII, and also served in the Korean War. He earned his BA at New England conservatory and a Masters at BU, and was a music teacher and band director for 16 years in Chelmsford, Framingham, and Dover-Sherborn schools in Massachusetts.

He moved his family to New Hampshire in 1971 and worked as a salesman at Darrell's Music Hall in the Bedford Mall until 1973 when he opened his own piano and organ teaching studio, and taught over a thousand students over the years, finally retiring from teaching in 2019. He was also a great musician and entertainer, and led a number of bands over an 80 year career, as well as being a church organist for most of that time, finally retiring from performing altogether in August 2020.

In addition to his music he was also a very active member of the Bedford Rotary Club for 47 years and served as both a club president and district governor, and was a major donor to the Rotary Foundation. He was also a member of the Washington Lodge of the Freemasons.

Paul is survived by his sons Edward, a piano technician in Bedford, NH and owner of Pianoarts, and Phil Bordeleau, music director at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, CO, and a daughter, Jan Bordeleau, a church organist and piano teacher at Bordeleau Keyboard Studio in Bedford, NH.

There are no calling hours or funeral per his wishes. He will be interred at the NH Veterans Cemetery next to his wife Wilma, also a WWII veteran.
PDG Paul Bordeleau 2020-10-09 04:00:00Z 0

Capital City's Grant Benefits CFD and CPD

District Governor Steve Puderbaugh, NH Food Bank Exec Dir, Eileen Groll Liponis, Grants Writer, PDG Tony Gilmore
Capital City has just received a check for $4080 for the Concord Fire and Police Departments to purchase decontaminating foggers and supplies for its ambulances and other emergency vehicles as part of our Rotary District's Covid-19 grants. Additionally, the Concord Friendly Kitchen has received a $1700 credit from our donation to the New Hampshire Food Bank as a part of our district’s nearly $73,000 donation.
Thirty-four clubs in Southern NH and VT participated, donating almost $114,000. With the Foundation's matching, the three grants totaled almost $341,000 for PPE; specialized equipment and supplies for first responders; donations to the VT and NH Food Banks in the name of local food pantries and shelves, and other charitable organizations affecting more than a million beneficiaries in New Hampshire and Vermont.
We, as Rotarians have reason to feel proud about supporting our communities!
Capital City's Grant Benefits CFD and CPD 2020-10-04 04:00:00Z 0
ShelterBox HERO recognition for Rotary Year 2019-2020. 2020-09-19 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary acknowledges the most credible person in the pandemic.

Derek Moore‎Rotary E-Club of World Peace, D5330, USA
Rotary acknowledges the most credible person in the pandemic. It is the Truth? Will it be Fair to all Concerned? Will it Build Goodwill and Better Friendships? Will it be be beneficial to all concerns? Are we sure others could pass this test to save lives and bring Peace and a sense of calm to our World. Thank you Dr Fauci
Rotary acknowledges the most credible person in the pandemic. 2020-09-19 04:00:00Z 0

The magic of Rotary: touching lives in Indonesia

Eva Kurniaty harvests a paddy field that was turned into productive land through a global grant.
By Eva Kurniaty, Rotary Coordinator, Past District Governor, and member of the Rotary Club of Jakarta Sunter Centennial, Indonesia
When I was a district governor in 2013, there was a Rotary club in my district, in Cilacap, Central Java, that only had a few members. My senior leaders advised me to terminate the club since they were inactive, held no meetings, conducted no projects, and never contributed to The Rotary Foundation. But I was determined not to end it; I knew it was possible to revive it.
During a visit, I found out this club was project-oriented, and their members said they were interested in serving their local community. Yet, they were not engaged in any service projects which would help keep members or attract new ones.
Cilacap is a rural area with over 2,000 households in 12 villages, whose residents are dependent on fishing in the Segara Anakan lagoon. The monthly household income is only around $80.
Over the years, the water started to dry up, turning the area into swampland that also became breeding grounds for mosquitoes that spread diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever. With the water dried up, the fishermen became farmers with an assurance of a more regular income. However, this “appeared” land was not productive, so we needed to transform it.
I decided to help the club set a long-term strategic plan for conducting a service project that would use existing members’ skills and expertise in agriculture and engineering. The plan was to build canals from Cimeneng River to reclaim the fertile mud (sediments) brought down by runoff water from the mountains to the river. This mud would act as a fertilizer for the unproductive land. We decided to start with our first global grant in one of the 12 villages.
Rotary members join villagers in constructing canals as part of the global grant project.
I managed to secure enough District Designated Fund from International Partners and with their support, the Rotary Club of Cilacap’s first global grant was approved. We worked together with the villagers, local government, and a Catholic foundation. As the club members got involved with building the canals and monitoring the project, they became engaged, active, and vibrant. Eventually, they began to attract new members as well.
The project was a huge success; the land became productive, and the villagers soon turned them into paddy fields. During its first year of harvest, these new-formed paddy fields yielded an income of over $1 million. As more sediment was reclaimed and the total area of productive land grew, the income also slowly increased and it now yields over $3 million per year. With this new income, families in the village are now prospering and able to afford basic needs such as education for their children. The value of land has now also increased to 20-times its original price.
This project also enhances Rotary’s public image in remotes areas. I love visiting Cilacap hearing, the villagers tell me “Long-live Rotary!” Everywhere you go, you can see paddy fields that stretch far and wide. The Cilacap Rotary club is now a cause-based club focused on expanding this livelihood project to the remaining villages, and they regularly contribute to the Foundation.
The magic of Rotary: touching lives in Indonesia 2020-09-13 04:00:00Z 0

No use crying over spilled milk

ED Note: This is a repeat of a story run early in August. Rotary Voices | Stories of Service has just published it. Marty is working to clone this success for New Hampshire at the NH Food Bank, financially assisted by a District 7870 Rotary Covid-19 global grant.
by Martin Cohn, Brattleboro (VT) Rotary Club, President 2012-13
In the early days of COVID-19, Vermont dairy farmers were in trouble. With the close of colleges and restaurants, there was too much supply of milk. This excess milk was headed to be spilled into mudholes. At the same time, the need to help food-insecure families was increasing. How could food that was being wasted reach people who needed food?
That’s when I heard about a project where the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets was coordinating an effort to recover raw milk from being disposed of while creating a new, temporary food supply for Vermont Foodbank.  In collaboration with the Vermont Community Foundation, $60,000 had been made available to purchase this milk for the benefit of Vermonters. These efforts were particularly important as Vermont’s dairy industry, like all sectors, had been challenged by COVID-19 but remain essential to Vermonters’ food supply. However, more money was needed.
When I heard about the need to recover raw milk from local Vermont dairy farms while creating a new, temporary food supply for Vermont Foodbank, I sprang into action to help Vermont farmers, children, and food-insecure families. I sent out emails to fellow Rotarians and within days an additional $10,500 was raised. These monies came from eight Rotary clubs, a donation from the District 7870's Youth Exchange, and the District 7850 Foundation. This helped cover the cost of 32,000 gallons of milk, ingredients, and processing to create 48,000 cups of Green Mountain Yogurt, 11,500 gallons of Hood Dairy 2% Milk, and 440 pounds of Ploughgate Creamery butter.
Secretary Anson Tebbetts of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture said, “This is what Vermont is all about. Neighbors helping neighbors. Thank you Rotarians, farmers, and businesses. You and so many are helping those in need.” Media reports identified Rotary as being a good collaborator in finding a solution.
But wait, there is more to the story.  Our neighbor to the east, New Hampshire, had similar issues.  The difference this time was that the cost of milk had gone up; making the filling of tankers too expensive. The solution was to have the NH Foodbank buy dairy products directly from NH dairy farmers. Calls were made to the NH Agency of Agriculture, the Granite State Dairy Promotion Board, the NH Foodbank, and the NH Charitable Trust. Again, emails and presentations to Rotary clubs resulted in close to $18,000, coupled with monies from NH Charitable Foundation, enough money to set the project in motion.
For me, this is another example of Rotary in Action. I am proud to be part of an organization of committed community problem solvers. This Rotary Dairy Project was a success and one that could be replicated anywhere that you can ask, “Got Milk?”
As I have been presenting this project to Rotary clubs in Vermont and New Hampshire, I was reminded of the time my mother would give me a quarter every Friday to give to my teacher to buy containers of milk for the following week in school. If every Rotarian donated one dollar each week and then gave all the money to their local food bank or pantry, more milk could be purchased for food-insecure folks while helping local dairies. Perhaps this is a project for another day.
No use crying over spilled milk 2020-09-06 04:00:00Z 0

What Rotary has to offer young members

Tory Paxson and her family

By Tory Paxson, vice president, Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club, District 7780, Maine, USA

What’s life like for people between the ages of 18 and 35 in the Boothbay Region of Maine? Through Rotary, young people take on leadership positions that expand their skills while they serve. Rotary does more than help during a crisis like COVID-19; it provides experiences that translate into a better future in any career.

The Rotary Club of Boothbay Harbor created a new membership level to make joining more accessible for those under the age of 35. In addition, generous club members have chosen to pay the first year membership costs for the first five new members in this category.
We call it the Rule of 35 and it reduces dues by more than 50% for those under the age of 35. It’s a commitment by our club to keep growing and learning, and to keep inviting young people to see what skills they can develop and add to their own resumes. It’s an invitation to make a difference.

Through Rotary, I have discovered what is possible when a group of like-minded individuals get together to make a difference. It matters not at all that we come in many shapes and sizes, backgrounds, or age-ranges. After a short few years, it’s apparent to me that what we have in common is more important than our differences. We believe in Service Above Self.

It’s more than a motto, it is what compels our club. While we’re known for our annual benefit auction (on hiatus, due to the pandemic), our club works year-round to help our local community and communities around the world. We have given out bikes to seasonal and international workers, organized the Soup Bowl Supper and Derby Party fundraisers, run mock job interviews for high school seniors to practice for future careers, and created care packages for veterans, among many other things.

Rotary has also enabled me to become capable, confident and powerful as I worked alongside change-makers. I have gained project management skills that you can only get through organizing and managing a 200 plus person event with three different organizational crews and over 40 donors and vendors. I’ve became a better, more confident public speaker and learned to use my voice to create change both in Rotary and in my career. I used that voice to convince my fellow members to support our new club membership level for other young professionals like me, the first of its kind in our Rotary district.

At age 25, joining Rotary changed the trajectory of my life. Now 30, I am vice president of our club and have discovered the many ways that I can make a difference.

More than that, I joined a family of people who have rich histories, have a lot of love to give, and are committed to their community. Many of them are business leaders with fascinating careers. I learn and laugh with them at our meetings, taking a break from my busy life to connect with people that I would have never had the chance to get to know otherwise. It’s the reset button I need after a challenging day. Some of my best friends are twice my age, and my life is twice as rich for having them in it.
What Rotary has to offer young members 2020-08-30 04:00:00Z 0

First Grader Turns Her Dream of Feeding Homeless People Into Reality –By Launching Her Own Foundation


Paris Williams is six years old. Like many of her first-grade peers, she’s adorable, but this little girl is also driven by a mission to help others who are less fortunate. So driven in fact, that she’s launched her own nonprofit foundation, Paris Cares, to feed the homeless in her area.

Paris’s mom, Alicia Marshall, says her daughter’s inspiration to become a hands-on good Samaritan was the title character of Cari Chadwick Deal’s children’s book, “One Boy’s Magic,” who also uses his powers to feed the homeless.

“She was reading books at school about giving and she came home one day, and she was like, ‘I want to give back to the homeless. What can we do to help the homeless?’ Marshall told KTVI FOX 2 News. “We kind of brainstormed some ideas and we came up making care packages.”

“I wanted to give something to the homeless,” Paris explained, “like the boy in the book.”

Paris might not have had a magic wand, but she didn’t let that stop her.

Turning instead to more practical magic and the help of her parents, Paris assembled and delivered (via non-contact drop off) more than 500 care packages containing food and other essentials to downtown St. Louis’s homeless, as well as handing out approximately 250 meals to essential workers.

But Paris wasn’t satisfied to simply donate goods. It was important to her to forge a bond with the people she was trying to help. After filling each package herself, Paris drew a picture or wrote a personal message on each one to create the kind of human connection so many of the homeless sorely lack.

First Grader Turns Her Dream of Feeding Homeless People Into Reality –By Launching Her Own Foundation 2020-08-22 04:00:00Z 0

Soup Brigade - One of America's 50 Nicest Places

When New Yorker Julie Snarski first moved to the picturesque community on the Delaware River, she felt like she had wandered onto a television set. From Yardley’s charming downtown, with buildings dating back to the 18th century, to St. Andrew’s Parish, the beautiful Episcopal church next to a tree-lined pond and historic graveyard, it’s easy to see why Snarski had trouble believing the town near Trenton, New Jersey was real.

Not only is Yardley, Pennsylvania real—it’s really kind, too, and its been named one of America’s 50 Nicest Places by Reader’s Digest.
For nearly four decades, on the third Sunday of every month, St. Andrew’s parishioners have been meeting in the church parish house and assembling meals for elderly and shut-in residents of the five-county Philadelphia area.

The coronavirus ended their proud 37-year streak. But church members figured out a way to continue their essential service, just as the need skyrocketed.
Caring for Friends, the organization that distributes the meals, came up with the idea for the parishioners to make meals in their homes. They enlisted neighbors to help, and pretty soon the volunteers were cranking out 1,000 meals and 400 containers of soup each week—almost ten times more food than before.
Soup Brigade - One of America's 50 Nicest Places 2020-08-15 04:00:00Z 0

Why The Four-Way Test is my ethical guide

Editor's note: I have been very fortunate to have met PDG S.R. Yogananda a number of times in Bangalore and was invited to visit him at his home.
S.R. Yogananda
By S.R. Yogananda, past district governor, past regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, and a member of the Rotary Bangalore East, Bengaluru, India

The year was 1987. I had come back from the Sultanate of Oman and was running a consumer products distribution company in Bangalore, India, when a business executive came to my office one evening. He said “I have been watching the way you do business. You are not taking short cuts, you have asked your staff and accountants to follow all the government regulations. I would like to invite you to join my Rotary club.” Rotary, he said “amongst other things, stands for integrity”

After attending a few meetings, I was inducted into the Rotary Club of Bangalore East during a colorful event in a lovely atmosphere. I attended all club and district events and began to gain a deeper understanding of this wonderful organization. I was delighted to learn that Rotary does not endorse any particular religion and is beyond boundary restrictions. Integrity is a pillar on which Rotary stands.

Herbert J. Taylor, 1954-55 RI president, in his office holding a large copy of The Four-Way Test. circa 1954-55.

The story of Herbert Taylor, the past RI president who created The Four-Way Test, fascinated me, so much so that when I became president of my club I put up a large sign of the test along a busy road in Bangalore. I got it printed on a silver plate and gave it as a memento to every speaker at our meetings. I also gave it to our members on their birthdays and wedding anniversaries.

