Congratulations to Dr.Sadako Ogata, the former High Commissioner for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, for being awarded the 2016-17 Rotary Alumni Global Service Award by Rotary International. She was a Rotary Foundation scholar in 1951-52 and has since dedicated her life to helping others on an international scale.
I am thrilled to announce that Bill Gates will be speaking this June at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta. Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been working together on polio eradication for a long time, and our strong partnership will continue through the final years of the effort.
Bill and his wife, Melinda, in their much-anticipated Annual Letter, released today, offer a glimpse of their appreciation for Rotary and the incredible progress we’ve made toward polio eradication through our joint effort with national governments, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With the most effective resources in place, it’s possible that we have seen, or soon will see, the last case of polio in history. At the convention, Bill will say more about how we can — and will — end polio together.
I hope you will join me and Bill at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 10-14 June. This is one speaker you’re not going to want to miss. Register now.
John F. Germ
2016-17 RI President
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At its January 2017 meeting, the Rotary International Board of Directors adopted a new zone structure for Rotary clubs.
Rotary bylaws require the Board to complete a comprehensive review of the 34 Rotary zones no less often than every eight years to ensure that each zone has an approximately equal number of Rotarians. The Board’s previous review of the zones occurred in 2008.
The Board earlier approved the creation of three regional workgroups to develop rezoning proposals for Asia, Europe/Africa, and the Americas. These workgroups comprised one representative (either a current director, incoming director, or immediate past director) from each zone in the region. The regional workgroups submitted their proposals to the Zones Review Committee, chaired by past Rotary Vice President Michael K. McGovern, which consolidated them into a single, worldwide plan for the Board’s consideration.
“I think the regional workgroups did a great job,” says Rotary President John F. Germ. “Rezoning is always an emotional subject for some Rotarians, but the workgroups and Board acted courageously in an effort to be fair to all concerned.”
The Board will consider other zone-related issues such as sectioning, pairing, and director election rotation at its June 2017 meeting.
- Rotary International
Born in Japan to a family of diplomats, Ogata was drawn to studying international relations after Japan’s defeat in World War II. When she began graduate studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., USA, in 1951, she was part of the second class of Rotary Scholars from Japan.
“During that period, I also learned about the importance of community service and broadened my perspectives and experiences thanks to various exchanges with Rotarians,” she says. “The Rotary motto of Service Above Self has left a deep impression and has guided me ever since.”
After completing her doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, Ogata returned to Japan to teach at International Christian University, which now hosts a Rotary Peace Center, and Sophia University, where she taught until accepting the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (head of UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency) in 1991. She also represented Japan at the UN General Assembly, served at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, and chaired the UNICEF executive board.
During her decade-long tenure with UNHCR, Ogata helped refugees who fled the Gulf War, the ethnic conflicts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and Cold War-era strife in Afghanistan and former Soviet satellites. She has been credited with expanding UNHCR’s budget and staff and strengthening its relations with the UN Security Council by emphasizing the link between refugees and international security.
“Protecting refugees is — by its nature — controversial,” Ogata has said. “Carrying out this dynamic and action-oriented function requires us to challenge the sovereign preserve of states to deal with non-citizens and, in some instances, their own people.”
Since leaving UNHCR in 2000, she has remained active in government and international affairs, serving as co-chair of the UN Human Security Commission and as a special representative of the Japanese government in Afghanistan. She led the Japanese International Cooperation Agency for two terms and advised then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Her government work has shown her the power of private citizens and civic groups to effect change.
“We live in a rapidly changing world,” Ogata says. “As the world is confronted with threats more complex than ever before, the role of civil society and the linkages among people has become more important than ever.”
The award for Rotary Alumni Association of the Year went to the Alumni Association of Rotary District 1210 in England. These alumni regularly visit club meetings and district events, and they lead a project to provide children’s books to homes across the district.
- Sallyann Price, Rotary International
The statistics are sobering: Intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 percent of women worldwide, according to a 2013 World Health Organization report. As many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
In New Zealand, a dozen women are killed by their partners or ex-partners each year. And in Australia, a woman is killed, on average, about every week.
Recognizing the desperate need for domestic-violence services in their communities, Rotary clubs throughout Australia and New Zealand are fundraising and partnering with charities to raise awareness and work on prevention and victim support.
As one club president said: When ending polio seemed insurmountable, Rotary stepped in. Why can’t Rotary help end domestic violence?
More than one approach
The Rotary Club of Maryborough, Victoria, Australia, is changing attitudes about domestic violence and generating positive community response with its multifaceted approach. What began as a social media campaign has grown to include community educational programs, publicity events that have reached millions, and the opportunity to present its SAFE program to the Royal Commission Into Family Violence (Victoria).
