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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Colorado Rotary members show comfort and care

Three Rotary members stand beside an Alpaca as they visit a fourth woman in bed with terminal illness
Rotary club members (standing from left) Laurell Richey, Ashley Kasprzak, and Charlene Santala Gearing visit Kate Gordon (in bed) with Richey’s pet alpaca.

By Ashley Kasprzak, president of the Rotary Club of Longmont Twin Peaks, Colorado, USA

Rotary members in Colorado showed what it means to create a welcoming club experience of comfort and care, one of Rotary International President Jennifer Jones’ initiatives for this Rotary year.

I was a small part of an effort to help longtime Rotary member Dennis Gordon and his wife, Kate, this spring. Every spring and summer since they had married 46 years ago, Kate had planted and cultivated brightly-colored gardens. But this year, she was in bed with a terminal illness which prevented her from doing so.

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DEI is a difference maker

Kumar leads discussion in front of a room full of other members
Mohan Kumar, right, leads discussion sessions in his club designed to let everyone share their ideas.

By Mohan Kumar, charter president, Rotary Club of Bangalore Prime, India

I was given the opportunity to establish a plan aimed at increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our club as the chair of our DEI taskforce.

We have found that when we approach millennials or women to join Rotary, they look at the level of diversity in our club. We are a four-year-old Rotary club with 34 members, seven who are women. For the current Rotary year, we also have women serving as president, secretary, and treasurer. We have just one member below the age of 40 and six members in the range of 40-49. Through this lens, we knew that we could do better and be more relevant in the communities we serve.

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Simple ideas for creating international connections

Map of international student locations
An international student marks her home country on the map during a picnic organized by the Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

By Randy Bretz, Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

If you think there’s not much your local Rotary club can do to foster international relations, think again. I have some ideas for you that are relatively simple and can help establish positive relations not just among individuals but entire countries.

My club is located in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the University of Nebraska. In fact, we have four universities and colleges in Lincoln. Each semester and often during the summer, these institutions host international scholars and students. Typically, people visiting or studying at a local institution are very interested in connecting with people in the community.

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How I found a sense of belonging in Rotary

Maricler Botelho de Oliveria, left, takes part in a program promoting Rotary in Brazil.
Maricler Botelho, right, takes part in a program promoting Rotary in Brazil. Maricler says the support and acceptance she has found in Rotary has given her a sense of belonging and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to inclusion.

By Maricler Botelho, a member of the Rotary Club of Marilia-Pioneiro, and assistant governor of District 4510

When I share my Rotary story, it is one of recognition, support, and acceptance. I believe it also tells the story of Rotary’s commitment to inclusion.

I was born in Tupi Paulista, in the countryside of São Paulo, and grew up in the northern part of the state of Mato Grosso, in the city of Juara. I come from a simple family that set a high value on respecting others. I had to move about 600 miles away from my town to pursue my desire to be a lawyer. I’m the first on my mother’s side of the family to get a college degree. Our socioeconomic status created real limitations, which is why I grew up accepting a feeling that I didn’t really belong. Then I was introduced to Rotary.

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