Month: September 2018

Protecting against polio in Lake Chad

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Indian real estate investor donates to The Rotary Foundation

Indian real estate investor donates $14.7 million to The Rotary Foundation 

By Ryan Hyland

Saying that Rotary is “transparent and honest,” Indian real estate investor Ravishankar Dakoju, and his wife, Paola, recently donated US$14.7 million (₹1.06 billion) to The Rotary Foundation. 

Ravishankar Dakoju, and his wife, Paola, have donated US$14.7 million (₹1.06 billion) to The Rotary Foundation. 

Ravishankar, a senior member of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India and president of the Rotary Club of Bangalore Orchards, Karnataka, India, announced the gift during the installation of District 3190 (Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) leaders on 1 July. 

His donation is one of the largest gifts in the Foundation’s history.  

“I am delighted to make a meaningful contribution of my life’s earnings toward the six areas of focus, including community development, education, health, and sanitation,” Ravishankar said. The gift will establish a named endowed fund within the Foundation to support high-impact and sustainable humanitarian and educational projects.

Foundation Trustee Chair Ron Burton says Ravishankar’s gift is “extraordinary and truly transformational, not just for those who will benefit from the Rotary projects funded by the gift, but also for our Foundation, as it encourages other Rotarians to think big and select Rotary for their charitable giving.”

Ravishankar said his charitable interests particularly include helping people in India, women’s empowerment and social harmony.

“For me, Rotary has been a learning experience. It’s like a buffet: It’s up to you what you want to take from it,” says Ravishankar. “Rotary gives you the opportunity to make change.”

Rotary and UN honor trailblazing young leaders

Meet 6 trailblazing young leaders

By Arnold R. Grahl

Six members of Rotary and Rotaract will be honored this November as People of Action: Young Innovators during Rotary Day at the United Nations in Naiorbi, Kenya.

These innovators — all under the age of 35 – are being recognized for their commitment to solving problems with measurable and lasting results, connecting local issues with global concerns. 

The six young innovators are:

Name: Albert Kafka

Clubs: Rotaract Club of Wien-Stadtpark and Rotary Club of Wien-Oper, Austria

Project: Intarconnect Mentoring and Generation Projects

Innovation: Pairing members of different generations in a one-year mentoring relationship where they learn from each other and participate in service projects

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Description: Kafka worked with Rotary clubs in Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina to launch an online program that pairs a Rotarian with a member of Interact, Rotary’s program for young people ages 12-18, or Rotaract, for ages 18-30. It also pairs some Interactors with Rotaractors. The effort includes leadership training, scholarships, social activities, and hands-on service projects. For one ongoing project, the generations work side-by-side to build houses for families left homeless by the Bosnian War.

Name: Charlie Ruth Castro

Club: Rotary E-Club of Sogamoso Global, Colombia

Project: Innovative New Beginnings

Innovation: Teaching vocational and business skills to incarcerated women and empowering them to create new opportunities for themselves

Description: Using her digital communications expertise, Castro leads a program that is teaching 170 incarcerated women in Colombia textile skills and how to assemble personal wellness kits with products developed from herbal plants grown on their own organic farm. The kits are sold online through the brand Alas de Libertad (Wings of Freedom). The women also attend empowerment workshops to reduce their sentences. Castro, a lawyer, has led large-scale events in Colombia and Mexico to promote women’s and children’s rights. She co-founded Digitally Connected, which unites 430 Latin American experts who are studying the challenges that children and young people face online.

Name: Christina Hassan

Club: Rotary Club of Calgary Fish Creek, Alberta, Canada

Project: FullSoul

Innovation: Training midwives and supplying safe, sterile childbirth equipment to hospitals in Uganda

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Description: Hassan, who holds a master’s in public health, launched FullSoul to address the lack of facilities for safe and sterile childbirth in parts of Uganda. The program provides maternal medical kits to hospitals, including childbirth tools (artery forceps, scissors, needle holders) that can be sterilized and reused, as well as training in using the tools. The kits are assembled by a supplier in Uganda to minimize costs and contribute to the local economy. Positive outcomes include safer births and decreased HIV transmission.

