Doubling down on COVID recovery, ending polio

The Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Ride to End polio team.

By Kristin Brown, past president, Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse

We ride so that others may walk. I don’t know who said it first, but the phrase has become a tagline for Rotary cyclists around the world, pedaling for PolioPlus, logging miles, and raising funds in the global effort to fully eradicate this disease.

My husband, Mahmoud, and I are looking forward to returning to Tucson, Arizona, for my seventh and his fifth Ride to End Polio. It would be my eighth and his sixth ride if everything hadn’t ground to a halt with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. For all kinds of reasons, getting back on the bike this year is an important statement: of Rotary’s determination to finish what we started 36 years ago and of our collective determination to reclaim our lives after 18 months of relative isolation.

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Shifting the paradigm on disability inclusion

Jeremy Opperman

Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the fourth in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.

Jeremy Opperman joined the Rotary Club of Newlands in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2020. He was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a deteriorating eye condition which results in total blindness. He speaks, writes, and consults widely on topics including achieving disability confidence in organizations; making a business case for universal access; and taking a strategic approach to disability inclusion. Read his full bio.

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Smile and celebrate the small wins in DEI

Todd Jenkins

Editor’s Note: In September 2020, Rotary formed a task force charged with assessing the current status of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in Rotary and shaping a comprehensive action plan to help us further value and live those principles throughout the organization. This is the third in a series of blog posts from DEI Task Force members reflecting on their work on the committee and why it is critical for the organization.

Dr. “Bowtie” Todd Jenkins serves as a Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader at a Fortune 100 company in Corporate America and as an Executive Inclusion Trainer, Strategist, and Speaker with Bowtie Leadership, Inc. Todd is a member of the Rotary Club of Fayetteville, Arkansas; and has served as a Rotaract Advisor, Interact Sponsor, RYLA presenter, and Youth Services Chair. He is currently one of the youngest Youth Exchange District chairs in Rotary. Rotary. Read his full bio.

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Tips for learning a language in Rotary service

Youth Exchange in Chile
The author and other students in La Serena during his Rotary Youth Exchange to Chile.

By Connor Kane

Learning a language can be a challenge — but it doesn’t have to be boring or frustrating.

One of the greatest things I gained from my year as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Chile in 2009-10 was a deeper love of languages and a better understanding of how  to learn them. Rotary members create lasting change in communities around the world. And this often involves travel to new places and cultures and/or working in different languages from one’s native tongue — either as an exchange student, in a scholarship program, or on a service project. Having benefited from my youth exchange, I wanted to pay it forward by sharing some practices I have found helpful in broadening my language skills in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and now German.

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Venezuelan refugees find help, meals

Food distribution to refugees at Alberque Douglas center
Volunteers from Albergue Douglas distribution center provide food for people in Pamplona, Colombia in the winter of 2021.

By Cristal Montañéz Baylor, International Coordinator for Hope for Venezuelan Refugees and a member of the Rotary E-club of Houston, Texas, USA

It is immensely gratifying to witness children, in the midst of crisis, smiling again over a shared meal. Your heart is touched as you sense their parents’ tension ease and see expressions of hope radiate across their faces.

Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes access to food as a fundamental human right. And access to food continues to be a focal point of the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis.

We are in the fifth phase of the Hope for Venezuelan Refugees project, which is providing hot “soup meals” to Venezuelan refugees, migrants, and walkers (also known as “caminantes”) on the Cúcuta-Pamplona humanitarian route.

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Peace: Today for tomorrow

By Maria Kliavkoff

What difference can one conversation, one action really have? As a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada living and working in the border area between Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia, I have always had a passion for peace. By good fortune, I have had the opportunity to meet four RI presidents, and I asked each what polio eradication has taught Rotarians about peace. The answer that inspired me most came from past RI President Barry Rassin, who told me “peace happens one conversation at a time.”

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What it takes to have a sustainable WASH project

Floren Naguit, second from right, with members of the Rotary Club of Intramuros, Philippines, and villagers at one of 28 toilets the club built for three Aeta communities in the mountains north of Manila.

By Florencio Naguit, Rotary Club of Intramuros-Manila, Philippines

In 2017, my club began our first global grant project, an effort to provide 28 toilets to three communities of indigenous people called Aeta in the mountains of central Luzon. Two of these communities were in an isolated area a five-hour drive from Manila (including two by 4×4 jeep over rough terrain) while the third is in a closer, more urban area. They have not toilets in their homes (like more than 9 million households in my country) and either rely on pit latrines of defecate in the open. This leaves them open to diseases like diarrhea and cholera.

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Myanmar refugees charter new club in Indiana

Members of the Southport International Rotary Club in Indianapolis load boxes of food for a food drop.

By Jeff Lake, Rotary Club of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

I began to work with the nonprofit organization Chin Community of Indiana in 2016 after our club’s foundation granted them $250,000 over five years, with a three-year extension through 2023. Many Burmese Chin, fleeing persecution in their home country, have chosen Southport as their new home. Almost 20,000 Chin live on the south side of Indianapolis, making it one of the largest concentrations of Chin people outside of Myanmar.

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How we use our social media accounts matter

Jeffry Cadorette

By Jeffry Cadorette, past RI director and chair of Rotary International’s Communications Committee

Most of us have social media accounts that we use to promote Rotary. In our network are Rotary friends, but also family, friends, and colleagues outside of Rotary. This is all very good.

Many of our profile banners include a stamp that says “Proud Member” or “End Polio Now” along with our mark of excellence, the Rotary logo. We have photos of club events we attended (from the time when we could attend events in person). Our posts go to both members and those outside the Rotary family.

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How we held our speech contest on The Four-Way Test online

Temrah Okonski

By Temrah Okonski, assistant governor in District 7620 (D.C. & Maryland, USA)

Our district faced a critical decision on what to do about our annual speech contest on The Four-Way Test when the COVID-19 pandemic began to change the world last year. We decided to still hold one, but online. The results proved to be way better than we expected. And we’re convinced that with these few pointers, you can hold your own virtual competition. Continue reading