Creating greater good in partnership with innovative change makers

By Ellina Kushnir, Rotary Service and Engagement staff

Noran Sanford, a licensed social worker, a man of faith, and a vested community member, is empowering a rural U.S. community to utilize overlooked resources and pioneer change from within. In 2000, Noran moved back to his hometown in rural North Carolina, USA, where he was stunned to find his childhood community continuing to face growing challenges.

North Carolina’s Scotland, Hoke, and Robeson counties compete for the state’s highest rates of unemployment, food insecurity, crime, and poverty. Yet, Noran knew that even the most challenged community houses a wealth of untapped resources and assets.

In partnership with universities, faith centers, state agencies, correctional facilities, businesses and corporations, community leaders, and vested organizations including the local Rotary club, Noran has created a model to transform closed prisons into skills training facilities and employment incubators specifically for troubled youth and returning military veterans.

Through his organization GrowingChange, Noran began connecting young people deep in the court system to the disenfranchisement of the communities they come from: by evoking the sense of shared struggle, paroled youth and community members rally around new opportunities. In his initial five-year clinical pilot, Noran saw a 92% success rate in helping youth who were headed to prison reverse their future.

Now young people serving probation terms are leading their community to reinvent a local symbol of the broken justice system, such as a decommissioned ‘work farm’ prison in Noran’s rural North Carolina. Today, religious leaders work side-by-side with homeless youth, university professors work with high school dropouts, returning veterans with troubled youth and state leaders with their rural constituents to directly address their own biases, change their behaviors, and develop a deeper sense of civic imagination and societal efficacy.

It is precisely Noran’s work with the returning veteran community that connected him with local Rotarian Paul Tate from the Rotary Club of Laurinburg. Paul first met Noran at their community church. As a retired U.S. veteran with extensive experience in international diplomacy, Paul became a strong supporter of Noran’s community empowerment approach. Today, Paul sits on GrowingChange’s Board of Directors and uses his professional skills to shape the organization’s strategy for engaging the local veteran community. Noran plans to soon offer veterans internship opportunities, and eventually create a hub for acquiring skills within the agriculture sector while simultaneously establishing an incubator for the creation of new jobs and fostering local entrepreneurs.

Inspired by Noran’s goal to break down social barriers, Paul worked with his club’s leaders to invite a group of former gang leaders to discuss the reasons youth join gangs, becoming disenfranchised members of their very own community. Had it not been for Noran and Paul, these two groups of community members would have likely never intersected. Intrigued by GrowingChange’s model, the Laurinburg club is exploring additional ways this site can be used to empower the community alongside instrumental local change leaders. GrowingChange is preparing to launch their initial capital campaign to transform their first site in Wagram, North Carolina. The model will then be given to other communities who are struggling to reuse old prisons, more than 25 in North Carolina alone.

Noran humbly credits the many different partners that have contributed to the success of his work. In 2016, Noran was selected as an Ashoka Fellow, joining a global network of social entrepreneur peers. Through a rigorous application and screening process, Ashoka finds, selects, and supports innovators like Noran and connects them to the resources and people that help their ideas thrive. Ashoka’s network currently consists of 3,300 Fellows in more than 80 countries. Very much like Rotarians, Ashoka Fellows are community leaders with a vested interest to work in partnership with the community to identify and leverage existing assets to address local challenges.

Inspired by Noran’s story and the partnerships he’s forging with Rotarians and other community leaders? Your club can also explore opportunities to partner with innovative social entrepreneurs in your local community. Ashoka Fellows can help you develop creative, innovative approaches to solving needs in the communities where you live and work. Search Ashoka’s network of Fellows and contact for an introduction to a local change maker.

Peace is possible

By Past TRF Trustee Carolyn E. Jones, Chair of the Rotarian Action Group for Peace

It seems there are a whole bunch of Rotary members who aren’t content in merely being just members and want to make a greater impact. These members have decided to organize, specialize and focus their efforts on one specific area like water and sanitation, microcredit, or health. By the time they come up with a name, it is so long that they simply call themselves Rotarian Action Groups (RAGs). One day, I went online and stumbled across the Rotarian Action Group for Peace’s website and knew I wanted to join right away.

Peace RAG is a group of Rotarians, their family members, program participants, and alumni working together for the purpose of advancing peace throughout the world. The RAG formed in 2012 as a group focused on providing a network of resources to further the peace and conflict resolution work of Rotary members around the globe.

