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RI President John F Germ - Biography

Whenever John Germ saw a need in his hometown, he engineered a solution. He'll bring the same can-do attitude to the office of RI president.

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PRIP KR Ravindran is being conferred with the nation's prestigious honour of " Sri Lanka Sikamani" at a ceremony in Colombo today (20th March).

PRIP Ravindran will receive the award from the President of Sri Lanka

RIPE Ian Riseley on attracting new members, building strong clubs

Rotary women inspire

Samuel Owori will become first Ugandan to head Rotary International

Japanese diplomat earns Rotary alumni award


India is enthused....about giving

PRIP K R Ravindran on The Benefits of Rotary Membership.

International Assembly

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

Watch International Assembly speeches

Giving Tuesday Winners Announced

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

Surgeons from India bring relief to underserved patients in Rwanda

Rotary Staff Members Help Keep India Polio-Free

Reasons to Love Rotary Right Now - The Rotarian staff

Rotary's 31-year struggle to wipe out polio

ShelterBox and Rotary clubs take action following earthquake in Italy

Hall Of Fame Singer Donovan Becomes Rotary Polio Ambassador

Polio resurfaces in Nigeria

First wild poliovirus cases in Nigeria since July 2014

Government of Nigeria reports 2 wild polio cases, first since July 2014

WHO plans mass polio vaccination in West Africa

Fresh polio cases embarrassing – Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima

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

Polio will be eradicated - Michel Zaffran, Director of Polio Eradication, WHO

A live Q&A on the Polio response in Nigeria, with Dr Michel Zaffran, Director of Polio Eradication, WHO

Cases in Nigeria: What’s the Outlook? - Interview with Michel Zaffran, Director of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative

RI President John Germ and Vice President Jennifer Jones Facebook Live chat.

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

PRIP K R Ravindran's Farewell Message

PRIP KR Ravindran's Farewell Remarks

 John Germ is a man of commitment - The Rotarian Q & A Session

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

Pope greets Rotary members at special Jubilee Audience

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

2016-17 Theme Address by RIPE John Germ

Download 2016-17 theme logo and materials

Rotary's 2016 International Assembly coverage and resources


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Condolence Meeting for PP prof Bhagirathi Biswal

PP Prof Bhagirathi Biswal died on19/3/2017.Rotary club of Cuttack Greenfield is organising a…See More
Rtn.PP Tushar Ranjan Das PHF posted photos



RI President John Germ in La Rochelle, France

CEO dream: Rotary club pairs student with the head of Whirlpool, Jeff Fettig

David Reimers has plenty of moxie.

As a high school senior, star athlete, and nearly straight-A student, Reimers was not afraid to tell the CEO of Whirlpool, Jeff Fettig , that he was gunning for his job during an interview set up by the Rotary student mentoring program.

“I might not do that today, but I was just naive enough or confident enough then to try it,” says Reimers, now a graduate of Michigan State University, USA, and sales development representative for Whirlpool. “His response was, ‘OK, come and get it.’ He welcomed the challenge.”

Reimers says he listed CEO of Whirlpool as his dream job partly because he loves the area where he grew up.

“Southwest Michigan is one of my favorite places in the world,” he says. “Even in high school, I had high ambitions to achieve a certain level of success, and I thought being CEO of Whirlpool would allow me to work for a local company here that has a global influence.”

Feature story: Rotary club pairs students with celeb, CEO mentors

During the interview, Fettig gave Reimers three solid pieces of advice: pursue accounting or finance instead of marketing because they vary less from campus to campus and are more essential to running a company; always work hard at the present job, letting future jobs take care of themselves; and be ready when opportunity knocks.

“When I asked him how he became CEO, he said he was lucky, which took me aback at first,” Reimers says. “But then he defined luck as where preparation meets opportunity. He said he was prepared when the right opportunity came along.”

Fettig has helped Reimers in other ways, inviting him to lunch with other students he mentors and helping him apply for a summer internship.

Now on the first rung of his intended ascent of the Whirlpool ladder, Reimers says he is thoroughly enjoying his job teaching sales associates how to sell Whirlpool products in a territory that stretches from the western suburbs of Minneapolis to South Dakota.

“My job is to keep Whirlpool front of mind for every sales associate I talk to,” says Reimers. “I get to travel. I get to interact with a lot of great people every day. And I couldn’t be more thankful starting my career off this way.”

David Reimers

Michigan State University graduate; Sales development representative

Dream career: CEO of Whirlpool

Mentor: Jeff Fettig, CEO of Whirlpool

David Reimers has always dreamed of working at Whirlpool, and now he's living his dream. When David was in high school, a Rotary club set up an interview for him with Jeff Fettig, the CEO of Whirlpool. Fettig gave him good advice and helped him apply for a summer internship. Now out of college and working at Whirlpool in sales, David says, "I couldn’t be more thankful starting my career off this way.”

