Plan health interventions during World Immunization Week

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

One out of every five children across the world does not receive a full course of the most basic vaccines, let alone more recently developed ones. The World Health Organization estimates 1.5 million children die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases. Help strengthen health systems and healthy immunization services around the world during World Immunization Week, 24 – 30 April. There are many ways we are helping to close the immunization gap:

  • NID_NigeriaThe Rotary Club of Omole-Golden, Nigeria, worked with partners to host National Immunization Days 14 -17 March. Oral polio vaccine drops were administered to 189,266 children under the age of five.
  • The Rotary Club of Lahore, India, established a permanent polio immunization center where families can receive vaccinations and other medical services at an affordable price.
  • WPD_BeninThe Rotary Club of Lincoln South, USA, organized a Rotary Day event to promote healthy living, educate local residents about Rotary’s polio eradication efforts, and encourage parents to keep their children healthy with immunizations.
  • On 24 October, World Polio Day, the Rotary club of Benin worked with the Edo State Government and fellow clubs in Zone 15 to immunize children against polio. Hundreds of people came out to assist with the effort.

Join the effort:

  • Browse Rotary Showcase to learn about other Rotary immunization initiatives.
  • Connect with a health-focused Rotarian Action Group to support Rotarian-led efforts:
  • Volunteer at National Immunization Days to help reach more vulnerable children at risk of contracting preventable diseases.
  • Organize health fairs to educate communities about available services and their short and long term benefits.
  • Partner with reputable health agencies and organizations to sponsor the provision of immunization in communities where they are not easily accessible or affordable.
  • Watch Invisible Threat (free with Vimeo account), a documentary on the science of vaccination and the risks facing communities that are under-vaccinated.
  • Advocate for governments to assume responsibility for providing needed services to address the health of their communities.
  • Find project support by posting information on your club’s efforts to Rotary Ideas.

If countries improved routine immunization coverage by an additional two percent per year, approximately 300,000 additional deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases would be averted. Refer to the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization’s toolkit for more resources on how to plan a club immunization campaign or activity.


Saving Babies’ Lives in Ethiopia

By Dr. Karin Davies, member of the Rotary Club of Del Mar, CA, USA

Dr. Karin Davies (second from left) and Dr. Bromberger (second from right) with training participants

Dr. Karin Davies (second from left) and Dr. Bromberger (second from right) with training participants

During a recent visit to Ethiopia, I felt a very strong connection to this beautiful country and its remarkable people. Now a retired pediatrician, I returned to the place where I had spent my childhood and saw an opportunity to use my medical training to help address the country’s high neonatal mortality rate.

Joined by my colleague neonatologist Pat Bromberger, an expert in teaching Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) teacher-training programs in low-resource communities, and by fellow Rotarian Dr. Zemene Tigabu and his colleagues at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences Gondar University in Gondar, Ethiopia, we designed a Vocational Training Team (VTT) project to develop a neonatal resuscitation training program for the university’s curriculum.

I had the privilege of leading our team of five U.S. team members which included Dr. Pat Bromberger, neonatal intensive care nurse Elisa Imonte, respiratory therapist Emilie Jean, and nurse and Rotarian logistics coordinator Fary Moini.

Newly trained NRP instructors

Newly trained NRP instructors

During the two week visit to the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Gondar, our team taught 17 health care providers (including pediatricians, obstetricians, general practitioners, midwives and nurses) to become instructors in neonatal resuscitation. The Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Del Mar with support from Rotary clubs, districts, and a grant from The Rotary Foundation.

“It really works” exclaimed Kosi, a third year obstetrical resident who had just delivered a term infant by vaginal breech extraction.  The baby was limp and not breathing.  After unsuccessful attempts to stimulate the baby’s breathing, Kosi began positive pressure ventilation using techniques learned in the NRP provider class. The baby was screaming within minutes.  A life was saved using skills just learned through NRP!  We saw the power of vocational training in improving health outcomes before our eyes, one baby at a time.

