Driving a junk car across Europe for charity

Niemann's and junk car

Konrad Niemann, left, and his son by the junk car they used in the Carbage Run. The car was auctioned off, and combined with funds raised by the run, to benefit the Salberghaus, a home for children.

By Konrad Niemann, President of the Rotary Club of München-Münchner Freiheit, Germany

In February, my son and I were driving in Germany when we began passing a bunch of strange-looking cars on the highway. We discovered they were part of a road rally called the Carbage Run, that is essentially a five-day road trip across Europe in a junk car. For the past 10 years, participants have paid about €350 (about $400) to take part in the event, originating in the Netherlands, with cars that must be more than 18 years old and worth less than €500 ($560). Looking at all these junk cars, my son and I thought “what a funny idea for a father-son activity.” Continue reading

Painting the way to peace

Park mural in Cuidad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico

Members of the Rotaract Club of Juárez Integra in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, by one of the 10 murals they painted in public spaces.

By Yesenia Uribe, Rotaract Club of Juárez Integra, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico

I have always been concerned about the situation in my city. Ciudad Juarez is sadly known for a high crime rate and violence related to drug trafficking which creates an atmosphere of insecurity.

I wanted to learn more about how I could implement peace in my community, so I applied to participate in a workshop called A Stronger Mexico: Pillars of Positive Peace organized by the Institute for Economics and Peace. I learned that peace starts in small communities and that we cannot think about global peace if we do not work on it from the roots. Continue reading

Fighting malnutrition with better corn

Technician talks to farmers

Semilla Nueva technician Noe speaks to farmers about their new seed. Photo by Sarah Caroline Müller/Semilla Nueva

By Don Reiman, Rotary Club of Boise, Idaho, USA

Semilla Nueva means “New Seed.” In Guatemala the “new seed” developed by Semilla Nueva is creating new life for some of the world’s most malnourished children.

In March 2013, my wife and I traveled to Guatemala to check out Semilla Nueva, a nonprofit our Rotary club was considering supporting as part of our international service. Our past history with nonprofits taught us it was important to make sure the Rotary club’s resources would be backing a valid and sustainable project. What we found and experienced far exceeded our expectations. Continue reading

5 steps for establishing a garden to fight hunger

Establishing a food garden in your school or community can help reduce malnutrition. The Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group promotes innovative solutions, such as community gardens, to end hunger, fight malnutrition, and ensure food security. World Food Day is a great time to think about planting a garden. Here are five steps to get started: Continue reading

Improving sanitation in a school in Ghana

Hand washing demonstration

Vera Allotey demonstrates hand washing to school children in Denkyira, Ghana.

Editor Note: Rotary International partners with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support lasting, positive change in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). This is part of a series of occasional blog posts from local Rotary members describing their visits to project sites.

By Vera Lamiley Allotey, Rotary Club of Accra Dansoman

In July, I left my home with fellow Rotarians to visit Upper Denkyira East in the central region of Ghana to see progress on water and sanitation projects. Despite riding in a very new vehicle, the ride was bumpy due to poor road conditions. But we enjoyed talking and learning about the Rotary-USAID partnership during our more than six-hour journey. I was encouraged by what I saw and the impact Rotary is having in the region. Continue reading

Helping the homeless, one tiny house at a time

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Editor’s note: World Homeless Day, 10 October, is an opportunity to educate people about homelessness and raise awareness in your community.  

By John Matthews, Rotary International Vice President 2018-19 and member of the Rotary Club of Mercer Island, Washington, USA. Photos by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

Spending the night under the stars sounds romantic. But for hundreds of thousands of Americans, it’s the exact opposite. It’s not a choice; it’s an unpleasant reality that can quickly become detrimental to one’s life. And it happens more often than most people with a roof over their heads might think – 553,742 people were homeless on a single night in 2017. Alarmed by the growing homeless population in our city, my club and I felt compelled to take action. Continue reading

The right to a better life

The commemoration of the mass murder of 72 migrants

LA 72 held this commemoration of the mass murder of 72 migrants by the Los Zetas drug cartel in San Fernando, Mexico, in 2010. Photo courtesy Giorgio Algeri

By Giorgio Algeri, 2010-11 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland, Australia 

On a late evening in August, a family of eight migrant persons from Honduras arrived at the refugee shelter where I was serving as a short-term volunteer in Tabasco, Mexico, near the border with Guatemala. The family of three adults and five children, most below the age of 10, had fled their country for security reasons and were renting a tiny room in Tabasco awaiting asylum. The son of the landlord came home drunk and threatened the family with a machete, forcing them to leave all their belongings behind. Continue reading

How does it look when I walk?

Francine Falk-Allen

By Francine Falk-Allen

As a polio survivor (age three, left with partial paralysis of one leg which did not grow as much as the other leg), all of my life I have had moments when I turned to see a child trying to imitate my walk. It was always disconcerting, and of late, just a little surprising, as when you realize toilet paper is stuck to your shoe and trailing along behind.  When I matured, I could smile at the pantomime, and think, “Do I really walk like that??!”  Continue reading

Firefighter exchange builds bonds

Firefighter exchange

Firefighters from Argentina and Florida, USA, share techniques during an exchange sponsored by Rotarians in both countries.

By Celia Giay, past RI vice president and a member of the Rotary Club of Arrecifes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The idea for our firefighter exchange was born when my club received a visit from local volunteer firefighters. Club members listened attentively as our guests explained their dream of continuing to learn better ways to protect their community, and on that very night we set a goal to organize an international exchange to make that possible. Continue reading

Rotary Youth Exchange: key to global citizenship

Marie and classmates

Marie Tornquist and her Brazilian classmates during her Rotary Youth Exchange

By Marie Tornquist, former Rotary Youth Exchange student from Minnesota, USA, to Brazil

On the first day of my Rotary Youth Exchange orientation in a Minneapolis suburb, I remember being confused about the nationality of my country officer. She kept referring to herself as Brazilian, saying things like, “In Brazil we eat a lot of rice and beans,” and, “We (Brazilians) are very open people.” She also referred to her Brazilian host families as “my brother, Eduardo,” “my nieces and nephews,” etc. I wondered if she had somehow been placed with a host family that was a distant relative. After a while I realized that ever since her exchange, she has continued to identify with the Brazilian culture while at the same time living in the U.S. and maintaining her identity as an American. Continue reading