Author: adaptmarket

Go on journey with polio vaccinator in Uganda

Climb every mountain

A Rotaractor ventures deep into her native Uganda with a polio vaccination team as part of Rotary’s newest virtual reality film, Two Drops of Patience

By Patience Asiimwe
As told to Diana Schoberg

Health workers must have a lot of passion. They face so many challenges to reach every child with the polio vaccine. 

I found that out when I traveled to a mountain community on the border of Uganda and Kenya, 200 miles from my home in Kampala, to join a vaccination team. Just getting to the homes was a challenge, let alone persuading the parents to let us in. We had to park the cars, carry our coolers with the polio vaccine safely tucked inside between ice packs, and move on our own two feet, just walking and walking. It’s a bit of a trick – using your hands to steady yourself while you climb, yet still having to carry this heavy cooler. There were lots of streams and rivers, and at times we had to jump across or walk through the water. 

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We would sometimes walk for 30 minutes before we would see a home, because they’re not so close to one another. It was lonely and scary, walking through the trees and rocks. The challenge was getting as far as we could, keeping in mind how long the journey back would take. If we walked three hours to get to a home, we needed to be sure we had three hours to get back before dark. And all that with the possibility of not finding a child at home and having to return another day.

At one point I just sat down. My feet ached. I was sunburned – and until this trip, I didn’t think black people could get sunburned. 

But we had to keep going to save someone’s life.

I’ve been involved in Rotaract for a couple of years now, but I’ve never done anything quite like this. My mother, Margaret Okello, is a member of the Rotary Club of Kampala Naguru. She saw that I had a little energy that could be used more productively. So she suggested I join Rotaract, which I did in 2016 when I was 21. My club is involved in an adopt-a-village project in Gulu in northern Uganda, an area that saw 20 years of armed conflict.  I’ve been there twice. And our club collects money for polio eradication. 

I knew about polio. I had seen victims of the disease. I had been immunized against it. It’s odd, though – it’s something you hear about, but you don’t really get how bad it is. I found there was an opportunity to do something more to help with the eradication efforts through one of my friends, Fred Masadde. He’s a member of the Rotary Club of Kampala Ssese Islands and a Rotary public image coordinator. I decided to apply. 

View Slideshow

Rotaractor Patience Asiimwe worked with a polio vaccination team in the mountain community of Tapac, an eight-hour drive and a world away from her home in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. 

In November 2017, I met the team of filmmakers in Kampala who would be documenting the polio immunization effort for Rotary’s newest virtual reality film. I had to request a week off from my job with the Uganda Cancer Society, where I work finding donors and funds to help with their program activities. We chartered a plane to the town of Moroto, which is way, way up in northeastern Uganda at the foot of Mount Moroto. There, we met up with people from UNICEF and the local government, as well as the Rotarians and Rotaractors who had driven three hours from the town of Soroti and would also be giving polio drops. Since there isn’t a Rotary club in this part of the country, Soroti Rotarians occasionally hold medical camps here.

It was another one-hour drive to Tapac, the community on the mountain where we were to work. I had never been in that part of the country before – it’s more than eight hours from my home by car. I was so shocked. I had only seen places like this in movies and television documentaries. 

The poverty was overwhelming. The thatched huts that people live in are built by the women; the men do the cattle keeping. The women harvest long grass and dry it, and also tie together bundles of sticks. Some use the mosquito nets that they get for malaria prevention to tie their things together. Some of the homes are raised on sticks, and the family’s livestock are kept under the house. The doors are so small that you can’t actually walk through them – you crawl.

The health center is up in the hills. It’s really small, and people come to it from miles around. There’s no electricity in that area, but luckily someone donated solar panels to run the refrigerator, since the polio vaccine has to be kept cool. A nurse there taught us about the cold chain and how to place the vaccine in the coolers, and explained how to administer it without contaminating the vial – you have to hold the dropper above the children’s mouths without touching. 