When it comes to matters of literacy, health, water or hunger, the needs and solutions easily come to mind: books, medicine, water wells, food, etc.  When it comes to furthering peace and preventing conflict, most Rotarians can’t immediately think of a project to implement.

Peace RAG connects clubs and districts to peace projects looking for support, as well as provides education and information about the many ways we can support peace. Here are a few ways the RAG is assisting the Rotary family:

  • Upon request, the RAG looks for funding for peace projects. Most recently, we helped secure a Global Grant for a project in District 4185, Mexico. The grant will finance a project that provides training for Rotarians, Rotaractors, youth and other local peace builders on the positive peace model and will offer practical instructions on how to build peace within their community. Working with local media outlets, the project aims to produce news that highlights positive and constructive opportunities for Mexico to grow more peaceful in the years ahead.
  • The RAG identifies speakers for high profile Rotary events such as conventions, district conferences, club programs, and presidential peace initiatives.
  • The group encourages collaborations between Rotary Peace Fellows and clubs by helping clubs identify local Peace Fellows and alumni and facilitating introduction.

Creating a virtual network of peace

Rotarian Action Group for Peace’s signature piece of work is the Rotary Peace Map, a virtual platform connecting Peace RAG members with other Rotary affiliated groups, projects, educational institutions and peace organizations. You can easily navigate the map by entity, region, or area of specialization. It is an exciting resource and here is all you need to know about it:

  • The worldwide map covers Rotary’s global network and the regional filter allows you to explore specific regions of interest;
  • The map highlights areas of specializations, connecting you with groups that share your interest;
  • You can easily find your Rotary club, organization, educational institute or peace project by using the search tool.  You can even find my name way up in Alaska, USA!

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As I write this, Peace RAG is collaborating with the 21st Century Peace Literacy Foundation to spread the message of peace via a unique Peace Hub Tour in western United States.  This mobile space is facilitating conversations about peacebuilding through community visits and meeting with local Rotary clubs. The hub is a huge eye catcher, as you can see from the photos above, and many clubs have already contacted Jerry Leggett, the lead on this initiative, to schedule a visit. If you can’t connect with Jerry on the west coast tour, be sure to meet him and the hub at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta.

There are so many avenues to peacebuilding – many that I had not even considered. Peace is possible! Learn more about Rotarian Action Group for Peace and let’s advance world peace together.



Improving basic education and literacy – a task for all Rotarians

By Ivan Karanovic, member of Rotary Club Belgrade Skadarlija (Serbia) and lead for a Global Grant project

To ensure Rotary continues to attract passionate members, we must invest in our future leaders. By focusing on basic education and literacy projects, we develop future leaders that will catapult Rotary forward. Youth faced with disaster or living in disaster struck areas are in need of our support and assistance to ensure they have strong futures ahead of them.

Terrible floods struck the Balkan countries in May 2014. The city of Obrenovac, in southwest Serbia, was greatly impacted. Homes, schools, public buildings and peoples’ lives were destroyed. Everyone in the region offered their support by volunteering, rescuing people trapped in their homes, and by working with the government and NGOs to donate resources including food and clothes. The scale of the floods was massive and every effort made a difference.

School buildings were strongly affected by these floods. Most classrooms were damaged and students had to be moved to different schools. The chairs, tables, doors, electricity, and floors in each classroom was completely unusable. On top of that, the flooded classrooms became a potential health hazard for children. We knew we had to focus our flood relief efforts on these children and their school to ensure they still had a bright future ahead of them.

Building on the idea of investing in our youth, our Rotary Club of Belgrade Skadarlija decided to support three schools in Obrenovac, Serbia. Inspired by the Rotary Foundation’s guidelines for basic education and literacy projects, we wanted to help these students get back their lives and plan ahead for their future. We decided to invest in school equipment for technology classrooms, teaching programs and education methods for teachers.

Partnering with the Rotary Club of Cesena in Italy and with the support of the Rotary Foundation, we began working on a Global Grant project valued at US $102,000, which was presented at the 8th Multi-Club Workshop held in Ischia, Italy, in September 2014. The Rotary Club of Cesena became our international partner and we collaborated with eight other clubs from D2072 and other clubs from D 2483 on this global grant. After two years of working on the project, we achieved our goal and were able to provide 55 computers, 21 laptops, 20 interactive boards, 20 projectors, a 3D printer, along with complementary training for teachers.

