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Saw this amazing collection of Rotary stamps & first day covers at Rio de Janeiro. Over 200 of them from 1948.

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

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Rtn. Twesigye Kaguri is nominated for the Waislitz Award from Global Citizen for his work in Uganda. Please Vote for him

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

12 tips to make the most out of your membership

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

Why Did You Join Rotary?

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

#RotaryChat with @JohnHewko, 5 August, 2015

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

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

A Dozen Ways to Make the Most of Your Membership

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

Nigeria's One Year Milestone

100 Years For Hawaii Rotary - 'Midweek' Cover Story

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

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

Pay It Forward - A profile of K R Ravindran

Rotary Global Rewards

Gary Huang bids farewell

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


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

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

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

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

The Best Shot: The Rotarian 2015 Photo Contest Winners

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Committing to universal education during Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month

Basic education and literacy are essential for reducing poverty, improving health, encouraging community and economic development, and promoting peace. Over the years, we’ve helped make significant progress towards helping achieve the United Nationals Millennium Development Goals, especially within the basic education and literacy area of focus. According to a 2014 progress report, literacy rates among adults and youth continue to rise and the gender gap in literacy is narrowing.

This SeptemberRotary Basic Education and Literacy Month, we’re celebrating our progress and reaffirming our commitment to help attain universal education! Here are just a few examples of club service projects helping improve education around the world:

  • PhilippinesIn partnership with local government, community, and international clubs, the Rotary Club of Tagum North, Davao City, Philippines, reconstructed classrooms at the Imelda Daycare Center damaged by Typhoon Pablo.
  • The Rotary Club of Latur Mid-Town, Maharashtra, India, hostedteacher training workshops for educators who work in small rural government-operated schools. 213 teachers received six hours of coursework on new educational technologies and applications available to the teachers.
  • BoliviaThe Rotary Club of Grigota, Bolivia, undertook an advocacy initiative to inform families on the importance of children, especially girls, receiving a basic level of education before beginning to work.
  • The Rotaract Club of Baker College Muskegon, MI, USA,participated in a literacy board game tournament to raise funds for its reading program. Proceeds from the fundraiser supported READ Muskegon, a volunteer one-on-one tutoring program for adults who want to improve their literacy skills.
  • Indonesia
  • Working with local Rotary and Rotaract clubs and the Ministry of Education, the Rotary Club of Solo Kartini, Indonesia,organized a Literacy Day event where hundreds of high school students read and reviewed a preselected book. The event celebrated literacy and honored the 20 best literary reviews.
  • Working with the local municipality, partnering Interact club, and sponsoring Rotary club, the Rotaract Club of Izmir-Alsancak, Turkey, created mobile libraries to provided books in three low-income communities in Turkey.

While we’re making progress, there’s still much work left to be done. Pressing global concerns still remain: 58 million children worldwide are out of school while 781 million adults are illiterate[i]. Imagine: if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty equaling a 12% reduction in global poverty[ii].

Throughout the month of September, encourage fellow Rotary members to check back here for tips, resources, and inspirational success stories to help plan club and district literacy projects. Add your voice to the conversation using the blog’s commenting feature and share how your club supports basic education and literacy initiatives on Rotary Showcase.

[i] The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014
[ii] UNESCO Global Monitoring Report 2013/14

- Rotary Service Connections

Making A Difference Through Rotary Youth Exchange

When Gabriela Vessani was 12 years old, her mother took her to stay with friends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, for the summer.

“I loved it, so when I heard about Rotary Youth Exchange, I knew that was something I wanted to do,” says Vessani, who is an Interactor from São Paulo.

This year, Vessani participated in the program. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Waterdown, Ontario, Canada, she stayed with four families, one of which included adopted children from different parts of the world.   

“They had seven children, and it was crazy for me. But I loved it,” she says. “It was such a unique experience getting to know all of my host brothers and sisters, and learning about so many cultures.”

CHANGING LIVES

Vessani and 104 other Rotary Youth Exchange students visited Rotary World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, in July as part of a 31-day Discover America cross-country bus trip that was a finale to the exchange experience.

“This is the best program Rotary can be involved with, because Rotary is all about changing lives,” says Vessani.

Rotary Youth Exchange has been providing intercultural exchange opportunities for secondary school students ages 15-19 since the 1920s. Students become cultural ambassadors for up to a full academic year, and the host families can help build peace and international understanding, serving one of Rotary’s six areas of focus.

CLUB BENEFITS

Mike Lubelfeld, an elementary school superintendent and member of the Rotary Club of Deerfield, Illinois, spent weeks making arrangements for his club to host its first exchange student in more than two decades. In August, Leo, a 17-year-old from Indonesia, was greeted at the airport by an enthusiastic welcome committee from the club. 