Arnold R. Grahl in www.rotary.org

Create ‘Twitter volunteer’ opportunities - PDG Doug Vincent

Recently, I attended a great presentation on “Embracing Opportunity” as part of our day-to-day life. I’ve had the benefit of enjoying opportunities through my global Rotary activities and travels, but many members do not do take advantage of this outside their local Rotary club. Here is a great way to attract new member prospects with fun and enjoyment.

The author and travel writer Paul Knowles spoke about how we can each enjoy life’s journey more when we are open to take advantage of opportunities that arise. He shared a variety of interesting experiences he had enjoyed by merely saying “yes” to invitations or suggestions while travelling. Once, when he was being taken to an island, he was invited to take the helm of a speed boat. At first he was hesitant and nervous. But then his mind accepted the opportunity and he “put the throttle down.” He noted, “I felt adrenaline that had not been there for years.”

Some ideas he shared included saying yes when a friend suggests a trip or activity; exploring different places or doing unique activities that may arise when you travel; meeting people from different cultures and learning from them; and volunteering for an event or group to make new friends and assist with a cause.

These days, he says, people are more interested in being a “Twitter Volunteer” which means they would commit to a short term activity or event, rather than going on a board or committee with longer range commitment. “They may give 144 minutes in spurts to help, but not an endless amount of time.”

What’s the take away for Rotary? Create a “friends of Rotary” group and have hands-on service projects they can join. We can likely attract more people with a shorter term commitment helping out with our projects than getting them to commit right away to all the demands of membership. As people get involved in one project, then another, they will experience the fun, fellowship, and satisfaction which motives them to remain. While members may sometimes leave Rotary, they will not leave their friendship group. This is the key to retention.

Wanting to help others is human nature. So we need to ensure that our club(s) have regular hands-on service opportunities so the Twitter volunteers can embrace them. Potential members will join our cause long before they will join a dinner club.

- PDG Doug Vincent, member of the Rotary Club of Woodstock-Oxford, Ontario, Canada in Rotary Voices

Rotary road trip - Driven to Serve

Hundreds of Rotarians applauded as a 25-foot recreational vehicle rambled toward the Fess Parker hotel, a palm-lined resort on the Pacific oceanfront in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Two Rotarians, two Rotaractors, and a district governor on board the RV had just concluded a 2,400-mile road trip that originated in Seattle nearly two weeks earlier, stopping for service projects in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona. (There was also a kickoff party in October in Hawaii.) The road trip helped link Rotarians with charitable organizations in their home communities, encouraged clubs to partner with their crosstown counterparts, and illustrated the scope and value of Rotary.

After a brief welcome, more than 400 Rotarians, some with spouses, piled onto buses and followed the RV to two Boys & Girls clubs in Santa Barbara where they hoisted paintbrushes, sandpaper, hammers, and rakes to revitalize the youth centers. (Local Rotarians, along with members of Interact and Rotaract, met separately to refurbish a third club, in Carpinteria.) Dozens stayed behind at the hotel to fill 400 backpacks that would later be given to the children. The point: a potent display of the power of Rotary.

“I was amazed,” says Jeff Henley, vice chairman of Oracle Corp. and a governor of the national board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, who watched the mob of Rotarians give a center a face-lift by painting the hallways and gymnasiums, adding storage lockers, weeding playfields, and refinishing picnic tables.  

Santa Barbara Rotarian Michael Baker is the CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, which serves about 550 children every day, mostly underprivileged youth who find the clubs to be an after-school haven. “It was beautiful, ” Baker says. “There were teams assembling cubbies, teams sanding and painting benches, teams doing general cleaning. We had another two sets of teams cataloging books. Nobody was standing around.”

Joey Vaesen, a 21-year-old member of the Rotaract Club of Victoria, B.C., rode in the RV and was the youngest person on the tour. 

In Santa Barbara, he cleared brush from a playground at a Boys & Girls club as others, including Past RI President William B. Boyd, painted a door in a blue closely matching Rotary’s hue. Vaesen signed on for the RV expedition at the suggestion of Katie Coard, charter president of the Rotary Club of Downtown Victoria. “It started off as this public image type thing,” he explains. “We were focusing on what Rotary is doing on the West Coast and just trying to get the word out there.” But Vaesen says the RV tour also ended up connecting local clubs that otherwise might not have worked together. 

