RI President's Window

RI President Ian Risely and Juliet

RI President Ian Riseley writes to Rotarians during Membership Month

RI President Ian Risley's 1.2 Million Tree Planting Challenge

Ian Riseley - The social networker

RI President invites you to Toronto

Are you an alumni of a #Rotary program? Take part in Reconnect Week and share your story: http://on.rotary.org/2gHQPCJ


RI Director Board 2017 - 18

The Board of Trustees of the Rotary Foundation 2017 - 18

Presidential peacebuilding conferences

What is new

The Stories Behind the Data - Bill & Melinda Gates

RI President Ian Riseley is an ambassador of Peace of Guatemala

Toronto, the capital of nice: Impressions on Rotary's 2018 convention city;

Barry Rassin selected to be 2018-19 RI president

Mark Daniel Maloney selected to be 2019-20 Rotary president


RIPE Sam F. Owori Dies

Help honor Sam Owori's legacy

Norah Owori Pays Tribute to late RIPE Samuel Owori at the Funeral

A Tribute to Sam Frobisher Owori by PRIP Jonathan Majiyagbe

Eulogy of PRIP KR Ravindran at late RIPE Sam Owori's funeral

RI Vice President Dean Rohrs reflects on Sam Owori's Funeral Ceremonies

Remembering Sam

Sam Owori’s legacy will live on - PRIP Rajendra K Saboo

Sam F. Owori Memorial to Polio

Dallas pays tribute to fallen Rotary Icon Samuel Frobisher Owori

The story of the TRF Centennial Bell



Polio Eradication Efforts Acknowledged by G20 Heads of State

Bill Gates outlines final push to end polio

The Atlanta Convention

Presidential Peace Conference

$1.2 billion pledge to end polio

The power of one - A light on the issue of modern slavery at the Atlanta Convention


President's opening remarks

President's closing remarks

President-elect's speech

President nominee's speech

Trustee chair's speech

General secretary's speech


General secretary's report

Treasurer's report

Winners of The Rotarian photo contest announced

Rotary Foundation named World's Outstanding Foundation for 2016

Sustainable projects earn top Rotaract honors

What makes a great global grant project

Germ looks back on a productive year

RI President Ian Riseley on attracting new members, building strong clubs, and forming friendships that last

What does it take to eradicate a disease? Just ask India.

Rotarians meet with EU officials to examine Rotary’s role in achieving peace

RIPE Ian Riseley on attracting new members, building strong clubs

Rotary women inspire

Japanese diplomat earns Rotary alumni award

India is enthused....about giving

PRIP K R Ravindran on The Benefits of Rotary Membership.

International Assembly 2017

2017-18 RI President Ian H.S. Riseley announces his presidential theme, Rotary: Making a Difference

Watch International Assembly speeches

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

3-H: A Bright New Dawn for the Rotary Foundation

Surgeons from India bring relief to underserved patients in Rwanda

We will redouble our efforts towards eradication of Polio from Africa - Past RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe

Raja of Rotary - An account of  55 years Rotary journey of  PRIP Rajendra K Saboo by Rasheeda Bhagat, Editor, Rotary News Online

RI President-elect Ian Riseley on the progress in ending polio in Radio National, Australia

Poverty rates are creeping back up in Latin America. Investing in entrepreneurs can help change this - John Hewko

6 key numbers in the fight to end polio

HowDo You End a Global Disease - John Hewko in Medium

What can we achieve within our children’s lifetime?

