Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan

By Bibi Bahrami, member of the Rotary Club of Muncie and founder of AWAKEN

Growing up as a young girl in the peaceful village of Qala-e-Malakh in Afghanistan, I was part of a loving family with ten brothers and sisters. We were happy, but little did we know that our lives would soon face devastation as the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. I was frightened and scared for my life and for the lives of my loved ones. Every time I heard shots or explosions, I trembled at the thought of losing a family member.

In the face of war, we were forced to flee our home, leaving everything behind to head towards refugee camps in Pakistan. A long journey awaited us as we traveled through mountains without much food or water, with small children and my mother who was eight months pregnant at the time. We arrived to the camps safely where I spent the next six years of my life. My life had been turned upside down. Growing up, I always had aspirations and dreams to be educated, and hoped for the opportunity to pursue them. My six years in the camp did not give me that opportunity, but I tried to learn what I could from my brothers’ books.

In 1986, I boarded a plane to meet my fiancé, who was a medical student in the United States who I had met in the refugee camp in Pakistan. My trip brought me to Muncie, Indiana, and I was blessed with the opportunity that I had always wanted. I was finally able to pursue my education, completing a GED and continuing on to receive an art degree from Ball State University. As my life has moved on from my home in Qala-e-Malakh and the refugee camps, I never forgot about the girls I left behind who have the same dreams as I did.

My husband and I continued to travel back to the refugee camps in Pakistan every year, with medicine and other humanitarian supplies. In 2002, with the support of family and friends, we established AWAKEN (Afghan Women and Kids Education & Necessities) to provide educational opportunities, vocational training, and healthcare services to the people of Afghanistan, especially the women and children.

As part of AWAKEN, we offered a vocational training program where we traveled from village to village and rented a room conveniently located near women’s homes. We conducted a six-month course teaching women basic hygiene, reading, writing, and sewing. At the end of the course, all women received a sewing machine and kit so they could become self-sufficient.

There were also no opportunities for education in my hometown of Qala-e-Malakh. In 2004, AWAKEN established a school for children grades K-12. The school now has more than 1200 students enrolled.

Most villages in Afghanistan do not have access to any sort of healthcare. In 2008, we built the Behsood Health Clinic which provides over 500 families access to basic treatments such as vaccines, birth control, etc. The clinic sees more than 180 patients daily.

Recently, AWAKEN partnered with the Rotary Club of Muncie Sunrise (United States) and the Rotary Club of Jalalabad (Afghanistan) to establish a Saheli Center. The center will open near the current AWAKEN clinic and school providing literacy, nutrition, and reproductive health classes. The center will also provide vocational education, including but not limited to computers and tailoring expanding upon AWAKEN’s efforts.

One of my biggest dreams was to open a birthing center in the village. AWAKEN created a birthing center to provide prenatal and postnatal care. With the support of partnering Rotary clubs, we will expand our efforts by conducted Family Planning Workshops taught by medical professionals from the Rotary Club of Jalalabad and the AWAKEN clinic staff. Birth attendants will also conduct small workshops on pre-natal nutrition, birthing practices and infant nutrition, including breast feeding for those receiving pre-natal care. Small packages of infant care supplies provided by the Rotary clubs will be given to women who complete all the classes.

I was once a little girl in Afghanistan with limited opportunities, and am blessed to have the life I enjoy today. Unfortunately, people living in impoverished countries do not have access to the opportunities and resources that I do now. Together we can make a difference in the lives of many women and children in Afghanistan, so that they can awaken to a brighter future with opportunities for continuing their education and becoming self-sufficient!

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Related: 

Rotary Community Corps empowers people living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

By Past District Governor Barry Clayman, District 7950, President of Rotary Community Corps of Adult Day Health Programs, Inc.

In 2001, the program director of Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) at the New England Sinai Hospital in Stoughton, Massachusetts, USA, reached out to the Rotary Club of Brockton for financial assistance. This outpatient program offers each participant individualized professional and nursing health care based on their needs. The intent of the request was to financially assist families that could not afford the program. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/Dementia, and other medical issues, could be well served if able to participate.

