Becoming a champion for Syrian youth

Champion School students fix a soccer goal and clean up a practice field.

Muyi Yang

Muyi Yang, Rotary Peace Fellow, Uppsala University, 2019-21

If you told me ten years ago that I would be running a non-profit school in a post-conflict country, I would have laughed out loud. At the time, I was working as a business representative for a commodity trading company, visiting clients and inspecting their coal mines.

Visiting one client, colleagues and I found several unbelievably young workers at several mines. Some of them looked even under 10 years old. The client admitted to us that the workers were indeed below the legal age to be working in the mines, but they were keeping it secret because, “what else can we do?” Continue reading

Why I Raise for Rotary: Doing Good with the World Fund

Trustee Brenda Cressey

By Brenda Cressey, Trustee and Rotary Member of South Portland-Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA

Several years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to take part in a multi-project mission with more than 100 Rotarians, spouses, Rotaractors and even a few new Rotarians from Rotary District 5280. We flew to Panama to visit project sites, perform cataract surgeries, and deliver wheelchairs.

There were several “Rotary moments” on that trip, but the truly unforgettable moment for me was when a grandfather, having no legs, was presented with the gift of mobility in the form of a bright red wheelchair. Continue reading

Bring sunshine to a stormy day

Taking part in a service project in Manila.

By Maria Elena “Marilen” Tronqued-Lagniton, past president of the Rotary Club of Cubao Edsa, Quezon City, Philippines

I shall pass this way but once. Any good that I can do or kindness I can show let me do it now.

But what if today was the last day of your life? Would you be fulfilled with how you have invested your time? Would you have any regrets? Time is the currency we begin each day with. It is our most valuable and most limited asset. Continue reading

My escapades during the pandemic lockdown

Rotary member Su Boertje, right, delivers supplies to The Baby House in Westville, South Africa.

By Su Boertje, membership and PR chair, Rotary Club of Westville, South Africa

In April, I learned that the Baby House in Westville, South Africa, a safe house for abandoned babies, desperately needed basic supplies. Due to the country-wide lockdown, donations had all but dried up, and the two house mothers and 10 babies (aged 1 week to 23 months) needed help.

”Not all super heroes wear capes,” I thought to myself, “some wear Rotary badges!” So I contacted our club treasurer to see if I could spend some of my PR budget to assist and they agreed. Continue reading

Small grant leads to big changes for Tanzanian girls

Kisa mentors with Chris

Kisa mentors on a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro with Curt Harris in 2018.

By Curt Harris, past governor, Rotary District 5450

Although I joined Rotary in 1997, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a Rotary-sponsored fundraiser three years later that I really felt I had become a Rotarian.

This was my first opportunity to visit a developing country and see first-hand what poverty looks like. It is quite an eye-opener. I also got to observe some of the great things that Rotary was doing in the area. On that trip, our team of 11 climbers raised nearly $300,000 to support the Selian Hospital in northern Tanzania. Three years later, I returned with a smaller team, raising $125,000 to help build Selian Hospital’s new sister facility near downtown Arusha. Continue reading

Prevent gender based violence

Elsa Marie D’Silva, 2016 Rotary Peace Fellow.

By Elsa Marie D’Silva, Rotary Peace Fellow alumna, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

During the lockdown enforced due to COVID-19, I have been reaching out to all my friends to see how they are doing. The other day I happened to call one of my girl friends who I know has been in an abusive relationship to find out if she was fine. She answered my call and we exchanged pleasantries. In the midst of the conversation she suddenly went quiet and then started to talk in riddles. I immediately sensed that all was not right and asked her if her partner was around. She could not even answer with a “yes” or “no” and so I quickly reassured her that I understood her situation and we could communicate further on WhatsApp. Continue reading

3D printable prostheses help child amputees

A youth tests his new prosthesis  made through 3-D printing.

By Rafael Vazquez Barragan, Rotaract Club of Monterrey Cumbres, Nuevo León, Mexico

Three years ago, the nephew of one of my best friends was born with a congenital condition that required one hand to be amputated. As a result, he had trouble keeping his balance and when it came to taking his first steps, he fell repeatedly. He was unable to lift himself up with just one hand and would just cry until someone could help him get up. Continue reading

New Programs of Scale grants for new year

Using global grant funding, Rotary members provided a well, water tower, and new fountains to a village in Benin.

By Victor Barnes, Director of Programs & Grants

In 2013, Rotary set out on its new grant model under the Future Vision Plan, in the hopes that the approach would enhance the scope, impact, and sustainability of humanitarian projects. More than six years later, and with over $460 million invested in almost 7,000 projects across the globe, Rotary is ready to augment these critical investments with a new grant type. Beginning January 2020, Rotary International is introducing a highly selective, competitive grant model that empowers Rotarians to implement large-scale, high impact projects with experienced partners. Continue reading

Seeing Rotary face to face

Steven Sundstrom and Dr. Koki Inai

Rotary Regional Grants Officer Steven Sundstrom (right) with Dr. Koki Inai of the Rotary Club of Hiroshima South.

By Steven Sundstrom, RI regional grants officer

As a regional grants officer for Rotary, I spend most of my work time at Rotary headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, working with members around the world, including in Japan. Given the time difference, communication is naturally often by email. The first time I traveled to Japan for work was for the Rotary Institute in Nagoya, Japan. I met many Rotarians in person who I had been emailing for years. We were meeting face to face for the first time, but somehow we were already old friends. “お会いが出来て嬉しいですね!Nice to finally meet you!” Continue reading

Empowering women in Colombian prisons

Exercise class.

Charlie Ruth Castro leads an exercise class for inmates.

Charlie Ruth Castro

By Charlie Ruth Castro, Rotary E-Club of Sogamoso Global, Colombia

I had to go to prison to understand how education for innovation is the path for empowering millions of Latin American and Caribbean women economically. I’ve never committed a crime; I belong to that group of people who believe education is the most sophisticated tool we have to opening any door.

In 2016, I founded MujeresConDerechos.org with the idea of reminding society that all girls and all women are powerful. For this reason, I have dedicated myself to gathering the most influential leaders through summits, marches, and a television program. The attention and support I have received has been converted into generating innovative programs for girls and women most in need. Continue reading