I served as the national coordinator and awards administrator for a national essay competition on The Four-Way Test held all over India, administered through Rotary clubs. This project, held for five years, was sponsored by District 6400 and the Rotary Club of Windsor, Canada.

Many times in my business, I made decisions that to an outsider might have looked unwise. There was an occasion when we could have bought a product without the taxes and sold it to make a handsome profit. When this proposal was brought to my attention, I put my foot down and said no. It failed The Four-Way Test. It was not fair to the tax authorities and to other dealers who did not have this advantage.
Another incident etched in my memory, even before joining Rotary, I was heading the special equipment division of a leading company in the Middle East. I was handling global tenders and multimillion-dollar deals. I was sitting with a top ranked bureaucrat from an important ministry who was a major customer, and he asked about the delivery of a piece of equipment that had been delayed due to a problem at the loading port. I was tempted to lie to avoid embarrassment, but working up my resolve, decided to tell him the true reason for the delay. Surprisingly, in my future dealings with him, he seemed to treat me with increased respect. Now I see this as validation of the principles behind The Four-Way Test.

The Four-Way Test is one of our great benefits as members of Rotary. It is a trustworthy ethical guide. And we have an opportunity to share it with eager young minds to the benefit of all.
Why The Four-Way Test is my ethical guide 2020-08-02 04:00:00Z 0

Discovering the power of Rotary during a pandemic

Members of the Rotary Club of San Antonio, Texas, sort items for a food drive in a school parking lot.

By Nathan Rizzo, Rotary Club of San Antonio, Texas, USA

I have been a member of my club for two years, but it was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that I learned what it truly means to be a Rotarian. When my state of Texas went into quarantine, our club president, Brandon Logan, set up a ‘virtual happy hour’ on Thursday evenings. It was amazing to see all of the friendly, smiling faces of my fellow Rotarians. We spent an hour catching up; and then our conversation turned to service, and what we could do to help during the pandemic.

Our club had adopted a local elementary school, the Martin Luther King Academy, for the 2019-20 Rotary year. We had already created a Rotary Reading Room at the school to provide a quiet place for the students to read and do homework. We also made improvements to the campus through a program we call Kingdom for Kids. We knew we could not abandon the school during this time of need. When we reached out to the school principal to ask how we could help, her answer was succinct. They needed:

    1.    Food
    2.    Access to food drives
    3.    School supplies.

It was in organizing an event to meet those needs that I learned about the power of Rotary. Our club had connection with the San Antonio Food Bank and the United Way. Within a week, we had a project confirmed and scheduled. We had offers of trucks, boxes, and anything else we needed to run the food drive, and it all came from our members.

Three weeks later, we had 60 Rotarians, 10 other volunteers, and staff at the school ready for our first Saturday delivery. The plan included sorting food pallets dropped off by the San Antonio Food Bank in the parking lot of the school, creating separate stations for individual food items. Volunteers would then drive by each station while other volunteers loaded the items into vehicles.

We had a well-thought-out plan. But then 250 cars showed up, more than double the number we anticipated. Fortunately, our club has so many outstanding leaders that we were able to pivot in a short period of time and rearrange the drop off site, repacking food to feed as many families as possible.

Each family received meat, vegetables, fruit, non-dairy milk, bread, flour, and other staples. Through our third distribution, we have delivered over 100,000 pounds of food to serve approximately 5,000 people.

I knew our club was more than just a “lunch” club but I was amazed at how quickly we were able to come together to serve our community in such a meaningful way. I truly believe that when Rotarians unite in a mission, we can do anything.
Discovering the power of Rotary during a pandemic 2020-07-24 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary Supports NH Food Bank

Our club and many other other clubs in our district are supporting the NH Food Bank through a Global Grant. The food bank will receive more than $100,000 through the grant.
Rotary Supports NH Food Bank 2020-07-19 04:00:00Z 0

Small grant leads to big changes for Tanzanian girls

Kisa mentors on a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro with Curt Harris in 2018.

By Curt Harris, past governor, Rotary District 5450

Although I joined Rotary in 1997, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a Rotary-sponsored fundraiser three years later that I really felt I had become a Rotarian.

This was my first opportunity to visit a developing country and see first-hand what poverty looks like. It is quite an eye-opener. I also got to observe some of the great things that Rotary was doing in the area. On that trip, our team of 11 climbers raised nearly $300,000 to support the Selian Hospital in northern Tanzania. Three years later, I returned with a smaller team, raising $125,000 to help build Selian Hospital’s new sister facility near downtown Arusha.

Kisa mentors

Some might think climbing Kilimanjaro five times a little strange, and they might be right! But the last two times, in 2016 and 2018, I led teams that did something truly special. On each of these climbs, we were joined by some young Tanzanian women who were graduates of the Kisa Project, a program sponsored by AfricAid. It provides robust mentorship opportunities that help secondary school girls learn skills like confidence, leadership, and resilience in order to succeed in school and beyond. In fact, 97 percent of Kisa scholars continue to tertiary education, compared with a national average in Tanzania of 3 percent. It’s a remarkably effective program.

The young women who joined us were so excited to be part of our climb. Very few women in Tanzania get to climb Kili – they typically cannot afford it and the culture discourages it. We were also excited for them to join us, because it gave us all a chance to hear firsthand the stories that led them to become the confident, successful, university-educated women who now serve as Kisa Project mentors today.

One of the girls on our 2018 climb was named Ellie. Over dinner one evening, she shared that when she was young, her dream was simply to go to school. Ellie was the youngest of nine children with a single mother in rural Tanzania. Girls in her village didn’t go to school. They stayed home, did chores, hauled water, got married, and had many children.

But Ellie had this dream. She snuck off to school whenever she could. Sometimes the headmaster would send her home. If her brothers found out, they would beat her. But she would always go back. Finally, the headmaster and her family gave in, and Ellie could go to school. She graduated, went to college and now is a Kisa Project mentor. She even started her own nonprofit, Her Journey to School, through which she works to convince parents in Tanzania to educate their girls.

Now, here’s the real takeaway:

Twenty years ago, my Rotary club in Evergreen, Colorado, had invited Ashley, a local 15-year-old girl, to talk about an idea she had for a nonprofit. Our club gave her the chance to speak (and maybe a little confidence), then passed the hat to raise about $900. She used that money to start AfricAid.

Two decades ago, this one small grant from a club halfway around the world helped start a process that has since mentored 10,000 girls, giving them the skills to lead the lives they choose and create a ripple effect of change in their communities.

As Rotarians, we do a lot of good. But, sometimes we don’t always realize the long-term impact of our work. So let’s all remember – especially right now – that even a seemingly small effort can have such a major impact in your local community, or even half a world away.
Small grant leads to big changes for Tanzanian girls 2020-07-10 04:00:00Z 0

Assisting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

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 theme 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.

Refugees wait in line for supplies.

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 2020-07-04 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary in Kirkintilloch is alive and well

Bob Tomlinson

By Bob Tomlinson, president of the Rotary Club of Kirkintilloch, Scotland

The COVID-19 pandemic is horrifying. The lives lost are not just statistics. Each death is a life cut short and a family and friends left grieving. This reality is something we must never forget. Our way of life has been profoundly challenged.

For organizations, such as Rotary, a common question asked is: “what will Rotary be like if we survive this?” The questioner invariably makes the addendum, “We’ve never been through anything like this before.” As individuals, very few of us have been through anything like this. But Rotary International has, several times, and came through to the other side — 1918 Spanish Flu, the Great Depression of the 1930’s, World War II, Korean and Vietnam wars, etc.

This is the account of how one club is working to survive.

My club, the Rotary Club of Kirkintilloch in Scotland, meets every Tuesday night at the town’s golf club. Rotarians started meeting in Kirkintilloch in 1953, a few hundred meters from the site of a Roman fort built in 142 A.D. which marks the northernmost point of the Roman Empire. After only 20 years, the Romans pulled out. Now tourists come to Kirkintilloch to see the remains of the Antonine Wall.

On the last Tuesday club meeting of February, the world was talking about a virus coming our way, but we knew the health service would deal with it. We arranged for our usual Saturday food collection to donate to households on the breadline, something we did three of four times a year. We had no idea what was ahead of us.

We had six new members in the club and their membership reduced the average age by a good margin. They helped at the food collection. Everyone in the club has a title. Our “transport manager” owns a road building company. He provides a truck for us to carry the donated food for distribution. He said two things that day that brought silence. “Don’t shake my hand” and “I’m just back from Italy and going into isolation!”

He was not a carrier, but the pandemic had become real. We had one more “normal” meeting before Scottish lawmakers in Edinburgh started talking lockdown. Club members decided to have a “Last Supper” meeting at the golf club, where we socially distanced and agreed things had to change. That was 10 March.

Within two days we set up a WhatsApp Group – advice given by our new younger members and grandchildren. But ultimately Zoom worked better for us and we held our first meeting a week later.

However, some members couldn’t handle Zoom or didn’t trust it so we set up a system to ensure every one of us was kept in the loop. There is a secure WhatsApp Group where all members can express opinions or give suggestions. Every Sunday each member, those taking part in Zoom or not, receives the agenda for the upcoming meeting. Any member who cannot take part in the virtual meeting is phoned by a club officer.

Thanks to virtual meetings our attendance has sky-rocketed. Four new young members have joined. One of our youngest member is co-coordinator of our local council’s COVID-19 response team – we are very proud of her. We have four applications from young people who will join us at the start of July, so their subscriptions begin with the new Rotary Year.

In-person fundraisers had to stop, but as we don’t pay for meals, club members have donated thousands of pounds for Childrens Hospices Across Scotland, Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, Heart Stroke Charities and especially for COVID-19 response.

Our message to the new members is simple –“Tell us where you want Rotary in Kirkintilloch to go and we’ll help you go there.”

Rotary in Kirkintilloch is alive and well – but young and old can’t wait to meet together again in a new and exciting world.
Rotary in Kirkintilloch is alive and well 2020-06-28 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary Feeding Time in Penacook

The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club has sponsored and served the Open Door Community Kitchen meal at United Church in Penacook every fourth Wednesday. During these most difficult times we are constantly challenged on many different levels: socially, financially and mentally to reference a few. The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club places service above self each and every month hopefully helping those in need to cope on multiple levels. As we take time to embrace those in need of a conversation or a simple smile, it is our desire to spread friendship and compassion.

Yes, the meal was delicious and we do hope the conversation was nutritious. Our thoughts are with you our friends.
Rotary Feeding Time in Penacook 2020-06-12 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary, polio and COVID-19

Excerpted from The Indian Rotarian
Over the coming months, the extensive polio infrastructure Rotary helped build will be used to support preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building on decades of experience stopping polio outbreaks, Rotary and our partners have a critical role to play in protecting communities from this global pandemic, just as we did with Ebola, yellow fever, and Avian flu. This truly represents the “Plus” in PolioPlus.

We must take every precaution to ensure that polio eradication activities do not contribute to COVID-19 transmission. In order to observe global guidance related to physical distancing and hygiene, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has advised countries to pause polio immunisation campaigns during the COVID-19 outbreak response.

While responding to ­COVID-19, Rotary and our GPEI partners will take every step possible to continue protecting children and avoid a resurgence of polio. We will maintain essential polio eradication work — including surveillance, immunisation in certain high-risk areas, and maintaining our vaccine supply — so that polio campaigns can begin without delay as soon as it is safe.

Responding to COVID-19 and polio are dual priorities. The most important thing that Rotary members can do to continue the fight to end polio is to sustain our commitment to polio eradication and reach our fundraising goal of $50 million this year for polio — while also supporting COVID-19 response activities.

Districts are encouraged to consider giving District Designated Funds to PolioPlus. Donations to DDF are matched 1:1 by the World Fund, then 2:1 by the Gates Foundation for a total of a 6:1 match.

In the midst of a pandemic, it is understandable that attention to polio eradication will be diverted, but this makes it all the more vital for Rotarians to remain strongly committed to fighting polio and not let our progress erode.
Rotary, polio and COVID-19 2020-06-06 04:00:00Z 0

Touching lives in Lagos

Rotary members Omolara Omotosho and Bolatito Olaboye deliver food in Lagos, Nigeria.

By Michael Effiong, Rotary Club of Ikeja South, Lagos, Nigeria

All around the world, the coronavirus pandemic is changing our lives and creating a new normal. But our members have seen the need and risen to the challenge. Now, more than ever, we need to show Rotary’s goodness as we practice Service Above Self.

Long before a nation-wide lockdown in Nigeria, Lagos had initiated its own stiff measures to stop the spread of the virus. This meant that our usually engaging meetings had to move online. The platform we decided to use was Zoom, and it has been our playground, a place where we share ideas and make plans to help our community.

In our country, hundreds of people congregate in market places, making it a place susceptible to the spread of the virus. We decided to build an awareness campaign to reach the many different levels of society that come to the markets, and encourage social distancing and hand washing. In conjunction with Fatee Mohammed Foundation, we visited three markets, the first being Abbatoir Market, in Agege, a Lagos suburb. Our team used a megaphone to instruct vendors to maintain a distance of two-meters. We also instructed people how to wash their hands for at least 20 second with soap and water, and handed out bottles of sanitizer. It was hectic but we got the job done!

The lockdown forced a lot of people out of work who were just making enough to live on. With this in mind, we initiated an Emergency Food Response Project, with support of a grant from Rotary District 9110. We delivered a week’s worth of food supplies to families on 17 different streets in the Alausa Community.

We also distributed packs of rice, Garri (a local cassava staple), noodles, spaghetti, tomato puree, vegetable oil, sanitizers, and Vitamin C tablets (to help boost immunity). Our feelings of joy and satisfaction surpassed any we have previously experienced, including our participation in Rotary Family Health Days two years ago.

As part of an attempt to embrace the new normal, we launched a Zoom-based health club, which we dubbed ROKEJAS. We meet every morning to exercise and share tips for healthy living. It enables our members to break the monotony of being stuck at home every day.

As our country eases up on the lockdown, it is a dangerous time for Lagos. Roads that were temporarily empty are now busy again. Large crowds form in front of banks. And not everyone is following the instructions to wear masks. As a club, we feel the urgency of helping our government spread health safety information and convince people to  practice social distancing. We are also contemplating a project to collect and donate masks to everyone we can reach.

Our passion and commitment to service must not stop. Now is our time. We as Rotarians must continue to touch lives as we show our desire and ability to do good.
Touching lives in Lagos 2020-05-31 04:00:00Z 0

Using science of resilience to strengthen Rotary clubs during COVID-19

Jenny Stotts

By Jenny Stotts, District 6690 membership chair

Resilience is the process of adapting in the face of adversity. When we experience a traumatic or stressful event, our brains activate a number of pathways to protect us. These biological processes help keep us safe. It’s in the recovery from these events that we grow and change and become stronger.

