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After the storm

A year after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, local Rotary members continue to rebuild homes and lives

By Vanessa Glavinskas
Photos by Alyce Henson

Eladio Montalvo faced a stark choice: risk drowning in his one-story home or climb through a window into the house next door. It was under construction but had a second floor where he could escape the rising floodwaters. He boosted his dog through and scrambled in after him. The two huddled inside an upstairs bathroom for 22 hours while Hurricane Maria raged over Puerto Rico. With 155 mph winds and torrential rains, Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit the island in more than 80 years.  

After the storm, Montalvo went out to see what was left of the home he had lived in since 1958. The walls were standing, but the water inside had risen chest-high. Everything was destroyed. Without any family nearby, he had nowhere to go. He moved into his car. 

“But after the storm came the calm,” he says. “Good people came.”

Rivera greets Eladio Montalvo, who was forced to live in his car before the Mayagüez club helped him rebuild his home.

Faustino Rivera pats Montalvo affectionately on the shoulder. It’s September 2018, a year since Hurricane Maria, and Rivera and several other members of the Rotary Club of Mayagüez have stopped by to visit. Montalvo lives in a fishing town called El Maní outside the city of Mayagüez on the island’s west coast. He invites his guests inside to see the progress he has made adding a shower to his bathroom. There’s a pile of tiles that he plans to lay soon, and he has started painting the walls a light shade of blue. The home is neatly but sparsely furnished: a bed, a TV, and a few plastic bins, including one labeled camisas that has shirts and shorts tucked inside.

“He’s become my friend,” says Rotarian Orlando Carlo, who checks in on Montalvo almost every week.

The Mayagüez club paid $4,200 for the materials Montalvo used to add a second story to his home. Made of concrete, outfitted with hurricane shutters, and built high enough off the ground to avoid flooding, the new addition contains a small kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Montalvo did much of the work himself, calling on friends and neighbors skilled in construction when he needed help. 

To find people like Montalvo who needed help but didn’t qualify for reconstruction aid from the U.S. government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mayagüez club members worked with community leaders and screened each family. “We are trying to help those who really need help,” Carlo explains. “Those who can’t get it from anyone else.”

By the time Carlo met him, Montalvo had been living in his car for nearly six months. A local church leader introduced the two, hoping Rotarians could help Montalvo find permanent housing. “I could tell immediately that he was severely dehydrated from staying out in the sun and sleeping in his car,” Carlo says. “He seemed stunned and needed guidance on how to start rebuilding. We assured him we were there to help him.”

After the hurricane, Carlo was also living alone. His wife had gone to stay in Florida while he remained behind to run his construction business. But the lack of electricity and reliable communication meant his work projects were stalled, so he mostly spent his days volunteering. “It gave me a lot of time to help,” he says. His home survived the storm, but the shortage of gasoline meant he had to plan his trips carefully. He rationed bottled water and food, eating what he calls a “hurricane diet” of canned pasta or sausage and rice.

“We didn’t have power back until the end of October,” says Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade, president of the Mayagüez club. “We could use one bucket of water per day. My teenage daughter learned that water is the No. 1 thing you need. She could live without electricity and even without her cellphone, but not without water.”

Antonio Morales spreads a message of hope and resilience to at-risk youth through theater. His project, Teatro Por Amor, is now supported by a Rotary global grant.  “I like coming here because it’s an escape from my life,” says 16-year-old Annie, above left. Student Kelvin Tirado, right, sits next to actress Anoushka Medina, who runs the Santurce Teatro Por Amor group.

Mayagüez is home to 75,000 people and to the island’s second-oldest Rotary club after San Juan. In the past, the club carried out smaller projects, but the massive devastation caused by Maria motivated members to do more to help their neighbors, especially the very poor.

“I’ve been a Rotarian for 40 years, and I’ve never seen so much help come from other Rotary clubs,” Carlo says. After Hurricane Maria, clubs across the United States wired the Rotary Club of Mayagüez about $50,000 directly; more than half of that money came from the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle in California and a group of clubs in New York. As club treasurer, Rivera keeps track of every receipt and sends updates back to the donor clubs. A year after Maria, the club had helped 22 families repair their homes, mostly replacing roofs that were blown off by the hurricane.