To create peace we need to look beyond the causes of conflict

What defines a Rotary club? You choose

Rotary helps women in Honduras to successfully build their businesses and future - John Hewko in Medium

What is ‘global competence’, and is it the key to inclusive growth? - John Hewko

Creating Sustainable Peace - John Hewko, RI Gen. Secretary in Diplomatic Courier 

What’s Love Got to Do With It? - RI Gen Secretary John Hewko's Special Contribution to the Parliament of World's Religions

Council on Legislation Grants Clubs Greater Flexibility in Meeting, Membership

What should you know about 2016 CoL

The Council on Legislation - First day comes to an end

The Council on Legislation - Second day of action draws to a close

The Council on Legislation – The third day completed

The Council on Legislation – Fourth Day Concluded

The Council on Legislation Comes to an End

We’ll see an RI woman President in five years - RI Director Jennifer Jones

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World Polio Day - 24 October 2017


Can We Prevent the Next Epidemic? - John Hewko

Disease epidemics have a long history of threatening the health of our world. From the bubonic plague of the 14th century to the emergence of HIV in the 1980’s and more recently the Ebola outbreak, epidemic level diseases have caused tragic devastation to people and populations. Through science, preparation, and cooperation we can plan for the next epidemic and be prepared when it strikes.

An effective global response to infectious disease outbreaks requires new forms of public-private cooperation.

Opportunities to innovate and collaborate in the context of epidemic preparedness are numerous and can be implemented with lessons learned from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

We’ve learnt from the history of polio eradication that it takes much more than the creation of an effective vaccine to end a disease. Once a vaccine is ready, there is still a big gap to fill in terms of distribution, social mobilization, advocacy, diplomacy, global coordination, health worker support and training.

Through working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative we can apply several best practices to prepare for the next epidemic.

  • Clearly defined roles— Rotary’s work on advocacy, financial support and assisting the laboratory networks is complemented by core partners. The World Health Organization provides technical guidance, and UNICEF aids the effort through social mobilization activities and its ability to procure vaccine of high quality at low cost and deliver it in a timely fashion. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides technical support, matching funds and invests in innovative research while the CDC works with WHO to strategize implementation.
  • Coordination and collaboration— The establishment of Interagency Coordinating Committees for polio eradication brings stakeholders from different fields together and defines roles based on the best fit for their attributes. This committee includes representatives of the relevant ministries of health, donor agencies for each country, core partners and other stakeholders.
  • Emergency funding mechanisms— Rotary awards Rapid Response Grants of $500,000 for immediate funding of special polio emergencies. This type of unique flexibility has helped the program greatly in Somalia, Myanmar and Sudan, and recently in the Middle East, to help prevent a polio outbreak in Iraq and Syria in 2013 from spreading further. These grants also act as a catalyst, encouraging governments and other donors to fund emergency responses.
  • Centralized Emergency Operations Center — Ebola was swiftly countered in Nigeria thanks to swift repurposing of the polio emergency operations center, well-trained staff members, and use of surveillance assets. While West African countries suffered from thousands of Ebola cases, Nigeria had just 20.
  • Advocates at a local levelIn the midst of a pandemic, it’s critical that you are able to reach out to communities and build their trust in the response. The polio program has an extensive network of community and religious leaders, from the most prominent Islamic scholars globally to religious leaders in each neighborhood, to ensure families understand why they need to vaccinate their kids.

Innovation and collaboration will continue to serve as our best weapons in global health. Through strategies based on these best practices and key learnings we can be better positioned to respond to the next epidemic and save countless lives.


From country doctor to crusader

At the Rotary International Convention in June, Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation renewed their long-standing support for ending polio in dramatic fashion: Rotary committed to raising $50 million per year over the next three years, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars from the Gates Foundation.

This expanded agreement will translate to up to $450 million for polio eradication activities.

Jay Wenger, director of the Gates Foundation’s polio eradication program, talks about his work as an epidemiologist and about why ending polio for good is so important.

I wanted to become a doctor ever since I was a little kid, but I originally thought I would become a country doctor – a general practitioner.

That notion changed when I had the opportunity to work at a mission hospital for a couple of months during medical school. One thing I saw during that experience was that you could deliver a lot of health care and prevent a huge amount of disease for a relatively small amount of money.  

Eventually, I became interested in infectious diseases. I liked the idea of focusing on something specific – that seemed more doable to me than knowing everything about everything, as it seemed a general practitioner needed to do. I went on to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where I received additional training in infectious disease epidemiology.

