It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the sad news that the President-elect of Rotary International, Sam F. Owori, has passed away. In this time of great loss, I ask you to keep his wife Norah, the Owori family, and Sam’s millions of friends around the world in your thoughts. Please remember Sam for the outstanding, hard-working Rotarian that he was.
- Ian Riseley in facebook
RI Director Board 2017 - 18
The Board of Trustees of the Rotary Foundation 2017 - 18
Ugandan Deputy Speaker Rt Hon Jacob Oulanyah paying respect to late RIPE Sam Owori at the Ugandan Parliament
A Tribute to Sam Frobisher Owori by PRIP Jonathan Majiyagbe
When the announcement was made that Sam Frobisher Owori of the Rotary Club of Kampala, Uganda, was the choice of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International 2018-19, it was sensational news! It was greeted with rapturous applause, not only because he was a popular choice, but also because it had taken a long time to produce another President from the African continent.
'Small Sam' as he was affectionately called, was the 2nd African to be Rotary International President in the 113 year history of the Organisation. This is why his untimely death has been so painful, and shocking beyond belief, leaving all his many friends and well wishers around the world utterly devastated.
Sam Owori was a man of many parts: a seasoned banker who served in his country, as well as at the African Development Bank in Abidjan. He was also a Law graduate.
Sam was a gentleman of impeccable character, polite, humble and always wearing a winsome smile. He was a good Christian and together with Norah, prayerfully encouraged me during my health challenges.
Our late President-elect had great plans for the future of Rotary in the areas of membership and extension. As a member of the International Polio Plus Committee, Sam was dedicated to the eradication of Polio.
The many tributes that have appeared on social media and the fact that his country is organising a state funeral for him bear testimony to the life of a truly great leader and the esteem in which they hold him.
A part of the "Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow best describes Sam and his impact on us.
'Tell me not, in mournful numbers
Life is but an empty dream
For the soul is dead that slumbers
And things are not what the seem
Lives of great men all remind us.
We can make our lives sublime
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time
Our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife, Norah and the entire Owori family. May his soul rest in Peace.
This Memorial by PRIPJon Majiyagbe is by invitation for eFlashOnline
Dallas, Texas—Hundreds of Rotarians from across the United States joined Ugandans living in the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) area and thronged St. Vincent Cathedral in Bedford on Friday to pay their last respects to the fallen President elect of Rotary International Samuel Frobisher Owori. He succumbed to cardiac arrest at the Medical City Hospital, Dallas, Texas last Friday July 14. The sudden death of the Rotary icon followed post-operative complication to remove a tumor from his left thigh on Tuesday July 11. He was on the cusp of assuming the highest office of Rotary International on July 1, 2018 following his inauguration during Rotary International convention in Toronto, Canada in June 2018.
The funeral service, led by Rev. John Sebalugga Kalimi, was preceded by viewing of the body at both the Bedford Memorial Funeral Home and at the Cathedral in the afternoon and evening respectively where Rotarians, relatives, and friends paid their last respects. The widow of the deceased, Mrs. Norah Owori, the second of her three sons, Bony Owori, the deceased’s sister Mrs. Deborah Christie and her two sons, grandchildren, relatives; Lydia Odaga from New York and others attended the funeral service. Ugandans living in the Dallas Fort Worth area and others from across the United States were joined by Rotarians from across the United States who either flew in or drove for hours to pay their last respects to the fallen champion of the global humanitarian organization.
The fallen Rotary International President elect, a gentleman per excellence and a man with an impeccable humanitarian service record, Samuel Frobisher Owori, made the work of his eulogists easier. No one had to make up anything to please the congregation because everything he did spoke for itself as it was done openly, fairly, and with the best of goodwill. As Sam Owori rests, the Rotary fraternity draws from the hope that although he is gone to be with his creator, in essence, they are not running pell-mell. Rather, they are emboldened by what he stood and lived for, humanitarian service; a legacy and spirit that will burn even brighter than ever before. So, when Rotarians from across the USA joined Ugandans living in Dallas to pay their tribute to the Rotary icon, Samuel Frobisher Owori, their work was clearly cut out.
From the Rotary International headquarters in Evanston near Chicago, Illinois, incumbent President Ian Riseley sent Rotarian John Smarge, an Aide to the fallen President elect Sam Owori to represent him at the funeral service. Other Rotarians at the funeral service included among others, Past Rotary International President (PPRI) Ron D. Burton (2013-14); Rotarian Donald L. Mebus, Aide to RI President Ian Riseley (2017-18); Rotarians Bill Slicker and Pam Carvey of the Park Cities Rotary Club in Dallas; the youthful Rotarian Grace Pulkol Adams, originally from Uganda who drove over 5 hours from Midland, Texas; and Rotarian Joseph L. Way Sr., President of one of the Rotary clubs in Arlington...........