Scanning the horizon from a hillside neighborhood nicknamed Felices Días — “Happy Days” — Carlo points out a less-than-happy sight: the many blue FEMA tarps that still stand in for permanent roofs. “There is still a lot of need here. This is not over,” he says. “But we are willing to continue to help as long as it takes.”

And for Montalvo’s part, he has remained optimistic in spite of all he went through. “Hurricane Maria gave me more than she took,” he says.

When Ken McGrath became president of the Rotary Club of San Juan in July 2017, he thought his most arduous task would be planning the celebration of the club’s centennial in 2018. Three months after he took office, Hurricane Maria hit. 

“While Maria was a major disaster,” McGrath says, “it had the beneficial effect of invigorating our club to show those in need the real meaning of Rotary.”

By the time he was able to get an internet connection and check his email, McGrath had received 200 messages from clubs around the world offering to help. Rotarians in Puerto Rico started distributing food and water every Saturday. Working with other clubs, they coordinated the distribution of 300,000 pouches of baby food. They even put dog food out for animals that had been left behind.

Once the immediate needs were under control, they started to think about long-term relief.

San Juan club members distribute mattresses in Villa Santo.

Photo by Gerry Cumpiano

“So much of the damage isn’t only to the infrastructure; it’s to the spirit,” says John Richardson, a member of the San Juan club and a past district governor. To address mental health after the hurricane, fellow member Bob Bolte suggested the club do something unconventional: apply for a grant to support youth theater.

Bolte had met Antonio Morales in 1995 when the San Juan club installed a library in the housing project where Morales grew up. He was impressed to see that Morales, who was just 14 at the time, was running a theater group for other kids living in his tough neighborhood.

“Theater saved my life,” says Morales, now a 37-year-old actor and director. “My father was a drug lord. My mother was a victim of domestic violence.”

Even though his father had forbidden him to pursue acting, Morales persuaded his mother to secretly take him to an audition at the public performing arts school. “Everything I learned at school, I brought back to the projects,” he says.

Eventually his theater group became an unlikely alternative to gangs in his neighborhood. “When boys reach a certain age, it’s very easy for them to join the drug gangs,” Morales says. “We told them, ‘Come join our club, not them.’ Even the leaders of the gangs supported me. They didn’t want their little brothers to follow in their footsteps.”

After the hurricane, Morales, who now runs the San Juan Drama Company and stars in a TV series called No Me Compares, started visiting housing projects with other actors to spread a message of hope and resilience to young people. “People were desperate. They were bored. They were depressed,” he says. “We decided to go into these communities to give love. We didn’t have aid kits, food, or water to give — but we had our theater experience. So we said, ‘Let’s go and make these people happy.’” With schools closed and the power out, teens turned out in droves.

When Bolte learned what Morales was doing, he suggested Rotary could help. “These theater groups provide almost a second family to a lot of the kids,” Bolte says. “I wanted to help him do this on a wider scale, across multiple neighborhoods.” A $99,700 global grant has allowed Morales to expand the project to four theater groups so far and to pay a stipend to the facilitators of each group. Funding for the grant came from Bob Murray, a former San Juan club member who now lives in Arizona, where he’s a member of the Rotary Club of Scottsdale. In December 2017, Murray gave $1 million to The Rotary Foundation for the recovery effort.

Morales calls the project Teatro Por Amor, or Theater for Love.

Every Wednesday, the Santurce Teatro Por Amor group meets on the second floor of Federico Asenjo school. The sounds of laughter and cheering can be heard from down the hall as students, ranging in age from 11 to mid-20s, perform an improv exercise. Five members of the group squat down in the front of the room, and when the director yells “arriba,” whoever stands up has to improvise a routine together. One boy stands up alone, so he takes off his shoe to pretend it’s a phone. He tells off the friend who “called,” and the room erupts in laughter and applause.

