News

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

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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

Rotary world gathers in Atlanta to celebrate 100 years

2017 Rotary Convention offers five days of inspiring speakers, exciting events, and opportunities to connect with club members from around the world  

By Arnold R. Grahl

Rotary’s biggest get-together of the year is underway. More than 33,000 members from 174 countries have gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, to renew friendships, find inspiration, and celebrate The Rotary Foundation’s 100 years of Doing Good in the World.

The Rotary Foundation Centennial bell, whose resounding clang marked the convention’s official start, was handcrafted in Italy by the Marinelli brothers.

The 2017 Rotary Convention’s opening ceremony took place Sunday at the Georgia World Congress Center, and included the presentation of the centennial bell. This special bell was forged at a 1,000-year-old foundry in Agnone, Italy, in honor of the Foundation’s centennial. The presentation marked the start of a five-day centennial celebration, which includes a book signing, a photo exhibit, and an enormous birthday party.

During the opening session, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal welcomed Rotary to Atlanta, and RI President John F. Germ emphasized opportunities for making connections during the convention.

“I hope that, as busy as all of you are going to be, you still make time for what might just be the most important part of every convention: meeting new people, and getting to know your fellow Rotarians,” Germ said.

Indian philanthropist Rajashree Birla, chair of the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development named for her late husband, pledged another $1 million for Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio. Birla has already contributed more than $10 million to the effort. Birla’s company, Aditya Birla Group, has revenues greater than $40 billion.

Over the next four days, attendees will also hear from Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about progress on our pledge to rid the world of polio. Ashton Kutcher, cofounder of Thorn, will be part of a panel discussion on human trafficking and the need to end modern slavery.  

Other speakers include WWE Superstar, actor, and Rotary polio ambassadors John Cena and golf icon Jack Nicklaus.

  • 33000.00

    convention attendees

  • 174.00

    countries and geographic areas represented

Monday through Wednesday, members will have the chance to attend breakout sessions where they’ll find inspiration for new service projects, polish their leadership expertise, and learn skills for building stronger clubs. Find the complete breakout session schedule  and slides from workshops.

Fellowship is the biggest part of any Rotary Convention, and the week wouldn’t be complete without Host Organization Committee  events welcoming attendees to Atlanta, showing off the city, and giving members a chance to get together and socialize. Check the committee’s site for the latest information.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that when two Rotarians get together, and start talking about service–there’s just no telling where that might lead,” said Germ. 

Follow all our convention coverage as the action happens. Find photos, videos, live blog posts, speeches, and more. And share your convention experience on social media with #Rotary17.

View Slideshow

Outgoing Rotary International President John Germ and his wife, Judy, reflect on their year in office and lessons learned from visiting Rotary projects around the world.

Highlights

Candlelight Vigil to End Slavery and Human Trafficking: Rotary members joined Atlanta residents at a candlelight vigil Saturday night to bring attention to human trafficking. The program featured Dorsey Jones, who told how she survived trafficking in metropolitan Atlanta. Participants observed a moment of silence for victims.

Walk/Run to End Polio Now: Rotary members took part in a 3K walk/run around Centennial Olympic Park Saturday morning to raise funds and awareness for Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio from the world.

House of Friendship: The House of Friendship opened with a grand parade on Saturday morning. The bustling hall is where the Rotary world comes together to share ideas, best practices, and project successes. 

Bill Gates, keynote speaker: Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will speak about our joint effort to eradicate polio.

Panel Presentation on the End of Modern Slavery: Ashton Kutcher, cofounder of Thorn, actor, entrepreneur, tech investor, producer, and philanthropist, will lead a panel discussion with Gary Haugen, CEO of International Justice Mission, and Bob Corker, U.S. Senator. 

“One Small Act: A Virtual Reality Experience”: Thousands will gather to watch Rotary’s new virtual reality film and participate in one of the largest ever simultaneous VR viewings. Rotarians will use Google’s virtual reality viewer, Cardboard, to join the extraordinary journey of a child whose world has been torn apart by conflict.

