By Ahmed Yusuf Omer, immediate past president of the Rotaract Club of Habesha, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
There is an Ethiopian saying, “50 lemons are heavy for one man but are a treat for 50 men.”
Dissatisfied with the opportunities I saw around me to give back to my community and repay the debt I felt I owed for the blessings I had received, I joined the Rotaract Club of Habesha in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The club was chartered in 2007, and like all Rotaract Clubs, gives members an opportunity to lead and support service projects, while building their personal and professional skills.
Young leaders are ideally suited to come up with groundbreaking, unconventional and revolutionary ideas that can solve some of our society’s longstanding problems. Of course, these ideas must be balanced by the experience of those who have gone before. I find this balance wonderfully achieved in the relationship between Rotaract clubs and their sponsoring Rotary Club. As Rotaractors, we have always received advice and support from our sponsoring Rotary Club of Addis Ababa East. We in turn support them with fresh and innovative ideas and approaches. The relationship is two way, with a common objective, to put Service Above Self.
My club has provided scholastic material to more than 500 children for the past six years under the project name “Equip a Child.” Children are our future, and lack of proper education material is among the five leading causes of school dropout in my country, according to a UNICEF report. As always, we received advice and support from our mother club.
We have turned this idea around to provide mentoring for youth in the dynamic Interact Club of Nativity Girls School. They have surprised us with their eagerness and determination. The current president has established a public library through her own initiative. One Rotarian noted at the dedication of the library in July of 2013, “My daughter has done what I was planning to do for a long time.”
The Rotary family is the best place to grow and be nurtured. I earnestly advise any youth around the world and in my home country of Ethiopia who genuinely wants to change his or her community to find the nearest Rotary family and join now. May peace be upon you.