8th September 2016, International Literacy Day
International disaster relief agency and Rotary International project partner ShelterBox is sending a response team from its headquarters in the United Kingdom to the remote mountainous area of Italy where the destruction is most severe. The response team will arrive Friday, 26 August, to assess the area's needs.
Luca Della Volta, president of ShelterBox Italia, the affiliate organization in Genoa, will accompany the response team. Della Volta is working with the Rotary Club of Rieti in District 2080, the club closest to the earthquake-affected sites, and will meet with officials of the Italian Civil Protection Department, fire department, and Red Cross to coordinate efforts.
If families and individuals made homeless by the disaster need emergency shelter, ShelterBox will send tents and other equipment from its locations in Italy and other sites across Europe. Della Volta says the most urgent need is for tents and relief supplies for the hospital of Rieti, where most of the patients from the destroyed hospital in Amatrice were taken.
"I am truly heartbroken over what has happened," says Della Volta, charter president of the Rotary E-Club of 2042 Italia. "As Rotarians, we are always available to help people in need."
Follow ShelterBox on Twitter for the latest updates.
- Rotary International
The country had been polio-free for two years. These cases were in a region where raids by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram and battles with the Nigerian army have made it difficult to vaccinate children, many of whom have been forced from their homes. In recent years, polio workers have been targeted by rebels. Nine were killed in Nigeria in 2013. Earlier this year, seven police officers guarding polio workers in Pakistan and three workers in Afghanistan were killed.
John Germ calls polio "a wicked disease" because it attacks the most vulnerable: children under the age of 5, mostly. They can be crippled by it.
Germ came to the Philadelphia area last week to speak about polio and to participate in a Rotary fund-raising event at Tuesday's Phillies game, where he threw out the first pitch.
Let's talk about Nigeria.
It truly does show that until every case of poliovirus is wiped out, it can rear its ugly head. It has re-energized the Rotarians and the government, along with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to further reach out and do what is called a mop-up campaign. Volunteers will deliver the oral polio vaccine to all the children in that surrounding area. We're still working on the plans.
For 31 years, Rotary has worked to end polio. Why this disease, in particular?
In 1979, a man by the name of Sir Clem Renouf was president of Rotary International. He had read in Time magazine that smallpox had been eradicated. He thought, gosh, wouldn't it be great if something like this could happen with Rotary leading the charge. Up until that time, Rotary had only been involved in community projects.
It turned out there was a virus that could be eradicated because there was a vaccine. It was something that could be administered by volunteers because it was an oral vaccine; you didn't need a shot. And it was fairly inexpensive. It was polio.
Rotary took on the task of doing a project for $760,000 to vaccinate six million children in the Philippines. After three years, polio in the Philippines was gone. So then Rotary took it on to eradicate polio around the world. They were joined by the World Health Alliance, which consisted of a lot of the countries of the world, plus WHO, UNICEF, the CDC. In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined us in that fight..........
Working with partners can strengthen club and district service projects by ensuring sustainability, providing access to subject-matter experts, and strengthening local networks. Partnering with local, national, and international organizations can help meet the many needs of communities around the world.
Rotary’s service and project partners support Rotarian-led initiatives within the avenues of service and areas of focus. All activities take place at the local level at the discretion of individual clubs and districts. Consider partnering with one of Rotary’s service partners to create a greater impact in your community:
The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) for alleviating hunger and malnutrition
Food banking is a proven solution to two critical global problems: world hunger and food waste. There is enough food to feed the world, but one-third of it is wasted. Food banks rescue perfectly edible and nutritious food before it is wasted and redistribute it to feed hungry people. In most countries, food banks distribute food through a network of community agencies, including school feeding programs, food pantries, soup kitchens, AIDS and tuberculosis hospices, elderly care facilities, orphanages, and nongovernmental organizations that provide food to the hungry. Rotary’s service partnership with GFN provides opportunities to work together to create and support food banks around the world. Read the partnership factsheet to learn more.
