RI President's Window

Congrats Rtns of on being declared polio free by WHO &having names removed from list of endemic countries.@Rotary@EndPolioNow

Back in Evanston. It's cold. With Mike McGovern who heads our polio efforts, gave me an update. 


Rotary Chat with RI President K R Ravindran, 19 August 2015

What is new

Celebrating A Polio-Free Nigeria - Michael K. McGovern, Chair, Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee

World Polio Day tool kit

Polio: 'The Rotarian' Interviews Aseefa Bhutto Zardari

Rotary Chat with RI President K R Ravindran, 19 August 2015

12 tips to make the most out of your membership

Rotary no longer an elite club - K R Ravindran, RI President

Why Did You Join Rotary?

Rotary Global Rewards: Rotary's new member benefit program.

#RotaryChat with @JohnHewko, 5 August, 2015

Ian Riseley is the choice of the Nominating Committee as RI President for 2017/18

Government of Canada Partners with Rotary Foundation Canada to Eradicate Polio Worldwide and Reduce Poverty in Developing Countries

A Dozen Ways to Make the Most of Your Membership

Polio-free world forever - RI President K R Ravindran writes in Times of Malta

Nigeria's One Year Milestone

100 Years For Hawaii Rotary - 'Midweek' Cover Story

Malala Yousafzai spent her 18th birthday helping Syrian refugee children in Jordan get back to school. You can make a difference at any age.

'For the Record: K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran' in The Rotarian

Pay It Forward - A profile of K R Ravindran

Rotary Global Rewards

Gary Huang bids farewell

A winning combo: Rasheeda Bhagat interviews K R Ravindran for Rotary News Online

World should spend more on education, less on war - Former Costa Rican President , Oscar Arias

Presidents and vibrant clubs make Rotary, not RI leaders - RIPE K R Ravindran at MDPETS at Colombo

No ego trips for incoming RI Director Dr Manoj Desai - Rasheeda Bhagat in Rotary News

Rotary recognizes Japanese Prime Minister as leader in the global effort to eradicate polio

The Best Shot: The Rotarian 2015 Photo Contest Winners

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Legacy of PolioPlus lives on in India

India reported its last case of polio in 2011. Since then, the toddler behind that statistic has grown into a child who laughs, plays, and runs, albeit with a limp. Past RI President Rajendra K. Saboo is gratified that no other children will be afflicted with the disease in his native country. “But you still see a few, above ages 12 and 13, and one starts feeling, ‘We came too late for them,’” he says. This inspires everyone to remain committed to keeping the poliovirus at bay, Saboo notes, especially with the risk of the disease’s return just a border-crossing away.

The lessons and partnerships that have emerged in the decades of halting polio’s spread in India have left a legacy: a cadre of trained health workers with skills in disease surveillance, education, collaboration, and care – and they are already being redeployed to address other health and social needs.

The battle against polio in India never was the single focus of the campaign there, notes Jay Wenger, director for polio eradication at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which since 2007 has invested more than $1.5 billion to help end the disease, with another $1.8 billion committed through 2018. “While the national network collected polio information from across the country, we used the infrastructure for other things,” says Wenger, whose résumé includes a five-year stint as project manager of the World Health Organization’s National Polio Surveillance Project, based in the New Delhi area. “When bird flu came up, we got a call from the Indian government to figure it out. Later they asked if we could help them find out how many measles cases there were. This is a major way in which the polio program has helped.”

One of Rotary’s key roles in ending polio in India was advocacy, says Sunil Bahl, medical officer for polio eradication with the WHO Southeast Asia Regional Office. “Rotary had a voice that would be heard by the government,” he says. “If any challenges were highlighted, Rotary was there to ensure there was some solution to overcome them.” Rotary’s voice is still vital, Bahl says, especially in Mission Indradhanush (“Rainbow”), which the Indian government and its partners initiated to target seven vaccine-preventable illnesses: diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, childhood tuberculosis, hepatitis B, measles, and polio. Their goal is to expand immunizations to all children by 2020.

Rotary supported the first phase of the endeavor, from April through July, by working to promote vaccinations in 201 of India’s highest-risk administrative districts. That effort aimed to reduce by half the nine million babies, out of the approximately 27 million born every year in India, who do not receive these critical immunizations. “We estimate that one of every three does not get all seven vaccines by the age of one year,” Bahl says........