The 14-city RV expedition was primarily organized by Danielle Lallement, charter president of the Rotary Club of San Francisco Evening. The self-described tour manager says the RV trip was modeled after a similar journey in which four Rotarians drove an RV from Pennsylvania to Iowa a year earlier. 

That foray, called Rollin’ with Rotary, was inspired by RI Vice President Jennifer E. Jones. Jones had asked the participants of the 2014 Young Professionals Summit, a Chicago meeting of 32 young Rotary leaders, to “dream big,” and one suggested an RV tour. 

“We took their idea and expanded it,” says Lallement, who called this tour “Connecting for Good.” RI Director Brad Howard gave the road trip his stamp of approval. “The tour was organized and orchestrated by these emerging Rotary leaders – every aspect, all the finances, all the logistics,” Howard says.

Giving younger Rotarians freedom to make a difference in Rotary is key to the organization’s vibrancy, Howard and Lallement say. Separately, the two bemoan the obstacles that younger Rotarians have faced. 

“One club, to get on the board of directors, you had to be in the club for eight years,” says Lallement, who chartered what is now a 40-member club with an average age of about 37. “Especially in the area I live in, you have tech people, they’re millionaires, and they’re 25, maybe 30. You ask them to come into an organization and then you tell them that they can’t be the leader of the organization? So they don’t join. Or they come into the club and they realize, ‘well, they obviously don’t need me.’ ”

“Only in Rotary could people in their 30s or 40s be called young professionals,” Howard says. Only about 5 percent of Rotarians are under 40. 

Inspired by the Chicago Young Professionals Summit, Lallement and Howard developed their own zone summit to match young Rotarian professionals with older ones, the “cultural” leaders of Rotary. 

“We wanted to develop a network of emerging Rotary leaders and put them in leadership roles,” says Howard. “But we needed buy-in from the current leadership – the 50-, 60-, 70-year-olds – to view these people in their district as having a voice. We hired two professors of innovation and change management from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.” The summit showed participants that, young or old, Rotarians all have common ground – they share the same values and goals......

Read more in www.rotary.org

Rotary Club pairs students with celebrity and CEO mentors

Snow is falling in St. Joseph, Michigan. On this December day, the overcast sky, swirling flakes, and twinkling bulbs of holiday decorations have created a festive, almost Capraesque atmosphere along the brick-paved streets of this community, which sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Across the street from the Boulevard Inn, stairs lead down to Silver Beach, a 1,600-foot-long expanse of sand that is the town’s main attraction in warmer months.  

Inside the inn’s restaurant, Jackie Huie sits at a corner table explaining the student mentoring program that the Rotary Club of St. Joseph & Benton Harbor started a decade ago – a program that has helped more than 400 local high school students learn more about their dream careers by connecting them with professionals in those fields.

The exposure to community service that the program provides has led students to start Interact clubs at six local schools, including one at St. Joseph High School that has about 150 members. As the Rotarians work their connections to find mentors for students, they have strengthened the bonds between the 140-member Rotary club and its community. And in small ways, the program is even building bridges between St. Joseph and its “twin city” across the St. Joseph River – Benton Harbor, a once-affluent manufacturing town fallen on hard times. 

“I grew up in an entrepreneur family where my father did something I found interesting, and he allowed me to see behind the scenes,” says Huie, CEO of JohnsonRauhoff, an ad agency her father built. “I felt very fortunate to be able to do that, and I want that opportunity for others.”

Her wavy brown hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and her words come out in a rush: Everything about Huie attests to an intensity that gets results. In 2006, she met with fellow Rotarian Maria Kibler and a few others at Phoenix Rising, a café in the nascent arts district of Benton Harbor, to map out a plan. Kibler was a chaperone in the club’s student guest program, which brought two high school students to the club’s lunch meeting each week.

“The students were so great,” says Kibler, a senior vice president at St. Joseph-based Edgewater Bank. “We all started thinking there was more we could do.”

The new program they came up with asks students to describe their dream career in an essay, then matches each participant with a Rotarian who accompanies them on a “reverse interview” with a professional in that career. The students ask the mentors about their typical workday, what they like best about their job, and advice on how to achieve their goals. 

Ten students chosen by counselors at St. Joseph and Lake Michigan Catholic high schools took part in the pilot phase of the program in 2007. 

Rachael Kuehn, who was leaning toward studying medicine, was a senior when she participated in 2009.

“When I talked to her to see what kind of doctor she was interested in becoming,” Kibler says, “she said she was interested in business as well.” So the Rotarians set up Kuehn with two mentors – a local physician and Huie’s husband, Mike, a Rotarian who was then the global director for Whirlpool’s KitchenAid division. “She loved the business interview,” Kibler recalls.

