Creating a family-friendly vibe with your Rotary club

The Bonfa family at a food drive

The Bonfa family at a club-sponsored food drive to benefit families in South Orange County, California, USA.

By Anabella Bonfa, Rotary Club of Irvine, California, USA, with Anthony Bonfa

My husband and I and our teenage son Anthony all volunteer at 30 or more projects every year. We consider ourselves a Rotary family. All three of us are hands-on because we come from a smart club that engaged our son in Rotary projects at a young age.

We all enjoy Rotary because it gives us a joint activity where we can spend time together with mutual friends, contribute our individual talents, and create a better world. My club went out of their way to include Anthony from day one. This is how he explains it: Continue reading

Water as an instrument for peace

Rotary Scholars in WCD program

Rotary Scholars from left to right: Nataliya Chemayeva from Turkmenistan, Aminjon Abdulloev from Tajikistan, Jahan Taganova from Turkmenistan, Botir Ismoilov from Uzbekistan, Botagoz Sharipova from Kazakhstan, and Nargiza Osmonova from Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Celeste Noche. © Rotary International. All Rights Reserved.

By Nataliya Chemayeva, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

The Central Asian region has been the focus of global water catastrophes for almost two decades now. No one is indifferent to the problems that we share as a region. There are multiple layers to the problem that have transformed political discourse within the countries and have affected relationships between water experts.

All of this personally was ambiguous to me until I started working for the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. In my commission, we deal mostly with environmental issues and have some exposure to water-related events. This is what sparked my interest in the topic. I soon developed an understanding that technical solutions alone were not going to bring about desired results without a balanced diplomacy. Continue reading

Water and peace in the Aral Sea basin

The video (above) by Botagoz Sharipova, Nataliya Chemayeva, and other Rotary Scholars in the Water Cooperation and Diplomacy program has been selected as finalist by the Geneva Water Hub and will be featured at the Budapest Water Summit 15-17 October and during Geneva Peace Week 4-8 November.

By Botagoz Sharipova, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

Every living being and every local economy depends on water. In my country Kazakhstan, the source of our water comes from seven major rivers that we share with our neighbors. Six of those originate in other countries including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia. In Central Asia, access to water and conflict resolution are closely intertwined. Continue reading

Returning home again: How Rotary Youth Exchange builds resilience

Julia and host father

Julia Chalifoux (right), a member of her host family (center), and a fellow Rotary Youth Exchange student at the Big Buddha statue in Kamakura, Japan, in 1997.

By Julia Chalifoux, former Rotary Youth Exchange student to Japan

In 1997, at 17 years old, I spent a year living and learning in Tokyo, Japan, as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student.

Thanks to Rotary International, my time in Japan afforded me the opportunity to open my heart, mind, and eyes to a new language, land, and culture; all of this has had a profound and subtle impact and influence on the woman I am today.

In the months leading up to my exchange, I prepared myself for a year abroad, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the post-exchange experience – how returning ‘home’ again to my country of origin would also have an impact. Continue reading

Better together: the beauty of Rotaract twin clubs

Twin club service project

The Rotaract clubs of Chinatown-Manila, Philippines, and Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan, take part in a shared service project.

By Julie Chu, charter member of the Rotaract Club of Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan

We still joke about how the story of our two clubs is like a love story, with a happily-ever-after ending. The parents met and liked the idea for the children to meet, the children started dating, and the two families decided to join forces in doing good. Continue reading

When embracing your weakness helps you succeed

Steve Stirling with medical supplies

Steve Stirling. CEO of MAP International, with some of the medical supplies the organization provides to people in need worldwide.

By Steve Stirling, a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, Georgia, USA

They are typical job interview questions: What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness? 

But in my case, the interviewer often hesitates. After all, how do you ask a guy who is wearing leg braces and using crutches about his greatest weakness? It seems both obvious and insensitive. Continue reading

Vocational training team helps with autism

The vocational training team

The vocational training team from District 3680. Sandra Espina second from right.

By Sandra L. Espina, vocational training team member, Philippines

Restless, finicky, speech delay … these are just some of the common adjectives used to describe people with autism. I am a mother of a 21-year-old boy who has autism. Zachary is a typical child with autism (CWA) who struggles to develop language skills and has restrictive, repetitive behavior. It has been a process of realization: Continue reading

5 steps to club growth: why membership matters

Ainsley Brown at installation banquet

Ainsley Brown, left, receives his pin as Vocational Service Director from then-president Jemelia Davis at the club’s 2017 installation banquet.

By Ainsley Brown, Rotary Club of St. Andrew, Jamaica

My club, the Rotary Club of St. Andrew, Jamaica, has a storied history. We were chartered in 1966, four years after Jamaica’s independence from the United Kingdom, as the third Rotary club in Jamaica. We have a pioneering spirit as demonstrated by being the first Rotary club in Jamaica to allow women to join.

Rotary is a wonderful global movement that allows individuals to come together and take actions that are an expression of our collective will to make this world a better place. Our members are our greatest strength, and membership matters. But our greatest strength is also our greatest challenge. Like a lot of clubs, we struggle with membership. How do we recruit new members, retain existing members, transition members of Rotaract into Rotary, and re-engage current or former members? Continue reading

What the ‘together’ in Rotary’s vision statement means

Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.

Rotary International Vision Statement

Paddy Rooney

Paddy Rooney

By Paddy Rooney, governor of District 7390 (Pennsylvania, USA)

The word which defines much of our world today is division. We are divided in so many ways by race or creed, ethnicity or belief, by gender or age or sexuality. But the divisions have gone beyond mere realities and instead have become a source of dissention among us with the result that we have sliced and diced ourselves into smaller and smaller groups or tribes which only further exacerbate our  sense of alienation one from the other.

So what does it mean when our Rotary International Mission Statement begins with the word “Together.” Does together mean that we ignore the differences between us, pretend that they don’t exist, make believe that there never was any division among us? I don’t think so. Continue reading

Reaching the unreached in India

Kumar and prosthetic hand recipient

K V Mohan Kumar with a recipient of a prosthetic hand.

By Koorapati Venkata Mohan Kumar, member of the Rotary Club of Bangalore Prime, India   

A boy who had lost both his hands in an electrical accident spoke to a service committee meeting of our club. His parents left him after the electrocution and a local nongovernmental organization was taking care of him. This boy was our first recipient of a prosthetic hand. And seeing his joy after he started using a pen to write for the first time, we have never looked back.

We were first approached by The Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation at one of our district events while I was secretary of my former Rotary club. They were looking to partner with Rotary clubs in Bangalore, India, to work on prosthetic hand projects. It was quite an interesting prospect and we immediately agreed to a partnership. Continue reading