Read more from The Rotarian

Memories of Kenya fuel my ride to end polio - Lindsay Griswold, Youth Exchange senior specialist , RI

My passion for working with youth at an international level first blossomed during my time with the Peace Corps in Kenya. I served as a Deaf education volunteer from 2006 to 2008 at Gede Special School in Coast Province.

While I was not aware then of the significance Rotary would later have in my life, the school was built by the Rotary Club of Malindi, Kenya, a few months before my arrival. Gede serves not only students whoare Deaf but also those who have physical and cognitive disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and even polio.

Living and teaching in Kenya was an incredibly meaningful journey that I continue to learn from and reflect on, even today. I miss the mamas at the village cafe, the beauty of the Indian Ocean, and most importantly, my former students.

My love of biking flourished when I moved to Chicago after the Peace Corps. I bought a road bike from Ciclo Urbano, a West Side bicycle shop that supports local at-risk youth through its earn-a-bike summer program. I used this as my sole mode of transportation and quickly learned the necessity of avoiding Chicago’s numerous potholes and car doors along the way. A few years later, I met my now husband, and our mutual love of bikes easily solidified our relationship. In fact, we even got engaged at the top of a mountain during a bike ride in Crested Butte, Colorado — an incredibly romantic event until I had my first-ever bike crash soon after. Now, I find myself riding long distances on the weekends, discovering new trails, and roadtripping with my bike always in tow.

After six years of working in Chicago schools, I made the decision to return to my Peace Corps roots and continue working with youth worldwide. Little did I know the Rotary wheel painted on the wall of my Kenyan classroom had foreshadowed my professional future! Rotary International has been a perfect fit for my interests. As the senior specialist for Youth Exchange, I work with district leaders to support Rotary Youth Exchange students during one of the most eye-opening, adventurous years of their lives. As a member of the RI staff Miles to End Polio team, I am able to build fellowship with like-minded colleagues and push myself in different ways than I can when riding on my own.

To me, Service Above Self means being generous with my time, opening my mind to new experiences, and putting others’ comfort before my own. What better testament to Rotary’s mission than biking 104 miles to end polio? When the Tucson hills loom ahead this November, I will draw strength from my time in Kenya and think of the students at Gede. I will remember Sidi’s smile, Zawadi’s dancing, and Kupata’s storytelling. And I will keep on pedaling through the pain.

- Rotary Voices

Rotary and Shelterbox Support Syrian Refugees

A refugee family from Syria seeks shelter in cramped conditions on the Greek island of Lesbos.
Photo Credit: Rachel Harvey/ShelterBox

In Syria, where a civil war has been raging since 2011, more than 6,000 people flee the country every day. As of September, more than 4.1 million people have become refugees, and 7.6 million more have been internally displaced.

“The plight of Syria’s refugees is a litmus test for the world's compassion,” says Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko. “Rotary members worldwide are profoundly disheartened by the refugee crisis now unfolding in Syria and other parts of the world,” which the United Nations has described as the worst in decades.

“Rotary is following the situation closely,” Hewko says. “We know our members have an inherent desire to act, to relieve the suffering and uncertainty that displaced individuals and families are facing. We call on you to respond as Rotarians have for more than 100 years: to use your professional skills and acumen, leverage your connections to other leaders, and mobilize your local communities to provide the necessary resources and funding to address the humanitarian crisis.”

Rotary members can donate to the disaster relief efforts of our project partner . The organization has supported the Syrian relief effort for close to four years and is working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to distribute relief materials. ShelterBox is also working with communities in Greece and parts of Turkey to provide transitional housing and supplies to displaced people passing through these regions in an effort to reach other countries in Europe.

Rachel Harvey, a member of a ShelterBox response team that recently returned from Greece, says Syrian refugees are making dangerous crossings to the shores of Greece.

As many as 2,000 people arrive daily on Lesbos’ northern beaches, says Harvey, referring to a Greek island in the Aegean Sea off the Turkish coast. The trip from Turkey to Greece usually takes about an hour and a half. “The flimsy rubber dinghies are invariably overcrowded, and the majority of passengers can’t swim,” she says.

Harvey adds: "The experience is terrifying. Another trauma added to the layers that many of the displaced have accumulated through war in Syria or South Sudan, insecurity in Afghanistan or Pakistan. One man told me: 'It was a nightmare. I don’t know how we got through that trip,' ” she says.