Name: Paul Mushaho

Club: Rotaract Club of Nakivale, Uganda

Project: Rotaract Club of Nakivale Refugee Settlement

Innovation: Organizing a Rotaract club in a Ugandan refugee settlement that conducts various service projects in the camp

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Description: Fleeing conflict in his homeland of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mushaho arrived at the Nakivale refugee settlement in 2016. The same year, he entered a business proposal for a competition sponsored by the American Refugee Committee and the Ugandan government. His winning proposal earned him the right to present his idea to a wider audience in Kampala, where it was seen by Rotary members from Kampala, Uganda, and Minnesota, USA. Recognizing his leadership and charisma, the Rotary members worked with Mushaho to charter a Rotaract club in the settlement. The Rotaractors have taught farming skills, provided sewing machines for women’s groups, volunteered in maternity wards, organized tree planting and poultry projects, and mentored young people in the camp.

Name: Shadrack “Sheddy” Nyawa Mwadai

Club: Rotary Club of Kilifi, Kenya

Project: Water and sanitation for primary schools

Innovation: Traveling to remote schools in Kenya to find those most in need of toilets and hygiene education

Description: Waiting in long lines to use inadequate toilet facilities interferes with children’s learning in the more than 70 primary schools in the Ganze area of Kenya. Mwadai travels on poorly maintained dirt roads to conduct assessments for district and global grants that help his Rotary club select schools to receive new toilets and handwashing stations. He works with local contractors and makes sure that construction is completed and documented properly.

Name: Ludovic Grosjean

Club: Rotaract Club of Melbourne City, Victoria, Australia

Project: Ocean CleanX

Innovation: Founding a pioneering company that is developing new technology to monitor pollution and remove it from waterways

Description: Every year, 8.8 million tons of plastic waste get into the oceans, putting marine species at risk of extinction. Grosjean, a 29-year-old engineer, launched Ocean CleanX to develop automated pollution monitoring and removal tools that use artificial intelligence and drones to remove plastics and other pollution from waterways and detect their source. Grosjean, who has 12 years of experience in oceanography and mechatronics engineering, has persuaded clubs to support the effort, contribute financially, and volunteer for river clean-up events.

Teaching to save babies

Two Rotarian pediatricians – one in Ethiopia and the other in California – connected to save babies’ lives with the help of a vocational training team

By Arnold R. Grahl

Karin Davies had just finished teaching a group of Ethiopian health care providers a life-saving technique for newborn babies when a third-year obstetric resident came rushing up.

“It really works,” he said. The night before, he had delivered an infant who was born limp and not breathing. After several unsuccessful attempts to stimulate the baby’s breathing, he used a technique, known as positive pressure ventilation, that he had learned only the day before. Within minutes, the baby was screaming. 

We saw the power of vocational training right before our eyes.

Karin Davies 

retired pediatrician, Rotary member

“We saw the power of vocational training right before our eyes,” recalls Davies, a retired pediatrician who led four vocational training team trips to Gondar, Ethiopia, between February 2015 and June 2017. The team, funded by a $107,000 Rotary Foundation global grant, trained 73 health care providers who now teach classes for midwives, nurses, and medical students on resuscitation techniques and post-recitation care for newborns. 

The training team project was designed with the help of members of the Rotary Club of Gondar Fasiledes, in particular 2013-14 Club President Abiyot Tegegne, to address a critical shortage of hospital personnel trained in lifesaving skills. In Ethiopia in 2012, only 10 percent of births were attended by someone trained in newborn resuscitation. 

Davies, a member of the Rotary Club of Del Mar, California, marshaled resources and connected key players to establish a curriculum for neonatal care at the University of Gondar’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences which is helping reduce Ethiopia’s infant mortality rate.

Davies was five years old in 1952 when her father helped establish a college in Jimma, Ethiopia, as part of the Point Four Program, a forerunner to USAID. The family spent two years in Ethiopia. Sitting at the kitchen table of her home in San Diego, Davies sifts through old photos and recalls what it was like to grow up there. She recounts how her mother, a nurse, was pressed into service as the primary health care provider for the college’s seven faculty members and their families, its 80 students, and eventually the entire community.

“No one else was there to do it,” Davies says. “My mother would go out and take care of the surrounding villagers when they asked for help, and I would go with her. That is how I developed my interest in medicine.”