An estimated 120,000 people, in Massachusetts, live with Alzheimer’s/Dementia and that number is expected to grow. The club president reached out to me in my capacity as District Governor at the time and we decided to form a Rotary Community Corps (RCC). RCCs, composed of members from the local community, help plan and carry out projects based on their community’s needs. With the support of the District, the Club established the Rotary Community Corps of Adult Day Health Programs, Inc. (RCCADHP) to support the clients needing the outpatient Adult Day Health Care services.

The RCCADHP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit tax exempt entity with the goal of providing funding for clients that meet care and financial qualifications. At the time of this writing, the RCC has provided 9,100 ADHC outpatient days, at the Hospital, with a value of $542,600 USD.

The beneficiaries are able to avoid nursing homes by continuing to live in the comfort of their own homes while receiving needed daily outpatient services and care at the hospital. Their family members are at peace knowing their loved ones are in a nurturing environment, receive two meals each day, and participating in stimulating activities with opportunities for socialization. This allows families respite to work and maintain other responsibilities.

The Rotary Community Corps of Adult Day Health Programs, Inc. is led by twelve members of a Board of Directors and is an entirely volunteer organization with no paid employees.  Funding for the RCC is generated from grants, Rotarians and fundraising.  The most recent grant is from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. In the spring, we will host our Annual Stepping-Up Walkathon to raise money and awareness.

While the RCC addresses the need of clients with existing Alzheimer’s/Dementia and other medical issues, we understand the need for scientific research to work towards an ultimate goal of determining the cause of these illnesses. Studies project an exponential increase in the number of Alzheimer’s/Dementia cases in the years ahead.  To that concern, Rotary is stepping forward in supporting much needed research. Our RCC aims to continue to support those in our local community suffering from Alzheimer’s/Dementia while raising awareness of these illnesses.

Contact us to learn more or start a similar program in your area.

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.

Promotion

  • 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!

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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.

Rotary’s commitment to creating a healthier world

By Rotary Service and Engagement Staff 

Rotary members are committed to fighting and preventing diseases. In fact, 15 of our 26 Rotarian Action Groups (RAGs) are focused on disease prevention and treatment. Rotarian Action Groups help Rotary clubs and districts plan and carry out community development and humanitarian service projects. Here are a few examples of RAGs whose members are committed to applying their expertise to fighting disease:

  • The Alzheimer’s / Dementia Rotarian Action Group (ADRAG) aims to help those who face the challenge of dealing with family members and citizens that are afflicted with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. ADRAG is involved in various projects and initiatives; they are currently working with 21 districts. Read about their work.
  • Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA) helps clubs and districts plan and implement large scale projects that improve lives and provide access to health-related education, preventative health care, and resources for treatment. Their signature Rotary Family Health Days program promotes disease prevention and treatment by implementing a massive, annual campaign across hundreds of sites in four countries in Africa and in India that provides free health care services to thousands of people in underprivileged communities.
  • Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group focuses on addressing malnutrition, hunger and food security through the use of readily available local food plants. This self-sustaining solution empowers people to understand local food plant resources and allows them to feed themselves and their families. Learn more about their work.
  • Rotarian Action Group for Diabetes assists clubs and districts on projects that provide a strong commitment to education, identification, and treatment of diabetes, especially among children in developing countries, while raising awareness of this devastating disease throughout the Rotary world. Read more.

In observance of Rotary Disease Prevention and Treatment Month in December, we encourage you to collaborate with an action group on a club or district health care project.  Download a list of all disease prevention and treatment focused action groups and make your next project more impactful.

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Taking action against Alzheimer’s and dementia

By The Alzheimer’s/Dementia Rotarian Action Group

Nearly 45 million worldwide live with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s/Dementia Rotarian Action Group (ADRAG) is a collection of Rotarians and Rotaractors dedicated to supporting the Rotary family and our communities. We aim to help those who face the challenge of dealing with family members and citizens that are afflicted with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia.

This challenge is very real.  Some call it the silver tsunami—the wave of men and women living longer than previous generations.  Yet our communities and nations are not ready to face the rising tide of those suffering from these diseases.  Today, one in eight older Americans has Alzheimer’s, and the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years after the age of 65. We started the Alzheimer’s / Dementia Rotarian Action Group (ADRAG) to help address this challenge.