Many of us are living this reality right now in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is, there are ways to grow our capacity for resiliency. And we can use this time to strengthen Rotary, by working together to grow and foster resilience in our fellow members and our clubs. Here are a few tips:

Connect: A critical building block for resilience is simply connecting with others. Check in with fellow members. Call them, send them a message, work to make sure they can access your virtual meetings. As a club, consider connecting with other clubs to weave yourself further into the global fabric of Rotary.

Perspective: When we experience ongoing adversity, it is far too easy to lose hope. Help members maintain a realistic and positive perspective. Rotary clubs are facing challenges right now including adjusting to new meeting platforms and worrying about membership or giving. Remember that the challenges you face today are not a reflection of your future. How you respond to today’s challenges will shape the future.

Wellness: We are living during a time where words like “quarantine,” “lockdown,” and “zoom fatigue” are common and relatable. Promote and prioritize wellness among your members. Use your virtual meeting to ask members to share ways that they are taking care of themselves and their families. Be gracious when a member needs to take a break, skip a meeting or have an extra few days to respond to an email. Now is not the time to keep points or compete with who is doing more or less. Speak and listen with kindness.

Purpose: When we give energy to others, it has a way of recharging our own batteries. It fosters a sense of self-worth and gives us feelings of purpose and validation. Plan service opportunities with your fellow members that you are able to accomplish and approach. Offering smaller projects concurrent to your larger, ongoing projects gives everyone in your club an access point to service.

Gratitude: We benefit from mindful and intentional reflections in gratitude. It can promote the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which help us feel joy or happiness. Take a moment to share thanks to your fellow members and create opportunities for your entire club to extend gratitude to your community and your partners.

When we collectively care for our members, we help create pathways to grow and foster resilience. When we scale these practices to the organization level, we unlock new potential to strengthen our clubs and enhance the member experience.

The world deserves Rotarians and Rotary clubs that are resilient, adaptable, and strong. Remember to take care of one another. But, take care of yourself, too. You deserve to be your best and most resilient self.
Using science of resilience to strengthen Rotary clubs during COVID-19 2020-05-23 04:00:00Z 0

7 reasons young people should join Rotary

Ryan Bell explains what Rotary has to offer young people, including exciting service opportunities that will connect you to others in your community.

By Ryan Bell, Iowa City District 6000 Public Image Co-Chair

I have a message for all you young people out there who may never have heard about Rotary. Or if you have, it was from a parent or grandparent who spent more time talking about the lunch menu or how great the salad bar is. If that’s all you’ve heard about Rotary, then you’re missing a lot. And let me tell you why, in the middle of this pandemic, Rotary is more relevant than ever. It’s definitely something you want to know about.

Rotary is kind of a big deal. With over 1.2 million members worldwide, it’s the biggest service organization on the planet. If you’re a fan of the planet, that’s just what Rotary wants to preserve. Our members are working on helping save mothers and children, supporting basic education for children, and fighting diseases. Many of those members are now using their connections and resources to help combat COVID-19.

Rotary has no religious or national affiliation. We don’t care what you believe or who you voted for. The way Rotary sees it, the most important thing is that we come together to accomplish some much-needed tasks for a group we like to call humanity.

Rotary efforts have already helped eradicate 99.9 percent of global cases of polio. If you’ve never heard of polio, you can thank a Rotarian for that. Armed with a massive investment and partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary has taken on the incredible task of ridding the world of this crippling disease so no child need get it ever again.

In addition to these large-scale, international projects, Rotary clubs are always working to improve their own communities. Just check out the list of activities Rotarians are involved in to help their communities get through this pandemic.

I would never pressure you to do something that will improve your life in every conceivable way. But let me tell you the benefits I’ve personally seen from being involved in Rotary for seven years.

    1.    You’ll make local connections. During the pandemic, Rotary clubs have been staying connected through virtual meetings, which you can join conveniently from the safety of your home. Even in these unusual times, Rotary is keeping people connected. We all need that sense of connection. You will meet wonderfully diverse people from many walks of life. For many of us, this is the main appeal: local friends, local colleagues, clients and contacts. It’s actually why a group of young professionals in Chicago started Rotary back in 1905. When it comes to networking and advancing your business, Rotary membership isn’t like the fickle, transactional networking and “referral” groups you’ve likely been encouraged to join. It’s authentic and real.

    2.    You’ll make a global impact. Bill and Melinda Gates saw the efficiency and effectiveness of Rotary, and have partnered with us to commit $450 million to eradicate polio. Once we crush polio, we’ll move on to other important challenges facing our world.

    3.    You’ll see your work pay off locally. Sure, the whole “saving the world” thing is cool, but if you’re wanting to make a difference a little closer to home, don’t worry, Rotary does that. We are leaders in our communities. We are a funding source (through a grant program), a volunteer source (because we’re awesome like that) and we even come up with our own initiatives, like in 2018 when we planted over 1.2 million trees.

    4.    You can inspire the next generation. We have amazing youth programs that involve students in service and leadership. Rotary Youth Leadership Awards weekends fuel and shape the potential for greatness that’s already inside these students. They get fired up about making the world a more peaceful, loving place — and have the contacts, plans, and direction to make it happen.

    5.    You can spend time with the Greatest Generation. Rotary includes members of all ages. Sure, Rotary has a reputation for having a lot of members over the age of 50. But there is also a ton you can learn from the Greatest and Baby Boomer generations. If you’re looking for mentoring, or just great stories, look no further.

    6.    You’ll get inspired. No matter what your motive is in considering Rotary, you will be inspired by guest speakers or performances, online or otherwise. I’ve seen  amazing singers, legitimately awesome circus clowns, environmentalists, coaches — you name it. And virtual meetings make it easier for clubs to line up dynamic speakers from even further away.

    7.    You’ll put your energy where it’s really needed. Here’s (perhaps) the best part of getting involved in Rotary: These clubs need you like crazy! We need leaders from every community in the world to join Rotary and amplify our impact. Feel helpless during the coronavirus outbreak? Consider the impact you could have joining a family of volunteers committed to doing whatever is needed to help the community.
7 reasons young people should join Rotary 2020-05-17 04:00:00Z 0

Covid-19 7870 District-Wide Global Grant

Some musings on my role as Grant Wrangler, by Tony Gilmore
Some weeks ago, after I had successfully applied for a $25,000 Rotary Disaster Grant, our incoming District Governor, Steve Puderbaugh, thought that I hadn’t received enough punishment, so he asked if I would be the lead on a Global Grant for us in Southern NH and VT. Caught in a moment of confusion about the immensity of this project, I said yes.
Rotary Global Grants require an international club or district to partner with the host district. The last global grant I did was for Mongolia. I worked with a wonderful host club in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. This time Rotary rules allowed the international partner to be just that, without any financial support.
Bangalore West, a club that I had presented the Mongolian Grant to when I was in India, agreed to be our International partner.
In simple terms, District 7870 has $50,000 to match the total of all clubs’ giving. With assistance from the Rotary Foundation, every dollar given multiplies three and a half times. A total of $175,000 will be given to our communities for first responders, hospitals, and nursing homes to acquire Covid-19 protective gear and supplies, and to provide financial support for food banks in both states. The key is that $50,000 is the limit available to be matched.
We have had an embarrassment of riches. Our largest club has pledged more than half of the funds available for the match. Smaller clubs have pledged huge sums for their community support. The response is overwhelming.

Such is the magic of Rotary. When there is a challenge, we pitch in. Big time!
Covid-19 7870 District-Wide Global Grant 2020-05-09 04:00:00Z 0

New Hampshire and Vermont Rotary Clubs Donate $25,000 to Food Banks

Rotary District 7870 members wanted to a find a way to respond to COVID-19 and to help people affected by it.  As people of action, Rotary District 7870 is comprised of 60 Rotary Clubs in southern New Hampshire and southern Vermont.  This is not the first time that they have been involved with disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts.  In 2011, these Rotarians provided funds to help with the effects of Hurricane Irene’s devastation.

Although Rotary Clubs throughout both state have been donating to local food pantries, it was felt the most efficient way to help with food insecurity was to support the state food banks.  The New Hampshire and Vermont Food Banks service over 750 local food banks.
"We are excited to be able to use this $25,000 Disaster Response Grant from the Rotary Foundation to purchase food." said Steve Puderbaugh, incoming District Governor.  "Supporting our food banks is vital during this time of uncertainty.  It is important to help families meet their basic needs so they do not have to worry where their next meal is coming from. "
Rotary International has already supported Covid -19 efforts across the world by donating over $7 million so far.  New Hampshire and Vermont Rotarians feel it is an honor to be a part of a worldwide initiative to give where the needs are most pressing. Rotary is also involved in mobilizing 1 million volunteers through the Volunteer Surge initiative.
The District Rotarians are doing many other local projects in their communities in response to Covid-19.  They are currently working on a much larger Global Grant to support local medical workers, first responders and nursing homes with the equipment and supplies they need.
New Hampshire and Vermont Rotary Clubs Donate $25,000 to Food Banks 2020-05-01 04:00:00Z 0

Thoughts & deeds from the Club President

The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club once again served a meal to the hungry this week at the Open Door Community Kitchen in Penacook, NH.  While practicing social distancing many people remained anonymous behind masks as they arrived for a healthy meal and conversation. The food nourished their bodies as the conversation nourished their souls. People arrived early craving a fine meal as well as a few moments to socialize as they embarked on their individual journeys from isolation to friends. There are times in life when a smile, a conversation, a friendly voice given in a moments time… is the best medicine. The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club was both privileged and honored to fill the void the people in our community have felt during this pandemic.
We thank you for allowing us to exemplify the true meaning of “Service Above Self”.
Thoughts & deeds from the Club President 2020-04-26 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary Clubs Fight Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads uncertainty and hardship around the world, Rotary members and participants are innovating, caring for those affected, and showing that even at a distance, there are ways to help.
As people of action, Rotary members are engaged in their communities — gathering for projects and offering help to those in need. But in many areas, life is changing drastically. Health experts are urging people to maintain distance from others or even isolate themselves in order to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Fighting disease is one of Rotary’s main causes, so members already support efforts to promote proper hand washing techniques, teach people other ways to stay healthy, and supply training and vital medical equipment to health care providers. Now they’re helping health authorities communicate lifesaving information about COVID-19 and donating protective gear and other supplies to clinics and hospitals that are under strain because of the pandemic.

These are just some of the ways that members are supporting their communities right now:
  •     In Italy, one of the countries that has been affected most, clubs in District 2080 are raising funds to purchase ventilators and protective gear for overstretched hospitals. And when the worst of the outbreak was raging in China, the district’s clubs raised more than $21,000 for protective masks to prevent spread of the disease there.
  •     Clubs in District 2041, also in Italy, raised funds online to buy protective gear for health workers who will care for COVID-19 patients at a 400-bed hospital being built at Milan’s fairgrounds.
  •     In Hong Kong, Rotary clubs have raised funds, packed medical supplies, and visited public housing to distribute masks and sanitizers.
  •     Rotary clubs in Sri Lanka installed thermometers in airport bathrooms and produced posters to raise awareness about the coronavirus for schools across the country.
  •     The Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan, Sind, Pakistan, distributed thousands of masks to people in Karachi.
  •     Clubs in District 3700 (Korea) have donated $155,000 to the Red Cross.
  •     Rotary clubs in Nigeria’s Akwa Ibom state conducted a campaign to raise awareness about the threat of the virus. Members shared information about the illness and how to keep safe at two schools and distributed materials about using good hygiene to stay healthy.
Rotary Clubs Fight Pandemic 2020-04-18 04:00:00Z 0

Haitian School Receives the gift of water

After the Hatian earthquake in 2010, the school in Port-au-Prince that these happy young girls attended received a rainwater harvesting potable water system and boys and girls latrines from Save the Children and Pure Water for the World.
Haitian School Receives the gift of water 2020-04-12 04:00:00Z 0

Feeding those in need

By President Jim Spain

Feeding those in need....

The Capital City Sunrise Rotary Club served those in need of a healthy meal this week at the Open Door Community Kitchen.

In these difficult times we served our usual nutritious meal with a special side dish. The side dish was compassion... compassion for the people that dined with us. Yes, they needed a meal, but fear of the unknown can only be satisfied by a person taking time to talk with the lonely.... it just took a minute to tell them - everything will be alright. It was with heavy heart the Rotarian's served this meal and provided this compassion. Sometimes you have to wonder, who is feeding who? The meal was delicious, the conversation very comforting. We left this meal with a better understanding of placing service above self.

Please be safe, take the time to speak to the people. Your conversation might be the only contact a person might have with the world this day. Make a difference by serving your own side dish of compassion - it will be good for your soul.

Feeding those in need 2020-03-29 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary unites more than a million people

We take action locally and globally

Each day, our members pour their passion, integrity, and intelligence into completing projects that have a lasting impact. We persevere until we deliver real, lasting solutions. More than 16 million volunteer hours each year.

No challenge is too big for us

For more than 110 years, we’ve bridged cultures and connected continents to champion peace, fight illiteracy and poverty, promote clean water and sanitation, and fight disease. 2.5 Billion children immunized against polio.
Rotary unites more than a million people 2020-03-26 04:00:00Z 0

How to engage members during the coronavirus pandemic

Keep members engaged through virtual meeting platforms.

By George Robertson-Burnett, Zone 34 Rotary Coordinator and past governor of Rotary District 6890

These are certainly interesting times we live in. None of us could have foreseen these extraordinary circumstances brought on by the pandemic of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. Rotary clubs everywhere are wrestling with the question, How do we maintain membership engagement during the pandemic?

Well, this is Rotary and I am sure that these challenges will bring out our considerable strengths – ingenuity, decisiveness, flexibility, and integrity.

Here in Zone 34 (Georgia, Florida, USA and Caribbean), our Rotary Coordinator team has put together a guide to assist clubs in their efforts to maintain membership engagement during these difficult times. The suggestions are not exhaustive, and many clubs will surely come up with new ideas as their ingenuity and adaptability finds new and innovative ways to maintain our fellowship. But we wanted to offer this guide to all clubs as they explore online meetings and other adaptive solutions.

One of our Rotary e-clubs, the Rotary E-Club of the Caribbean, is generously offering to set up online meetings for clubs in our zone at no charge. We suggest you check with e-clubs in your area for help and advice on structuring online meetings.
How to engage members during the coronavirus pandemic 2020-03-21 04:00:00Z 0

3D printable prostheses help child amputees

A youth tests his new prosthesis made through 3-D printing.

By Rafael Vazquez Barragan, Rotaract Club of Monterrey Cumbres, Nuevo León, Mexico

Three years ago, the nephew of one of my best friends was born with a congenital condition that required one hand to be amputated. As a result, he had trouble keeping his balance and when it came to taking his first steps, he fell repeatedly. He was unable to lift himself up with just one hand and would just cry until someone could help him get up.

