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Rotary in the News

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Rotary International is regularly in the headlines worldwide — from its international health projects, including Polio Plus, to the local clubs donating time and talent to local nonprofits. Following are a small sample of the headlines seen over the past year providing a sample of projects and programs in which Rotarians are involved.

Rotary Day at the United Nations Pushes Peace From Concept to Reality

By Geoff Johnson

(Nov. 11, 2017) On the 99th anniversary of the end of World War I, more than 1,200 people gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for Rotary Day at the United Nations.
Representing 87 countries, they convened on Saturday, 11 November, at the Palais des Nations, originally the home of the League of Nations, and dedicated themselves to the theme introduced by Rotary President Ian H. S. Riseley: “Peace: Making a Difference.”

Rotary Gives $49.5 Million to Help Eradicate Polio and Challenges the World to Continue the Fight to End the Disease
Champion Newpapers (Oct. 17, 2017) With just 12 confirmed polio cases so far in 2017, the world is on the brink of eradicating polio, a vaccine-preventable disease that once paralyzed hundreds of thousands of children each year.
To recognize this historic progress, Rotary clubs worldwide will host events in conjunction with Rotary International’s fifth annual World Polio Day celebration on Oct. 24.

This year, the event will be co-hosted by Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and held at the foundation’s headquarters in Seattle.

Rotary Helps Wildfire Victims

(Oct. 13, 2017) Rotary clubs and the Rotary Foundation are helping victims of deadly wildfires in California. More than 220,000 acres have been scorched and more than 40 people have been confirmed dead.

“The magnitude of the devastation that is occurring in the North Bay and wine county is vast and far-reaching. The recovery and rebuild is going to be a long process but we are confident that we can lead the way in bringing these communities back. Rotarians know how to get things done and won’t stop until we reach the finish line,” said Bob Rogers, Rotary 5130 District Governor.

The Rotary Foundation has set up a special fund to collect donations. Rotary clubs and districts are also collecting funds for disaster relief in their communities. Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation do not administer these funds.

Habitat for Humanity and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness Join With Rotary to Improve Lives
By Sallyann Price

(Oct. 9, 2017) Rotary has added two service partners that offer clubs new ways to collaborate with other organizations and strengthen their projects: Habitat for Humanity and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
“Our values are so closely aligned, and the desire to help others runs deep in both organizations,” said Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International chief executive officer and Rotary Club of Atlanta member.

Rotary Members in Harvard, Illinois, USA, Have Teamed Up With Community Groups to Help Alleviate Hunger
By Arnold R. Grahl

(Oct. 3, 2017) With the goals of alleviating hunger and educating the community, master gardeners from University of Illinois Extension planted the garden in 2001 on a half-acre parcel donated by the city and adjacent to the public library. Over the years, the master gardeners have enlisted the support of many businesses, organizations and clubs, including the Rotary Club of Harvard, making the project a community-wide effort.

As many as 250 needy families benefit from the 10,000 pounds of vegetables that are grown and donated every year to the local food pantry. The fresh produce serves as a safety net for many families.

Rotary Pilots New Approach to Peace and Spotlights Six Peacemakers

(Sept. 21, 2017) Rotary has entered a new partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) to enhance its peace and conflict resolution efforts with data-driven methodologies and tools; as it honors six “Champions of Peace.”

The partnership with IEP — a global think tank that pioneered a conceptual framework for “Positive Peace” — enables both organizations to work together to create an online learning platform with webinars and interactive tools to teach Rotary members and Rotary Peace Fellows to apply new peacebuilding methods to their communities while addressing underlying causes of conflicts. In addition, the partnership allows for the development of local workshops hosted by Rotary clubs to educate communities about positive peace.

Gates Foundation and Rotary Pledge Additional $450 Million to End Polio

By Michela Tindera

Forbes (June 12, 2017) As the world inches closer toward eradicating polio, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and service organization Rotary will spend nearly half a billion dollars in an effort to eliminate the disease over the next three years.

Bill Gates joined Rotary president John Germ to announce this pledge at the annual Rotary International Convention on Monday in Atlanta.

Rebecca Bender Initiative to End Sex Trafficking at International Event

NBC News, Atlanta, Ga. (June 12, 2017) An Oregon woman took her mission to end sex trafficking to the international stage. Rebecca Bender was kept in a sex trafficking ring for six years. Now she runs an initiative that brings awareness to ending that abuse of women and men used and sold for sexual purposes.

She spoke at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The convention was attended by key players in government and the international community. Bender shared her message with people like Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee and celebrity face of the cause Ashton Kutcher.

Bender said there are misconceptions around this horrific and prevalent form of slavery that’s still happening in our country. “Trafficking is not always abductions. It’s a slow gradual expansion of boundaries and an increase in trust,” said Bender.

Rotary Club to Host Downtown Atlanta Candlelight Vigil on Human Trafficking

Northside Neighbor (June 7, 2017) Metro Atlanta has been named one of the top sex trafficking hubs in the United States. In 2017, the statistics show that one out of three runaways is sex trafficked.