ADRAG is involved in various projects and initiatives; we are currently working with 21 districts on related projects. We encourage you to get in touch with us to learn more and take action. Below are some examples of our work:

Supporting research

Two thirds of those impacted with Alzheimer’s / dementia are women. A woman at the age of 65 faces almost twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in her lifetime as a man of the same age. Yet, very little is known or understood about why women are at a higher risk.

Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a leading researching from Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital is working to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. In collaboration with the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, Dr. Tanzi has agreed to help determine why women are at a higher risk.  ADRAG advised on this project and helped connect the Rotary Club of Martha’s Vineyard in the United States with the Rotary Club of Toronto in Canada to partner on a global grant for the research project.

Organizing a fun meeting space

ADRAG advised on the Memory Café project providing social support for people with dementia. The café offers a meeting place to gather for refreshments, conversation, music, movies, and entertainment. The Massachusetts Council on Aging provided a grant and the town provided a site with volunteers from the community. Since the project began in July 2016, we’ve had three meetings with 25 participants per meeting!

Creating friendlier communities

The initiative to create dementia-friendly communities was first created by Rotarians Tony Parker and Geri Parlby of RIBI’s Rotarians Easing Problems of Dementia (REPoD). By creating dementia-friendly communities, we increase awareness and understanding of the disease in the business, social and physical environments in which we all live.

The initiative first started in the town of Tavistock in England where social isolation was one of the biggest concern facing those with dementia. Research showed that people living with dementia and their care givers had three priorities: to feel safe and not embarrassed, to continue enjoying things they had always done, and to feel like they still belonged to the local community. Initiatives such as creating community sensory gardens, briefing social organisations such as churches and golf clubs on dementia, and encouraging dementia-friendly outdoor activities such as walking and photography were launched. More than 500 people in the town have received ‘dementia-friendly’ training and over 30 businesses and social groups are recognised as being dementia-friendly.

ADRAG hopes to expand this project to the USA. An estimated 120,000 people in Massachusetts alone lives with Alzheimer’s, and the number is expected to grow as the population grows older. We hope to reach as many people as we can in collaboration with Rotary clubs in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

ADRAG aim to leverage members’ experience, resources and the Rotary network to support and promote Alzheimer’s and dementia-related projects of all sizes at the local club, district, and international level by providing a global platform for collaboration, education, and support. Visit www.adrag.org  to access resources, become a member, or request assistance.

Providing a healthier future for children with cleft lip and palate

By Anita Stangl, Past President of the Rotary Club of San Francisco, California, USA; Founder of Alliance for Smiles

One out of every 594 newborns in the United States is affected by cleft lip and palate. That’s over 6800 children a year. Left untreated, the health and social implications for these children is devastating. I knew I had to do something to help these kids go on to live happy and healthy lives.

In 2004, I partnered with five members of my Rotary Club of San Francisco to provide sustainable treatment for children with cleft lip and palate deformities. Together, we founded Alliance for Smiles (AfS). Our goal was not only to send medical teams to provide free surgeries for children in developing countries, but also to establish treatment centers that would provide long term, multi-disciplinary care for these children.

Children in developing countries do not have access to comprehensive treatment like those in the developed world do. We wanted these underserved children to have the same opportunity, which provides not only surgery, but years of follow up care including additional surgery, orthodontia, speech therapy, dentistry, and family counseling.

We started our work in China, and have had 71 total successful missions treating almost 6000 children. These missions have included vocational training teams funded through the Rotary Foundation. The support we have received from Rotary has been substantial through global grants, individual clubs, districts, and Rotarians.

Every child and patient we treat is important. I want to share one child’s story that really touched me. We met Xin Qi Pei in the Guizhou Province of China. This lovely and sweet child had more severe deformities than most of our patients. Her condition seemed hopeless, but our volunteer maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Gagan Sabharwal, felt compelled to help her. He was convinced that surgery would drastically change her life and the way the world looks at her.

In Dr. Sabharwal’s words:

“The moment I saw Pei, I wanted to help her. At first, there was hesitation from the rest of the team because her case was so complex with major complications. I knew that her father would have gone to many hospitals only to face rejection over and over again. Which is why I convinced the team to take on her case, knowing I wouldn’t let her down and could change her life.

Although the surgery was difficult, the most touching moment was in recovery when her father saw her for the first time. He sat quietly next to her and admired her for almost five minutes before bursting into tears. He then told me how he had traveled to different parts of China, to many hospitals since she was born, and no one felt they had the skills to help her. He was so thankful to us for giving his daughter a new life.”