Epidemiology involves studying disease in an entire population – figuring out who gets sick, how it spreads, and how it can be prevented. It included working on outbreaks, which is like solving a disease mystery but needing to do it in a hurry.

When I was at the CDC, we studied one outbreak where a dozen or so individuals in the same area wound up with the same skin infection. So I went to the affected area and started trying to figure out what these people had in common. It turned out they had all been patients at one particular clinic – that was one clue. When we looked further into the record, we found they had all had the same specific operation. In the end, we figured out that all the cases traced to a single bottle of fluid under one sink in that clinic, which had contaminated the equipment they were using. 

That’s a lot of what epidemiologists do: We track infectious diseases, try to figure out how they spread, and then, hopefully, figure out what to do to stop it.

I worked in a group at the CDC that focused on bacterial meningitis, which is an infection of the brain and spinal cord. A bacteria called Haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib) was the most common cause, infecting up to 15,000 kids in the U.S. every year. This was when the Hib vaccine had just been developed. I got involved in monitoring how much disease was out there and how the vaccine was working, and it was really striking. We went from thousands upon thousands of cases per year to a couple of dozen as vaccine use spread to all kids across the country. 

Seeing the power of a vaccine program was a big part of what led me to get involved with polio eradication. 

I was born in 1955, which is the same year, incredibly, that the Salk vaccine for polio was licensed and introduced in the U.S. At that time, polio was the most feared infection in the country.....

Read the full story  >  >  >

2017 Champions of Peace to be recognized on Rotary Day at the United Nations

Six Rotary members and Rotary Peace Center alumni will be honored this November as People of Action: Champions of Peace. Their commitment to creating peace and resolving conflict will be recognized during Rotary Day at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The honorees, which were announced on International Peace Day, are all involved in projects that address underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, inequality, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, or unequal distribution of resources. 

The six Champions of Peace are:

Jean Best, a member of the Rotary Club of Kirkcudbright, Scotland —Best leads a peace project that is designed to teach teenagers conflict resolution skills they can use to create peace-related service projects in their schools and communities. Best worked with peace fellows at the University of Bradford to create the curriculum. She has also worked with local Rotary members and peace fellows to set up peace hubs in Australia, England, Mexico, Scotland, and the U.S. 

Best is a mentor at Cal Policy Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She became a Paul Harris Fellow for contribution to developing peace strategies.

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. 

Safina Rahman, a member of the Rotary Club of Dhaka Mahanagar, Bangladesh — Rahman is an important advocate for women’s rights in the workplace in Bangladesh. As a garment factory owner, she was the first to offer health insurance and maternity leave for her female employees. She worked with the Rotarian Action Group for Peace to organize the first international peace conference in Bangladesh. A policymaker for the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, she champions workplace safety and workers’ rights and promotes girls’ education and women’s rights. 

Rahman is chair of two schools that provide basic education, vocational training, conflict prevention, and health and hygiene classes. 

Alejandro Reyes Lozano, a member of the Rotary Club of Bogotá Capital, Colombia — Using a Rotary global grant, Reyes Lozano is training 27 women from six Latin American countries to develop skills in peace building, conflict resolution, and mediation to deal with conflicts in their communities. The project also will build an international network of women peacebuilders.

Reyes Lozano, an attorney, was appointed by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to assist with negotiations and set terms and conditions to end the 50-year conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 

Kiran Sirah, a graduate of the Rotary Peace Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — Sirah is president of the International Storytelling Center in Tennessee, USA, which uses storytelling as a path to building peace. The organization seeks to inspire and empower people everywhere to tell their stories, listen to the stories of others, and use storytelling to create positive change. 

Kiran, the son of Ugandan refugees, created “Telling Stories That Matter,” a free guide for educators, peace builders, students, volunteers, and business leaders. The resource is now used in 18 countries.

