Committing to universal education during Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month

Basic education and literacy are essential for reducing poverty, improving health, encouraging community and economic development, and promoting peace. Over the years, we’ve helped make significant progress towards helping achieve the United Nationals Millennium Development Goals, especially within the basic education and literacy area of focus. According to a 2014 progress report, literacy rates among adults and youth continue to rise and the gender gap in literacy is narrowing.

This September, Rotary Basic Education and Literacy Month, we’re celebrating our progress and reaffirming our commitment to help attain universal education! Here are just a few examples of club service projects helping improve education around the world:

  • PhilippinesIn partnership with local government, community, and international clubs, the Rotary Club of Tagum North, Davao City, Philippines, reconstructed classrooms at the Imelda Daycare Center damaged by Typhoon Pablo.
  • The Rotary Club of Latur Mid-Town, Maharashtra, India, hosted teacher training workshops for educators who work in small rural government-operated schools. 213 teachers received six hours of coursework on new educational technologies and applications available to the teachers.
  • BoliviaThe Rotary Club of Grigota, Bolivia, undertook an advocacy initiative to inform families on the importance of children, especially girls, receiving a basic level of education before beginning to work.
  • The Rotaract Club of Baker College Muskegon, MI, USA, participated in a literacy board game tournament to raise funds for its reading program. Proceeds from the fundraiser supported READ Muskegon, a volunteer one-on-one tutoring program for adults who want to improve their literacy skills.
  • IndonesiaWorking with local Rotary and Rotaract clubs and the Ministry of Education, the Rotary Club of Solo Kartini, Indonesia, organized a Literacy Day event where hundreds of high school students read and reviewed a preselected book. The event celebrated literacy and honored the 20 best literary reviews.
  • Working with the local municipality, partnering Interact club, and sponsoring Rotary club, the Rotaract Club of Izmir-Alsancak, Turkey, created mobile libraries to provide books in three low-income communities in Turkey.

While we’re making progress, there’s still much work left to be done. Pressing global concerns still remain: 58 million children worldwide are out of school while 781 million adults are illiterate[i]. Imagine: if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty equaling a 12% reduction in global poverty[ii].

Throughout the month of September, encourage fellow Rotary members to check back here for tips, resources, and inspirational success stories to help plan club and district literacy projects. Add your voice to the conversation using the blog’s commenting feature and share how your club supports basic education and literacy initiatives on Rotary Showcase.

[i] The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014
[ii] UNESCO Global Monitoring Report 2013/14

2016 Presidential Conferences to highlight Rotary’s areas of focus

By Rotary Programs staff

Rotary has become a global leader in helping address some of the world’s most critical and widespread humanitarian needs. To highlight Rotary’s work in the areas of focus, RI President K.R. Ravindran and The Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Ray Klinginsmith are jointly convening a series of presidential conferences during the 2015-16 Rotary year. Between January and March 2016, five conferences will be held around the world:

15-16 January | Ontario, California, USA | Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution
19-20 February | Cannes, France | Disease Prevention & Treatment
27 February | Cape Town, South Africa | Economic Development
12-13 March | Kolkata, India | Literacy and Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) in Schools
18-19 March | Pasay City, Manila, Philippines | WASH in Schools

All of the conferences, led by local Rotary districts, are open to Rotary members and non-members. The conferences will feature engaging speakers, informative plenary sessions, and hands-on workshops. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to network with fellow leaders and take away new ideas and strategies to put into action.

Related:

Help select topics for upcoming webinar series

Together with the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, we’re gearing up to host a webinar series on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Education (WASH) in Schools programs. Help us choose one of the topics!

Energize communities through project fairs

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

With PDG Rosa Marina Zeaya

With PDG Rosa Marina Zelaya at the opening of the February 2015 Uniendo America Project Fair in Managua, Nicaragua

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend the Uniendo America Project Fair, an annual event hosted by Districts 4240 and 4250. The three day fair celebrates Rotary’s commitment to humanitarian service with the host districts’ clubs showcasing their projects to international counterparts. Project fairs are unique opportunities for international visitors to experience the local culture and learn about existing assets and challenges faced by the region’s communities while facilitating international partnerships between Rotary members.

Exhibitors discussion their club projects with international Rotarian visitors

Exhibitors discussion their club projects with international Rotarian visitors

40 exhibitors and more than 100 international visitors participated in the 2015 Uniendo America Project Fair, hosted in Managua, Nicaragua. The long weekend was filled with reunions between old friends, insightful presentations about humanitarian projects, and productive meetings outlining opportunities for long-term international partnerships. Returning visitors arranged site visits to projects their clubs had previously supported and many first-time visitors organized service projects in partnership with local clubs while in Nicaragua. The hosts also arranged cultural shows and dinners to ensure visitors got a true taste of Managua.

