Congrats Rtns of
#Nigeria on being declared polio free by WHO &having names removed from list of endemic countries.@Rotary@EndPolioNow
I am pleased to announce that His Holiness Pope Francis will officiate at a Mass to Rotarians at St. Peter’s Square, Rome, on 30 April. The Jubilee of Rotarians is a special event hosted by Rotary District 2080 and the Vatican. We will have 8,000 seats reserved for Rotary club members, as well as friends and family. I believe this event is a tremendous honor that will raise Rotary’s status across so much of the world, and it should bring us all great happiness to be a part of it, regardless of our own religions and beliefs. You can find more information and register here: http://buff.ly/1PgsL1G
Rotary Foundation Chair Ray Klinginsmith and I invite you to join us for my Presidential Conferences, a series of five conferences held all over the world, beginning with the Rotary World Peace Conference 2016. Learn more: http://on.rotary.org/Peace_Conference and find out when the rest of the conferences will take place: http://bit.ly/1MMi59I
Carolina Gonzales Rivas first encountered Rotary as a child, when club members from the United States who were visiting her town of Chacala, Mexico, for service projects dined in her parents’ restaurant. She didn’t know anything about the organization then, but today Rotary plays an important role in her life. She received a scholarship to attend high school through Changing Lives, a program founded by Mariana Day of the Rotary Club of Bahía de Jaltemba-La Peñita (a neighboring community of Chacala); she is studying for a master’s degree in finance with the support of Rotarians in Berkeley, Calif.; and today she is a member of the Bahía de Jaltemba-La Peñita club.
“People come into your life like angels, and they motivate you,” she says. Rotary clubs from the United States and Mexico have been providing scholarships, building libraries, and rehabbing school buildings in the area since 2003, changing the way the community thinks about education. Rivas spoke with us while participating in the largest project to date: a Rotary Foundation global grant project to renovate a high school in Las Varas, Mexico.
The Rotarian: Describe your community.
Rivas: My family moved to Chacala when I was 10 years old. It was just fishermen, restaurants, and one or two hotels. It was a very small town. The young men drank alcohol, would get high, and all became fishermen. Young ladies would get pregnant, get married, have one child, then another, and that was it. The most a young person could aspire to in Chacala was to finish middle school, and many didn’t even finish. Now in Chacala, it seems like everyone is going to college.
TR: What did Rotarians do to help people in Chacala?
Rivas: Rotarians bring you a different world – a better world – with the help they provide. People now realize that there are opportunities to go to school, that books exist, that computers exist. You can change your life and your children’s lives, you can change the town you live in. You never know when the impact is going to stop.
The day I started going to university was when I started changing my family. Nobody in my father’s family had ever been to college. Then one of my sisters followed, and then my mother, and then my brother. Rotary changed my life, and it also changed the lives of my parents and siblings.
Interacting with Rotarians here in Chacala has been like magic. From the moment they arrive, the desire they bring to improve the place benefits the community. Not only do Rotarians help us through the projects, they contribute to the economy, because they pay for hotels and restaurants.
TR: Why did you join Rotary?
Rivas: I wanted to know what it felt like to be a part of something great. There are Rotarians who don’t have a lot of extra money, but we have the will and the desire to help people. You can help through work, you can help with ideas, you can help with effort. So there are no excuses; we always have something to give. That’s what Rotary is. When you want to help, you do it, and you don’t care about what you get in return.
Listen to an interview with Carolina Gonzales Rivas here.
She sends me her alias in a Skype message. Who she is, what she does, and where she does it make it too dangerous to use her real name. She is in Kurdish Iraq, in the northern part of the country, which is in the middle of so many battles, wars, and conflicts that it’s hard for outsiders – and sometimes even for local people – to keep track. But she has a focus amid the chaos: She works with Syrian and Yazidi refugees who have been targeted, tortured, and driven out of their homes by the Islamic State.
The name she has chosen to use is Evin.
She is 32 years old. She is Kurdish, too, although from Turkey, not Iraq, and she has close family ties with Yazidis. “They are Kurds, too,” she says. The world knows little enough about Kurds; Yazidis are even more obscure, although they have been in the headlines in recent years. In Iraq, they numbered some 500,000, many of them living near Mount Sinjar, close to the Syrian border. Their religion is an ancient and syncretic one, with elements from Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and Islam. Some Yazidi practices resemble Muslim ones: They won’t eat pork, for example. But for centuries, Yazidis have been persecuted, mostly by Muslims, as “devil worshippers.”
