Seventy-two years ago, the United Nations was founded "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war ... [and] to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors." Despite those worthy aspirations, and generations of investment in achieving them, the "scourge of war" is still with us: Last year, more than 102,000 people died in 49 armed conflicts around the world. Some of those conflicts were in their fifth decade or beyond. Terrorism, intolerance, and extremism; the refugee crisis; and environmental degradation are now global challenges.
Collectively, we seem further than ever from achieving the goals that were set with such ambition and optimism in 1945. Yet hope endures, as long as there are people willing to work for a more peaceful future – not only through their governments, but also beside them and beside each other. Today, Rotary is better placed than ever to have a real and lasting impact for peace: through our peace-focused programs, such as Rotary Peace Fellows, and through every area of our service. Water, sanitation, health, education, and economic development are all interrelated and part of the complex interactions that can lead to conflict – or avert it. To best leverage our service in all these areas, and to maximize their impact for peace, it is essential to understand these interactions and plan our service accordingly.
For these reasons, we have scheduled a series of six presidential peacebuilding conferences between February and June in Canada, Lebanon, the UK, Australia, Italy, and the United States. These conferences will focus not on peace but on peacebuilding: We will share ways that we can work to build peace through the service of our Rotary clubs and districts. Five of the one-day conferences will illuminate the connections between peace and another area of focus. The first conference, in Vancouver, B.C., will explore the link between peace and another sphere of great concern to us in Rotary: environmental sustainability. You can view the full schedule and register at www.rotary.org/presidential-conferences.
The goals are simple: to help Rotarians find new ways to advance peace through their service, to learn from experts, and to strengthen our abilities to build peace. It is my hope and belief that these conferences will help us move closer to a more peaceful world, through Rotary: Making a Difference.
Ian H.S. Riseley
Dear fellow Rotarians,
November is Foundation Month, and time for us to take a look at where we are in our Rotary Foundation: what it’s done, what it’s helping us do now, and how we can move forward.
Last Rotary year, our Foundation received US$304 million in total contributions: that included $140 million to the Annual Fund, $28 million to the Endowment Fund, and $108 million to PolioPlus. All of those gifts are now hard at work, Doing Good in the World: supporting Rotary’s work today and strengthening our organization for tomorrow. The Foundation approved 494 district grants and 1,260 global grants, with a total of $111 million in funding.
As you all know, polio eradication is the number one priority of Rotary and our Foundation. It has been a historic year for polio eradication, with unprecedented new support and fewer cases of polio than ever before. As announced at our Atlanta convention in June, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has increased its commitment to our polio eradication initiative, and will match 2:1 all Rotary contributions up to 50 million dollars, for the next three years. If Rotarians raise $50 million per year, the Gates Foundation will match this with $100 million: resulting in $150 million for polio eradication in each of the three years. In total, more than one billion dollars in new funding for polio were pledged by governments and key donors in Atlanta.
It was a great lead in to the 2017-2018 Rotary year, and Rotarians have been doing an amazing job not only of raising the money to fulfill our commitment, but keeping public awareness of polio high. Our fifth annual World Polio Day, on 24 October, was a great success; our livestream event, broadcast from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle, was our largest ever, with over 149,000 people viewing and Vice-President Dean Rohrs representing Rotary in the program. Another 3,428 World Polio Day events took place around the world. It’s not too late to be a part of it; head over to the End Polio now website to see the recorded video.
In 2016, 37 children were paralyzed by the wild poliovirus. So far in 2017, that number stands at 13. We are on our way to zero, and you can follow that journey with the updates that are published every week by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
It’s important to remember that we have to keep doing everything we can do to End Polio Now, not only until the last child is paralyzed, but until eradication is certified by an independent commission. We expect that to happen at least three years from the last time wild poliovirus is found, in a child, a water supply, or anywhere else. Only then will we celebrate the end of polio—and the greatest work yet of Rotary and our Rotary Foundation.
Rotary International President, 2017-18
Paul A. Netzel
Foundation Trustee Chair, 2017-18
Ian H.S. Riseley
Some years ago in the Melbourne, Australia, museum where my daughter used to work, an iron lung was on display. For most people my age who remembered the terrifying polio epidemics of the 1950s, that iron lung was a testament to how far vaccination had brought us: to the point where that once-critical piece of medical equipment had literally become a museum piece.
For much of the world, the story of polio is a simple one: After years of fear, a vaccine was developed and a disease was conquered. But for some of the world, the story was different. In so many countries, the vaccine wasn’t available, mass vaccination was too expensive, or children simply couldn’t be reached. While the rest of the world relegated polio to its museums, in these countries, the disease continued to rage – until Rotary stepped forward and said that all children, no matter where they lived or what their circumstances, deserved to live free of polio.