The Rotary flags in front of Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, and Rotary offices around the world fly at half-staff this week as friends and Rotary colleagues mourn President-elect Sam F. Owori, who died on 13 July from complications after surgery.
With an engaging smile and a calming voice, Sam put everyone he talked to at ease, says Hilda Tadria , a member of the Rotary Club of Gaba, Uganda, and a close friend of Sam and his wife, Norah.
“I call it the ‘Sam Smile,’” says Tadria. “It made him very approachable and easy to talk to. I think his smile is one of the things Rotary and his friends will miss most.”
Sam, who had been elected to serve as president of Rotary International in 2018-19, would have been the second African Rotary member, and the first Ugandan, to hold that office. He joined Rotary in 1978 and was a member of the Rotary Club of Kampala, Uganda.
“No matter the situation, Sam was always upbeat, always joking around and putting everyone else in a good mood,” says Tadria.
One of the admirable things about Sam, Tadria says, was his love and devotion to his wife. They met in primary school in Tororo, Uganda. Sam described Norah Owori as beautiful, well-educated, and full of character.
“He adored Norah and always put her first.” Tadria says. “They were best friends and partners for life. It was very sweet to see them together. They never left each other’s side.”
Sam was highly respected in Uganda, Tadria says, for his high integrity and consistent ethical standards. Those qualities, she says, are important in a Rotary president. “He was a man everyone could trust.”
She adds, “He preferred listening to speaking. It’s one reason he was so well-liked.”
The road to president-elect
Like many members, Sam was invited to Rotary by a persistent friend. “I did not want to go,” he cheerfully acknowledged years later. “I had no interest. But I had respect for my friend, so I went. And when I got there, I was in shock. The room was full of people I knew.”
The more Sam saw of Rotary’s good work, the more enthusiastic he became. He is largely credited with the tremendous increase in clubs in Uganda: from nine in 1988, when he was district governor, to 89 today. His friends called his enthusiasm “the Owori madness” — to which he mildly replied, “If it is madness, I would be glad if more people would catch it.”
Sam described himself as “an incorrigible optimist” who chose to see the best side of everyone and the bright side of any situation. Gentle in manner, unfailingly modest, and quick to smile, Sam is remembered as “Smiling Sam,” says RI President Ian Riseley.
John Smarge, who was selected by Sam to be his presidential aide, called Sam a “rock star” among Rotary members. “In just the two weeks he was president-elect, you could see how much he was loved,” Smarge says. “The Rotarians in Uganda view him as a national treasure.”
Smarge adds, “He spoke with quiet confidence and simple complexity.”
Sam brought an unyielding sense of right and wrong to his work as chief executive officer of the Institute of Corporate Governance of Uganda, to his previous work with the African Development Bank and other institutions, and to his work with Rotary.
Sam, who was one of 15 children, attributed his deep ethical sense to his upbringing, and particularly his father, who had been a school principal and then a county chief in Uganda. “He was a very strict disciplinarian,” Sam remembered, “and when he became chief, he ran that county like a big school — with a ruler. He insisted that everything was done the right way.”
Sam’s Rotary career spanned some of Uganda’s most difficult years, including the dictatorship of Idi Amin, who was deeply suspicious of Rotary and often sent agents to spy on Rotary meetings. “Sometimes people came as guests, and you wouldn’t know exactly where they were coming from or who invited them,” Sam said later. “We always welcomed them. We had nothing to hide.”
Prominent Ugandan Rotary members, including Sam’s own manager at the bank where he worked, were picked off the streets by Amin’s forces and killed. Many Rotary clubs closed and most members withdrew: from a high of 220 members, Rotary membership dropped to around 20.
One day, Sam recalled, a member was taken right in front of Sam’s club. “We had just finished our meeting and standing in front of the entrance of the hotel. He got picked up right there in front of us. Two guys threw him in the truck of a car and we never saw him again.”
Undeterred, Sam was back at his meeting the next week.
An avid learner, Sam held a graduate degree in labor law from the University of Leicester, England; a business management degree from California Coast University; and a management graduate degree from Harvard Business School.