Taylor Stevenson, a graduate of the Rotary Peace Center at the International Christian University in Japan — Stevenson developed a global grant to improve sanitary conditions for waste collectors in Pune, India. Waste collectors together handle 20 tons of unwrapped sanitary waste every day. Stevenson collaborated with SWaCH, a waste-collector cooperative, to create the “Red Dot” campaign, which calls for people to wrap their sanitary waste in newspaper or bags and mark it with a red dot.

This helps waste collectors identify sanitary waste and handle it accordingly. Stevenson developed all the educational imaging for the campaign. She also secured in-kind offerings of support, including free training space and campaign printing. She is also a Global Peace Index ambassador. 


5 things you might not know about ending polio

The road to eradicating polio has been a long and difficult one, with Rotary leading the fight since 1985. Going from nearly 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 10 so far this year has required time, money, dedication, and innovation from thousands of people who are working to end the disease. 

Here are five things you may not know about the fight to end polio:

1. Ice cream factories in Syria are helping by freezing the ice packs that health workers use to keep the polio vaccine cold during immunization campaigns.

2. Celebrities have become ambassadors in our fight to end the disease. 

They include WWE wrestling superstar John Cena, actress Kristen Bell, action-movie star Jackie Chan, golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, and world-renowned violinist and polio survivor Itzhak Perlman.

3. Health workers and Rotary volunteers have climbed mountains, crossed deserts, and sailed to remote islands, risking their lives to vaccinate children against this disease. Rotary has funded more than 1,500 motorbikes and 6,700 other vehicles, as well as 17 boats, to make those journeys. Vaccinators have even traveled on the backs of elephants, donkeys, and camels to immunize children in remote areas.

4. In Pakistan, the polio program emphasizes hiring local female vaccinators and monitors. More than 21,000 vaccinators, 83 percent of whom are women, are achieving the highest immunization coverage rates in the country’s history.

5. Thanks to the efforts of Rotary and its partners, more than 16 million people who otherwise might have been paralyzed are walking today. In all, more than 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated since 1988.


Rotary connects food banks and farmers

A program created by Rotarians in Seattle, Washington, USA, is fighting hunger and poverty in Arkansas thanks to connections formed through Rotary.

Rotary First Harvest has been funneling donations of imperfect or “ugly” produce to food banks in Washington via donated shipping since the 1980s. The program also organizes volunteers for gleaning, the ancient practice of going through fields after harvest to pick up remaining crops for the poor.

Leaders of the Seattle program visited Little Rock last fall to talk with Rotarians who have been supporting a project that helps small-scale sustainable farmers in Arkansas. The two clubs discussed ways to bring farmers and food banks together to fight poverty and build better food delivery systems.

Recently, Rotary First Harvest has taken its hunger fight to the national level with its Harvest Against Hunger initiative. The effort places volunteers from AmeriCorps VISTA with partner food banks to create new programs for recovering produce, recruiting volunteers, and gleaning, with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of healthy foods available to those in poverty.

“We refer to (the initiative) as an incubator for ideas,” says David Bobanick, executive director of Rotary First Harvest. “We are not saying, ‘Here is our model — make this work in your community.’ Instead, our approach is, ‘Here is this VISTA resource — make something that works in your community.’” 

After the meeting with Little Rock Rotarians, Harvest Against Hunger placed a VISTA member with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to work with local farmers, including those in the Little Rock project.

One effort that has been working in Washington is a Farm to Food Pantry program, which awards small grants for scattered hunger-relief groups to form two-way relationships between small-scale or remote farmers and food banks.

“We saw increases not only in the variety of produce coming into food banks, but that those farmers selling produce were more likely to donate additional produce,” says Bobanick. “It’s one thing that could work in Arkansas. In any event, we will leverage off the pre-existing connections with the farmers in the Little Rock project.”