Yazidis no longer live in the town of Sinjar, because there is hardly any Sinjar left to live in. When ISIS forces invaded it in August 2014, they massacred or enslaved whomever they could. Thousands of women were sold as sex slaves. The rest of the population fled, some to Mount Sinjar, where they have been sheltering ever since, suffering through brutal winter and hellish summer temperatures on the mountain. Many have died.
Evin’s route to her work with refugees has been a circuitous one. After earning a degree in humanities, she worked to highlight human rights violations against Kurds in the region known as Kurdistan, which encompasses parts of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. Then based in Turkey’s Kurdish region, she turned her focus onto huge dams that Turkey is building and their impact on people and the environment. She first visited northern Iraq to see how the dam-building was affecting the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which descend from the Turkish mountains and flow through Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf. The Euphrates is already nearly dry.
Then, as the situation in Syria deteriorated, she began to work with humanitarian nongovernmental organizations as a translator. After meeting her fiancé, a Kurd from Syria who was living in Iraq, she went there to marry him and to live, and began to volunteer in the refugee camps to which thousands of Syrians and Yazidis have fled. She was trying to figure out how to continue her studies when a native Iraqi who was a 2014 graduate of the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok suggested she apply for a Rotary Peace Fellowship.........
Less than two months later, an event nearby focused on peace: the Rotary World Peace Conference. The two-day meeting on 15-16 January brought together experts from around the world to explore ideas and solutions to violence and conflict.
The conference was the first of five Rotary presidential conferences planned for this year.
San Bernardino County official Janice Rutherford, a member of the Rotary Club of Fontana, California, told attendees at the opening general session that the conference couldn’t be timelier.
“Now more than ever, we need to come together and create peace and reduce human suffering,” said Rutherford, who declared 15 January 2016 Rotary World Peace Day and a Day of Peace for San Bernardino County. “We appreciate your commitment to exploring these options and taking them back to your community and the rest of the world.”
More than 150 leaders in the fields of peace, education, business, law, and health care led over 100 breakout sessions and workshops. Topics ranged from how to achieve peace through education to combating human trafficking to the role the media has in eliminating conflict.
Hosted by Rotary districts in California and attended by more than 1,500 people, the conference is an example of how Rotary members are taking peace into their own hands, said RI President K.R. Ravindran.
“We can’t wait for governments to build peace, or the United Nations. We can’t expect peace to be handed to us on a platter,” said Ravindran. “We have to build peace from the bottom, from the foundation of our society. The valuable information you leave with at the end of this conference will aid you in managing conflict in your personal lives, local communities, and potentially around the world.”
Actress and humanitarian Sharon Stone urged conference attendees to find tolerance within themselves as a way to develop compassion and understanding for others. Noting that today’s technology makes it easy to learn about diverse cultures and beliefs, Stone encouraged Rotary members to embrace differences while learning about others’ work.
“The more we understand the darkness of our enemies, the better we know what to do, how to respond and behave,” said Stone.
In a video address, the former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, praised Rotary’s approach to peace and said he believes peace between Israel and Palestine is possible and would pave the way for broader conflict resolution in the Middle East.
“I think Rotary, which is nonpolitical in nature, can be helpful,” said Olmert. “The way you work together and create dialogue is very important to the peace process.”
Rotary is inching the world closer to meaningful change, said the Rev. Greg Boyle, executive director of Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles-based gang intervention and reentry program.
“Rotary decided to dismantle the barriers that exclude people,” said Boyle, a bestselling author and Catholic priest. “You [Rotary members] know that we must stand outside the margins so that the margins can be erased. You stand with the poor, the powerless, and those whose dignity has been denied.”
Rotary’s most formidable weapon against war, violence, and intolerance is its Rotary Peace Centers program. Through study and field work, peace fellows at the centers become catalysts for peace and conflict resolution in their communities and around the globe.
Dozens of Rotary peace fellows attended the conference to promote the program, learn about other peace initiatives, and help Rotary clubs understand the role they can play.
Peace Fellow Christopher Zambakari, who recently graduated from the University of Queensland in Australia, said the conference is a chance to increase awareness of what others are doing to achieve peace.