Rotarian Karin Davies administers a clinical scenario

Rotarian Karin Davies administers a clinical scenario

Our team mentored each group of four instructors to teach their first NRP provider class to their colleagues.  The new instructors trained 67 additional NRP providers involving all disciplines who are involved in caring for the newborn.   In all, 84 care professionals were trained as NRP providers (16 pediatricians, three general practitioners, 23 obstetricians, 20 midwives and 23 nurses).

The instructors and students were extremely enthusiastic about the training. In fact, ten additional people arrived unexpectedly for the last training session after hearing about the class through word of mouth.  In Ethiopia, most medical training involves lecture.  They know the “theory” very well.  But chances are rare for clinical skills practice with equipment.  The instructors continually emphasized the importance of “hands-on” practice and the students expressed confidence in their abilities to resuscitate a newborn as a direct result of this training.

Course director Dr. Bromberger demonstrates resuscitation techniques to nurses.

Course director Dr. Bromberger demonstrates resuscitation techniques to nurses.

Thanks to the Rotary Foundation grant and our partners in Rotary, the Gondar NRP instructors now have the equipment, educational materials and support to continue this training program so that all care providers and students may take this valuable training.  Our goal was to create a self-sustaining training program in Neonatal Resuscitation and Post Resuscitation Care at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences.  Our trained instructors are now the local experts.

In October 2015 our team plans to return for a second VTT focusing on Post Resuscitation Neonatal Care, training an additional group of doctors and nurses who will become the local experts in how to care for the ill newborns after resuscitation.

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One Rotarian’s dream for education in Nepal

By Malcolm Lindquist, member of Rotary Club of Brownhill Creek, Australia, and Zone 8 Rotary Coordinator

Malcolm LindquistWhen my friend David Rusk, a primary school principal in Adelaide, Australia, fell in love with the disadvantaged children in Kathmandu, Nepal, little did I know the path on which it would lead me.

Through his connections with the Rotary Club of Dillibazar in Kathmandu, David had established relations with several schools leading to the creation of a teacher development program and financial sponsorship of about 80 disadvantaged students in the Nepali community.

Then, by chance, David visited an orphanage on the outskirts of Kathmandu run by a saintly woman, Mother Rajan Bishwokarma. She had established the orphanage in 2007 which cares for more than 50 Dalit (untouchable) children and founded the Nepal Deprived Women Uplift Centre organisation. David immediately saw the urgent need for a school to accommodate the children from the orphanage.

David Rusk

David Rusk

In typical David fashion, he marshalled all of his resources in Adelaide to raise more than $AUD 200,000 to build a school alongside the orphanage. Family and friends were not immune. David spoke at Rotary clubs and Rotary District 9520’s conference to gain support.  A group called “Friends of Nepal” used film nights, car rallies and dinners to help raise the necessary money to commence the project.

This is where fate stepped in…

After approving the school plans and returning back to Adelaide in August 2013, David was diagnosed with an aggressive form of skin cancer and died exactly three months later.

In those short three months, David did everything he could to ensure that the project would be completed. This included asking me to become the project manager. I am now quite familiar with Kathmandu!

The completed Kumari Vidhya Mandir English School.

The completed Kumari Vidhya Mandir English School.

The result has been spectacular. In collaboration with Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS), the Rotary Club of Dillibazar and the Rotary Club of Brownhill Creek in southern Australia, the Kumari Vidhya Mandir English School project has been completed. On 22 February, we hosted the official school opening ceremony in grand Nepali style. A group of 11 family friends and Rotarians made the trip to Nepal as the event’s distinguished guests.

With some twenty percent of funds being depreciated as the result of the falling Australian dollar, the path has not always been easy. But the results are rewarding: fifty orphans now learn in a modern, spacious school. An additional seventy children from the local community are also eligible to enroll at the school. And most importantly, the school will serve many future generations.

We are now looking to set up a trust fund to ensure an ongoing maintenance program for the school. $AUD 300 per year can sponsor a student by covering living and schooling costs. I know David would be so proud to see his dream come true!