-Arnold R. Grahl in rotary.org

Miles to End Polio - Rotary Staff participates in El Tour de Tucson

On the 18th of November, Rotary General Secretary John Hewko and a team of staffers will join Rotary members to bike up to 104 miles in El Tour de Tucson to raise funds for polio eradication. The event is one of the top cycling events in the U.S. attracting more than 9000 cyclists each year. This year's goal is to raise $3.4 Million, which will be tripled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a total of more than $10 Million, for the fight to end polio. Learn More about each team member, follow them as they train, and add your support by donating to their ride. 

Andrew Best

Andrew Best is a supervisor for Club and District Support in Rotary’s office in Australia. Not only does Andrew support Rotary clubs as a staff member, he is a member himself. He lives a very active lifestyle and could not imagine how drastically a disease like polio could affect it. Australia was able to end polio in 1971, so he knows that his generation is not aware that children still suffer from the disease. He wants to ride in Miles to End Polio, not only to raise money, but to raise awareness of the disease amongst young people in Australia.  Donate to Andrew's Ride

Donate to Andrew's Ride

Kea Gorden

Kea Gorden is a planned giving officer at Rotary headquarters. Kea is proud to be part of Rotary during this important time in global health’s history and to see the disease eradicated during her lifetime. Kea biked long distances as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Zimbabwe, but is excited to take on the challenge of riding more than 100 miles at El Tour de Tucson. She is looking forward to getting to know her colleagues better, while raising funds for polio eradication.   

Chelsea Mertz

Chelsea Mertz is a community specialist at Rotary. Since joining Rotary in 2015, she has been fortunate enough to support both the 2015 and 2016 Miles to End Polio teams. While supporting these teams, Chelsea came to know many Rotary members and staff who are committed to funding the end of polio. Their hard work and dedication inspired Chelsea to do more and join the ranks of Rotary’s volunteer army. She is excited for the opportunity to make an impact through fundraising and by cycling her heart out.   

Clarita Urey

Clarita Urey is a junior supervisor in administration for Rotary’s office in Brazil. Since joining Rotary 15 years ago, she has had the opportunity to work with hundreds of Rotary members who work to fundraise for polio eradication efforts. Clarita wants to take an active role in the eradication of polio. She is excited to be a part of the team and to see firsthand the hard work it takes to end a disease.  . 

Vincent Vernet

Vincent Vernet oversees digital, creative, and content at Rotary. Vincent is a lifetime athlete with a passion for new challenges. He is thrilled to join an amazing team as we ride to support polio eradication. Vincent works closely with the Polio team as a filmmaker and creative since joining Rotary in 2015. This year Vincent hopes to bring the Miles-to-End Polio story to life by using innovative and immersive story-telling tactics including VR & social media.

John Wright

John Wright is the assistant general counsel for Rotary. John’s birthday in 2017 marked a huge milestone for him.  Already this year, he has made healthy lifestyle changes resulting in losing 70 pounds. He completed a 2-day, 200-mile ride to support HIV-related services in the Chicago area.  He’s training to run a 5K, 10K and half marathon in three consecutive days.  He’s excited to ride in Miles to End Polio as a way to connect his personal challenge to allow him to better relate to Rotary's mission of a polio-free world.

Bridging the generation gap through mentorship - Rotary Service Connections Blog

In a rapidly evolving society, many communities are experiencing a generation gap between older and younger residents. Oakland, California in the United States is one such place.

Bridging the distance between the older citizens of Oakland and the younger communities they serve is a challenging, but rewarding opportunity for Peter Sherris, a retired cardiologist who runs the Rotary Club of Oakland’s KinderPrep program. Through the program, the club upholds Rotary’s guiding principles and brings vocational service to life by giving members opportunities to use their skills to mentor youth. The program allows members to share their knowledge and guide youth in building a successful future.

Since 2012, the club adopts nearly 1,000 low-income preschoolers each year who attend transitional kindergarten programs operated by the local school district. Club members serve as classroom aides, organize field trips and raise almost $85,000 a year for artist-in-residence programs, books, supplies, toys and additional classroom items.