Then we went to one of the homes to get some hands-on experience. When it was my turn, I was shaking. I was worried I would make a mistake and drop in more than two drops. It’s like the way you keep blinking when you’re trying to put in eyedrops. The baby keeps moving! So it can be tricky. We learned the way to hold a child’s mouth so it remains open – you kind of gently press the cheeks together. You have to smile, sing to them. You couldn’t come with a tough face – you want the child to feel comfortable with you. And of course the mother helps keep her child calm. 

We went up into the mountains the next day to give the vaccinations, but first the film crew needed to talk to people and let them know what was going to happen. Imagine a place where you rarely see visitors, and then you see that camera drone up in the sky. Suddenly people would come out, wondering what was going on. 

And because the government has tried to disarm people in the area, which has a history of violent conflict among tribes, often related to cattle raiding, they are suspicious of everyone. They dress differently and do their hair differently, so you can tell an outsider for miles. 

We didn’t know that people there believe you are not supposed to climb the trees or sit on the rocks. The people hold them in high regard; they’re sacred. They got angry with us because they thought we were provoking them. This is why, when you go places, you need to know the community well. Because who would think sitting on rocks is a bad thing? 

We always moved with the nurse, because people knew her and she knew the language, Ng’akarimojong. We had to tell people why it is important to give the polio vaccine. One father asked me if I wanted to kill his child or if this was a family planning method. We had to spend a good amount of time with him. 

I met a man in Tapac who had been crippled by polio. He can’t run. He can’t walk. He can only crawl. When it rains, the water rushes down the mountain carrying rocks and mud. He tries to get out of the way as fast as possible. But he gets stuck. Imagine being an adult and being pelted with rocks and mud. When I met him, I realized that wheelchairs don’t help in a place like this. Wheelchairs won’t get you up the mountain. You need your legs.  

When we first started filming, I was focused on what we were going to shoot. But that changed when I did my first vaccination. I felt like a hero. It was a satisfying feeling, knowing you probably just changed someone’s life. I felt I had done something very meaningful. I had prevented somebody from being sick. I had given somebody opportunity. Those two drops felt like a life-changing action. 

https://www.rotary.org/en/go-journey-polio-vaccinator-uganda

2019-20 Rotary president selected

Mark Daniel Maloney

Mark Daniel Maloney, of the Rotary Club of Decatur, Alabama, USA, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2019-20. He will be declared the president-nominee on 1 October if no challenging candidates have been suggested.

“The clubs are where Rotary happens,” says Maloney, an attorney. He aims to support and strengthen clubs at the community level, preserve Rotary’s culture as a service-oriented membership organization, and test new regional approaches for growth.

“With the eradication of polio, recognition for Rotary will be great and the opportunities will be many,” he says. “We have the potential to become the global powerhouse for doing good.”

Maloney is a principal in the law firm of Blackburn, Maloney, and Schuppert LLC, with a focus on taxation, estate planning, and agricultural law. He represents large farming operations in the Southeastern and Midwestern United States, and has chaired the American Bar Association’s Committee on Agriculture in the section of taxation. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Alabama State Bar Association, and the Alabama Law Institute.

He has been active in Decatur’s religious community, chairing his church’s finance council and a local Catholic school board. He has also served as president of the Community Foundation of Greater Decatur, chair of Morgan County Meals on Wheels, and director of the United Way of Morgan County and the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.

A Rotarian since 1980, Maloney has served as an RI director; Foundation trustee and vice chair; and aide to 2003-04 RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe. He also has participated in the Council on Legislation as chair, vice chair, parliamentarian, and trainer. He was an adviser to the 2004 Osaka Convention Committee and chaired the 2014 Sydney Convention Committee.

Prior to serving as a district governor, Maloney led a Group Study Exchange to Nigeria.

He also served as Future Vision Committee vice chair; Foundation training institute moderator; Foundation permanent fund national adviser; member of the Peace Centers Committee; and adviser to the Foundation’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools Target Challenge Committee.

