Month: April 2018

Rotary website wins Webby Award wins Webby People’s Voice Award

By Rotary International

The people have spoken. With a majority of internet user votes, won the prestigious Webby People’s Voice Award for best association website. The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences announced the winners on 24 April.

Rotary International’s revamped website has been chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences as one of the best association websites in the world.

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

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

Rotary was also nominated for a Webby Award whose winner is chosen by the academy. That award went to the Macau Design Biennial.

Thanks to everyone who voted!

Watch the Webby Awards ceremony on 15 May.

Former First Lady Laura Bush to speak at Rotary convention

Former First Lady Laura Bush to speak at Rotary convention

Former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush, an advocate for literacy, education, and women’s rights, will speak at the 2018 Rotary Convention in Toronto this June. 

Laura Bush

For decades Mrs. Bush has fought for key national and global issues including launching groundbreaking education and healthcare programs in the U.S. and abroad. She founded both the Texas Book Festival and the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. As chair of the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, Mrs. Bush continues her work on global healthcare innovations, empowering women in emerging democracies, education reform, and supporting men and women who have served in the U.S. military. 

Women’s healthcare also has been a central issue for Mrs. Bush. Because heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women, she partnered with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to launch The Heart Truth campaign and Red Dress project. The Heart Truth raises awareness among women about their risk for heart disease. 

Mrs. Bush is the author of the bestselling memoir, Spoken From the Heart, and bestselling children’s book, Our Great Big Backyard. She serves on several boards including the National Advisory Board for the Salvation Army, the Council for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Board of Trustees for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Southern Methodist University Board of Trustees. 

Learn more about the Toronto Convention

Rotaract clubs honored for excellent service 2018

Top Rotaract honor goes to club that empowers women who have HIV

Rotaract clubs around the world earn awards for excellent service

By Arnold R. Grahl

The 2018 Rotaract Outstanding Project Award recognized the Rotaract Club of Edulink International Campus, Western Province, Sri Lanka, for a project that teaches entrepreneurial skills to women with HIV to empower them to earn a living.

The club created the Dream Store online platform, where the women can sell products they make and have their earnings go straight to their bank accounts. After meeting with the women to assess their abilities, the club partnered with local experts and Rotarians to expand the women’s skills or teach them new ones. The women also received training in basic business and personal finance.

The club arranged with several leading companies, including the largest gift shop in Sri Lanka, to carry the women’s products to ensure they had a customer base. The club hopes it can remove some of the stigma around HIV and AIDS by allowing the women to showcase their talents, giving people a way to support them through commerce, and holding events aimed at educating the public about the disease. 

“Before, these women were unemployed, because nobody would provide them jobs,” says Nipun Peiris, past president of the club. “They had no choice but to beg on the street.” 

The recognition “confirms our hard work and the obstacles we overcame,” he says. “I am very proud of what we have achieved.” 

Rotaractors assemble food boxes for Rise Against Hunger during the European Rotaract Conference. 

The award for best multidistrict project went to the European Rotaract Information Centre, a multidistrict organization that promotes collaboration and development of service projects among 115 districts and 24,000 Rotaractors in more than 45 countries. The organization compiles project descriptions and uploads them to a library, where results can be shared. A “twinning accelerator” serves as a search engine to connect clubs with mutual interests in service and friendship.

For this year’s awards, more than 470 projects were nominated in 59 countries. In addition to the best single-club project and multidistrict project, the awards recognized outstanding service projects in each of six geographical regions. The best single-club project and best multidistrict project receive $1,000 each for future service activities, and members are invited to inspire other Rotaractors and Rotarians at the Rotaract Preconvention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The following clubs also earned awards for the best service projects in their regions.

Asia Pacific: Rotaract Club of Makati San Miguel, Philippines 

With the Mini-Hackathon and PechaKucha Project, the Rotaract Club of Makati San Miguel, Makati City, Philippines, brought together information technology professionals, business leaders, coaches, and community members to develop new apps that would solve community problems. Three prototypes were tested and proved to be functional at the event, and they continued to be developed afterward. One app allows users to find hospitals, evacuation sites, and fire stations during an emergency. Another app builds résumés for participants at a job fair and connects them with compatible employers. The third app reroutes supply trucks during a flood to reduce response times.