“We feel we can have a big impact on [students’] readiness for kindergarten – just by having another adult in the room who can help them learn to hold a pencil or find a letter,” Sherris said. Classroom teachers agree, giving the program an overall rating of 4.8 (out of 5) in a recent assessment. They are especially grateful for the classroom help and field trips to the local zoo and amusement park since many of the families served by the program do not have the means to take their children to these places.

Alongside Rotary, many other organizations work to bridge the demographic divide. Encore.org, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, promotes second acts for the greater good. Recently the organization launched Generation-to-Generation, a campaign to mobilize 1 million adults ages 50 and older to help children and youth thrive.

Rotary members are already engaging in these types of mentorship programs and we look forward to partnering with clubs to help enhance their service efforts. Our combined efforts can empower youth with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Contact us to get involved.

Paul Taylor, Writer, Researcher, Speaker and Senior Fellow at Encore.org in Rotary Service Connections

Blog Posts

RI President's Message - September 2017

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www.eflashonline.org is an initiative of Rotary Club of Kalamassery,  R I District 3201, India. Since 1999, eFlash spreads Rotary news and stories online to members from over 100 countries. 

Founder Editor: PDG Sunil K Zachariah

This community operates in accordance with Rotary International policy, but is not an agency of, nor is it controlled by Rotary International



How Rotarians are providing disaster relief

The 45 Rotary clubs in my district have come together to support Heart to Heart International’s disaster relief efforts in Texas and Florida. Immediately after Hurricane Harvey devastated the gulf coast of Texas with over 51 inches of rain, followed by the damage caused in Florida by Hurricane Irma, our Rotary members opened their hearts and checkbooks to help.

Rotary clubs have been involved with Heart to Heart International based in Lenexa, Kansas, USA, since its inception in 1992. Many of their founders and some of their board members are Rotarians so there is a natural connection and interest in supporting their mission.

Initially, our district governor Adam Ehlert asked that each of the 2,400 Rotarians in the district give at least $ to be matched with district funds. To date, $38,293 has been collected and an additional significant amount given directly through Heart to Heart’s website.

Members have also been involved in assembling and packing hygiene kits for distribution to those involved in both disasters. Nearly 30,000 kits have been distributed in the affected areas and the need continues. In Houston, Heart to Heart plans on providing medical care for the next two to three months until regular providers are able to reopen their own clinics. Some of the medical volunteers are on their second tour following a short break at home. These services are provided at no cost to patients.

Likewise, in Florida, Heart to Heart is the only organization providing emergency medical care to residents and responders in the area of Big Pine Key.

Rotarians and other volunteers collected donations at a recent T-Bones baseball game series at Community America Ballpark. Baseball fans including comedian Bill Murray (part owner of the visiting independent professional league baseball team St. Paul Saints) contributed to the effort.

Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self is exemplified by Heart to Hearts’ excecutive director of disaster response, Sue Mangicaro, whose own condo in Naples, Florida, was flooded while she was responding to the Texas disaster. According to the CEO of Heart to Heart, “She has not yet taken time to go home and deal with her own loss; instead continuing to lead our medical response on the Florida Keys.

Pat O’Donnell, public image chair for Rotary District 5710 (Kansas, USA) in Rotary Voices

In Guatemala, education for women is a privilege

When I was a child, I really enjoyed school. I lived in a small town surrounded by the rainforest. Meeting with my friends at school, playing with them, and learning from them are among my best memories. I had a lot of curiosity that drove me to discover new things from books and from my teachers. It was easy to do my homework because I liked it so much.

This year, as I study at the Rotary Peace Center at the University of Chulalongkorn in Bangkok, Thailand, my elementary school celebrates its 100th anniversary. While, I won’t be there because of my studies, being at the Peace Centers is itself a blessing.

For a Guatemalan woman to attend school, even at the elementary level, is not easy. My grandmother and mother-in-law did not go to school and my other grandmother only attended through sixth grade. Despite primary education being compulsory and provided for free by the government, the average years of school attended by women is 4.1 years. Close to 25 percent of the population is illiterate, with rates more than 60 percent in the indigenous population.