“We have just started the process and, already, there is so much excitement,” says Lubelfeld. “Working with youth of the world is one of the best ways to ensure a better future. And for our club to be able to take part in this cultural exchange is a huge opportunity that will not only benefit Leo but our members as well.”

BUILDING SELF-CONFIDENCE

Varda Shah’s family was asked by a friend to host an exchange student two years ago in Mumbai. At first, family members were reluctant.

“We were like, he’s a boy, he’s German, I don’t know how this is going to work,” says Shah. “But we decided to take a chance, and I never would have thought I could grow so close to someone in three months. We still Skype and connect through social media constantly and are always in touch.”

Shah decided she wanted her own exchange experience. She stayed with three host families in New York, learning about camping, tailgating at sports events, and ice hockey. But the biggest change was to her self-confidence.  

“Before, I would never be able to make a conversation with a person I didn’t know,” she says. “Now, I can proudly say it isn’t like that anymore. I can go up to people. I have become more open, more mature.”

ACCEPTING OTHERS

Juliana Kinnl of Vienna decided to follow in her older sister’s footsteps and take part in a Rotary Youth Exchange. She was hosted by two families from the Rotary Club of Newtown, Pennsylvania, and says she learned to be more accepting of other people and their differences.

“Meeting exchange students from all over the world, I have grown to accept people for who they are and not to judge them because they are different,” says Kinnl. “I’ve also grown more confident in my own abilities and who I am.”

GROWING BOLDER

Minerva Lopez Martinez of Marcia, Spain, spent her exchange in Canada, hosted by the Rotary Club of Simcoe, Ontario. She said some of her friends at home chose not to pursue an exchange because they felt they would be losing a year of schoolwork. But she has a different perspective on that.

“You have your whole life to go to school and learn. You only have one opportunity for a youth exchange,” she says. “The reason I came on the exchange is that I can be shy, and I didn’t want to be like that anymore. Now, I am trying new things, talking to people I don’t know. It has changed me a lot.”

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Bringing Education to Rural Mexican Area, One School at a Time

When Mariana Day moved in 1989 to the small beach town of Chacala, in Nayarit, Mexico, she noticed that the surrounding rural areas struggled to maintain schools. And most children weren’t able to go beyond an eighth-grade education. Day, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Bahía de Jaltemba-La Peñita, in Nayarit, had started a local scholarship program before she joined Rotary. Called Changing Lives, the program provided students with high school tuition, uniforms, school supplies, and transportation.

In addition, Rotary clubs from the United States and Mexico have been investing in the education of children in Nayarit since 2003, providing scholarships and libraries and rehabbing school buildings.

The lasting impact in the region is apparent.

“I think the combination of the scholarship program and Rotary’s interaction with the schools has made things seem possible, has changed the climate of education here, and the way the people think about education,” Day says.

One example of Rotary’s impact is Carolina Gonzales Rivas. She was able to attend high school thanks to Day’s scholarship program. Rivas is currently working on her master’s degree and has recently joined the Rotary Club of Jaltemba-La Peñita.

“I think that what Rotary is doing by supporting education and supporting students is to have a vision for life, to have aspirations – that’s what is going to change the world,” Rivas says.

The Rotary Club of Berkeley, in California, USA, along with the Bahia de Jaltemba-La Peñita club and other North American clubs, recently tackled their largest project to date: a monthlong renovation of La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre , a high school in the village of Las Varas. Funding came from a Rotary Foundation global grant and the financial contributions of six Rotary districts covering the 25 Rotary clubs that participated.

A total of 90 volunteers including the school’s teachers, students, and students’ parents, improved the old buildings and built three laboratory classrooms. All three feature new equipment and technology and can be used by local residents as well as students.

Eduardo Dominguez, a member of the Bahía de Jaltemba-La Peñita club, says one of the biggest rewards of these efforts is the fact that a college education is now a real possibility for local students.

“There are many young people in Mexico with huge potential and with much to give, as long as they are given an opportunity,” Dominguez says. “Rotarians are helping those opportunities to occur, for [these young people] to become contributors to their communities.”

Polio: 'The Rotarian' Interviews Aseefa Bhutto Zardari

Illustration by Berto Martinez

Before her family was forced into exile, before her mother was assassinated, before her father became president, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari was known for something simpler, but in some ways equally powerful: In 1994, she became the first child in Pakistan to receive the oral polio vaccine, as part of the country’s first National Immunization Day. Benazir Bhutto, then prime minister, gave the drops to her daughter herself, a compelling endorsement of the nascent campaign.

“I was a baby at the time, so I don’t remember it,” says Bhutto Zardari, now 22. “But the moment was an inspirational one for the nation, and encouraged women to believe that polio drops were and are safe.”