Says Hewko: “We appreciate our clubs and members for their support, helping the millions of displaced people find shelter and rebuild their lives and communities. Every refugee is in our hearts and minds.”

- Rotary International

Nigeria: President Muhammadu Buhari Hails WHO for Delisting Nigeria From Polio-Endemic Nations

"While he joins other Nigerians and the global community in celebrating Nigeria's removal from the list of polio-endemic countries, President Buhari urges continued vigilance to ensure that Nigeria maintains this new status.

"The President directs all government ministries, departments and agencies involved in the polio eradication effort to remain proactively engaged and on guard against the re-emergence of the polio virus in Nigeria", said the statement.

Buhari further assured the WHO and the global community that the Federal Government would ensure that immunisation and surveillance activities continue across Nigeria to keep the country polio-free........

......President, Rotary International, K.R. Ravindran, also said "Rotary congratulates Nigeria on its tremendous accomplishment in stopping polio. On behalf of the entire Global Polio Eradication Initiative, we thank volunteers, health workers and parents in communities across Nigeria for their tireless commitment to ensuring every last child is protected against this devastating disease. In the months ahead, their dedication will remain as important as ever, as we work to keep Nigeria polio-free and to eliminate polio from its final strongholds in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

"This is a significant milestone for the global polio eradication effort and the health workers, government and religious leaders and partners should be proud of this accomplishment. While the progress in Nigeria should be celebrated, it is also fragile. It is critical that Nigeria goes two more years without a case of polio which will require the support of partners, increased accountability at all levels of the program led by President Buhari, and increased domestic funding commitments" Chris Elias, President, Global Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation noted.

On his part, Executive Director, UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said "The removal of Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries is a major victory for Nigeria's children. It is a testament to the commitment and dedication of the Government of Nigeria, local leaders, and front line workers. And it is proof positive that if we work together in partnership to reach every community and immunize every child, we can finish the job of eradicating this evil disease everywhere, once and for all."

Read the story

Under One Sky Lights The Way To A Better World

Participants in the Under One Sky event in Chicago on 24 September dance along to music performed by Funkadesi. Photo Credit: Rotary International/Alyce Henson

Rotary and ONE, an international advocacy organization, joined other event partners in downtown Chicago on 24 September to demonstrate a commitment to ending extreme poverty and inequality and to promoting action on climate change on the eve of the United Nations launch of its Sustainable Development Goals.

The  constitute a road map for finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, and dovetail with Rotary members’ work to create positive change in their communities and around the world. As dusk fell over Chicago, participants in the Under One Sky event held up blue lights, transforming the plaza where they were gathered into a field of fireflies to #LightTheWay to a more just world.

“This is a great opportunity for people to network and join an event where we are all focused on creating a better world,” said Cheryl McIntyre, president of the Rotary Club of Chicago.

Julie Bordo, a district representative for ONE.org, noted that Rotary and ONE are more effective when they work together.

“We have very similar goals, and when we put our collective efforts together, it allows us to reach more people in addressing these incredibly important issues,” she said.

Under One Sky Chicago was one of more than 40 such events planned in the United States and more than 150 around the world. Other cities that hosted them include Sydney, New Delhi, Johannesburg, São Paulo, and New York.

- Arnold R. Grahl, Rotary International

Nigeria Has Stopped Polio, WHO Says - A Wall Street Journal Report

Nigeria has successfully stopped transmission of polio in the country, the World Health Organization said Friday, a milestone in a longstanding push to eradicate the disease globally.

Nigeria’s success leaves just two countries—Pakistan and Afghanistan—where transmission of wild poliovirus, the cause of most cases of polio, has never been stopped.

But eliminating the virus from those two countries is enormously challenging, and leaders of the polio eradication effort said Friday that they had pushed back their goal for global eradication by one year, to 2019, and would need to raise $1.5 billion to meet it.

Just three years ago, Nigeria looked like the last place that would eliminate polio, a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease that invades the nervous system and paralyzed 1,000 children a day as late as the 1980s.

Africa’s most populous country recorded more than half of all of the polio cases world-wide in 2012, and polio regularly spilled over its borders. Over nearly a decade, it was the source of cases or outbreaks in 25 countries that had already been declared polio-free.

