It was great meeting fellow Australian and Rotary staff member Andrew yesterday during our Miles to End Polio send-off rally. Best of luck to everyone this weekend! You can learn more about the Rotary cycling team and and help them meet their fundraising goal: https://www.endpolio.org/
The Board of Trustees of the Rotary Foundation 2017 - 18
Though he grew up in the Netherlands, a nation that lies partly below sea level and has no mountains, Olivier Vriesendorp has long dreamed of high-altitude climbing. As a teen he was inspired by a National Geographic article about a Himalayan expedition. “I was very impressed by the men who climbed under extreme conditions where few people had ever been,” says Vriesendorp, who in May successfully completed an expedition to the top of Mount Everest.
A member of the Rotary Club of Amstelveen, Vriesendorp, 47, didn’t just climb Everest; by summiting the world’s highest peak, he reached his goal to climb the highest mountain on each of the world’s continents, known as the Seven Summits.
The father of two was already in excellent shape from climbing the first six summits, but he upped the training for Everest. For eight months he did daily cardio and core work, and on weekends typically hiked 15 miles with a heavy backpack. For six weeks before the journey, Vriesendorp slept every night in a special tent breathing oxygen-reduced air to minimize the risk of altitude sickness during the climb.
He traveled to Tibet in early April. The expedition team spent weeks adjusting to the mountain’s low oxygen conditions. Summit Day (21 May) lasted 18 hours and was the most challenging part of the climb, with extremely steep, exposed sections. “It’s super cold and you really need to be careful that fingers and toes don’t freeze,” he explains.
Vriesendorp, who had Rotary patches sewn to his down suit, also carried a Rotary Foundation flag and took it out when he reached the summit, where he enjoyed 15 minutes standing on top of the world. (He couldn’t leave the flag because it would have been blown away or destroyed by 125 mph winds that whip the summit most of the year.)
Says Vriesendorp of his latest accomplishment: “As a father of eight-year-old twin boys, I hope that what I did will inspire them and make them see that if you set a clear goal – any goal, it doesn’t need to be climbing – and you are determined to achieve it and prepared to work hard for it, you can.”
Source: The Rotarian
At three years old, an age when most toddlers are being assessed on how high they can count or how well they can recite their ABCs, Ramon Resa faced a different standard of measurement: how much cotton he could pile up in the farm fields of central California.
And for many years, as he harvested cotton, walnuts, or oranges, Resa felt that he didn’t measure up. That feeling was reinforced by some who might have been his mentors and guides: Even though he graduated at the top of his eighth-grade class, he was told to let a white classmate give the valedictory speech. A school counselor tried to shunt him into wood shop instead of algebra.
But Resa persevered. Today, to visit him at work, you’ll walk through a door labeled Dr. Ramon Resa. A Rotarian and a pediatrician in Porterville, Calif., he spends his days in an office not far from the tiny box of a house where he grew up among 14 relatives.
From farmworker to pediatrician
At work, Resa moves among four exam rooms, sometimes seeing more than 50 patients in a day: a three-year-old suffering from allergies, a two-year-old in for a checkup, a 10-year-old who hurt his thumb playing sports. Resa tickles a child lightly as he checks a throat or belly, switching from English to Spanish as needed. “I can out-stare you,” he jokes with a determined boy who has a sinus infection.
“He teases the babies and the moms, and he builds their confidence up, ” says his office manager, Shirley Rowell, who has worked with Resa since he arrived in Porterville in 1985 with his newly minted medical degree. The children energize him, bringing out his jovial nature, but he’s also gentle and caring. When C-section newborns were moved from surgery to the maternity ward, Rowell recalls, Resa always carried them in his arms and talked to them. He never used the transport carts. “Of course it was against protocol,” Resa says. “But if I have a chance to bond with the baby, I will.”
In his own childhood, doctors were called only for the most severe ailments. Resa was the fifth child born to a mother barely out of her teens herself, and he never knew his father. He and two brothers were sent to live with their grandparents: The kids crowded in with “Ama” and “Apa,” uncles, aunts, and cousins, sleeping on mattresses on the floor and sharing one bathroom. Goats, pigs, and chickens lived in a side yard. Everyone had to pitch in........
At the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta in June, world leaders were on hand to celebrate a historic $1.2 billion in commitments to finance polio eradication. It was a huge moment for the polio eradication effort. But how did it come about?