“You come here and you’re not in the streets,” says 18-year-old Nandyshaliz Alejandro, who lives in the same housing project where Morales grew up. This is her first theater experience. “This is one of the few things I actually look forward to.”

  1. Yolimar Feliciano and her younger brother walk along the only road in Rubias to fill containers with free, clean water at the local community center. 

  2. The Rotary Club of Yauco supplied the town with a solar-powered water filter.

  3. Maritza Osorio rests on a new mattress furnished by the San Juan club after her home flooded.

  4. Orlando Carlo shows what the house behind him looked like before the Rotary Club of Mayagüez supplied the family with a new roof. 

  5. Faustino Rivera reviews what the club has provided homeowner Sandra Acevedo.

Felix Juan Osorio lifts the corner of his mattress. The underside is rippled with brown water stains, and it smells of mold. One year after Hurricane Maria flooded the family’s home, the mattress is still wet, but they can’t afford a new one.

“I never thought mattresses would be the No. 1 request,” says Armand Piqué, a member of the Rotary Club of San Juan.

Piqué has been working in Loíza, a town not far from San Juan where the Osorio family lives, since he learned people in the area weren’t getting the help they needed.

“There are certain areas where it is difficult to get in if you don’t know someone,” Piqué explains, adding that drug trafficking can make it dangerous for strangers to enter certain parts of Loíza. The Villa Santo neighborhood is one of those areas. So Piqué worked with a community leader, Ángel Coriano, to find out what families needed. Coriano, who grew up in the area and now works for the Puerto Rico Department of Health, is the type of person who knows everyone.

“I was listening to what all these people were asking,” Piqué says. “And I thought, our club cannot provide everything that’s on this list. I need to find the thing that is most pressing, something that they really need.” Again and again, people brought up mattresses. Unlike other furniture, mattresses, once wet, don’t dry out. So far, Rotarians have distributed hundreds of mattresses across the island.

Before receiving her new mattress, Felix Juan Osorio’s neighbor, Maritza Osorio, had been sleeping on a damaged mattress, the springs poking her ribs. She suffers from pulmonary hypertension, and the lack of rest took a toll on her already fragile health. “I could hardly sleep,” she says. “Now I’m comfortable. I’m able to sleep, and I’m feeling better.”

It’s a bright, sunny morning in Rubias, a picturesque farming village in the mountains about 35 miles east of Mayagüez. In a few hours, that sun will begin to power a new water filter, providing the 100 families who live here with access to clean drinking water for the first time.

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-members-rebuild-after-hurricane-maria

Connecting the world

2019-20 RI president announces his presidential theme

By Arnold R. Grahl
Photos by Alyce Henson

Rotary International President-elect Mark Daniel Maloney explained his vision for building a stronger Rotary, calling on leaders to expand connections to their communities and to embrace innovative membership models.

RI President-elect Mark Maloney announces the 2019-20 presidential theme, Rotary Connects the World, to incoming district governors in San Diego, California, USA.

Maloney, a member of the Rotary Club of Decatur, Alabama, USA, unveiled the 2019-20 presidential theme, Rotary Connects the World, to incoming district governors at Rotary’s annual training event, the International Assembly, in San Diego, California, USA, on Monday.

“The first emphasis is to grow Rotary — to grow our service; to grow the impact of our projects; but, most importantly, to grow our membership so that we can achieve more,” Maloney said.

Maloney believes that connection is at the heart of the Rotary experience.

“(Rotary) allows us to connect with each other, in deep and meaningful ways, across our differences,” Maloney said. “It connects us to people we would never otherwise have met, who are more like us than we ever could have known. It connects us to our communities, to professional opportunities, and to the people who need our help.”

Maloney also called on every Rotary and Rotaract club to identify segments of their community not represented in their club by creating a membership committee with diverse members.  

“Through Rotary, we connect to the incredible diversity of humanity on a truly unique footing, forging deep and lasting ties in pursuit of a common goal,” he added. “In this ever more divided world, Rotary connects us all.”

Maloney urged leaders to offer alternative meeting experiences and service opportunities to make it easier for busy professionals and people with many family obligations to serve in leadership roles.

