RI President's Window

RI President Ian Risely and Juliet

RI President Ian Riseley writes to Rotarians during Membership Month

RI President Ian Risley's 1.2 Million Tree Planting Challenge

Ian Riseley - The social networker

RI President invites you to Toronto

I'd like to thank RI staff for participating in my 1.2 million tree planting challenge. They raised enough money to plant eight new trees at Clark Street Beach Bird Sanctuary in Evanston. #pledgetoplant



RI Director Board 2017 - 18

The Board of Trustees of the Rotary Foundation 2017 - 18

Presidential peacebuilding conferences

What is new

2017 Champions of Peace to be recognized on Rotary Day at the United Nations

The Stories Behind the Data - Bill & Melinda Gates

RI President Ian Riseley is an ambassador of Peace of Guatemala

Toronto, the capital of nice: Impressions on Rotary's 2018 convention city;

Barry Rassin selected to be 2018-19 RI president

Mark Daniel Maloney selected to be 2019-20 Rotary president


RIPE Sam F. Owori Dies

Help honor Sam Owori's legacy

Norah Owori Pays Tribute to late RIPE Samuel Owori at the Funeral

A Tribute to Sam Frobisher Owori by PRIP Jonathan Majiyagbe

Eulogy of PRIP KR Ravindran at late RIPE Sam Owori's funeral

RI Vice President Dean Rohrs reflects on Sam Owori's Funeral Ceremonies

Remembering Sam

Sam Owori’s legacy will live on - PRIP Rajendra K Saboo

Sam F. Owori Memorial to Polio

Dallas pays tribute to fallen Rotary Icon Samuel Frobisher Owori

The story of the TRF Centennial Bell



Polio Eradication Efforts Acknowledged by G20 Heads of State

Bill Gates outlines final push to end polio

The Atlanta Convention

Presidential Peace Conference

$1.2 billion pledge to end polio

The power of one - A light on the issue of modern slavery at the Atlanta Convention


President's opening remarks

President's closing remarks

President-elect's speech

President nominee's speech

Trustee chair's speech

General secretary's speech


General secretary's report

Treasurer's report

Winners of The Rotarian photo contest announced

Rotary Foundation named World's Outstanding Foundation for 2016

Sustainable projects earn top Rotaract honors

What makes a great global grant project

Germ looks back on a productive year

RI President Ian Riseley on attracting new members, building strong clubs, and forming friendships that last

What does it take to eradicate a disease? Just ask India.

Rotarians meet with EU officials to examine Rotary’s role in achieving peace

RIPE Ian Riseley on attracting new members, building strong clubs

Rotary women inspire

Japanese diplomat earns Rotary alumni award

India is enthused....about giving

PRIP K R Ravindran on The Benefits of Rotary Membership.

International Assembly 2017

2017-18 RI President Ian H.S. Riseley announces his presidential theme, Rotary: Making a Difference

Watch International Assembly speeches

2017-18 Presidential Theme Address (RI President-elect Ian H.S. Riseley) (PDF

3-H: A Bright New Dawn for the Rotary Foundation

Surgeons from India bring relief to underserved patients in Rwanda

We will redouble our efforts towards eradication of Polio from Africa - Past RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe

Raja of Rotary - An account of  55 years Rotary journey of  PRIP Rajendra K Saboo by Rasheeda Bhagat, Editor, Rotary News Online

RI President-elect Ian Riseley on the progress in ending polio in Radio National, Australia

Can We Prevent the Next Epidemic? - John Hewko

Poverty rates are creeping back up in Latin America. Investing in entrepreneurs can help change this - John Hewko

6 key numbers in the fight to end polio

HowDo You End a Global Disease - John Hewko in Medium

What can we achieve within our children’s lifetime?

To create peace we need to look beyond the causes of conflict

What defines a Rotary club? You choose

Rotary helps women in Honduras to successfully build their businesses and future - John Hewko in Medium

What is ‘global competence’, and is it the key to inclusive growth? - John Hewko

Creating Sustainable Peace - John Hewko, RI Gen. Secretary in Diplomatic Courier 

What’s Love Got to Do With It? - RI Gen Secretary John Hewko's Special Contribution to the Parliament of World's Religions

Council on Legislation Grants Clubs Greater Flexibility in Meeting, Membership

What should you know about 2016 CoL

The Council on Legislation - First day comes to an end

The Council on Legislation - Second day of action draws to a close

The Council on Legislation – The third day completed

The Council on Legislation – Fourth Day Concluded

The Council on Legislation Comes to an End

We’ll see an RI woman President in five years - RI Director Jennifer Jones

Latest Activity

Ambalakat Ram Mohan posted photos
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Nation Builder Award