Rotary and Rotaract project exhibitors from Leon, Nicaragua

Rotary and Rotaract project exhibitors from Leon, Nicaragua

Project fairs provide life-changing opportunities for participants to learn about the host region, immerse themselves in a different culture, connect with local clubs in need of partners, and build lifelong friendships.

No two project fairs are alike. The annual Uniendo America, Europe, and West Africa fairs are hosted in a different country every year as project exhibitors come from multiple countries and the events strive to give visitors an opportunity to learn about new communities throughout the host regions. Alternatively, the Ecuador Project Fair is annually hosted in Quito, a convenient gathering location for the district’s exhibitors and a great opportunity to strengthen the district’s international relationships from year to year.

Consider attending one of these project fairs to broaden your horizons and support a new international project:

Related:

How will you Be a Gift to the World this year?

T1516-ENBy Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

RI President K.R. Ravindran challenges us to use our gifts – talents, knowledge, abilities, and efforts – to make a genuine impact through fellowship and service activities. Through our Rotary network, we have access to many resources to plan projects using our skills, expertise, and passions to improve communities near and far.

Showcase how your club or district supports communities:

  • Through a Rotary grant, the Rotary Club of Santa Maria, Philippines, is working with the Rotary Community Corps of Pulong Buhangin 2 and other partners to provide safe water and sanitation for a community within the Santa Maria Bulacan municipality.
  • BELThe Rotary Club of Udaipur Udai, India, partnered with a cooperating organization to provide computer literacy classes to older residents. The Rotaract Club of Aishwarya volunteered as teachers during the trainings which covered topics including scheduling appointments, making reservations, and paying bills online. The Rotary club members provide students with ongoing consultation after completing the courses.
  • The Rotary Club of Santurce, Puerto Rico, collaborated on a Rotary Friendship Exchange with the Rotary Club of Port of Spain West, Trinidad and Tobago, to build fellowship and friendship and explore international service opportunities. The visiting team from Puerto Rico visited several projects, engaged in fellowship, and met the club’s sponsored Interact Club and RCC. They will host their new friends from Trinidad and Tobago later this year.
  • VocServiceThe Rotary Club of Irvine, USA, teamed up with the Irvine Valley College to host an interview workshop and mock interviews with college students. Students were interviewed by a panel of three Rotarians and then received feedback to improve their interviewing skills.

Support club and district initiatives:

  • The Rotary Club of Benin Metropolitan, Nigeria, seeks an international partner to assist with their initiative to provide safe drinking water for the 5,000 residents of the Obazagbon and Ugieghudu communities.
  • IDEASThe Rotary Club of Kharkiv Multinational, Ukraine, is seeking partners to assist with a camp program for local youth. Children who are refugees from nearby conflict areas, part of military families or face tough life situation will participate in the program which includes fun outings and activities along with a targeted curriculum to help participants adapt and socialize given their backgrounds and traumatic experiences.
  • The Rotary Club of Sorocaba-Sul, Brazil, seeks partners to help build a playground for children with physical disabilities. The project will create safe place in the city for recreation, rehabilitation and physical education for children with disabilities. The park will also offer opportunities for children to socialize with their peers

Visit Rotary.org for many more resources to help you with your club or district project. Remember, the 2015-16 Presidential Citation will recognize clubs that achieve an array of accomplishments intended to make Rotary stronger, more effective at delivering service, and more widely known and respected by the general public. Encourage your clubs to focus on the Humanitarian Service goals listed in the Presidential Citation brochure.


Related:

Annual European project fair helps bridge the west and the east

By Leonardo de Angelis, Member of the Rotary Club of Ravenna, Italy, and Multi-Club Workshop Coordinator

ImageModeled similar to project fairs, the Multi-Club Workshop (MCW) is an annual event where international Rotarians, relatives and friends meet to promote the implementation of international humanitarian projects. Hosted in a different city every year, the first few days of the workshop are dedicated to planning international humanitarian initiatives while the rest of the event focuses on cultural immersion, site seeing, and building fellowship.

The 9th MCW will be hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 2 to 9 September. An optional group trip to Moscow will follow the workshop. During times of tension between the West and the East, we hope meeting in Russia will help us continue to serve as catalysts for advancing peace, strengthening international relationships, and promoting good will. Through this event, we hope to bring better understanding and friendship between two parts of the world that are pivotal to global advancement within our six areas of focus. Join us for this life-changing experience that will build relationships across country lines resulting in better humanitarian projects and greater global awareness and understanding.

