Working alongside ShelterBox after Super Typhoon Rai

Man carrying bit piece of iron next to a local man in a white shirt
Bernard Vonn Sia, left, carries corrugated iron sheeting as part of ShelterBox’s response to Super Typhoon Rai in Cebu in 2021.

Editor’s Note: In December 2021, Super Typhoon Rai hit the Philippines with gusts of up to 240 kilometers per hour, the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane. ShelterBox worked closely with Rotary contacts, local partners, international response teams and the Philippines Navy. Bernard Vonn Sia was part of a disaster response team working with ShelterBox.

Bernard Vonn Sia

By Bernard Vonn Sia, Rotary Club of Cebu, Philippines

As the son of a Rotary member, I was exposed to the organization very early. I thought of it as a group of like-minded people who wanted to help the poor. It wasn’t until I joined the Rotary Club of Cebu sometime later that I realized Rotary was about more than that. Rotary is about coming together to share our time, talent, and resources to better humanity. Giving becomes a pleasure, as we collaborate with other organizations to use our different strengths and competencies to save lives and build a better future.

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Why I ride to end polio

Gary Bren on his bike.
Gary Bren during a previous year’s Ride to End Polio in El Tour de Tucson.

By Gary Bren, past governor of District 5650 (Iowa, Nebraska, USA)

For more than two decades, my wife and I have been committed to Rotary’s effort to eradicate polio. The roots of my involvement go back to events before I was born. I have two older sisters, and after my second sister was born, my mom had two miscarriages. My parents really wanted a third child, so the doctors prescribed a drug that would help my mom carry a child full-term. 

I was born with a few side effects from that drug. The first – a single abdominal kidney – was discovered at the time of my birth. The second, I didn’t discover until years later. In the 1990s my wife and I were having trouble conceiving a child, and we found out the problem was related to the drug my mother had taken.

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Saving babies in Ukraine

Dr. Philips in yellow vest in back of van loaded with supplies
Dr. John Philip with some of the medical supplies the International Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals has collected for Ukraine.

By Dr. John Philip, a member of the Rotary Club of Newbury, Berkshire, England, and Chair of the International Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals

I recently traveled 1,350 miles from my home in Newbury, South England, through France, Germany, and Poland to the Ukraine border. My role was mainly one of providing navigation for the relief supplies we were delivering. I was joined by two Scottish colleagues, each driving a van packed tight with 120 boxes of vital medical equipment.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some trepidation about the journey, but it was one I felt compelled to make. I felt a deep sense of personal responsibility, both to the Rotary members who’ve generously supported the International Fellowship of Healthcare Professionals’ relief work, and to all the Ukrainians whose lives this equipment could ultimately save.

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Helping Ukraine: from medical supplies to generators

Volunteers stand in front of supplies in Ukraine
A team from, including Rotary members from Georgia, USA, deliver supplies and generators to communities in Ukraine. Photo courtesy

By Emory Morsberger, Rotary Club of Gwinnett County, Georgia, USA

In August I wrote about my June 2022 trip to Ukraine, where I saw firsthand the devastation families were facing as they struggled to survive in the midst of war. A lot has happened since then.

In conjunction with the first anniversary of the war, teams from the nonprofit we established,, will be installing 45 new generators across Ukraine’s frontlines and in impacted cities and rural villages. It will be our nonprofit’s third mission in 2023.

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A year of war in Ukraine

By John Hewko, General Secretary and CEO of Rotary International

Today is the one-year anniversary of the tragic war in Ukraine. It’s a war that never should have started. And it’s a conflict that has evolved into a non-stop humanitarian catastrophe because the Russia strategy is now to inflict as much pain on the civilian population of Ukraine as possible.

For a peace-based, humanitarian organization like Rotary, this type of conflict is heartbreaking. Yesterday was our 118th anniversary, and throughout our history, Rotary has always stood on the side of promoting peace and rebuilding from the ashes of destruction. Peace is a central goal of Rotary, and we work tirelessly to help avoid and stop armed conflicts. Our focus is on helping people in need and creating the conditions for lasting peace.

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