Today awarded the Nation Builder Award to Teachers of the Z.P. School at Kasegaon & Gangewadi
Sep 13
Sonnhard Lungfiel posted a status
"How is your Club handling the acceptance of Alumni ? Are you open for their membership as R.I. claims the clubs should be?"
Sep 12



24 October — 

24 October — 

30 October-5 November — World Interact Week

Join Rotary online for World Polio Day 2017

You don’t have to buy a plane ticket to participate in this year’s World Polio Day festivities at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s facility in downtown Seattle, Washington, USA. You can watch the event live on 24 October at 14:30 Seattle time (UTC-7) for an update on our global campaign to eradicate polio. A recording of the livestream will be available later.

Sue Desmond-Hellmann, the Gates Foundation’s chief executive, will discuss this year’s progress with attendees, including Rotary members, Gates Foundation staff, and supporters, as well as the audience watching worldwide via livestream. Only 11 new cases of wild poliovirus have been reported so far in 2017, all in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Other speakers will include Jay Wenger, director of the Gates Foundation’s polio eradication efforts; Dean Rohrs, vice president of Rotary International; wrestler John Cena and singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage, Rotary polio ambassadors; Ade Adepitan, a Paralympian and polio survivor; and Jeffrey Kluger, senior editor at Time magazine overseeing science and health reporting. 

Claire Foy and Andrew Garfield, stars of the upcoming movie “Breathe,” and director Andy Serkis will also speak. “Breathe” is based on the true story of a polio survivor who became an advocate for others.

Rotary clubs across the globe have registered more than 1,100 events in their communities. Tell us how your club will mark the occasion. 

- Rotary International 

Movie 'Breathe' tells an inspirational story of a British polio survivor

As Rotary prepares to celebrate World Polio Day on 24 October,  an inspiring new film depicting the devastating impact of polio is hitting theaters.

Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy star in the love story “Breathe,” now playing in select U.S. theaters and scheduled for wider release over the next month. The movie tells the story of British polio survivor Robin Cavendish, who contracted the disease in Kenya in 1958. 

At the age of 28, he was paralyzed from the neck down, confined to a hospital bed with a respirator, and given just months to live. 

However, with the encouragement and help of his wife, Diana, Robin was able to leave the hospital and spend the rest of his life advocating for people with disabilities and popularizing a new wheelchair with a built-in respirator.

People were frightened by polio. People would shout at us in the street complaining about my father being in a wheelchair when he should have been in the hospital. 

Rotary is working with the film’s producer, Robin and Diana’s son, Jonathan Cavendish, to promote the organization’s work to eradicate polio.

Speaking at the film’s European premiere in London, Jonathan, who is featured in the movie, described Breathe as “probably the most expensive home movie ever made.”

“The message of this film is that you can achieve anything if you have the right people around you,” he said. “If you put everything into your relationship and really go for it, life will start looking rosier and better.”

Jonathan joined Eve Conway, vice chair of Rotary International’s End Polio Now: Countdown to History Campaign Committee for Europe, for a question-and-answer session with the audience after the film’s screening in Leicester Square to launch the London Film Festival.

“The thing to remember about the 1960s is that we were all frightened about the things we didn’t know,” Jonathan said. 

“Nobody had ever met anybody with that degree of disability. People were frightened by polio. People would shout at us in the street complaining about my father being in a wheelchair when he should have been in the hospital. Can you imagine that? 

“However, my dad was a very nice, inspirational, and charming man — something which has been captured in the film. My dad wanted to put everyone else at ease and imbued that spirit with other disabled people who he encouraged to move out of the hospital.”

Since Robin Cavendish died in 1994, polio has declined sharply.  Now, thanks to the work of Rotary and its Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, there are just a handful of cases worldwide. 

Robin’s mother, Diana Cavendish, who is played by Foy, said she loved watching the film. 

Speaking at the red carpet premiere hosted by the British Film Institute, the now-83-year-old said, “I decided I was going to adopt a very detached attitude. My grandson told me to pretend it is somebody else. But I think they have made a really good job of it. 

“It is a long time ago, but when it all first happened, people who were as badly disabled as Robin were told they weren’t to leave hospital. If it hadn’t been for the legendary professor Teddy Hall and his revolutionary chair, we wouldn’t have got anywhere.”

Golden Globe winner Foy, who starred in “The Crown” and “Wolf Hall,” described Diane as a down-to-earth and very humble woman. “When I met Diane, everything about her impressed me,” Foy said. 

