Microloans, the single largest anti-poverty tool?

By Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Programs. Original interview aired 1 April 2014 on Calgary West’s News Radio 770

Past District Governor Steve Rickard, District 5360, Canada, founder of the Rotarian Action Group for Microfinance & Community Development (RAGM), talks to Angela Kokott, host of Calgary Today, the afternoon radio program on Southern Alberta’s talk show powerhouse, NEWS TALK 770 (CHQR) about helping the poor empower themselves through microfinance programs.

“Microcredit is perhaps the single largest anti-poverty tool known to mankind” explains Rickard. “About one billion people are affected by microcredit today. The small loan borrowers are mostly women who pay back the money, with interest, on time. The  returned money is loaned out again, either to the same borrowers or to new ones, to help develop the community.” Listen to the full interview to learn how these small loans are used locally to help bring communities out of poverty.

Working on a club or district microcredit initiative? Connect with RAGM’s skilled subject-matter experts for assistance.

Upcoming webinar: Sydney Convention Orientation

RICONComing to the 2014 Rotary International Convention in Sydney? Hear the basics about the program and venues and learn how to use the mobile app.

You’ll learn:

• Tips for finding your way around Sydney and the venues at Sydney Olympic Park
• Highlights of the convention plenary and breakout programs
• How to use Rotary’s convention mobile app
• Suggestions for setting personal goals
• Resources to help you before and during the convention

Join us on 29 April (30 April in Australia) 7:00 PM CDT (Chicago time) for a convention orientation webinar! Register online today.

Ethical dilemma: what would you do?

Your club has a long-standing relationship with a poor rural community. The community has recently self-identified a need for sustainable water filters to be installed in homes to provide safe drinking water for families. A member of your club owns a company that mass-produces water filters at a low cost. Through this connection, your club could afford to import 100 filters. However, your community liaison gently suggests that your club purchase filters from a local company since it employs local people. If you choose this option, the cost per filter will be twice as much, and your club will only be able to provide 50 families with safe water.

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

Thousands of Rotarians provide essential health services to South Africa communities


By Mark Williams, Club President | Strand Rotary Club, South Africa

Civil society, big business and the Government are teaming up with 4,000 Rotary members between 2 and 4 April to promote family healthy living and disease prevention by implementing a massive annual campaign – Rotary Family Health Days – to provide comprehensive, free health care services to tens of thousands of people in underprivileged communities.

Rotary-Header 2The Rotary Family Health Days are a comprehensive, holistic offering of free healthcare for parents, children, grandparents, friends and all family members in over 145 sites across South Africa. Approximately 4,000 Rotarians from 225 Rotary clubs will be volunteering between 9:00 – 16:00 daily and working the sites to assist the medical staff and deliver the services to South Africans.

Services over the three days include HIV counseling and testing, screening for TB, diabetes and blood pressure, measles vaccinations, deworming, dispensing Vitamin A supplements, and more!

This programme is Rotary-led by the global Rotarian Action Group, Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention (RFHA). This group is the mobilizing partner of Rotary International in the area of disease prevention programs.  RFHA has received an unprecedented commitment from the South African Department of Health (NDoH), The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, the US Government Agencies – CDC (US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) and USAID, and the SABC and Caxton as primary media partners.

It is the vision of RFHA, Rotary leaders and other partners to expand the health event each year to other African countries.  In 2014, the RFHD Programme will run in Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho through the month of April.

More information about the Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention Rotarian Action Group and the Rotary Family Health Day initiative can be found online:

Twitter: @RFHD_ZA
Facebook; www.facebook.com/RotaryFamilyHealthDays

May summit to help Rotarians leverage water, sanitation, and hygiene resources

WaterSummitAd2014-webBy Steve Werner, member of Rotary Club of Denver Southeast, CO, USA, and the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group

The Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group is looking forward to our sixth World Water Summit, a one-day water, sanitation, and hygiene education (WASH) conference on May 30th in Sydney, the day before the International Convention begins. Participants will learn the latest from world experts, experienced Rotarians, and potential supporters about how to design, implement and monitor effective WASH programs. This year’s theme, collaboration, will focus on improving Rotary projects and programs by including the local community, local government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other experts.

Rotarians with varied exposure to WASH initiatives will learn new strategies and expand their service networks. Those interested in starting a WASH project for the first time will learn from experienced field experts. Rotarians with WASH project familiarity can gain new approaches to improving project sustainability while experienced participants who have implemented successful projects will connect with Rotary clubs and outside organizations to expand their project impact.

Register online today.

For a sneak preview of this year’s conference, glance through the gallery below with photos from our previous summits.

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Brazil clubs help kids develop a love of reading

By Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Programs. Original article featured in March 2013 Rotary Leader

Determined to reverse the region’s falling literacy rates, 12 clubs from District 4420, Brazil, worked together to establish Project READ (Reading and Education Center) to set up reading rooms for children in underserved communities. With the assistance of a Rotary district grant, reading rooms have been established in hospitals, community centers, and other public areas to help foster a love for reading and, in turn, increase local literacy rates.

“We believe that investing in reading for children will bring a big change in their lives as well as their families” says Marcos Franco, past governor of District 4420 and president of the board of Project READ.

Read the full story.

Rotarians partner to foster love for reading

By David Dotson, President of The Dollywood Foundation 


On February 11, 2014, leaders from The Dollywood Foundation, United Way of Australia and Rotary International joined legendary entertainer Dolly Parton in Melbourne to launch her Imagination Library in the land Down Under. The announcement culminated two years of deliberation and planning by this unique partnership.

“I have been married to the same man for almost 50 years so I know a keeper when I see one.” said Dolly Parton. “Rotary and United Way are both keepers and I hope this is only the beginning of a true global effort to insure that children always have access to the magic of books.”

Over three years ago, Sherri Soncin of the Rotary Club in Mareeba, Queensland approached the President of the Dollywood Foundation, David Dotson, with the idea of bringing the program to Mareeba. This conversation then led to a feasibility study which ultimately produced a decision to move ahead with a pilot effort in Australia.

One key part of this pilot was the creation of a program in Noble Park, Victoria by the Rotary Club of Noble Park, District 9810. Launched in June 2013, 100 preschool children were enrolled by the Rotary Club and the success of that effort contributed heavily to the decision by all parties to move beyond the pilot stage into a full national program in 2014.

Shortly thereafter, in New South Wales a collaborative effort across 10 clubs in District 9675 has led to the launch of an Imagination Library in Illawarra to support up to 160 children in the Cringila and Warrawong areas of Wollongong.

Currently over 1,200 Australian children receive a book each month due to the combined efforts of all the partners during the pilot phase. However, the goal for 2014 is to push this number to 10,000 children each month in target areas of great need all across the country.

The Dollywood Foundation has international partnership agreements with both Rotary International and United Way Worldwide. This collaborative effort helps support the participation of over 735,000 preschool children each month in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.   Currently there is interest in expanding the program in New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and South Africa—countries where both Rotary and United Way have a strong presence.

For more information, read about the Rotary-Dollywood Foundation partnership fact sheet and visit Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Australia.

Join us at the 2014 RI Convention in Sydney for an informational breakout session about Rotary’s work with The Dollywood Foundation and United Way Australia to expand the Imagination Library in Australia.

*Video recorded in June 2013