We are currently active in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and a number of African countries.  Each place poses its individual and unique challenges.  To help us understand the local community needs, we have successfully partnered with Rotarians from the Gulshan Lake City Rotary Club in Bangladesh and the newly formed Rotary Club of Yangon in Myanmar. We also have some wonderful Rotarian partners in African countries, as well as other local affiliates outside of Rotary.

Our core goal is to create international peace and understanding.  We aim to change lives for the better through free reconstructive surgery and the development of educational programs.  Our patients, the parents whose lives we change, and the people with whom we partner are affected by the kindness and humanitarianism of our volunteers.  On each and every mission, we aim to spread hope, and create peace among nations.

Learn more about the work we do on our website or email me to get involved in our efforts.

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Creating leaders through Rotary Family Health Days

By Alicia Michael, President of Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention (RFHA)

As three young ladies entered the Rotary Family Health Days camp site, I noticed their bright green school uniforms and their even brighter smiles.  I was at one of 380 sites operating for three days across Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda this past October.  These young ladies had every appearance of typical teenage girls on their way home from school on a Friday afternoon.

However, most would find that there was nothing typical about this scene.  I’m not certain what I expected as I approached the girls, but I am certain it was not a conversation I had ever encountered before.  I introduced myself as they politely shook my hand and giggled a bit.  They told me their names and informed me they were 17 years old and were best friends.

They had already been greeted by some of the Rotarian volunteers and were making their way to one of the tables offering free health services.

I quickly learned that one of the girls had visited the camp two days earlier.  She had come alone that day for one specific purpose – to be tested for HIV.  I then discovered the reason for her return; to bring her best friends for HIV testing as well.  She had been counseled during her first visit on the importance of knowing her status and had returned to school to share what she learned with her friends.

Today, 1 December, is World AIDS Day.  Every year, this day gives each of us an opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  It is estimated that over 34 million people have the virus, proving there is still so much work to be done.  People around the world   continue to lack education on how to protect themselves  suffer from stigma and discrimination in the workplace and their communities, and  have inadequate access to much improved medical resources that can produce a healthier and more productive life.

Oftentimes we hear stories such as the one about these three school girls and the message simply moves through us.  Our fast-paced society has made it easy for us to overlook the significance of these individual moments.

While Rotary Family Health Days was able to offer hundreds of free health resources and educational services to nearly 300,000 citizens across Africa in only three days, we were also able to impact the lives of these three young ladies on a much deeper level.   One of them became a powerful leader amongst her peers, convincing others of the need for better education leading to a more protected future. Those who were impacted by her leadership were able to receive peace of mind and hopefully the desire to become leaders in their own right.

Rotarians for Family Health and Aids Prevention (RFHA) is an international group of Rotarians, their family members, program participants and alumni committed to saving and improving lives of children and families who lack access to preventive health care and education. Interested in joining the RFHA team or participating in a Global Grant supporting Rotary Family Health Days?  Visit www.rfha.org to contact or learn more.

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Take action this World Diabetes Day

By Larry C. Deeb, M.D., Treasurer of the Rotarian Action Group for Diabetes

As most of you know, diabetes is a worldwide epidemic. But just how big? Diabetes affected 415 million people worldwide in 2015 and by the year 2040, that number will increase to 642 million. Developing countries are at a greater risk due to lack of resources. In developed countries, children with diabetes have full access to care, and can lead healthy and productive lives. But in the developing world, this care may be unaffordable or unavailable. Some children die quickly, while many others are chronically unwell, have trouble completing school and finding marriage partners, or develop early and devastating complications.

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate diabetes-related deaths will increase by more than 50 percent in the next 10 years if we don’t start taking action. The Rotarian Action Group for Diabetes (RAG Diabetes) charter president Wayne Edwards formed the group to provide an opportunity for the Rotary family to take action, and attack the problems caused by diabetes. Our purpose is to assist clubs and districts on projects that provide a strong commitment to education, identification, and treatment of diabetes, especially among children in developing countries, while raising awareness of this devastating disease throughout the Rotary world.