“She is an extraordinary woman, with her strength, her bravery, and her love for her husband. Everything she did is extraordinary, and I am really pleased the story has been told.”

This true story of love with no limits is directed by Andy Serkis and written by Academy Award-nominated writer William Nicholson (“Les Miserables,” “Everest,” and “Gladiator”).

“Robin and Diana were extraordinary people,” Serkis said. “They broke the mold. They were mavericks of their time, not settling for the limitations they were given about living life in a hospital waiting for death. 

“It was about the risks that they took, and then the joy they had as a result of that which then went on to inspire millions of others. It is quite extraordinary.”

At the heart of this movie about polio is a celebration of positivity, bravery, and human possibility, a theme which struck a chord with Academy Award nominee Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge,” “Silence”), who plays Robin Cavendish.

Robin Cavendish fought for value of life. He fought to make life meaningful and not just survive it, but to live a rich and connected life.

“Robin Cavendish fought for value of life. He fought to make life meaningful and not just survive it, but to live a rich and connected life.

“Out of such loss and suffering, they created such joy, and that’s just an inspiration for all of us,” Garfield said. 

“What I saw in their story was a template of how to live. How to live a life of meaning with the inevitable loss incorporated into one’s life. To laugh at the universe, to laugh at the cosmic joke, the absurdity of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which befall all of us in some ways.” 


On World Polio Day, 24 October, Rotary will release video messages from Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, and Andy Serkis highlighting the organization’s work to end polio.

What I think about when I cycle - John Hewko, RI General Secretary

On 18 November, over 18,000 wheels will be gliding through the Sonora Desert. Those wheels will be propelled by 9,000 cyclists participating in the annual Tour de Tucson. Many ride for fun; many ride for the challenge of completing the long course of 106 miles; and many ride to raise money for humanitarian causes. Close to a hundred of those riders are fortunate enough to ride for nothing less than one of the greatest public health achievements in our time. 

I count myself among those lucky few, as I will be riding to fundraise for Rotary’s flagship cause of polio eradication, pursued by Rotary members and their friends for more than thirty years. This year’s Tour de Tucson ride is another opportunity to bring us closer to the goal of a polio-free world.

So I will be taking on the challenge of the Tucson course with two wheels, almost 100 Rotarian riders and staff teammates from Tucson and around the world, and 1.2 million Rotary members in support. I’ll also be doing it with one new hip, which adds another challenge as I attempt the completion of my 6th consecutive Tour.

It all started five years ago, when I was attending Rotary’s annual Convention, hosted that year by Thailand. I was sharing a water taxi with Rotary club members from Tucson. I was already an avid cyclist, so the talk turned to cycling, and soon enough my companions told me about El Tour de Tucson. Our clubs in Southern Arizona already participated in the ride to raise money for polio eradication, so I immediately wanted to join them and see if we could maximize the fundraising potential.

This year’s goal is to raise $3.4 million, which will be tripled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a total of more than $10 million.  If we reach our goal this year, Rotary riders will have raised a total of $46 million for polio at El Tour over the last six years.

In previous years, I rode for time, setting myself a goal of less than five hours for the entire course, which I achieved in the 2015 El Tour. This year, with a new hip, keeping under the five-hour mark may be a bridge too far, but I won’t be short on motivation. Others who have put their weight behind our cause have completed events far more arduous. Minda Dentler, one of our Rotary polio ambassadors, and herself a polio survivor, was the first female wheelchair athlete to successfully complete the Ironman Triathlon (which involves swimming 2.4 miles, hand cycling 112 miles, and pushing a racing wheelchair for 26.2 miles).

In fact, it’s the remarkable stories of perseverance against polio that have pushed me through the tough post-surgery rehab sessions and long training rides. On the stationary bike I used for my initial training, the story of polio eradication was on my mind. It is one of great perseverance against the odds, in defiance of the prevailing logic which said it couldn’t be done. Look at India: the rules of public and even expert opinion dictated that a country of India’s size, population, and sanitation challenges could never become polio-free. Yet India has been free of polio since 2014, thanks to a monumental effort by Rotary members and our partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

When I was able to progress from the gym to my road bike for some outdoor cycling, the dedication and ingenuity of Rotary members kept me focused on the goal of all the miles I was slowly accumulating under my belt. Their dedication has taken many forms.

Our members have bridged cultures to reach every community with the polio vaccine. They have used all their powers of persuasion to convince fearful parents that the vaccine is safe for their child. They have engaged community and religious leaders to enlist their support. They have participated in national immunization days on a huge scale. For example, in Pakistan, around 40 million children under five are targeted by 250,000 vaccinators, and 2,208 social mobilizers.