He served Rotary in many capacities, including RI director, trustee of The Rotary Foundation, regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, regional RI membership coordinator, and RI representative to the United Nations Environment Program and UN-Habitat. He was a member or chair of several committees, including the International PolioPlus Committee, the Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, and the Audit Committee.
Sam and Norah became Paul Harris Fellows, Major Donors, and Benefactors of The Rotary Foundation.
Sam is survived by his wife, Norah; three sons, Adrin Stephen, Bonny Patrick, and Daniel Timothy; and grandchildren Kaitlyn, Sam, and Adam. Condolences can be addressed to Mrs. Norah Agnes Owori, c/o Institute of Corporate Governance of Uganda, Crusader House, Plot 3 Portal Avenue, Kampala, Uganda or via email@example.com.
Memorial contributions in honor of Sam can be directed to the Sam F. Owori Memorial to Polio.
Rotary’s 2017-18 nominating committee will select a new president-elect, in addition to the president-nominee, during its scheduled meeting in early August.
- Ryan Hyland and Abby Breitstein in www.rotary.org
Last month, world governments and other donors pledged $1.2 billion to help carry the 30-year fight to eradicate polio over the finish line. At its height, the polio epidemic caused 350,000 cases of paralysis in children every year. Last year, only 37 cases were reported. So far this year, the number stands at six.
But as momentous as these gains are, victory over polio is not yet assured. And one factor – the role of female vaccinators – will be a critical determinant of success.
Women have long been on the front lines of the global effort to end polio. In places like the tribal areas of Pakistan, male vaccinators are often not allowed to enter a stranger’s home, whereas female health workers can deliver the vaccine to vulnerable children, along with other routine immunizations and basic health services.
In 2015, I traveled to neighboring India to take part in a national immunization campaign, joining an all-female team of health workers assigned to administer the polio vaccine to children in an impoverished part of New Delhi. I accompanied a local health worker, Deepika, on my crutches, as I have been crippled by polio myself.
We made our way through the crowded dirt paths, and at one house, a mother of three whom Deepika knew well invited us in. Deepika paused knowingly: “Someone is missing,” she said, counting two children. The mother replied that her eldest child had gone to another village. Deepika recorded this fact in her notepad, vowing to return, and vaccinated the remaining children before moving on. Even one child missed is too many.
Where polio still persists – in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria – vaccinators like Deepika work tirelessly to reach every child. This “last mile” in the global polio eradication drive is indeed the toughest. According to the June 2017 report of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, more than a million children remain unvaccinated, including 858,000 in Pakistan alone.
The hardest-to-reach children in Pakistan are those on the move, traveling from relative to relative as families search for a better life, often crossing the Afghan border. While some of these children are vaccinated at border crossings, many are missed.
The IMB is now calling for a new approach: finding the children not when they are in transit, but wherever they reside, no matter how short their stay. This strategy calls for deep local knowledge to anticipate when a child will return, so that a vaccinator can be there. And who better to know such intimate details than the women of the communities in need of this service?
In the Pakistani district of Kohat, south of Peshawar, female vaccinators have been credited with helping to lower the number of unvaccinated children from 30,000 to 22,000, and to reduce the number of vaccine refusals from around 4,000 to 400. These brave and dedicated women conduct their work despite great obstacles, including threats to their safety. One health worker described how she has been going door to door to administer the polio vaccine to children for 16 years. Despite pleas from her family to stop, she persists, heartened by the fact that for years, not a single child in her area had been crippled by polio.
Conversely, in Quetta, the area of Pakistan with the highest number of susceptible children, female vaccinators are in short supply, and turnover is high. There, the number of confirmed polio cases is on the rise.
These two cities tell the story of the polio eradication campaign: success, or failure, depends on the role that female vaccinators play. To ensure that female vaccinators stay engaged in this fight, it is essential to address the obstacles – whether physical security, social constraints, or low pay – that they confront.
Let us not forget that the risks these women take to protect everyone from a disease that has taken an enormous toll on global health. As a polio survivor, I simply cannot fathom the possibility that, with complete eradication in our sights, we might allow polio to return.
Since UNICEF began emphasizing the hiring of women for its polio program in 2014, the number of female vaccinators has increased dramatically. Nearly 62% of vaccinators in Nigeriaare women. In Pakistan, the proportion of female vaccinators is 58%, and 30% in Afghanistan. As Aidan O’Leary, UNICEF’s chief of anti-polio efforts in Pakistan, has noted, “female vaccinators are driving every single operational gain that is being made.”.......
As a child in Bogotá, Colombia, Lucas Peña was shocked to learn that violence between government forces and insurgent groups prevented his family from visiting relatives elsewhere in the country.