In the years since PolioPlus was launched, the combined efforts of Rotary, the governments of the world, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have brought the number of cases of polio down from an estimated 350,000 per year to just a few so far in 2017. But we must reach zero cases, and stay there, to achieve eradication. To do that, we need everyone’s help.
On 24 October, we will mark World Polio Day. It is a day to celebrate how far we have come and an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness and funds to complete the work of eradication. I ask every Rotary club to participate in some way in World Polio Day activities, and I encourage you to visit endpolio.org for ideas and to register your event. Whether you host a silent auction, a virtual reality viewing, a fundraising walk, or a Purple Pinkie Day, your club can make a real difference.
This year, our World Polio Day livestream event will take place at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle; you can watch it on endpolio.org beginning at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time. As many of you know, Rotary has committed to raising $50 million a year for the next three years. This amount will be matched 2-to-1 by the Gates Foundation – effectively tripling the value of all money Rotary raises on World Polio Day and throughout the year. Let’s all make a difference on World Polio Day – and help End Polio Now.
Clem Renouf, Rotary International President in 1978-79 dreamed of eradicating Polio from the Philippines. He worked through the Philippine Health Organization, and with a Rotary Foundation Grant in 1978 the Philippine Government joined Rotary International in a 5-year project to eradicate Polio from the Philippines by immunizing all of the children. The strategy for the Philippine Project was developed, and the necessary resources were marshaled to implement the plan.
In 1979, at the Rotary Convention in Rome, Italy, when Jim Bomar was the incoming President of RI, PDG Jun Tambunting met with President Sergio Mulish of the Rotary Club of Rome. During that meeting, President Sergio announced that the ROTARIANS OF ROME was ready to help the children of the Philippines and they had 500,000 polio vaccines ready to be airlifted to the Philippines.
In a few weeks, the vaccines arrived in Manila. PDG Jun Tambunting and PDG Benny Santos were on hand to pick up the polio vaccine at the airport together with the senior officers of the Department of Health. Six months later another 500,000 vaccines were delivered, for a total of one million from Rome.
In1980-1985, after Rotary International (RI) approved the 3H program, to immunize six million children in the Philippines PDG Jun Tambunting was appointed as the 3H Chairman (Health). With the help of the Department of Health, which had the lists of children below 5 years in all barangays (villages) in the country. The Philippines was the first country to have its children immunized from Polio and other dreaded diseases.
Video source: https://vimeo.com/31740127
John F. Germ
Forty years ago, a man named George Campbell, the owner of the company I worked for, invited me to join Rotary. Back then, that was a common practice in the United States. Your boss invited you to join Rotary because he thought it would be good for business and good for the community, and you said yes. It’s not surprising that our membership surged during that period.
George warned me not to use Rotary as an excuse to slack off at work. Even so, I always had time to attend lunch meetings and serve on committees. I never had to worry that taking a long lunch once a week would hurt my advancement, or what my boss would think about the occasional Rotary phone call at work.
Today, things are different. Companies are less generous about time, and not every manager looks favorably on community service. It’s hard to enjoy a Rotary meeting when you’ve got emails piling up on your phone. It’s harder than ever to balance work with Rotary – and the model that gave us so much growth a few decades ago is part of what’s holding back our growth now.
That’s why the recent Council on Legislation adopted some innovative measures that allow clubs to vary their meeting times and expand their pool of prospective members. Clubs have more flexibility now to respond to the needs of their members and to clear away as many barriers to membership as they can. But there’s one barrier to membership that only you can remove, one thing that every prospective member needs to become a Rotarian: an invitation to join a Rotary club.
Whenever I tell a group of Rotarians that we need more willing hands, more caring hearts, and more bright minds to move our work forward, everyone applauds. But those hands, hearts, and minds won’t magically appear in our clubs. We have to ask them to join. And an invitation to Rotary is something that only you can give. An invitation is a gift. It’s saying to someone, “I think you have the skills, the talent, and the character to make our community better, and I want you to join me in doing that.”
I’m the president of Rotary International, but the only club I can invite someone to join is the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, Tenn. I can’t make your club or your community stronger. Only you can do that – by inviting the qualified people you know to join you inRotary Serving Humanity.
My dear friends! Let me add my own words of welcome to you, the members of our 2016-17 leadership team.