Rotary members have also shown great creativity in spreading awareness about the cause. They have illuminated iconic structures across the world, from the United Kingdom’s Houses of Parliament to the pyramids of Egypt with the End Polio Now logo. Our members created the world’s biggest commercial when 100,000 people from 171 countries posted selfies in support of End Polio Now. They also created the world’s largest human national flag, composed of 50,000 people, in Chennai, India.

When I finally ride in Tucson, I will probably tire in the latter stages of the course, as it will be my first long-distance race since my unplanned-for hip replacement surgery. At that point, when my legs feel heavy and I hit a wall, I will keep in mind that finishing the course with my teammates will symbolize Rotary’s determination to finish what we started over thirty years ago, and eradicate a human disease for only the second time in history. That should carry me over the finish line.

Support the Miles to End Polio team

Written for and originally appeared in Tail Winds.

Why we will eradicate polio in Nigeria - Carol Pandak, Director of PolioPlus, Rotary International

A boy in the displaced persons camp waves at the visiting team.


As we drove away from the Muna camp for Internally Displaced Persons on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital city of restive Borno State in Nigeria, a young boy dressed in brown tunic and pants gave us a  friendly, somewhat surprised wave.

At 60,000 inhabitants, the camp had doubled in size since the same time last year as conflict continues to push people from their homes. My visit to the camp was the final stop on a trip to Nigeria with the Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee, Mike McGovern, on the occasion of the country having not reported a case of polio for a year. But while we marked the date on the calendar, the visit was not celebratory.  Nigeria had reported no cases of polio for two years between 2014 and 2016, and all were disappointed by the new cases identified in Borno in August of last year.

We saw and did many things during the trip with the deputy state governor, including immunizing newborn babies in the camp to protect them from polio. We drank water from a newly inaugurated borehole bringing much needed clean water in an area without sanitation. We greeted over 70 polio survivors of all ages outside the Polio Emergency Operation Center in Maiduguri, and thanked the polio laboratory staff at a facility named after Past District Governor Larry Huot of Oregon, USA. We noted that the team may have already identified the last case of polio in Nigeria.

Before reaching Borno, we traveled to Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, with the leadership of the Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee chaired by Abdulrahman (Tunji) Funsho, Director-elect Yinka Babalola, and a myriad of other Rotary leaders.  We inaugurated water wells, visited schools and clinics, visited with mothers, immunized children, met government and community leaders, participated in meetings of polio Emergency Operations Centers, discussed strategies with partner organizations WHO and UNICEF, and attended Rotary club meetings. We also met with past RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe and his wife, Ayo.

Our discussions focused on the major challenges at hand – ensuring that every child in Nigeria, especially in Borno, is reached with the polio vaccine and avoiding complacency in the absence of polio cases.

We presented the newly established PolioPlus Memorial Scholarships to three masters’ level students studying public health at Ibadan University.  The scholarship was created to recognize those health care workers who have been injured or killed while carrying out polio immunization activities and requires students to demonstrate a commitment to their communities after graduation.

On the flight home, I pondered what I had seen and heard:  the makeshift thatched homes in Muna camp and the challenges of being a polio survivor in Nigeria; the personal commitment of Rotary members; efforts to access children in areas of conflict; community leaders working to improve their neighborhoods with clean water; and government officials participating in immunization campaigns.

I am convinced we will eradicate polio in Nigeria and was reminded for whom we are working to eradicate polio – it is for the children of the world, embodied in the young boy, waving goodbye as we departed from the Muna camp.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts from polio eradication volunteers, Rotary staff, and survivors in honor of World Polio Day 24 October. 

Gifting Dignity To Elders - PDG Sunil K Zachariah in 'BE A GIFT TO THE WORLD'

It is a Sunday afternoon. I am at the old age home in Chunangamveli, near Cochin. As I am about to leave, a lady who is older than my mother calls me by name. She walks with a limp to me, takes my hands in hers. Looking straight into my eyes, she says “Son, I want to pray for you and your family. You have made our day here so special today”.

She is actually thanking Rotary. Almost 100 Rotarians were there, including our new Governor Kamlesh Raheja, to celebrate the annual day of Rotary Centre for Senior Citizens. Rotarians and seniors vied with each other by staging entertaining programs after the formal meeting was over. It was clear that the seniors had spent long hours preparing for the day.
Every time I go there, I feel happy. Old age home at Chunangamveli is not at all a sad place; it is really a happy place – thanks to the Sisters of Destitute who manage it. Being there, I always feel happy that Rotary is doing something really nice and meaningful. Who is the President who gave us the international theme Real Happiness is Helping Others, I ask myself.

