Preventing cervical cancer in Kenya

By Judy Wolf, Immediate Past President of the Rotary Club of Davis, California, USA

Kenya is a land of utter beauty, stunning exotic animals, crowded road-side markets, robust farmlands, and friendly people. Astonishingly, nearly 5000 Kenyan women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and 50% will die from this disease.  A disease that is nearly 100% preventable.

Our vocational training team left for Kenya in October 2016 in hopes of making a difference in the lives of these brave women. We couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride, knowing that we were a part of a team, organized by the Rotary Club of Davis (United States) through a Rotary Foundation Global Grant, sent to Kenya to provide cervical cancer screenings, treatment, and education to women in the poor and needy region of South Nyanza. Kenya has a population of almost 13 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. The bedrock of economic life in Kenya revolves around women working in their prime. And when we save women, we save their children as well.

During our first team visit, we set up medical clinics at Homabay County Referral Hospital and Kendu Bay Sub-District Hospital. The medical team, consisting of a medical director, four doctors, and a native Kenyan nurse practitioner, spent the first seven days at Homabay where 163 cervical examinations were performed. These routine examinations led to four women needing cryotherapy to freeze lesions and three women receiving the lifesaving Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP). Sadly, one of the ladies was discovered to have terminal cervical cancer. Our team was in awe of her courage and strength as she sat with her husband while the Kenyan physician explained to her the stark truth of her situation.   We will never forget this beautiful woman and her husband.

Kendu Bay Sub-District Hospital was our next life-saving visit. There, the team examined 215 women and performed five cryotherapy treatments and six LEEPs. Thankfully, most of the women were found to be disease-free.

We are proud to report that our trip was successful. The team trained Kenyan physicians and nurses on how to identify cervical lesions, and now the trained doctors and nurses are equipped to carry out the work and train other Kenyan medical professionals.

We look forward to our second team trip in June 2017 to the same region to do follow-up examinations and treatment, and offer additional training. During our final trip in November 2017, we’ll hold follow-up examinations, conduct a skills assessment of the trained medical professionals, and donate medical equipment to each of the hospitals.

We are profoundly grateful to The Rotary Foundation and the clubs that supported this life-saving global grant. We share a sense of honor and deep satisfaction to have been able to serve the women of Kenya in partnership with our Rotary community.

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Rotary programs offer opportunities to advance world peace

By Rotary Service and Engagement Staff

February is Rotary’s Peace and Conflict Resolution Month, a great time to take action in promoting peace worldwide. Rotary offers a variety of programs that allow members to discover new cultures, exchange ideas, promote global understanding, and develop leaders who become catalysts for peace. Here are a few ways you can get involved:

Exchange opportunities

With 1.2 million members from 200 countries and geographical areas, you’re near Rotary friends wherever you go. Expand your worldview and build goodwill through a Rotary Friendship Exchange, New Generations Service Exchange, or Rotary Youth Exchange:

Discover new cultures

International service opportunities allow members to make connections, exchange diverse perspectives, learn from one another, and make a global impact. Engage with fellow members outside your club and district:

  • Regionally hosted project fairs offer life-changing opportunities for international visitors to learn about a host region, make new friends, and connect with clubs in need of international partners. Read how the West Africa Project Fair changed Rotaractor Shapreka Clarke’s life.
  • Twin clubs, or sister clubs, represent a long-term relationship between two international clubs that promotes understanding, goodwill, and collaboration on service projects in their communities. Celebrate this relationship with a Twin Club Certificate of Recognition.
  • Intercountry committees, which promote peace, friendship, and strengthen relationships between two countries, offer opportunities for members to foster inter-cultural understanding. Read how the France-USA Intercountry Committee is supporting young leaders working to advance peace and cultural understanding.

Rotary Peace Fellows

Through academic training, practice, and global networking opportunities, the Rotary Peace Centers program develops leaders who become catalysts for peace and conflict prevention and resolution. In just over a decade, the Rotary Peace Centers have trained more than 1,000 fellows for careers in peacebuilding. Many of them are serving as leaders at international organizations or have started their own foundations. Rotary members can support the fellowship program by:

  • Becoming a Peacebuilder District. Your district can support the Rotary Peace Centers by allocating a minimum of $25,000 annually in District Designated Funds (DDF). Learn more.
  • Promoting the program within your club and district to identify and nominate candidates for the fellowships. Use the resources on this page for recruiting candidates and publicizing the program. The 2018 Rotary Peace Fellowship application is available and candidates have until 31 May to submit applications to their district.