On 1 July, the baton will be passed, in every Rotary district, from my class of district governors to yours. And I in turn will also pass the baton of leadership — the one that has been handed down from Paul Harris, through the generations, to me — on to President-Elect John Germ.
I will happily tell all of you that our president-elect is not only one of the nicest people you will ever meet, but certainly smarter than I am.
John is an Air Force navigator, a civil engineer, and such an expert on polio that when you go with him to these big meetings, at the World Health Organization and so on, you find that as soon as he starts talking, people start addressing him as “Doctor.”
So it is with absolute confidence in his abilities, and in yours, that I look forward with you to Rotary’s future: a future in which you will build on nearly 111 years of Rotary service, to meet the growing and changing challenges of a growing and changing world. A world in which Rotary’s greatness will be measured not only by its muscle, but also by its might; not simply by its size, but also by its strength; not merely by the numbers of its members, but by the ability and the willingness of those members to do what needs to be done — and do it well.
Rotary is growing. We have 1.23 million members, in more clubs than ever before. New members continue to join, and choose to stay; our numbers have grown by over 8,500 new members just since July first.
We are in a position of tremendous strength in Rotary: in our achievements, in our Foundation, and in the respect that our organization has earned.
But we know that in order to move forward, we have to be doing more to build Rotary’s greatest asset of all: our membership. By building clubs that are not only large, but diverse; not only skilled, but motivated; with not only the drive but the ability to succeed.
At Rotary headquarters, we are working hard to find new and innovative ways to add more value to Rotary membership, such as our Rotary Global Rewards. In just over half a year, we’ve had over 44,000 visits to the site, from well over 12,000 users: more than half of them have redeemed one of the over 700 offers that are now available, saving money and strengthening the Rotary network. It’s still largely U.S.-centric but expanding and growing each day to other parts of the world.
We’ve become more flexible than ever in our clubs, finding new ways to make Rotary membership a practical and appealing option to people at all stages of their lives, families, and careers.
And we’ve made it a priority to support the development of clubs that are better able, in every way, to serve their communities with the work that only Rotarians can do.
I have seen so much of that work in this year.
In India, Rotary is equipping 40,000 schools with toilet blocks — each with two toilets for boys and two for girls.
In South America, Rotary is building schools and bringing literacy to youth.
Here in the U.S., I have seen Rotary present a helicopter to a children’s hospital, enabling rapid responses to critical emergencies.
And I have seen the most beautiful park specially tailored to suit children with disabilities, built by Rotary. A park with specially designed swings, and merry-go-rounds even for wheelchairs, and other such amenities.
In Italy, Rotarians are working with the Vatican on mobile medical units and telemedicine for Cambodia. And such is the respect that the Vatican now has for Rotary that His Holiness Pope Francis has announced that on 30 April 2016 he will give Mass to Rotarians at St. Peter’s Square. This is an unprecedented event and a tremendous honor that will raise Rotary’s status across so much of the world. We have 8,000 seats reserved, and I hope I will see many of you there.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, Rotary is working with health authorities and government at the highest levels, ensuring that the world’s last reservoirs of wild poliovirus continue to shrink and that polio will be eradicated, soon and forever.
When you hear these stories of Rotary, when your hearts are filled with wonder at the work that Rotary is doing, and with awe at the thought of what we could be doing, I ask you to remember that it does not begin with you or with me. It begins with our members, working in their communities, meeting in their clubs, enjoying their service, coming together through Rotary, because they know that Rotary is their best path to a life well lived.
And your job is not to do that service, but to support it. To end your year with a district that is better than it was when your year began, with Rotarians who have the same sense of purpose, of dedication, and of ambition as all of us have here tonight.
But there is one thing that we have in this room tonight that we do not have in most of our Rotary clubs. That we have never had. And that we must work to achieve, throughout our entire organization. That is women and men in equal numbers.
In 1995, only five of every 100 Rotarians were women. Today, that number has risen to 20. It is progress, but it is not enough.
Because in order to fully represent our communities, we must truly reflect our communities. And it is just common sense to say that if we want all of our communities to reach their full potential, economically, socially, and educationally, we can’t exclude half of the world’s population from being fully represented in Rotary. We have had women in Rotary for only the last quarter of our history, and it is no coincidence that those years have been by far our most productive.
Rotary’s policy on gender equality is absolutely clear. Yet nearly one-fifth of our clubs today continue to exclude women, usually by claiming that they simply cannot find women who are qualified for membership.
I would say that any Rotarian who makes this argument, or believes it, lacks the two most basic qualifications for Rotary membership: honesty and good sense. Let me tell those, who choose to live in a Jurassic Park era, that they should take a moment to remember what happened to the dinosaurs. They became extinct!