It started with random acts of kindness that Rotary Clubs partnered with the Sisters of Destitute. We strived to make the lives of about 150 old men and women a little better. These were elders literally picked up from the streets, discarded like disposable diaper by their own near and dear. What started with visits and small projects grew over a period of time. Larger projects just started happening. An ambulance was gifted. A major rain water harvesting project was implemented. Imagine the situation in an old age home in the morning if they don’t have enough water to clean! 10 huge tanks which can store 5 lakh litres of rain water harvested from roof-tops of buildings solved the water problem. Three committed Rotary Clubs joined hands with an American Rotary club for this matching grant project.

After the Rotary Institute Cochin of 2009, the core Committee asked itself how to come together to commemorate this success with a befitting community project. Kalyan Banerjee, then RI President Nominee inaugurated the Rotary Centre for Senior Citizens. It is a district project with District Governor as Chairman. Committee consists of PDGs, AGs, Club Presidents and anyone who is interested. Make it inclusive, take no individual credit, make things happen – these are the mantras on which the Centre works.

Six regular activities at the Rotary Centre for Senior Citizens are: (1) Day Care Centre (2) Noon Meal (3) Computer Centre (4) Library (5) Medical Clinic and (6) Drug Bank. Everything is free. Mission: Give a life of dignity to the senior citizens.

Rotary partners with Corporates to fund the Capex. An impressive building has come up. Now an ambitious Elders’ Park, first of its kind in the region is coming up at a cost of approx. Rupees One Crore. This project was inaugurated by K.R Ravindran, when he was President Nominee.

Regular expenses are met by Rotarians with micro donations, usually for Rs.5000 each. Birthdays, death anniversaries, Governor’s visits to clubs are occasions. More importantly, Clubs do a host of projects and activities at the Centre. There is hardly a day where there is not a project done at Rotary Centre for Senior Citizens. No senior who approaches the Centre for medicines is denied: no questions asked. Houses have be repaired, surgeries performed, picnics and entertainment galore…. touching lives and spreading cheer. On a typical day, you will find about 60 seniors at the centre, in addition to the 150 inmates.

I have been the Secretary of Rotary Centre for Senior Citizens since its inception in 2009. We are blessed with a committed group of Rotarians in the Committee. But RCSC is not about us – it is about the many individual Rotarians who make a difference with their gifts of time, talents and resources.

Maggie Kuhn said: “Old age is not a disease – it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses”. We at Rotary Centre for Senior Citizens agree.

- PDG Sunil K Zachariah in 'BE A GIFT TO THE WORLD', a book, published to commemorate PRIP KR Ravindran’s presidential theme

Cyclists crisscross India to support polio eradication

Two young athletes from Bangalore, India, are cycling 20,000 kilometers (12,430 miles) across India to raise awareness for polio eradication and draw attention to the work Rotary clubs are doing in communities around the world.

MJ Pavan and Bhagyashree Sawant, both members of the Rotaract Club of Bangalore Orchards, plan to begin their six-month journey in early October in the Himalayan city of Leh, and cruise to a triumphant finish in their hometown of Bangalore in March. Along the way, they plan to visit 400 rural and government schools, talking to students about the importance of getting immunized against polio and other diseases and promoting healthy hygiene habits.

With help from Rotary clubs throughout their district, they are promoting the ride as an attempt to set a record for the longest distance traveled by bicycle in a single country, a move designed to attract even greater media exposure in the days leading up to World Polio Day, 24 October, and beyond.

Jeep India, a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is sponsoring their record attempt by sending a Jeep Compass to follow the cyclists and post frequent social media updates. 

“We definitely want to build up Rotary’s public image,” says Sawant. “Only a little over a third of India’s population is aware of Rotary.”

Pavan says knowing that India is polio-free, but that the disease could come back at any time, is what motivates him. 

Both are no strangers to adventure. Sawant, who holds a master’s of psychology from Surana College, is a mountaineer, national cyclist, national rugby player, and international karate fighter. She has twice climbed to 8,000 meters (26,250 feet) on 8,848-meter Mount Everest, and led an expedition of 16 climbers from five countries to Everest base camp in 2010. 

Pavan, a mechanical engineer, is a national badminton player and regularly cycles 60 kilometers (37 miles) a day. He has cycled from Delhi to Leh, a distance of 1,400 kilometers (870 miles), in 14 days to reach the highest vehicular road in the country.