Kuehn was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin when she realized she preferred her economics classes over science. She says that having shadowed both a doctor and a business executive a year earlier helped her decide to shift gears.

“In high school, it’s hard to picture what a day-to-day job looks like,” she says. “This program lets you sit with professionals in different fields and say, ‘Oh, this is what you do every day, these are the kinds of problems you deal with.’”

Kuehn earned her degree from the university’s School of Business and works as a senior financial analyst for L’Oréal in New York City......

Read the complete story in www.rotary.org

A New book by Karen Bartlett praises Rotary's role in fight to end polio

A new book in the field of public health highlights Rotary’s role in the global effort to wipe out polio, and places it in the context of humanity’s relentless struggle to contain the world’s epidemics.

In “The Health of Nations: The Campaign to End Polio and Eradicate Epidemic Diseases” (Oneworld Publications), British journalist and Sunday Times best-selling author Karen Bartlett surveys the global landscape of epidemics past, present, and future. Beginning with the 1980 eradication of smallpox, she guides us through more timely threats such as the Ebola and Zika viruses, and looks ahead to a future without malaria, measles, or polio.

“Who decided to rid the world of polio? Not politicians or global health organizations, as you might expect,” she writes, in one of several chapters devoted to polio. “The starting gun was fired by Rotary International, a network of businessmen more used to enjoying convivial dinners, raising money for local good causes, and organizing floats to carry Santa Claus around suburban neighborhoods at Christmas.”

Bartlett offers a comprehensive, readable account of the polio-eradication campaign’s history and Rotary’s unlikely role as its chief advocate. From epidemiologist John Sever’s early suggestion that Rotary adopt ending polio as an organizational mission to the first immunization drives in the Philippines and Central and South America, the world community doubted both the idea of a campaign targeting a single disease and Rotary’s capacity as a volunteer organization to execute it.

The narrative traces Rotary’s mission to reach all the world’s children with Albert Sabin’s polio vaccine, the formation of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), and the struggle to interrupt transmission in the world’s poorest communities, particularly in densely populated countries like India, which has not reported a new case since 2011.

“Polio eradication is a twentieth-century dream, conceived by idealists and driven by big international institutions and mass mobilizations of volunteers, working together to make a better world for all,” Bartlett writes. “It must succeed or fail, however, in a twenty-first century marked by factionalism, religious intolerance, and rising inequality.”

Aziz Memon, chair of Rotary’s National PolioPlus Committee in Pakistan, is interviewed about the challenges facing his country, one of the few where polio remains endemic and conflict has slowed progress. Carol Pandak, director of PolioPlus at Rotary headquarters, weighs in on the contributions of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in both funding and high-profile advocacy. Other prominent voices from Rotary’s GPEI partners chime in throughout.

Based in London, Bartlett has previously worked in politics and written for Newsweek and Wired. She’s produced documentary films and written nonfiction books, including a biography of musician Dusty Springfield and a collaboration with Anne Frank’s stepsister Eva Schloss on Schloss’ memoirs.

- Sallyann Price in www.rotary.org

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

More than 240 Rotary members and other guests gathered in Brussels, Belgium, on 8 March for Rotary at the European Union, a special event that explored how Rotary and the European Union can work together to achieve peace.

The meeting was the first of its kind at the European Union (EU) and was modeled on the tradition of Rotary Day at the United Nations. Rotary members, EU officials, and business leaders at the two-hour event asked how business and civil society organizations like Rotary can work with the EU to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build more peaceful and stable societies.

Françoise Tulkens, a professor and former vice president of the European Court of Human Rights, moderated the meeting, which included presentations from Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs, and fisheries; Jean de leu de Cecil, general secretary of the board of Colruyt Group; Rene Branders, president of the Belgian Federation of Chambers of Commerce; and John Hewko, Rotary general secretary.

Vella emphasized the importance of working with business and civil society to achieve the development goals. He also recognized the important role Rotary can play in this global effort. 

“You have a massive asset, your vast network, and you can use it to bring community stakeholders together in order to turn the SDGs into reality. Rotary International is uniquely placed to create transformational alliances between business and civil society, pushing forward the implementation of our common agenda,” said Vella.

Hewko highlighted Rotary’s efforts to address the ongoing migration crisis and foster inclusive economic development.

At Rotary, we believe that we can only respond by forming smart partnerships in which the EU, governments, civil society, the private sector, and other organizations all play an important role. This is why the growing relationship between Rotary and the European Union is a cause for optimism,” said Hewko.

Because the EU supports the global polio eradication effort, organizers of Rotary at the European Union are confident that there are other opportunities for collaboration between the organizations. 