Equality for women is not just a nice extra. It is absolutely essential to our service, to our future. If we don’t put it front and center, we are dead in the water before we even begin.
A club that shuts out women shuts out much more than half the talent, half the ability, and half the connections it should have. It closes out the perspectives that are essential to serving families and communities effectively. It damages not only its own service, but our entire organization, by reinforcing the stereotypes that limit us the most. It makes our partners take us less seriously. And it makes all of Rotary less attractive to potential members, especially the younger people who are so crucial to our future.
To tolerate discrimination against women is to doom our entire organization to irrelevance.
We cannot pretend that we still live in Paul Harris’ time, nor would he ever want us to. For, as he said, “The story of Rotary will have to be written again and again.”
In the new Rotary year that lies before you — you are the ones who will write that story.
And it is an awesome responsibility you carry — one on which lives, and livelihoods, very literally depend.
In the year to come, you will find yourselves stretched, pushed, tested, perhaps more than you ever have been before. You will be challenged, again and again — but I know you will rise magnificently to those challenges. For you will find that it is often the weight of responsibility that unleashes the abilities within us.
So I want to finish tonight by reminding you of the lessons of the Greek mathematician Archimedes.
In his own time, he was famous for his work in physics and geometry. He calculated the area of a circle and the volume of a sphere. He was already an old man when the Romans came to attack his island home of Syracuse. And it was Archimedes who rose to the hour, who drew upon his abilities in entirely new ways, designing and devising new means of defense with the simplest of tools: a stick and a sandbox.
He had the defenders of the island array polished mirrors on the coast, so that the reflected rays of the sun converged on approaching ships. Hundreds of years later, the Greeks spoke in awe of the rays of Archimedes, which caused the Roman ships to burst into flames. Today, Archimedes is remembered by the Greeks not only as a mathematician, but as a hero.
Little is known today about the life of Archimedes. Few of his writings survive. But tradition has it that when he demonstrated the use of the lever, he said, “Give me a lever that is long enough, and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I can move the world.”
My friends, we have the fulcrum. The fulcrum is Rotary. And Rotarians are the lever.
Together, we can move the world. And we will.
Source: Rotary International
Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris, believed that serving humanity is “the most worthwhile thing a person can do,” RI President-elect John F. Germ said, and that being a part of Rotary is a “great opportunity” to make that happen. Germ unveiled the 2016-17 presidential theme, Rotary Serving Humanity, to incoming district governors on 18 January at the International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA. “I believe everyone recognizes the opportunity to serve Rotary for what it truly is: not a small opportunity, but a great one; an opportunity of a lifetime to change the world for the better, forever through Rotary’s service to humanity,” said Germ. Rotary members around the globe are serving humanity by providing clean water to underdeveloped communities, promoting peace in conflict areas, and strengthening communities through basic education and literacy.
But none more important than our work to eradicate polio worldwide, he said. After a historic year in which transmission of the wild poliovirus was stopped in Nigeria and all of Africa, Germ said we are closer than ever to ending polio. “We are at a crossroads in Rotary,” he added. “We are looking ahead at a year that may one day be known as the greatest year in Rotary’s history: the year that sees the world’s last case of polio.” Last year’s milestones leave just two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the virus still circulates. Polio would be only the second human disease ever to be eradicated. When that moment arrives, it’s “tremendously important” that Rotary is ready for it, said Germ. “We need to be sure that we are recognized for that success, and leverage that success into more partnerships, greater growth, and even more ambitious service in the decades to come.”
Germ, a member of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, encouraged attendees to return to their clubs and communities and spread the word about Rotary’s role in the fight for a polio-free world. “People who want to do good will see that Rotary is a place where they can change the world. Every Rotary club needs to be ready to give them that opportunity,” Germ said.
Enhancing Rotary’s image isn’t the only way to boost membership. “We need clubs that are flexible, so our service will be more attractive to younger members, recent retirees, and working people.” He added: “We need more willing hands, more caring hearts, and more bright minds to move our work forward.”
Source: Ryan Hyland, Rotary International
RI President K R Ravindran introduces Rotary Global Rewards for Rotarians around the world.
Rotary Global Rewards offers discounts on car rentals, hotels, dining, and entertainment. More products and services from companies around the world will be added throughout the year. Check back often to see what’s new in Rotary Global Rewards.
Only Rotary club members who are signed in to their My Rotary accounts can redeem them. You can access and
redeem rewards from your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Create a My Rotary account here.
RCBSP sharing news from Rotary International and Rotary Districts and Clubs in Malaysia