RI President's Window

RI President Ian Risely and Juliet

Ian Riseley - The social networker


RIPE Sam F. Owori Dies

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

Presidential peacebuilding conferences

What is new

Sam F. Owori Memorial to Polio

RIPE Sam F. Owori Dies



Polio Eradication Efforts Acknowledged by G20 Heads of State

Bill Gates outlines final push to end polio

The Atlanta Convention

Presidential Peace Conference

$1.2 billion pledge to end polio

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


President's opening remarks

President's closing remarks

President-elect's speech

President nominee's speech

Trustee chair's speech

General secretary's speech


General secretary's report

Treasurer's report

Winners of The Rotarian photo contest announced

Rotary Foundation named World's Outstanding Foundation for 2016

Sustainable projects earn top Rotaract honors

What makes a great global grant project

Germ looks back on a productive year

Time to finish the job of eradicating polio - Paul Martin, former PM of Canada.

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

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

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

RIPE Ian Riseley on attracting new members, building strong clubs

Rotary women inspire

Japanese diplomat earns Rotary alumni award

India is enthused....about giving

PRIP K R Ravindran on The Benefits of Rotary Membership.

International Assembly 2017

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

Watch International Assembly speeches

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

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

Surgeons from India bring relief to underserved patients in Rwanda

Rotary's 31-year struggle to wipe out polio

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

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

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

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

6 key numbers in the fight to end polio

HowDo You End a Global Disease - John Hewko in Medium

What can we achieve within our children’s lifetime?

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

What defines a Rotary club? You choose

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

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

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

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

Council on Legislation Grants Clubs Greater Flexibility in Meeting, Membership

What should you know about 2016 CoL

The Council on Legislation - First day comes to an end

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

The Council on Legislation – The third day completed

The Council on Legislation – Fourth Day Concluded

The Council on Legislation Comes to an End

Canada & The Polio Story: A Will, A Way, And A Healthier World - Past Rotary Polio Chair Dr. Bob Scott

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



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.

Jon Majiyagbe 


This Memorial by PRIPJon Majiyagbe is by invitation for eFlashOnline

Dallas pays tribute to fallen Rotary Icon Samuel Frobisher Owori

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...........

Read the story in The East African Diaspora Media Watch (EADM)

Remembering Sam

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. 

Sam F. Owori, Rotary's president-elect, was always optimistic and brought an unyielding sense of right and wrong to his work. Owori died 13 July.

Photo - Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

“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 and his wife, Norah, traveled the world together.

Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

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 sam.owori@rotary.org

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. 

Helping the Heroines of Polio Eradication - Minda Dentler

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.”.......

Read the story full in Project-Syndicate.org

Building peace at every level - Rotary peace fellow, Lucas Peña, applies lessons to life in Bogotá

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.  

–Anne Ford in The Rotarian

Thinking Locally and Acting Globally: The Amazing Legacy of Rotary

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.

Community health worker Hawa Amadou speaks with Roukaya Souley holding her son Roumaissa Haruna at a family's home in Dosso, Niger. Hawa says, "It's been 30 years since I have been undertaking this work, since the creation of the district health center in Dosso. I undertake social mobiliziation activities for malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition and polio. I enjoy my work because I want to help my community. I trust them and they trust me." April 2017  ©Gates Archive

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.

- End Polio Now.

Story Written By: Chris Elias, President of Global Development at Gates Foundation

Story Photography By: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates Archive

ShelterBox and Rotarians serve devastated communities around the world

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.

Natural disasters

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.

Syria Refugee Crisis

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


  • Add Videos
  • View All


  • Add Photos
  • View All

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

Founder Editor: PDG Sunil K Zachariah

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



New Director of Rotary International from India

Basker Chockalingam

Director 2017-19
Rotary Club of Karur
Tamil Nadu, India

Basker Chockalingam is a managing partner at the manufacturing firm VNC, the retail distributor of Tata Steel for the state of Tamil Nadu. Recognizing his contribution to the growth of small industry, the state government honored him with the Best Small-Scale Entrepreneur Award in 1986.

Chockalingam has held high-level positions in several industrial groups and sports associations. He has received honors including the Vijay Shree Award, National Unity Award, Shiromani Vikas Award, and Hindu Gaurav Award for outstanding performance in a chosen field and in service of society.

A Rotarian since 1988, he has served as Rotary coordinator, committee member, and district governor. Chockalingam is a Benefactor and Major Donor of The Rotary Foundation, and a recipient of the Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service.

The Changing Face of Rotary – World’s Youngest Rotary President?

Manchester Trailblazers Rotary Club is certainly living up to its name having recently named 22-year-old Martin Judd as their new President for the year.

He is also among the youngest in Rotary’s 112-year international history, and for Martin, having the chance to lead the way is something he is relishing.

“Rotary is often thought of as a club for older men but this is just not true,” Martin explained. “The idea of breaking the mould and helping to change the image appeals to me a lot.”