Years later in college, he studied the conflict from what he calls an “academic, analytical point of view.”
Only after graduating and joining the effort to demobilize ex-combatants did he really begin to understand the issues behind the violence that has plagued the nation for decades. (In February, members of the country’s largest insurgent group began surrendering their weapons as part of a peace deal with the government.)
Thanks to the Rotary Peace Fellowship, Peña earned his master’s degree in conflict, security, and development at the University of Bradford in Bradford, England, in 2015.
He now works for the World Wildlife Fund as a specialist in land governance. A member of the Bogotá Capital Rotary Club, Peña encourages other Colombians to become peace fellows. And it’s working: Five peace fellows were selected from Colombia for 2017.
Q: After college, you began working with the Organization of American States Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia, helping monitor the demobilization process of right-wing groups. What did that process entail, and what was your role in it?
A: At that time, the paramilitaries were laying down their guns, demobilizing their combatants, and participating in judicial processes. This was in exchange for spending only five to eight years in jail. As part of the demobilization process, the government had to issue identification to the ex-combatants, because without identification, they couldn’t re-integrate into society. The government provided them with health insurance and education, too.
What I did was report on their security conditions and the re-integration process of the ex-combatants. I did that by talking to people – local government officials, military, police officers, victims.
Q: How does your current work at the World Wildlife Fund pertain to peace?
A: We are working toward a policy for the provision of land to peasants who live in natural parks in Colombia. The peasants’ lack of land is what made them go to the national parks and live there illegally. There’s plenty of land in Colombia, but the good stuff is already owned; less than 1 percent of the population owns more than half of Colombia’s best land.
We expect the public-policy response will include the provision of land, but it also has to ensure that the peasants will be given productive land, as well as the means of making that land productive. Solving this problem is part of the peace accord that the Colombian government has reached with FARC [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], the biggest guerrilla group.
Q: What did you learn from your time as a Rotary Peace Fellow?
A: Peacebuilding is not only a matter of local communities, not only a matter of national government, and not only a matter of the international community; it’s a mix of all those levels. Another thing I learned is that the world itself is getting safer, in that the number of people killed in conflicts has decreased proportionate to the population. It’s a very long and slow process, but the world is becoming more secure.
When I was a kid in the 1960s — before the interstate highway system bypassed America’s main streets — towns and cities across the United States welcomed road-weary travelers with brightly painted signs sponsored by their local community service clubs. Those signs expressed a well-centered sense of civic pride, but they also reflected a commitment to embrace others with respect, friendship and generosity in the spirit of the Good Samaritan.
Years before the creation of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the Fulbright Scholars Program, community service organizations like Rotary International laid the groundwork for American leadership in the 20th century. They forged international networks of like-minded citizens often separated by country, language and religion — but united in the belief that all lives have equal value and everyone deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy and productive life.
Today, thanks to the hard work and the leadership of more than a million Rotarians around the world, we are rapidly approaching one of the greatest achievements in human history: the eradication of polio. Rotary’s journey to tackle the disease started back in 1979 when it kick-started a program that immunized six million children in the Philippines against polio.
The following year, Dr. Albert Sabin — the legendary researcher who invented the oral polio vaccine — gave a speech at the Rotary Annual Convention. Sabin laid out his vision for Rotary to take a leading role in eradicating the disease through fundraising, grant-making and providing legions of trained volunteers to administer the vaccine to children around the globe.
Rotary stepped up to Dr. Sabin’s challenge, mobilizing tens of thousands of members in dozens of countries. In 1985, it established PolioPlus, a program dedicated to eradicating this disease that was paralyzing about 350,000 children each year.
In 1988, the world joined Rotary’s fight, as member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) voted to make polio eradication a global health priority at the World Health Assembly. This led to the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), spearheaded by Rotary, the WHO, UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was honored to join the effort in 2007.
Since then — thanks to the tireless efforts of governments, aid agencies, public service organizations and millions of frontline health workers — the number of polio cases has been driven to a vanishing point. Just 37 cases were recorded last year. But until we reach the magic number of zero and polio is wiped out everywhere, all children remain at risk.
As the world nears the end of the fight against polio, it’s fitting that we return to the same forum that launched Rotary’s global focus on eradication: the annual Rotary International Convention, which now draws more than 40,000 Rotarians from around the world. This year’s convention returned to Atlanta, Georgia, the city that first hosted this gathering exactly 100 years ago. It is also fitting as the U.S. has long been the largest government donor and a leader on polio eradication.