How is your club and district Rotary Peace and Conflict/Resolution month? Share what programs and activities you are implanting in the comments below!

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 www.rotarywestafricaprojectfair.org; contact registration@rotarywestafricaprojectfair.org to register.

Connecting for good at Multi-Club Workshops

By Leonardo de Angelis, Rotary Club of Ravenna (Italy), immediate past District 2072 Rotary Foundation Chair, and founder and coordinator of the Multi-Club Workshop

Since 2007, I have had the pleasure of working with Rotarian friends, new and old, to organize Multi-Club Workshops, an annual meeting where international Rotarians, relatives, and friends meet to foster intercultural dialogue, inspire each other through their humanitarian projects, and build partnership for international projects and global grants.

This year’s event was particularly special as a group of more than 60 participants descended upon beautiful Palermo, Italy, to participate in the 10th annual Multi-Club Workshop (MCW) while also celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Rotary Foundation. With heartfelt thanks to the great support of the Rotary Club of Palermo Teatro del Sole and District 2110 (Sicily & Malta), the September 2016 MCW welcomed participants from 25 clubs representing 10 districts and six countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Italy, Russia, Sweden, the UK, and the United States.

We were also joined by two representatives from Rotary and The Rotary Foundation, Lauren Ribant Regional Grants Officer, and Ellina Kushnir, Supervisor of Service and Engagement, who presented about resources to support and enhance projects and important considerations when applying for grant funding from TRF.

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The first two days of the event were filled with cultural immersion, exploring historic sites and eating delicious food, seeing local Rotary club projects, getting to know fellow participants and learning about their personal, professional, and Rotary lives, and engaging in fruitful discussions about resources and collaborating to maximize good.

The event culminated in a full-day workshop where we discussed strategies and resources for successful service projects and grants, learned about the many challenges facing communities around the world, and heard project proposals from eight Rotary club-led projects. The eight projects will benefit communities in Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Congo, Greece, India, Myanmar, Philippines, and the U.K. The total value of these projects is equal to US $550,000. This year, through a preferential vote, all of the participants voted to support one of the presented projects with a pooled sum of US $4,342 (EUR 4000). With a tie in votes, two projects each received US $2,171 (EUR 2,000) to support their respective goals. We’re continuing to foster the relationships we made at the event and build partnerships to support each other’s projects. Each project exhibitor is now actively seeking to connect with international partnering clubs to begin implementing the projects presented at the 10° MCW.

Over the past 10 years, 45 projects with a combined value of US $2.18 million identified partners and received support as a result of the Multi-Club Workshop. Since our first event was hosted in 2007, more than 660 Rotarians and their families have participated in the workshops. Our workshops are hosted in a different country every year, and we welcome new exhibitors seeking project support along with.

Join us next year in London, England, for our 11th annual event. The 2017 Multi-Club Workshop will take place 6-10 September. Visit our website for more information and contact me to reserve your spot at next year’s event!

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48 hours as a diplomat

By Kristin Brown, Rotary Service Connections Manager

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in a workshop and conference sponsored by the France-USA Inter-Country Committee (ICC). The event represented what ICCs do best: mentoring young people, developing leaders, fostering intercultural dialog, and promoting peace.

The France-USA ICC solicited applications from graduate students in international affairs or diplomacy, and each national section selected eight students to participate in a two-day intensive workshop with diplomats, representatives from UNESCO, and other professionals in global affairs. Before arriving in Paris, each of the eight American and seven French students prepared a paper on a different aspect of the question, “Can the preservation of cultural heritage contribute to world peace?”

group-cip-sign-stepsAt a reception on the eve of the conference, the students met their counterparts for the first time. Over the next two days, they presented their work in pairs, one French and one American. They spoke about illegal trafficking of artifacts in regions of conflict, the role states play in preserving cultural heritage, international law and how sites are selected and protected, and they even spoke about preserving intangible heritage, such as language. Several speakers referenced United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s statement: “An attack on cultural heritage in one part of the world is an attack on us all, on all humanity.”  I was particularly interested in learning about the use of technology and digital imaging, either to assist with repairs to damaged cultural artifacts or, when repair is impossible or impractical, projecting 3-D images in absence of the original.

The workshop culminated in a conference co-sponsored by the France-USA ICC and the Next Generation Foreign Policy Network (ANAJ-IHEDN) at the École Militaire in Paris, where a white paper summarizing the students’ work was presented. Leila Amar, a French Rotaractor and international journalist with France 24, moderated a panel of experts representing UNESCO, ICOMOS, INTERPOL, and the Quai d’Orsay on the challenges of preserving cultural heritage, particularly in conflict zones.