“We need to foster a culture where Rotary does not compete with the family, but rather complements it,” Maloney said. “That means taking real, practical steps to change the existing culture: being realistic in our expectations, considerate in our scheduling, and welcoming of children at Rotary events on every level.”

Maloney said many of the barriers that prevent people from serving as leaders in Rotary are based on expectations that are no longer relevant.

“It is time to adapt, to change our culture, and to convey the message that you can be a great district governor without visiting every club individually, and a great president without doing everything yourself.”

Relationship with the United Nations

During 2019-20, Rotary will host a series of presidential conferences around the world, focusing on Rotary’s relationship with the United Nations and the UN’s sustainable development goals that many Rotary service projects support. More information will be available in July.

In 2020, the United Nations will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its charter and its mission of promoting peace. Rotary was one of 42 organizations the United States invited to serve as consultants to its delegation at the 1945 San Francisco conference, which led to the UN’s charter. For decades, Rotary has worked alongside the United Nations to address humanitarian issues around the world. Today, Rotary holds the highest consultative status that the UN offers to nongovernmental organizations.

“Rotary shares the United Nations’ enduring commitment to a healthier, more peaceful, and more sustainable world,” Maloney said. “And Rotary offers something no other organization can match: an existing infrastructure that allows people from all over the world to connect in a spirit of service and peace and take meaningful action toward that goal.” 

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-international-president-maloney-theme-2019

Rotary peace fellow helps refugees fleeing Myanmar

Resources for refugees

Rotary peace fellow helps refugees fleeing Myanmar

Since August 2017, nearly a million Rohingya Muslim refugees have crowded into the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh, fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Women and children face particularly difficult challenges in the massive refugee camps, including lack of adequate shelter, health care, and educational resources, and an increased risk of sexual violence.

Sakun Gajurel worked in Italy and in her native Nepal with United Nations agencies before studying international development policy at the Rotary Peace Center at Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a part of her Rotary Peace Fellowship, Gajurel spent the summer of 2018 working in Cox’s Bazar with an organization called UN Women that provides direct aid to women in the refugee camps.

Illustration by Viktor Miller Gausa

Q: What are the greatest challenges in getting aid to Cox’s Bazar?

A: Close to 900,000 refugees crossed the borders in less than a year’s time. In monsoon season, things got worse. Tents built with a bamboo frame and tarpaulin cannot resist heavy rain or minor landslides. A few thousand shelters were destroyed every week in the aftermath of heavy rains. 

For humanitarian agencies, reaching everyone is another challenge due to poor road conditions. The sheer number of refugees makes effective support problematic.

Q: What problems do women and girls in particular face? 

A: Women and girls are more vulnerable to violence. In some crisis settings, more than 70 percent of women have experienced gender-based violence. Women often report challenges accessing sanitation and hygiene facilities at night or when they are menstruating. They face heightened risks as well as increased care-related tasks such as providing food and water for their families and caring for the sick.

Q: How do tradition and culture affect the ways assistance is provided?

A: Gender segregation is generally common among the Muslim Rohingya population. It is closely connected to the practice of purdah, or preventing women from being seen by men other than their husbands. Women and girls are expected to stay in the home and be close to their family, whereas men and boys are more present in the public sphere. 

Through multipurpose women’s centers, UN Women engages and empowers women. Women and girls can come to a center like the one in Cox’s Bazar and get information about the services and opportunities in the camps. About 20 women serve in the center in Cox’s Bazar as outreach workers. These are Rohingya women who talk to other women and bring their issues and challenges to the center as well as to meetings with camp officials.

Q: What kind of assistance is most needed?

A: Education is one of the greatest needs. The education partners in Cox’s Bazar have set up learning centers that provide three shifts of two-hour lessons. However, it is not enough. Men and women often express a desire to learn new skills. 

The UN has already announced that the Rohingya refugee crisis will be a protracted issue. History shows that once a refugee crisis becomes protracted, refugees often spend decades in the settlement camps. A long-term solution is necessary to ensure that a whole generation does not end up without education or opportunities to better their lives.