Today, I joined Rotarians at the convention, and it’s clear to me that they remain as fiercely committed as ever to seeing the end of this disease.
Donors from around the globe, including Canada, the European Commission, Japan, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates, collectively pledged $1.2 billion toward polio eradication. Governments of the last three polio-endemic countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — also reaffirmed their commitment to ending this disease once and for all.
While some in Washington today are urging cuts in foreign aid — investments that amount to less than one percent of the U.S. budget — these new pledges send a strong signal to the world: investing in children’s health is worth it and makes us all better off.
And there is so much more we can accomplish by continuing to support critical programs. In fact, we can reduce child deaths another 50 percent by 2030 if the United States and other governments continue to invest in vaccines, maternal and newborn health, and the prevention and treatment of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
Of course, this is something Rotarians know well. I’ve spoken with Rotary Clubs around the world, and have always been inspired by the strong sense of optimism they each feel toward winning the fight against polio. Rotarians understand that helping citizens of other nations fight poverty and disease makes the world more stable, makes Americans safer, and creates friendship between people of goodwill everywhere.
Now let us follow in Rotary’s footsteps, and ensure a peaceful and prosperous world for all of us.
Story Written By: Chris Elias, President of Global Development at Gates Foundation
As the 2017 Rotary year came to a close last month, Rotary and ShelterBox reflected on our most recent collaborations to save lives and help families and communities devastated by conflict and natural disasters.
Over the past year, Rotary groups around the world have raised the equivalent of US $2,846,956 to help families who have lost everything following disaster. The funds enabled deployments to disasters in 12 countries (Afghanistan, Cameroon, Columbia, Ecuador, Fiji, Haiti, Iraq, Mozambique, Niger, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Syria) and relief efforts included responding to floods, political conflict, landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes and cyclones to help more than 20,150 families.
Responding to flash floods and mudslides in Peru, ShelterBox worked closely with Rotarians and Rotaractors to conduct an assessment of affected communities in April 2017. As a result, 2000 solar lights and mosquito nets along with 1000 ShelterKits were distributed in the Trujillo and Piura Provinces. The ShelterKits allowed some families to stay in their homes and temporarily fix damaged structures while the nets and lights were used in camps by families who had lost their homes completely in the floods. Rotarians worked with ShelterBox on a range of activities, from identifying the worst affected communities and assisting with assessments, to clearing aid through customs. Rotary members also introduced ShelterBox’s operations team to the President and First Lady of Peru, to ensure consistency with national priorities.
In response to the Sri Lankan government’s appeal for help with rescue and relief following devastating mudslides and monsoons, ShelterBox re-established partnerships with the Sri Lankan government, colleague charities and local Rotary clubs. The Rotary Club of Capital City was awarded the District 3320 award for ‘Outstanding Project in Community Service’, “Economic & Community Development” for their tireless work with ShelterBox in response to the flooding and landslides in 2016.
Drought in Somaliland
More than 1.5 million people have been affected by severe drought over the past three years. With up 70% of livestock wiped out, high volumes of communities are moving throughout the country in search of food and water. After a March assessment, ShelterBox partnered with Action Aid to provide life-saving materials including tarpaulins, water containers, and sanitary products for women. Aid boxes have been redesigned for nomadic communities in Somaliland with additional resources arriving by late June.
In most conflict zones, it is unsafe and impractical for ShelterBox to deploy Response Team members to hand-deliver aid, as done with natural disasters. As a result of the generosity of Rotary clubs and districts all over the world, ShelterBox was able to team-up with implementing partners to distribute desperately needed aid in these regions.
As the conflict in Syria runs into its sixth year, ShelterBox continues to work with partners to help the estimated 6.6 million of affected people displaced from their homes. ShelterBox is working with on-the-ground implementing partners including Hand in Hand for Syria and ReliefAid to distribute ShelterBoxes, ShelterKits, and SchoolBoxes.
Iraq – Mosul Offensive
Since October 2016, around 900,000 people have been displaced in Iraq as forces battled to retake Mosul. Since the offensive began, ShelterBox and partners, including ACTED, have been helping people fleeing the city. In total, 6000 families have received shelter and other aid items, with a further 2000 families receiving additional essential lifesaving items. ShelterBox continues to work with partners to reach more families.
- Alex Youlten, Rotary Partnership Manager for ShelterBox, and Ellina Kushnir, Supervisor of Service and Engagement for Rotary International in Rotary Service Connections
Posted by C.J. Singh on July 24, 2017 at 6:27pm
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