Enhance your next school water project

Students at a school recently equipped with toilets.

Students at a school recently equipped with toilets. Water projects in schools lower dropout rates and prevent the spread of disease.

By Sandy Forster

The young girl shyly held my hand as she took me on a tour of her school — similar, yet strikingly different, from the schools I knew at home, half a world away. The students were eager to have a visitor and excited to show me their work. Since supplies were limited, I could see many students sharing paper, short nubby pencils, and schoolbooks.

I noticed that in the upper primary school grades, four through eight, the classrooms had fewer students, especially girls. The headmaster explained that many children, girls especially, drop out of school to help their mothers bring water from creeks or rivers or when the girls reach the age when their menstrual cycles begin because they don’t have access to bathrooms. He said this particular school didn’t have a water source, nor toilets or even latrines for the students to use. Continue reading

Rebuilding smiles in earthquake-torn Nepal

Rotary members in Nepal build shelters for earthquake survivors.

Rotary members in Nepal build shelters for earthquake survivors.

By Roshan Maharjan, Rotary E-Club of District 3292 Nepal

I was finishing a lecture at the Academia International College in Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal, on 25 April when the ground began to shake with increasing violence and I had trouble standing on my own. Supporting myself on the side of a computer table, I noticed my students were very frightened. As I consoled them as best I could, I also worried about my mother, brother, sister, and wife and children. It wasn’t until I got the text from them that all was OK that I could breathe a sigh of relief, but I was suffering from a terrible headache. The earthquake was 7.9 in magnitude. Continue reading

Delivering indestructible soccer balls to children in Vietnam

Members of Interact deliver the durable soccer balls in Vietnam.

Members of Interact deliver the durable soccer balls in Vietnam.

By Sallyann Price, Rotary staff

At the Rotary International Convention in São Paulo this summer, a group of American high school students kicked a funny-looking soccer ball around the House of Friendship. The Interact club members from high schools in the Bay Area of California, USA, were raising money to send a volunteer team to Vietnam to give away 2,400 of these balls.

On assignment for The Rotarian, I traveled to Vietnam in July with a team of Interactors and Rotary members. The balls, produced by One World Play Project, a nonprofit Continue reading

Memories of Kenya fuel my ride to end polio

Lindsey Griswold and her students at the Gede Special School in Kenya.

Lindsay Griswold and her students at the Gede Special School in Kenya.

By Lindsay Griswold

My passion for working with youth at an international level first blossomed during my time with the Peace Corps in Kenya. I served as a Deaf education volunteer from 2006 to 2008 at Gede Special School in Coast Province.

While I was not aware then of the significance Rotary would later have in my life, the school was built by the Rotary Club of Malindi, Kenya, a few months before my arrival. Gede serves not only students who Continue reading

Looking (way) back at a big adventure

Katherine Ward (middle) and her daughter (behind, left) in Turkey.

Katherine Ward (middle) and her daughter (behind, left) in Turkey.

By Katherine Ward

Thirty years ago, at the age of 18, I started a grand adventure and boarded a plane on my own toward Istanbul, Turkey. I was headed off on a yearlong Rotary Youth Exchange.

Before I left, I attended several camps that prepared us for culture shock and gave us a general sense of some of the changes we could expect. My high school wouldn’t accept any credits from Turkey, so I had accelerated my course schedule, completing all but one required course to graduate.

I spoke absolutely no Turkish but, despite my struggles with language learning at the Continue reading

Taking the polio eradication effort to the streets

150929_websterBy Norah Webster, Rotary staff

I love riding my bike. I don’t own a car, so I ride for transportation. I also ride for exercise, to explore, and to spend time with friends. My bike has allowed me to see parts of Chicago and surrounding communities that people never see from the highway.

As long as I’ve been riding, I’ve been raising funds, too — from pedaling around my hometown of Galena, Illinois, for children’s cancer research when I was 9, to raising Continue reading

Breaking stereotypes in the Neelum Valley, Pakistan

Students in Pakistan’s Neelum Valley display the backpacks they received from members of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar.

Students in Pakistan’s Neelum Valley display the backpacks they received from members of the Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar.

By Talha Mushtaq

Many nonprofits are working hard to increase social welfare programs. Being unified in their approach, some may focus on one issue, such as improving the literacy rate, while others concentrate on employment. Our Rotaract Club of Jhang Saddar has made a name for itself in our community by being multifaceted.

One of over 8,000 Rotaract clubs around the world supported by Rotary, we are committed to not only supporting education but to other efforts, including the fight to
eradicate polio. These efforts have Continue reading

Summit in California unites young professionals

Participants in the young professional summit held in Berkeley, California, USA.

Participants in the young professional summit held in Berkeley, California, USA.

By Katie Coard

This summer in Berkeley, California, I joined a group of Rotary young professionals and district leaders from the western United States and Canada at a summit to discuss the future of Rotary. Reflecting one of Rotary’s strengths, this event brought together many diverse perspectives to focus on what younger Rotarians are looking for in Rotary.

I’ve been a part of the Rotary family since joining Rotaract in 2010, and it has changed my life in many ways. I am a founder and co-president of a provisional Rotary club in my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Rotary taught me how to lead, engage, and manage groups of people, projects, and events. These are skills I use in my daily work. Continue reading

Meet the Miles to End polio team

Last year's team mugs for the camera.

Last year’s team mugs for the camera.

John HewkoBy John Hewko, Rotary International General Secretary

On 21 November, Rotary staff members and I will join Arizona Rotary members to bike up to 104 miles in El Tour de Tucson to raise funds for polio eradication.

The event is one of the top cycling events in the U.S., attracting more than 9,000 cyclists each year. We are aiming to raise $3.4 million, which will be tripled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a total of more than $10 million for the fight to end polio. Continue reading

Celebrating the International Day of Peace in Central Mexico

Participants in last year's International Day of Peace celebration form a peace circle.

Participants in last year’s International Day of Peace celebration form a peace circle.

By Wendy Coulson Catalán

Upon landing in Mexico in late April, I hit the ground running. I was asked to share my amazing experience as a recent graduate of the Rotary Peace Center in Bangkok at a peace conference organized by our local Rotary club and Camino de la Paz. Soon after, I was invited to participate on the organizing committee for International Peace Day.

There is a huge imperative in the world, and in our little community in Central Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, to create peace among our citizens on both sides of a huge social and economic divide. Two years ago, a concerned group of community members came together to promote peace by acting as an umbrella group for all the peace initiatives in town. The group, which includes several Rotary members, calls itself Camino de la Paz — The Way, or Path, of Peace.  Continue reading