How we survived the Mississippi River in a kayak

Ken Robertshaw and Grace during their trip down the Mississippi River.

Ken Robertshaw and Grace Alsancak during their trip down the Mississippi River.

By Ken Robertshaw, Rotary Club of Halifax, Yorkshire

On 7 August, my friend Grace and I set out on an expedition to kayak the length of the Mississippi River. We completed the journey on 4 October.

Our goal was to raise funds for a charity in the United Kingdom, The Theodora Children’s Trust, that places specialist entertainers in Children’s hospitals and hospices to cheer up ill children and assist their recovery through laughter.

The journey was not without problems. We encountered severe electrical storms, woke Continue reading

10 tips to enhance your next service project

Young professionals and university students may have unique insights into a community’s needs, offer technical skills and expertise as volunteers or fundraisers, and be adept at promoting your project through social media

Young professionals and university students may have unique insights that can assist your service project.

By Ellina Kushnir, Rotary staff

Your Rotary club has decided to do a service project. You’ve met with the local community and determined the needs they identify as the most pressing. You’ve put together a project plan, and are ready to roll up your sleeves and get started. Now what?

Here are 10 practical tips from the webinar, Lifecycle of a Service Project, Part 3, which focus on acquiring the resources you need to carry out an effective and sustainable project: Continue reading

Ebola puts dream to educate Liberian children on hold

Samuel Enders with students from the African Dream Academy.

Samuel Enders with students from the African Dream Academy.

By Samuel R. Enders, Rotary Club of Yonkers-East Yonkers, New York, USA

Having grown up in poverty in Liberia, West Africa, I know firsthand both the dire need for better educational opportunities in that country and the empowerment that a quality education provides. I experienced the death of my father when I was just two months old and struggled to survive through the country’s bloody civil war that ravaged the economy, infrastructure, and people.

In 2005, I founded African Dream Academy (ADA) to help Liberia’s youth escape the iron grip of poverty. We have provided counseling to thousands of children in two week intervals several times a year, and in 2012, opened our first fully academic school where we teach 140 children in classes from nursery through fourth grade.  Continue reading

Kayaking the Mississippi River to cheer up sick children

Ken Robertshaw and Grace Alsancak during a stop in the kayaking challenge.

Ken Robertshaw and Grace Alsancak during a stop in the kayaking challenge.

By Ken Robertshaw, a member of the Rotary Club of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England

I had the misfortune of seriously injuring my leg 35 years ago, requiring six operations, and the leg still troubles me. So I know how challenging hospital stays can be, even with the best efforts of the medical staff.

Imagine how much worse it is for a child; frightened, sick, and away from family and friends. A while ago, I learned about a small charity in the United Kingdom called the Theodora Children’s Trust that specializes in sending in trained entertainers to bring mirth and merriment to children in the hospital.  Continue reading

Medical training team saves lives in Gujrat

Specialists on the vocational training team review patient reports.

Specialists on the vocational training team review patient reports.

By Parimal Naik, grants coordinator for the Rotary Club of Gandevi, India

Our Rotary club is located in the southern part of Gujrat State, India. Earlier this year, we had the incredible experience of hosting a series of medical camps, screening  thousands of community members for medical conditions and following up with life-saving surgeries.

A vocational training team of visiting specialists from the Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio (AIPNO) performed 30 angiography procedures, 27 echocardiograms, 11 angioplasty procedures, seven heart bypass surgeries, eight chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and three surgeries to remove cancerous tumors. The project we envisioned as a medical pilgrimage clearly accomplished its goal of changing lives in our local community. Continue reading

Providing women the Right to Go in rural India

A woman stands in front of her toilet block in Sogav, India.

A woman stands in front of her toilet block in Sogav, India.

By Atul Bhide, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Thane Hills, India

Less than 80 kilometers (49.6 miles) from the urban centers of Mumbai and Thane, India, lies the village of Sogav in Shahapur Taluka. Here, like in many villages in India, women and girls face the daily indignity of having to walk miles in the early hours to find a safe and discreet place to relieve themselves.

A simple bodily need that many of us take for granted exposes these women and children to hygiene and safety risks every day. It is a difficult situation under normal circumstances, but when these women experience any kind of sickness or health concern, their experience becomes appalling. Continue reading

As little as $2 a week does a world of good

140725_bergmanBy Teree Bergman, an assistant regional Rotary Foundation coordinator

A new Rotary year began 1 July, and that means it’s time to begin a new effort to have our members participate in Rotary’s work by donating to the Annual Fund. Rotary’s Every Rotarian Every Year (EREY) initiative empowers every Rotary member to be part of the humanitarian accomplishments of The Rotary Foundation.

Let me share a number I find unbelievable. During the year that ended 30 June, only 44 of the 666 clubs in the southwest region of the United States where I serve as coordinator earned an EREY banner. That’s a whopping 6 percent! (And keep in mind, not every member has to give $100 to qualify for the banner; the banners go to clubs that achieve a $100 average per member with every member giving some amount, however small.)   Continue reading

Operation Life Jacket saves lives

Donated life jackets in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.

Donated life jackets in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

By Sergio Santi, International Commodore of the Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians

In September of 2012, we heard from Bill Kosar, a new member of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians from Kenya, that fishermen or ferry passengers were drowning in local waters every week because of a lack of life jackets. We knew we had to do something to help. Continue reading

Rotaractors deliver free health care in Uganda

A member of Rotaract weighs a baby before vaccinating the child against polio.

A member of Rotaract weighs a baby before vaccinating the child against polio.

By Chelsea Ducharme, Rotaract Club of Kasese, Uganda

On 22 February, we packed up our trucks with supplies and traveled 45 minutes to Kyempara, a parish in Kasese District, southwestern Uganda, near the Congolese border.

Kyempara has only one government health center, with one head nurse serving a population of more than 6,000 people. With limited resources, the center is unable to keep up with all the community’s health needs. Our small but mighty Rotaract Club heard their call for help and took action to support our neighbors. Continue reading

Rotary heroes in Nelson Mandela Bay

Samuel is able to hold a coffee mug thanks to a prosthetic hand he received from Rotary members. Photo by Tamika Doubell

Samuel shows off the prosthetic hand he received from Rotary members. Photo by Tamika Doubell

By Tamika Doubell, model, actress, and an ambassador for Brooklyn Fashion Week

Thanks to my family’s involvement with Rotary, I’m never short of a community project to get involved with. My mother is the assistant governor for District 9370 (South Africa) and I’m proud to be associated with Rotary through projects of the Rotary Club of Algoa Bay in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Recently Rotary initiated three days of free healthcare to communities across South Africa through the Rotary Family Health Days, sponsored by Rotarians For Family Health and Aids Prevention. I covered social media, public relations, and marketing for the event in the Eastern Province. I shot several photos that I submitted to Rotary’s photo contest on Instagram. One in particular spoke to my heart — a photo of a man named Samuel from New Brighton township here in Nelson Mandela Bay. Continue reading