— Nikki Kallio

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-peace-fellow-helps-refugees-fleeing-myanmar

Rotary honors UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Rotary recognizes UK Prime Minister Theresa May with polio champion award

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. 

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.

“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. 

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. 

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-honors-uk-prime-minister-theresa-may

Tips for starting Rotaract club on college campus

6 tips for starting a Rotaract club on your campus

By Arnold R. Grahl

When Taylor Huie arrived to start her first year at Duke University in fall 2017, she was surprised to learn that the campus didn’t have a Rotaract club.

After all, Rotary’s program for young leaders started just 120 miles away in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. And Rotaract clubs did exist on many nearby campuses.

Huie grew up attending meetings of the Rotary Club of St. Joseph & Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA, with her mother, Jackie, a club member and the founder of a student mentoring program that has helped hundreds of teenagers clarify their career aspirations. Huie had already helped the Interact Club of St. Joseph High School grow to more than 140 members and served as its membership chair for three years and president for one year. She also took part in two Interact service trips to the Dominican Republic to install water filters.

Given her background, it was only a matter of time before Huie launched Duke’s first Rotaract club. More than 360 students responded to her Facebook invitation to join. In September, the Rotaract Club of Duke University received its charter.

“Because my family is so involved in Rotary, I feel like Rotary is part of who I am,” Huie says. “The idea of going off to college and not having Rotary was beyond my comprehension.”

The biomedical engineering major offers advice on how to start a university-based Rotaract club and what appeals to college students.

1. Start with Rotary clubs

Rotaract Club of Duke University secretary Ana Martinez and vice president Moses Makangila pass out information about the new club and answer questions during the University’s fall activities fair.

Photo coutesy of Rotaract Club of Duke University

Huie spent her first year at Duke getting to know the campus and the city of Durham, where the university is based, before filing paperwork to charter a club. She also attended meetings of several local Rotary clubs and connected with a member of the Rotary Club of Durham who agreed to serve as the new club’s adviser.

Huie says working with the local Rotary clubs gave her the foundation she needed to approach the university. “It shows you’ve done work behind the scenes; you already have support.”

2. Recruit an executive board

Having talked about Rotaract extensively with friends and classmates, Huie recruited a classmate who expressed interest in being vice president. And she asked friends she knew she could trust to serve as treasurer and secretary.

“I think it would be very difficult — if not impossible — for a person to do this on their own,” she says.

3. Prepare

During the summer between her first and second years at Duke, Huie read the Rotaract Handbook, the standard club constitution, and the recommended bylaws. She had her executive board read them as well. Huie already knew a lot about Rotary after having served as an Interact officer, but she spent time on Rotary.org adding to that knowledge and learning more about Rotaract. 

“You want to present your ideas in the best light possible,” she notes. “If someone has questions, you want to know how to answer them. It also shows you’re invested.”

4. Use social media

“Facebook is a really good resource for connecting people with Rotary,” Huie says. She used Duke’s Facebook pages for first- and second-year students to post her initial invitation to join. Her executive board also used Google Hangouts to spur further interest and answer questions. Huie says it’s important to make it clear what your club will do and how people can join. 

5. Use time wisely 

The Duke Rotaract club’s meetings are working meetings, where members split into groups to discuss projects and club business. 

“It’s important for college students, or young adults in general, to feel like they’re spending their time wisely,” she says. “They want to be actively engaged in doing something to better themselves and their community.”

6. Promote networking and mentoring 

Give members opportunities to network and find mentors. These are two benefits young adults seek, Huie says. The Duke University Rotaract club is working with Rotary and Rotaract clubs in the area to plan a career fair and may even launch a mentoring program like the one Huie’s mother started in St. Joseph.

“It’s not every day you have a club that connects you to 1.2 million people in the world who are all motivated to change the world for the better,” says Huie. 

https://www.rotary.org/en/tips-starting-rotaract-club-college-campus

5 reasons to give to Rotary on Giving Tuesday 2018

5 reasons to give to Rotary on Giving Tuesday

By Arnold R. Grahl

You have many choices where you donate this Giving Tuesday, 27 November. Why should Rotary be your charity of choice?