Since the first Multi-Club Workshop was hosted in Stockholm, Sweden, in September 2007 , many Rotarians and their partners and friends from around Europe have met in Bari, Riga, Ravenna, Malmö, Manfredonia, Belgrade and Ischia. Between the eight previous workshops, we have welcomed 516 participants, 188 clubs, and 66 districts to our community.

Thanks to these meetings, the MCW community has supported 25 Rotarian-led projects totaling US $1,130,000. Here’s an example of just some of the efforts we have made possible with the help of global grants:

  • Ohrid, Macedonia: provided medical equipment to the Ohrid Hospital’s pediatric ward
  • Mirandola, Italy: provided equipment and training to ten classes at the recently rebuilt “Luosi” Intstitute following the 2012 earthquake
  • Bagamoyo District, Tanzania: provided equipment and training to the Health Centre of Pande Village

Together we have improved the lives of thousands of people. We hope you join us in September.

Related:

Ethical dilemma discussion: what would you do?

Your club commits to covering airfare for a local high school student embarking on a yearlong Rotary Youth Exchange. Club members form three committees, each responsible for hosting a fundraising event to collect money that will pay for the student’s round trip international airfare. The first two events raise the targeted amount, but bad weather forces your club to cancel the third committee’s event, scheduled a week before the student’s flight must be booked. As a result, that committee requests that all club members split the remaining amount needed for the ticket purchase. You, along with a handful of other club members, are uncomfortable with this request.

What do you do?

Wine enthusiasts address food insecurity in Portugal

By Conrad C. Heede, Past District Governor of District 5790 and President of the Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship

RWAF members enjoying a wine dinner in Portugal.

RWAF members enjoying a wine dinner in Portugal.

Every year, the Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship (RWAF) members plan exciting wine-related events at the annual RI Conventions. Claire Larson, a member of the Rotary e-Club Porches International and an avid wine aficionado and collector, volunteered to plan our Fellowships’ activities at the 2013 RI Convention in Lisbon, Portugal. Through her connections to the local wine trade, Claire set up seven events including nightly wine dinners at different venues, two cooking courses and a wine tour of the Douro Valley.

In appreciation for all her work to plan these events, the Fellowship decided to undertake a humanitarian project in the Algarve, Claire’s home base. Immediately, Claire announced food security was her local community’s greatest challenge. I found it hard to believe that parts of Portugal experienced food insecurity and shortages. In 2013, the economy in the Algarve was extremely unstable. Claire’s club at the time, Rotary Club of Estoi Palace International, was supporting the all-volunteer Food Bank of Algarve and could not provide enough food for the growing demand. The food bank could only distribute the food that was delivered to them and had trouble securing fresh produce and products without a refrigerated vehicle to collect excess food from stores and farms in surrounding areas.

The Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship put together a USD $53,000 Matching Grant to purchase a fully-equipped refrigerated food truck, complete with 300 heavy duty plastic food baskets. The grant was funded almost entirely by RWAF members from five countries with assistance from the Grapevine Rotary Club, Texas, USA. (Matching Grants have since been phased out; learn more about Foundation grants at www.rotary.org/grant.)

RWAF members model the new truck.

RWAF members model the new truck.

The vehicle was officially presented to the Food Bank at their Faro warehouse several months later.  The project was well-promoted by local and national press, radio and TV network coverage and the Food Bank formally accepted the keys to the vehicle and presented a short video message thanking our Rotary Fellowship for this project.

Almost 25,000 people receive monthly food parcels from the Food Bank of Algarve. Thousands of people in the Algarve now have access to more food and healthier fresh produce options. The vehicle is now also used to redistribute produce to a second warehouse in Portimão, about 50 miles away.

The Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship includes more than 3,800 members in 62 countries. The group strives to educate Rotarians on how to best enjoy wine and properly pair wine and food while meeting friends with a mutual love for wine from all over the world. The group also heavily emphasized involvement in local and international humanitarian projects to help make this world a better place.

Related:

Rotary Friendship Exchange lays foundation for international service partnerships

By Camille Ronzio, member of Rotary Club of Eugene Southtowne, OR, USA, and District 5110 Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair

I never thought Rotary International winning second place in the December 2013 United Miles contest would have a personal connection to my life. Using a portion of the awarded miles, Rotary District 5110 (USA) won the opportunity to offer free round trip tickets to four Rotarians from our district to embark on a service-oriented Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE). I had the opportunity to lead this team – a mixed group of young faces and experienced travelers, some new to the RFE program and some program veterans.

Flag exchangeWorking with RFE district chair Alexandre Iote from District 2241 (Romania and Moldova), we planned an exchange introducing RFE to two new areas in his district. Our plans included a joint service project as well as many cultural and fellowship experiences that would introduce us to the countries’ amazingly resilient, generous and warm people.

