By Jennifer Scott, Rotary Club of Central Blue Mountains,New South Wales, Australia
Mongolia, a country caught between two giants – China and Russia, is a long, long way from Australia and I never planned to travel there. However, like many Rotary projects, it is through networking and circumstance that you find an opportunity to make a difference. Mine came as part of a vocational training team to Mongolia to conduct workshops to empower single fathers.
By Dean Rohrs, Rotary Foundation Trustee and past RI vice president
A few years back, I was taking part in a polio immunization field trip in northern Nigeria, vaccinating children against the disease. After a dusty trip on non-existent roads right into the northern Nigeria countryside, I was dropped off under a tree with a Rotaractor translator, one other Rotary member, and the local polio immunization team. This is an area frequented by Boko Haram and although I grew up in Africa, and am adventurous, I wasn’t sure that I would ever be found again.
By Geoffrey Diesel and Kathy Doherty, co-founders of the Racial Equity Project
The two of us met as Rotary Peace Fellows during the inaugural cohort of Peace Activators in North America. We made a commitment to provide training, education, and support to the Rotary family on the framework of Positive Peace. The initiative grew out of Rotary’s strategic partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a global think tank dedicated to measuring Positive Peace defined as the “attitudes, institutions, and structures that uphold peaceful societies.”
Peace activators in the US were already addressing racism in this country, but the murder of George Floyd in 2020 served as catalyst for further action. In October of that year, we co-founded the Racial Equity Project (REP), a subcommittee of peace activators in North America, committed to studying ways to create a more peaceful society through antiracism.
I was a typical, energetic four-year old in South Africa, running around our house with visions of my hero, long distance runner Jan Barnard, in my head when I felt something wrong. I ran inside and told my mother, “I have a dripping tap in my chest.” This was my way of describing what I felt, my heart skipping beats now and again. My mom, Christine, pressed an ear to my chest and called our general practitioner.
That would be the last day I would run imaginary races with Barnard. I had contracted spino-bulbar polio, which destroys neurons in the brainstem causing respiratory or cardiac failure. I was given less than a 2% chance of survival. This was in 1955, during a polio epidemic in South Africa, months before the Salk Vaccine was declared safe and effective.
By Kim Dixon, Rotary Club of Raleigh Midtown, North Carolina, USA
When I served in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Georgia from 2014-2016, I engaged with the International Rotary Club of Tbilisi to support several service projects. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – and now a Rotary member of the Rotary Club of Raleigh Midtown – I am proud to help integrate our shared service goals as the current President of Partnering for Peace, a nonprofit that promotes and supports the formal service partnership between Rotary International and US Peace Corps.
The pandemic did not just slow down the delivery of essential health services to vulnerable populations. In many cases, it completely cut it off. On 23-24 June, health days were organized at 60 sites in Nigeria. At two sites at Ikeja, Dr. Omolola Salako, a clinical oncologist, and her team witnessed hundreds of women queueing up to get their cervical cancer screening and tests done. Salako is founder of three organizations – Sebeccly Cancer Care and Support Centre, Oncopadi Technologies and Pearl Oncology Clinic, and has spent over 16 years providing quality care and education to cancer patients in Nigeria. She recently shared her experience with Sneha Saloni, a communications specialist with the Rotary Action Group for Family Health & AIDS prevention.
By Emory Morsberger, Rotary Club of Gwinnett County, Georgia, USA
Isn’t it a privilege to be a Rotarian who can actually serve others and make a difference in someone else’s life – and even more so if that life is on the other side of the world? I think so! I hope to rally fellow Rotarians on 24 August to join our movement, Helping Ukraine.
In 1998, I took a trip to Ukraine and have been yearning to go back since. The people there are so excited about their freedom. When the war broke out in February, I felt a strong call to do something to help these free-spirited people. I had been hearing about the massive destruction and wanted to do more than make donations.
By Elizabeth Usovicz, Rotary International Director, chair of Rotary’s Empowering Girls Task Force
What does it mean to be empowered? For girls throughout the world, empowerment is the ability to make choices and create positive change in their own lives, as well as in their families and communities.
Empowered girls become empowered women. Reaching out to the girls of our world is the heart and purpose of Rotary’s Empowering Girls Initiative. Our stories of supporting girls are interwoven with their stories of empowerment, like the story of Atupele, a girl in Malawi.
By Magnus Elfwendahl, past governor of District 2350 and a member of the Rotary Club of Uppsala-Carolina, Sweden
Some months ago, I participated in the celebration of 50 years of Peace and Conflict research at Uppsala University in Sweden. During the anniversary symposium some prominent international scholars reflected on big societal challenges and the future of peace and conflict research. Experienced practitioners shared their thoughts on how peace and conflict research can contribute to policy and practical peace work. The keynote speaker, Jamie LeSueur, head of Emergency Operations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), was a Rotary Peace Fellow during 2013-2015 when training for future peace work at Uppsala University.
by Kiran Singh Sirah, president of the International Storytelling Center and a Rotary Peace Fellow alum
In early June, I was a keynote speaker at the Rotary Presidential Conference Houston: Serve to Bring Peace. We were a group of about 1,500 people, many who are leaders in their communities, and all interested in peacebuilding. They were from all over the world. And every day, I was asked the question: what led me to become a peacebuilder?