The Support, Advice, Facilitation, and Early Intervention model is a collaborative approach that gives everyone in the community a role to play in addressing family violence. Garry Higgins, the club’s project manager for the campaign #SayNO2familyviolence, believes it’s the type of program that has global application.
“As an independent, apolitical organization, Rotary can do and say things others can’t,” says Higgins, who presented the SAFE program to the Royal Commission.
Getting people to talk about domestic violence — once a taboo subject in the small town — was one of the club’s biggest challenges. To start that conversation, the club launched a communication campaign, Speak Up! #SayNO2familyviolence, which included social media posts and promotional brochures and posters.
For help spreading the message, the club targeted the key cultural and behavioral influencers in the community: local sporting clubs. The harness racing club supported the campaign, and the football club recently held its third #SayNO2familyviolence championship competition.
I’ve learned a new way to deal with my ex-partner. My children will benefit from this — it’s all good now.
- Men's Behavior Change Program participant
An online program is helping abusive men learn new ways to deal with their anger and have more satisfying personal relationships. The Men’s Behaviour Change Program, formed by Violence Free Families, is a 13-week live, interactive program for men who can’t — or won’t — attend counseling sessions in person, because of work schedules or embarrassment.
Melbourne University evaluated the program and reported positive results for the men who took part in four trials over the past two years.
“I’ve learned a new way to deal with my ex-partner,” said one program participant. “My children will benefit from this — it’s all good now.”
The Rotary Club of Brighton, Victoria, Australia, launched Violence Free Families in 1995, after a local child’s violent death. The club has raised more than $750,000 for the program, endorsed by Rotary District 9800 and supported by all 70 district clubs and Women in Rotary.
A 2008 report by the Australian government’s Department of Social Services identified domestic violence as the principal cause of homelessness for women and their children.
The Path of Hope Foundation, a joint venture between the Salvation Army and the Rotary Club of Perth, Western Australia, provides safe accommodations for those fleeing family violence. It also offers guidance and resources to help families overcome trauma and rebuild their lives. Members of the Perth club raise funds and volunteer at the center.
“We’re hopeful that Path of Hope can become a model for Rotary clubs and Salvation Army centers around the world to adopt,” says club member Graham Peden. “It’s already achieved a great deal through improving the lives of victims of domestic violence in Western Australia.”
Rose Batty, whose son was murdered by his father, shares her story of resilience at the 2016 Rotary International Convention in Korea.
Elsewhere, the Rotary Club of Bendigo, Victoria, held a fundraiser in May for survivors of family violence. Guests had the chance to hear 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty speak about her personal experiences with domestic violence. Batty’s 11-year-old son, Luke, was murdered by his father in 2014.
The evening netted more than $16,000 for the Annie North Women’s Refuge and Domestic Violence Service. The funds will help buy new furniture for families moving from emergency housing to permanent sites.
Batty also was a keynote speaker in June for the 2016 Rotary International Convention in Korea.
Larrie Winzar, president of the Bendigo club during Batty’s talk in May, said: “When disaster strikes, most of us have insurance to replace the items we’ve lost. In situations of family violence there is no insurance, so support from organizations and service clubs such as Rotary can make a difference to someone starting over.”
We once decided we would end polio when it seemed impossible. Why can’t Rotary put an end to domestic violence?
- Garry Higgins, Rotary Club of Maryborough, Victoria, Australia
Rotary clubs across Britain and Ireland plan to host simultaneous Purple4Polio Tea Parties beginning at the quintessentially British tea-time of 4pm.
The Purple4Polio campaign resonates with the International Women’s Day 2017 campaign theme of Be Bold For Change and Rotary fully supports gender equality.
The Rotary polio campaign is particularly relevant to women as it dates back to 1985 and the ambitious promise Rotarians made to the mothers of the world that polio would be eradicated and their children would no longer suffer from the life threatening and crippling disease.
That promise is on the brink of being fulfilled, with just 37 polio cases in three countries in 2016. There are real hopes that 2017 will see the last case of polio worldwide.
A Purple4Polio Tea Party will be taking place at Rotary London headquarters in Regent’s Park with a host of celebrity guest speakers including TV Presenter Konnie Huq, who will open the event, as well as Jane Garvey of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’, Purple4Polio Ambassador and broadcaster, Julia Roberts and former BBC World Affairs Correspondent Emily Buchanan.
To support the tea parties and Rotary’s campaign to end polio forever, Typhoo Tea, the second largest tea manufacturer in the UK, is organising a tea-tasting at the launch, and donating tea and branded disposable mugs.
Somnath Saha, CEO, of Typhoo Tea, says: “Uniting communities to help eradicate polio is essential and we’re proud to be a part of helping achieve this. Working closely with Purple4Polio nationwide, we’re hoping our charitable tea parties will bring people together to cross the finishing line and end polio now.”