South Asia: Rotaract Club of The Caduceus, Maharashtra, India 

Members of the Rotaract Club of The Caduceus, India, coordinate a medical check-up for families of workers involved in the coal and mining industry.

The Rotaract Club of The Caduceus, Maharashtra, India, launched the Ground Reality Journey project to combat the negative impact of coal mining in their community. After working with local organizations, the government, and villagers, they offered medical examinations, installed waste segregation systems, conducted health education seminars, planted trees, and raised money for school improvements.

Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia: Rotaract Club of Hippocrate, Morocco

Students celebrate after receiving their bicycles from the Rotaract Club of Hippocrate. Before, the students had to walk 10 kilometers a day to school.

After learning that students in the rural community of Imintlit, Morocco, typically had to walk 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to school, resulting in a high dropout rate, the Rotaract Club of Hippocrate, Morocco, launched Action Velos, a program to raise money to buy bicycles and distribute them to the students. Within a year, the dropout rate had decreased from 45 percent to 23 percent.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Rotaract Club of St Jude’s Arusha, Tanzania 

Youth receive training in entrepreneurial and job skills as part of the Rotaract Club of St Jude’s Arusha’s project to empower unemployed youth to find jobs.

The Rotaract Club of St Jude’s Arusha, Tanzania, led workshops for 12 unemployed youth as part of the project Rotary Vijana Poa, teaching them a variety of job skills as well as how to make soap and juice. With the help of Rotarians, the club then placed the youth in three-month paid internships with local businesses. Six youth were employed by the businesses at the end of the program, and two started their own businesses to serve the community.

Latin America: Rotaract Club of Belo Horizonte-Leste, Minas Gerais, Brazil 

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The Rotaract Club of Belo Horizonte-Leste, Minas Gerais, Brazil, partnered with community members and volunteer teachers on Doareduca, a project that offered college entrance courses and exams to students preparing for college. The students also took part in extracurricular activities like visiting museums and art galleries.

USA, Canada, and Caribbean: Rotaract Club of New Kingston, Jamaica 

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The Rotaract Club of New Kingston, Jamaica, partnered with Rotarians and health professionals on its Back to School Medical project, which provided free medical exams, dental cleanings, and eye screenings for students returning to school in several underserved communities. Parents also received education on a variety of health topics.

Rotary members plant red mangrove trees

Rotarians planted 50 mangrove seedlings during the planting day. “This is our version of planting one tree per member of each club,” says Adrian White, a member of the Rotary Club of East Nassau. “When the sea levels go down, you’ll see our work. When sea levels go up our work will still be there, protecting our country.”

Final Exam

From practicality to reality 

Clanton’s reticence is standard ShelterBox procedure. 

When I visited Cornwall, the organization wouldn’t allow me to see all aspects of its training, such as the nightly debriefing sessions. Nor was I allowed to report on everything I did see. 

Keeping the lid on certain particulars of its training regimen is a key element of the program’s success. Going into a deployment, ShelterBox responders have no idea what surprises they might encounter. Neither, reasons ShelterBox, should its trainees as they approach their final exam. As Clanton puts it, “You need to be you reacting in those situations.”

Still, having seen the training procedures up close, and without tipping ShelterBox’s hand, here is what I would tell a candidate heading to the dismal barrens of Cornwall.  Expect to eat little and sleep even less. Expect bad breaks and worse weather. Expect disquiet piled upon dread. Expect the trainers and shadows to both teach and test. Most of all, expect the unexpected – and then expect more of the unexpected immediately on its heels.

That’s part of the rigor of the final exam. It’s a ShelterBox tactic – simulating what so often happens in real life – to follow up a dramatic, even dangerous situation with, say, a simulated high-pressure meeting with key representatives from the United Nations or some other humanitarian organization. 

No matter what they’ve just endured, trainees must succinctly answer detailed queries, while asking essential questions of their own. 