We also encourage Rotary members to work with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), a worldwide alliance of over 200 diabetes associations in more than 160 countries who come together to enhance the lives of people with diabetes everywhere. Learn more about diabetes in your country. With knowledge we can begin to take action.

This World Diabetes Day, we urge you to promote the importance of screening in your clubs or districts. Screenings can ensure early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and treatment, and reduce the risk of serious complications. Visit Rotary Showcase to see diabetes related projects and share your initiatives! For more information on RAG Diabetes, visit our website or email me if you have any questions.

Collaborative Rotarian effort brings healthcare services to thousands in India

By Azka Asif, Rotary Service Connections Staff

Rotary Family Health Days (RFHD) is a signature program of Rotarians For Family Health & AIDS Prevention (RFHA). The program promotes disease prevention and treatment by implementing a massive, annual campaign in four countries in Africa that provides free health care services to thousands of people in underprivileged communities. Since it was first conceived in 2011, more than 1.1 million people across South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria have benefited from the program.

In February of this year, in partnership with Rotarians from District 3040, RFHA expanded the Rotary Family Health Days program to India. The Family Health Days program was held at 25 camp sites in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India and served an additional 70,000 citizens during the 3-day campaign!

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To learn more about this successful program, we asked Alicia Michael, the incoming president of Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention, what it takes to implement a program of this magnitude:

Why did you decide to pilot Rotary Family Health Days in India?

Michael: After achieving proof of concept in Africa, Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA) began to research other areas of the world that would benefit from our signature program. In 2014 we received a request from Past RI President Kalyan Banerjee to bring Rotary Family Health Days to his home country of India.  In addition, Past RI Director Shekhar Mehta has been a RFHA board member and wanted to implement this important program in his country, so we already had a member from the India team on our board.

Which partners (both Rotary and non-Rotary) were instrumental in the pilot’s success? How did you get started planning the expansion in India?

Michael: RFHA serves as the convening organizer to mobilize not only the Rotarian network, but all sectors of the community including the in-country Ministries of Health, the U.S. Mission (CDC and USAID), hundreds of medical service providers, private sector corporations and foundations, and major media houses.

We always begin with strong Rotary leaders from within the country of interest.  Rotarians must lead the efforts and commit to being actively involved for Rotary Family Health Days to be successful. Shekhar Mehta helped us bring together the Rotary leaders of India to initiate the movement.

We always rely on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) when we initiate a program in a new country.  The CDC worked with us during our planning stages to conduct a needs assessment in the State of Madhya Pradesh.  The CDC is a working and technical partner of the Government of India.

How did you build relationships with partners that helped you implement the expansion?

Michael: We first traveled to India to meet with the Rotary leaders and the in-country Ministries of Health.  Shekhar Mehta requested the support of Rotary leaders from Madhya Pradesh to lead the program implementation.  RFHA requested the support and technical advice from the Director of the CDC in India.  We all met one year in advance to plan the program pilot rollout. The India Rotary team in the State of Madhya Pradesh obtained a Letter of Intent from the state government health agency, and they called upon the major media houses to provide pro bono support as well.

It is truly a collaborative effort between the Rotarians and many other organizations that results in this massive 3-day, multiple site health campaign.

What kind of health services were provided to the beneficiaries?

Michael: Services included free health screenings and treatments.  We tested for HIV, diabetes, TB, malaria, hypertension, Hepatitis B and C, blood pressure, lung function, cervical cancer and more. The government of India and private hospitals provided hundreds of physicians and many basic medicines such as antibiotics, gastrointestinal medicines and much more were prescribed at each camp.

There were also psychologists and psychiatrists on site for mental health screenings and post-diagnosis counseling.

What was the project budget and how were the funds obtained?

Michael: The total retail value of the pilot program in India is USD $2,790,000.  RFHD served 70,000 citizens over our 3-day campaign with each receiving an estimated value of $25 in health services. This equates to the in-kind donations of time and service by the physicians and physician assistants along with the donated medication to a total of $1,750,000 in medical support necessary to the program.

Equally important is the volunteer support of the Rotarians and Rotaractors which account for another $780,000 of in-kind contribution. This amount is determined using an independent monetization tool and a Price Waterhouse salary survey.  Additionally, we include the in-kind donations of major media at $100,000.

