Gratitude over grief

ARES provides education materials for rural schools in Kenya

Two male teachers look at the screen of a laptop open in front of them
Two teachers in Kenya look at educational content on one of the laptops set up by the ARES project.

By Sean Hogan, past governor of District 5050 (British Columbia, Canada; Washington, USA) and member of the Rotary Club of Pacific Northwest Passport

I lost my wife, Carol, to cancer last June. It was unexpected and quick – two weeks from diagnosis to when she passed, the day before her 61st birthday. We had 42 wonderful years together and three children who grew into amazing adults.

Rotary has been a big part of our lives since I joined at age 27. It’s given us friends and opportunities that we would never have had otherwise, including when I (we) served as District Governor in 2012-13 (Peace Through Service). One of those opportunities was to be part of Rotary service projects in Kenya starting in 2009. Each of our children joined us on separate trips, and it was life changing for all of us.

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Books for Ukrainian children

Seated student holds science dictionary with other books in her lap
Sofiya Mulyk, a student at St. Nicholas Cathedral School, holds the book she received from the book fair donation.

By Laura Kann, governor of District 6420 (Illinois, USA)

Rotary’s response to the war in Ukraine has been simply incredible. Since the war began in February, Rotarians have opened their hearts to support those effected by the war in many different ways. Many members in my district have also been thinking, what can we do, right here, right now?

In August, I read a front-page article in the Chicago Tribune about Ukrainian refugee children in Chicago and the impact of the war on them and their families. It both broke my heart and spurred me to action, showing me how District 6420 could make a difference for at least some of these children.

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Pad A Girl project helps girls stay in school

Students in white uniforms and green ties sit behind a long desk awaiting class to begin.
Students in Umudike Central, Abia State, Nigeria wait for class to begin. Pad A Girl assures that female students do not have to miss class due to feminine hygiene issues.

By Ada Wikina, international service chair, Rotary Club of North Cobb, Georgia, USA

As a young girl growing up in Nigeria in the 1960s, I did not talk about feminine hygiene, as it was almost taboo. So much so, that women either simply didn’t broach the subject with their daughters or they gave the responsibility to others. Or, as in my case, they would let an aunt who was a nurse explain it. Things have come a long way since then. I recently worked on the “Pad A Girl” project in my home country along with two Nigerian-based Rotary clubs. How did I get there?

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Kid, You Can project helps children take first steps

Therapist Paramonova holds a verticalizer as a small child attempts to move forward
Olga Paramonova works with a child to help him take his first steps, assisted by the Katusha verticalizer.

By Anna Tumanova, president, Rotary Club of Moscow Center, Russian Federation

I remember how impatiently I waited for my Varvara to run. I waited for my daughter’s first step for 10 months. But there are parents who wait for years. And there are those who will never experience this happiness.

What is it like for a young person who can’t lean on his own feet? How do they see the world? What is their social circle?  Are they confined to the four walls of a small apartment, where they are heroically dragged along by their mother, whose life begins and ends with a child with special needs.

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Creating scholarships for Afghan refugees

By Ademar Bechtold and Quentin Wodon, Rotary Action Group for Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Migration

Quentin Wodon

The number of refugees globally has been steadily rising. The ongoing war in Ukraine has created an even larger humanitarian crisis with millions of displaced people. There is much that Rotary clubs are doing, and can be doing, to help the resettlement of refugees.

About a month ago, Ademar and I joined a combined board meeting of our Rotary Action Group and the Rotary Fellowship for Global Development, discussing what could be done to help the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the United States. Ademar, a professor of economics at Notre Dame of Maryland University, suggested his university might be able to provide one or two scholarships for Afghan youth. We all thought this would be a brilliant idea.

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