  1. Karin Davies, second from left, watches as Ethiopian instructors-in-training practice at a skill station. 

  2. Pat Bromberger, second from right, leads a demonstration in neonatal resuscitation at a skill station. 

  3. Instructors-in-training learn how to administer oxygen to a newborn.

  4. A class of new instructors with their certificates showing they have completed the neonatal resuscitation training and can now teach the skills to other midwives and nursing students at the University.

  5. Three chairs of the pediatric department at Gondar University Hospital, from left Kassahun Belachew, Mahlet, and Zemene Tigabu.

  6. Elisa Imonti shows the Ethiopian nurses how to program the incubators.

In 2012, after her parents had died, Davies and her two brothers took a trip back to Jimma. To their amazement, the small college they remembered had become a major university with 30,000 students. That trip got Davies thinking about how she might lend her medical expertise to the country that helped shape her.

“I felt such a huge connection to Ethiopia and the people there, and I wanted to do something to honor my parents’ memory,” she says. 

At a breakfast with a group of friends, all retired female physicians, Davies shared her idea with Pat Bromberger, a neonatologist who had just returned from three months in Ghana volunteering in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“Let’s do it,” Bromberger said.

Davies began calling anyone she knew who had any experience in international relief work. Her neighbor Carole Leland had worked in Ethiopia as a leadership development trainer with USAID, and the people she knew there recommended they talk to Zemene Tigabu, then chair of pediatrics and now clinical director at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“Karin followed up on every contact that I gave her until she found someone who could help,” Leland says. “You can tell she really cares deeply about the country, and her commitment is so strong.” 

Davies and Bromberger flew to Gondar, a city of about 200,000 in northern Ethiopia, at their own expense and spent a week doing a community assessment, meeting with Tigabu and other faculty members in the departments of pediatrics, obstetrics, nursing, and midwifery. The women had initially planned to teach Ethiopian midwives a set of simple steps promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics called Helping Babies Breathe. But Tigabu told them that what he really needed was a full university-level training program for nursing and midwifery students. Nothing like it existed anywhere in the country.

The facility was very poor. Now everything is upgraded. My second boy was born 10 months ago, and it’s like a different hospital.

Abiyot Tegegne

Rotary Club of Gondar Fasiledes

They also learned that Tigabu had attended Jimma University, and so felt a connection to Davies’ family – and that he was a Rotarian. A new plan began to take form.

The Rotary Club of Del Mar meets in the parish hall of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which overlooks California’s scenic Highway 101 as it winds past a beach famous for its surfing. “It’s a small club but very, very active,” Davies says. “Everyone is so supportive.”

Davies spent months researching maternal health projects in Africa before proposing the global grant project. Peggy Martin, who was then international service chair for the Del Mar club, was impressed.

“I realized immediately this was something Rotary could do something about,” says Martin. Training local people to train others ensured sustainability, she adds.

Martin agreed to steer the project through the grant approval process, while Stephen Brown, a member of the nearby Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle who was then a Rotary Foundation trustee, lent his expertise to help secure matching funds from clubs and districts. “When I saw Karin and Pat’s credentials and experience, and the connection Karin had with Ethiopia, I felt this project had a very high probability of being successful and having a meaningful impact,” says Brown. 

In April 2018, almost a year after the fourth training team trip, the team members gathered at Davies’ invitation for an informal reunion. They had grown close over the two years they had worked together, the result of sharing typical travel misfortunes such as lost luggage and rooms without showers, as well as of their shared respect and admiration for what Davies had set in motion.

“I’ve done some medical missions before that were really wonderful, but they didn’t move me the same way Ethiopia did,” said respiratory therapist Kathy Johnson. 

Community assessments: Evaluating the needs of a community is an essential first step in planning an effective project. Not only do assessments lead to projects that have the most meaningful impact and are the most sustainable, but the process builds valuable relationships, involves residents in decisions that will shape their communities, and encourages them to participate in making lasting improvements. 
Any club or district that applies for a global grant to support a humanitarian project or a vocational training team must conduct a community assessment first. The club or district should complete the Global Grants Community Assessment Results form (posted on My Rotary) and upload it with the global grant application, found in the Grant Center.
You can use district grant funds to conduct the assessment, and Rotary’s Community Assessment Tools has ideas and proven methods for assessing a community’s assets and needs, including community meetings, surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

Emilie Jean, another respiratory therapist and the youngest member of the team, talked about an experience that illustrated the challenges the team faced. She was setting up a CPAP, a device that combines room air with oxygen from a tank, when physicians brought a baby who was struggling to breathe into the nursery. At first, the baby responded well. But then the tank ran out of oxygen. 