June 10 at 9:30 p.m. at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, Rotary Club members will join in a candlelight vigil to bring awareness to human trafficking.

The program will address how Rotary members can help and will feature a story from a survivor who was trafficked in Georgia. Participants, including Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, will show solidarity by observing a moment of silence for the victims.

Rotary Shifts to Mentoring and Coaching Teachers

By Arnold R. Grahl

(April 14, 2017) After decades of investing in literacy projects, experts have realized that simply getting children into the classroom — either by removing attendance barriers or providing supplies — is not enough. Before students can succeed, the quality of the teaching in that classroom needs to improve.

Rotary projects like the Guatemala Literacy Project and Nepal Teacher Training Innovations (NTTI) in Nepal are leading the effort to advance childhood reading by empowering teachers to teach better.

Muslim and Christian Women Work Together to Prevent Dengue Fever in Indonesia

By Rotary International

(June 9, 2017) In a world where intolerance and violence fueled by religious differences are seemingly increasing, one Rotary club in Indonesia is showing how diversity can help prevent a pandemic threat.

When the Rotary Club of Solo Kartini in Surakarta, Indonesia, formed 25 years ago, its members drew criticism from the predominantly Muslim community. The club’s members were mostly Christians, atypical for a country where more than 80 percent of the population is Muslim. Religious leaders were skeptical of Rotary’s secular mission and wary of intrusion.
Undeterred, the club started recruiting more members. Today, the 72-member, all-female club includes both Muslims and Christians.

Check Dams Increase Farm Incomes and Reverse Migration in India’s Semidesert Areas

By Rasheeda Bhagat

(May 5, 2017) Not long ago, young men in the semidesert areas of Rajasthan’s Sikar and Alwar districts were leaving their family farms to find work in the city. Faced with scarce water for crops and unreliable rainfall, they could no longer count on farming to feed their families.

“The land here was so dry that you could barely get drinking water at 800 feet [244 meters] deep,” recalls Goverdhan, an elder from the Neem Ka Thana village in the Sikar district of Rajasthanelder. Because using only monsoon water limited cultivation, “young men migrated to cities like Delhi and Mumbai to work.”

Now, a Rotary water project is making farming profitable again and reversing the departure of young people. Farmers harvest rainwater that percolates into the ground by using check dams, which restrain, or check, the flow of rainwater from catchment basins.

Rotary, ShelterBox in Peru to Help Flood Victims

By Rotary International staff

(April 12, 2017) Rotary International has been working with its partner ShelterBox to provide relief to flood victims in Peru.
Since February, flash flooding and mudslides have damaged and destroyed thousands of buildings, including homes, schools, and churches in several countries in western South America.

Rotary and Rotaract in Peru have reported widespread destruction there. A ShelterBox response team is working with local authorities and Rotary to assess the damage and determine how to help people in the northwest region of the country.

Education Breaks the Cycle of Modern Slavery

By Nikki Kallio

The Rotarian (March 27, 2017) While many people would like to think that slavery was a tragedy of the past, the truth is that it still exists today, with up to 46 million people enslaved worldwide.

The Rotarian Action Group Against Slavery (RAGAS) has a strategy for fighting this horrible problem, working at the local level.

In a village in northeastern India, the action group is tackling the problem of debt bondage. With the help of 13 clubs, a district grant through the Rotary Club of Binghamton, New York, USA, and other sources, the action group is providing toward the work of Schools4Freedom, a project of the organization Voices4Freedom.

George Solomon, a Man on a Mission

By Katharine Schroeder

Southhold Local (Feb. 21, 2017) For George Solomon of Mattituck, 24 years as a member of Rotary International has given him countless memories from his work in over 20 countries. But it was on his first trip to Haiti in 2007 that he experienced what he calls a “life-changing moment.”
“We went to a well dedication and I was walking along listening to them describe the components of the well when I felt this little hand grab my hand. I looked down into the face of a 6-year-old girl. She had the biggest eyes I’d ever seen and was smiling from ear to ear.”

After spending time playing with the little girl and a few other children Solomon noticed that many of them had an orange tint to their hair. He asked his friend and fellow Rotarian George Gaffga if the children dyed their hair for any particular reason.
“Oh, that’s not dye,” replied Gaffga. “That’s caused by malnutrition.”

And that was the moment that changed Solomon’s life.
From that day forward Solomon has dedicated himself to helping fulfill the mission of the 110-year-old organization to promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water and sanitation, save mothers and children, support education and grow economies all over the world. He takes several trips a year, most of the time paying his own way. He works often with Gift of Life International, a Rotarian-based organization that provides lifesaving heart surgery to children all over the world. In Haiti alone 116 children have received treatment since 2011. Gift of Life brings complete teams of pediatric cardiac surgeons and ICU nurses, builds ICUs in hospitals and is now training the first pediatric cardiologists ever to be in Haiti.

For more Rotary news, visit www.rotary.org.