“Some people have only a local view toward peace,” said Zambakari, whose consulting firm in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, provides advisory services to organizations in Africa and the Middle East. “An event like this, with so many diverse perspectives, can open up connections and different possibilities to how we all can work towards a more peaceful world."
Other speakers included Carrie Hessler-Radelet, director of the U.S. Peace Corps; Judge Daniel Nsereko, special tribunal for Lebanon; Gillian Sorensen, senior adviser at the United Nations Foundation; Steve Killelea, founder and executive chair of the Institute for Economics and Peace; Dan Lungren, former U.S. representative; and Mary Ann Peters, chief executive officer of The Carter Center and former U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh.
- Ryan Hyland, Rotary International
I want to share my experience in a multi country district afflicted by war, specifically civil war, and how Rotarians and Rotary clubs can help reestablish mutual understanding and goodwill. Our efforts can help heal the wounds caused by political and civil unrest by creating a climate, which renders future conflicts difficult and hopefully impossible.
I joined Rotary in Vienna in 1986 and transferred to the Rotary Club of Moscow while working in Russia from 1989-92. Later, after moving back to Austria, I became District Governor for Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria. After years of war and totalitarian government rule, these communities longed for freedom and peace.
Our district had 130 clubs with more than 5000 Rotarians. We represented five different nationalities and languages. Croatia and Bosnia were heavily hurt by the Yugoslav civil war in the 1990s: Bosnia and Herzegovina had a pre-war population of 4.5 million people including Orthodox Serbians, Catholic Croatians and Bosnian Moslems. During the war, close to two million people, almost 50% of the population was displaced within their own country to create “ethnic” regions. From the very beginning, we have aimed for ethnic diversity in our clubs, which wasn’t easy after all the displacement.
The real breakthrough came with the Rotary Club of Mostar (Bosnia), chartered in 2002. The club started many projects in the spirit of tolerance and ultimately succeeded in reuniting Rotarians from both the Croatian and the Moslem side of a town divided by bloody conflict and physically separated by the Neretva River. The rebuilding of the old stone bridge, which was destroyed during the war in order to separate the town’s population into Croatians and Bosnian Moslems became an important symbol of reuniting the two ethnic groups. Rotarians from the Mostar club were instrumental in coordinating and overseeing the project, and eventually organizing the bridge reopening ceremony. In 2004, the opening of the bridge became a symbol of unity and a national symbol of peace.
Experience in our district has shown that inter-country meetings and projects not only lead to better understanding between Rotarians but can also act as a catalyst for clubs within a country with a longstanding history of internal conflict. It became clear to me that I had to work withInter-Country Committees (ICC) whose vision is peace for all countries in the world. ICCs aim to implement bilateral projects with a focus on peace building. To form an Inter-Country Committee between two countries, clubs and districts partner in each of the countries, to get to know each other better and create an environment of common understanding and mutual empathy.
Empathy is the best vaccine against conflicts and war, and maybe even against terrorism. Today conflicts, terrorism and war continue to plague many parts of the world. Therefore I am asking you, my friends in Rotary and especially in Inter-Country Committees, to refocus our service projects on peace building.
Normal service projects like equipping a clinic or digging wells are fairly straightforward. A peace project is different. You have to invest in exploring project ideas and feasibility for both sides. It has to be acceptable for both countries. In the beginning, results are not obvious. Peace building is a lengthy process requiring time and patience. You get deeply involved without immediate positive feedback. Your highest reward will be long-term success.
To encourage and support this quest for peace, I have launched the 10k USD Challenge and Contest for the Best Bilateral Peace Project. Through the Rotary Foundation, I’m donating USD $10,000 for the best peace project. I’d like to challenge everyone to implement peace projects, which address specific concerns while incorporating cultural and ethnic values. Successful bilateral projects should create an environment encouraging both sides to remove barriers to build long-lasting peace.
Sometimes the best peace projects don’t focus on the conflict itself but rather initiate communication and cooperation between two parties. I also encourage you to go beyond the contest and find opportunities to incorporate peace components into all your service projects.
- Rotary Service Connections
"But, we ask, must the best genius of men be devoted to the science of war and none to the science of averting it?"
Paul P. Harris – Guest Editorial in The Rotarian (Feb. 1940) “We Must Plan for Peace.”
This Quote from Paul Harris made me reflect that many in the present, past and incoming leadership roles of Rotary International should look for innovative ways to Promote Better Understanding among peoples of the world via Rotary to avert war.
