How will you Light Up Rotary this year?

By Jesse Allerton, Rotary Programs staff

Light Up RotaryRI President Gary C.K. Huang is encouraging all Rotary members to Light Up Rotary in 2014-15 “by sharing our service, strengthening our clubs, and letting our light shine in our communities.”

Hosting a Rotary Day is a great way for clubs to put the President’s theme into action. It’s simple: hold a fun, informal event in your community to introduce the general public to Rotary and drive interest in membership and other opportunities for engagement. You can refer to the Rotary Days brochure for ideas on how to structure and promote a Rotary Day event and find more tips in this article from the July edition of Rotary Leader.

Remember to share photos, videos, and stories of your event with the Rotary community and beyond. Here are just a few ways you can publicize your impact:

  • Post photos of your event on Instagram using the hashtag #RotaryDay
  • Tweet promotional information and updates, also using the hashtag #RotaryDay
  • Post a video of your Rotary Day on YouTube and email a link and description to Videos may be featured in Rotary media and one outstanding video will receive a special award plaque from the President.
  • Share your story with Rotary staff for possible inclusion in a blog, newsletter, or The Rotarian magazine. Contact us at
  • Visit the President’s web page to view a calendar of upcoming Rotary Day events or add your event to the calendar.

How will you Light Up Rotary?

Rotary Days aren’t the only way to let our light shine! From planning adult literacy classes to installing water filters to hosting vocational training programs, our members are rolling up their sleeves and launching humanitarian projects to improve their communities all around the world.

How will your club Light Up Rotary in the coming year? Share your plans using the comment feature below.


ShelterBox and Rotary work together to assist flood-hit communities in the Balkans

By Melissa Martins Casagrande, ShelterBox staff, and Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Programs staff

Following May flooding and landslides in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the Balkan region’s worst natural disasters in recent decades, ShelterBox response teams, with the support of Rotary club members, local fire departments and government agencies, have been providing vital aid to the most vulnerable in communities in both countries.

In addition to sending response teams, ShelterBox supplied mosquito nets to Bosnia where disease was spreading due to high water levels, mosquitoes, and heat. Nine Serbian municipalities most impacted by the disaster have received tents, water filters and carriers, mosquito nets, solar lamps, groundsheets and blankets.

Watch ShelterBox response team member Giles Walker’s video below as he provides a glimpse into local relief operations and talks with Rotary members who have been invaluable to ShelterBox’s disaster relief work in the region.

Rotary Family Health Days showcase the power of Rotary and the impact of partnerships

By John Wahlund, Area of Focus Manager for Maternal and Child Health & Disease Prevention and Treatment

The fourth annual Rotary Family Health Days (RFHDs) took place throughout sub-Saharan Africa in April 2014, providing comprehensive health care services to the most vulnerable and underserved populations in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Lesotho, and Swaziland. RFHDs were conceived, developed and are continually managed by the Rotarian Action Group for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA).

As Rotary’s Area of Focus Manager for Disease Prevention and Treatment, and Maternal and Child Health, I have had the privilege and responsibility to establish strong working relationships with RFHA’s CEO Marion Bunch and her colleagues. This path led to my participation in the kickoff of the 2014 RFHDs in South Africa this past April. Having been involved in many PolioPlus National Immunization Days in years past, I thought I knew what to expect, but I was once again humbled and overwhelmed witnessing the sheer scale of Rotarian volunteer passion and effort to deliver health care services to the most needy of their communities.

The opening ceremony in Port Elizabeth, South Africa showcased the power of Rotary and impact of partnerships that RFHA has strategically crafted over these several years. There together on the podium and in the audience, supported by stunning South African high school choral presentations, were Rotarians from multiple districts joined by the highest level representatives of the South Africa Department of Health, the US Embassy, the National US Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) office, The South Africa Broadcasting System, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and representatives from multiple NGOs and all tiers of government.

Children line up to receive health services at a Rotary Family Health Days event in South Africa.

Children line up to receive health services at a Rotary Family Health Days event in South Africa.

This goes far beyond the normal pomp and circumstance of many such events. I joined activities in Cape Town for the next few days, a city with one of the world’s highest rates of TB and HIV/AIDS. Over the next several days, thousands of Rotarians and partners rolled up their sleeves to work together, resulting in the provision of disease prevention and treatment services to over 66,500 folks in need.