Here are five reasons to give to Rotary.

1. Accountability

Our accountability and transparency have earned The Rotary Foundation 11 straight years of four-star ratings — the highest possible — from independent evaluator Charity Navigator. Ninety-one percent 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 has caused cases to plummet from 350,000 in 1988 to only a handful this year. Rotary members have also achieved notable results in other areas, like eradicating Guinea worm disease in Ghana.

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

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 three-month 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.

https://www.rotary.org/en/5-reasons-give-rotary-giving-tuesday-2018

Honoring ingenuity

Rotary honors 6 who are changing the world

By Ryan Hyland
Photographs by Alyce Henson

Innovation was the theme at Rotary Day at the United Nations on 10 November. Nearly aMore than a thousand Rotary leaders, members, and guests from around the world met in Nairobi, Kenya, to hear about creative solutions to challenging world problems.

The annual event, held at the only UN headquarters in Africa, recognizes Rotary’s long-standing special relationship with the United Nations . UN officials and humanitarian experts inspired participants to find innovative strategies for addressing humanitarian needs both locally and globally.

View Slideshow

Nearly a thousand people attended Rotary Day at the United Nations in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday, 10 November 2018. The event honored young innovators and their role in creating change.

Six Rotaract and Rotary members age 35 or under were also honored as Rotary People of Action: Young Innovators. All of these leaders spoke about how they used ingenuity to launch efforts that brought about measurable and lasting results.

General sessions and workshops covered the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the technology revolution, and young people’s role in creating change. A special session on the environment emphasized the importance of sustainable development and suggested concrete actions that people of all generations can take to build a clean and healthy future.

For the first time, the event also featured an Innovation Fair where Rotary clubs, businesses, and other organizations exhibited projects and cutting-edge technology designed to address humanitarian challenges.

Keynote speakers included RI President Barry Rassin, who is a member of the Rotary Club of East Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas, and Sushil Kumar Gupta, Rotary International president-nominee and a member of the Rotary Club of Delhi Midwest, Delhi, India.

Rassin said the Innovation Fair inspired him to pair Rotary’s older generations’ resources  and experience with the energy and ideas of young people.

“We want to take you on as equals, as colleagues,” Rassin told the young audience members. “You bring to the table your ideas, your ambitions, your perspective on the world’s problems. We help you to enlarge your horizons, to think big, and to make your innovations practical.” 

He added, “Youth innovators and Rotary can make the impossible possible.”

With more young people in the world today than ever before — more than 50 percent of the population is under age 30   — it’s imperative for them to harness their talents, said Hanna S. Tetteh, director-general of the United Nations Office at Nairobi. 

“For a more peaceful and more sustainable world for all, we need the active participation and leadership of young people,” said Tetteh. “I’m grateful Rotary is representing that here today.”

  1. Albert Kafka, Albert Kafka , of the Rotaract Club of Wien-Stadtpark and Rotary Club of Wien-Oper, Austria, who launched Intarconnect, an online platform for establishing mentorships and encouraging service across generations, including helping to build houses for the poor. He was assisted in the project by Phillip-Sebastian Marchl, Peter Rabensteiner, and Rotary clubs in Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

  2. Charlie Ruth Castro, of the Rotary E-Club of Sogamoso Global, Boyacá, Colombia, who leads a program that teaches vocational and business skills to women in prison in Colombia. Castro, who visited prisons across Colombia for her project, said education is the way to empower women, even those who are imprisoned. “In prison, there are seeds of peace and reconciliation. We are teaching these women how to create a new beginning and how to use their skills to create innovation even with very few resources.” 

  3. Christina Hassan, of the Rotary Club of Calgary Fish Creek, Alberta, Canada, who launched the nonprofit FullSoul, which trains midwives and supplies safe, sterile childbirth equipment to hospitals in Uganda. Recounting her experience witnessing a mother die while giving birth in Uganda, Hassan emotionally spoke about how her project, with Rotary’s support, has safely helped 65,000 mothers deliver healthy babies. 

