Water as an instrument for peace

Rotary Scholars in WCD program

Rotary Scholars from left to right: Nataliya Chemayeva from Turkmenistan, Aminjon Abdulloev from Tajikistan, Jahan Taganova from Turkmenistan, Botir Ismoilov from Uzbekistan, Botagoz Sharipova from Kazakhstan, and Nargiza Osmonova from Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Celeste Noche. © Rotary International. All Rights Reserved.

By Nataliya Chemayeva, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

The Central Asian region has been the focus of global water catastrophes for almost two decades now. No one is indifferent to the problems that we share as a region. There are multiple layers to the problem that have transformed political discourse within the countries and have affected relationships between water experts.

All of this personally was ambiguous to me until I started working for the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. In my commission, we deal mostly with environmental issues and have some exposure to water-related events. This is what sparked my interest in the topic. I soon developed an understanding that technical solutions alone were not going to bring about desired results without a balanced diplomacy. Continue reading

Water and peace in the Aral Sea basin

The video (above) by Botagoz Sharipova, Nataliya Chemayeva, and other Rotary Scholars in the Water Cooperation and Diplomacy program has been selected as finalist by the Geneva Water Hub and will be featured at the Budapest Water Summit 15-17 October and during Geneva Peace Week 4-8 November.

By Botagoz Sharipova, Rotary Scholar, Water Cooperation and Diplomacy Program

Every living being and every local economy depends on water. In my country Kazakhstan, the source of our water comes from seven major rivers that we share with our neighbors. Six of those originate in other countries including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia. In Central Asia, access to water and conflict resolution are closely intertwined. Continue reading

Returning home again: How Rotary Youth Exchange builds resilience

Julia and host father

Julia Chalifoux (right), a member of her host family (center), and a fellow Rotary Youth Exchange student at the Big Buddha statue in Kamakura, Japan, in 1997.

By Julia Chalifoux, former Rotary Youth Exchange student to Japan

In 1997, at 17 years old, I spent a year living and learning in Tokyo, Japan, as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student.

Thanks to Rotary International, my time in Japan afforded me the opportunity to open my heart, mind, and eyes to a new language, land, and culture; all of this has had a profound and subtle impact and influence on the woman I am today.

In the months leading up to my exchange, I prepared myself for a year abroad, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the post-exchange experience – how returning ‘home’ again to my country of origin would also have an impact. Continue reading

Vocational training team helps with autism

The vocational training team

The vocational training team from District 3680. Sandra Espina second from right.

By Sandra L. Espina, vocational training team member, Philippines

Restless, finicky, speech delay … these are just some of the common adjectives used to describe people with autism. I am a mother of a 21-year-old boy who has autism. Zachary is a typical child with autism (CWA) who struggles to develop language skills and has restrictive, repetitive behavior. It has been a process of realization: Continue reading

My mother’s dream

Reem Ghunaim and her nieces.

Reem Ghunaim and her nieces. Photo by Moataz Al Sadey

By Reem Ghunaim

I am a Rotary Peace Fellow from Palestine. My mother is a Palestinian refugee who fled her home with her family in 1948. My father’s entire village was displaced for two weeks in 1967. In fact, nearly half of my family are Palestinian refugees.

I was born and raised in Tulkarem, home of two refugee camps that still exist from the Nakba of 1948. One camp is beside my former high school in the middle of downtown. The other is located at the Eastern entrance of my city. This refugee camp is the first thing I see every time I return home to visit my family. Continue reading

Gosha-e-Ilm: A Ray of Hope

Faisalabad Rotaract club members lead an evening class for child laborers.

By Ebadat-ur-Rehman Babar, 2019-20 secretary, Rotaract Club of Faisalabad, Pakistan

Our idea started back in 2018, when I and two other members of my Rotaract club began looking for an innovative, sustainable project. We wanted to submit an entry for the Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards and we came up with an idea of starting a school for child laborers who do not have enough resources for their education. Continue reading

Leadership library transforms community

The inside of the new Leadership Library in Mare Tabac, looking through the reading room.

By Frederic Nullathemby, 2018-19 president of the Rotary Club of Rose-Belle, Mauritius

If you want to be a leader, you have to read. If you want to develop leaders, you have to provide a place for young people to read. When we took on our project to develop the Leadership Library, we very much had the words of Margaret Fuller, a 19th century American journalist and women’s rights advocate, at heart: “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Continue reading

The power of story to build a better future

Kiran Singh Sirah (middle with sunglasses) and other Rotary Peace Fellows at the Rotary Peace Symposium in Hamburg, Germany. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary International.

By Kiran Singh Sirah, Rotary Peace Fellow and president of the International Storytelling Center

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of visiting Hamburg, Germany, to present a series of talks at the Rotary International Convention and Peace Symposium. I always look forward to the symposiums and the chance to reconnect with other Rotary Peace Fellows. The event underscored for me how much better it is to hear people’s stories in real life, in person, as opposed to on the news. Continue reading

Paying it forward through Rotaract

Georgi Kardzhaliyski at the Coney Island half marathon.

By Georgi Kardzhaliyski, a member of the Rotaract Club of Boston, Massachusetts, USA

My love affair with Rotary started when I was a junior in high school and was selected by the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission for their United States Achievers Program. One of the participants told me about Interact during the break of an SAT prep course and sparked my interest in getting involved. Feeling inspired, I went on to start my high school’s first ever Interact club, which I ran successfully with my co-president and about 10 members for a year until I graduated. Continue reading

Bridge to success in The Gambia

The project team from left Lamin Manneh, Beth W. Kealy, Maggie Peterson, and Randy Hutchins.

By Maggie Peterson, Rotary Club of Edmonds, Washington, USA

Four members of our club left Seattle on 1 February and flew some 30 plus hours to The Gambia, arriving on the evening of 2 February. The purpose of the trip was to identify a site in the remote area of the Central River Valley for a “pure” science lab. This crucial component for Secondary Schools does not currently exist, effectively cutting off access to college or even high school graduation, as this science lab work is required for both. Continue reading