Please contact me if you wish to know more or contribute to the trust fund or sponsorship program.

Students at the new Kumari Vidhya Mandir English School.

Students at the new Kumari Vidhya Mandir English School.

Ethical dilemma discussion: what would you do?

One of your club members, a well-known local business owner and a strong advocate of your club’s service projects, is going through a tough business transition and has made drastic financial decisions, in turn adversely impacting many of her clients. Community members are questioning her integrity as a business owner and her interest in improving the community. Over the past few weeks, her diminished image is also starting to impact your club’s reputation.

How do you address this situation?

Ugandan club brings hope to local communities through health projects

By Doris Mitti Kimuli, Rotary Club of Kampala.

25-year-old Olivia Nakanwagi was brought to Kyampisi Health Centre III in critical condition. She had just delivered her sixth child with the help of a traditional birth attendant in her village. The attendant wasn’t able to stop Olivia’s bleeding and the young mother was rushed to the nearest health centre, 30km from her home. Once at the centre, the only nurse on duty was already overwhelmed with patients. A senior health worker wasn’t available and the attending nurse did not have enough experience to save Olivia.

Similar stories are common in Uganda: stories of accident victims dying from seemingly minor injuries that could have been treated with timely service, children suffering from malnutrition or birth-related complications, and more. These harrowing realities inspired my club, the Rotary Club of Kampala, to embark on a hospital project in the Mukono District.

We started off by doing some research and analyzing the community’s needs. Mukono District, a rapidly growing urban area, is located 27km east of Kampala City. With a population close to 600,000 people, the district has three different levels of health centres but lacks a full hospital. Uganda’s healthcare system works on a referral basis: if a case cannot be handled at a level facility, it is referred to the next level up. If medical attention is needed in a rural village of Mukono District, first a community medicine distributor or a member of a village health team (VHT) is visited. While each village is supposed to have these volunteers, they often don’t exist or don’t have basic drugs to treat common diseases such as malaria. If the VHT can’t treat a patient, the patient is referred to the first of three levels at the local health centre. Each centre should be staffed and equipped according to country regulations.

Oftentimes, these health units do not have essential drugs or regular doctors. The few clinical officers that work at these centres are overworked and underpaid meanwhile operating rooms, if available, do not work because of lack of water, power and other resources. Generally, there is one doctor to 24,000 patients, one nurse to 1,700 patients, one midwife to 9,000 mothers, one dentist to 77,000 patients, one lab technician to 16,000 patients, and one occupational therapist to 433,000 patients.

Needless to say, the death rate from communicable diseases and other treatable ailments is high. 69 children out of every 1000 live births die before the age of five from conditions like diarrhea and malaria; 360 women out of every 100,000 live births die while giving birth; while 5,000 people per 100,000 are infected with HIV/AIDS.

The need for quality health services in Mukono District inspired our club to build a modern hospital and improve the provision of quality health services. On 26 July 2014, the Rotary Club of Kampala broke ground and started constructing a modern hospital on a ten-acre plot of land donated by club member George Kasedde-Mukasa.

The project, the first of its kind in Uganda and in Africa, envisages a fully-fledged modern hospital with an outpatient department, an administration block and private clinic, a special clinics block, operating rooms, female, male and children’s wards. A partnership with Mukono’s Uganda Christian University will provide needed training to health workers.

The first phase, construction of an outpatient clinic, is expected to be completed by June 2015 at an estimated cost of US$ 230,000. This facility will offer a small operating room, treatment rooms for dental, eye and general clinics, offices, and a waiting area. Contributions from Rotarians alone total about US$ 77,000, leaving a funding gap of US$ 153,000.

Our Rotary theme continues to inspire our work to Light Up Rotary. RI President Gary C.K. Huang challenges us to illuminate the world through our Rotary work: “It is better to light a single candle, than to sit and curse the darkness because there are so many problems in the world, so many people who need help, yet many people say, ‘There’s nothing I can do.’ So they sit there doing nothing. Meanwhile everything stays dark”. We have chosen to do something about this darkness; will you join us?