Watching him inspired me to help. I gathered several of my best friends who, like myself, had knowledge in robotics. Never would I have imagined that I would end up making prostheses, with the little knowledge I had on the subject. But as we began researching, we developed a prototype for our first model prosthetic limb. It was incredible seeing our efforts come together into a hand-crafted prosthesis made out of wood and springs, with sensors carrying signals from the brain to the artificial limb.

The potential impact slowly began to dawn on us, as we realized we could help not only one person, but perhaps hundreds or thousands. In Mexico, there are more than 27,500 amputations a year and only 2,500 prosthetic limbs are produced annually. This means that less than 10 percent of the population has access to one. The problem is not a lack of production, but the high cost.

Experimenting with different kinds of technology, we looked for a bio-compatible material that would let us get away from having to use titanium, a very expensive material typically used in prostheses. We began working with ABS plastic, an opaque thermoplastic and amorphous polymer that can be used with 3D printing. By using thermoplastic polymers, we reduced the cost by more than 90 percent and also adapted our model to be a good fit for children. Our processes let children choose a robotic prosthetic limb with interchangeable superhero designs. To make our effort more sustainable, we began to look for strategic and commercial partners.

We teamed up with our university’s robotics team to present our project during a FIRST Robotics competition in New Orleans and received the Engineering Inspiration Award, which celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community. The project was also nominated for a 2019 Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards

We continue to work with different organizations, including Rotary, who have offered us support since the beginning through our host club, to expand our project and help more people.
3D printable prostheses help child amputees 2020-03-12 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary’s peace initiatives at a tipping point

Rotarians, Rotary Peace Fellows, Rotaractors, and Rotary Scholars participate in a Positive Peace workshop

By Chris Offer, Rotary Club of Ladner, Delta, British Columbia, Canada, and chair of the Peace Major Gifts Initiative

I spent three days in Ontario, California, USA, in January with a group of passionate peacebuilders learning to be Rotary Positive Peace Activators.

The goal of the three-day training was to develop a worldwide network of peacebuilders to support Rotarians and Rotaractors in fostering Positive Peace in their communities. By 2024, Rotary will train 150 new Positive Peace Activators in six global regions, prepared to educate, coach, and accompany Rotarians in at least 1,000 presentations and/or workshops, and act as consultants on projects locally and globally.

The training is the next step in a growing list of Rotary peace initiatives that I believe are pushing Rotary to a tipping point. Our peace programs will begin rapidly expanding and will change Rotary forever as we go from being advocates for peace to something grander: active and effective peacebuilders.

In 2017, Rotary and the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) formed a strategic partnership. This alliance builds on IEP’s research into Positive Peace – the attitudes, institutions, and structures that shape peaceful societies – as well as Rotary’s grassroots work in communities globally.

In addition to our partnership with IEP, Rotary’s Peace Centers are expanding, Rotary Peace Fellows are taking on diverse roles, there is an online peace academy, and clubs and districts are increasing their reach with a variety of peace projects. Major positive peace projects occurred in 2019 in Mexico and Colombia.

The 25 activators who participated in the training with me were Rotarians, peace fellows, Rotaractors, and Rotary Global Scholars. We were trained on the IEP positive peace model and on facilitating meetings. We focused on skills that will enable us to lead education programs with Rotary-affiliated groups.

Rotary seeks to create the conditions for Positive Peace by funding and implementing thousands of local and international peace projects. The Rotary Positive Peace Activators will take a lead as advisors to assist clubs and districts.

This is our peace tipping point.

    •    Support Rotary’s work in building peace through your generous gift (select the Endowment-Rotary Peace Centers from the donate menu)
    •    Read more about Rotary’s partnership with IEP
    •    Learn about the Rotary Positive Peace Academy
    •    Contact Summer Lewis for more information on the Rotary Positive Peace Activators
Rotary’s peace initiatives at a tipping point 2020-03-07 05:00:00Z 0

Rotary, Peace Corps working together

Students in Santa Lucia, Guatemala, are making soap from volcanic ash as part of the district grant project to empower students and keep them in school.

By Maureen Duncan, a member of The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers and a returned Peace Corps volunteer

As a member of The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers, I evaluate projects in Central and South America. I am also a former Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Brazil (from 1966 to 1968). These two organizations have great potential for working together to achieve amazing results. Recently, I was able to combine these two networks for a grant project that is advancing education and providing economic opportunities for youth in Guatemala.

In February of 2019, I joined Mark Balla, an Australian Rotarian and water and sanitation expert, in visiting 15 of 48 schools involved with a water, sanitation, and hygiene project funded by a global grant. One of the schools we visited was the Instituto Mixto Municipal de Diversificado, a high school in Santa Lucia, Guatemala, that prepares students for careers in secretarial science and accounting.
We were impressed by how they have incorporated saving the environment into their curriculum. We watched the students simulating real business solutions as they turned recycled trash into rugs, undertook rudimentary attempts at making renewable menstrual pads, and produced organic soap.

After returning to the US, I applied for and received a district grant for a project we called Keeping Guatemalan Girls in School to help students at the Instituto Mixto Municipal de Diversificado. The grant was made possible by donations from private donors, GoFundMe, and Rotary clubs in San Diego, California, USA and Melbourne, Australia.

The goal is to help girls in Guatemala stay in school. While elementary schools are free of cost and provide free meals, girls often drop out of school when they start their periods because of inadequate products and facilities. Even if they make it to junior high or high school, the costs for tuition, books, and uniforms force 75 percent of Guatemalan children to stop attending school. With this project, we are teaching boys and girls entrepreneurial skills so they can be self-sufficient and contribute to their communities

In September 2019, we hired a local project manager. As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I searched for local Peace Corps volunteers who could help, and met Lauren Devol. She is working in Guatemala to support community economic development and we developed a strong connection. Lauren is passionate about serving as a connector to empower women, youth, and indigenous populations. Although we are 50+ years apart in our Peace Corps Service and age, we couldn’t be more alike in our fundamental aspirations to help people help themselves.

By working with Peace Corps, I know that Lauren and the local project manager can be there when I can’t. They meet with the 12 students (six boys and six girls), helping them evaluate their goals and providing cheerleading. This is one of the great benefits of partnering with other organizations.

Our project at the Santa Lucia high school has two components:

Reusable menstrual pads

The students decided one of their businesses would be to make cloth-based, reusable menstrual pads, knowing that disposable ones are bad for the environment and too costly for the majority of girls and women. Using a design the students came up with, we are paying a seamstress in the community to cut and sew the protectors and pads, fulfilling the requirement to include the community in economic development. The emphasis of this endeavor isn’t mainly a moneymaking one, but rather education as the students instruct girls and women in Santa Lucia and nearby communities.

Making soap from volcano ash

Volcanoes are everywhere in Guatemala; many of them still active and destructive. We believe, by targeting tourists from nearby Antigua, that we can make a profit by selling soap made with local ingredients, including volcanic ash. Lauren has been most helpful in monitoring the students’ activities: experimenting with local ingredients, packaging, marketing, and sales.  She and the local project manager even went on a hike with the students up a nearby volcano to get some volcanic ash! This will be the students’ first step toward self-sufficiency. The money from sales will buy more materials and cover some of their education expenses, as well as helping the local community,
The grant ends in April 2020 – a short time. But it will provide stimulus for potential future grants. We have changed lives already, which we can see through the smiles on the faces of the students, the enthusiasm of the seamstress, and the positivity reflected in the entire school. But mostly, the lives of Lauren and I have been enriched beyond words.
Rotary, Peace Corps working together 2020-02-22 05:00:00Z 0

New Programs of Scale grants for new year

Using global grant funding, Rotary members provided a well, water tower, and new fountains to a village in Benin.

By Victor Barnes, Director of Programs & Grants

In 2013, Rotary set out on its new grant model under the Future Vision Plan, in the hopes that the approach would enhance the scope, impact, and sustainability of humanitarian projects. More than six years later, and with over $460 million invested in almost 7,000 projects across the globe, Rotary is ready to augment these critical investments with a new grant type. Beginning January 2020, Rotary International is introducing a highly selective, competitive grant model that empowers Rotarians to implement large-scale, high impact projects with experienced partners.

In support of Rotary’s Action Plan, Rotary International’s Programs of Scale grants will award $2 million to one approved project each year that responds to a community-identified need. These projects will benefit a large number of people in a significant geographic area using a sustainable, evidence-based intervention with measurable outcomes and impact. Each grant will support, for three to five years, activities that align with one or more of Rotary’s areas of focus.

This is an exciting opportunity to complement the international service Rotarians already undertake with a larger grant investment over a longer time frame. Time and resources that will be dedicated to help deliver service in communities that will live on beyond project implementation. And by focusing on documenting the metrics of our good works, we get a clearer picture of results, and the good Rotary does around the world.
New Programs of Scale grants for new year 2020-02-14 05:00:00Z 0

Australian Rotarians respond to brushfires

Rotary members cook and serve meals for Emergency Services volunteers fighting the brushfires in New South Wales.
By Ross Wade, Past President, and Issa Shalhoub, member of the Rotary Club of Milton-Ulladulla, New South Wales, Australia

From August through October of last year, residents of the coastal community of Ulladulla, New South Wales, Australia, watched somewhat passively as reports came in about the serious brush fires in other parts of the state and in Queensland.  But they were shaken out of their complacency the last week of November when a serious bushfire began spreading rapidly much closer to home.

For a week, local firefighters worked around the clock to battle the blaze near Batemans Bay, about 66 kilometers (41 miles) south of Ulladulla, while support staff provided food and basic provisions to the firefighters. By the afternoon of Friday, 29 November, authorities realized that more support was required. An urgent call was sent out to the Rotary Club of Milton-Ulladulla to see if Rotarians and provisions could be quickly organized to provide breakfasts and dinners for 50 to 100 firefighters over the coming few days.

Rotarians rose to the occasion: food was organized, barbecues were found and borrowed, the call went out by email for at least seven Rotarians to be support staff for mornings and nights and weary firefighters were offered breakfast and dinner.

The first day, Saturday, went as planned with firefighters working in the bush south and west of Ulladulla. However, the temperatures were rising and the conditions were deteriorating by the hour. On Sunday, the fight was on to protect the nearby communities of Bawley Point and Kioloa.

By Monday, the conditions were even more drastic. The fires had broken containment lines, and in a number of places crossed the Princes Highway that runs roughly north and south, threatening more homes. We fed 200 firefighters that morning. In the afternoon, the firefighters were forced to move the staging post to Burrill Lake on the very outskirts of Ulladulla. Rotarians bravely soldiered on to provide hot dinners to the firefighters.

The time had come to renegotiate our role with the local branch of the State Emergency Service (SES) Australia’s volunteer-based emergency and rescue service. As a result, Rotarians, their families, and now other community members committed to supporting the SES throughout the month of December. As the highway closed, meals were served in various locations until the staging area moved further north beyond our reach.

On New Year’s Eve, the fires had gained an upper hand, destroying a number of houses. An evacuation center was established at the Ulladulla Civic Centre and Rotarians served meals, provided bedding, and gave hugs to evacuees bunked down there.
A local basketball stadium filled with donations.

Once the fires were under control, donations poured in from all over the coast of New South Wales, enough to fill two basketball stadiums. Rotarians were notified by email to unload trucks by hand and with forklifts, and help sort and distribute the goods to those affected by the fires.

Restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels have taken a hit in the coastal area as tourists were asked to stay away during January. Our club has decided to change our meeting venue once a month to support different restaurants.

Rotarians will continue to rally and support those affected. We will now be involved with disaster recovery, putting Service Above Self. The South Coast is safe, open for business, and looking forward to hosting our district conference in March.

    •    Support The Rotary Foundation Disaster Response Fund to help clubs with immediate disaster response where the need is greatest. Contributions are combined into one fund and made available through Rotary Disaster Response Grants.
    •    Learn about and support locally-led club and district response and recovery efforts at rotary.org/disaster-response
Australian Rotarians respond to brushfires 2020-02-09 05:00:00Z 0

What Is Capital City Sunrise Rotary?

We are People of Action

Our club offers opportunities for our members — and those interested in making a difference — to get involved. Through meetings, social events, and volunteer projects, our members learn about the issues facing our community and communities all over the world, partnering with local, national, and global experts to exchange ideas about potential solutions and to draw up action plans to respond. Along with these opportunities to serve, members also are able to regularly network, resulting in life- long friendships and business connections.

Our club is a proud part of this community and of Rotary International. Rotary is a global network of more than 1.2 million members who believe that great things happen when dedicated minds come together. We are community and business leaders representing different professions, experiences, and perspectives but with a shared desire to connect with others to address the challenges affecting our community and communities around the world.

We are Making a Difference

Solving real problems takes real effort, commitment, and vision. Rotarians work to protect communities from preventable diseases, keep women and children healthy, improve education and economic outcomes, create safe water and sanitation infrastructure, and make our community and the world a more peaceful place.

Our Events:
• Awarded 7 scholarships to local students for higher education
• Hosted and provided monthly dinners for the Open Door Community Kitchen in Penacook and the Pitman building low cost housing in Concord
• Worked to maintain our Infirmary at Camp Spaulding • Sponsored “Y” student campers at summer day camp
• Held a holiday dinner for residents of the Crutchfield Building, a low-income housing project
• Participated NH Veterans Home Cruise Night
• Rung the bell at Christmas time to raise money for the Salvation Army
• Provided hot cider and cookies at the Christmas tree lighting in front of the State House with all donations given to the Salvation Army
• Participated in the Wreaths Across America, donating and placing 100 wreaths on veterans graves in Concord’s Maple Gove Cemetary
• Funding trees for Blossom Hill Cemetary
• Donated a book in the name of each of our speakers to the Concord Library Children’s Room, a project that has over 500 donated books
• Volunteered for the Capital Region Food Program’s Holiday Food Basket Project
• Volunteered for Intown Concord’s Market Days, Haloween Howl, Midnight Merriment
• Provided financial assistance to:
• Salvation Army
• Friendly Kitchen
• Penacook BackPack Program
• Kimball-Jenkins Estate
• District Matching Grant for batting cage at Merrimack Valley High School
Our Rotary Club works hard to raise funds, In the past years with the generous help of Duncraft, the club has raised $250,000 for our and other non-profits.  
This is just some of what we do and we’re proud to do it. We are the little club that does!
What Is Capital City Sunrise Rotary? 2020-01-31 05:00:00Z 0

Rotary and the Gates Foundation extend funding match for polio eradication

By Rotary International

Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on 22 January that their long-term fundraising partnership, which generates up to $150 million annually for polio eradication, will continue. Under the agreement, Rotary is committed to raising $50 million a year over the next three years, and each dollar will be matched with an additional two dollars by the Gates Foundation.

In a video address at the 2020 Rotary International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA, Bill Gates told incoming district governors that the partnership with Rotary needs to continue.

“The Gates Foundation’s longstanding partnership with Rotary has been vital to fighting polio,” Gates said. “That’s why we’re extending our funding match, so every dollar that Rotary raises is met with two more.”