The challenges are real, but I left Paris inspired by the work that these young scholars are doing and thankful for the opportunity provided by the France-USA ICC to bring them together to share their work and forge new relationships.

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Make connections at the Colombia Project Fair

By Past District Governor Sonia Uribe, District 4271; Chair of the Colombia Project Fair

We are very pleased to invite you to the Colombia Project Fair on 3 -5 February 2017. Our event will be hosted in Cartagena de Indias, the most beautiful city in the Caribbean. Clubs from Districts 4271 and 4281 will be exhibiting service projects seeking international support. Come experience magical Cartagena, learn about our service efforts, and build lifelong friendships within the Rotary family.

Event information and registration is available on our website, you can find additional information on our Facebook page. We assure you that not only will you enjoy the warm weather and the kind people of Colombia, but you will fall in love with this country. We hope you join us!

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Project fairs are regional events hosted by Rotary districts to encourage international friendship and collaboration. Fairs give Rotary clubs a chance to showcase their service efforts to potential global partners, and they give international visitors the chance to find a project that meets their club’s goals. Find information on all upcoming fairs,  including dates, location, program, and registration.

Serving with ShelterBox in times of disaster

By Ellina Kushnir, Service and Engagement Supervisor

When disaster strikes, Rotary’s project partner ShelterBox often works closely with Rotarians to evaluate local needs and devise a plan for immediate response. The Rotary family provides vital assistance to ShelterBox by assisting response teams with disaster assessments, housing response team volunteers, helping coordinate relief logistics, and sponsoring aid. Over the past fourteen years, Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors have partnered with ShelterBox to help communities in dire need of assistance immediately following a disaster. Here are just a few recent examples of how Rotary members and ShelterBox have been working together:

  • Immediately following Ecuador’s devastating earthquake in April 2016, Rotarians from District 4400 met the ShelterBox Response Team at the airport and jointly attended response coordination meetings. ShelterBox supplied ShelterKits and water filters to the most vulnerable families. Over the past months, repeated after-shocks have continued to destroy more homes in the impact region. Having identified further families in need of temporary housing, ShelterBox is sending more ShelterKits, water filters and mosquito nets to Ecuador. ShelterBox response team volunteer, Liz Odell, past president of the Rotary Club of Nailsworth in England, headed to Ecuador in early October as part of the team overseeing the distribution.
  • Following the May 2016 devastating flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka, ShelterBox and Rotarians responded as families were stripped of their homes, livelihoods, and loved ones. Members of the Rotary Club of Capital City spent five days using boats and kayaks to rescue people marooned by flooding. The teamwork, trust and cooperation between the club and the ShelterBox response teams led to the provision of temporary camps for individuals who had lost everything.
  • Alongside ongoing relief responses in Syria, Cameroon and Niger due to conflict, ShelterBox has been working with families in Iraq who have been displaced (some on multiple occasions) fleeing for safety from conflict in Syria and Iraq.  ShelterBox is now preparing to respond to the anticipated retaking of Mosul from so-called Islamic State control, which is predicted to be one of the worst humanitarian crises in years and may result in an additional one million displaced people. Through the project partnership with ShelterBox, the Rotary family is able to reach families living in some of the most treacherous conditions. An update from ShelterBox response team volunteer Rachel Harvey, former foreign correspondent at the BBC, is available online. More information about assisting this initiative is available on shelterbox.org.
  • ShelterBox currently has an assessment team evaluating the impact of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in nearly a decade, hit Haiti on 4 October, bringing 145mph winds, heavy rain and dangerous storm surges.  Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of the country’s Civil Protection Agency, has said: “It’s much too early to know how bad things are but we do know there are a lot of houses that have been destroyed or damaged in the south.” Up-to-date information about ShelterBox’s response to Hurricane Matthew is available at shelterbox.org/matthew.

For information about the RI-ShelterBox project partnership on the RI-ShelterBox Fact Sheet. Contact rotaryrequest@shelterbox.org for information about getting involved or write to Rotary staff with questions about the partnership.

Rotary and ShelterBox are project partners for international disaster response. ShelterBox is a Charity independent of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.

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Experience culture, friendship and service in El Salvador at the 2017 Uniendo America Project Fair

By Hector D. Castro, District 4240; Advisor to the Uniendo America Organizing Committee

In its 24th edition, the Uniendo America project fair returns to beautiful El Salvador on 26-28 January of 2017. Since 1994, Districts 4240 & 4250 (Central America, Belize & Panamá) have hosted the fair in different countries. This regional event is an excellent opportunity for Central American Rotarians to present projects to fellow Rotarians from the United States, Canada & other countries who are looking for international service projects and partners on behalf of their clubs and districts.

