The above video shows images from Danae Cooney’s service project trips to Fiji and to Cambodia with Habitat for Humanity.
By Danae Cooney, a Rotary scholar and former Interactor from Hamilton, New Zealand
Sometimes all it takes is one; one person willing to open a door, offer an opportunity and lead another.
In August 2011, I was 16 years old. I was given the opportunity to participate in a Rotary service project in Fiji. I traveled with a team of Rotarians, including my stepfather, to a small, remote village in Fiji called Saqani, where we refurbished a rotting, unusable preschool. And while it’s impossible to share everything about that trip, it’s important to share with you some of the impact it had on me.
Fiji was my first experience of being involved with the Rotary cause, hands on, and it changed my life. When you do a service project with Rotarians, you’re helping change the lives of those less fortunate, alongside like-minded people; people with a common goal, a common purpose, and a common belief in “Service Above Self.” Despite being only 16 at the time, I realized that in Rotary, age is inconsequential. It’s your head, your heart and your purpose that count.
In Fiji, I not only saw how blessed I am, but I realized that I must use this to help others. I decided that, for me, being born in New Zealand means I have a responsibility to grow and learn. I now know I must take any opportunity of service that I’m offered, knowing that each opportunity will grow me for yet another opportunity along the way, and I will have even more to offer those in need.
Fiji was a pivotal experience for me, and cemented my dream of making humanitarian work an ongoing part of my life. And all because one Rotarian was willing to offer me an opportunity to serve.
Is there a door that you can open for a young person today? Take a young person with you as you humbly serve others. It will potentially change their lives and the lives of many others in the future. Open a door.
Learn more about how Rotary works to empower youth