By Maria Valentina Martinez Belo, Rotaract Club of Ing. Boris Walter, Venezuela
We all have different talents. It’s what makes each of us special and unique. I have always felt a strong desire to organize big events and use my creativity to help others and make them feel special. Through Rotaract, I have been able to do that, changing my life and those of the people I have been able to serve.
About eight years ago, I began a service project through my club called Rotaract Together for a Pink Life, or Project Rosa for short. The goal of the project is to improve the lives of cancer patients and bring them emotional and mental support through a series of activities throughout the month of October. The project sets out to accomplish four goals:
1. Raise awareness through lectures,
2. Collect donated hair from salons to use for wigs
3. Raise money for tests, medicine, and treatments through a pink bazaar; and
4. Organize a fashion show at the end of October where cancer patients model clothes from local designers.
The fashion show employs an innovative concept. We compare the phases of cancer to seasons of the year, and our patients model clothing for each season. Autumn corresponds with the time of diagnosis, winter to treatment, spring to resurgence, and summer to healing.
The catwalk provides a therapeutic space for our models, as they get to share experiences with people who are going through the same challenges. The patients also build confidence and self-esteem through the modeling classes and develop strong leadership skills which they can then use to support other people suffering from cancer.
Without the support of my Rotaract club, I would never have imagined that I could do a fashion show using cancer patients as models. It has become our club’s biggest event and is highly anticipated every year.
I not only dedicate my time to directing Project Rosa, but I also care for oncology patients through my profession as a dentist. I oversee a specialized dental unit for people who receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
It’s been my commitment to Rotaract that I become an asset to the club by combining what I am good at with what I love. Because of this, I have had incredible experiences that have helped me grow as a person. I am connected to other Rotaractors through my ability to use my skills and follow my passion to help others. And I am quite certain that other Rotaract members stay for the same reason. They find what they were looking for: a purpose in life.
Editor’s Note: Maria Valentina Martinez Belo is a dentist, member of the Rotaract Club of Ing. Boris Walter, Venezuela, and District Rotaract Representative. She is one of two Rotaractors to receive the Service Above Self Award and will be among 133 recipients who will be honored at this year’s Rotary International Convention in Houston, Texas, USA.