During their six-month journey, they will average about 110 kilometers (68 miles) a day through all kinds of terrain, making three stops a day at schools, Rotary clubs, and Rotaract clubs. Their schedule will require a few daily rides of up to 270 kilometers (168 miles).

In addition to polio eradication, the cyclists will also promote literacy. They plan to conduct an assessment of each school they visit, analyzing the status of sanitation, hygiene, infrastructure, and education quality. 

"Next to polio eradication, literacy is very important in my country,” Sawant says. 

Members of Rotaract clubs along the way will be invited to join the cyclists for five-kilometer stretches of the ride, to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rotaract this Rotary year.

“We are asking them to join us in the convoy, so they can be a part of our journey,” says Sawant. “We don’t want to keep this expedition to ourselves.”

- Arnold R. Grahl in End Polio Now

Attend the Uniendo America Project Fair in Belize - Rotary Service Connections Blog

Greetings from Belize!

On behalf of Districts 4240 and 4250, we would like to invite you to Uniendo America Project Fair 2018 to be held in Belize City, from January 25 to 27, 2018. Project fairs are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in international service and find a project that meets your club’s service goals.

The phrase Uniendo America means Uniting America. Uniendo America is the longest running project fair and is going into it’s 25th year. The fair takes place annually and rotates between various Central American countries. Over the years, international visitors have learned about more that 2,000 local projects from the region.

This is the third time the fair will be held in Belize. All ten of the Belize clubs will be represented at the fair, as well as representatives from 100 other Rotary clubs in Central America will be showcasing projects in all of Rotary’s areas of focus.

The fair gives Central American Rotary clubs the opportunity to share their service efforts to potential international partners. Meeting face to face helps create lasting friendships and facilitates the implementation of new projects. During your time in Belize, you will learn about our culture, our communities and get a firsthand look at the local needs. Come learn about our region, make new friends, and take part in community service efforts!

The fair will be hosted at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel. To take advantage of reduced rates, you must reserve no later than December 31, 2017.Register for the fair online and contact me with any questions.

Belize has some of the most beautiful cayes, beaches and diving spots in the world. The beautiful island of San Pedro is a little more than an hour away by boat, or a quick trip by plane. Here, you’ll be able to kick back and enjoy the wonderful Caribbean Sea, eat some of the most delicious seafood cuisine, and take a quick trip by boat to any of the most spectacular dive sites that Belize has to offer.

We look forward to welcoming you to Belize and the 2018 Uniendo America Project Fair!

Marcello A. Blake, Co-Chair of 2018 Uniendo America Project Fair in Rotary Service Connections

Blog Posts

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RI President's Message - October 2017

Posted by Sunil K Zachariah on September 30, 2017 at 7:35am


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www.eflashonline.org is an initiative of Rotary Club of Kalamassery,  R I District 3201, India. Since 1999, eFlash spreads Rotary news and stories online to members from over 100 countries. 

Founder Editor: PDG Sunil K Zachariah

This community operates in accordance with Rotary International policy, but is not an agency of, nor is it controlled by Rotary International



How Rotary’s polio scholarship is helping me achieve my goals

About a year ago, I was facing many anxieties and worries about how I was going to complete my graduate studies and realize my short and long term goals of improving public health in Pakistan. Receiving Rotary’s PolioPlus Memorial Scholarship has been like a dream come true.

I have always felt a bit at odds with many of my peers, to the point that I have often times been labeled an “odd lot.” I see problems or broken systems and I want to fix them. I cannot accept the usual quick-fix approach that is practiced a lot here in Pakistan.

I have had a passion for medicine since secondary school, and completed my Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from Dow Medical College. I was gratified that I now had knowledge to be able to ameliorate some of the pain in other people’s lives.

But as time passed, and I started my medical practice, a new problem emerged as I confronted the state of affairs in the health profession. Questions kept coming up. Why is this done this way? How can anyone ignore this? How can the government neglect such basic needs? Why is there no realization of how to stem such an endemic contagious disease? And on and on it went.

I see problems or broken systems and I want to fix them. I cannot accept the usual quick-fix approach that is practiced a lot here in Pakistan.

I could not go on as a medical doctor and feel powerless to change the policies and practices for the betterment of society. I knew my present qualifications were not enough. So after many days of contemplation, I decided to pursue an advanced degree in public health.