A group of Rotary volunteers has been hard at work behind the scenes: our PolioPlus national advocacy advisers. This team of Rotarians from donor countries has a mission to make sure polio eradication is on the global agenda. In the corridors of power, they relentlessly work their connections – lunches with government officials, phone calls with ministers – to garner money and support for ending the disease.
And they’ve been successful: Since Rotary’s advocacy program started in 1995, it has generated more than $8 billion toward ending polio. The United States is the leading public sector donor to global polio eradication with a cumulative investment that totals $3 billion through fiscal 2017, thanks in large part to the leadership of Past RI President James L. Lacy and members of the Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force for the U.S. Their advocacy colleagues around the world have done remarkable work as well.
The national advocacy advisers always come through in knowing the right people to speak with in government and in arranging key meetings,” says Michael K. McGovern, International PolioPlus Committee chair. “No matter the political party in charge, the Rotarians are known and respected.”
This year, the pledging of funds wasn’t the only priority. Working with our Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, the advocates had the ambitious goal of getting a commitment to polio eradication from the world’s most powerful nations. The advocacy advisers saw two unprecedented political victories when both the health ministers and leaders of the Group of 20, an informal bloc of countries accounting for 85 percent of the global economy, committed to strive to finish our work and end the disease.
Rotary’s message about ending polio is reaching the key decision-makers. So how did our national advocacy advisers do it? We checked in with three of them to find out what went into their recent successes........
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 enunciated by Rotary President Ian H. S. Riseley: “Peace: Making a Difference.”
Rotary International honors six champions of peace at the United Nations on 11 November.
“The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace have always been among Rotary’s primary goals,” said Riseley. “It is past time for all of us to recognize the potential of all of our Rotary service to build peace, and approach that service with peacebuilding in mind.”
For the first time in its 13-year history, Rotary Day at the UN was held outside of New York.
Rotary Day culminated Geneva Peace Week, during which John Hewko, general secretary of Rotary International, noted the “close and longstanding ties between Rotary and the UN in (their) mutual pursuit of peace and international understanding.”
Rotary members “can transform a concept like peace to a reality through service,” said Ed Futa, dean of the Rotary Representative Network. “Peace needs to be lived rather than preached.”
As a highlight of Rotary Day, Hewko introduced Rotary’s 2017 People of Action: Champions of Peace award winners. He praised them as “an embodiment of the range and impact of our organization’s work,” and saluted them for providing “a roadmap for what more peaceful, resilient societies look like.”
Rotary honored six individuals, who each made brief remarks.
The six peace honorees joined a stellar panel of speakers and experts in workshops devoted to sustainability and peace, as well as a workshop on education, science, and peace designed by and for young leaders in which Rotaract members from around the world played a prominent role.
Dr. Michel Zaffran, the director of polio eradication at the World Health Organization, joined Her Excellency Mitsuko Shino, the deputy head of the permanent mission of Japan in Geneva and co-chair for the Polio Partners Group, Global Polio Eradication Initiative, to provide an update on efforts to eradicate polio. They noted the tremendous progress made by Rotary, WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other partners in eliminating 99 percent of all global incidences of polio.
Returning the focus to peace, Zaffran sounded a positive note. “This same international relationship (that’s eradicating polio),” he said, “can be used to achieve world peace.”
In his keynote address, Riseley made a similar observation. “The work of polio eradication, has taught us . . . that when you have enough people working together; when you understand the problems and the processes; when you combine and leverage your resources; when you set a plan and set your targets — you can indeed move mountains,” he said. “And the need for action, and cooperation, is greater now than ever before.”
As a Rotary Youth Exchange Student, I spent a year in Thailand. This experience changed my life and my view of the world. When I returned to Germany, I wanted to give something back to Rotary because of how incredibly thankful I was for the opportunity I had been given. Joining our district’s Rotex club was my way of doing that.
A Rotex club is an organized group of Youth Exchange alumni that stay involved in Rotary by working closely with Rotarians in their district. Our Rotex in District 1800 was founded in 1989 and has around 80 active members. We organize about six weekends each year for inbound and outbound exchange students.
Nine countries in three weeks
One special weekend is our Outbound Orientation, where we prepare students for their experience abroad in different workshops that deal with intercultural communication, stereotypes, life with host families, attending a new school, and other challenges. We also hold a three-week long Europe Tour with inbound students, which is completely organized and run by about a dozen Rotex members each year. Our adventurous tour takes us through nine countries and 14 cities!