That goes for Martin’s 18-year old girlfriend Nicole Harris too. She is the newest Trailblazers recruit, along with becoming the youngest female Rotarian among the Great Britain and Ireland’s 47,500 members.

“The idea of break the mould and helping
to change Rotary’s image appeals to me a lot.”

“Age has become a big issue in Rotary,” Martin added, “the pressure is on to generate the next generation who can take our international network into the future. Without younger members the proud history of this great humanitarian voluntary organisation could grind to a halt.”

Martin, son of a racehorse trainer, was born in Tokoroa on North Island, New Zealand, but moved to the UK in 2012.

It was in New Zealand that he became interested in Rotary when school friends joined a sponsored youth exchange group to Brazil. So, in 2014, he joined the newly formed Manchester Trailblazers and was elected President Nominee within a year.

Martin currently lives in Oldham, works in customer services at Manchester Piccadilly’s Waitrose branch and is studying for an Open University degree in economics and mathematical sciences.

His targets for the club during his presidential year are to raise membership, boost the charity fundraising programme and launch his own personal education and literacy projects.


3 tips for using social media to create a buzz

I’m sure your club puts a lot of effort into planning events like fundraising dinners, charity golf days, car shows, and changeovers ceremonies. You probably focus right down to the smallest detail. So why not put that much effort into promoting your event on social media?

Social media is a powerful tool for gaining exposure. But just like all the other necessary arrangements, getting good results takes a bit of preparation. Here are three tips for developing a social media strategy for your next event.

  1. Create one unified hashtag for use across all social channels

By using an event-specific hashtag, you’ll make it easy for people to find not only what you’re sharing, but what other people are saying, too!

Recently, at the 2017 Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, the hashtag #Rotary17 allowed attendees to participate in an engaging conversation with fellow attendees and to see what everyone else was up to just by clicking the hashtag.

  1. Share visual content

A lot of work goes into pulling off a fantastic event. Capture that effort with photos and share it, so people can see how you’re pulling everything together. Posting photos and videos is a great way to generate some buzz and boost engagement.

  1. Get everyone involved with it

Think about all the people who will be there as part of the event and pull them into the conversation. For example, if you’re running a food and wine festival, include the stallholders and vendors in your posts and get them to post. If it’s a district conference, engage the speakers and sponsors, and even event staff.

Tell attendees to tweet and post about the event using your event-specific hashtag. Every little bit helps when it comes to getting the exposure your event deserves.

The beauty of social media is that it is a conversation, so let’s keep talking about Rotary!

- Evan Burrell, Rotary Club of Turramurra, New South Wales, Australia Rotary Voices

Solar lamp project delivers light in Belize

Tonight Amelia Ramirez sits with her younger siblings at their kitchen table. A stack of books sit on the table and Amelia smiles as she reads. She no longer fears being burned by a kerosene lamp. The fumes that had irritated her eyes and made her cough are gone. She no longer begs her mother to stop before her school work is done because of the heat, the bugs, and the fumes caused by the kerosene lamp she was previously forced to use. Amelia’s family received a solar lamp from Rotary District 5870.

Nearly one quarter of the world population lives without access to electricity or safe light. As a result millions suffer from burn injuries each year, most of which are children. These families see by kerosene lamps, candles and open flames, all of which are dangerous and toxic.

According to the World Health Organization respiratory illness is the number one cause of death in children under 5 years of age that live in areas without access to electricity. Rotarians are taking action to change this. Working with the Grid Earth Project, a Texas based 501(c)3 Charity, founded by Rotarians from the Northwest Austin Rotary Club, safe solar light is being provided to families forced to live off the electrical grid. It’s a worldwide problem requiring a worldwide solution.

The Northwest Austin Rotary Club has just completed District 5870’s 2016-17 World Community Service Project. Over six hundred families in remote villages of the Toledo District of Belize received household solar lamps. The impact is immediate and the change results in 100 years of progress in a single day. The solar lamps were hand delivered to each of the eleven villages, whether by four-wheel drive trucks, by boats, hiking or pack horses. Every lamp was placed directly into the hands of these families in need.  Seventeen clubs from District 5870 participated in this year’s project.

The club is now kicking off our 2017-18 World Community Service Project. The goal this year is to provide safe solar light to 1,000 families in the Toledo District that are still living in darkness. For as little as $100 your club can become a partner in this district wide project.  Together we can change the world one light at a time.

Audrey Cochran, a member of the Rotary Club of Northwest Austin, Texas, USA in Rotary Voices

Unique field experience cements Peace Fellow’s desire to pursue human rights

I’ve just completed 18 months as a Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. A highlight was spending three months in Mexico City for my applied field experience. This is a cornerstone of the University’s Peace Fellow program, through which Fellows take on a project or internship outside of Australia. I interned with the Mexico City office of the MacArthur Foundation, which supports peace and justice initiatives globally.

Smolenski gives a presentation about her research into the disappearance of 42 students.

As part of that work, I researched the 2014 disappearance of 42 students from a rural teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Mexico. The boys still have not been found and no justice has been served; it is clear that the Mexican state was involved.