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June summit will inspire and assist Rotary family with water, sanitation, and hygiene resources for youth

By Bill Boyd, Past President of Rotary International and Chair of the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (Wasrag)

Dear Friends,

PRIP Bill Boyd speaks at the World Water Summit in Sydney, Australia, 30 May 2014. Photo by Monika Lozinska/RI

PRIP Bill Boyd speaks at the World Water Summit in Sydney, Australia, 30 May 2014. Photo by Monika Lozinska/RI

Wasrag’s World Water Summits have established a tradition of excellence. The 2015 World Water Summit promises to be the best yet. The day-long event will focus on pressing concerns related to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools and how we can address these needs.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene education in schools, commonly known as WASH in Schools, provides safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities, and hygiene education encouraging the development of healthy behaviors in our youth. The resulting behavior changes throughout an entire community are bringing significant breakthroughs in eradicating disease and improving health in developing countries around the world. Additionally, more children, particularly girls, attend school and the overall health of communities improves.

Join us and be prepared for one of the greatest opportunities to improve communities with the Rotary family around the world. Simultaneous interpretation from English to Portuguese will be available during the plenary sessions.

Our list of excellent speakers includes:

  • Lizette Burgers, Senior Advisor of UNICEF’s WASH in Schools program; Greg Allgood, Vice President of World Vision; Raul Gauto, Strategic Supervisor of Water Opportunities at AVINA Foundation; and a very special young lady from Sesame Street called Raya
  • Foundation Trustee Sushil Gupta will share about Rotary’s WASH in School plans; Erica Gwynn, Area of Focus Manager for WASH, will give a Foundation update; and RI General Secretary John Hewko will close the Summit with a rousing message for us all
  • A number of breakout sessions focused on a variety of WASH-related areas will supplement the plenaries and give participants an opportunity to talk about their experiences and ask plenty of questions from sector experts

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to dive into one of the most popular Rotarian-led activities in the field!

Date: Thursday, 4  June, 2015
Location: Renaissance São Paulo Hotel on Almeda Santos
Time: 7:30 registration; 8:00 – 17:00

Register Now!

We look forward to seeing you there!

My regards,



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Make a Splash! It’s World Water Day

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

22 March, World Water Day, reminds us to celebrate our achievements and commit to further advancements related to accessing clean water, sanitation facilities, and employing hygienic practices. Sustainable water resources are critical to reducing poverty, improving education opportunities for youth, and alleviating health-related complications.

Today we recognize the countless hours our Rotary family dedicates to water, sanitation, and hygiene education efforts including:

While we have helped make great strides within the water and sanitation area of focus, 748 million people do not have access to an improved source of drinking water and 2.5 billion do not use an improved sanitation facility.*

Continue the #WorldWaterDay celebration by:

*March 2015 United Nations Inter-Agency on Water and Sanitation Issues

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Rotary club’s vocational camps open up a window of opportunities for young entrepreneurs

By Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Programs staff

Camp Enterprise participant teams. Photo courtesy of W. Gaines Bagby

Camp Enterprise participant teams. Photo courtesy of W. Gaines Bagby

Camp Enterprise, a Rotarian-funded three-day program for high school juniors, helps develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. The students learn about business practices and then work in teams to come up with a business proposal and present it to Rotarian volunteers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Each team receives feedback and advice from the judges on their proposals. Originally started by the Rotary Club of Kansas City, Missouri, USA, this program has been replicated by more than 30 clubs throughout North America. Last August, Rotarian Dave Diffendal talked with Rotarian W. Gaines Bagby and former camper and entrepreneur John Arrow about this program’s unique approach to inspire entrepreneurship and the long lasting impact it has on its participants.

What is Camp Enterprise?

Camp Enterprise participants work in small groups on a business plan. Photo courtesy of W. Gaines Bagby.