Jack Nicklaus, keynote speaker: Jack Nicklaus, golf icon, philanthropist, and Rotary ambassador for polio eradication, will speak about sports, philanthropy, and the fight to end polio for good.

The Rotary Foundation’s 100th Birthday Party: What’s a party without cake and ice cream? Guests will enjoy both as they celebrate the Foundation’s 100th birthday. 

Everyone you meet here this week, no matter how different they look, no matter where they’re from and what language they speak—everyone here is a part of your Rotary family. So don’t be shy. You might just find yourself a new friend, or your club a new partner. It all starts with a smile, and a hello—from one Rotarian, to another.

John F. Germ
 

Rotary International president

https://www.rotary.org/en/convention-2017-opens

Incoming Rotary president challenges clubs to make a difference 

By Ryan Hyland

View Slideshow

See photos from this year’s International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA.

Rotary International President-elect Ian H.S. Riseley made the case on Monday that protecting the environment and curbing climate change are essential to Rotary’s goal of sustainable service.

Riseley, a member of the Rotary Club of Sandringham, Victoria, Australia, unveiled the 2017-18 presidential theme, Rotary: Making a Difference, to incoming district governors at Rotary’s International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA.

Environmental degradation and global climate change are serious threats to everyone, Riseley said. “They are having a disproportionate impact on those who are most vulnerable, those to whom Rotary has the greatest responsibility. Yet environmental issues rarely register on the Rotary agenda,” he said.

“The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not Rotary’s concern. It is, and must be, everyone’s concern,” he said.

The president-elect challenged every Rotary club to make a difference by planting a tree for each of its members between the start of the Rotary year on 1 July and Earth Day on 22 April 2018. Trees remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air, which slows global warming.

“It is my hope that the result of that effort will be far greater than the environmental benefit that those 1.2 million new trees will bring,” Riseley said. “I believe the greater result will be a Rotary that recognizes our responsibility not only to the people on our planet, but to the planet itself.”

Securing Rotary’s future

In his address to the 2017-18 class of district governors, Riseley also urged clubs to improve their gender balance and lower the average age of their members.

Only 22 percent of Rotary’s members are women, up from 13 percent 10 years ago. At that rate, Riseley said, it will take another three decades for Rotary to achieve gender parity.

We know that we can do more together than we could ever hope to do alone.

“Three decades is far too long to wait to achieve a Rotary that reflects the world in which we live. We need to make it a priority now,” he said.

Noting that 103 of the 539 incoming governors are women, Riseley said they are the type of women we need in Rotary, “leaders who will help Rotary connect with, and represent, and better serve, all of the members of all our communities.”

Riseley also believes it is imperative that clubs find ways to attract and engage younger members. Today only 5 percent of reported members are under 40, and a majority of members are over 60, Riseley told the audience.

“Consider what Rotary stands to look like 10 or 20 years from now if we don’t get very serious, very soon, about bringing in younger members,” Riseley said.

Clubs will make a difference this year through their own decisions, said Riseley, but it will take teamwork on a global scale to move Rotary forward and secure its future.

“We know that we can do more together than we could ever hope to do alone,” he told incoming governors. “I ask you to keep that spirit of teamwork and cooperation always in your minds and to take it back with you to your districts.”

Speeches

2017-18 Presidential Theme Address (RI President-elect Ian H.S. Riseley) (PDF)

Your Partners for Change and Strategy (RI General Secretary John Hewko) (PDF)

Strategic Planning and Empowerment (RI Strategic Planning Committee Chair Stephanie Urchick) (PDF)

Focus for the Year (Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair-elect Paul A. Netzel) (PDF)

https://www.rotary.org/en/2017-18-ri-president-ian-hs-riseley-announces-his-presidential-theme

Bill Gates outlines final push to end polio

Rotary Convention keynote speaker spotlights historic fight, remaining challenges to reaching zero polio cases

By Ryan Hyland and Teresa Schmedding

Bill Gates, speaking on 12 June at the Rotary International Convention, highlighted the extraordinary progress that’s been made toward a polio-free world, along with challenges ahead. 