The power of these partnerships, which included the South Africa Department of Health taking full responsibility for follow up on referrals, is what makes RFHDs such an excellent model for high impact, measurable and sustainable interventions.

As Rotary continues to explore models for projects that provide large, measurable impacts and are sustainable, we have in our ‘front yard’ a living, evolving masterpiece. Thanks to the thousands of volunteers for their efforts, and many personal thanks to those who took me into their lives and homes.

Read a summary of outcomes from the 2014 Rotary Family Health Days

Ethical dilemma: what would you do?

Your club is planning to construct a new community playground. You are not on the project planning committee, but you’ve been actively fundraising on behalf of your club: your friends, family, and business associates have all donated generously to your club’s service project fund. At your next club meeting, the project planning committee announces that the construction contract for the playground will be awarded to a company owned by a relative of your club president. There are many construction companies in your community, but no competitive bids were solicited. Your club president personally vouches for the company and assures everyone that they do better work than the competition. The bid price sounds reasonable, but you don’t know enough about construction to be sure if this is a good deal.

What would you do? Share using the comment feature below.

Service project in Nepal leads to greater good

By Divya Wodon and Naina Wodon, Interact Club of Washington International School, and Quentin Wodon, Rotary Club of Washington, Washington D.C., USA, TRF Cadre of Technical Advisors, and authors of Membership in Service Clubs: Rotary’s Experience.

Neil and fellow Rotarians with the ambulance given to Setiganga Community Hospital, Nepal

Neil and fellow Rotarians with the ambulance given to Setiganga Community Hospital, Nepal

In 2009, after several years of planning, Neil Young from the Rotary Club of Towsontowne, Maryland, USA, traveled to Nepal with a group of Rotarians on the occasion of donating an ambulance to the Setiganga Community Hospital which serves over 100,000 people in the foothills of the Annapurna Range. The donation was made possible through fundraising by several clubs (Towsontowne, Hunt Valley, and Downtown Towson in the USA and Damauli in Nepal) as well as matching funds from the district and The Rotary Foundation. The project started when Prem Mahat, also a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Towsontowne who had grown up in the Setiganga Community, suggested building a bridge for the community. Although the Rotarian team was initially going to help build this bridge, they realized when doing more research that the Setiganga Community first needed an ambulance.

While the ambulance has done a lot of good for the community, the project led to something none of the team members could have anticipated. Lauren, a Rotarian doctor who had joined the team to work with two other pediatric surgeons to care for children in the Nepalese community, arrived a few weeks early to hike the beautiful Annapurna Range. Towards the end of her hike, Lauren saw a little girl sleeping on rags in a run-down hostel. Lauren approached the owner of the hostel and asked him about the girl. The owner told her that the girl’s mother had not been able to afford to keep her and had sold her to serve as a kitchen aid. But as the girl was not of much use, the owner intended to get rid of her. Lauren immediately offered some money to take the girl with her. She brought her down to Kathmandu were she found a boarding school that accepted the girl.

The message of this story is to never underestimate where a service project can lead. Prem’s initial idea of a bridge led to the donation of an ambulance under Neil’s leadership, but it also led to this girl being saved by Lauren from a life of hardship. The ambulance project has served many lives and also transformed the life of that girl. As for Neil’s advice to Rotarians: learn how to work as a team in Rotary because together you can make a much larger difference.

Rotary’s Fellowships: Saving our History, Serving the World

By Jesse Davis, Rotary Grants staff

Rotary FellowshipsWith June coming to a close, we hope you enjoyed our selection of unique stories from different Rotary Fellowships about the service activities they undertake, enhanced by their member’s shared interests and expertise.

As we have seen throughout the month, service comes in a variety of formats. In some cases it is filtered through a shared vocation, as evidenced by the Yachting and Flying Fellowships, while other times it is closely aligned with Rotary’s Areas of Focus, as the case with the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctor’s program, CALMED.

Mayford painting of Comely Bank, the home of Paul and Jean Harris.

Mayford painting of Comely Bank, the home of Paul and Jean Harris.