The formal handover of the equipment was attended by students, teachers, representatives of municipal authorities, as well as Rotarians from Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. Nearly 2900 students were thrilled to receive new equipment that gives them the opportunity to develop their creativity and learn through multimedia methods.

In the next phase of the project, we are shifting our focus onto teachers.  We aim to give them the opportunity to attend trainings on improving their teaching methods and ensuring sustainability in education. During 2017, 45 professors will attend a 5-day training session, which will be organized in cooperation with the Petnica Science Center in Valjevo, Serbia. During this training, teachers will have the chance to learn about new teaching methods, evaluate their current programs and exchange ideas with other teachers.

Members of Rotary Club Belgrade Skadarlija are very grateful to all the Rotary clubs and districts that supported this project and proud of the successful Global Grant project management and implementation. By investing in new equipment and training teachers to effectively teach students, we wanted to demonstrate our strong determination to building a better educational future for children!

Attend the 2017 Multi-Club Workshop in London, England. The 11th annual event will take place 6-10 September. Learn more about the workshop and visit their website for more information! 

Peace Corps Volunteers changed my world view  

By District Governor-elect Abbas Rajabi, District 5450 USA

Peace Corps sends U.S. volunteers, usually recent university graduates, to live and work abroad for two years. Their goal is to help host countries meet local needs and promote mutual cultural understanding. While abroad, volunteers learn the local language and work with professionals in education, health, community economic development, environment, youth in development, and agriculture.

My first encounter with Peace Corps was in high school in the mid-1960s. A number of Peace Corp Volunteers (PCVs) from the United States came to my hometown of Hamadan in Iran to serve as teachers at our local high schools. Their impact and their message of peace was profound. It was so inspiring seeing a number of young people working together to teach English, to serve selflessly and appreciate our culture throughout the city. More than that, seeing the cultural differences was eye opening to all of us young Iranians.

It is clear now that those Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Iran know the country better than perhaps anyone else who may have just passed through. Those of us who had the opportunity to learn from these teachers arguably understand the United States better than our fellow Iranians, and we have come to be the catalyst for peace and goodwill  between Iranians and Americans. This cultural exchange helped us learn about one another while promoting peace and goodwill.

Between 1962 and 1976, more than 1500 Peace Corps Volunteers served in Iran. Many of them forged lifelong friendships with Iranians and returned to the United States with a cultural understanding of Iran. The cultural impact and friendships between Iranians and Americans are far better and deeper than most people will ever realize.

I have very deep connections to my birthplace of Iran, but now I live in the United States. I have come to love my new country and Peace Corps first shaped my view of the United States and the people who live here.

Recently, I sought to reconnect with my Peace Corps teacher, Mr. Don Laffoon. After many attempts of calling and writing to a number of Peace Corps Volunteers, I finally found my old teacher in California. I called the phone number I had found and Mr. Laffoon picked up the phone; for moments, I felt nostalgic and emotional to hear a voice so familiar after nearly 50 years.

“Hello… who is this,” Mr. Lafffoon said. I responded: “This is Abbas Rajabi, I was your student in Hamadan and I wish to tell you I am grateful for all you taught me.”

He was excited to hear from me and we reminisced about that time, other classmates and teachers, and the city of Hamadan. We talked for a while and promised to be in touch. It was so satisfying for me to be able to thank Mr. Lafffoon and tell him the positive  impact he made on my life.

Through a formalized service partnership, Rotary International and Peace Corps are working together to help enhance club and district service activities locally and around the world. I hope to further the partnership by helping connect Rotarians with local Peace Corps Volunteers living and working in their communities, and by helping U.S. clubs connect with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Every Rotary district, all Peace Corps Volunteers around the world, and most importantly the people we serve through our community and international service projects can greatly benefit from this partnership.

We want to hear from Rotarians with experience working with Peace Corps! Have you served as Peace Corps Volunteers or worked with Peace Corps in other capacities? Please complete this survey by 28 February. The survey should take no more than ten minutes to complete and all responses are confidential. Email if you have any questions.


  • Read the Rotary-Peace Corps partnership fact sheet for collaboration opportunities for clubs and districts.
  • If you’re attending the 2017 Rotary Convention in Atlanta, visit the Peace Corps booth in the House of Friendship and attend a Rotary-Peace Corps breakout session to learn more about the partnership.
  • Rotarian Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are invited to District 5450’s Rotary-Peace Corps workshop on 4 August 2017 in Denver, Colorado, USA. Contact Charlie Hunt or Steve Werner for more information and to register for the workshop.