“You really have to stay focused,” says Morris. “You can’t be on autopilot. It was very taxing.” Even mundane tasks can take an unexpected twist, as when a police chief agrees to provide a necessary visa only if the trainees guarantee tents to police officers who have lost their homes in a flood, a violation of ShelterBox policy. 

Along the way, trainees also acquire some advanced medical skills. “We get experienced medical providers to do really visceral training in a range of scenarios we hope to never experience,” says Jones. “But we know that if they do occur, our responders will be able to deal with them when they are on deployment.”

Another scenario, set at a temporary shelter, prompted an unexpected emotional response from an Australian woman whose learning curve demonstrated just how effective the ShelterBox training can be. That’s a story I can tell you. 

  1. During a late-night exercise Rotaractor Katelyn Winkworth, right, goes over tasks with her teammates.

  2. Winkworth reacts to the latest exercise instructions. The amount of information the teams needed to grasp during the training was dense.

  3. Winkworth slips poles into a ShelterBox tent. It’s one of the first steps to setting up a tent. 

  4. Winkworth reads her security document during a late-night exercise. 

  5. Winkworth thinks about her team’s strategy for the next day’s training activities.  

  6. Winkworth prepares a ShelterBox tent during one of the last exercises. ShelterBox trainers judged how effectively the teams could put up a tent. 

Katelyn Winkworth inherited from her parents a zeal for performing good deeds. The president of the Rotaract Club of Brisbane Rivercity, the 27-year-old travels around Australia as a health promotion officer working with indigenous people. 

“I go into rural communities, figure out some of the big health issues, and design programs to address those issues,” she says. “It can be pretty tough, but it’s rewarding.”

ShelterBox seemed a natural fit for Winkworth except for one problem: She lacked self-confidence.  

“At every stage (of the vetting process), I thought, ‘I’m not going to make it through.’ And then I’d make it through, and then I’d think, ‘Not this round.’ When I got to the first day of (the four-day assessment) training, I thought: ‘No, I should just pack up and go home. This is stupid. I’m not going to be chosen.’”

Colin Jones understands how the assessment – and the Cornwall session – can be overwhelming. 

“We run exercise after scenario after exercise that really pushes the candidates,” he explains. “After every exercise, we get them to debrief and offer feedback to each other, and that becomes second nature. Those who perform well are the ones who can take that feedback and use it the next time.”

That’s what happened with Winkworth. 

“I’m not somebody who’s usually outspoken or opinionated or takes a lot of leadership,” she explains. “I spent the first day and a half (of the four-day assessment) wanting to contribute more but holding back. And then, on the second night, they gave me a large leadership position. It was actually then that I realized, ‘Oh, people will listen to me.’ Or, ‘I can make good choices that people will back.’ My self-doubt (receded) into the background. If I hadn’t been given that opportunity, I wouldn’t have realized that. I impressed myself. I thought, ‘Oh, I can do this, which is really lovely.’” 

And that’s how she landed an invitation to Cornwall.

Winkworth’s team would often times huddle together to give each other words of encouragement and support. This helped with the team dynamic says Winkworth. 

Midway through the course, Jones designated Winkworth as her team’s leader. “I struggled at first,” she recalls. “There’s fear, excitement, and a lot of anxiety when you’re responsible for a team and the direction it takes and the decisions that are made. We were really tired, and I found it very difficult to communicate clearly and concisely.”

But as the days passed and previously learned lessons kicked in, the team’s ability to collaborate improved. 

“Being able to pull together in a group quickly is something that has to be learned,” Winkworth says. “We got better at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of our group.”

She also found herself emotionally engaged when her team visited a university repurposed as a temporary shelter for 500 people. 

In this scenario, the space was overcrowded, bathroom facilities were inadequate, and there was little food. 

“It really brought home to me what it’s like to be in the field, seeing distraught people who have had everything taken away from them: their families, the people they love, their homes. I got very choked up, even though it was a scenario,” she says.

Her response reveals Winkworth’s prime motivation. 

“The concept that everybody has dignity is important to me, as is helping them retain their dignity on the worst day of their life,” she says. “To be able to take that into a disaster and enable people to take control of their life again – that’s something I admire and want to be involved in.”