Peace Corps for promoting peace and enhancing community development
Peace Corps, an independent U.S. federal agency, sends U.S. citizens abroad to help tackle the most pressing needs around the world while promoting better international understanding. Peace Corps Volunteers live and work alongside the people they support to create sustainable change that lives on long after their service. A Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) offers access to local contacts, community development insights, and funding possibilities within a particular community. Involving a PCV in your project will increase its reach, impact, and sustainability. Read the partnership fact sheet.
ShelterBox for disaster relief
ShelterBox is an international aid organization that provides immediate assistance to areas ravaged by disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, flooding, hurricanes, cyclones, tsunamis, or conflict. The project partnership between Rotary and ShelterBox offers opportunities to collaborate in providing emergency shelter and vital supplies to stabilize, protect, and support communities affected by disasters and humanitarian crises. Read the partnership fact sheet.
YSA (Youth Service America) for youth involvement
YSA focuses on the engagement of young people, ages 5-25, as partners in solving the problems of the world by addressing challenges that are stifling economic and human potential, such as: environmental degradation, childhood obesity, hunger, illiteracy, animal welfare, water scarcity, human rights, and communicable diseases. Read the partnership fact sheet.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for literacy
The collaborative relationship between The Dollywood Foundation’s Imagination Library and RI provides a way for clubs in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia to support early childhood literacy by providing children in their community with a free book every month from birth to age five. Read the partnership fact sheet.
Along with collaborating with like-minded groups, you can make a more successful impact and create stronger service projects by:
We hope these resources will help your clubs and district carry out impactful and sustainable initiatives. Please write to the Rotary Service Connections team with any questions.
- Rotary Service Connections Staff
Legendary singer and polio survivor Donovan Leitch, better known simply as Donovan, has joined Rotary in its fight to eradicate the paralyzing disease that afflicted him during much of his childhood.
Donovan contracted polio at age three in Glasgow, Scotland. The disease weakened his right leg and left it thinner and shorter than the other. Confined to his bed for much of his childhood, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer said his father would read him poetry.
In a recent interview with the Daily Express, Donovan said that listening to poetry piqued his interest in creative writing. “If I hadn’t had that experience maybe I wouldn’t have gone on to write and sing my own songs for the past half a century.
“I feel strongly that having a disability in one area makes you explore others instead. That was the case for me after having polio,” says Donovan, who recently became a Rotary polio ambassador.
Donovan went on to record several hit albums and singles in the UK, United States, and other countries. His top singles include “Mellow Yellow” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” Donovan collaborated with The Beatles on songs including “Yellow Submarine” and has shared the stage with musical icons Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.
“Having had polio never held me back as I got older. Although having one leg smaller than the other isn’t much fun I could always get about without any trouble,” Donovan says. “Luckily in the music industry everyone was only interested in my singing and playing and not the size of my legs.”
As a Rotary polio ambassador, Donovan will support the Purple4Polio campaign, a collaboration between Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland and the Royal Horticultural Society. The purple represents the colored dye that health workers use during immunization campaigns to mark the fingers of children who have received the polio vaccine.
“It was very easy to join this campaign because I had polio, and I wanted to tell everybody that it’s almost eradicated around the world,” Donovan says. “This is very important. I want to help with that last push, which is always the hardest. ”
It’s 3 a.m. on a Sunday, and Katheryne Rosa Barazorda Cuellar is up, preparing to work in her mother’s soup stall in the small Peruvian town of Anta, near the Inca capital of Cusco. Smart and seemingly indefatigable, she has a quick smile and infectious laugh.
Rosa is studying to be a chemical engineer, and she has unmistakable talent and drive. She needs them. Poverty, gender bias, and violence darken the lives of many young Peruvian women, including her.
Rosa is lucky, though. Her family supports her. And for the past four years, so has Visionaria Perú – a Rotary Foundation-supported leadership and self-empowerment project in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Colorado Rotarians launched the summer program for adolescent girls with career and community-service aspirations. The project team hopes to generate measurably effective and sustainable empowerment projects worldwide. Peru is the first step on that ambitious journey.