Speaking at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Gates reminded the audience of more than 22,000 attendees, who were given LED bracelets to wear, that the effort must continue and be strengthened before polio cases can be reduced to zero. 

[embedded content]

Calling the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) the “single most ambitious public health effort the world has ever undertaken,” Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reviewed the historic milestones of the fight. 

At each achievement, including regions of the world being declared polio-free, sections of the arena were lit up by the LED bracelets, making the attendees a part of the presentation. 

Gates thanked Rotary for being the catalyst and visionary partner for ending the paralyzing disease worldwide. “Rotary laid the foundation with its unwavering sense of purpose and its belief that anything is possible if you put your mind and body to it,” he said. 

Since the GPEI effort began, polio cases have dropped a staggering 99.9 percent, from nearly 350,000 cases a year to only five cases reported this year, a record low. The virus has been eliminated in all but three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. 

Gates noted that more than 16 million people who would otherwise have been paralyzed by polio are walking today. “The scale of this effort is phenomenal,” he added. 

“Polio is the thing I spend the most time on. Every day I look at my email to see if we have a new case,” Gates said. “I’m very inspired to be a part of this. I’m also very humbled.”

“It is this talent for generating new ideas, learning lessons, and adapting them to new circumstances that makes me optimistic we will get to zero,” Bill Gates said at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta.

John Cena, WWE Superstar, actor, and Rotary polio ambassador, emceed the pledging moment at the general session and applauded Rotary for its determination. “You were the trailblazers who wanted to prove to the world that this insurmountable task could be done,” Cena said.

Earlier in the day, leaders from countries all over the world joined Gates and Rotary in pledging new money toward filling the $1.5 billion gap in the funding that the GPEI estimates is needed to achieve eradication. Rotary announced that it is increasing its annual fundraising goal to $50 million. Since the Gates Foundation and Rotary began working together in 2007, the two organizations have raised nearly $1.5 billion for polio eradication efforts. 

Gates, who said his top priority for the last decade has been ending polio, acknowledged that challenges still lie ahead, especially in areas of conflict where polio remains endemic. “One of the toughest things to do is reach all the children who need the polio vaccine,” he said. “This is especially hard in conflict areas, because it is so difficult to build trust with all sides.”

But Gates also noted that Afghanistan, which still has areas of conflict, is nearly free of the virus. “That’s because the people running the [polio] program have helped build understanding that the only way to get rid of polio is to rise above political, religious, and social divisions.”

With fewer cases now than ever before, the surveillance and detection of the virus becomes more difficult. “To stop the virus completely, we have to know where it’s hiding,” said Gates. 

  • 1994.00

    the Americas were certified as polio-free

  • 2000.00

    the Western Pacific was certified as polio-free

  • 2002.00

    Europe was certified as polio-free

  • 2017.00

    we are down to just five cases in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan

A network of 146 labs worldwide tests about 200,000 stool samples for the poliovirus every year; 99.9 percent of them are negative. But that tiny percentage of positive results will help health officials focus immunization activities to prevent the virus from spreading. In addition, in countries where polio remains endemic, 125 environmental detection sites test sewage, because the poliovirus can survive in sewage for a short time. 

Innovations inspired by polio eradication efforts can now have wide-ranging benefits for other global health campaigns, Gates said. Techniques like community mapping, disease surveillance, and expanding the role of health workers will help health authorities detect and contain other infectious diseases, like Ebola. 

“That is what is so exciting about Rotary’s 30-year fight,” Gates told the crowd. “You are not only eradicating one of the worst diseases in history. You are also helping the poorest countries provide citizens with better health and a better future.”

[embedded content] https://www.rotary.org/en/bill-gates-rotary-convention

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