After 10 long days, the training concludes. The ShelterBox candidates are exhausted, and, having subsisted over the past few days on meager rations called “rat packs,” they’re hungry. 

The ordeal has taken a toll, and not just on the trainees. As he presents the candidates with their ShelterBox Response Team ID cards – because, yes, all of them have passed the final exam – Colin Jones appears to be holding back tears. His tough-guy veneer has vanished.

A few months later in Australia, Katelyn Winkworth awaits her first assignment.

ShelterBox dispatched Wes Clanton to Madagascar in January after a cyclone killed more than 50 people and displaced 54,000. And in late February, Ned Morris flew to the Dominican Republic and Barbuda to spend three weeks evaluating the response to hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

“I’m nervous and excited,” he said before departure. “More important, I’m ready.”

Rotary 2017 peace champions

Ann Frisch, a member of the Rotary Club of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, USA — Frisch believes unarmed civilians can protect people in violent conflicts. She collaborated with Rotary members in Thailand to establish the Southern Thailand Peace Process training program in 2015 in Bankok, Hat Yai, and Pattani in southern Thailand. The group brought together electrical and irrigation authorities, Red Cross staff, a Buddhist monk, and a Catholic nun to this border region to train civilians to build so-called safe zones. These are areas in which families, teachers, and local officials do not have to confront military forces every day. 

Frisch, a UN delegate to Geneva, co-wrote the first manual on unarmed civilian protection, which was endorsed by the UN. Her training in a civilian-based peace process is administered by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, the department that trains all UN personnel.

A mission born of tragedy

After fleeing conflict in their own countries, a group of young Rotarians is healing wounds and bringing cultures together in a Ugandan refugee settlement

By Jonathan W. Rosen
Produced by Kate Benzschawel

It’s Monday morning in one of Uganda’s largest refugee settlements, Nakivale, and the line at Paul Mushaho’s shop is out the door.

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Mushaho has lived in Nakivale since 2016, when he fled violence in his native Democratic Republic of Congo. After receiving death threats, he crossed into Uganda and joined a friend in the 184-square-kilometer settlement that serves as home to 89,000 people.  

The soft-spoken 26-year-old, who has a university degree in information technology, runs a money transfer service out of a wooden storefront that doubles as his home.

Business is booming because he offers his clients – other refugees from Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, and South Sudan – the ability to receive money via mobile phone from family and friends outside Uganda.

He also exchanges currency, and his shop is so popular that he often runs out of cash. On this day, he’s waiting for a friend to return with more money from the nearest bank, two hours away in the town of Mbarara. 

Sitting behind a wooden desk, armed with his transactions ledger and seven cell phones, Mushaho grows anxious. He’s not worried about missing out on commission – he’s worried about leaving his clients without any money.

“I don’t like making my customers wait,” he says, looking out onto the lively street of tin-roofed stores, women selling tomatoes and charcoal, a butcher shop displaying a leg of beef, and young men loitering on motorcycles. “There’s nobody else around who they can go to.”

  1. Paul Mushaho organized a team of volunteers and formed a Rotaract club in Nakivale, Uganda, to give refugees something constructive to do.

    Photos by Emmanuel Museruka

  2. Paul Mushaho organized a team of volunteers and formed a Rotaract club in Nakivale, Uganda, to give refugees something constructive to do.

    Photos by Emmanuel Museruka

  3. Paul Mushaho organized a team of volunteers and formed a Rotaract club in Nakivale, Uganda, to give refugees something constructive to do.

    Photos by Emmanuel Museruka

  4. Paul Mushaho organized a team of volunteers and formed a Rotaract club in Nakivale, Uganda, to give refugees something constructive to do.

    Photos by Emmanuel Museruka

As a young entrepreneur who is intent on improving the lives of others in his community, Mushaho is in many ways the quintessential member of Rotaract, the Rotary-sponsored organization for leaders ages 18 to 30. 

Yet his story and that of his club are far from ordinary. Established in late 2016, and officially inaugurated last July, the Rotaract Club of Nakivale is the first official Rotaract club based inside a refugee settlement or camp.