Camp Enterprise participants work in small groups on a business plan. Photo courtesy of W. Gaines Bagby.

Gaines Bagby: My club, the Rotary Club of Austin, Texas, USA, first learned about Camp Enterprise more than 30 years ago. We were so impressed with the program’s impact that we decided to replicate it in Austin. Since we launched the program in the 1980s, more than 3,000 high school students have learned how to come up with a business idea, how to organize a business, how to make presentation and secure the funding, how to staff a business, and how to operate one.

How does Camp Enterprise impact students?

John Arrow: I participated in a Camp Enterprise as a high school junior about eight years ago and to this day it continues to positively impact my life.

Back in high school I was doing several small entrepreneurial things and wanted to be a part of this program. I applied and got rejected because of my grade point average. None of the teachers thought I would be a good fit for it.

I was so interested in participating that I decided to reach out to the club organizing this camp. I ended up having an interview with Gaines. After talking for a while, the club saw my dedication and was able to open up an extra spot and welcomed me to the program. This experience taught me to continue working towards my goals, reaching out to the right people, asking questions, networking, and pushing forward.

Can you walk us through the three day program?

John: When I arrived out on the ranch where the camp was being held, I was immediately struck by the other participants. I really felt that they had the same interests, the same passions as me. Just being in that environment was so invigorating and that only amplifies throughout the event.

Camp Enterprise participants give project presentations. Photo courtesy of W. Gaines Bagby.

Camp Enterprise participants give project presentations. Photo courtesy of W. Gaines Bagby.

Gaines: The Camp starts off with a team building experience. In the afternoon, the participants hear from a speaker followed by an ethics program where a number of ethical dilemma scenarios are presented and the participants workshop the implications of various decisions and solutions to the presented scenarios. The day ends with a final activity where each team (about 12 teams of 8) receive a product and need to decide budgeting for the product: how much of the product they are going to sell, how much are they going to spend on research, marketing, and production. Eventually the collective group comes up with approaches to raise and lower prices against their competition to get the most value for their money.

The next day, things shift a bit. After a morning speaker, the participants start working on a business plan. A couple hours are spent going through how to come up with an idea for a business. The mechanics of a business are explained: how to organize the business, market it, and negotiate contracts. The participants learn about what they’ll be doing independently with their teams later that afternoon and evening. The rest of the program is dedicated to helping the participants work in teams, appoint positions such as CEO and CFO and CIO and HR and determine how the group can use their individual strengths to help the business prosper. Then these people who have never met before are now forming their own company out of an idea they mutually agree upon. They select an idea for their business by first coming up with a handful of proposals and presenting these proposals to different committees of Rotarians. The Rotarians advise on their areas of expertise: HR, technology, marketing, finance, etc.

John: Looking back, the most impactful part of Camp Enterprise was having to figure things out independently for the first time. When we were split up into our groups and told to create a business plan and proposal, we weren’t given further instructions or assignments. We had to independently determine our own and one another’s skills and strengths, assign roles, divide work, and collaborate. We learned not to jump to conclusions, do our research and really determine who has the best skill set for which job, identify the best course of action, and more. Our mentors advised and guided us by asking a series of questions but ultimately we worked through trial and error and without assistance to trouble shoot issues and solve problems. This is really the best lesson to prepare us “for the real world”, and I’m continuously grateful for the program!

Participants at Rotary Club of Austin's 32nd Annual Camp Enterprise. Photo courtesy of W. Gaines Bagby.

Participants at Rotary Club of Austin’s 32nd Annual Camp Enterprise. Photo courtesy of W. Gaines Bagby.

The full interview first aired on WELW radio’s The Talk of the Town. Learn more about the Rotary Club of Austin’s Camp Enterprise program.

W. Gaines Bagby is a member and centennial president of the Rotary Club of Austin, Texas. John Arrow participated in the club’s Camp Enterprise program 10 years ago and is now an entrepreneur and founder and chairman of Mutual Mobile, employing over 300 people in Austin, Texas.