Although school enrollment rates and first grade completion rates have been increasing in recent years, it is still the privileged who have access to education. Of the 2 million children in Guatemala that do not attend school, the majority are indigenous girls living in rural areas. In fact, over half of the Guatemalan population is indigenous. Indigenous girls in Guatemala are among the country’s most disadvantaged group with limited schooling, early marriage, frequent childbearing, and chronic poverty.

Many classrooms, especially in rural Guatemala, do not have adequate teaching materials. Many children – especially rural and indigenous children – are forced to drop out of school to help support their families or because they are unable to afford the cost of uniforms, books, supplies and transportation.  Recruiting and retaining quality teachers in rural schools is a significant challenge.

When I got the email from The Rotary Foundation saying I had been accepted into the Rotary Peace Centers program, I was amazed and happy. I was a little sad knowing I would miss the 100 year celebration, but knew I needed to take advantage of this opportunity, which is a blessing because I am the first Guatemalan woman to attend this special program at the University in Thailand.

I am still as restless to learn as when I was a child. Education is all about discovering new things. We learn not only from reading but by listening to teachers and our classmates. Here at Chulalongkorn, my classmates are from all backgrounds and cultures, representing 20 different countries.

When I arrived in Bangkok and learned that the Rotary Foundation was also celebrating its 100th year, I immediately thought this is no coincidence. My grade school and this great Foundation are both sharing important milestones at the same time.

When I return to Guatemala, I will continue fighting for human rights there, especially for girls and women to have access to quality education. I am thankful to the Rotary Foundation for this opportunity and I will do my best to share my knowledge with other Guatemalans so we can be more strategic in resolving conflicts.

Wendy Pacay, A Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand in Rotary Voices

Attend the 2017 West Africa Project Fair in Ghana

On behalf of the Host Organizing Committee for the 12th West Africa Project Fair (WAPF), I take this opportunity to invite you to attend our 2017 event in the city of Accra, Ghana,   4-11 October.

We will have nearly 50 clubs from six West African districts showcasing  a total of 200 small and large humanitarian project proposals. Together with our friends from East Africa, we will display numerous humanitarian projects categorized in six project categories. Through immersion and community visits, international visitors will experience local priorities first hand and build partnerships with local clubs to support projects that will make a significant community improvements.

As you arrive to Accra for the WAPF, you will be greeted by Rotary friends. You will share meals, experiences, and exchange ideas with nearly 1,227 Rotarians.  You will learn with wonder and experience the Ghanaian proverbial hospitality, leaving inspired to do more through Rotary.

The 2017 Fair promises to be a very exciting and memorable experience. Rotarians in the city of Accra and the entire District 9102 eagerly await our visiting friends. International visitors can register through Howard Tours and local clubs interested in showcasing their project proposals may register online. Please contact me for more information or if you have any questions.

- Chair of the West Africa Project Fair (WAPF) Host Organizing Committee in Rotary Service Connections

How we more than doubled our membership in a year

When I became president of my club, I shared a dream with some of the officers that the club could have a hundred members. But how? We had only 31 as of 1 July, 2016.

I faced challenges on two fronts. I had to make every meeting lively and enjoyable. And I had to make ours the club of choice for those who were looking for a worthy organization to join.

On the first front, I had to restructure our meetings from the usual drab, formal discussions to a fellowship where a member could really feel “at home.” Even new members could, in a relaxed manner, contribute to the free flow of ideas. Everyone was encouraged to present opinions on every issue. I gave responsibilities to every member, and even assigned project chairmanships to new ones. I tapped the expertise of the past presidents who gladly became advisers and confidantes.

Fellowship parties
Soon, the members started to feel the camaraderie and enjoyment of being a Rotarian. The last meeting of the month became our fellowship parties, hosted by the birthday celebrators for that particular month. Themes were selected and food and drinks were abundant. These fellowship parties became much-anticipated affairs, boosting morale for everyone.