Maloney’s wife, Gay, is an attorney in the same law firm, and a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Decatur Daybreak, Alabama, USA. Both Mark and Gay are Paul Harris Fellows, Major Donors, and Bequest Society members.

The members of the 2017-18 Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International are Ann-Britt Åsebol, Rotary Club of Falun-Kopparvågen, Sweden; Örsçelik Balkan, Rotary Club of Istanbul-Karaköy, Turkey; James Anthony Black, Rotary Club of Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland; John T. Blount, Rotary Club of Sebastopol, California, USA; Frank N. Goldberg, Rotary Club of Omaha-Suburban, Nebraska, USA; Antonio Hallage, Rotary Club of Curitiba-Leste, Paraná, Brazil; Jackson S.L. Hsieh, Rotary Club of Taipei Sunrise, Taiwan; Holger Knaack, Rotary Club of Herzogtum Lauenburg-Mölln, Germany; Masahiro Kuroda, Rotary Club of Hachinohe South, Aomori, Japan; Larry A. Lunsford, Rotary Club of Kansas City-Plaza, Missouri, USA; Anne L. Matthews (chair), Rotary Club of Columbia East, South Carolina, USA; P.T. Prabhakar, Rotary Club of Madras Central, Tamil Nadu, India; M.K. Panduranga Setty, Rotary Club of Bangalore, Karnataka, India; Andy Smallwood, Rotary Club of Gulfway-Hobby Airport (Houston), Texas, USA; Norbert Turco, Rotary Club of Ajaccio, Corse, France; Yoshimasa Watanabe, Rotary Club of Kojima, Okayama, Japan; and Sangkoo Yun, Rotary Club of Sae Hanyang, Seoul, Korea.

To learn more about Mark Daniel Maloney, read this interview and vision statement outlining his goals for Rotary.

https://www.rotary.org/en/2019-20-rotary-president-selected

BC Wildfire Relief Urgently Required

Dear Rotary Club of Lions Gate Members and Friends of Rotary ,

In the past week we have had a number of urgent requests via Darcy Long our 2018 -2019 District Governor to provide help and any support that we can as club, to both firefighters and the evacuees affected by the terrible wildfire destruction presently occurring in BC .

While we as a club have agreed to donate $ 500, we wanted to extend the invitation to all of our members the opportunity to also make a donation through the Rotary Club Lions Gate (RCLG) Foundation (which will provide a tax receipt for whatever amount you wish to donate). This fundraising campaign will remain open until September 14th, 2018, after which we be providing a cheque that will directly support the wildfire victims in the affected and the surrounding communities. All donations will be made on behalf of the Rotary Club of Lions Gate Foundation.

Donations can be made in one of four ways :

  • Via the donate button on the top of our website, or click here,
  • At one of The Rotary Lions Gate luncheon meetings on either the 7th and or 14 th September,
  • Mail it the RCLG at: Rotary Club Lions Gate, PO Box 38616, North Vancouver, BC, V7M 3N1.
  • Failing any of the above you are welcome to email us at: info@rotarylionsgate.com, and we can arrange a pickup.

Thanks for your support to this very worthwhile cause.

____

Roger K Thomey P.Eng
Director of Community Affairs
Rotary Club of Lions Gate
North Vancouver , BC

Rotarian helps clean rivers around the world

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

• Read more stories from The Rotarian

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotarian-helps-clean-rivers-around-world

Rotary partners with Mediators Beyond Borders

Rotary partners with Mediators Beyond Borders to bring local solutions for lasting peace

EVANSTON, Ill. (Aug. 17, 2018) — Preventing conflicts from escalating into violent crises is 60 times more cost effective than intervening after violence erupts, according to the Carnegie Corporation of New York. A recent partnership between the membership service organization Rotary and Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI) aims to bring community-based solutions to prevent conflict in more communities.  