In Peru, women suffer higher rates of poverty and unemployment than men. About 50 percent of Peruvian women in the Sacred Valley region, which lies outside Cusco, will suffer severe physical or sexual intimate-partner abuse during their lifetimes, the World Health Organization reports.
Meanwhile, Peru’s environment suffers. Peruvians – particularly in rural areas – endure high levels of smoke from cooking over indoor fires. About 4 million of the country’s 30 million residents lack access to clean water.
Untangling such a knot is difficult.
In 2012, members of the Rotary Club of Boulder’s New Generations pilot satellite club came up with a plan to address all of those problems by concentrating on empowering local women – specifically in their ability to make and act upon their decisions.
The town of Urubamba shares its name with the river that flows past shops, farms, and ramshackle buildings painted with candidate ballot symbols from the 2011 general election – a soccer ball, a mother and child, a purple striped potato, a traditional cap. Downstream, the river snakes far below the misty ruins of Machu Picchu and tumbles toward the Amazon River.
Here, well-heeled tourists may drop $475 apiece – nearly the mean monthly salary in Peru – to ride the Hiram Bingham luxury train from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Visitors glide past squalid barrios where grandmothers bathe in ditches, children may breathe toxic indoor stove smoke, and dogs paw through piles of garbage, seeking food.
On an early January morning in Urubamba’s La Quinta Eco Hotel, young women gather for a weeklong leadership training institute through Visionaria Perú. The girls – the team calls them visionarias (female visionary, in Spanish) – come from both the bucolic Andes and the noisy city. Most receive tutoring, scholarships, and other help from Peruvian nonprofits such as project partner Peruvian Hearts, which supports Rosa.
Sitting in a circle, the young women each take a small piece of paper and write a fear they harbor. They put their paper in a hat, and each (anonymous) fear is read aloud and discussed. Genevieve Smith, a Rotarian and program director of Visionaria Perú, works with them to understand that shame and fear need not stifle their personal or professional growth.
This “fears in a hat” exercise is one of the lessons taught during the institute, in which visionarias are coached on leadership skills, professional growth, environmental awareness, and self-esteem. The training follows a 150-page curriculum developed by Colorado Rotarians in partnership with local Peruvian professors and experts.
“Before, I never really thought much about how I treated myself. I always used to tell myself ‘You can’t’ and ‘You’re so stupid because you messed up,’ ” one participant says after the training. “But not now. Now I know I should treat myself better. And I know that when I fail, it’s just a chance to learn how to do something better the next time around.”
At the end of the institute, the visionarias form teams and enter one of three activism tracks: improved cookstoves, water and sanitation, or solar lighting. The activism tracks give participants the chance to exercise their skills by working on sustainable development projects they envision and carry out from beginning to end.
Members of the Rotary Club of Cusco attend portions of the leadership institute to review and provide feedback on the girls’ community project plans. They also participate during implementation of the projects and attend the final celebration to review and support the girls’ achievements. A mentor and local NGOs assist each team in project planning and implementation, and Rotary Foundation-supported vocational training team members such as Smith participate.
The project started in 2012 when Smith, then a Rotaractor, was in Peru through her studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and visited a hogar (home for girls) supported by Peruvian Hearts. There, she asked the girls what kind of support they would need as they got older. She found out that while the students in Peruvian Hearts’ college prep program were smart and qualified to attend a university, they lacked confidence and felt discriminated against because of their indigenous, and often troubled, backgrounds. Smith crafted a project plan to support the girls by the time her bus took her back to where she was staying.
Marika Meertens, a Rotarian with experience at Engineers Without Borders, pitched the Peru project to the Rotary Club of Boulder’s New Generations members. And Abigale Stangl, who has been working alongside one of her instructors at the University of Colorado to produce metrics that show how well the project works, “got on board as soon I heard about the project,” she recalls.......
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