Thanks to Uniendo America, international visitors have learned about more than 2,000 local projects from the region. Meeting face to face at the fair has created lasting relationships and facilitated the implementation of hundreds of proposed projects. This is what Rotary is all about: creating good will and understanding through international partnerships.

Uniendo America 2017 will kick off on the afternoon of 26 January with presentations from District International Service Committees and a special message from an envoy of the Rotary Foundation. The fair itself will be inaugurated that evening with a brief ceremony and cocktail party where attendees will start making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

Serious work will begin the following day, 27 January at 9:00 AM with the opening of the exhibitor booths, showcasing excellent opportunities to form partnerships for global and district grants and club projects. That evening, participants will make dinner reservations at any of the fine dining restaurants within the hotel and continue discussions with potential partners met during the fair. Meanwhile, spouses and guests will be offered a tourism tour where they will have an opportunity to explore the rich culture and wonderful sites of El Salvador. We will end that evening with fun disco dancing at the hotel´s night club.

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The last day of the fair, 28 January, will begin at 9:00 AM with round table discussions to learn about successful community development strategies within the six areas of focus, talk about the future of Uniendo America and much more. Optional project tours, sponsored by local clubs, will be available throughout the day. Uniendo America 2017 will end with a spectacular Centennial Carnival on the evening of the 28th where we will celebrate our 100 years of service through the Rotary Foundation.

The Organizing Committee will offer free shuttle transportation from/to the airport on main arrival and departure dates and we can assist attendees with any special arrangements.

Come and enjoy Rotary at its best amidst spectacular sunsets, warm weather, great friends and plenty of international service opportunities. Event information and registration is available online.

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Assist victims of the 2016 Ecuador earthquake

By District Governor Fressia Abad, District 4400 Ecuador 

Dear friends,

It is our pleasure to invite you and your club to attend District 4400’s XII Rotary Project Fair, to be held in Cuenca, Ecuador, on 11-13 November, 2016.

During this three-day event, clubs in Ecuador will exhibit their projects to visiting Rotarians. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the community and the projects looking for assistance. Rotarians will personally meet project contacts and other local Rotarians establishing important partnerships as well as long lasting friendships.

Due to the severe 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador’s Provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas in April 2016, many of this year’s projects will focus on long-term disaster recovery and providing assistance to communities devastated by the disaster.

The beautiful city of Cuenca has become a favorite and appealing retirement spot. Visiting Rotarians will have an opportunity to experience local cultural and artistic treasures including a tour to its historic town center. Exciting and high-end excursions to the Galapagos Islands, Amazonian Jungle, Quito, the Andean Sierra, and Vilcabamba (well known for the long life expectancy of its population) can also be added to attendance at the Fair.

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Please contact the Chair of the XII Project Fair Committee, Past District Governor Manuel Nieto or Assistant Governor Amparo Albuja Izurieta for additional information.  You can also visit our district webpage or register online.

We hope to greet you soon in our country well known for its hospitality.

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Work with district international service chairs

By Kiki Melonides, Rotary Service and Engagement Staff

To help clubs plan impactful service projects and sustainable global grants, district international service chairs now have exciting new responsibilities. Appointed by district governors for a suggested three-year term, district international service chairs will work collaboratively with club and district leaders to identify and promote resources and strategies for enhancing projects and grants.

International service chairs will build a district resource network of Rotarians, program participants, and alumni with expertise in Rotary’s areas of focus and community project planning. In collaboration with fellow district leaders and members, Rotarian Action Groups, The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers, and others, international service chairs will connect projects in need of guidance with local technical experts from the Rotary family and promote other resources for improving service projects and grants.

Service chairs will be looking for experts with experience in the areas of focus and the lifecycle of a project including familiarity with global grants, project planning and implementation, community assessment, and measurement and evaluation. Are you an expert in any of these areas? Be sure to identify yourself to your district international service chair so that they can include you in your district’s resource network.

By including local Rotarian expertise early in project planning and design, this effort aims to increase the impact and sustainability of projects and global grants. This initiative will provide further vocational service opportunities in sectors that correspond with Rotary’s areas of focus. The effort also aims to increase friendship and cooperation among Rotarians and strengthen connections between Rotarians and Rotary alumni, such as peace fellows.

Write to the Rotary Service team with any questions.