While Rotary channels our commitment to service at home and abroad through its Guiding Principles, there is still room for interpretation, and to that effect, some Rotary Fellowships approach service initiatives by preserving and promoting the legacy and history of our organization. The Rotary Heritage and History Fellowshipand the Rotary Global History Fellowship serve Rotary by helping save, share, and above all promote the significant legacies, artifacts and history. From the smallest details about a Rotary club to the some of RI’s most important historical sites, these two Fellowships help to ensure that Rotary’s legacy is not forgotten.

On the one hand, the Rotary Heritage and History Fellowship works to advocate and promote the important history of Rotary International by focusing on physical artifacts and  significant sites. Besides playing a role in preserving the important Room 711 of the Unity Building in Chicago (which was recently reassembled and opened to visitors at  the RI World Headquarters),  the Fellowship has been instrumental in trying to save Comely Bank, the home of Paul and Jean Harris.

Rotarian Dick Galitz, president of the 711 Club, explores the rededicated Room 711 on the first floor of RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Alyce Henson/Rotary International

Rotarian Dick Galitz, president of the 711 Club, explores the rededicated Room 711 on the first floor of RI World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Alyce Henson/Rotary International

While similar in orientation, the Rotary Global History Fellowship focuses on accumulating, preserving, and most importantly sharing the complete history, values, and philosophy of the Rotary movement. Their website(s) now maintain thousands of articles, essays, speeches and other information that date back to the organization’s founding, and they actively encourage members to contribute, maintain and complete the histories of the organization as a shared responsibility.

Regardless of how Rotary Fellowships approach service under their respective domains, they are foremost about engaging member’s passions, interests and vocations – energy that can translate into impactful, sustainable service initiatives.

See Also:

Rotary Global History Fellowship:
Rotary Heritage and History Fellowship:
Paul Harris Home:
2014-Rotary Fellowship Month Service Stories:


Fellowship helps reduce mother and child mortality rates in India

By Past District Governor Dr. Himansu Basu, Rotary District 1120, and founder of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors

calmed-74Getting started
Rotary’s Future Vision Pilot Plan gave members of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors, all OB/GYN specialists, inspiration and opportunities to participate in high impact, sustainable programmes. CALMED (Collaborative Action in Lowering of Maternity Encountered Deaths) is one such programme. Our template to reduce maternal mortality and mobility is based on evidence and the premise that maternal mortality is not only a medical issue, but also a public health and cultural/societal issue.

Developing the programme
calmed-21The concept of the CALMED programme was initiated and developed by a few OB/GYN charter members of the Fellowship, evolved over a period of over three years, with support from global collaborators including the World Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Global Library of Women’s Medicine, and Laerdal who provider of training simulators.

Program Implementation
calmed-46Three charter members of the Fellowship took the initiative to develop and implement the CALMED programme in Sikkim, India. A vocational training team (VTT) of six obstetricians and gynaecologists, non-Rotarians who became associates of the Fellowship) and a Rotarian team leader traveled from the United Kingdom to Sikkim, India, for two weeks in April 2013.

We used a “Training the Trainer” model and started by training 13 local professionals using modern methods of skill transfers. Under guidance and support from the VTT, the master trainers then went on to train 19 other professionals from all parts of Sikkim using the same training methods and equipment. Knowledge and skills tests administered before and after the training showed statistically significant improvement in both trained groups.

The combined team then trained 39 health activities from Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) in awareness of maternal and child health issues, including family spacing, nutrition, immunization, value of antenatal and postnatal care, etc., using pictorial charts, posters, and DVDs.

Village women groups were formed in urban and rural areas with support from District Inner Wheel and trained by ASHAs. The partnership between Rotary and the local government, National Rural Health Missions (NRHM), continues to ensure regular review and sustainability of the CALMED programme. The training cascade continues. We have gained a number of members and associations in our Fellowship.

Monitoring, Evaluation, Expansion
Monitoring, impact, and evaluation show continued improvement of maternal and child mortality in Sikkim. We are introducing a second CALMED programme in Gujarat, India, Rotary District 3051, and preparing to introduce a third programme in Madhya Pradesh, India, Rotary District 3040.

Started in 1991, the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors has evolved over the years to include not only doctors, but nurses and other healthcare workers, who share a vision for supporting & promoting global health improvement, enthusiasm for volunteering, and a strong commitment to supporting local & international health care initiatives.