  4. Paul Mushaho, of the Rotaract Club of Nakivale, who organized a Rotaract club in a Ugandan refugee settlement; the club conducts service projects in the camp and fosters a sense of family among the refugees. “Our refugee community realized our local challenges needed local solutions. And that we can solve them ourselves,” said Mushaho. “We are not beggars, we are a generation of change and inspiration.”  

  5. Shadrack Nyawa, of the Rotary Club of Kilifi, Kenya, who traveled to remote areas of the country to supply toilets and handwashing stations to schools most in need.

  6. Ludovic Grosjean, of the Rotaract Club of Melbourne City, Victoria, Australia, whose Ocean CleanX company is developing technology to monitor pollution and remove it from waterways. Calling it a “scary statistic,” Grosjean noted that each year 8.8 million tons of plastic gets into the ocean, causing continual distress to marine life. “I always wanted to save the oceans. We have to stop the pollution at its source,” he said, adding that the effort must start with removing plastic from the land. 

 Watch a video of Rotary UN Day 2018

[embedded content]https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-un-day-2018-honors-innovators

Jack Nicklaus to play golf with Rotary donors

Play golf with legend Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus

Twelve generous supporters of Rotary’s polio eradication efforts will have the opportunity to play golf with legend Jack Nicklaus, a Rotary ambassador for polio eradication.

Nicklaus plans to thank the next 12 individuals who make a new donation of $250,000 or more to the PolioPlus Fund by inviting them to play golf with him at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida, USA, on 12 March 2019. There, donors will be divided into three groups of four, and each group will play 18 holes of golf – six with Nicklaus. Donors who prefer not to golf may allow one friend or family member to golf in their place.

Space is limited to the first 12 donors. To qualify, donors need to complete a gift intent form and make the full donation by 22 January 2019. Contact Harvey Newcomb III, director of principal gifts at The Rotary Foundation, for more information. Please see the gift intent form for details.

If they wish, the donors will also be inducted into the Arch Klumph Society in recognition of their support for Rotary’s polio eradication efforts.

https://www.rotary.org/en/jack-nicklaus-play-golf-rotary-donors

Rotary Foundation receives Charity Navigator rating for 11th year

Rotary Foundation receives highest rating from Charity Navigator for 11th year

By Rotary International

For the 11th consecutive year, The Rotary Foundation has received the highest rating — four stars — from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities in the U.S.

The Foundation earned the recognition for demonstrating both strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized,” says Foundation Trustee Chair Ron Burton. “It represents the hard work and dedication of countless Rotarians throughout the world.  They know their gifts will be used for the purpose for which they were given and that they will, indeed, make a real difference.”

The rating reflects Charity Navigator’s assessment of how the Foundation uses donations, sustains its programs and services, and practices good governance and openness.

https://www.rotary.org/en/rotary-foundation-receives-charity-navigator-rating-11th-year

World Polio Day lauds historic partnership, success 

Rotary and GPEI have put polio on the brink of global eradication

By Ryan Hyland
Photos by Monika  Lozinska

After 30 years of bold action, historic achievements, and sometimes discouraging setbacks, Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have nearly brought polio to an end. 

This groundbreaking public-private partnership and its innovative strategies were celebrated Wednesday during Rotary’s 6th annual World Polio Day event, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

  1. Dr. Ujala Nayyar, left, a WHO surveillance officer in Pakistan, discussed with Alex Witt about how thorough tracking of the wild polio virus will help eradicate the disease. 

  2. Ina Pinkly, celebrity chef and cookbook author, spoke about her experience of contracting polio and how she overcame obstacles to succeed. 

  3. Hundreds gathered to celebrate World Polio Day at at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

  4. Cable journalists Ashleigh Banfield, left, host of HLN’s “Crime and Justice,” and Alex Witt, host of “MSNBC Live With Alex Witt,” moderated the Rotary’s 6th annual World Polio Day on 24 October in Philadelphia, USA. 