Its founding, and the role it has played in the lives of its members and their fellow Nakivale residents, is a tale of young people who’ve refused to let conflict stifle their dreams; of a country that sees the humanity in all the refugees who cross its borders; and of a spirit of service that endures, even among those who’ve experienced unspeakable tragedy.

A place where refugees are welcome

  1. Refugees fleeing war, genocide, and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses, and can move freely around the country.

  2. Refugees fleeing war, genocide and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses and can move freely around the country.

  3. Refugees fleeing war, genocide and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses and can move freely around the country.

  4. Refugees fleeing war, genocide and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses and can move freely around the country.

  5. Refugees fleeing war, genocide and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses and can move freely around the country.

  6. Refugees fleeing war, genocide and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses and can move freely around the country.

  7. Refugees fleeing war, genocide and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses and can move freely around the country.

  8. Refugees fleeing war, genocide and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses and can move freely around the country.

  9. Refugees fleeing war, genocide and persecution find safety in Nakivale. New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and run businesses and can move freely around the country.

If Nakivale doesn’t sound like a typical refugee camp, that’s because it isn’t one.

Covering 184 square kilometers and three distinct market centers, Nakivale feels like anywhere else in rural southwestern Uganda, an undulating land of banana trees, termite mounds, and herds of longhorn cattle. 

Nakivale blends in with its surroundings in part because it’s been here since the 1950s, when it was established to accommodate an influx of refugees from Rwanda during a flare-up of pre-independence violence there. 

Over the years, its population has ebbed and flowed as it accommodated those seeking refuge from a variety of regional conflicts, including civil war in South Sudan, violent state collapse in Somalia, and rebellions and armed militias that continue to terrorize eastern Congo, the area that accounts for the majority of Nakivale’s current residents. 

Many have been here for a year or two, others for decades, but most consider Nakivale home. 

Unlike other governments in the region, Ugandan authorities grant new arrivals plots of land for farming, as well as materials to erect a basic house, so they can move toward self-reliance. Refugees also have access to free primary education for their children and permission to work so they can contribute to the economy.

Uganda hosts more than 1.5 million refugees within its borders and allows all registered refugees to move about at will. If they can do business in cities or towns, the logic goes, there’s no reason they should be trapped elsewhere. 

“They’re going about their lives just like you and me,” says Bernad Ojwang, Uganda country director for the American Refugee Committee  (ARC), which works closely with the Rotaract club in Nakivale. 

Although an abundance of arable land allows for the nation’s liberal refugee policy, he explains, the system also reflects a high-level belief that refugees can be assets rather than liabilities.

“Uganda has realized that the sooner a country looks at refugees not as a burden but as an opportunity,” he says. “It changes a lot of things.” 

A change maker’s idea

This mindset — of refugees as catalysts for change — ultimately led to the Rotaract club’s founding. 

Mushaho learned about Rotaract after entering a competition in 2016 organized by the American Refugee Committee (ARC) for the young people of Nakivale. 

The competition, co-sponsored by Uganda’s office of the prime minister, challenged young residents in the settlement to propose business plans or innovations that could improve lives. 

Out of nearly 850 entries, Mushaho’s proposal – a beekeeping business that would sell honey – was among 13 winners. They each would receive a small amount of seed money and present their ideas to a wider audience in Kampala, the nation’s capital. 

More than 60 Rotarians attended the Kampala event in October 2016, including Angela Eifert, a member of the Rotary Club of Roseville, Minnesota, USA, and an ARC engagement officer, and then Rotary president-elect Sam F. Owori.

Eifert, who first visited Nakivale in 2014, had previously proposed creating an Interact club for 12- to 18-year-olds to help engage its large population of young people. After the event, she mentioned her idea to Owori, who embraced it with one modification: He believed the 13 winners could become leaders in their community, so he proposed a Rotaract club.

“He told me, ‘I was once a Rotaractor,’” Eifert says. “When he saw these young people on stage, he felt they were ideal Rotaractors. He loved their ideas. He saw they had talent and potential, and thought we should be getting behind them.”