Embracing and celebrating our differences

By Azka Asif, Rotary Service and Engagement Staff

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteers who come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and professions. We embrace and celebrate these differences as they are what makes the Rotary community so strong. By leveraging unique perspectives and tapping into their expertise, members address the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges, one of which is creating a more peaceful world.

The Rotary family is committed to contributing time, energy and passion to empower our local communities. Through service projects, peace fellowships, scholarships, and international exchanges, members are taking action to promote peace and international understanding. Here are just a few examples of how Rotarians are advancing world peace:

  • The Rotary Club of Marikina in the Philippines hosted a peace forum to exchange ideas on how to progress towards a more peaceful world. Local Rotary clubs attended the half day forum collaborating on how to strive for global peace through Rotary’s unique approach of peace through service.
  • In the United States, the Rotary Club of Branchburg Township hosted an interfaith dinner and diversity award program. The club recognized individuals, businesses and community organizations who embrace peace and embody the values of civility, global and community awareness. This collaborative program brought together community leaders and the Rotary family to promote peace, understanding and goodwill.
  • The Rotary Clubs of Radolfzell-Hegau in Germany and Istanbul Sisli in Turkey partnered on an exchange for university-level music students. The clubs aimed to facilitate international and cross-cultural understanding. The students studied the international language of music and discussed their respective countries and cultures during the exchange, helping bridge divides and forge new friendships
  • The Rotary Club of Bursa-Uludag wants to prevent 500 disadvantaged children in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in Turkey from getting involved in crime by developing musical talents. The club hopes to provide instruments for each child and establish a music center. The center will be open to all children who want to learn music without any discrimination. Being a member of this music community will increase the child’s sense of belonging, respect and self-confidence.
  • In India, the Rotary Club of Mussoorie organized a talk on meditation, discussing the basic concept and potential benefits it brings to those suffering from mental and physical stress caused by everyday life.

February is Rotary’s Peace and Conflict Resolution Month, a great time to take action in promoting peace worldwide. Read more stories about peace and conflict resolution to gain inspiration for club and district service projects. Post your club’s project on Rotary Showcase and join the conversation in My Rotary’s discussion groups. Share your thoughts about peace and conflict resolution in the comments below!

Empower others with your expertise

By Azka Asif, Rotary Service and Engagement Staff

As part of Rotary’s guiding principles and the Avenues of Service, Vocational Service calls on Rotary members to empower others by using their unique skills and expertise to address community needs and help others discover new vocational opportunities and interests. January is Rotary’s Vocational Service Month, a great time to reflect on how the concept of vocational service is implemented in your club and district.

Here are some examples of Rotarians using their expertise to help meet their community’s needs:

  • For the past decade, the Rotary Club of Newport Beach Sunrise in the United States has supported a local career center. Club members have been trained to facilitate a series of workshops designed to assist adults re-enter the workforce after experiencing traumas and tragedies in their personal and professional lives. Members coach center attendees on preparing a job application, interview skills, business culture and etiquette, body language in the business environment, goal setting and dressing for success. The final phase of the initiative is a fun filled day of self-esteem building including a colorful graduation, new business attire, haircuts, manicures and massages for all the participants.
  • The Rotary Club of Madras Industrial City in India conducted a career guidance workshop for their Interact club to help students discover their interests. The District Vocational Service Chair arranged a half-day interactive session for students to form career goals and plan for their future vocations. A special workshop was conducted for girls and more than 200 students benefited from the project.
  • In Nigeria, the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Airfield partnered with a local organization to host a free training program for impoverished people on making handcrafts such as beads, soaps, baking sweets, and repairing computers. At the end of the training, thirteen participants were given grants to start their own businesses.
  • The E-Club of Tamar Hong Kong in China organized seminars for youth in their community aimed at teaching them to balance everyday life and a career. Members of the club shared insights on different industries such as travel, jewelry, entertainment, and entrepreneurship. Youth were also taught to write a resume, cover letter and offered suggestions for successful interviews.

Read more stories about vocational service and gain inspiration for club and district service projects. Post your club’s vocational service project on Rotary Showcase and join the conversation in My Rotary’s discussion groups. Share your thoughts about vocational service in the comments below!

