Health days event invests in the future of children

Stéphanie Tobler Mucznik and the film crew in South Africa.

Stéphanie Tobler Mucznik and the film crew in South Africa.

Stéphanie Tobler Mucznik, senior media relations specialist for Europe and Africa in RI’s Zurich office, spent a week with a film crew in Johannesburg, South Africa, documenting the three-day family health day event organized by Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention.

“I believe God sent us the Rotarians”, says single mother Innocentia.

We are chatting in her family’s backyard, Innocentia is sitting on a wooden stool, and her baby is sleeping on her back, wrapped in a towel, while Grandmother Gloria is doing the laundry in a metal bucket. Continue reading

Providing free health care to thousands in Africa

Marion Bunch

By Marion Bunch, Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (formerly RFFA)

For three days this month, 9-11 May, Rotarians from 225 clubs in Uganda, Nigeria, and South Africa will be helping provide free health care service to thousands of families. I am excited about the campaign, which will be the third annual event organized by Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA), Rotary’s mobilizing and implementing partner in disease prevention.

The program was initially developed to address the critical issue of HIV/AIDS in Africa, but has always included other health care services. Continue reading

Searching for peace on International Women’s Day


Francesca Del Mese

By Francesca Del Mese , a 2002-2004 Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Queensland

I recently travelled to Pretoria, South Africa on behalf of UN Women as part of the newly formed group of investigators for sexual and gender based crimes as war crimes. When I was in South Africa, I was struck by a comment I heard from a prominent South African Minister. She made parallels between apartheid and sexual and gender based crimes, saying that apartheid had been defeated and so could violence against women. When I heard the comparison, I instantly dismissed the idea; the two are completely non-comparable. Continue reading

Creating the Next Generation of Peacemakers

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Peace Fellows at the 2009 Rotary World Peace Symposium. Rotary Images/Monika Lozinska

Rotary and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are working to create a more peaceful world.

Recently, The Desmond Tutu Foundation devoted a blog post to Rotary’s work in peace and conflict resolution, noting “The Rotary Foundation has been a pioneer in creating an effective curriculum of peace. Continue reading

My Rotary moment

Nick and Silvia Phillips

By Nick Phillips, Rotary Coordinator for Zone 20A South and a member of the Rotary Club of Eshowe, South Africa. 

RI President Sakuji Tanaka, in his August message, encourages Rotarians to share those special experiences that stand out as their “Rotary Moment.” Sharing these personal stories can go much farther, sometimes, than facts and figures in attracting prospective members. Continue reading

My meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Ramesh Ferris and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Ramesh Ferris, left, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photo courtesy of Ramesh Ferris

By Ramesh Ferris, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of Whitehorse-Rendezvous, Yukon, Canada

I had the honor recently of meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in his home in Cape Town, South Africa, where I had a chance to talk to him about polio eradication.

The archbishop has been a wonderful supporter of Rotary’s efforts to rid the world of this paralyzing, horrific disease, as a participant in the “This Close” public awareness campaign. He was also a speaker at the World Peace Symposium in Birmingham during the 2009 RI Convention. Continue reading

Why a Rotary Youth Exchange 25 years ago still matters

Chrysula Winegar

Chrysula Winegar is community manager for the United Nations Foundation’s Million Moms Challenge and a former Rotary Youth Exchange student.

By Chrysula Winegar, a former Rotary Youth Exchange student to South Africa

When I was 17 years old, Rotary International gave me the opportunity to live in South Africa for 12 months.

My parents and brothers worked seven jobs to pay my way. That year changed everything about my life’s path and shaped my world view. It has impacted every major decision I’ve made since.

Many decades ago, Rotarians began creating these Rotary Youth Exchanges to foster global understanding and respect. A young girl or boy from an average family could spend a year in foreign lands, while in the safe arms of local families who created a framework for exploration.

I observed the last hurrahs of apartheid. We lived under a state of emergency with intense military presence including soldiers on our school buses carrying automatic weapons. Continue reading