After that, Jean recalls, the infant stopped breathing. “We were never able to get the baby back up,” she says. “The lack of resources was frustrating.”

But in the face of such difficult conditions, the hospital staff impressed the team. Davies recalls going on rounds with the doctors and nurses. “We listened to them as they went to each baby,” she says. Although the Gondar NICU is not well-equipped in comparison with Western hospitals, she says, “they are doing the very best they can with what they have.”  

Davies recalls visiting a nursery where babies were being kept warm with space heaters, even as several incubators in the room were not being used. Team member Elisa Imonti, an NICU nurse whom Davies describes as “probably the best biomedical engineer around,” discovered that the units weren’t broken, as had been assumed, but simply needed to be programmed. Imonti taught the staff to do that – and then discovered eight more units in storage.

“On our next visit, they had set up a full neonatal intensive care nursery with all of these isolettes,” says Davies. “They took what they had learned and ran with it.”

Davies feels confident the program will carry on beyond its first grant, which was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Del Mar and the Rotary Club of Gondar Fasiledes. Four Rotary clubs and two districts contributed $62,000 to the project, which received $45,250 from the Foundation to cover training, equipment, supplies, and travel costs. A second $42,000 grant to expand the reach of the program was recently approved. 

The project surpassed all of its goals. The team trained 73 instructors, more than double the initial goal of 32 – and those newly trained instructors, instead of teaching the planned 12 classes over the course of the project, ended up teaching 30, in which more than 800 nurses and midwives learned the lifesaving techniques. 

Members of the Rotary Club of Gondar Fasiledes provided logistical support and served as liaisons to hospital staff. Fary Moini, a member of the La Jolla Golden Triangle club and part of the vocational training team, says that Tegegne, the former club president, in particular went out of his way to meet the team’s needs.

“Abiyot was phenomenal,” Moini says. “Every step of the way, every time we needed him, he was there. A lot of the team’s success is because of him.”

Tegegne ran a tourism company before civil unrest in his country forced him to reinvent himself as a purveyor of bottled water. He was excited, he says, when he heard the team would be tackling infant mortality, and formed a committee in his club to handle its end of the program.

“We have seen many improvements from the project,” says Tegegne, whose daughter spent time in the Gondar NICU after being born prematurely in 2014. “The facility was very poor. Now everything is upgraded. My second boy was born 10 months ago, and it’s like a different hospital.”

Four times a year, Davies and other team members take part in a Skype conference with Rotarians and hospital administrators in Ethiopia. Kassahun Belachew, now chair of the pediatrics department, has taken over as course coordinator. During the final training team trip, Moini persuaded the three-person team in charge of the university tech center to help out with the Skype calls. Now, for about two hours, they have the best bandwidth available in northern Ethiopia.

“I think one of the most rewarding things is the relationships we have developed,” says Davies. “The Ethiopians are so committed and supportive. We are all friends on Facebook. We stay connected on a personal level, not just a professional one.”

Through Skype, Davies and the team are also working with Belachew, Tegegne, and others on a second global grant, which will provide financial support for the instructors to teach neonatal skills in regional health centers throughout the North Gondar region. 

Davies says this project has strengthened her connection to Rotary.

“I’ve found my people,” she says. “Rotary allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things.” 

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Go on journey with polio vaccinator in Uganda

Climb every mountain

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

By Patience Asiimwe
As told to Diana Schoberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View Slideshow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brazil Rotary member on mission to eliminate hepatitis

Our world

Mission to eliminate hepatitis

In 2010, Humberto Silva was getting ready to travel from Brazil to South Africa to watch his country’s soccer team play in the World Cup. When he went to get the necessary vaccinations, his doctor recommended he also be tested for hepatitis.  

A volunteer encourages people to get tested for hepatitis in São Tomé and Príncipe.

Photos courtesy of Hepatitis Zero

Silva thought this was silly. He felt fine. How could he have hepatitis? When the results came back, he was shocked: He had hepatitis C. If he didn’t get treatment, his liver would fail and he would die. 