I became fascinated by the response of Mexican civil society, which galvanized international attention and demanded a fair investigation despite state corruption at all levels. Were it not for the relentless work of everyday individuals, the Mexican government would have likely closed the case immediately; yet today, Ayotzinapa—albeit unresolved — remains very present in the hearts and minds of Mexicans.

I had a chance to meet parents who are still relentlessly searching for their missing children — a monumental signal that they will not be silenced by government intimidation or inaction. I also met some of my heroes: experts who collaborated across disciplines (from human rights to forensic anthropology and engineering) to elevate the investigation with veracity and integrity. In particular, I had the chance to interview a fire expert employed at the University of Queensland whose pyrotechnics research proved to be a lynchpin in the case. All of this speaks to the magnitude of civil society, which for me holds lessons about the power of waging peace through interdisciplinary means.

I loved those months in Mexico, and I couldn’t be more grateful to MacArthur’s team. They welcomed me with open arms and taught me about the landscape of human rights in Mexico — a beautiful, vibrant, and paradoxical place.

Further, my applied field experience cemented my desire to ultimately transition into human rights philanthropy, and I’m thankful for the exposure and clarity I gained there. Finally, I am immensely grateful to my sponsoring Rotary Club of Grosse Pointe (District 6400) and my host Rotary Club of Bribe Island (District 9600), the leadership and staff at the University of Queensland, and especially my cohort of Peace Fellows from all corners of the world!

Laurie Smolenski, 2015-17 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia in Rotary Voices

The benefits of a friendship exchange

In February, I had the opportunity to lead our first outbound friendship exchange to my home away from home – India. Rotary Friendship Exchange is an international exchange program for Rotary members and friends that allows participants to take turns hosting one another in their homes and clubs. Exchanges offer unique chances for cultural immersion and interchange. 

Rotary members in District 3201 (Tamil Nadu, India) invited members in District 7680 (North Carolina, USA) to take part in our first outbound friendship. Last year, four Rotarians and their spouses from Tamil Nadu visited Charlotte and stayed with families in North Carolina, ending in a visit to our district conference.

The team visits a dialysis unit.

Our outbound team travelled to my wife’s hometown – Coimbatore. My father-in-law Pratap Gokuldas who inspired this exchange is a past governor of District 3201. Mark Daniels of the Charlotte Providence Rotary; Bill Burnham of Meck South Rotary; Luther & Sandra Moore and Patricia Shafer of Charlotte Rotary; Ineke Wilson of Huntersville Happy Hour Rotary; and I had an amazing time staying with local Rotarians in their homes.

From 10-19 February, we visited local businesses and attended a combined three club meetings and exchanged banners. We also toured a jewelry factory, celebrated past governor Luther’s 70th birthday, visited global grant projects like a hospital for burn victims, enjoyed a boat tour on the Arabian Sea, saw a lot of elephants, and were treated like royalty by our hosts in India. On our way from Coimbatore to Kochi, we stayed at Thrissur with local Rotarian families. It was an incredible experience learning how Rotary works across international boundaries.

We visited three keys projects:

  1. Hope After Fire – which is assisting burn victims with treatment and after care. It was interesting to learn about being a skin donor.
  2. Kidney Dialysis Center – which is offering dialysis treatment to poor and needy at 10 percent of the original cost. After the visit, District 7680 and the Rotary Club of Lake Norman-Huntersville agreed to partner for a global grant.
  3. Vocational Training Centre outside of Coimbatore for young girls who are eager to have additional technical training to improve their lives.

We also attended a district conference, Utsav (festival), which was outstanding. We met friends from Tasmania who were visiting, as well as youth exchange students from all over the world, and enjoyed Indian dance and music. It felt like being part of a big festival. After the conference; Ineke, Bill, and Patricia visited Jaipur, Udaipur, and Agra to see the Taj Mahal while the rest of us returned to the U.S.

Our team has presented a report on the experience to several clubs and now everyone wants to go to India. It seems I may have to hire a charter plane.

Thank you to all the friends, families and Rotarians from District 3201 who made this a memorable experience. On a personal note, the experience showed me how international Rotary really is. For other members of our exchange, it was a trip of a lifetime. Our group developed a close bond with friends in India who we stay in touch with through group chat on WhatsApp. This friendship exchange allowed me to show other club members my home country and demonstrate that Rotary indeed is a wonderful service organization with people of action.

President Ian Riseley is encouraging districts during 2017-18 to participate in group cultural exchanges that incorporate non-Rotarian young professionals. These exchanges emphasize cultural immersion, foster greater awareness, develop intercultural understanding, deepen connections, and create a broader global mindset. Get more information about Rotary Friendship Exchanges

Kamlesh (Kam) Chandan, assistant governor for District 7680 and a member of the Rotary Club of Lake Norman/Huntersville, North Carolina, USA in Rotary Voices

Rotary Convention 2018

© 2017   Created by T.K.Balakrishnan.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service