Hundreds of people attended in person, including representatives of all five GPEI partners, and thousands more worldwide watched it live online. Cable news journalists Ashleigh Banfield, host of HLN’s “Crime and Justice,” and Alex Witt, host of “MSNBC’s “Weekends Live With Alex Witt,” moderated the event. 

Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Ron Burton began the program by noting that Philadelphia is where Rotary announced, at its international convention in 1988, that it doubled its fundraising goal of $120 million and raised $247 million.

The moment showed Rotary’s strength as an organization capable of tackling the challenge of ending the disease globally and spearheading one of the most ambitious public health initiatives in history, the GPEI. The other partners of the GPEI are the World Health Organization, UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“We knew then that the war against polio would be long, and it would have its challenges,” Burton said. “But we knew then, as we do now, that we could do it. Thirty years ago, I was proud to be part of the organization that took on the job, and the promise, of eradicating polio.”

Since its formation, the GPEI has trained and mobilized millions of volunteers and health workers, gained access to homes not reached by other health initiatives to immunize children, brought health interventions to underserved communities, and standardized timely global monitoring for polio cases and poliovirus, a process also known as surveillance. 

The results have been monumental. Thirty years ago, the paralyzing disease affected 350,000 children in one year. Because of massive vaccination campaigns around the world, cases have dropped more than 99.9 percent, to only 20 reported so far this year. Polio, which was endemic in 125 countries in 1988, now remains so in just three: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. More than 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated, and more than $14 billion has been invested in the fight to eradicate the disease worldwide. 

Lea Hegg, senior program officer of the vaccine delivery team at the Gates Foundation, gave an update on polio around the world. Despite tremendous progress, challenges remain before we can claim victory, she said in a video interview with Mark Wright, news host at an NBC television station in Seattle, Washington, USA. 

“The fact is in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where we are still seeing cases, we have tremendous challenges that we’re facing: conflict and insecurity,” Hegg said. “We have to come up with new ways to solve those problems.”

Hundreds gathered to celebrate World Polio Day at at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

She praised the brave polio workers who go to insecure areas to vaccinate children and also noted the importance of vaccination sites at transit posts outside these areas. 

Hegg added, “We still have the tools, we have the persistence, and we’re still really confident that we’ll get there.”

In a question-and-answer session with Witt, Dr. Ujala Nayyar, a WHO surveillance officer in Punjab, Pakistan, discussed the importance of tracking the ever-circulating virus. Nayyar said that health workers need to be a step ahead of the poliovirus to interrupt its transmission. She also noted that Pakistan has the world’s largest network for environmental surveillance of polio. 

“It’s a tough job. We have a network of government, private doctors plus informal health care providers, plus community mobilizers,” Nayyar said. “We are very confident on one thing — that we are detecting every polio case.” 

 Speakers also included award-winning chef, author, and polio survivor Ina Pinkney, who talked about her experience of the disease.  Jeffrey Kluger, senior editor at Time magazine, spoke about his recent experience traveling to Nigeria with Rotary to report on polio eradication.

Entertainment included a sneak peek from Rotary’s documentary “Drop to Zero” and a showing of its latest virtual reality film, “Two Drops of Patience.” 

Banfield highlighted several End Polio Now activities that clubs organized to raise awareness of polio and funds for eradication efforts, including a rally in Delhi, India, where 2,000 members drove cars or bikes decorated with informational flags and stickers through the city. In Egypt, Rotary members hosted an End Polio Festival, which included a road race, a blood drive, and a concert that attracted thousands. 

Rotary has contributed more than $1.8 billion to polio eradication since it started its PolioPlus program in 1985. The effort got a boost in August when Rotary announced it would provide an additional $96.5 million in grants to increase immunizations and surveillance.  Most of the funds were allocated to the three countries where polio remains endemic; Afghanistan ($22.9 million), Nigeria ($16.1 million), and Pakistan ($21.7 million). The rest was spread across 12 countries in Africa that are vulnerable to polio. 

Rotary has also committed to raising $50 million a year over a three-year period for eradication activities. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match up to that amount 2-to-1, which could bring the total as high as $450 million. 

https://www.rotary.org/en/world-polio-day-2018-lauds-partnership

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