Creating a cycle of opportunity through partnerships in education

By Jeannette Stevens, member of Rotary Club of Managua and Executive Director of Gocare Nicaragua

Jeannette Stevens with a Gocare program participant

Jeannette Stevens with a program participant

My relationship with Rotary started when I joined Gocare’s staff 10 years ago. Founded in 2001 by Rotarian Jan Lindsay, Gocare is a nonprofit organization that works closely with community residents in Nicaragua to create and implement educational and economic development programs.Jan is one of the most dedicated and passionate Rotarians I have ever met. He introduced me to the many impactful projects developed and supported by the Rotary family around the world that help people improve their lives.

Like Rotary, Gocare’s principal mission is to help people improve their lives. We have collaborated on many projects with dedicated Rotarians from around the world. Recently, Gocare entered into a project partnership with the Rotary Club of Managua, Nicaragua, and the Rotary Club of Ventura-East, California, USA. The two clubs came together and applied for a global grant in 2014 with Gocare serving as the cooperating organization in Nicaragua. This grant will help fix and furnish three new community learning centers in impoverished communities. The partnering Rotary clubs are not only helping fund these new centers but will be helping refurbish buildings by repainting facilities, and will serve as tutors and mentors to youth and adults at the centers. We are all working together to provide 6,000 people with access to education and a better quality of life.

Preschool program participants. Photo courtesy of Gocare

Preschool program participants. Photo courtesy of Gocare

In the past five years, Gocare has worked closely with local and international Rotary clubs and other partners to serve thousands in Nicaragua. Together we have funded nearly 3,660 free educational scholarships and offer tuition funding for vocational training programs in sewing, beauty, cooking, and baking. We operate a tuition-free preschool and offer scholarships for both beginning and advanced-level computer courses and English literacy. We also provide adult education courses, an after school tutoring program for students, and a library with an inventory of textbooks that are used at the local public schools.We currently have 34 students on university scholarships ranging from full tuition to assistance with transportation and supplies.

University preparation program for scholarship recipient. Photo courtesy of Gocare

University preparation program for scholarship recipient. Photo courtesy of Gocare

Ericka, one of our university scholarship recipients, recently graduated from college and has become a lawyer. Ericka’s scholarship helped her gain more than a college degree. Gocare’s core philosophy of mentorship and leadership asks all scholarship recipients to volunteer at our centers to help others in return for the assistance they have received. We help students become mentors and leaders within their communities as they give back by teaching others. Now Ericka’s goal is to mentor and advise fellow community members and help extend educational opportunities to others.

It’s amazing how life’s pieces are arranged to accomplish a greater purpose. I am proud to be part of these two organizations that work towards a better world by sharing opportunities with people in need.


Help achieve universal education: take action during Rotary Literacy Month

By Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Programs staff

Since the U.N. Millennium Development Goals were established in 2000, Rotary has played a role in global efforts to reduce extreme poverty and reach target goals by 2015. While great progress has been made towards universal primary education, advancements towards this goal slowed significantly over the past eight years. About 58 million primary-school-age children are currently not enrolled in school while 781 million adults and 126 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills.*

Achieving universal primary education and gender equality in schools is critical to meeting other development goals. Greater levels of education help communities fight poverty, prevent disease, and access and sustain resources for longer, more prosperous lives.*

During March, Rotary Literacy Month, replicate successful Rotary projects to continue addressing literacy, education, and gender equality at school:

How else can we help?

  • Conduct assessments. Determine core literacy and education needs in a particular community.
  • Involve the whole family. Organize family events to empower parents and caretakers to remain actively involved in their children’s education or to seek educational opportunities for themselves.
  • Find support. Add your basic education and literacy project to Rotary Ideas to connect with project partners.

Throughout the month of March, check back here for more tips, resources, and inspirational stories to help you plan club and district literacy projects. Remember to share your own basic education and literacy impact on Rotary Showcase.

*Millennium Development Goals Indicators, United Nations Statistics Division