He added, “I believe that together, we can make eradication a reality.”

The funding will support polio eradication efforts such as disease surveillance, technical assistance, and operational support for immunization activities.

The partnership between Rotary and the Gates Foundation has yielded $2 billion, and Rotarians have given countless volunteer hours to fight polio since Rotary started its PolioPlus program in 1985.

Be a part of the fight to end polio and have your donation matched 2-to-1 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Visit endpolio.org to donate.
Rotary and the Gates Foundation extend funding match for polio eradication 2020-01-24 05:00:00Z 0

Woman Who Fostered 600 Kids in 50 Years Took in Anyone—Regardless of Age or Medical Condition

Raising just one child can be a tough job for any parent—which is why this woman is being honored for fostering more than 600 children over the course of five decades.

75-year-old Linda Herring from Johnson County, Iowa has been tirelessly providing food, clothing, love, and medical care to hundreds of foster kids since the 1970s.

When Herring first began fostering kids, she was also running a home daycare and working as a night custodian in a local high school. Additionally, she volunteered as a first responder for 50 years of her life, according to CNN.
Out of the hundreds of foster kids that Herring has taken under her wing, many of them experienced a range of medical conditions and special needs—but that never deterred Herring.

“Linda mostly fostered young children and children with special medical needs and kept bins of clothes in her garage, stacked to the ceiling, labeled by size and gender,” read a statement from Johnson County officials. “No one had to worry about a child going without clothes at Linda’s, even if they arrived with nothing but what they were wearing.”

Anthony Herring, who was just 3 years old when he was adopted into the Iowa family, described his mother to CNN: “It’s hard to say in words her impact. She was always available and ready for a child in need.

“These kids were usually taken from a traumatic situation and she’d take them in, provide a warm bed, clean clothes, warm meals, and love,” Anthony told the news outlet. “She also worked hard to keep families together. Keeping siblings together. Helping biological parents make the changes needed to be able to keep their children.

“She always makes sure a new child in her home was given a professional photograph that was placed on the wall in the living room,” he added. “That seems like a small thing, but it helps them feel like they’re at home.”

In light of how Ms. Herring announced her retirement from fostering new children in October due to health concerns, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors honored her with a special ceremony of appreciation this week.

Additionally, five of Herring’s biological children and three of her grandchildren have been carrying on her legacy as foster parents as well.
Woman Who Fostered 600 Kids in 50 Years Took in Anyone—Regardless of Age or Medical Condition 2020-01-17 05:00:00Z 0

PM begged for water-bombing planes as SA fires declared ‘worst in living memory’

Matt Young (Excerpted from News.com.au)
A “shocked and saddened” South Australian government is asking Scott Morrison for extra water bombing aircraft to tackle fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island.

CFS chief officer Mark Jones declared the fires which have destroyed almost half the island, as well as the Adelaide Hills blazes, to be the state’s “worst season in living memory”.

“Not only has there been tragic loss of life, families have lost homes and properties, people have lost businesses, vineyards, livestock and – for some – their livelihoods,” SA Premier Steven Marshall said.

“We have all been shocked and saddened by the scale of destruction on Kangaroo Island, coming on top of the devastating losses in the Adelaide Hills.

Emergency Services Minister Corey Wingard said SA would be appealing to the Federal Government for further aerial support to tackle the inferno.
A bushfire damaged car (above) by the Playford Highway west of Parndana, Kangaroo Island

“We have had outstanding results from the increased fixed-wing capability after we brought nine extra aircraft into our fleet last summer and having loan of the large aerial tanker from NSW has also helped out already this summer,” he said.

“We know aerial coverage to dump big payloads of retardant or water, combined with our outstanding troops on the ground, are key to fighting big fires like we’ve seen on Kangaroo Island and in the Adelaide Hills.”

The fires on Kangaroo Island have taken two lives and burnt more than 155,000 hectares, destroying at least 56 homes since starting on January 4.
An injured koala is treated at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Zoo on Friday.
CFS chief officer Mark Jones said SA was dealing with an unprecedented bushfire season and praised firefighters and communities for their efforts.

“The state has been remarkably lucky that more people haven’t been killed or injured in what has been the worst season we’ve endured in living memory,” he said

Premier Marshall said constituents had dug deep and contributed $3.5m to the SA Bushfire Appeal and he encouraged them to keep on doing so.
Rotarians and others can help with the fire disaster in Australia, donate here: https://donations.rawcs.com.au/68-2019-20
PM begged for water-bombing planes as SA fires declared ‘worst in living memory’ 2020-01-10 05:00:00Z 0

Why a Satellite Club was right for me

Members of the Rotary Satellite Club of London, Ontario, Canada.

By Heather Macdonald, Rotary Satellite Club of London, Ontario, Canada

I was a recent college grad when I moved to a new city and was looking to join an organization where I could meet people my own age who were at the same stage of life that I was in. My parents are both Rotarians, so Rotary was the first organization that came to mind. But I struggled to find a club where I could fit in.

London, Ontario, Canada has two Rotaract clubs, but both are associated with either the University or the College and require members to be attending. Even if that weren’t the case, I didn’t want to join a club where the members were still focused on school. I was finished with school and really wanted to meet people who were starting careers and had NO money.

The Rotary clubs in the area were inaccessible to young professionals. Most of the members were established in their careers and financially stable. All of the clubs met at breakfast or lunch. As someone who is just starting out in my company, I can’t take the time off for an hour meeting plus travel time. And the meals were definitely out of my price range.

About a year ago, our current district governor, mentioned that the London Rotary Club had started the Rotary Satellite Club of London. This club is made up of younger professionals who are all done with school (approximately 22-35 year olds). The satellite club meets twice a month at a local pub. If we want a drink or dinner we pay the pub directly, and it just happens that we meet on half-price wing night. If money’s tight that week and we can only afford a pop, that’s all we pay for, no judgement.

Our satellite club has adapted to suit our needs. None of us use checks, and instead of having to carry cash, we use e-transfer whether it’s our annual dues (my parents paid mine as a birthday present) or for our Happy Bucks Card (our system of collecting money through good natured “fines.”)

Currently, my time and energy is worth way more than my money. I can’t afford to buy a $55 Rotary shirt, go to a $100 a plate auction dinner or take a whole Thursday off for a golf tournament. That’s why my Rotary club sponsors a local park and we get together twice a year to pick up trash. We help load cargo trailers to be shipped overseas for other area Rotary clubs. And we raise funds for Christmas packages for homeless youth in our city by putting on Trivia and Paint Nights at the pub where we meet.
I’m an active Rotarian and likely will be for life. I’m now on our board of directors, I’ve been to a district conference and a learning assembly. Who knows what the future holds.

I LOVE my Rotary club and the people in it. We have a wonderful time together, it doesn’t cost us much, and we’re making the world a better place.
Why a Satellite Club was right for me 2020-01-04 05:00:00Z 0
From Us to You 2019-12-21 05:00:00Z 0

Value of Rotary volunteering

A special report prepared for Rotary International by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies estimated the value of Rotary member volunteer hours at $850 million a year.
The 15 members of Capital City Sunrise have volunteered 1,157 hours since the beginning of July, a value of $9,375.
That Rotary members log a lot of volunteer hours should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the organization. But a new report just released by Johns Hopkins University provides a powerful look at the impact of all those volunteer hours.

The special report prepared for Rotary International by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies found that Rotary members had volunteered a total of 5.8 million hours within a four-week survey period. Extrapolating those results over an entire year, the report gave a conservative estimate of nearly 47 million hours of volunteer effort generated by Rotary members in a typical year.

The report then analyzed the economic impact of all those hours and estimated the value conservatively at $850 million a year, if communities had to pay for the services that Rotary volunteers provide.

Rotary, with the help of Johns Hopkins University, is the first global service organization to conduct an empirical analysis of its volunteer’s impact using an internationally sanctioned definition of volunteer work. The authors of the report noted in their conclusion that at each stop, the analysis had chosen the most conservative estimates.

“The lesson from this report is clear: volunteer service is not only a feel-good calling – it may provide one of the more powerful, and one of the more fulfilling, avenues through which to reach the ambitious United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Studies.

Rotary CEO and General Secretary John Hewko said “this is just the beginning of using the most innovative tools of measurement to capture and enhance our impact. As we better understand the vast contributions of volunteer work, we can mobilize this remarkable, but often undervalued, resource to better the world and thrive in the years to come.”
Value of Rotary volunteering 2019-12-15 05:00:00Z 0

Selma Rotary Club thrives on diversity

The Selma Rotary Club partners with business leaders to invest in youth.

By Jerria Martin, past president of the Rotary Club of Selma, Alabama, USA

Diversity is important to my club, and that’s a big reason why I am a member and past president. My club is a second family to me, one that began investing in me all the way back in 2006.

As a senior in high school, I received a Rotary Scholarship as part of my club’s annual scholarship competition. The program is just one way my club embraces and seeks diversity. We invite a graduating senior from every high school, public and private, from all neighborhoods and walks of life, to share their leadership and service skills with us. Every senior who is chosen receives a scholarship.

I was a recipient of that program. And I knew that Selma’s business and community leaders believed in my vision and were willing to invest in my future. That’s what created in me a desire to be a Rotarian. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the first organization I’d be joining after returning home from Princeton would be our local Rotary club.

How to achieve diversity

You must be intentional to achieve diversity. Our club takes pride in welcoming new and prospective members from every background. I think the trick is to not make things “weird” but to give every member the respect, support, and love they desire regardless of where they are from. Things will naturally progress and succeed from there. This was my experience, as a 26-year-old African American woman, elected club president at the age of 29, and chosen as an Emerging Leader by our Rotary district this year. I am proud to be part of the Rotary family.

Our club’s Youth Serve & Shadow project which I help oversee is another way we deliberately seek and embrace diversity. The project educates, empowers, and uplifts young men and women throughout the at-risk communities in Selma and Dallas Counties by providing 15-20 public high school students who face adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships with respected veteran Rotarians. These mentors work strategically for a year to have a positive impact on the student’s life.

Students join us for service projects and shadow us on our jobs. Through our time spent with our young leaders, we as Rotarians become more informed on what we can do to better serve all of our communities, impacting positive change in the areas that need it most. Every fundraiser and service project we’ve had this year has reflected this conviction.

Supporting future generations

I am a proud product of Selma schools. I had the wonderful opportunity to connect and learn with our city’s leaders, especially during an opportunity to shadow one of our state representatives. I also served as student body president and got to know and served alongside our school board members. Because of these experiences, I have made it my primary focus to empower Selma’s youth and give them opportunities I had growing up. I want them to know that Rotary cares.

Not only is this an approach that will help your club grow and thrive, but this is something that we can feel proud about giving to the future generations.
Selma Rotary Club thrives on diversity 2019-12-05 05:00:00Z 0

Artists unite to help The Bahamas rebuild

Julien Believe, singer, songwriter and Rotarian, performs at the Rotary International Convention in Hamburg. Julien is collaborating with other artists and Past RI President Barry Rassin on recovery efforts in The Bahamas.

By Julien Believe, singer, songwriter, entertainer, and member of the Rotary Club of East Nassau

Three years ago, I penned “I Believe in You,” along with my amazing team, with one purpose in mind – to inspire and motivate. It is a timeless song for anyone that needs a moral boost or just a little nudge to say, “you matter.” After the devastation of Hurricane Dorian in both Abaco and Grand Bahama, it was only fitting that I release ”I Believe in You” with a few tweaks. My fellow country mates needed help but most importantly they needed HOPE. This song is designed to create a sense of hope, strength and assurance in knowing that we, as a nation, will live up to being strong.

My team and I got on the phone with some of the Caribbean’s top artists and created the “We Are the World” of the Caribbean. “I Believe in You” represents solidarity and unity amongst each artist and their willingness to band together to help a brother or sister in need. This song declares not only love of country but the Caribbean at large. Almost every island has experienced the powerful force of mother nature and witnessed firsthand the sheer destruction of natural disasters, but we haven’t seen anything of this magnitude in a while, if ever.

Some lost their homes, their loved ones and some lost their lives. Spirits were broken. I did what I do best – I used my voice to spread love, hope and belief in the fact that “this too shall pass.” I sang words that I knew would help ease the blow, if only for a minute. Music has a way of getting you through, a way of hugging you when arms just won’t do, a way of capturing the essence of your emotion when words cannot.
“I Believe in You” drives awareness to the devastation and tugs at your heart for a call for action to help, assist and give to those in need. Many organizations, including Rotary clubs, donated their time, efforts, money, and energy. I figured I must do my part to spread love, hope and inspiration through my voice. This song is a tribute to the resilience of the Caribbean Spirit in the face of insurmountable odds.