The event was coordinated with the European Commission and organized by Michel Coomans and Hugo-Maria Schally, RI representatives to the EU, with the support of Kathleen Van Rysseghem, Philippe Vanstalle, and Nathalie Huyghebaert, the governors of the Rotary districts in Belgium and Luxembourg.

- Bryant Brownlee in www.rotary.org

Stigma and Superstition - Rotary helps Tanzanians

It’s the peak of the afternoon in Nyamizeze, Tanzania, and Martha Mganga is in her element. 

Better known as Sister Martha, the 54-year-old Rotary community advocate is one of her country’s most prolific campaigners for the rights of people with albinism, the often-misunderstood, inherited condition characterized by abnormally light skin, eyes, and hair, limited vision, and extreme sensitivity to the sun. 

Mganga, an albino herself, has spent three decades helping those with the condition get an education, protect themselves from harmful ultraviolet rays, and fight pervasive myths and stigmas, including false beliefs, propagated by rogue witch doctors, that albino body parts can bring good luck or fortune. 

Over the last decade, these superstitions have led to a wave of grisly albino killings, dismemberments, and even grave robberies. At least 76 Tanzanian albinos have been murdered; 72 others have survived attacks, often with severe mutilations. 

On this day, Mganga is part of a team of facilitators taking part in a Rotary-supported community workshop, convened under a plastic tarp with a small group of elders from this village of about 10,000. 

Already, multiple colleagues have addressed those in attendance: mostly male civic and religious leaders, dressed in fraying button-down shirts, who are joined by Nyamizeze’s two albino residents, Happiness Sebastian, 24, and her infant daughter, Keflin. 

The discussion, meant to educate locals on albinism’s causes, debunk its many stigmas, and promote the well-being of the albino community, has already touched on the condition’s genetics, the recent attacks, and the many dehumanizing myths.

Albinism is a curse brought on by evil spirits, one villager says he was taught as a child. It’s the result of an African woman sleeping with a white man, says another. “Albinos do not die,” says a third. “They simply disappear.”

Mganga, speaking toward the end of the session, saves her words for what she believes is the day’s most critical message. 

For all the horrors of the killings, she tells the group, albinos face an even greater danger from the sun. Because albinos have low levels of melanin, the pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color, they lack adequate protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, a reality that is often deadly in an equatorial country like Tanzania......

Read the story in www.rotary.org

Making a splash on World Water Day!

Today, World Water Day, is a wonderful opportunity to take a look back at the goals Rotary members have achieved in the Wash, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector. Founded in 2007, the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag) strived to reach the Millennium Development Goal’s target of reducing the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 50% by the year 2015.  Rotary members around the world played a significant role in meeting that ambition goal, five years ahead of schedule.

But, nearly 663,000 million people lack access to safe water.* There is still much work to be done. The new Sustainable Development Goal 6 is calling for action to ensure everyone has access to water and sanitation by 2030.

Join WASH-minded Rotarians in meeting the water challenge, providing sanitation and most importantly – adopting proper hygiene practices. Rotary is leading the charge in many areas, including:

  • Rotary’s WASH in Schools Target Challenge: a pilot program to develop sustainable WASH and education projects in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, India and Kenya.
  • Partnering with the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement sustainable, long-term projects to improve water supply, sanitation, and hygiene in the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and the Philippines.
  • Providing clean, safe water to every public school in Lebanon, so students can be healthier and be able to focus on their education.
  • major program in Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, to rehabilitate old water points and build new ones. The project also includes construction of a number of public latrines in schools, markets and health centers.

These are just a few examples of the many Rotary projects focused on WASH! Make this World Water Day the day you commit to joining Rotary’s water team by taking action. Contact us at info@wasrag.org or learn more at www.wasrag.org.

Join the global celebration by using #WorldWaterDay to share messages about Rotary Water and Sanitation initiatives on social media.

* Source:  www.water.org

World Water Summit

Are you attending the 2017 Rotary International Convention? Come early and join us for Wasrag’s Annual World Water Summit! The 2017 summit will focus on WASH and Women – A Brighter Future.

Hear first-hand the stories of women in the developing world and how access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene has transformed their lives. Learn about the challenges they faced and how Rotary helped along the way.

Stay for the afternoon workshops which will be focused on global grants, behavior change strategies, choosing the best technology for your project, engaging with communities, gender issues, and approaches to menstrual hygiene management.

Date: Friday, 9 June, 2017
Location: Georgia World Congress Center
Time: 8:30 – 12:30
Register today!