But pressure from international leaders of the polio-eradication movement led Nigeria’s government to intensify its efforts.

The government, working with international organizations and local leaders, sent more than 200,000 vaccinators to immunize more than 45 million children under 5 years old, used new Global Positioning System mapping technologies to track down children who hadn’t been immunized, and opened emergency-operations centers to manage vaccination campaigns. 

Haram arrived and found ways to get vaccinators in and out of areas quickly once the Islamist militant group moved in. They also set up “health camps” offering treatment for common maladies such as malaria and diarrheal diseases along with polio vaccine.

The strategy brought out “children who would otherwise be hidden at home,” said Tunji Funsho, chair of Rotary International’s PolioPlus program in Nigeria. “That changed the game” in some northern Nigerian areas, he said.

As a result, Nigeria hasn’t recorded a case of polio caused by wild poliovirus since July 2014, according to the WHO. And the last recorded case of wild poliovirus in all of Africa occurred in August 2014 in Somalia.........

Read the story by Betsy Mckay in WSJ

Blog Posts

RI President's Message - October 2015

Posted by Sunil K Zachariah on October 2, 2015 at 8:11am — 1 Comment

Trustee Chair's Message - October 2015

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KISS: 90 Sec Challenge for Clubs

Posted by C.J. Singh on September 30, 2015 at 3:36pm


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eFlash Rotary 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


Looking (way) back at a big adventure

Thirty years ago, at the age of 18, I started a grand adventure and boarded a plane on my own toward Istanbul, Turkey. I was headed off on a yearlong Rotary Youth Exchange.

Before I left, I attended several camps that prepared us for culture shock and gave us a general sense of some of the changes we could expect. My high school wouldn’t accept any credits from Turkey, so I had accelerated my course schedule, completing all but one required course to graduate.

I spoke absolutely no Turkish but, despite my struggles with language learning at thebeginning, my host families were wonderful. They took in a scared, noncommunicative teenager and showered me with affection, kind concern, and caring. They were hard to leave at the end of the year. One of my host fathers even made a special show of sending me home with the keys to the house, so I knew I’d always have a home there. I still have them, to this day.

Holidays were odd. For Halloween, the other exchange students and I carved a watermelon during lunch break at school. We skipped school on what would have been Christmas Day — going would have been too much. My own Christmas package didn’t arrive until March, so my little celebration was a bit delayed! Thankfully, my host mother had prepared a few little treats for me.

Turkish holidays turned out to be major food fests. Seker Bayrami, perhaps better known here as “one of the Eids,” was an all-out three-day food marathon. It comes at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, and I spent the first day with my host family visiting relatives and friends — my journal says 11 different houses — and the second day hosting relatives and friends at home. I don’t remember what we did on day three, but I imagine it involved a lot of recovering from the vast amount of sweets devoured!

I learned some Turkish cooking. My manti-making lesson stands out as one of the best, as a lady I came to call Teyze (Auntie) taught me how to form the thin dough around morsels of meat and into delicious little dumplings that would be served under a blanket of garlicky yogurt sprinkled with paprika. In return for these cooking lessons, chocolate chip cookies were the best I could do.

I did some writing while I was there — both for my local newspaper back home and for a couple of Turkish publications — describing my experiences and thoughts about this wonderful, strange city that was more and more becoming home the longer I was there. I was encouraged by a friend’s father, himself an author. It helped me know that it was right to go back to Canada and pursue my journalism degree when, every day, my year got closer to ending. It got harder and harder to think about leaving.

My exchange year had a huge impact on me. I’ve been back a few times in the three decades since, most recently this past summer when I got to share the trip with my teenage daughter and see it anew through her eyes. 

Katherine Ward in Rotary Voices

Looking back: Mid-1980s – the time for change. PRID Neil Inkster

The 1980s was a decade of great developments in Rotary, in no small thanks to the vision of board members and individuals.

The March issue of Rotary Down Under (page 26) contained an excellent article relating the history of the polio vaccine, the lead up to Rotary involvement and the decision of Rotary to accept the challenge of polio immunisation worldwide.

In the same issue (page 14) Rotary International president elect Gary Huang spoke at the Canberra Institute about inviting two female speakers to join Rotary.