CultureOn the May exchange in Romania and Moldova, we saw two countries trying to restore their roads, buildings, economies and town squares. We also saw commonalities that unite us as Rotarians: the desire to build good will and friendships, and the commitment to service. Reflecting back on the experience, team member Ted Stevens said “the trip expanded our knowledge in countless ways,” and Tyson Woodard remarked that “it was truly an educational and awe-inspiring adventure.”

Here is a glimpse of our exchange:

When we arrived in Timisoara, Romania, we were met by group of young, vibrant Rotarians who incorporate the whole family into Rotary: Rotakids, Interact, Rotaract, and spouses – they even have a band made up of Rotarians and their family members. What a memorable first night!

We partnered on a number of service with our various hosts throughout District 2241:

  • PlaygroundOur team collected funds to help revive a dated playground located near apartment complexes housing young families. We gained many ideas for future projects as we talked with a young man who was rescued from an unsafe environment as a child and now manages a house for abandoned children.
  • We met with a Rotarian who built Deborah’s House, a safe haven Shoe projectfor young women who are victims of trafficking or abuse. I will never forget the conversation with the young girl practicing her English who proudly showed me her room, or the smiles and hugs our team received when we gave each girl a new pair of shoes. These are just the beginnings of longer-term projects!
  • Onward in the city of Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, local Rotarians met us in a hotel and restaurant owned by a club member. We Traditionwere greeted with homemade sour cherry liquor, music and dancing! Here we met Gabriela Rosus, a Rotarian who took time away from her job to organize our stay and show us around. She runs a non-governmental organization which moves children from orphanages to foster homes. We met her special-needs children who wore big smiles and lived in a loving environment. We saw how she utilizes every resource she has.

Cultural immersion:

  • Memorial“Merry Cemetery” – I will always remember the painted carved markers telling the story of each person buried in this cemetery. A local Rotarian told us about his father who is buried there. On this stop we also visited the prison memorial to the victims of Communism – a truly somber and moving tribute to a period of history that still affects the people of Romania.
  • A van ride took us to Suceava, Romania, where we stayed overnight. The local Rotarians arranged local folk dance entertainment, and treated us to a wonderful traditional meal, a hike, and a tour of one of the famous painted monasteries of the Bucovina region.
  • Braided breadThe next day, another van organized by Moldovan Rotarians – all women – their bilingual daughters and Rotaract members greeted us for the trip to Chisinau, Moldova. Upon arrival in the city, we were treated to the traditional welcome braided bread dipped in salt and paired with Moldovan red wine. Local music and dancing again filled the room! We visited an upcoming center dedicated to keeping local crafts, music and culture alive for young people, a project supported by several Rotarians. We bought some of their crafts and discussed ideas for supporting this effort in the  future.

Long live friendships and eye opening experiences!

TeamTeam members Don Arkell and Laurie Power said it best: “We caught glimpses of the everyday lives of our hosts and how they, through Rotary, make life better for the less privileged. We can now put faces on unfolding geopolitical events in the region with appreciation for the challenges our new friends may undertake.” You can see more pictures from our exchange on our exchange Facebook page.

We will welcome our Romanian and Moldovan hosts to District 5110 in August, and we already agreed to have another exchange between our districts in 2017. Potential team members from both districts are lining up to participate!

Learn more about Rotary Friendship Exchanges online and contact your District Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair for information about how you can get involved.

See related posts:

Celebrating our accomplishments through Rotary Days

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

Over the past year, we expanded our impact by inviting the community to learn about our good work as we celebrated our accomplishments through a variety of community engagements. More than 400 clubs and districts around the world heeded President Gary C.K. Huang’s call to Light Up Rotary through unique Rotary Day events.

Congratulations to Rotary District 2430, Turkey, winner of the year-long video contest on their winning Rotary Day submission:

View the 12 video finalists from around the world:

District 3480, Taiwan

District 3480, Taiwan

RID4170_Mexico

District 4170, Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs of El Salvador

Rotary, Rotaract, and Interact clubs of El Salvador

RID2440_Turkey

District 2440, Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

District 3510, Taiwan

District 3510, Taiwan

Rotary Club of Kokura East, Japan

Rotary Club of Kokura East, Japan

 

 

 

 

 

Four Rotary clubs of Fort Collins

The Four Rotary clubs of Fort Collins

District 4895, Argentina

District 4895, Argentina

 

 

 

 

 

Rotary Club of Atibaia-Estância, Brazil

Rotary Club of Atibaia-Estância, Brazil

Rotary Club of Calapan, Philippines

Rotary Club of Calapan, Philippines

 

 

 

 

 

Rotary Club of Levroux-Boischaut-Champagne, France

Rotary Club of Levroux-Boischaut-Champagne, France

District 3230, India

District 3230, India

 

 

 

 

 

Related