- The Water and & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag) in Rotary Service Connections


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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


Being the oxygen that fuels the flame (of service)

It’s not every day that an eighth-grade student’s essay rivets a teacher’s attention. But this one themed “The Oxygen That Fueled the Flame” got mine.

The essay, written by a student at Buist Academy in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, described his experience two summers earlier teaching English in Tamil Nadu, India, motivated by a desire to make a difference in kid’s lives. The story would have been powerful enough if the student had been of high school age, but this was the story of a 12-year-old boy.

I met Vasanth Kuppuswamy, and told him he had a wonderful story and needed to tell it. We agreed he should come to my school and speak to my seventh graders. We arranged for a lunch time presentation that January and the rest is history.

Students and Rotary clubs in South Carolina were inspired to help by Kuppuswamy’s description of crowded classrooms with no walls.

As my students watched the slideshow and listened to the story of two schools in the middle of south-central India, they were sad, disturbed, and a little mad. They had never seen or heard anything like this before, of students having to sit on the cement floor for their lessons in classrooms that held 75 children. The classrooms had no chairs or desks. There were few books or school supplies. The class was moved to raise money, which began at $300 and grew to $8,000 before the semester ended.

With the funds, the Indian school was able to purchase new desks and benches that summer. School supplies came next, then science equipment and ceiling fans. A wall was built around the school to keep animals out.  A year later, the school added a wing for eight grade classrooms. They added a generator, and hired a contractor to build a basketball court. The school even had enough money to buy uniforms for its Scout troop.

But that wasn’t all. Vasanth raised additional funds to buy a water system from Water Mission. A Rotarian shipped it to India with the help of OOCL, the company he worked for.  Villagers helped assemble the parts sent in four crates and dug a water line from the water tower to the building housing the water system. It was a lot of work, but the villagers and students wanted a clean water supply.

All of this took place between 2005 to 2007. Since then, Vasanth established an after-school exam prep program for 10th and 12th graders so they could pass their country’s national exams and go to college. He added a summer acceleration program for incoming sixth graders. He also bought four acres of land behind the school to continue adding onto the school, began a school library, and assembled a computer lab. About 40 students are now going to college every year.

Two Rotary grants enabled Vasanth to provide first aid supplies to 150 area elementary schools and feminine hygiene products for girls in all area high schools. His work has now expanded into providing healthcare for infants through partnering with Healthy Children, Brighter Futures. Four nurses visit the homes of newborns in the area to make sure every child receives the care needed for a healthy start to life. Mothers receive information about nutrition and child-rearing.

Vasanth graduates from medical school in May 2017. He will do a residency in internal medicine in the United States for three years and then establish a medical practice where the needs are the greatest. But someday he says he will return to India and build a medical clinic to serve the needs of all the people in this part of India.

Why is this project so significant? It was spearheaded by one student who cared enough to give his all, one teacher who shared his dream and became his mentor, six local schools and students in other states who raised funds year after year for each project, and eight Rotary clubs who got behind each project and made them possible. With everyone working together, these projects exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Bill Smyth, Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, USA in Rotary Voices

Boost membership with an e-newsletter

We live in a world where email can quickly get out of control. Yet, for all its faults, it’s one of the best online methods of reaching your audience and getting them to take action. When a person signs up for your newsletter, odds are they are interested in your organization and what it has to offer. 

There are many newsletter providers; look for one that gives you metrics. Open rate tells you what percentage of people opened your email.  Click through rate shows you how many people clicked on a link in your email. These numbers are important and help you understand what type of content is working.

Providers (prices in USD):

  • Mailchimp: Free for up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 emails per month. Packages start at $10 per month.
  • Constant Contact: 60 day free trial, starts at $20 per month.
  • Get Response: Packages start at $15 per month
  • (I did not include Club Runner or DacDB. Although these are great tools for clubs, I am not aware of any functionality that allows for emails to non-members.)

I suggest starting with a monthly newsletter. If the need arises, you can always increase to twice a month or weekly, and send out extra emails when something special is going on.

Here are some ideas for getting the most out of an e-newsletter:

Give non-members the ability to sign up.  Most newsletter providers have code that you can embed on your website that allows anyone to sign up for your newsletter. Those  providers also have tabs that can be added to your club Facebook page. You can also use your Facebook page’s call to action button to link to the signup information. This is the most important first step in reaching out to your community.

Share your club programs for the month. Pre-plan your club speakers at least a month out and share them through your newsletter. Creating a call to action button like “register for our luncheon” allows you to gauge what topics people are most interested in and also gives guests an opportunity to check out your club without feeling pressured.