The costs to manage the program, train the Rotarians, mobilize the community and purchase necessary supplies were funded by a $160,000 Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation and supported by District Designated Funds from District 6900 (USA), District 3040 (India) and direct contributions by Rotary clubs.

Was the project different in India compared to Africa?

Michael: Rotary Family Health Days certainly takes on a different face depending on the country in which we are working because the program is led by the local Rotarians.  India truly helped transform RFHD from a disease prevention program to a disease prevention and TREATMENT program!  The on-site access to free medications and the immediate scheduling of follow up surgeries and care was also new to the program.

India’s Rotarian leaders developed an on-line registration and data collection system, utilized at all 25 camp sites.  Using this approach, we shortened participants’ wait time and tracked the number of citizens served in real time.

What do you think makes this project so successful?

Michael: Rotary Family Health Days is driven by the in-country Rotary clubs with thousands of Rotarians working together in the planning and execution of this massive health campaign. The program would not happen without club support.

Rotarians For Family Health and AIDS Prevention operates as a public/private partnership where all partners depend on one another without competing with each other.  Each partner has a specific role and set of responsibilities with RFHA serving as the convening organization.

The Rotary brand also brings the highest level of trust and neutrality to the citizens who are receiving our free healthcare services.

When and where are you planning to offer the next program?  What kinds of preparations are needed before each program?

Michael: We are focused on continuing to scale up our program in Africa and India for the remainder of 2016 and 2017. We also have received interest from Latin America and will explore opportunities there.

The planning for each Rotary Family Health Days program begins 18 months in advance.  Once a location is identified, we travel to meet with the Rotary leaders and the in-country Ministries of Health.  Then we work with the identified leaders to build the complex committee structure, secure funding for resource mobilization and training of the local Rotarians and Rotaractors in monitoring and evaluation systems, obtain written commitments from the major media houses for program promotion, develop relationships and secure support with in-country NGO’s and provide the necessary monitoring and evaluation resources (both manpower and templates) that are crucial to reporting the impact and sustainability of our program.

Watch a documentary to learn more about RFHA’s incredible impact through Rotary Family Health Days. Interested in joining the team or partnering on Rotary Family Health Days? Contact RFHA to learn more.

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Rotarians are committed to ending malaria

By Azka Asif, Rotary Programs Staff

Today, World Malaria Day, is dedicated to highlighting the progress made in malaria prevention and treatment. It is also a day to commit to continued action and investment in fighting the dangerous disease.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted through female mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization, about 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – are at risk. In 2015, there were an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.*

Pregnant women and children under five years old are more vulnerable to malaria. Malaria infection during pregnancy is a major health risk to the mother and her unborn baby. Rotarians are committed to fighting malaria and keeping mothers and babies healthy. Here are just a few examples of how the Rotary family is preventing and treating malaria:

  • The Rotary Club of Asaba in Nigeria led an awareness campaign focused on educating expectant mothers on the dangers of malaria. Rotarians explained ways to prevent the disease through the use of mosquito nets and keeping your environment clean.
  • The Rotaract Club of Niger Delta University in Nigeria led a Roll Back Malaria campaign to raise awareness and teach causes and prevention methods.
  • The Rotary Club of Borivli, India, in partnership with the Rotary Community Corps (RCC) of Devlapada, organized a public seminar on malaria. Local doctors provided insight on causes, ways of prevention, and treatment of the diseases. More than 50 families were educated at the seminar.
  • The Rotary Club of Nashoba Valley aims to use Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) for mosquitoes in six villages benefiting more than 20,000 villagers in Malawi. Each village was identified based on their malaria rate and will also receive training and education on malaria transmission and how to remove areas of standing water for a cleaner environment.

Millions of people still lack access the services they need to prevent and treat malaria. Partner and collaborate with Rotarian experts on malaria related projects and initiatives: 

  • Rotarians Eliminating Malaria: A Rotarian Action Group unites Rotarians to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality through provision of goods, education and other interventions that lower infection rates.
  • Rotarian Malaria Partners encourages the Rotary family to work together to eliminate malaria through advocacy, partnerships, hands on projects, and raising funds to support malaria related efforts.

Use the blog’s commenting feature below and share how your club is working to End Malaria For Good. Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag #WorldMalariaDay. How much do you know about malaria? Take the quiz on malaria.

*[World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2015]

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