What we can accomplish when we embrace diversity

A mother adjusts the strap on her son's new prosthesis.
A mother adjusts the strap on her son’s new prosthesis.

By K V Mohan Kumar, charter president of the Rotary Club of Bangalore, Prime, India, and an ambassador of the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation

As members of Rotary, we can show our support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) not only by our words, but by our actions. The way we design projects and include people of all backgrounds as volunteers and recipients speaks louder than words.

In 2021, three members of our district came together to plan a medical project that fitted individuals who had lost hands with free below-the-elbow prosthetics at a camp in Dharwad, India, in October. All three of these members were from different occupations and backgrounds; one a microbiologist, one a business entrepreneur, and one an IT project manager. Together in Rotary, they blended their unique skills to lead a project benefitting people from all backgrounds.

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Doubling down on COVID recovery, ending polio

The Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Ride to End polio team.

By Kristin Brown, past president, Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse

We ride so that others may walk. I don’t know who said it first, but the phrase has become a tagline for Rotary cyclists around the world, pedaling for PolioPlus, logging miles, and raising funds in the global effort to fully eradicate this disease.

My husband, Mahmoud, and I are looking forward to returning to Tucson, Arizona, for my seventh and his fifth Ride to End Polio. It would be my eighth and his sixth ride if everything hadn’t ground to a halt with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. For all kinds of reasons, getting back on the bike this year is an important statement: of Rotary’s determination to finish what we started 36 years ago and of our collective determination to reclaim our lives after 18 months of relative isolation.

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Engaging Rotaract members in your district conference

By Rotary staff

You are on the planning committee for your district conference that will be held in-person and virtually. Part of your committee’s job is to decide how to involve members of Rotaract. Someone suggests they be asked to manage the Zoom registration and provide technical support for virtual participants to leverage their tech skills. However, others mention there could be more meaningful ways to engage Rotaract members in your conference. What would you do?

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Lessons in disability inclusion: Does he take sugar?

Editor’s Note: Jeremy Opperman is a member of Rotary’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion taskforce and a regular contributor to this blog on issues related to disability inclusion.

By Jeremy Opperman, Rotary Club of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

I had just finished keying in my pin number on the card reader at the supermarket checkout counter recently when the cashier turned to my friend and asked, “how does he know which buttons to press.”

Being completely inured to this sort of thing, I watched with interest to see how my friend would react. It is peculiar that when encountering a person with a disability, many people very often address the person accompanying them rather than addressing us directly.

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Why your club needs a public image chair

By Bernd Meidel, District 1950 Public Image Chair (Germany)

Bernd Meidel
Bernd Meidel

It’s important that Rotary and Rotaract clubs tell their stories in ways that help communities understand what Rotary does and why our work matters so as to inspire others to get involved. Appointing a club public image chair can increase your success at making the club’s communications consistent and unmistakably Rotary.

As the District 1950 Public Image Chair (Germany), I have been responsible for promoting Rotary and its activities on the district level and helping clubs develop their public image. Here are a few things I have observed:

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Discovering the impact of Rotary grants in Zimbabwe

Carolyn Schrader with Rotary members in Zimbabwe
Carolyn Schrader works with local Rotary members in Zimbabwe on an economic development project.

By Carolyn Schrader, Rotary Club of Denver Mile High, Colorado, USA

When I first joined Rotary, I was encouraged by another member to join in sponsoring a $14,000 AIDS awareness grant in Harare, Zimbabwe. I helped raise funds and worked with the Harare Rotarians to write the grant completed in 2005. But my connection to Zimbabwe lasted much longer.

As I was writing the grant report, I realized I had no idea what had really happened because the grant activity was in Zimbabwe and I was in Denver. I needed to go see the project. That was perhaps one of the most fateful decisions I ever made.

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How to bring in new members

By Tom Gump, immediate past governor of District 5950 and a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Edina / Morningside, Minnesota, USA

Rotary’s recently launched Membership Society for New Member Sponsors has created a high level of enthusiasm for bringing new members into our organization and forming new and innovative Rotary and Rotaract clubs. How do you attract new members into your club? Or form a core of people interested in launching a new Rotary club? As someone who has brought in more than 50 new members (Membership Society Gold Level), I want to share a few thoughts.

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Supporting education for girls in Bangladesh

By Abdullah Al Fahad, immediate past president, Rotaract Club of Dhaka Orchid, Bangladesh

Esara is a seven-year-old girl who lives in the Habiganj district of Bangladesh with her mother. She lost her father three years ago when he was killed in a traffic accident. They live on the income of her mother, who barely makes enough to put food on the table.

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A modern brand for a modern club

By Damien Walker, Director of Public Image and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Salisbury City Rotaract Club (Australia)

As the public image director for the Rotaract Club of Salisbury City in Australia, my job is to tell my club’s story. I share how we are a dynamic club that provides the entire Rotaract experience without the need for additional, outside commitment; how we ask our members to come as they are and give as they can; and how we are social club that volunteers and values fellowship and friendship. Additionally, I wear the hat as our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) director where I ensure we offer a welcome space for everyone to thrive.

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On International Day of the Girl Child; start your Empowering Girls project

By Elizabeth Usovicz, Rotary International director for Zones 30&31, USA

Elizabeth Usovicz

October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child. Along with the United Nations, today is a day for Rotary members to support and celebrate the girls of our world by participating in Rotary International’s Empowering Girls initiative.

As the leader of a Vocational Training Team for a Rotary Foundation grant project, my team and I worked alongside teachers in Malawi to develop and deliver an after-school program in village primary schools. The program empowers children, especially girls, to stay in school.

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