Share upcoming projects. Promoting your projects through your newsletter gives community members a reason to be excited about your club. Inviting nonmembers to take part in your projects allows you to enlist extra help, and also gives the volunteers a chance to see how your club takes action to improve your community. Include a link to where readers can find more information about your projects on your website.

Share Rotary stories: Highlight a member, share their background, why they joined and why they stay.

Share Your blog: If your website has a blog or other content that is often updated, share the first few lines of the posts and use a link to drive traffic back to your site.

Email is not intrusive if someone has requested to be added to your newsletter list. And providers offer excellent tools to measure the effectiveness of your content.

Melissa Ward, Rotary Club of Twin Bridges, Southern Saratoga, New York, USA and chair of the Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship in Rotary Voices

What has Rotaract done for me?

I’ve been a member of Rotaract — Rotary’s community service and professional development program for young leaders age 18-30 — for ten years. As I age out or “graduate,” I’ve started thinking about what Rotaract has done for me and how it’s shaped who I am today. A decade is a long time to stick with something. So, why have I?

Opportunity. Through Rotaract, I’ve had the opportunity to do many amazing things:

  • I’ve traveled the world to experience different cultures and participate in projects.
  • I’ve lived and studied abroad as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.
  • I’ve attended four Rotary International Conventions (Montreal, Bangkok, Lisbon and Sydney) where I’ve heard from and connected with some truly impressive individuals who are making the world a better place.
  • I’ve attended RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), a week-long personal and professional development program that helps you figure out what you want in life and equips you with the skills you need to achieve your goals.
  • I’ve received training in leadership, time management, project planning, event coordination, public speaking, governance, and much more.
  • I’ve served on local, national and international committees, helping shape the future of this great organisation.
  • I’ve been given free rein to develop and implement public relations, marketing and advertising campaigns for my club and district.

Experience. At the age of 23, I was invited to serve on the Rotary District 9630 Public Relations Committee. In my first year, I helped deliver new brand positioning (informed by research I undertook as part of my post-graduate degree), a bus advertising campaign, a new district website, new marketing collateral, and media and communication skills training. I will be forever grateful to the Rotarians who put their faith in me, and gave me the opportunity to test and further develop my skills. Not many people receive opportunities like this so early in their careers.

Confidence. Long gone is the girl who was terrified of public speaking — or even putting forward opinions in a meeting. Rotaract helped me overcome my fears. It’s amazing how fear slips away when you are in a comfortable, supportive environment, surrounded by people who share your passions. As president of my club, I gained invaluable people and project management skills, and developed the confidence to chair meetings, plan projects and run training sessions. I’ve since served as a keynote speaker and panelist at local, national and international conferences, speaking to audiences of 200-plus people. I’ve also established a reputation at work for being calm and confident under pressure.

Life-long friendships. Rotaract has given me the most amazing network of friends — here at home and in almost every corner of the globe. These wonderful individuals have made my life so much richer. They are passionate and talented, and make a real and tangible difference in the lives of others. We’ve shared many adventures and I look forward to sharing many more.

This week is World Rotaract Week. It’s the last time I’ll be celebrating as a Rotaractor, but not the last time I’ll be celebrating this great organisation.

If you’re a young adult aged 18 to 30 interested in helping others, developing new skills and having a great time, then Rotaract is for you. Find a club and get involved — you won’t regret it!

Emily Wood, Rotaract Club of South-West Brisbane, Australia in Rotary Voices.

Why host an outbound-only youth exchange? - Rotary Voices

The Rotary clubs of Sandbach, United Kingdom, and Macau have worked together for several years to provide opportunities for Macau youth to attend the annual District 1285 Summer Camp in northwest England. This year Macau Rotarians were ready to expand opportunities for young people and together we embarked on creating a short-term exchange.

Our simple idea turned into a huge success! This summer, nine 16 year-old students and two teachers from St Paul’s School, Macau, arrived in the UK for a visit.

One of the teachers samples British food.

The Rotary Club of Macau is certified for “outbound-only” youth exchange, which is  special because other parts of District 3450 (China, Hong Kong, Mongolia) are not yet certified to participate in Rotary Youth Exchange. Working with an “outbound-only” district has not been a challenge for our club (Rotarians in Macau worked hard to complete all the certification requirements required by Rotary International).

A tropical cyclone delayed the arrival of the students at Manchester airport for 36 hours, but when they finally arrived, hosts provided a variety of programs showing them our beautiful countryside. All of the students enjoyed their time; and their command of the English language and home cooking skills improved immensely.

A weekend of home hosting by members of Rotary clubs of Sandbach and Alsager provided a much needed contrast with life in Macau. Their country is a Special Administrative Region of China with a population of over 600,000 in an area of 30 square kilometers, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. They have over 25 million visitors annually, drawn by the many casinos.

