Rotary and UNESCO-IHE partner to raise water standards

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from right) visits a lab at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, The Netherlands, in November. From left are Kaycee Okoli, a Rotary Scholar from Nigeria; Titia Jonkman, spouse of governor Nico Jonkman of District 1600; and Henk Jaap Kloosterman, the district’s UNESCO-IHE coordinator.

RI President Sakuji Tanaka (second from right) visits a lab at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, The Netherlands, in November. From left are Kaycee Okoli, a Rotary Scholar from Nigeria; Titia Jonkman, spouse of governor Nico Jonkman of District 1600; and Henk Jaap Kloosterman, the district’s UNESCO-IHE coordinator.

By Henk Jaap Kloosterman, a member of the Rotary Club of Voorburg-Vliet, The Netherlands, and district UNESCO-IHE coordinator

My Rotary life suddenly changed in late 2011, when Rotary Foundation Trustee Stephen R. Brown dropped me an email, saying he was coming to The Netherlands to talk to UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

I knew Stephen from his former involvement in efforts on getting Rotary started in Afghanistan and the Sultanate of Oman (where I lived at the time), and now I suddenly found out that Steve was Continue reading

Rising to the challenges of water management at UNESCO-IHE

Rotary Scholar Kenechukwu "Kaycee" Okoli in Delft, Netherlands.

Rotary Scholar Kenechukwu “Kaycee” Okoli in Delft, Netherlands.

By Kenechukwu “Kaycee” Okoli, Rotary Scholar from Nigeria

Leaving Nigeria for Delft, Netherlands, to take part in a Rotary scholarship program at UNESCO-IHE has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. It has been a goal of mine to pursue advanced studies in hydraulic engineering. Being a Rotary scholar, not only has funding been provided for my graduate studies, but I am part of a strategy conceived by Rotary to address the complex issues of water and sanitation. It inspires me to rise to the challenge of seeking solutions to the world’s water and sanitation crisis as a water professional. Continue reading

Incoming district governors discuss 2013-14 RI theme

The 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives

The 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives

By Daniela Garcia, RI editorial staff, reporting from the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA

Incoming district governors broke into applause as RI President-elect Ron Burton announced the 2013-14 RI theme, Engage Rotary, Change Lives, during the first plenary of the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event for future leaders.

I asked several of the future leaders their thoughts about the theme, moments after it had been announced here in San Diego, California, USA. Here is what they said: Continue reading

The impossible becomes possible with teamwork

Walter Hughes

By Walter Hughes, grant chair for Rotary District 7570 and a member of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, Virginia, USA

What is our role as Rotarians? How big can we dream? Can Rotary be involved in eradication of Polio and Guinea Worm Disease from the world?

Over 80 Rotary clubs were part of the effort to eradicate the three-foot long parasite in Ghana. Could we do it again? Rotarian Kenny Lovelace and I went to South Sudan in October 2012 to find out. Continue reading

Responding to flooding in Niger

Mike Freeman (far right) helps deploy disaster relief aid from ShelterBox following severe flooding in Niger. Photo courtesy of ShelterBox USA

By Mike Freeman, Rotarian and Shelter Box Response Team volunteer from Gainesville, Georgia, USA 

On 26 August, I arrived in Niamey, Niger, as member of a ShelterBox Response Team, along with team member Fiona McElroy from the United Kingdom. The area is experiencing its worst flooding in 50 years, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had put out a request for assistance. 

Prior to the flooding, the country was already struggling with an invasion of locusts, a cholera epidemic, a flow of refugees from Mali, and a food shortage affecting all of the Sahel region. The flooding has seriously stretched the government’s resources.  Continue reading

RI President: Receiving a goat in Kenya

RI President Sakuji Tanaka receives a goat as a gift during his visit in Kenya.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

While I was in Africa recently, I traveled through eight countries and nine cities, meeting people and projects along the way. What I saw amazed me.

For example, I met Rotarians who had an impressive ability to identify the needs of orphaned children. They were using grants from The Rotary Foundation to help support a dairy farm in Kenya. Continue reading

Providing sanitation, artificial limbs in Lagos

Children wait to use toilets at a primary school in Lagos, Nigeria.

By Suman Ramesh,  president of the Rotary Club of Lagos-Palm Grove Estate, Lagos State, Nigeria

At the Shyllon primary school in Lagos, students lacked proper toilet facilities, using the grounds of the school for their sanitation needs. The smell was often unbearable, and the girls found it embarrassing to use an open toilet. Water is scarce, making the environment very unhealthy and disease-prone.

Learning of this situation, my Rotary club undertook a project to provide 10 toilets and a water tank to provide adequate water during the day. Continue reading

Service projects, motorcycles, and Rotary

Karena Beirman

Karena Bierman races vintage motorcycles for a hobby.

By Karena Bierman, a member of the Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse, Illinois, USA, and manager of Gift Planning for The Rotary Foundation.

In 2005, a year after I started working at the Rotary Foundation, I worked on a tsunami relief project with a very active Rotarian – Chuck Remen, from the Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse.

He convinced me that I ought to be a Rotarian. (Actually, it didn’t take much convincing, because I liked the organization.) Since, I’ve been on the club’s board of directors every year. It’s not something I do because of my job. It’s something I do because my club is awesome. Continue reading

Vocational training team increases pump efficiency in Uganda

Filling a water can

Rotarian Amanda Wirtz takes measurements to design a more efficient way to pump water into a jerrycan. Photo courtesy of District 5340

By Amanda Wirtz, a member of the Rotary Club of San Diego Coastal, San Diego, California, USA.

Fetching water in the Kampala region of Uganda is not easy.

Villagers walk up to three kilometers to get to the nearest well, and must sometimes wait between three to six hours to fill a 20-liter container, which will weigh more than 50 pounds once filled.

I recently took part in a multi-disciplinary vocational training team, a group of professionals traveling to learn more about their vocation or teach local professionals about a particular field. Our team from District 5340 (California, USA) was in Uganda in support of an Adopt-A-Village project.  Continue reading

Providing clean water in Ghana: priceless

Borehole in Amansie West, Ghana

Villagers gather to celebrate a borehole in Diani, Ghana. Photo courtesy of Walter Hughes

By Walter Hughes, a member of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, Virginia, USA

Have you ever questioned if your involvement in Rotary is really making a difference?

Rest assured, you are, and I’m the lucky guy who gets to witness and experience your involvement. I’m passionate about bringing clean water to remote villages in the African bush of Ghana.

Ghana well

Jon Morris and Walter Hughes, members of the Rotary Club of Rocky Mount, Virginia, USA, at a new pump in Ghana.

There are two priceless moments that happen when we provide clean water to a village. The first occurs when that big drill rig finally hits water. Imagine the people’s anticipation as they see the trucks and equipment roll into the village and as they watch the drill rig crew work. Everyone cheers when the water flows.

The second priceless moment comes when the hand pump is installed. People throughout the village come to the well with their buckets and cups in hand. Everyone is silent as one of the elders starts pumping the handle. Cheers erupt when the water comes forth. Seeing the smiling faces of the men, women and children make all of the challenges worth it. Continue reading