The Rotary Youth Exchange I dreamed about

Thando Gwatyu shares the South African flag with his host family in Germany.

Thando Gwatyu shares the South African flag with his host family in Germany.

By Thando Gwatyu, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from South Africa to Germany

Recently, I finished my third month in Germany, and it’s already changing my life. The process has not always been easy, but I’ve made quite a few discoveries about German culture and tradition, some of which is very different from the life I’m used to.

My first host family, the Roos, were simply amazing. Both parents are architects and they have a 16-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son. The parents were eager to show me many things about their country Continue reading

Wildlife runs revive South African club

Peter Watson runs in the Savannah Africa wildlife park.

Peter Watson runs in the Savannah Africa wildlife park.

By Judy Brown, a member of the Rotary Club of Parys, South Africa

Raising funds is crucial when you are faced with rebuilding a club. I am an avid runner and enjoy a holiday home in a beautiful area of South Africa, so I decided organizing a race would be a perfect fit.

My partner, Peter Watson, has been a Rotarian for many years. I never joined Rotary in the United Kingdom, where we live. But when we bought our second home in Parys, South Africa, Continue reading

Traveling around the world experiencing Rotary

By Brian Rocha, a member of the Rotary Club of Goleta, California, and District 5240 Public Relations Chair

I’ve done a bit of traveling in my life. But recently, I got an urge to turn my travel experience into something much more rewarding. I wanted to travel not just to travel, but to make an impact and make a difference in the world.

I pitched the idea to my Rotary club and Rotary International, and they were in full support. Support in terms of moral support. I financed the trip myself. So last year, I began an eight month journey visiting several different countries around the world, capturing pictures and video throughout the experience. 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

The benefits of a Rotary Peace Fellowship

Rotary Peace Fellow Julia Smith in South Africa.

Rotary Peace Fellow Julia Smith in Nairobi, Kenya.

By Julia Smith, Rotary Peace Fellow 

In 2008-09, I was lucky enough to be awarded a Rotary Peace Fellowship to complete my master’s degree at the University of Bradford. Five years later, I continue to build on that remarkable learning experience.

The University of Bradford is famous for its conflict resolution expertise and I took full advantage of this by taking courses on African Approaches to Conflict Resolution and Applied Conflict Resolution. Continue reading

Seeking a world record for longest clothesline

The shirts strung out on cable between pontoon boats.

The shirts strung out on cable between pontoon boats.

By Elsa Venter, past president of the Rotary Club of Vanderbijlpark, South Africa

More than 6,700 shirts fluttered in the breeze on the Vaal River, suspended from three-miles of cable that zigzagged back and forth between floating pontoons. It was an amazing sight, and one we hoped would earn a world record for longest clothesline stretched across a river. Continue reading

The power of Rotary on display in Africa

By Marion Bunch, Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (formerly RFFA)

For three days in May, Rotarians from 365 clubs fanned out across Uganda, Nigeria, and South Africa to help medical professionals and government workers provide free health services to 250,000 disadvantaged people.

Rotary Family Health Days, the third event organized by Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA), was an incredible success! The program, initially developed to address the critical issue of HIV/AIDS in Africa, has always included other health care services. This year, we conducted polio and measles immunizations, dental and eye clinics, family counseling and screening for HIV, diabetes and hypertension, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. Continue reading

Health days event invests in the future of children

Stéphanie Tobler Mucznik and the film crew in South Africa.

Stéphanie Tobler Mucznik and the film crew in South Africa.

Stéphanie Tobler Mucznik, senior media relations specialist for Europe and Africa in RI’s Zurich office, spent a week with a film crew in Johannesburg, South Africa, documenting the three-day family health day event organized by Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention.

“I believe God sent us the Rotarians”, says single mother Innocentia.

We are chatting in her family’s backyard, Innocentia is sitting on a wooden stool, and her baby is sleeping on her back, wrapped in a towel, while Grandmother Gloria is doing the laundry in a metal bucket. Continue reading

Providing free health care to thousands in Africa

Marion Bunch

By Marion Bunch, Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (formerly RFFA)

For three days this month, 9-11 May, Rotarians from 225 clubs in Uganda, Nigeria, and South Africa will be helping provide free health care service to thousands of families. I am excited about the campaign, which will be the third annual event organized by Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA), Rotary’s mobilizing and implementing partner in disease prevention.

The program was initially developed to address the critical issue of HIV/AIDS in Africa, but has always included other health care services. Continue reading

Searching for peace on International Women’s Day

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Francesca Del Mese

By Francesca Del Mese , a 2002-2004 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland

I recently travelled to Pretoria, South Africa on behalf of UN Women as part of the newly formed group of investigators for sexual and gender based crimes as war crimes. When I was in South Africa, I was struck by a comment I heard from a prominent South African Minister. She made parallels between apartheid and sexual and gender based crimes, saying that apartheid had been defeated and so could violence against women. When I heard the comparison, I instantly dismissed the idea; the two are completely non-comparable. Continue reading