Rotary has worked with MBBI – an impact organization founded on the principle of people-centered peacebuilding – since 2013 to advance our common goals for peace. This new, partnership will enable Rotary members to train with MBBI to sharpen their mediation, dialogue and other conflict transformation skills. Rotary’s 1.2 million members, located in over 200 countries and regions, will help MBBI expand its network of trained mediators – potentially transforming conflict in communities not previously reached. 

“We are excited to continue our collaboration with MBBI to build local capacity for lasting peace in more communities,” said John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International. “As trusted leaders attuned to the needs of their communities, Rotary members are well positioned to help find grassroots solutions to local conflicts.”

“We are honored to partner with Rotary and thereby enhance our ability to build a ‘peace able’ world through ‘service above self,’” said Prabha Sankaranarayan, CEO of MBBI. “At this critical moment in time, we tackle three major factors contributing to violent conflict in the world: the largest migration of populations in the history of mankind, climate change, and economic inequality. Together with Rotary International’s extraordinary global network of committed volunteers, we hope to have the dangerous dialogues and courageous conversations that can make a difference, that can not only prevent violent conflict but also build thriving communities.”

MBBI’s members are at the center of a movement for global peacebuilding through advocacy, capacity building and consultations.

Rotary members take action to address underlying causes of conflict by providing access to clean water and sanitation, supporting education, preventing and treating disease, saving mothers and children and growing local economies. More than $221 million has been awarded over the past several years through The Rotary Foundation to support these programs. 

MBBI joins a list of Rotary service partners including, Ashoka, Habitat for Humanity, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, and Peace Corps

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 Mediators Beyond Borders International: MBBI’s mission is to build local skills for peace and promote mediation worldwide. Recognizing that the only lasting peace is the one built by those involved, MBBI advances the objectives of its 125 global partners by delivering services and enhancing skills for evidence-based context assessment, trauma-informed peacebuilding, post-conflict reconciliation and recovery, cross-sector and network collaboration, project design, implementation, evaluation and peacebuilding leadership that prioritizes the elevation of women and youth as leaders. Since 2007, more than 250 distinguished MBBI professional volunteer mediation, conflict transformation, trauma recovery and academic specialists have been catalyzing the success of local partners working to build a more peace “able” world in 33 countries on five continents. 

Contacts

Rotary: Chanele Williams 847-866-3466 chanele.williams@rotary.org  

MBBI: Steve Goldsmith ripartner@mediatorsbeyondborders.org 

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-partners-mediators-beyond-borders

Rotary gives millions in grants to fight polio 2018

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.

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“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. 

About Rotary

Rotary brings together a global network of community leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. We connect 1.2 million members from more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in almost every country in the world. Their service improves lives both locally and internationally, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Visit rotary.org and endpolio.org for more about Rotary and its efforts to eradicate polio.

Contact: Audrey Carl, audrey.carl@rotary.org, 847-866-3424


Pakistan turns badge of shame into success with new polio strategy. Read story.

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-gives-millions-grants-fight-polio-2018

2020 21 Rotary president selected

Sushil Kumar Gupta selected to be 2020-21 Rotary president

By Teresa Schmedding

Sushil Kumar Gupta, of the Rotary Club of Delhi Midwest, Delhi, India, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2020-21. He will be declared the president-nominee on 1 October if no challenging candidates have been suggested.

Gupta wants to increase Rotary’s humanitarian impact as well as the diversity of its membership.

“As individuals, we can only do so much,” Gupta said in a statement. “But when 1.2 million Rotarians work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve, and in the process, we can truly change the world.”

Gupta has been a Rotarian since 1977 and has served Rotary as district governor, training leader, and resource group adviser, and as a member, vice chair, or chair of several committees.

Sushil Kumar Gupta, of the Rotary Club of Delhi Midwest, Delhi, India, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2020-21. 