The exchange students visit The Beatles Story in Liverpool.

The students’ first impressions were that we all lived in castles compared to their normal apartments in blocks of high rises. For many, the journey to the UK was their first-ever flight. It was also the first time that many had traveled by train or seen sheep, cows, pigs, or horses in nearby fields.

At the farewell party, the students put on a short program of music and singing before they bid a tearful farewell to their host families. The party then took a train to London for two days of sightseeing before returning home to Macau.

The benefits of the visit were immense; with most of the students improving their language skills while experiencing a completely different culture. Their self-confidence grew immeasurably and they all have newly adopted “grandparents” with whom they keep in touch. I highly recommend any club in a certified district to host students in an outbound-only exchange — it will truly be a one-of-a-kind experience.

When more women work, economies grow

On International Women’s Day, 8 March, it is important to reflect on the milestones women have achieved in economic opportunity, and the role Rotary clubs can play.

The World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap report identified the continued burden of economic inequality and gaps in economic opportunity for women across the world. This data isn’t just about representation and greater opportunity. It is important for global economic growth.

Put simply, “When more women work, economies grow.” And you may be startled by how much. A recent McKinsey report estimates that if women play an “identical role in labor markets to that of men,” this could potentially add “$28 trillion, or 26 percent” to the global GDP.

As a member of Rotary, the global nonprofit at the intersection of commerce and cause, I believe that I have to make an impact at a local level. Rotary’s model is unique because although many organisations allow you to network professionally or get involved in community projects, few allow you to combine both of these opportunities.

Twelve years ago, I started a nonprofit called Sešego Cares in South Africa, based on a model that combines socially responsible business with sustainable projects to empower vulnerable people through skills and enterprise development. We’ve educated and enabled women to start their own bakeries, gardens, sewing projects, libraries, and other small enterprises to boost their sense of self-worth, lift themselves out of poverty, learn transferable skills, and transform their communities. As our model channels the power of private sector volunteerism through mentorship and job creation, we’ve also managed to eliminate administrative costs.

One project of which I’m particularly proud is the Zandspruit Bakery in Johannesburg, which opened its doors in 2012. This is a self-sustaining micro-enterprise powered in the beginning only by a solar oven, which can cook great quantities of food to feed many, with no fuel costs. With private sector sponsorship, and help from a local Rotary club, the facility trains entrepreneurs seeking to enter the formal economy.

Eight community members participated in a Business Management training course, and now run the bakery at a profit, as the goods, including bread, scones, biscuits and doughnuts, are sold to the local community at a cost lower than other suppliers. Profits are reinvested in the community, and the solar oven is a more affordable alternative to electricity.

In South Africa, we are in the top ten (no.6) of countries where women work more minutes per day than men. This reflects global data which shows that ‘women still spend more of their time on unpaid work such as housework, childcare and care for older people.’ This means less time for women to pursue economic opportunities, fewer women in senior management positions, and limited participation in shaping social and economic policies.

All this compounds existing inequalities as women have a lack of access to important assets like financial loans, or a lack of secure access to land rights. Gender based violence is also a serious issue in the country, with ‘intimate partner violence’ accounting for up to 70% of female murder victims by some estimates.

Progress has been made in legislation for women’s equality, education and political participation, but to convert legislation into action requires local engagement with socially conscious local partnerships involving civil society, the private sector and the government.

Bold action is required to challenge the recent prediction that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, which is too long to wait. As Rotarian, we have a responsibility to use our unique position to make a difference.

Adapted with permission from a post on the Huffington Post South Africa edition

- Annemarie Mostert, a member of the E-club of Southern Africa in Rotary Voices

Rotary Convention 2017

Seoul Convention Digest

Join Fellow Rotarians in Atlanta for the 2017 Rotary Convention and the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Foundation. 

Important deadlines

6 June 2016: Last day for special centennial discount ($265 Rotarians/$70 Rotaractors)
15 December 2016: Last day for early-registration discount ($340 Rotarians/$70 Rotaractors)
31 March 2017: Last day for preregistration discount ($415 Rotarians/$100 Rotaractors)
14 June 2017: Last day for online registration ($490 Rotarians/$130 Rotaractors)


2016-17 RI President John F. Germ invites you to Atlanta

Future Rotary International Conventions

2018: 24-27June, Toronto, Canada

2019: 1-5 June, Hamburg, Germany

2020: 7-10 June,Honolulu, USA

2021: 13-16 June, Taipei, Taiwan

2022: 5-8 June, Texas, USA.

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