Rotarian Action Groups: How can they help make your project more impactful?

By RAG4Clubfoot, a Rotarian Action Group

Every three minutes a child is born with clubfoot. That’s nearly 200,000 children each year. Thousands of these children around the world are forced to live with this deformity that limits their mobility, ability to walk to school, play with their friends, and eventually work.

RAG4Clubfoot has a simple mission: to support timely Ponseti Method treatment and appropriate care for all children born with clubfoot. The Ponseti Method was developed at the University of Iowa, USA, by Dr. Ignacio Ponseti. The method is nearly 100% effective when used properly by a trained healthcare provider and is considered the gold standard for clubfoot treatment.

082We aim to connect Rotarians with partners that provide expertise on Ponseti Method and to establish a national clubfoot program with the goal of local sustainability. Our group works with Ponseti International Association (PIA) at the University of Iowa to provide guidance and technical expertise on Rotary-supported Ponseti Method training activities, educational materials, and other clubfoot related activities. PIA also provides assistance on monitoring and evaluation of training programs and the quality of care provided at newly formed clinics.

Our Rotarian Action Group, in collaboration with PIA staff, coordinates webinars for host and international sponsors focused on writing global grants and training on what is expected from both partners throughout the grant process. We assisted Districts 4420 (Brazil) and 6000 (Iowa, USA) on a recently approved global grant application for a two-year Vocational Training Team (VTT). The goal of the project is to train 65 orthopedic surgeons and to develop a sustainable national clubfoot program.

Throughout the grant process, we provided:

Connection opportunities

  • We connected host Rotarians with our partners at the Ponseti International Association (PIA). PIA is a professional organization that can identify qualified Ponseti Method in-country and international trainers.
  • After they had briefly met during the Sao Paulo International Convention in June 2015, we formally introduced an interested district governor from D5300 to the project’s primary host contact. District 5300 went on to contribute District Designated Funds (DDF) to the project.

Access to experts

  • Through our partners, we connected the primary contacts with experts to assist on drafting the grant proposal. Experts helped detail the specific objectives of the Ponseti Method training, the training curriculum, explaining how the goals would be met and the sustainability related to long-term outcomes.


  • We promoted the project on the RAG4Clubfoot Facebook page, through our newsletter, and established a project page on our website. This dedicated page provides details on the project as it progresses.

We will continue to support and promote this project, and other similar projects in hopes of inspiring all Rotary members to get involved and take action to provide care for all children born with clubfoot. Contact us to get started on a similar project!


January is Rotary Vocational Service Month! Lend your expertise to empower Rotary members to make their service projects more impactful by joining a Rotarian Action Group. Rotarian Action Groups (RAGs) are autonomous groups of Rotarians, family members, program participants and alumni who are experts in a particular field. Group members share their expertise by collaborating with clubs and districts on service projects. View a list of all action groups and contact the one you’re interested in joining.

Ethical dilemma: what would you do?

After moving to a new town, you join a newly formed Rotary club as one of its charter members. During the club’s second year, the president-elect brings her partner as a guest to many of the meetings. The president-elect, displeased with the club’s web and digital media coordinator, confers with the club’s board to make her partner an honorary member so he can oversee the club’s digital content without becoming an official member.

Since the incoming club president’s partner has openly expressed his lack of interest in joining Rotary, you speak with a member of the board, saying that the naming of honorary members should not be used in this way. The board member explains that in this case the granting of the honorary membership was a strategic decision, made with the expectation that the current web and digital media coordinator would resign from the club. You are shocked to learn of the club’s interest in removing a member in good standing and contact your district governor to express your concerns. The governor isn’t shocked by the action and confirms that the club has the authority to make this decision.

What would you do?


Would you like to submit an ethical dilemma for discussion? Email us:

What makes a Rotaract project outstanding?

By Molly Friend, Rotary Programs for Young Leaders Staff

Rotaract clubs bring together people ages 18-30 to exchange ideas with leaders in the community, develop leadership and professional skills, and have fun through service. In communities worldwide, Rotary and Rotaract members work side by side to take action through service.

Every year, Rotaract clubs around the world develop innovative solutions to community challenges. Rotary annually recognizes these high-impact, sustainable projects with the Rotaract Outstand
ing Project Awards

So what makes a Rotaract project outstanding?

