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

Rotaract: Inspiring new generations to service

Andrea Tirone

Andrea Tirone is a member of the Rotaract Club of the University of Toronto.

By Andrea Tirone, a member of the Rotaract Club of the University of Toronto, in celebration of World Rotaract Week 12-18 March.

When I joined Rotaract many years ago, our club’s president was phenomenal at getting everyone motivated for the basic health and literacy project we were establishing in Krishnanagar, India.

We began the InspiReacHope project, through a partnership with a local Rotary club and non-governmental organization. It was one of the most enthusiastic, driven, and focused groups of people I had ever met. The project lasted for many years.  Continue reading

Supporting literacy in the jungles of Guatemala

Rotarian Barry Gray (left) with Walter Proppe (far right), a student at the Ak’Tenamit school, and his family.

 By Barry Gray, a member of the Rotary Club of Deerfield, Illinois, USA.

Sweating profusely, and aching in my knees from the strenuous hike through the jungle, I was beginning to question my sanity and wonder what I had gotten myself into.

My son Jeff, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and I joined 18 other Rotarians from northern Illinois for nine days in late January, delving deep into the rainforest of eastern Guatemala on a service project with District 6440 (Illinois, USA) to Ak’Tenamit.

Continue reading