Rotary alum turns trash into treasure

Binish Desai’s company makes bricks from industrial waste otherwise destined for the landfill.

By Binish Desai, a member of the Rotary Club of Bulsar, India, and a former Rotary Youth Exchange student 

I started my journey in Rotary as a Youth Exchange Student in 2009-10, hosted by the Rotary Club of Waukegan, Illinois, USA. I’m now a member of the Rotary Club of Bulsar, India, and Rotary helps me live out my dream, a dream I have had since age 11 – giving back to my community in service.

In 2005, I created my first brick using industrial paper waste and chewing gum. Similar bricks of recycled materials would go on to make thousands of stand-alone toilets for rural communities by 2015. Continue reading

The opportunity that changed my life

Jireh Mabamba, second from left, with members of Rotaract in Minnesota.

By Jireh Mabamba

Sometimes, all you need is a chance – that one opportunity of a lifetime. Rotary gave me that chance.

I grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human life has little value. Children are taken from their families and forced into the army, women are raped daily, and men are killed in front of their loved ones. Massacre is the norm. The only way to survive this brutal environment is to flee the country, and when I was nine, that’s what my family and I did. Continue reading

Unexpected lessons from my disaster relief experience

Yannis Comino with ShelterBox aid supplies.

By Yannis Comino

Over my summer break at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, I decided to trade in the warmer weather of Australia for an English winter. Why, you might ask, would I do such a thing? Well, the only way I can explain it is — I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. During my New Generations Service Exchange at the headquarters of ShelterBox International in Truro, Cornwall, I gained priceless insight and first-hand experience in disaster relief management. Continue reading

6 tips for recruiting Rotary Peace Fellows

Rotary members share ideas about recruiting candidates during the Rotary Peace Symposium in 2015. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

By Rotary Peace Center staff

Whenever Anne-Marie Bach, Rotary Peace Fellowships Subcommittee Chair for District 1470 in Denmark, talks to clubs and districts about the Rotary Peace Fellowship program, she describes it as “the diamond of Rotary.” The program is multifaceted, helping peacebuilders from all over the world shine brighter in their work and have a bigger impact together than they might alone. Continue reading

What I love about Rotaract

Rotaractors from all over the world gather at Interota 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan.

By Elyse Lin, a member of the Rotaract Club of Taipei Tin Harbour, Taiwan

I can never forget the most life-changing dinner I ever attended. It was June 2013, and members of the Rotary Club of Taipei Tin Harbour invited me to a special reunion. The  Rotarians, who sponsored the student service club I belonged to on campus, wanted to start a new Rotaract club with all the college students they helped. My experience since I joined that new club almost five years ago has far exceeded my expectations.  Continue reading

Rotaract runs in the family

Spelling out Rotaract with visiting Rotaractors in Sri Lanka.

By Jumana Amiruddeen, Rotaract Club of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Whenever I meet my mother’s close friends, whom we affectionately call aunties and uncles, their stories always begin with “during our time in Rotaract … ”

I didn’t fully understand and appreciate what Rotaract was all about until I found myself attending my first meeting of the Rotaract Club of Colombo, Sri Lanka, at age 23 to support the club president, my cousin Hussain Akbarally (my mother’s sister’s son), with an annual fundraiser. As the meeting progressed, I learned about the club’s long, proud heritage, and my family’s intertwined role in it.

Continue reading

Rotary’s amazing capacity to bring people together

Exchange students from District 6990 get together.

By Gabriel de Jesus Abade, former Rotary Youth Exchange Student

When I was 16, like most teenagers, I was focused on my own life. I hadn’t really thought about joining a service club or dedicating myself to helping others. But that changed when a high school friend began talking to me about Rotary, and its local and global actions. I was captivated and wanted to learn more. Continue reading

In Rotaract, we see, feel, and act

Members of the Rotaract club perform community service.

By Fatima Khurram, Rotaract Club of Faisalabad Janubi, Pakistan

Not long ago, a mother of one of our members saw on the news a documentary about a widow struggling to provide for herself and her three adult children living with disabilities. Her house was broken and she had no income to support them.

When word reached us, we called the news channel to ask for contact information so we could visit her. The very next day, a group from my club visited. Continue reading

7 steps for submitting an outstanding peace fellowship application

A Rotary Peace Fellow at the 2017 Convention in Atlanta.

By Sarah Cunningham, Marketing and Recruitment Specialist at The Rotary Foundation

Although the application window for fellowship programs is generally short, applying for a fellowship is a long-term process requiring research, planning, outreach, and perseverance. Here are seven critical application steps we’ve learned from 15 years reviewing and selecting finalists for the Rotary Peace Fellowship. Continue reading

Rediscovering traditional justice in Africa

George Chacha

By George Chacha, 2013 Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Before Europeans colonized much of Africa, local villagers had their own way of resolving conflicts through traditional justice systems. The community would select a certain number of elders, who they felt most suitable for deciding cases, to handle disputes. A distinctive characteristic of these traditional justice systems is that they primarily sought to heal relations between victims and offenders, in contrast to English Common Law, which by and large seeks to punish offenders as a deterrent to further offenses. Continue reading