I stand hand in hand, side by side, with my brothers and sisters affected by this storm directly or indirectly and I’m asking my fellow Rotarians to do the same. I’m also grateful for Aliv, which has been a major contributor to this effort by donating time, effort, and energy to ensure the Bahamian people understand we are all supporting them. I pray that this song touches the heart and soul of each person. I hope that my message is heard around the world to drive awareness not only to the devastation of Hurricane Dorian but that the lyrics to “I Believe in You” touches anyone going through anything they feel is too hard to bear.
Artists unite to help The Bahamas rebuild 2019-11-15 05:00:00Z 0
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The Price of Polio

This is one of 5 stories  found in the November issue of the Rotarian
Ann Wade
Rotary Club of New Tampa, Florida
I felt like I was entering another world. Beds with paralyzed children lined every wall. I was put into a big room. There were rows and rows of children, probably about 50 children, and three or four nurses to care for us. I was seven when I was transferred to Hope Haven children’s hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, where I spent four months learning how to walk again.
I missed my mother so much. When she would visit, I’d ask her why she couldn’t come more often. But parents were only allowed to visit on Wednesdays and Sundays. I still don’t know why. I’d cry myself to sleep every night. The nurses used to get so mad at me. They’d say I was too old to cry.
I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday in that hospital. At first, I was bedridden. Polio had affected my legs, and I couldn’t walk. When I got the virus, I had extreme pain all over my body and a high fever. I couldn’t stand up. That was very scary.
My parents took me to the doctor on a Saturday morning; he examined me and immediately sent me to an isolation ward. I had my own room there, but only the nurses could be with me. There was a balcony that extended around the building, and each room had a window. There were two chairs on the balcony outside every room, and that’s where parents would sit and talk to their child, through the window. No one was allowed into my room, and I was not allowed out.
Once my fever broke and I wasn’t contagious anymore, I was moved to Hope Haven to learn to walk again. The therapies were painful. They would put hot, wet wool towels on my legs and then exercise the muscles. The nurses would also massage my legs with oil. Sometimes they’d use these electrical shock-type things to shock the muscles into use. They would take all of us to therapy once or twice per day. In between, teachers came in and we had school. They’d roll my bed to a huge room, and the teachers would be in there teaching. It was the beginning of second grade for me.
Once I started walking, I was released from the hospital, but I didn’t return to my old school until third grade. After I left the hospital, I tried to put it out of my mind. Then the vaccine was released, and everyone went to get it. It was being given at a school on a Sunday afternoon. They called it Sabin Sunday, after Albert Sabin, who invented the oral vaccine, and I remember standing in a really long line, thinking, “Do I really need to do this? I’ve already had polio.” But my mother was adamant that my brother and I get vaccinated.
Since then, I’ve done most everything I wanted to do in life. I became a teacher. I married a wonderful guy 53 years ago who is also in Rotary. I have three children and 10 grandchildren. Not many people know I had polio, except that one of my legs is smaller than the other and I have a slight limp. About 12 years ago, I fell and broke the hip in my bad leg. After surgery, I was able to learn to walk again, so now I can say I’ve learned to walk three times.
This year, I’m president of my Rotary club. I’m eager to make eradicating polio a priority and to raise money for End Polio Now. Until now, I haven’t told many people my story, but if it can help the eradication effort, it seems like a good time to start.
The Price of Polio 2019-11-07 05:00:00Z 0

World Polio Day cheers major achievements toward global polio eradication

By Ryan Hyland
Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) are celebrating a major milestone this World Polio Day: confirmation that a second type of the wild poliovirus has been eradicated, which is a significant step toward the ultimate goal of a polio-free world.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced the historic feat in a video address during Rotary’s Global Online Update on 24 October. He said an independent commission of health experts certified the global eradication of the type 3 strain, which hasn't been detected anywhere in the world since Nigeria identified a case of polio that it caused in November 2012. The type 2 strain was certified as eradicated in 2015.
“That leaves just wild poliovirus type 1,” Tedros said. He also commended Rotary’s long fight against polio. “Everything you [Rotary] have done has brought us to the brink of a polio-free world.”
Tedros balanced the good news with a note of caution, saying that the biggest enemy of global eradication is complacency. He encouraged Rotary members to redouble their efforts.
Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries.
“We must stay the course. Together, we can make sure the children of the future only learn about polio in history books.”
“If we stopped now, the virus would resurge and could once again cause more than 200,000 new cases every year,” said Tedros. “We must stay the course. Together, we can make sure the children of the future only learn about polio in history books.”
Rotary’s World Polio Day program this year was streamed on Facebook in multiple languages and multiple time zones around the world. The program, which was sponsored by UNICEF USA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, featured TV presenter and Paralympic medalist Ade Adepitan, supermodel Isabeli Fontana, science educator Bill Nye, and actress Archie Panjabi.
The program also featured never-before-seen footage of three Rotary members working to protect children from polio in their home countries of India, Pakistan, and Ukraine. In Pakistan, Rotarian Tayyaba Gul works with a team of health workers to educate mothers and children about the importance of polio vaccination. Dr. Hemendra Verma of India encourages his fellow Rotary members and our partners to make sure health workers and volunteers reach every child. And Ukrainian Rotarian Sergii Zavadskyi oversees an advocacy and awareness program that uses social media and public events to educate people who are reluctant to have their children vaccinated. These three heroes of the polio eradication effort show what it means to be a dedicated volunteer, and represent the efforts of Rotarians all over the world.
World Polio Day cheers major achievements toward global polio eradication 2019-11-02 04:00:00Z 0

When embracing your weakness helps you succeed


Steve Stirling. CEO of MAP International, with some of the medical supplies the organization provides to people in need worldwide.
By Steve Stirling, a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Georgia, USA

They are typical job interview questions: What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?

But in my case, the interviewer often hesitates. After all, how do you ask a guy who is wearing leg braces and using crutches about his greatest weakness? It seems both obvious and insensitive.

We all have weaknesses. Mine are just a bit more obvious. So I’ve learned to turn the uncomfortable moment around and confront the situation head on.

“My greatest strength is that I am what some people call ‘crippled,’” I say, purposely using the politically incorrect word. “Some prefer to call me ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled.’ I’ve heard all the terms and I’m not upset by any of them. I’m not easily offended.

“I’ve learned that my physical limitations have helped me build my mental and spiritual strength. I have an Ivy League degree and an MBA from one of the country’s most prestigious schools. I’ve had jobs in top corporations and nonprofits. I have enjoyed great success and yet I never forget what it was like to be a child who couldn’t walk, living in an orphanage. My greatest strength is what most people assume is my weakness.”

My last interview was five years ago when a search committee was looking for the next president and CEO of MAP International, an organization that provides medicine and health supplies to those in need around the world. In some ways, it was a match made in heaven.

You see, I walk with crutches because I had polio as a child. My life would be very different if the polio vaccine – costing approximately $.60 – would have been available to me and my family in Korea where I was born. My passion in life is to help other children receive the medicine they need to avoid life-long illness or even death.

So when I told the committee interviewing me about my strengths and weaknesses, I could honestly say that I had a lifetime to prepare for the job of helping bring medicine to those in need. I knew first hand what it meant to suffer because an inexpensive dose of vaccine was not available.

But I also know that overcoming my challenges each and every day makes me a better leader. It’s true that my daily life is more difficult than most people’s. A simple flight of stairs, a rocky path, a door with a difficult handle … these are typical occurrences that are major obstacles for me. Yet I have to prepare myself each day to handle the unexpected.

Fortunately, I nailed that interview and now proudly lead an organization that brings millions of dollars of donated medicines and medical supplies to people in need around the world. It’s a big job and truly miraculous path for someone who spent his early years as a forgotten child.

During my earliest years, I didn’t even have crutches and had to drag myself around on the ground. At that point my greatest dream was to be able to go to grade school with the “able-bodied” children in the orphanage. I could never have imagined a successful life in the US or that I’d be able to write a book about my journey, “The Crutch of Success.”

It was truly a miracle that I was adopted by a generous American couple who loved me and provided for me, including my special needs. Their love and support changed my life, but, of course, the physical damage had already been done. I have had the wonderful privilege of growing up in a country where I received a great education, married a wonderful woman, raised two terrific children, and had a successful career. But my disability is often the first thing people see about me. I try not to let it define me in their eyes.

I try to put people at ease, explaining the I had polio as a child and while it affected my ability to walk, I am blessedly able in every other way. It’s understandable that they first see my disability as weakness. My goal is that once they know me, they see it as my strength.

I find that many people try to hide their weaknesses. They dodge the question in an interview and spend their lives hoping no one sees where they struggle. They feel sorry for themselves and focus on the injustice of their circumstance.

If you find yourself in that situation, I want to encourage you. Your weakness can become your strength. Whatever your weakness is – lack of education, the inability to speak clearly, a physical trait you consider unattractive, a disability – embrace it today. Decide what you can do to improve yourself. Take an evening class, join Toastmasters, ask for help.

Then dedicate yourself everyday to overcome the obstacles in your path.
When embracing your weakness helps you succeed  2019-10-26 04:00:00Z 0

What the ‘together’ in Rotary’s vision statement means

Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
— Rotary International Vision Statement

By Paddy Rooney, governor of District 7390 (Pennsylvania, USA)

The word which defines much of our world today is division. We are divided in so many ways by race or creed, ethnicity or belief, by gender or age or sexuality. But the divisions have gone beyond mere realities and instead have become a source of dissention among us with the result that we have sliced and diced ourselves into smaller and smaller groups or tribes which only further exacerbate our  sense of alienation one from the other.

So what does it mean when our Rotary International Mission Statement begins with the word “Together.” Does together mean that we ignore the differences between us, pretend that they don’t exist, make believe that there never was any division among us? I don’t think so.

Rather what together says is that when we become part of this undertaking called Rotary, we intentionally set aside the differences we know exist and figure out ways to work together. We recognize and accept the differences, perhaps indeed celebrate those differences, for there is something beautiful in the wondrous variations among us. And together doesn’t mean that we pretend to agree with each other, for again there is something healthy in having different views and perspectives brought to bear on an issue.

But the intentionality of togetherness says that we are willing to put aside our differences and those markers which divide us. It says that is does not matter where we came from or what education we have or what experience we bring. When we are come together in Rotary it is not just service above self but Rotary first and the individual second.

Because unless we are willing to embrace and embody this understanding of “together” we will never be able to achieve our goals, serve our communities or change the world. On the card I had printed for my year as district governor in Rotary I put the phrase “Doing together that which we cannot do alone.” For it is only together that our work can be accomplished and only together that we will Connect the World.
What the ‘together’ in Rotary’s vision statement means 2019-09-27 04:00:00Z 0

Reaching the unreached in India

K V Mohan Kumar with a recipient of a prosthetic hand.

By Koorapati Venkata Mohan Kumar, member of the Rotary Club of Bangalore Prime, India  

A boy who had lost both his hands in an electrocution spoke to a service committee meeting of our club. His parents left him after the electrocution and a local nongovernmental organization was taking care of him. This boy was our first recipient of a prosthetic hand. And seeing his joy after he started using a pen to write for the first time, we have never looked back.

We were first approached by The Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation at one of our district events while I was secretary of my former Rotary club. They were looking to partner with Rotary clubs in Bangalore, India, to work on prosthetic hand projects. It was quite an interesting prospect and we immediately agreed to a partnership.

I happened to meet Rotarian Jim Yoder, vice president of The LN-4 Hand Project, at the 2012 Rotary Convention in Bangkok, Thailand. We discussed the possibilities of extending our partnership to the needy through our outreach programs in India.
No cost to recipients

Ernie Meadows, an industrial engineer, designed the inexpensive, below elbow prosthetic hand in memory of his daughter Ellen, who died in an automobile accident at the age of 18. In 2006, Ernie gave the LN-4 (LN is short for Ellen) to the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation specifying the hand be provided at no cost to recipients. Since 2007, over 45,000 hands have been provided free to recipients in more than 92 countries.

I have traveled across India speaking at district conferences, district assemblies, and president-elect training seminars working collaboratively with Rotary clubs and NGOs in India to provide more than 16,000 of the prosthetic hands.

A few of the results:
    •    A mother is able to hold her baby.
    •    A school student scored 73 percent on his 10th grade writing exams.
    •    A barber is able to hold a comb in one hand, scissors in another hand and get back to his vocation.
    •    A boy who had lost both his hands and was fed by his parents is now eating on his own using a spoon in his hand.
    •    A woman who had completed a Bachelors in Business Administration found a job in a bank after her confidence was reinforced upon receiving this hand.

As an ambassador for the program, I helped search for potential beneficiaries throughout South Asia. One of our greatest assets in Rotary is the ability to mobilize our volunteer network. We conducted one day camps in every corner of India where recipients were fitted for prosthetic hands. Rotary and Rotaract members and their family offered their time and service. When a club got trained, it trained other clubs, spreading the movement.

Transforming the world

In the 2018-19 Rotary year, 46 camps were conducted resulting in over 6,000 beneficiaries of prosthetic hands.
A project of this scale addresses all of the priorities in Rotary’s Action Plan. Our efforts have been featured in at least 300-400 magazines, newspapers, television channels and radio stations bringing increased visibility to Rotary.

I have met so many amazing people and have been able to see so many places that I would not normally get to see through this journey. I thank Rotary and all the people who participated with us in transforming our world.
Reaching the unreached in India 2019-09-17 04:00:00Z 0

Rotarians respond in the Bahamas

ShelterBox Head of Operations Alf Evans, left, confers with local contacts including Past RI President Barry Rassin, right, in the Bahamas.
Report compiled by Diana White, past district governor, and District 7020 Rotarians

The destruction left behind by Hurricane Dorian is devastating. In parts of the Bahamas, literally everything is gone, replaced by piles of rubble where homes once stood. Roads blocked with debris and thousands on thousands left homeless and in need of supplies.

As Rotarians in District 7020, one of two districts that cover the Caribbean and hard-hit Bahamas, we immediately switched into assistance mode. Significant donations of supplies are funneling in from various local efforts and through international disaster relief agencies.

As this aid continues to come in, Rotary in the Bahamas is beginning to move to longer-term strategies in preparation for helping the economies to recover. We will get in to do a needs assessment as soon as access is possible and work in coordination with the government. We also plan to raise impactful funding to bring these communities back.
It will take time; but that is what Rotary is best at.

In the meantime, here are a few of the local efforts underway that Rotarians in our district have had a hand in:
    •    Rotarians in Nassau have rescued, registered and sheltered more than 3,300 evacuees in New Providence and Eleuthera. Through the receiving and registration process at the airport’s main staging site, we collect information on those needing housing. We are constantly working to assess needs and fill the gap by providing resources, even working to provide non-governmental controlled shelter in private homes and vacant rental spaces. So far, we have been able to place 153 persons in hotels and private homes. We have many Rotarians and Rotaractors who are working at kiddie play area, helping to facilitate expedited processing for those with babies or in wheelchairs.

    •    Nassau Rotarians were also able to purchase eight bunk beds for The Ranfurly Home for Children to assist in preparing a room that will now be home to 17 children evacuated from the Grand Bahama Children’s Home.

    •    In Grand Bahama, the water plant in Freeport undertaken as a global grant 10 years ago was the first water available in Freeport after Dorian.

    •    Following an emergency meeting held on 3 September, Rotary members in the British Virgin Islands, under the leadership of their district governor, will be launching a major fundraising effort to help victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. This will include a live telethon to be held on Tuesday, 10 September.

    •    Disaster Aid Canada, Disaster Aid USA and Disaster Aid UK&I are working together with local Rotarians to provide shelter and comfort. Tents that were pre-positioned in Nassau have been set up for evacuees with the assistance of Rotary clubs in the Bahamas. An additional 50 to 100 tents, tarps, water systems, bed packs, and hygiene items have been sent. Rotarians have erected 16 tents at the main receiving site for evacuees. In the near future, international volunteers will use these as their living quarters as they give their time to support national relief efforts.

The Bahamian people are amazingly resilient and will get through this no matter how long it takes. Rotarians here and around the world have surrounded us with love and empathy and an outpouring of well wishes and offers of support. Once again I am inspired by Rotarians and their willingness to step up and make other people’s lives better. I am proud to be a Rotarian.
Rotarians respond in the Bahamas 2019-09-13 04:00:00Z 0

Hurricane Dorian Response


Hurricane Dorian has unfortunately already taken 20+ lives and leaving The Bahamas in destruction and now has moved up the coast.  Disaster Aid USA is collaborating with our partner organization, Disaster Aid Canada, in providing smart aid. We will be keeping an eye on Dorian as it comes up along the Eastern Coastline as inland and coastal flooding is a possibility.
Disaster Aid USA has Domestic Response Trailers prepositioned in Florida (2) Georgia (1) Virginia (1) and Maryland (1). Texas (4) and Louisiana (3) are on standby and DAUSA also has access to a private plane if needed as well. DAUSA is in touch with emergency officials and we are waiting to see where the storm goes just as they are. We will be in touch with our contacts in the Bahamas soon as we have helped them during the past hurricanes to reestablish contacts and communication lines.