We enjoy doing these activities year-round. But a tragedy last year taught us we had the power to do even more.
In April 2016, a massive earthquake struck Ecuador while three Ecuadorian students were on their exchange in our district. They weren’t able to communicate with their families for days and were going through a difficult time. Sadly, one of the students even lost an uncle in the disaster. Our Rotex and the current exchange students wanted to help in any way we could. As one of our inbound students explained in a letter to the Youth Exchange chair, “whenever one part of a family is in a difficult situation, you stand together even closer.”
Every Rotary district should encourage alumni to give back. By taking action, our Rotex is living the principles of Rotary.
The exchange students, in cooperation with Rotex and the Youth Exchange team, reached out to Rotary clubs in our district. In addition to receiving donations from many clubs, we organized a day of service. Exchange students helped by baking cakes to sell at their schools, and even raised money on the street.
In the end, we were able to raise more than 20,000 euros (about $23,000) for victims of the earthquake. One of the students from Ecuador, Camila, later wrote, “seeing people who I only met recently move mountains for others filled my heart.” It was gratifying to know that our Rotex could help accomplish such a big task for Camila and the others.
A new project every year
Since then, we’ve undertaken a new project every year. This year we raised money for a school in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and met one of the South African Rotarians we partnered with at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta. It was so touching to meet him in person.
Rotex allows us to stay involved in our community and helps us do more through Rotary than we could as individuals. Every Rotary district should encourage alumni to give back. By taking action, our Rotex is living the principles of Rotary. Now that we have officially chartered as a Rotary alumni association, we are excited to see what the future will bring!
For more information about Rotex, or about chartering Rotex alumni associations, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sophie Richter, 2012-13 Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Rotary Voices
A District International Service Chair recently wrote to me about his struggle to get his clubs more involved in international projects. My response to him was to keep working at it – getting a club involved in international service can be a challenge. If you could get even one person from your district (even you!) to attend a project fair, the gained enthusiasm may be a valuable catalyst for getting involved in international projects. Here’s my story.
I had been a Rotarian back in New England, U.S., in the 1970’s. Then I changed jobs, moved to a different state, and dropped out of Rotary.
Years passed. Four years ago, I retired and moved to Guatemala for the winter (no snow to shovel). Fellow ex-pats brought me to several lunches with their local Rotary members. Then, the time arrived for the annual Uniendo America Project Fair, hosted in the nearby city of Antigua. Not knowing what to expect, I tagged along with a couple of members.
To say that my mind was expanded is an understatement. When I belonged to Rotary decades ago in the United States, I remember that my club raised money for college scholarships for local students, hosted and sent exchange students, and had lunch together. This was before the End Polio Now campaign, before women were allowed in Rotary, and before the spectacular growth of Rotaract and Interact clubs for younger people.
The Uniendo America Project Fair opened my eyes to the wonders of international service. Central American Rotary clubs hosted booths promoting projects reflecting Rotary’s primary priorities: providing clean water and sanitation, saving mothers and babies, supporting education, fighting disease, growing local economies, and promoting peace and conflict resolution.
We learned about club-led projects that were helping people in communities throughout Central America. We had the opportunity to meet local people and talk with them about their needs and projects. As an addition to the conference, I enjoyed a visit to a small school on the outskirts of Antigua which was seeking funding to support the growth of the school.
Meeting people and networking is always a highlight of any Rotary event. There were numerous international Rotarian visitors from the United States and Canada. Some of them had been coming to the project fair for years and shared their experiences supporting projects with Central American clubs as a result of the partnerships they had made at previous fairs. I learned from these “old-timers” the enriching impact international service has to individuals and to the clubs involved. Others, like me, were newcomers learning first-hand about the wonderful opportunities that were on display. Meals together, coffee-break conversations, and social events enhanced the experience.
My experience has been with Uniendo America in Central America. Other project fairs are held in Europe, Africa, other regions of Central and South America. I encourage you to attend any of these events that are the most convenient and interesting to you. View a list of all fairs and share them with the members of your club.
Rotarians are encouraged to bring their spouses and spend a few extra days exploring the host country. In Belize this year, you could go scuba diving and snorkeling in the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, go sailing on the Caribbean Sea, or visit Mayan ruins, to name just a few options.
The 2018 Uniendo America Project Fair will be hosted at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, 25-27 January. To take advantage of reduced rates, book your room by 31 December. Register for the fair online and contact me with any questions.
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