In 1988, at age 35, Benazir Bhutto became the first woman elected to lead a Muslim country. She was assassinated in 2007, just months after she had returned to Pakistan after almost nine years in exile. But Aseefa Bhutto Zardari – whose father, Asif Ali Zardari, served as president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013 – is carrying on her mother’s work. As a Rotary polio ambassador, she meets with officials, visits schools, and talks with families of health workers who were killed while working to vaccinate children.

Bhutto Zardari has raised the profile of the polio eradication campaign in Pakistan and around the world. She writes about the topic for the Huffington Post and joined Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko onstage at the 2012 Global Citizen Festival in New York City’s Central Park. On Twitter, with more than half a million followers, she encourages people in Pakistan to support ending polio and chastises those who stand in the way. In April, she invited two other prominent women in Pakistani politics to join her in the polio eradication effort, a move that garnered media coverage across the country.

In 1994, the year Bhutto Zardari received those first drops of vaccine, Pakistan had an estimated 35,000 cases of polio. As of 10 June, 24 cases had been reported in the country in 2015. Bhutto Zardari, who is completing a master’s degree in global health and development in London, talked to us about ending polio in Pakistan, her future in politics, and prospects for peace in her country.....

Read the Interview in full by 'The Rotarian'

The end of polio in Africa? - The Washington Post

AFRICA HAS reported some genuinely good news in the battle to eradicate polio. Late last month , Nigeria passed a full year without a case of wild poliovirus. As of Aug. 11, it has been a year since the last case was detected anywhere on the continent (it was in Somalia). These anniversaries are unofficial milestones, but they point toward continued progress against polio, a scourge that once claimed hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Unfortunately, polio has shown a fierce tendency to return. Hopefully this time will be different.

Nigeria’s accomplishment is impressive. The country suffered a major setback in the struggle against the disease more than a decade ago when a state governor and religious leaders in the predominantly Islamic north put into effect a year-long vaccination ban, claiming that the vaccines were contaminated by the West to spread sterility and HIV/AIDS among Muslims. This led to a wider outbreak of the virus, which is highly contagious, largely strikes children under 5 years old and can cause permanent paralysis. 

Another effort by Nigeria to come to grips with polio in 2009 seemed to falter when the militant group Boko Haram carried out a wave of violent attacks in the north that disrupted vaccination. The oral vaccine is effective if it can be given to enough children to prevent and interrupt transmission. As recently as 2012, Nigeria had 122 cases — and it now is down to zero.

A valuable lesson from Nigeria is that containing polio requires a multifaceted campaign that goes beyond dispensing vaccines. One important tactic was to address head-on the rumors and myths about the vaccine that undermined earlier campaigns. Local volunteers were brought in to build trust. Health teams used “hit and run” tactics to enter a dangerous area quickly, vaccinate and then exit. Yet another approach was to offer “health camps” that provided a wide array of everyday medical treatments, not just for polio, which gave parents an incentive to bring their children for vaccination. Nigeria also benefited from the determined focus of organizations such as Rotary International, which invested $207 million to fight polio in the country, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and others..........


Read The Washington Post's View

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Enriching education for our keiki (children)

As incoming president of our club, I wondered how we could have an even greater impact on the education of our local keiki (children).

We have been supporting Koloa Elementary School over the years with our Rotary Readers program and dictionary distribution to third graders. We have also provided funds and volunteers for theGrowing Our Own Teachers program on our island in order to fill a teacher gap. But I still felt we should be doing more.

Our elementary school in Koloa does a wonderful job but continues to struggle when it comes to resources. Like many teachers across the U.S., the teachers here often reach into their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies. They have to forgo field trips that would get the local keiki out into the community to broaden their horizons. And lack of public funding has prevented the school from providing creative extracurricular activities after school.

Aloha Angels
We learned of a way to partner financially with Aloha Angels, part of the Hawaii Community Foundation, to make a greater impact. Working through them, we have donated $19,500 to Koloa Elementary School teachers for the year. We are adopting all 20 classes and five after-school clubs. That means that each teacher receives $700 for classroom supplies and a field trip. It also means paying teachers to mentor five after-school clubs each quarter.

We surprised the teachers with the donation at their staff meeting. Their reaction and gratitude were heart-warming. They shared with us some of the ideas they had to get the keiki out into the community and to provide other learning experiences.

Some were so overjoyed, they hugged all the Rotary members present!

We’re looking forward to seeing the creative ways the teachers use this funding, and also to volunteering our time to participate with them.

Michael Carlsson in Rotary Voices

A simple idea benefits many in Mexico

From 2 to 8 July, I led my club’s second H2OpenDoors expedition to central Mexico. The three-year-old Rotary project provides SunSpring water purification systems for poor villages and schools and allows the villages to sell the surplus water from the systems.