As Silva thought about how he might have contracted the disease, he remembered that when he was eight years old, he had received a blood transfusion after a surgery. If that was the source of the infection, it meant that the virus had been in his body for nearly 40 years, attacking his liver over and over.

Silva, a member of the Rotary Club of São Paulo-Jardim das Bandeiras, underwent treatment and is now free of the virus. And he knows much more about the disease. 

There are five main types of hepatitis, each of which involves a different virus that attacks the liver. The most serious are B and C. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B, which is spread through contact with blood or bodily fluids, but not for hepatitis C, which is spread almost exclusively by blood contact. There is, however, a treatment that eliminates the hepatitis C virus from the body; it costs around $120 per person. 

Roughly 325 million people worldwide live with some form of viral hepatitis, and the disease causes 1.34 million deaths per year. Globally, an estimated 71 million people are infected with hepatitis C, but only 20 percent of them have been tested and are aware of their status. For those with hepatitis B, that figure is just 9 percent.

“Every 30 seconds, someone dies of hepatitis B,” says Homie Razavi, founder and managing director of the Center for Disease Analysis Foundation (CDAF), an organization dedicated to hepatitis eradication, “and every 80 seconds, someone dies of hepatitis C. Those numbers are going up every year as the population ages. In fact, it’s one of the deadliest diseases around, but very few people know about it.”

According to the Polaris Observatory, which gathers hepatitis data under CDAF, only 12 countries are on track to eliminate hepatitis C. Thirty countries have no possibility of eliminating hepatitis B under their current health policies. 

“This is one of the major failures of global public health,” Razavi says. “All the tools are there to eradicate both hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Hepatitis B should have been eliminated about 15 years ago. The vaccine has been available since the 1980s, and it’s very efficacious.”

After Silva started his treatment, he made a decision. “I realized that I was blessed by receiving a chance,” he says. “So I made a vow to God that I would dedicate the rest of my life to fighting the disease.” 

In 2011, while he was being treated for hepatitis, Silva founded the Associação Brasileira de Portadores de Hepatite (Brazilian Association for Hepatitis Carriers), which opened a free clinic in São Paulo to test and treat people for hepatitis. “There is a finger prick test like the diabetes test,” he says. “In three minutes we can diagnose if people have hepatitis.”

This was so successful that the ABPH opened four more clinics in Brazil, plus one in Mexico City, and has seen some 60,000 people. But Silva knew there were still tens of thousands of people who were unaware of the threat that hepatitis posed to their health, just as he had been. He wondered how he could reach them all. He established Hepatitis Zero, a worldwide campaign to identify and support people with hepatitis, educate the public about the disease, and aid in eradication efforts.

In 2015, the Rotary International Convention was held in Silva’s hometown of São Paulo. So he set up a booth there to test people for hepatitis. 

Humberto Silva behind the wheel of a converted military ambulance in which two brothers, Fred Mesquita and José Eduardo, are traveling the world educating people about hepatitis.

At the convention, Silva spoke to Rotary’s incoming president, K.R. Ravindran, who suggested that they form the Rotarian Action Group for Hepatitis Eradication. The action group launched last year with Silva as its founding chair. 

Since then, Argentina has embarked on a nationwide campaign, and countries including Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, and Nigeria have begun testing. Currently, the action group has hepatitis eradication projects in countries in the Americas and Africa. 

In the small African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, ABPH and the action group are working with Rotary clubs and the government to make it the first country to eradicate hepatitis. “We are going to test the whole population for hepatitis B and C,” Silva says, “and we are going to provide the medicine to the ones we find who are sick.” And that’s just one of the places where these organizations have projects underway. 

The action group is also setting up committees across Africa and recruiting ambassadors to publicize and coordinate testing in preparation for the Pan-African Week Against Hepatitis from 20 to 28 July. It is sending two testing machines to Africa and plans to organize another major campaign.

Silva hopes these will be major steps toward ridding the planet of the disease. “It’s not going to be easy,” he says. “But we are going to win. There are people who are standing on the edge of a cliff without realizing it. We’re going to tell them that they are sick and we are going to give them medicine. Rotary is going to do that.”   

— Frank Bures

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The Rotarian action group and ABPH perform tests at public places such as train stations and malls to reach more people.

Help Rotary fight disease

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2019-20 Rotary president selected

Mark Daniel Maloney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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