As we continue to monitor the situation and prepare our response, please do not forget to share the work we are doing with your local networks and please help us raise funds that will go directly to the people in need.
Hurricane Dorian Response 2019-09-06 04:00:00Z 0

Nigeria reaches crucial polio milestone

Volunteers vaccinate children in Maiduguri, Nigeria, against polio, marking the houses they’ve visited. Photo by Andrew Esiebo
By Ryan Hyland

It’s been three years since health officials last reported a case of polio caused by the wild poliovirus in Nigeria. The milestone, reached on 21 August, means that it’s possible for the entire World Health Organization (WHO) African region to be certified wild poliovirus-free next year

Nigeria’s success is the result of several sustained efforts, including domestic and international financing, the commitment of thousands of health workers, and strategies to immunize children who previously couldn’t be reached because of a lack of security in the country’s northern states.

“Rotary, its Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, and the Nigerian government have strengthened immunization and disease detection systems,” says Michael K. McGovern, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. He adds: “We are now reaching more children than ever in some of the hardest-to-reach places in Nigeria.”

McGovern says Rotary members in Nigeria play an important role in ridding the country of the disease. “Rotarians have been hard at work raising awareness for polio eradication, advocating with the government, and addressing other basic health needs to complement polio eradication efforts, like providing clean water to vulnerable communities.”

Nigeria is the last country in Africa where polio is endemic. Once Africa is certified as free of the wild poliovirus, five of the WHO’s six regions will be free of wild polio. Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which means transmission of the virus has never been stopped.

Dr. Tunji Funsho, chair of Rotary’s Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee, acknowledges the milestone but cautions Rotary members about celebrating too soon. He cites the challenge of making certain that routine immunizations reach every child in Nigeria.

“It’s paramount that we ensure all doors are locked to the re-entry of the wild poliovirus into our country,” says Funsho.

Funsho says to achieve this, Rotary needs to maintain strong advocacy efforts, continue to increase awareness of immunization campaigns, and ensure members raise necessary funds. Rotary has contributed $268 million to fight polio in Nigeria.

“As the first organization to dream of a polio-free world, Rotary is committed to fulfilling our promise,” says McGovern. “Our progress in Nigeria is a big step toward that goal, but we need to maintain momentum so that Pakistan and Afghanistan see the same level of progress.”
Nigeria reaches crucial polio milestone 2019-08-30 04:00:00Z 0

5 ways our work against polio fights other diseases

story Written By:
Daniela Garcia

Polio, and the lifelong paralysis it can cause especially in young children, became preventable when Dr. Jonas Salk introduced the polio vaccine in 1955. Since Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative took on the fight against polio, they have developed systems to facilitate both immunizations and eradication.
This polio eradication infrastructure helps get us closer to a polio-free world. But did you know that it’s used to fight and protect against other diseases, too? Here are five examples of the polio infrastructure at work:

The cold chain

The polio vaccine must be kept cool, or it risks losing its effectiveness. The cold chain system — made up of freezers, refrigerators, and cold boxes — was developed to allow polio workers to store the vaccine and transport it over long distances in extremely hot weather. In Pakistan, a measles immunization program now relies on the same system. With the help of the cold chain, Sindh province recently reached its goal of immunizing more than 7.3 million children against measles.


A critical component in immunizing more children against polio, especially in remote regions, is microplanning. A microplan allows health workers to identify priority communities, address potential barriers, and develop a plan for a successful immunization campaign. The workers collect as many details as possible about communities to help them reach and vaccinate all of the children, and this strategy has helped keep India polio-free for five years. Now the Mewat district of India is using microplanning to increase its rates of vaccination against measles and rubella.

The polio surveillance system helps detect new cases of polio and determines where and how these cases originated. Environmental surveillance, which involves testing sewage or other environmental samples for the presence of poliovirus, helps workers confirm polio cases in the absence of symptoms like acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). In Borno state in Nigeria, the AFP surveillance system is now being used to find people with symptoms of yellow fever and was one of many tactics used during a 2018 yellow fever outbreak that resulted in the vaccination of 8 million people.

Contact tracing

Because polio is a transmittable disease, health workers use contact tracing to learn who has come in contact with people who might be infected. Contact tracing was also critical to containing an Ebola outbreak in Nigeria in 2014. When a traveler from Liberia was diagnosed with Ebola, Nigerian officials were able to quickly trace and isolate the traveler’s contacts, helping prevent the disease from spreading further.

Emergency operations centers

An important part of the polio infrastructure that Rotary and its partners have built is the emergency operations centers network. These centers provide a centralized location where health workers and government officials can work collaboratively and generate a faster, more effective emergency response. The emergency operations center in Lagos, Nigeria, which was originally set up to address polio, was adapted to handle Ebola, and it ultimately helped the country respond quickly to an Ebola outbreak. Only 19 Ebola cases were reported, and the country was declared Ebola-free within three months.
5 ways our work against polio fights other diseases 2019-08-23 04:00:00Z 0

Fighting Poverty on a Small Scale

A collaboration between Rotary and Heifer continues to produce big results, helping small farms provide healthier, locally-sourced food

By Arnold R. Grahl Visuals by Miriam Doan

In the fall of 2015, volunteers from Rotary and Heifer International came together to build hoop houses for a few farmers working small lots in Arkansas, USA. The afternoon outing was part of a larger project that is still reaping benefits four years later, supporting small-scale agriculture in the region and increasing access to locally-grown food.

Heifer has been using the small-scale agriculture model for decades to alleviate hunger and fight poverty around the world. The approach has the added benefits of being environmentally friendly and offering healthier food options.

That mission dovetails with Rotary’s mission to grow local economies and improve health. So it’s not surprising the two groups have teamed up on a number of occasions in the past 30 years to improve communities by helping families escape poverty. Several Heifer employees are or have been members of the Rotary Club of Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, the city where Heifer has its headquarters.
“Our values line up very well,” says Ardyth Neill, a member of the Little Rock club and president of the Heifer Foundation. “With Rotary, it’s Service Above Self and helping to serve others. Heifer has been working with farmers to be accountable, pass on their gifts, train other farmers, and work together in community. It’s learning to share and care, basic things that work well together.”


In the United States and other developed nations, a lot of food production is controlled by large industrial operations, which produce cheaper food by focusing on a single crop and using specialized equipment to cut labor costs.

But according to research into sustainable agriculture, this food model has downsides, including a reliance on commercial fertilizers, heavy pesticides, and other chemicals that can harm the environment.

The trend has also contributed to the failure of smaller family farms, increasing the poverty rates in places like rural Arkansas.

Nationwide distribution networks have also resulted in food deserts in urban areas, particularly in the U.S., England, and Australia, where poor neighborhoods have little access to fresh produce and instead rely on less nutritious fast foods and packaged products.

Small-scale sustainable agriculture, on the other hand, tends to keep things local. The money you spend on food stays in your community and helps your neighbor. Farmers maximize land use by planting multiple crops that replenish the soil and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides. And fruits and vegetables grown closer to home keep more of their nutrients.
Consumers are increasingly aware of these health benefits, fueling the market for local produce.

“There’s a phenomenon going on, really nationwide, about people becoming more and more concerned and thoughtful about where their food comes from,” says Sharon Vogelpohl, a past president of the Little Rock Rotary club and a volunteer on the project.
Fighting Poverty on a Small Scale 2019-07-27 04:00:00Z 0

Rotary and ShelterBox celebrate the power of partnership

Displaced families in Malawi
Weekly Bulletin Number 651
Evanston Ill., Rotary International announced on 3 June a three-year partnership renewal with its disaster relief project partner, ShelterBox. For almost 20 years, this unique humanitarian alliance has supported families with a place to call home after disaster.

Rotary is a global network whose members take action to make a lasting difference in their communities – and worldwide. ShelterBox provides emergency shelters and other essential items to support families who have lost their homes in disaster.

What began as a local connection with one Cornish Rotary Club has led to an international movement that’s provided 140,000 ShelterBox family tents or 390,000 ShelterKits worldwide to date (a value of over £54 million).

First adopted as a millennium project by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard in 2000, the support of Rotary members and clubs around the world saw ShelterBox become Rotary’s Project Partner in Disaster Relief in 2012. Since then, the partnership has helped transform ShelterBox into an internationally recognized disaster relief charity, supporting families with emergency shelter after disaster.

The partnership extends far beyond financial support. Around 1,000 Rotary members are involved in ShelterBox as volunteers, staff or response team members. And clubs worldwide offer valuable, practical assistance to help ShelterBox reach more families fleeing disaster or conflict.

This has recently included support for families in Malawi flooded from their homes by Cyclone Idai and communities in Lombok devastated by the 2018 earthquake and tsunami (quotes and details at the end of this release).

“ShelterBox has been Rotary’s Project Partner in Disaster Relief since 2012, and we are excited to renew the partnership for another three years,” says Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko.

“Through this project partnership, Rotary members around the globe can collaborate with ShelterBox to support communities in desperate need of emergency temporary shelter and vital supplies following natural disasters,” adds Hewko. “Additionally, Rotary and ShelterBox will continue to expand cooperation efforts through preparedness training and stockpiles of prepositioned aide in disaster-prone regions.”

Caroline White, interim Chief Executive at ShelterBox, said: “Whenever disaster strikes, Rotary is beside us. From the earliest planning stages to final evaluations, Rotary members help ShelterBox make community contacts, organize logistics, and reach disaster-affected families in remote areas who might otherwise go without.

This partnership has helped ShelterBox become who we are today. Our global network of 17 ShelterBox affiliates, who raise funds and awareness worldwide, evolved from Rotary relationships.”

Rotary club presidents around the world have also commented:

Ace Robin, President of the Mataram Rotary Club, Indonesia, was caught up in the deadly earthquakes that hit Lombok in 2018. Her home survived, but many around her were destroyed. Through an agreement with the government-led response, Ace’s club was central to bringing ShelterBox aid to Indonesia.

Thanks to their support, vulnerable members of the community received vital emergency shelter, including families with elderly relatives, pregnant women or new mothers.

Ace said: “Working with ShelterBox taught us a lot – they showed us how to build shelter and select families to help. It also gave us a chance to show what Rotary is to local people.”

After floods triggered by Cyclone Idai left tens of thousands homeless in Malawi this March, Rotary members connected ShelterBox with communities in the Blantyre region, helping them understand local needs and culture. Members helped deliver emergency shelter to almost 2,000 families. And ShelterBox supported the Rotary Club of Limbe to join the wider disaster response, enabling the club to deliver food to communities whose entire crops had been destroyed by the floods.

Rotary Club of Limbe President Eric Chinkanda said: “It was a great experience to work with ShelterBox. We have not only walked a mile in reaching out to the many Malawians who faced hardship, but we restored confidence in the displaced people that all was not lost!”

James Kingston, Club President of the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard, in Cornwall, said: “The members of Helston-Lizard Rotary are delighted that Rotary International continues to recognize ShelterBox.

I joined the club a few months before the Millennium Project began, and I’m so pleased we’re still involved. It has been wonderful to see the charity grow into an internationally recognized, professional disaster relief organization.”
Rotary and ShelterBox celebrate the power of partnership 2019-07-21 04:00:00Z 0

Innover pour la campagne Place à l’action

Notre campagne Place à l’action explique au monde entier comment les Rotariens se mobilisent pour répondre aux problèmes les plus urgents. Mais en tant que dirigeants de district, passons-nous à l’action lorsqu’il s’agit d’utiliser les outils de cette campagne ?
Bulletin hebdomadaire de la capitale numéro 650
Par Ron Janssen, gouverneur du district 6980 (États-Unis)

Face à un budget serré, de nombreux dirigeants de district pensent qu’il y a peu de place dans leur budget pour des publicités comme celles de Place à l’action. Cette campagne a pour but de mieux faire connaître le Rotary et nos efforts humanitaires. Le résultat souhaité est la croissance de l’effectif, ce qui se traduit par une augmentation des cotisations et de notre budget. N’est-ce pas contradictoire que ce soit l’une des dernières choses que nous voudrions financer ?

Face à cette question, notre club a trouvé une alternative qui, non seulement permet de financer une campagne d’image publique, mais aussi de générer un profit que nous pourrions utiliser pour autre chose. Nous avons créé un supplément du Rotary qui a été inséré dans le journal américain Sunday Orlando Sentinel dans le but de toucher 114 000 foyers. Et nous l’avons financé à l’aide de publicités.

Un supplément de huit pages et une composante sur les médias sociaux nous a coûté 6 500 dollars. Nous avons établi le prix de la publicité à la moitié des tarifs publiés par le journal. Nous nous sommes cependant vite rendu compte que huit pages ne suffisaient pas. Et quatre pages supplémentaires ne coûtaient que 500 dollars de plus, soit moins que ce que nous facturions pour une publicité d’un quart de page.
Innover pour la campagne Place à l’action 2019-07-12 04:00:00Z 0

New Voices club charts its own course

RI Director Jeffry Cadorette, left, with members of the Rotary Club of New Voices.

By Marty Peak Helman, growth chair for District 7780 (parts of Maine and New Hampshire, USA )
Capital City weekly bulletin 649

A new Rotary club, New Voices, was chartered 15 June in my district with 33 new members. What makes this club unique is that the newly-minted Rotarians – who range in age from 18 to 30 – are all graduates of the district’s phenomenal Rotary Youth Leadership Awards program.

They were introduced to RYLA and Rotary youth leadership at age 15 as high school juniors, and since then, they have stayed active through the district’s RYLA Reset program for grads, RYLA workdays, and RYLA leadership opportunities. What these young people have in common is a love for what RYLA – and by extension Rotary – offers them in terms of positive youth development. But, with high school graduation looming, many of them were expecting to leave the Rotary orbit.

“We have a strong track record of getting RYLA participants into Interact, if they aren’t involved already,” Phil Giordano, executive director of RYLA in District 7780 and past president of the Rotary Club of Scarborough, Maine, told me. “Then they graduate from high school and go off to university, and we tell them to check out a local Rotaract club, or start one if there is none on campus. We lose many of them then – and more when it’s time for them to graduate college and concentrate on their careers.”

Youth pipeline

It’s a common problem throughout Rotary in North America, as RI Director Jeffry Cadorette noted to me at the chartering. “We have the greatest pipeline in the world of young people coming up through RYLA, Youth Exchange, Interact, and Rotaract. Other organizations would kill for a pipeline such as we have. But we are only now beginning to learn to capitalize on it. New Voices gives us a critical tool to do just that and turn our Rotary youth alumni into Rotarians.”

Earlier this year, it became evident to Giordano and me, as the District 7780 Growth Chair, that the changes enacted by the 2016 Council on Legislation meant that the young people could form a club of their own – a club that would focus on youth leadership and which would meet (mostly) on line, with three or four “live” events each year – events which the young people are already involved in.