Post graduate work with two children and a husband in the armed forces who is always on the move can be very challenging. But like they say, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

I set out to search for all the colleges offering post-graduate degrees in public health and enrolled at the Dow University of Health Sciences. By some means and much difficulty, I managed to pay the first semester fees and began my coursework with enthusiasm. Always in the back of my mind, however, was the anxiety of how I was going to pay the next semester fees.

How in the world would I get a scholarship here? It seemed inconceivable; yet something to aspire to. And that is when I heard about Rotary.

I cannot express my appreciation enough for this scholarship. My uncertainty and stress have diminished, and I have met an enthusiastic team who are as keen as I am to address the problems in the system. I am recommitted to working with great care and perseverance to learn all I can studying full-time.

Most importantly, I feel this scholarship will become the cornerstone for achieving my dream of improving the health care system, or as I like to put it, “debugging” the system, and changing behaviors and practices that will benefit people throughout Pakistan.

Without Rotary, this dream of mine would have been much more difficult, if not impossible.

Dr. Koko Khurram Rizwani, Rotary PolioPlus Memorial Scholarship recipient in Rotary Voices

Wales Celebrating 100 years of Rotary

The closing months of the Great War may not have seemed like the most auspicious time to start a Rotary club, but on May 22nd, 1917, nine businessmen from Cardiff met at the Park Hotel to discuss the possibility.

Although doubts were expressed about the appropriateness of starting a Rotary club during wartime, the proposal to form a Rotary Club in Cardiff, in affiliation with the British Association of Rotary Clubs, was agreed.

The first formal luncheon was held at the Park Hotel with electrical engineer, William Ashcombe Chamen, the founder president for the 17th Rotary club in the United Kingdom.

A few months later in 1918, several members attended the inaugural meeting of the Rotary Club of Llanelli, and in 1919 the Rotary Club of Swansea was formed.

So began a centenary of Rotary service in Wales.

The Rotary Club of Cardiff has always played an active role in local and international communities. For the club centenary, the members raised £25,000 towards building a Maggie’s Centre, alongside Velindre Cancer hospital, Cardiff.

Centenary celebrations are being held across Wales, continuing throughout the Rotary year.

Any commemoration in Wales would not be complete without singing and on Saturday, October 21st, massed male voices from seven West Wales clubs are staging a centenary choral concert in Llandeilo.

Then on November 1st, Cardiff Rotary Club’s centenary celebration dinner will be held, with a commemorative oak tree planted in a city park the following day......

Read the full story

Getting to grips with literacy in Guatemala

Back in 1996, at the end of a long civil war, American brothers Jeff and Joe Berninger set about trying to break the cycle of poverty in Guatemala.

With a grant from a former employer, they brought books with them, helped a school, La Labor, to set up a system where students would rent books for a small fee each year.

This was the project’s very first revolving fund. Once enough money had accumulated, the school could buy brand new textbooks with no further investment needed from sponsors, making the programme 100% sustainable.

Initially, the brothers involved a Rotary club in Wyoming. Since then, the project and Rotary have grown as a partnership to become the Guatemala Literacy Project.

In 1997, the Berningers set up the Cooperative for Education, a non-profit organisation seeking financial support from corporations, foundations and individuals.

“Nearly 500 Rotary clubs in seven countries have become involved, supporting over 170,000 students in its 21-year history.”

This also provides all administrative and marketing services to the Literacy Project at no cost to Rotary funds.

And now, thanks to a long-standing partnership with Rotary clubs, this sustainable model for breaking the cycle of poverty through education has grown strongly.

Over the years, the textbook programme has branched out into computer centres, and a culture of reading programmes, which have fostered improved literacy while developing a love of reading.

With support from many sources over the years, that single seed, the textbook programme at La Labor, has grown substantially helping vital educational programmes reach many thousands of Guatemalan children.

To date, nearly 500 Rotary clubs and numerous districts in seven countries have become involved in a project which is serving 48,000 students this year, and has supported over 170,000 in its 21-year history.

The Guatemala Literacy Project is the largest literacy and education global grant in Rotary.

It was showcased as outstanding at the recent Atlanta Convention and serves as an excellent example of the power of international Rotary.

Nearly 500 Rotary clubs across the world have supported the project and provided textbooks for children

In 2016/17, 118 clubs from 25 districts in seven countries, combined with The Rotary Foundation and District Designated Funds to raise $435,583 (£333,831) – this was Rotary crowdfunding at its best!

At the Rotary Club of Kenilworth, we first heard about the Guatemala Literacy Project in 2014.

I travelled to Guatemala to see it in action and was so impressed that I persuaded my club to donate and then set about bringing this project to the attention of other clubs.

