Seeing Rotary face to face

Steven Sundstrom and Dr. Koki Inai

Rotary Regional Grants Officer Steven Sundstrom (right) with Dr. Koki Inai of the Rotary Club of Hiroshima South.

By Steven Sundstrom, RI regional grants officer

As a regional grants officer for Rotary, I spend most of my work time at Rotary headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, working with members around the world, including in Japan. Given the time difference, communication is naturally often by email. The first time I traveled to Japan for work was for the Rotary Institute in Nagoya, Japan. I met many Rotarians in person who I had been emailing for years. We were meeting face to face for the first time, but somehow we were already old friends. “お会いが出来て嬉しいですね!Nice to finally meet you!” Continue reading

The best way to find yourself

Younis Sebaggala takes part in a service project.

Younis Sebaggala takes part in a service project.

By Younis Sebaggala, professional leadership and development chair and president-elect of the Rotaract Club of Kampala North, Uganda

Common wisdom tells us that when you help someone else, you help yourself. But what does that mean? What does it mean to find yourself, or for that matter lose yourself? In the busy world we live in, we are becoming more and more isolated from our friends, neighbors, and family.

I believe that by using our time and talents to help people, we can reverse that trend. I believe that there is value in being connected to other people, and the volunteers I meet professionally and every day through my Rotaract club continuously strengthen this belief. Continue reading

Driving a junk car across Europe for charity

Niemann's and junk car

Konrad Niemann, left, and his son by the junk car they used in the Carbage Run. The car was auctioned off, and combined with funds raised by the run, to benefit the Salberghaus, a home for children.

By Konrad Niemann, President of the Rotary Club of München-Münchner Freiheit, Germany

In February, my son and I were driving in Germany when we began passing a bunch of strange-looking cars on the highway. We discovered they were part of a road rally called the Carbage Run, that is essentially a five-day road trip across Europe in a junk car. For the past 10 years, participants have paid about €350 (about $400) to take part in the event, originating in the Netherlands, with cars that must be more than 18 years old and worth less than €500 ($560). Looking at all these junk cars, my son and I thought “what a funny idea for a father-son activity.” Continue reading

Helping the homeless, one tiny house at a time

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Editor’s note: World Homeless Day, 10 October, is an opportunity to educate people about homelessness and raise awareness in your community.  

By John Matthews, Rotary International Vice President 2018-19 and member of the Rotary Club of Mercer Island, Washington, USA. Photos by Alyce Henson/Rotary International

Spending the night under the stars sounds romantic. But for hundreds of thousands of Americans, it’s the exact opposite. It’s not a choice; it’s an unpleasant reality that can quickly become detrimental to one’s life. And it happens more often than most people with a roof over their heads might think – 553,742 people were homeless on a single night in 2017. Alarmed by the growing homeless population in our city, my club and I felt compelled to take action. Continue reading

How to make literacy fun

A Surabaya ludruk

A scene from the Rotaract Club of Darmo Raya’s ludruk, a type of theater native to Surabaya.

By Alma Dhiafira, president of the Rotaract Club of Darmo Raya, Surabaya, Indonesia

During my year as president of my Rotaract club, we decided to put on a ludruk. It is a type of theater from East Java that includes music, jokes, and drama performed in the Surabaya dialect.

We’ve done a ludruk once before, working with our partner Rotary Club of Surabaja-Darmo. But I was particularly excited this time because we would be spreading the message that literacy is fun. Continue reading

To The Gambia and back: Our Dutch adventure

The Dutch Rotarians took 11 cars to The Gambia

The Dutch Rotarians took 11 cars to The Gambia, which were auctioned off to support women’s education.

By Tineke Ruijter, Rotary Club of Zwijndrecht, The Netherlands

Our adventure started on 21 October 2017. Rally teams of six Dutch Rotary clubs, accompanied by five independent supporting teams, departed from Zwijndrecht in the Netherlands for a challenging 7,500 km (4,600 mile) journey to The Gambia, where we arrived on 11 November. The trip passed through Belgium, France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, and Senegal, through dessert areas and sometimes accompanied by local guides for security reasons.

The 11 cars that took us to The Gambia were sponsored and auctioned at final destination. The result: $50,000 to be donated to a Dutch Rotary initiative called  “School Plan Gambia,” which enables young women to attend school up to and including university. 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

Are you Proudly Rotarian?

Members of the Rotary Club of Sunyani Central, Ghana, hold a polio day rally.

By Frank Kofi Owusu Debrah, Foundation Chair and Past President of the Rotary Club of Sunyani Central, Ghana

It is certainly true that the reasons for a person joining Rotary are varied and many. For some, it’s the personal and business networking that motivates them. For others, it’s fellowship and a sense of belonging to a world-wide organization of people. Still for others, it’s a status symbol. Whatever the reasons, everyone has one. Sadly, some of the reasons don’t fit Rotary’s primary purpose; a network of problem solvers living the mantra of Service Above Self. Continue reading

Father, son team up to make a difference

Anil and Tulsi Maharjan on a project site in Nepal.

By Tulsi R. Maharjan, a past district governor and member of the Rotary Club of Branchburg, New Jersey, USA

For this father and son combination, Rotary is about much more than belonging to a humanitarian organization. It’s about making a difference in the world.

When you’re a part of Rotary, you’re really making a difference, both locally and internationally. When you think about all the wonderful things Rotary has accomplished, who wouldn’t want to be part of one of the most successful humanitarian organizations in history. Continue reading

Durango club brings the power of light

By Joe Williams, Rotary Club of Durango Daybreak, Colorado, USA

Most people in the United States take electricity for granted. Only if a powerful storm hits and it is taken away do we get an understanding of what it is like to depend entirely on the sun for our light.

There is, however, a significant population in the heart of the United States that lives their lives with only the sun to light the way. Continue reading