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the IIS University, Jaipur, in recognition of his contributions to water conservation.

He has also received the coveted Padma Shri Award, the fourth-highest civilian award in India, conferred by the president of India for distinguished service to tourism and social work.

Gupta has also received the Distinguished Service Award from The Rotary Foundation for his support of its humanitarian and educational programs. He and his wife, Vinita, are Major Donors to The Rotary Foundation and members of the Arch Klumph Society.

Gupta is chair and managing director of Asian Hotels (West) Ltd., and owner of Hyatt Regency Mumbai and JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity. He has served as president of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India and on the board of directors of Tourism Finance Corporation of India Ltd. He is the president of Experience India Society, a public-private partnership between the tourism industry and the government of India that promotes India as a tourist destination. He is also vice chair of the Himalayan Environment Trust and serves on the board of Operation Eyesight Universal in India.

The members of the Nominating Committee for the 2020-21 President of Rotary International are Kazuhiko Ozawa, Rotary Club of Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan; Manoj D. Desai, Rotary Club of Baroda Metro, Gujarat, India; Shekhar Mehta, Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India; John G. Thorne, Rotary Club of North Hobart, Tasmania, Australia; Guiller E. Tumangan, Rotary Club of Makati West, Makati City, Philippines; Juin Park, Rotary Club of Suncheon, Jeonranam, Korea; Elio Cerini, Rotary Club of Milano Duomo, Italy; Gideon M. Peiper, Rotary Club of Ramat Hasharon, Israel; Per Høyen, Rotary Club of Aarup, Denmark; Paul Knijff, Rotary Club of Weesp (Vechtstreek-Noord), Netherlands; Sam Okudzeto, Rotary Club of Accra, Ghana; José Ubiracy Silva, Rotary Club of Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil; Bradford R. Howard, Rotary Club of Oakland Uptown, California, USA; Michael D. McCullough, Rotary Club of Trenton, Michigan, USA; Karen K. Wentz, Rotary Club of Maryville, Tennessee, USA; Michael K. McGovern, Rotary Club of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA; and John C. Smarge, Rotary Club of Naples, Florida, USA.

https://www.rotary.org/en/2020-21-rotary-president-selected

A reason to smile

Since 1993, Rotarians in Chile and the United States have teamed up to provide life-altering reconstructive surgeries

By Diana Schoberg
Photos by Daniela Prado Sarasúa

Ricardo Román was shopping with his wife at a department store in Chile in 2012 when a woman in her early 20s approached him. He didn’t recognize her, he confesses through an interpreter, but there were two good reasons: He had last seen her more than a decade earlier – and her smile had changed drastically.

  1. Surgeons Lena Pinillos, left, and James Lehman, talk with a father about his child.

  2. The team evaluated 250 potential patients; the team selected patients based on need and the complexity of each surgery.

  3. A mother finishes paperwork for her son’s surgery.

  4. Lehman wears fanciful scrubs to get the kids to smile.

  5. Preparing for surgery.

  6. An anxious father waits on the floor in a hospital corridor; with so many surgeries, there are often more people than chairs. 

  7. Cleft lip and palate have a hereditary component, but their precise cause is unclear.

  8. During the February session, 82 patients underwent surgery. 

  9. A mother comforts her child.

  10. The team includes surgeons, nurses, an anesthesiologist, and a speech pathologist, as well as Rotaractors and Rotarians who handle logistics and translation.

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,’” he recalls, his voice full of emotion. “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.

She told me, ‘This is my Rotarian smile.’ It was a very gratifying moment.

Ricardo Román

Rotary Club of Reñaca, 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.

• Read more stories from The Rotarian

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotarians-across-continents-team-reconstructive-surgeries

Rotary People of Action

[unable to retrieve full-text content]https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-people-action

Reef revisited

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. 

• This story originally appeared in Philippine Rotary magazine

https://www.rotary.org/en/giant-rotary-wheel-haven-fish-philippines

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