Leaders from the Rotary Club of Kiwatule in Kampala and Eifert’s Minnesota club agreed to be co-sponsors. 

The duo then approached Mushaho about serving as the new club’s president. Of the 13 winners, he’d stood out to them. Humble and charismatic, he also spoke fluent English, had helped the other winners communicate their ideas, and appeared eager to assist the wider Nakivale community. Mushaho and another winner, Jean de Dieu Uwizeye, hosted the Nakivale Rotaract club’s first official meeting that November.

“He was really into it,” says Eifert, who began texting regularly with Mushaho. “He was learning everything he could about Rotary. I think it gave him a great deal of reward and purpose.”

Bettering the settlement

  1. Rotaractors and Rotary members help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  2. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  3. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  4. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  5. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  6. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  7. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  8. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  9. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  10. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

  11. Rotaractors help new arrivals by giving out clothes, sugar, and soap.

For all of Nakivale’s advantages over more traditional refugee camps, daily life remains a struggle for many. 

Families are encouraged to farm the land they’re given, but many rely for months, or even years, on UN food assistance. Rations have decreased recently because of a shortage of global funding. 

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Barious Babu, a 27-year-old Rotaractor from eastern Congo helps young people navigate the daily struggles of refugee life and provides entertainment and dancing with performances by his All Refugees Can Band. 

Children in the settlement have access to free primary education, but few families can afford the fees for secondary school – a situation that contributes to high levels of youth idleness, early marriage, alcohol abuse, and domestic and gender-based violence. Even simple boredom, particularly among a population that’s lived through conflict, can be crippling.

Mushaho says he often sees young people loitering around his shop. “They sit for hours, just thinking, and many of them are traumatized. Others just sleep from morning until night.”

The Rotaract club’s first project, launched in 2017, was designed to help Nakivale’s new arrivals, many of whom had endured harrowing journeys to escape violence. 

About 30 new families arrive every day. They sleep in rows of tents, which are periodically overrun with bedbugs and cockroaches. After hearing reports of an infestation, the Rotaractors pooled their modest savings and, with assistance from ARC, purchased chemicals and sprayers to fumigate the area. Additional projects quickly followed.

Nakivale Rotaractors fund most of their projects with their own money. Martin Rubondo, left, and Jean Lwaboshi spend their mornings making bricks, which they sell to raise money to fund music lessons for refugees. Jean and Patrick Sabag, below, practice. 

Over the past year, club members have visited the elderly, orphans, and people living with albinism, who face cultural stigmas in the region. Often the Rotaractors bring highly coveted items, such as sugar and soap. 

To promote girls’ empowerment, the club also has co-sponsored a jump-rope contest for girls that featured cash prizes. To promote interaction among refugees of different nationalities, they organized a soccer tournament with eight teams from across the settlement.

The Roseville club provided support to both projects, donating soccer balls and hygiene products for the Rotaractors to distribute. 

Much of the Nakivale club’s community outreach, however, is self-funded. Members have earned money by raising and selling chickens, and even participated in a 5K race, held in conjunction with World Refugee Day in June 2017, which brought in online donations. 

“We don’t want to have to call someone every time, asking for support,” says Uwizeye, a computer scientist who fled his native of Burundi in 2015 to avoid being forced into a youth militia. “It’s better to show someone I’ve raised some money on my own – and then maybe ask them, ‘Can you top up?’”

Several Rotaract members have been mentoring other young people in the camp. Alex Ishingwa trains fellow refugees in masonry and helps them bid for local contracts. Byamana Bahati, a dressmaker, trains apprentices at her shop, a short walk from Mushaho’s. 

One club member, Jean Lwaboshi, a musician with several love ballads posted on YouTube, spends his mornings making bricks with fellow Rotaractor Martin Rubondo. From their earnings, the two have bought guitars and now give performances and lessons to other young people. “It’s a rewarding feeling to support others through music,” Lwaboshi says.

Mushaho keeps an eye out for refugees who could benefit from the club’s assistance. Recently, when one of his customers approached him about starting a farming project, he helped the woman and a group of friends find a plot of land and connected them to ARC, which provided seeds, fertilizers, and watering cans. 