1) Change

1Last year’s Outstanding Project Awardee, the Rotaract Club of Bugolobi in Uganda, aimed to support a rural community with the highest impact possible. Working alongside local doctors and schools, they provided everything from school supplies to comprehensive medical screenings, dental exams, and HIV screenings and prevention education. Since access to clean drinking water is one of the primary reasons children miss school, the club also dug a borehole to bring clean water to the rural community.

2) A Cause

2Rotary is dedicated to six causes that build a better world. Outstanding projects work towards one or more of these six areas of focus. For example, the Turkish Rotaract Club of Istanbul-Dolmabahçe’s outstanding project focused on Saving Mothers and Children. Their project, “Still Child”, took a stand against young women and girls who are forced into underage marriage. The Rotaract club organized conferences in rural areas where the practice is still common to break the silence on the issue and bring awareness to resulting consequences.

3) Creativity

3Look at old problems with new, unique ideas. By imagining possibilities and trying new things, great solutions emerge. The Rotaract Club of the Caduceus in India upgraded outdated disease-tracking systems by harnessing new mobile technologies. This innovative approach improved disease surveillance to study epidemiological trends in the region.

4) Collaboration

4Rotary is about bringing people together to create change; we love to see Rotaractors and Rotarians working together in service. 12 Rotaract clubs from five districts across Turkey and Russia worked with the Down Syndrome Association to organize a communication and skills training for children and adults with Down Syndrome.

5) Commitment

5Dedicated Rotaractors are fundamental to creating outstanding projects. As part of the “Ready to Succeed” project, designed by the Rotaract Club of Brimingham, USA, high school juniors and seniors were paired with Rotaract mentors in aims of better preparing the students for college. The Rotaract mentors developed these relationships over a number of years, demonstrating their commitment to helping youth enroll in college.

Do you know of a Rotaract Outstanding Project? Submit a Outstanding Project Awards nomination by 1 February . To learn more about the projects referenced in this blog read about last year’s awardees.

How my first trip to Africa changed my life

By Shapreka Clarke, President of Rotaract Club of Eleuthera in the Bahamas

After eighteen hours of flying from the Bahamas, I finally arrived in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on 19 October, 2016, to participate in the 11th West Africa Project Fair.  As I stepped foot on African soil for the first time, I did not know the adventure that was ahead of me, the lasting friendships I would make or how my life would forever be changed.  That first moment getting off the plane, I remember being very excited and a little nervous.

img_7080Through the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati in California, I was able to embark on this journey with 34 fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors from the United States and the Bahamas.  While in Port Harcourt, we participated in the project fair and community service projects which included visiting a community health clinic which provided free medications and a local school where we handed out back packs to students.  We visited historic sites and tried lots and lots of local food.

The West Africa Project Fair, the primary purpose of our trip, gave our group an opportunity to discover the various projects Rotarians across Africa are undertaking.  It also allowed us to form partnerships with projects we were interested in supporting.  While at the fair, I presented with Rotaractors and Rotarians from the Bahamas, California, and Yenagoa, Nigeria, about our joint Telemedicine Project.  Telemedicine allows doctors from California to connect with doctors in underserved areas to consult on diagnoses and treatment plans.  Despite the distance, doctors have consistent access to mentors and educational opportunities through telemedicine.  Our booth raised awareness about the project and encouraged clubs across Africa to participate while forming new partnerships with clubs in the United States.

One of the most memorable days of the trip was World Polio Day.  Our group was joined by local Rotarians and Rotaractors as we started activities early in the morning with a 1 kilometer walk through the Port Harcourt community.  This walk gave us an opportunity to see more of the community while also raising awareness about polio.  Para soccer players also accompanied us on the walk and we attended a para Soccer game at the end of the day.  Para soccer serves as a global employment mechanism for people with disabilities.  Watching these men play soccer despite their disabilities was truly inspiring.

After the walk we visited polio immunization health centers across Port Harcourt where we administered polio immunization drops to children under five years of age.  To be able to immunize a child and help Nigeria get one step closer to eradicating polio was an amazing experience that I will never forget.

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This trip allowed me to better understand how important Rotary is in other parts of the world.  I was given an opportunity to engage in field work in the local communities, create strong friendships with the West African Rotarians and Rotaractors, and participate in hands-on humanitarian and health related work.  It was truly a life changing opportunity.

The 2017 West Africa Project Fair will be hosted in Accra, Ghana, 4-11 October 2017. For more information, visit; contact to register.