The project touches on several of Rotary’s areas of focus: providing clean water, building peace (by combating poverty), and educating youth.

We bring along a dozen or so students, as well as a few teachers, so they can see how a simple idea can become a project and benefit thousands of people. We hope the students return to their schools empowered to make a difference.

Presidential visit

Last year, we were able to visit with former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who pledged to partner with us on future efforts.

This year’s trip included 24 Rotary members, friends, family, students, and teachers. We installed a solar-powered SunSpring water purification system in San Miguel de Allende. The plant will bottle water into 10-liter reusable jugs and sell it to the public at a third the cost of other water. Even so, it will raise close to $200,000 a year for CRISMA, a rehabilitation center for disabled children and adults with cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Fox and his wife support the center through their foundation.

The implications of this project are huge. All over the developing world, social services like these close for lack of funding or government support. At CRISMA, mothers and their disabled children travel for up to three days by bus for therapy sessions vital to the children’s growth and recovery.

A thirst for change

A student applies paint to the window of a school.
A student applies paint to the window of a school.

Mexico is the world’s No. 1 consumer, per capita, of bottled water. The vast majority of sales are by four multinational companies. By launching a new water-bottling enterprise whose sole purpose is to support services for the poor, we our creating a model others can follow.

Read more in Rotary Voices

Pakistan launches new polio vaccine, aims for 2016 wipeout

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday formally launched an injectable polio vaccine, an important step to accelerate its polio eradication campaign as the authorities vowed to wipe out the disease by 2016.

More than four million children will benefit from the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), which will be incorporated into the country’s routine immunisation schedule and given to children alongside other jabs. Pakistan is one of three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

Nigeria, which recently marked one year without a case of wild polio, introduced IPV earlier this year and Afghanistan is due to begin using it in the coming weeks.

Pakistan has made substantial progress in reducing the crippling childhood disease, with only 29 cases reported so far this year, compared with 115 in the same period in 2014.

Saira Afzal Tarar, Pakistan’s deputy health minister, hailed the IPV introduction as a landmark.

“We are hopeful that we will intercept the virus by 2016,” she said. Efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan have been hit by long standing rumours that the traditional oral polio vaccine (OPV) contained harmful substances and was part of a plot to
sterilise Muslims.

The injected vaccine is more expensive than the OPV and needs a nurse or doctor to administer it, but needs only one dose to ensure immunity, unlike the oral vaccine which is administered several times.

Doctor Lamia Mahmoud of the World Health Organization (WHO) said IPV was an important tool to bolster the immunity of infants against poliovirus, especially those who have not had adequate opportunities to receive the oral vaccine.

Attempts to eradicate polio in Pakistan have been badly hit by opposition from militants, who say the programme is cover to spy on their operations.

Their attacks on immunisation teams have claimed 78 lives since December 2012.

Last year the number of polio cases recorded in Pakistan soared to 306, the highest in 14 years.

Read more in Times of Oman

Supporting education in Nepal: technology that improves teaching and student learning

Rotary members come in many different styles. Most have a day job and engage in service work in their free time. Some go a step further: They make service work their day job!

Rabi Karmacharya belongs to the second group. In 2007, he founded Open Learning Exchange (OLE) Nepal. His organization is respected internationally as a pioneer in the integration of technology in the classroom. OLE Nepal has worked with Nepal’s Department of Education to make laptops available in schools. But much more importantly, it has also developed great digital learning materials for students, and trained teachers to use technology and digital libraries to enhance learning.

Measuring results
Providing laptops to schools is relatively easy. Making sure that the laptops and other resources, such as digital libraries, are used to improve classroom instruction and learning is not.

Rabi is up to the challenge. Before launching OLE Nepal, he worked in California as a design engineer and later co-founded one of the first successful software outsourcing companies in Nepal. And, yes, he is an active Rotarian, a member of the Rotary Club of Kathmandu Mid-Town.

Earlier this month, Rabi presented a seminar in Washington, D.C., for staff of the World Bank’s global education practice. On the basis of in-depth program evaluations, he explained how OLE Nepal has refined its programs over time. Examples include increasing support to teachers after an initial, one-week training session in the use of digital resources, and aligning digital educational resources even more closely with the curriculum, to ensure that they’re actually used.

Helping earthquake-damaged schools
OLE Nepal’s programs are more needed than ever in the wake of the earthquake that hit the country a few months ago. For that reason, Rabi’s club, Kathmandu Mid-Town, and my club, the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill in Washington, hope to team up with other clubs and districts to apply for a global grant from The Rotary Foundation. The objective will be to help repair some of the schools that have been damaged by the earthquake, but even more importantly, to provide primary school students with access to OLE Nepal’s great programs and to support teachers during this difficult post-earthquake transition.....

Read Quentin Wodon in Rotary Voices

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