After the Copenhagen R.I. Convention I was invited by King Abdullah of Jordan (I am the honorary consul for the Kingdom of Jordan for the country of Mexico) to attend the II Peace Conference of Nobel Laureates in Petra Jordan.
Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel and King Abdullah were the coordinators who brought this event together for the second occasion.
Twenty Five Nobel Laureates proactively and openly discussed among themselves, Past, Present Heads of State, World Leaders and others of us among the approximately 100 invited quests besides representatives of the Media what they felt could be done to promote Peace.
Many things impressed me such as finding out that almost all Nobel Laureates present had a high regard for Rotary International and two of them were active Rotarians. It was the comment from one Nobel Laureate who was from Colombia University who brought out what he called the “Power of Shame”. Basically he mentioned that many things happened in the past of which we should be ashamed for not speaking up, ashamed for not doing something; ashamed for allowing something to occur which was not right, etc. Of course he was referring to the Holocaust and other similar types of atrocities where most of society simply looked the other way. He then brought out that whatever the atrocity or injustice being committed there was a benefit of telling society . . . Shame on you for not doing something!
When I see problems in the world such as the genocide being committed in Darfur, Sudan and the suffering of persons dying from diseases such as Aids, Malaria, etc. the millions without safe water, the millions of young girls not given the right to education, the millions who could have their sight restored with simple cataract surgery, etc., etc, I think of The Power of Shame. When I see the added hardships put on persons trying to migrate from a country with poverty or conflict to one where they hope they might find a better way of life I think of The Power of Shame. When I learn of the millions of persons living on less than a dollar a day I think of The Power of Shame. that all of us might also consider The Power of Shame for not doing something.
The Power of Shame can be applied in so many instances in what is happening within our families, church, business country and world.
I am glad that in Rotary we have many opportunities via our weekly programs, district conferences, zone institutes, conventions, humanitarian grants, educational and peace scholarships where the genius of persons in Rotary might Create Awareness on some issue where The Power of Shame would help us Take Action to avert some atrocity or injustice close to home and far from home.
Shame of us in The Family of Rotary if we do not use those opportunities.
Please Continue to Lead The Way in Creating Awareness & Taking Action in Helping Rotary to Change With the Times
Your amigo in Mexico City,
Frank J., Devlyn
RI President 2000-2001
TRF Chairman 2005-2006
We are pleased to announce that Debbie Hodge of the Rotary Club of Ware, has been elected President of Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland for Rotary year 2018/19.
Commenting on her election, Debbie said: “I am delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to serve as President in 2018/19, and will seek to share my enthusiasm for Rotary Service with our members and the wider community as we continue to put Service above Self.”
In addition, we can also announce that Brian Stoyel (pictured above right) of the Rotary Club of Saltash, has been elected as the Rotary International Director (Zone 18a) for 2017-19.
Debbie and Brian first joined Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland in 2001 and 1981 respectively, and have been involved with the organisation in a wide variety of capacities throughout their time as members.
Niall Blair (pictured bottom right), of the Rotary Club of Marlow, has also been elected as the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland Hon. Treasurer for 2017/18 (unopposed).
- Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland
Her Excellency the Governor, Helen Kilpatrick and the Premier, Hon Alden McLaughlin met Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran, who called on them at the Government Administration Building on Friday, 29 January.
This is the first visit by a Rotary International (RI) President to the Cayman Islands, according to local Rotarians.
Mr Ravindran is principally here to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman. He was accompanied on his visit by Rotary District 7020 Governor Felix Stubbs, Mrs Carla Stubbs, Past District Governor Jeremy Hurst, Aide to the RI President and RI Director Barry Rassin and Rotary District Assistant Governor (Cayman Islands) Eric Bush.
Mr Ravindran commented that he was delighted not only by the weather of the Cayman Islands – similar to his native Sri Lanka – but even more so by the warmth of the people he had met and interacted with during his short visit.
Both the Governor and the Premier lauded the invaluable role that service organisations such as Rotary and Lions have played in the development of the Cayman Islands in the past 50 years.
Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran with Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, showing how close the world is to eradicating polio, thanks in part to efforts by Rotary International. Photo: Bina Mani
The Premier also revealed that as a Rotary exchange student in the early 1980s, he had spent time in Dothan, Alabama, and began his years in service clubs in the Cayman Islands with Rotary before moving to the Lions.
- The Cayman Reporter
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