Wilkin & Sons Ltd. (Tiptree Jam) has given 52,000 specially branded jars of plum and greengage Purple4Polio jam to Rotary members across Britain and Ireland who will use the jam to raise awareness of the Purple4Polio campaign and to raise money by filling the empty jars with coins.
The aim is to raise up to £1 million, and with matching funding through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this £1 million will become £3 million.
Polio eradication has become a personal mission for Eve Conway, the President of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. Eve recently returned from India where she joined British Rotarians on the frontline in the fight against the disease (pictured above).
India was declared polio free in 2014 but there are still vital ongoing national immunisation campaigns giving polio drops to every single child under five years old in order to keep the country free of the disease.
Eve Conway says: “We want to celebrate our immense achievement so far and remind everyone we are so close now to Rotary’s goal of a polio free world. With just 37 cases worldwide last year, it’s absolutely vital we push this last step. We truly are on the brink of an historic milestone and this year we could see the last case of polio worldwide.”
In addition to the informative and inspiring speakers, the mesmerising young singer, Bethany Hare, will provide a musical interlude. Bethany won a Rotary Young Citizen Award when she was 12 for her inspirational fundraising. Her charity, Bethany’s Smile, has raised tens of thousands of pounds for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Outside of the London event, clubs across Great Britain and Ireland will be hosting their own Purple4Polio tea parties throughout the coming weeks.
- Rotary GB&I
Today Indian Rotarians are committed to enlarging their TRF contributions, and “in India, these things are like a forest fire. You start something somewhere and the whole forest catches fire. And these are forest fires we wouldn’t like to put out,” TRF Trustee Chair Kalyan Banerjee told Rotary News.
Seated in his 19th floor apartment in Mumbai, a relaxed Banerjee answered questions on various issues related to TRF, and discussed interesting aspects of the difference in the way Indians give, compared to Americans.
Giving to TRF is making waves in India. Yesterday I interviewed Rtn Manoj Israni, already an AKS member, who has pledged to give another $250,000 this year, taking his total to half a million dollars. I asked him why and he said I trust Rotary and know my money will be used well.
Well, a quarter million dollars is a lot of money, and giving it twice is a big step. Only two Indian Rotarians have given more than that. So it’s a very good sign.
When people see that other people, sensible people with money, are giving, then they also get the confidence to give. Manoj Israni is a very good Rotarian, but not in the limelight of Rotary officers and all that. And yet here he is giving half a million dollars quietly, and has his own reasons for doing so. That’s what we really want to encourage. I think more Indian Rotarians will give money going forward. India has already become one of the larger givers. Unusually, a large number of AKS members are now coming from countries such as India. I find a sea change in the giving by Indian Rotarians to the Foundation.
What are the major plans for the Centennial Celebrations in Atlanta? Has the programme started crystallising?
Atlanta is shaping up well. There are several initiatives being planned. But it’s a little too early to give them shape because these things keep changing. For example, Atlanta is the home of the Jimmy Carter Foundation. And they are having an event just before the Convention and we are trying to see if some kind of a connectivity is possible. If we can get some of the Nobel laureates expected to come for that event, to attend the Convention, it will be a tremendous initiative… a boost for our peace scholars programme.
How is the Peace Scholars Programme shaping up?
Rotary is reviewing that programme; while a great programme and very well supported by Rotarians, the question we are asking is are we really producing the kind of peace scholars that we want to? Are we moving the initiative forward in the way we wanted to? So the programme is now being reviewed by a committee led by PRIP K R Ravindran. It is looking at the peace programme as it is today and whether it is everything that we wanted it to be, or hoped it would be. And is it what is required today in the changing world scenario? Everything is changing. Look at the American elections. There seems to be a whole new paradigm shift in so many things in our world today.
What about CSR activities becoming a part of Rotary’s service to humanity?
That has been a new Indian initiative, which I must say Trustee Sushil Gupta and I, to some extent, helped to move forward. Rotary was not in favour of CSR because in corporate social responsibility, what happens is that while they are happy to do social work and give money, traditionally Rotary has been looking very carefully at people who give money and want to participate in the project. Because there is the possibility that they want to get their work done with Rotary’s money, effort and name.
So they have an agenda?
They could have an agenda. So we’ve had to convince the Foundation that let’s take it up for a time and watch how it is working. It hasn’t been made public greatly yet. Not too many Indian companies and Rotary clubs have come up with too many CSR initiatives yet. I think it will take a little while but it will catch up.
So you are in favour of it?