More than $51,000 (£39,100) was raised last year in the UK, including Rotary Foundation support, and now a new global grant is under way with a target of $500,000 (£383,200).

The global grant closes at the end of December, hopefully for approval by May next year.

This is a worthwhile project which has proved that it can dramatically change lives forever, helping to reduce poverty, illiteracy and inequality.


That’s a nice flower, what’s it for?

As an RI representative on a World Health Organization post-polio outbreak surveillance audit in Ethiopia, I saw first-hand the front line difficulties experienced by doctors and local health workers. I also witnessed the very real fear of a child awaiting the result of tests to see if he had contracted polio. On my return to the United Kingdom, I was determined to be as involved as possible in supporting Rotary’s number one humanitarian project.

In the UK, we have a great fundraiser that has been supporting polio eradication and building awareness. I have had the pleasure of working with David Price, a former Ambassadorial Scholar and current member of the E-Club of London Centennial, to promote the sale of fabric crocus buttonholes. Since 2012 the high-quality fabric Rotary Crocuses have raised around £1.2 million (about $1.6 million) and been distributed in 15 countries.

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A box of the fabric Crocuses.

The Crocus was chosen as the purple colour matched the dye painted on the fingers of children who have been immunised. As members of the Crocus Buttonhole Project Team, we have built upon the original idea of Lynne Mitchell, a past district governor. Fabric crocus buttonholes are offered to members of the public in return for a donation. Each Crocus comes on an information card which tells the story of the eradication programme and Rotary’s pivotal role in it. It provides the wearer with the answer to the question “that’s a nice flower, what’s it for?”

Every year, some 500 clubs take part and each distribute around 100 crocuses through street collections and club events, raising over £100,000 (about $132,000).

David Price notes that the fabric crocus has become a tried and tested fundraiser. “They are an easy way for clubs to reach out to their wider community to raise funds and awareness. When donors wear their crocuses they become walking adverts both for Rotary and the End Polio Now Campaign.” Find out more about the crocus sales.

 Mike Parry, regional Rotary Foundation coordinator for Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, northern and central England in Rotary Voices

The beginning of my Rotary story: polio drops in India

Picture a small town country girl from North Carolina on her way to India for the first time with her 12-year-old son. A personal mission to visit friends in the remote state of Bihar was the beginning of my Rotary story that has lasted for more than a decade.

In the city of Dhanbad, we met Rotarians. They showed us many projects but the ones that impacted me the most were dropping the polio drops in the mouths of babies and observing polio corrective surgeries. I’d never met anyone with polio and had no idea it was still in the world. It was in Dhanbad that we learned the realities that those affected with this terrible disease live with every day. It became my dream to bring other Rotarians to India so they could experience a National Immunization Day and witness first hand the devastation of polio.

“I cried when the mother bent down and touched my feet. I knew she was saying ‘thank you for saving my child.’ ”

In 2010, 35 Rotarians from around the world traveled with me to India. We saw many Rotary projects. Heart surgeries, eye surgeries, water wells, hand washing stations, toilets and so many others. Finally the National Immunization Day arrived. Parents brought their children on foot, motorcycles, horse drawn carts, rickshaws, and cars. They were so happy to see Rotarians and the polio booths because they knew we were there to save their children from the disease.

Over the past decade, many of those who have traveled with us have expressed their reactions. I’ve heard, “I’ve been in Rotary for 10 years but today I became a Rotarian.” A young Interact student said, “I had no idea what polio was or that people still had it. Today, I pledge to tell everyone I know about polio. We have to get rid of it.”

Purple dye marks the pinkie of a child who has been immunized.

A gentleman from Maryland, tears flowing, held the hand of a young girl lying alone on a gurney preparing to go into polio corrective surgery. He told her, “You are not alone. I am here with you.” Their eyes met and though they spoke different languages, they understood each other.

A young man on our trip said, “I cried when the mother bent down and touched my feet. I knew she was saying ‘thank you for saving my child.’ ”

So many stories by those who have gone to India with me, but all have a common theme – gratitude for the privilege of immunizing a child against polio and of being allowed to gain a different perspective of the world in a beautiful country filled with generous people. And of living in a world where Rotary changes lives.

Many of them have told me their own personal Rotary journey, and of how in India they came to understand the impact Rotarians have on the world. It happened to this country girl so many years ago. And that’s what takes me back every year. We won’t stop until we eradicate polio. And WE WILL.

Nancy Barbee, past governor of District 7730 (North Carolina, USA) in Rotary Voices

Rotary Convention 2018

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