How many readers would realise that these two topics would not have been possible had it not been for significant decisions taken by members of the RI board of directors in the mid 1980’s?

The proposal to immunise against polio worldwide

This was to be the first time Rotary would accept such a challenge, and to make that decision required courage and commitment. In honesty, the board at that time did not appreciate the full extent of the challenge.

It is very doubtful if the decision makers thought about the problems of wars, rebellions and religious intolerance – after all, it was a relatively peaceful time. It is doubtful that enough thought was given to just how much money might be required to achieve such a lofty goal. What was most important was the need.

When the appeal went out to Rotarians (then less than one million) and their clubs, being advised that $120,000,000 was required there would have been many sceptics; there certainly were many who doubted we could reach such a goal. When the final giving was announced at a later Convention and it was a little over $240,000,000, you can imagine the scene of jubilation.

Rotary had come of “this age” and was about to achieve a great thing worldwide. No longer was the Rotary club just a service and community group helping improve community life and business ethics. It had now agreed to work with other world organisations to rid the world of a debilitating disease. Rotary was about to gain a new image and a new respect.

That was a major change proposed by 1984-85 RI president Carlos Canseco, who came from Mexico and as a doctor knew of the terrible problems inflicted on people of his country by this scourge. However, it also required a board of directors to make the binding decision to tackle polio immunisation for the whole world. ........

Read more in Rotary Down Under

The Bahama's Minister, Fred Mitchell, on Rotary’s International Day For Peace

I am honoured to be here this evening to mark the beginning of the General Assembly in New York at the United Nations and what since 1982 has been named the International Day For Peace. This is a good and joyful thing. It is right and just that we should all be here to join hands in this worthy enterprise.

I thank Rotary and Rotoract for organizing this forum.

The mandate of the United Nations on this subject says this:

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society to work together to strive for peace. The work of the United Nations would not be possible without the initial partnerships that were active in its creation and the thousands of partnerships each year between governments, civil society, the private sector, faith-based groups and other non-governmental organizations that are needed to support the Organization in achieving its future goals.

The Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Mon has said the following:

"I call on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and observe a global ceasefire. To them I say: stop the killings and the destruction, and create space for lasting peace."

Remember the injunction in that well known Christian anthem: “ Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

The Anglican Church’s invocation in the mass: “ Let us do the things that make for peace and build up the common life”

The priest then intones: the peace of God be always with you. And the congregation responds: and also with you......

Read more in Bahama Islands info

Little Rotary moments that transformed my life

Little moments of connectivity in life — who you talk to, who you share with — can completely change your trajectory. A few years ago at a holiday work party, I met my friend and future mentor, Ann Tull. The party was dull, but our conversation sparked a little light in me that transformed my life.

Ann introduced me to Rotary, and eventually encouraged me to apply for an Ambassadorial Scholarship. I realized that working toward higher education and a future that revolved around Service Above Self was what I was looking for. A year later and I was on my way to the United Nations University for Peace in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica, as an Ambassadorial Scholar from Rotary District 5450.

Running for health
I loved studying for a Master of Arts in responsible management and sustainable economic development and meeting classmates who shared a similar vision. I built a network of friends who have become my global family. Two other Scholars and I put together a 5K Walk/Run for peace to promote health and fitness and to raise funds for PolioPlus and the local Red Cross. We also garnered national attention.

When I returned to the U.S., my life began to settle down — but I was still restless. I had new goals for serving and knew that Rotary would be a part of my plans. But I also knew I couldn’t yet afford to join. I had my own business as a marketing professional and was barely making ends meet. My sponsor Rotary club, Denver Mile High, offered me a pass and made me an honorary member, which meant I was welcome to attend anytime I wanted.

The members became my Rotary family, and I became involved with building connections in our community. I was invited to sit on the Ambassadorial Scholarship committee, helping to decide which applicants would be able to have the same gift that I’d had. Even though I wasn’t a Rotarian, I was invited to create the District 5450 Alumni Association and serve as its president. With the support of Ann, the district, other clubs, and Rotary, our group began to grow. Most of the members were not Rotarians, but shared a feeling of gratitude about how Rotary had profoundly changed their lives. The group reminds me of how Rotary connects people from all over the world......

Heidi Resetarits in Rotary Voices

RI Convention - Seoul 2016

28th May - 1st June 2016

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Venue: KINTEX – Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do Province

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