I hope to take it forward. Let me see if I am able to do this in the next few months. Also, for the first time, Rotary has agreed to fund low-cost shelters through global grants. It used to be done through district grants, I’ve had to struggle a little bit for that and do a lot of convincing. But it has come through. The question… the real issue is that in the past, we’ve brought in this programme and scrapped it again so many times, saying Rotary will not help build low-cost shelters.
But why? For what reason?
Because there are concerns in some parts of the world about building shelters. In some developed countries, you can’t build what is known as a low-cost shelter. So it becomes a programme for one part of the world and not another. Secondly, in those developed countries if you build shelters, even in slums, you are liable to all kinds of legal responsibilities. In those parts, the legal profession is very strong and if something goes wrong, and somebody gets an electric shock and dies, then Rotary will be held liable. It won’t happen in our part of the world. So it’s a question of attitude, a mindset… how we live our lives. That is why it was not acceptable.
Now that it has been done for a certain period of time, I hope it will work. It first came when Glen Kinross was the RI President. But it has come and gone so many times that people are not sure whether it is there or not, whether it will stay or not! It’s not that Rotary clubs don’t build shelters. They do. But they do it on their own......
Noran Sanford, a licensed social worker, a man of faith, and a vested community member, is empowering a rural U.S. community to utilize overlooked resources and pioneer change from within. In 2000, Noran moved back to his hometown in rural North Carolina, USA, where he was stunned to find his childhood community continuing to face growing challenges.
North Carolina’s Scotland, Hoke, and Robeson counties compete for the state’s highest rates of unemployment, food insecurity, crime, and poverty. Yet, Noran knew that even the most challenged community houses a wealth of untapped resources and assets.
In partnership with universities, faith centers, state agencies, correctional facilities, businesses and corporations, community leaders, and vested organizations including the local Rotary club, Noran has created a model to transform closed prisons into skills training facilities and employment incubators specifically for troubled youth and returning military veterans.
Through his organization GrowingChange, Noran began connecting young people deep in the court system to the disenfranchisement of the communities they come from: by evoking the sense of shared struggle, paroled youth and community members rally around new opportunities. In his initial five-year clinical pilot, Noran saw a 92% success rate in helping youth who were headed to prison reverse their future.
Now young people serving probation terms are leading their community to reinvent a local symbol of the broken justice system, such as a decommissioned ‘work farm’ prison in Noran’s rural North Carolina. Today, religious leaders work side-by-side with homeless youth, university professors work with high school dropouts, returning veterans with troubled youth and state leaders with their rural constituents to directly address their own biases, change their behaviors, and develop a deeper sense of civic imagination and societal efficacy.
It is precisely Noran’s work with the returning veteran community that connected him with local Rotarian Paul Tate from the Rotary Club of Laurinburg. Paul first met Noran at their community church. As a retired U.S. veteran with extensive experience in international diplomacy, Paul became a strong supporter of Noran’s community empowerment approach. Today, Paul sits on GrowingChange’s Board of Directors and uses his professional skills to shape the organization’s strategy for engaging the local veteran community. Noran plans to soon offer veterans internship opportunities, and eventually create a hub for acquiring skills within the agriculture sector while simultaneously establishing an incubator for the creation of new jobs and fostering local entrepreneurs.
Inspired by Noran’s goal to break down social barriers, Paul worked with his club’s leaders to invite a group of former gang leaders to discuss the reasons youth join gangs, becoming disenfranchised members of their very own community. Had it not been for Noran and Paul, these two groups of community members would have likely never intersected. Intrigued by GrowingChange’s model, the Laurinburg club is exploring additional ways this site can be used to empower the community alongside instrumental local change leaders. GrowingChange is preparing to launch their initial capital campaign to transform their first site in Wagram, North Carolina. The model will then be given to other communities who are struggling to reuse old prisons, more than 25 in North Carolina alone.
Noran humbly credits the many different partners that have contributed to the success of his work. In 2016, Noran was selected as an Ashoka Fellow, joining a global network of social entrepreneur peers. Through a rigorous application and screening process, Ashoka finds, selects, and supports innovators like Noran and connects them to the resources and people that help their ideas thrive. Ashoka’s network currently consists of 3,300 Fellows in more than 80 countries. Very much like Rotarians, Ashoka Fellows are community leaders with a vested interest to work in partnership with the community to identify and leverage existing assets to address local challenges.
Inspired by Noran’s story and the partnerships he’s forging with Rotarians and other community leaders? Your club can also explore opportunities to partner with innovative social entrepreneurs in your local community. Ashoka Fellows can help you develop creative, innovative approaches to solving needs in the communities where you live and work. Search Ashoka’s network of Fellows and contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an introduction to a local change maker.
Posted by Ambalakat Ram Mohan on February 15, 2017 at 12:21pm
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