Giordano reached out to his RYLA leadership team, determined solid interest in a new club, and helped them get organized. First, the young people created their own mission statement: New Voices D7780 will be a new type of Rotary Club that is accessible to people of all geographies, abilities, and ages, and is for folks who share a passion for youth leadership development and service to others; our goal is to expand the traditional model of Rotary to as many people as possible.

A new kind of club

New Voices is a whole new kind of Rotary club, focused on capturing an underserved population that happens to be already excited about Rotary, but who – because of time constraints, school commitments, and job expectations – could never commit to a weekly or biweekly mealtime meeting. In Rotary parlance, the closest existing model is a Passport Club, and certainly, the New Voices Rotarians expect to “make up” with Rotary clubs in communities where they may be studying or working in order to engage with them in service or fundraisers.

Zone leadership – most especially Director Cadorette and Director-nominee Valarie Wafer – have been extremely supportive and are firmly committed to this new concept. Cadorette brought a video recording of 2018-19 RI President Barry Rassin welcoming the club to Rotary. Cadorette has recognized that this model is infinitely scalable and can be replicated anywhere. All it takes is an existing strong Rotary youth program. Access to a database of past members going back at least several years is helpful.
Additionally, a group of seasoned Rotary mentors are needed to help navigate the process, while empowering the new members to create Rotary from a blank canvas.
New Voices club charts its own course 2019-07-05 04:00:00Z 0

Every whiskey contains a story

Rüdiger Niemz. 4 June 2019, Hamburg, Germany.
Capital City weekly Bulletin Number 648
Rüdiger Niemz, Rotary Club of Mondseeland, Austria, as told to Diana Schoberg. Photo by Monika Lozinska

“When I was invited to join Rotary, instead of giving a presentation about my job, as everyone is expected to do, I did a whiskey tasting.

“I became interested in whiskey when I was traveling a lot as a journalist. I was working on travel shows about foreign countries. You would come back very late from the filming and editing, and then you’d meet somebody at the bar. You’d start talking, and start sharing whiskey. You don’t drink whiskey to get drunk. It’s part of an exciting lifestyle.

“I got to know a lot of different places and whiskeys, and after a while I got asked to host curated tastings. I got a master’s degree in food science so I researched a lot about the history and sociology of drinks and food. Every whiskey contains a story. Every cheese contains a story.

“Life is so interesting. You cannot limit yourself. Journalists are always trying to look behind the curtain. We are trying to discover something. We are trying to get new ideas, new perspectives. I also have my master’s in philosophy. Philosophers are quite similar to journalists: We are both curious about life.

“This is the interesting thing about Rotary. You always meet exceptional people. They have different backgrounds, different experiences. It is so exciting.

“I like the worldwide view. In these days where people are developing backwards in a way that we stick to ourselves, our region, to our nationality only — where we are getting more ruthless in terms of how we treat each other in national and especially international politics — Rotary is an alternative.”
Every whiskey contains a story 2019-06-21 04:00:00Z 0

Solar lamp project delivers light in Belize

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 2019-06-15 04:00:00Z 0

Rotarians Want to Have Fun!

Pictured from left to right: (1) Gautami Rao, Hollis-Brookline, NH; (2) Gabriel St. Pierre, Rotarian, Charlestown, NH; (3) Katrina Langlois, President-Elect, Raymond, NH Rotary club; (4) Kevin McAllister, Rotarian, Windsor, VT Rotary Club; (5) Venu Rao, DG 7870, Hollis-Brookline, NH Rotary Club; (6) Chris Parkinson, PDG, Bow, NH Rotary Club; (7) Nancy Russell, DGE, White River, VT Rotary Club; (8) Carolyn Meub, PDG, Rutland South, VT Rotary Club; (9) Bill Stevens, Rotarian, Bellows Falls, VT Rotary Club
Carolyn Crowley Meub, Past District Governor, District 7870

Committed to service above self, Rotarians are passionate about making a difference in their local and global communities. Regular meetings bring club members together to share ideas and make plans about how to create positive change. While deeply committed to their cause, with laser-focus on successful impact, a lesser-known fact about Rotarians is that they love to have fun!

Whether it’s celebrating at the club’s annual fundraiser, com- plete with elaborately themed food, music and attire, or simply planting trees in the local park on a Saturday morning, when Rotarians get together there is always fun to be had. Rotarians in District 7870 are taking fun to a new level...10,000 feet above the ground to be precise! Why? Of course, the answer is to serve others.

These adventurous club members will be skydiving out of an airplane, on June 29th at Vermont Skydiving Adventures, hoping to bring attention to the global water crisis. Along with friends of Rotary-founded nonprofit, Pure Water for the World (PWW), the group has a goal of raising $100,000 to provide life-changing safe water programs to children and families living in under- served communities across Haiti and Honduras.

"Having visited Haiti, I have personally experienced the work Pure Water for the World (PWW) does under the leadership of PDG Carolyn Meub. PWW is practically saving lives,” says Venu Rao, District Governor 2018-2019, Rotary District 7870. “World Health Organization (WHO) research shows that when you provide only pure drinking water to a community, the com- munity's health index improves only by 20%. If you also provide them with clean latrines, to eliminate open defecation, the com- munity's health index raises to 50-60%. If you also educate the community members with hygiene and sanitation, the health index of the community goes over 90%. PWW supports the com- munities in both Haiti and Honduras in all the three areas. My wife, Gautami, and I support Carolyn's passion to the extent that we are willing to jump off a perfectly fine plane with her to raise awareness and funds for PWW."

Through the years, hundreds of Rotarians have joined PWW on service trips to Haiti or Honduras, another adventure altogeth- er, where they can gain a hands-on experience of the transfor- mational impact that is taking place in the communities PWW serves. And, true to their nature, these life-changing Rotarian trip-goers combine their passion for serving with lots of laugh- ter and fun! Want to join in the fun? Learn more at www.jumpforsafewater.com or visit www.purewaterfortheworld.org.
Rotarians Want to Have Fun! 2019-06-06 04:00:00Z 0


THREE years ago, prison staff from the industries section of the Tarrengower Prison, in Maldon, Vic, contacted the Days for Girls Melbourne Victoria Chapter Inc. to investigate the possibility of a partnership. They offered to provide labour and machines, if Days for Girls would provide raw materials and training.

The industries section team saw the benefits of inmates becoming involved in such a project, which makes a life- changing difference to girls and women in developing countries. Without the sustainable and washable sanitary kits Days for Girls provides, many girls are forced to cease education or work while menstruating. As a result, many end up leaving employment or schooling to stay home permanently.

As part of their rehabilitation, inmates are asked to select projects to take part in that capture their attention and allow them to develop new skills. Days for Girls volunteers set up a day workshop to show the scope of the work involved to inmates considering taking part.

There were several teething problems at the start, however, the program has
now been running for three years with great success. There is now a strong nucleus team sewing components for the kits up to four days each week.

Quality assurance has been an important part of training, as most inmates have little to no education and limited work experience. Now the more experienced members of the team help carefully check the work of others, fuelled by their desire to help the less fortunate, ensuring everyone is producing an exceptionally high standard of work.

“I feel my skills are being used for something very useful, helping keep girls in developing countries stay in school and complete their education,” said one inmate who is involved.

Their work on the project is helping prepare them to turn their lives around once they return to the community. Many participating inmates have even indicated they wish to continue their work with Days for Girls after their sentence has finished.

“Their sewing skills have grown enormously, their enthusiasm to be involved is inspirational and their self-worth has grown exponentially,” chapter president Margaret Cunningham said.

Days for Girls is supported by many Rotary clubs through sponsorship and fundraising activities. Margaret has given many talks to Rotary and Probus clubs, informing members of the Days for Girls program and activities.
DAYS FOR GIRLS 2019-05-31 04:00:00Z 0

From “over there” to “over here” – access to toilets changes lives

From “over there” to “over here” – access to toilets changes lives
 By Clem van den Bersselaar, member of Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay (Philippines)
Editor's Note - Clem was one of our GSE Team's Hosts when we visited RC Ormoc Bay

If you ask a Filipino living in a rural area of the Philippines where they go to the toilet, they will turn their head towards a non-specific direction and say “over there.” This means that they use any location that gives them some sort of privacy to do their needs. Women generally have to go longer distances to avoid prying eyes and avoid assaults. In fact, when one talks to local community health workers about the risks of open defecation, they tell you about parasitic and bacterial infections while also emphasizing the high percentage of women being molested or harassed.

In November 2013, part of the Leyte province in the Philippines was hit by the devastating typhoon Haiyan, the country’s worst typhoon affecting 25 million people and claiming nearly 6000 lives while leaving tremendous damage throughout the island.

Immediately after the typhoon, Rotary clubs from various countries came to the rescue. Local clubs responded with food supplies and worked with NGOs to begin rebuilding homes. Once immediate relief was provided, the focus shifted to meet sanitary requirements in restoring water supply and the construction of toilet facilities.

The Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay identified the WAND Foundation (Water, Agro-forestry, Nutrition and Development) as having the expertise to construct 20,000 latrines together with various NGO’s immediately after the typhoon in the province of Samar in the Philippines. WAND Foundation’s previous contacts with the Malmö (Sweden) International Rotary Club, provided a natural connection to propose this project at the 8th Multi Club Workshop (MCW) held in Ischia, Italy.  The project was accepted by the MCW and the partners applied for a global grant, which was approved in February 2016.  Seven Rotary clubs and three districts from Italy, the Philippines and Sweden contributed to the US $52,000 project.
The project included constructing 222 toilets in various barangays, six rainwater collectors, seven communal handwashing stations, 20 biosand filters, and community-led training seminars for the beneficiary communities. As a result, this project has provided nearly 1100 people with access to proper toilet facilities and almost 600 people now have a regular supply of clean water. The community-led training seminar included a series of group discussions and a workshop to demonstrate which practices can prevent water contamination and to recognize the interconnection of water, sanitation and hygiene. We also discussed the medical costs related to open defecation in order to help the community understand how much money is spent on treating illnesses resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene.

We are happy to report the beneficiary communities have not had a single case of parasitic or diarrheal infections since the project was completed. Now when asked where they go to the toilet, the proud community members say “over here”!
From “over there” to “over here” – access to toilets changes lives 2019-05-28 04:00:00Z 0

Climate change and The Four-Way Test

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

Medical pilgrimage in India treats thousands

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

Rotary Youth Exchange expanded my view of the world

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

Rotary makes it a small world after all

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

Council elevates Rotaract

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

Family of Rotary helps after wildfire

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

Council on legislation to review changes to RI policies


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

4 dynamite ways to find new members

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

Rotary-supported story contest gives Tacoma youth a voice

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

Rotary clubs blanket Brazil with polio and measles vaccinations
 Members help reverse trend of plummeting immunizations by reaching 11 million children

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

Empowering women in Colombian prisons

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

What it’s like to escape a wildfire

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

Doing good in Vietnam


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

Learning a common language of respect

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

Rotary recognizes UK Prime Minister Theresa May with polio champion award

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

The Backpack Program for Merrimack Valley (NH) School District

(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

Holiday Time for Capital City Sunrise

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

New Rotaract club creates community in Ohio

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

Who knew attempting a world record could transform our club?

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

Driving a junk car across Europe for charity

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

Painting the way to peace

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

Painting the way to peace

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

Fighting malnutrition with better corn

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

Protecting against polio in Lake Chad

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

Improving sanitation in a school in Ghana

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

The right to a better life

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

World Polio Day reviews the bold steps taken to end polio

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

Water project unites Lebanon clubs across all divides

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

Who knew installing solar lights could have such meaning?

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

A challenge to clean the world's rivers

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

Rotary announces US $96.5 million to end polio

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

Who is that poster girl?


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

A reason to smile

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

‘Gladiator’ stars reunite at End Polio Now event

 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

Retreating to advance peace

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

Rotary Wheel Reef

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

Music Camp breaks down barriers

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

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepts award for polio eradication


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

Toronto Rotary Convention

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

Rotaries donating money to help Hondurans

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

Becoming a Rotary alumni is just the beginning

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

How our club attracts and retains alumni as members

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

Why you want to risk


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

Thousand Flags event connects community


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

Literacy center dedicated to Pakistan Rotarian

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

Assisting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

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

Trust unlocks creativity at European youth seminar

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

Rotary.org wins Webby People's Voice Award

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

The opportunity that changed my life

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

Unexpected lessons from my disaster relief experience

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

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

Water is building friendships, changing lives in Sri Lanka

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

World Water Day 2018: Unlocking Nature’s Potential to Create a Water-Secure World

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

Clean water for Fante Mayera, Ghana

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

Water flows from new borehole in Basari Akura

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

5 things you may not know about ending Polio

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

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

Incoming district governors prepared to Be the Inspiration

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

Teaspoons of peace that will last a lifetime

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

Father, son team up to make a difference

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

Improving access to water in Ghana

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 and Nigeria replace paper-based reporting with fast, accurate cellphone messaging

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

National Day of Giving - Giving Tuesday

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.
Will you help?

You can help us on giving Tuesday. Please click here to make a donation.
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

Rotary Day at the United Nations pushes peace from concept to reality

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

In Mexico’s migrant shelters, a Rotary scholar puts his education into action

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

Rotary Zones' 24 & 32 Donald MacRae Award Winners

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

Rotary partners with Habitat for Humanity

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

Overcoming obstacles to polio eradication in Pakistan

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

How to contribute to the Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Donor Advised Fund

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

Cap City helps Ormoc Bay Rotary (Philippines) after Earthquake

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

We are all same, same…but different

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

Cared for with love

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 Rotary network at work

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 from Brazil combats a deadly online game
White Whale designed to promote peace and self-esteem

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

Solar lamp project delivers light in Belize

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

Rotary President-elect Sam F. Owori dies

Rotary President-elect Sam F. Owori dies

Rotary President-elect Sam F. Owori dies

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

Skydivers raise thousands for polio eradication

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

Changing of the Gavel

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

Muslim and Christian women work together to prevent dengue fever in Indonesia

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

The most important thing in the world

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

Rotary International Conference - Atlanta

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

The benefits of dual membership in Rotaract, Rotary

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

Rotarians are active in Grassroots Peacemaking

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 girls of Malawi

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

Rotary members meet with EU officials to examine Rotary’s role in achieving peace

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

My path into Rotary

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

Poliovirus in Nigeria last summer shocked eradication efforts

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

Changing the world is possible, through Rotary

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

Rotary members meet with EU officials to examine Rotary’s role in achieving peace

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

Rotary-US AID Bring Liquid Gold to Ghana

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

Police officer takes the lessons of the Rotary peace program to the streets of Philadelphia

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

Women share stories of humanitarian service on International Women's Day

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

Cared for with love

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

Manitoba honors Rotary Peace Fellow for public achievement

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

Getting creative with science in rural Taiwan

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 Polio Update

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

How my first trip to Africa changed my life

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

Crossing the Choluteca bridge

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

Cap City Spreads Holiday Cheer

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

Group Study Exchange (GSE) to Mysore, India

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