“We appreciate so much that others are thinking of us,” says Ange Tutu, one of the project’s beneficiaries, while tending to her new rows of tomato plants. 

Forging a Rotary family

  1. Members of the Rotaract Club of Nakivale have become like family.

  2. Members of the Rotary clubs of Kiwatule and Mbarara support the Nakivale Rotaract club.

  3. Praise Tindiweegi, of the Rotary Club of Mbarara works with Rotaractor Martin Rubondo to gather supplies for new arrivals to the refugee settlement.

  4. Rotaract Club President Paul Mushaho discusses community needs with visiting Rotary members from Mbarara and Kampala.

  5. Liliana Zaina Musonga shares her plans to mentor children through a fashion show project.

  6. Agnes Seruyange, a member of the Rotary Club of Kiwatule, works hands-on in the Nakivale settlement.

  7. Frances Xavier Sentamu, a member of the Rotary Club of Kiwatule, talks to Rotaractors during a visit.

  8. Rotary member Gorettie Kyeyune Bamwine works with Rotaractor Jean Lwaboshi to prepare items for distribution. 

In addition to its own projects, the Nakivale club has galvanized Uganda’s Rotarians to help refugees. 

The Rotary clubs of Kiwatule and Mbarara, the closest large town to the settlement, advise and assist with projects. The Kiwatule club has sponsored individual Rotaractors to attend training events and other leadership activities across Uganda. Members of both clubs have donated clothes and other necessities that the Rotaractors deliver to Nakivale residents. 

Rotary clubs in Uganda are planning to do more, says a member of the Kiwatule club. In October, local Rotary leaders signed a memorandum of understanding with the office of the prime minister to helping refugees in other settlements and possibly form additional Rotaract clubs.

Several of Uganda’s Rotary clubs are planning to improve refugees’ access to water, sanitation, hygiene, and basic education. 

Rotaractors support their own projects by raising chickens to fund projects. Byamana Bahati, a dressmaker, trains apprentices at her shop. 

For Sentamu, the desire to help refugees comes in part from his own experience with conflict. Aside from pockets of the north, most of Uganda has been at peace for the last three decades. Yet the country experienced multiple violent upheavals during the 1970s and 1980s. As a child, Sentamu spent several nights hiding in the bush during the guerrilla war that ultimately brought the current president, Yoweri Museveni, to power. 

“I have a bit of a feeling for what they’ve gone through,” he says. “Though when you have a person who’s outside their country, who has no idea if or when they’ll go back home, it’s much tougher. The fact that they have gone through that hardship and are willing to offer a little bit of their resources to make others more comfortable is so encouraging.”

After an initial surge in the Nakivale club’s membership, which peaked at more than 40 people, the number of active members has fallen to roughly 20 over the last year. Uwizeye attributes the drop to a misunderstanding: Some thought the Rotaract club was a job opportunity rather than a service group. 

The departure of less dedicated members, however, has left the core group of Rotaractors more unified. Many lost relatives to violence or had to leave family behind, and the relationships they have formed in the club are helping them cope. 

“All these people are like family,” Mushaho says. “The people in the club become replacements for those people they have lost.”

Rotary website singled out for international excellence nominated for prestigious Webby Awards — help us win

By Ryan Hyland has been nominated for a Webby Award from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which called “one of the five best sites in the world in its category.”

Nominated in the association category, is competing with four others for the 22nd annual awards.

Rotary International’s revamped website has been chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences as one of the best association websites in the world.

“Nominees like Rotary are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said Claire Graves, executive director of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best.”

The Webby Awards are the leading international honor for excellence on the internet. is competing for both a Webby Award, whose winners are selected by the academy, and the Webby People’s Voice Award, whose winners are chosen by public vote. 

The academy judged websites on several criteria: content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity, innovation, and overall experience. 

Help us win the People’s Voice Award. You can vote until 19 April. The winners of each category will be announced on 24 April in New York City. 

The four other nominees for best association site are:

  • Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance
  • 11th Macau Design Biennial
  • Trade Works for Us
  • Center for Court Innovation

Visit the for a full list of categories and nominations.

Vote today!

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