As a result, it became easy for us to embark on big projects. We even partnered with the local government and other organizations on a lot of projects. Even Lions International became an ally.

I made sure that this change of strategy and the renewed vigor that followed were communicated to the public and even among clubs and Rotarians in District 3790 by way of social media and the local paper, as well as banners and streamers announcing our projects. I also made sure that public image was given much emphasis.

Attacking the second front had now become easier with the favourable image we had created from the first. It became a  natural task of each Rotarian to attract other members. More than twenty of our members brought in friends who also became motivated members.

We may not have achieved our goal of a hundred members. But we ended up with 80, making our club the biggest in our district.

Fely R De Leon, past president Rotary Club of Hundred Islands, Pangasinan, Philippines in Rotary Voices

10 tips to attract and retain quality members

Since 1 July, 2016, my Rotary club has recruited and brought in 31 new members. Eleven of these new members are women and eight of them are under 40 years of age. The club has gone from being classified as a “medium” sized club of 68 members in our district to being classified as a “large” club of 93 members in just over nine months. How did this happen?  Here’s our tips:

  1. Know your club’s strengths. If you meet in the morning, you will probably be a good fit for a 9 to 5 employee. But if you meet at noon, you’re more likely to appeal to retirees or parents of school-age children. If someone doesn’t fit your format, recommend them to another club. They won’t forget you and may send you someone another day. Let all the clubs in your area know you are looking for members, and they may send you some that better fit your format than their own.
  2. Keep a list of potential recruits. It doesn’t matter if it’s a paper list or if it’s kept on the desktop of your computer – it just makes you think about those people and others that may be a fit for your club.
  3. Make recruiting the top priority in your club. You can’t do everything as a club president, and knowing that will give you some freedom to focus on the most important thing.  Having new members – with new energy – will help you have more people to raise money for The Rotary Foundation, serve on your committees, and invite additional members/more smiling faces to your meetings and fun event. Let your members know this is the top priority so they can all help.
  4. Create a letter that lists all the great things about your club. List your star members, the advantages of where your club meets, how many members it has, etc.  Make sure to tailor the email/letter to the wants of any potential new member.
  5. List potential areas of responsibilities. Potential members will want to know how they can fit in and what opportunities there are for serving.
  6. Be persistent. There will be times that it takes literally a dozen requests to get someone to a meeting. Keep asking. They may come to a meeting, or tell you they can’t join now because they are too busy, or they aren’t interested in joining at the moment. These are all fine answers as long as you keep track of them and keep in touch. How many times did you have to be asked? (It was over a course of two years for me)
  7. Talk about Rotary wherever you go. At church, temple, work, neighborhood gatherings, family gatherings, parties, etc. You’ll be amazed how easy it is after you practice for a while. Getting a lot of “no” answers built my confidence because it didn’t hurt as bad as I thought and most people were actually happy I asked, even if they responded negatively. It’s always a good time to recruit.
  8. Celebrate when you get a new member. This gets the club excited about getting more members. Our club makes a poster of the individuals after they’ve been voted in and we put it in the front of the room at our next meeting. We do the same thing when we induct a new member.
  9. Realize there is no finish-line. Even if you are at the size that your club wants to be, there are always reasons people leave. And new insights always benefit a club. You’re either growing or you’re dying.
  10. Be vibrant. Wear a turkey suit before Thanksgiving (it’s only your dignity you stand to lose), wear a lanyard with lots of “flair”/Rotary pins (it gets people talking to you), make outrageous centerpieces for your meeting tables (it gets people talking to each other), greet people outside the building you are meeting in and hold the door open for them (it lets people know you care).

These really work. Try them out.

Throughout Membership and New Club Development month, we will be featuring blog posts that focus on club flexibility. From a hybrid club to dual membership, these posts feature clubs who have benefited greatly from restructuring or implementing new membership options.

Tom Gump, president of the Rotary Club of Edina Morningside, Minnesota, USA, and a District 5950 trainer in Rotary Voices


Rotary Convention 2018

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