Rotarian yachting enthusiasts sail into service

By Sergio Santi, Past Chair of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians

After chartering three fleets of International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians (IYFR) in Africa, I discovered many Africans were drowning in lakes and seawaters. In Kenya, after tourism, fishing is the second economic resource. Thousands of fishermen and families live on the fishing industry. However, from November to April, when the hotels are closed, tourism comes to a halt and there is a greater need to go fishing to survive. But during those months high winds blow from the south and ill-equipped boats or canoes leave fishermen in danger.

In 2012, Lake Victoria, claimed the lives of over 5,000 fishermen due to a lack of lifesaving devices and the local population’s inability to swim.

To address this issue, the IYFR Italian Fleets collected and shipped 4,000 lifejackets to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ivory Coast. With the support of local Rotary club presidents, jackets were distributed where they were needed most: at schools situated on the coast and river islands where students transfer back and forth from coastal villages and to fisherman who could not afford to buy one locally.

Under the leadership of the 2016 IYFR Chair Jun Avecilla, the Philippines Fleets came up with a home-made lifesaver device made of a plastic net bag with 2-4 empty plastic bottles secured inside. Luigi Apuzzo, the Roma Fleet Commodore, tested and modified this brilliant emergency floating device to create a lifejacket to also be used by fisherman.

By the end of 2016, with the combined efforts and support of IYFR fleets worldwide, a final plan to produce 5,000 life jackets came together. IYFR would not only be providing new lifejackets, but we would have them produced locally. Our young Commodore from Kenya, Simone Avola will provide free spaces for the manufacturing shop and storage in his Barracuda Inn Resort in Watamu. We will be providing 56 local workers with the machinery, the raw material not found locally and the educational training they need to get start.

The project was coming together well, but we had not yet addressed the local population’s inability to swim. Our Roma Fleet Commodore, Luigi Apuzzo, stepped up once again and to address this issue. He coordinated a meeting with the Princess of Monaco, Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa, and asked her if she too could lend a hand. She graciously agreed and now we are setting up a swimming school in Watamu that will be frequented by all the children ages 10 to 13.

We hope this initiative will save and improve the lives of Africans while providing the locals an opportunity to earn an income. We invite you to join our efforts. All Rotarians with an active interest in boating are welcome to join a local fleet in their region, or an e-fleet. Learn more on our website and join today to make new friends while taking on service initiatives.

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The International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians is the oldest and largest Rotary Fellowship. It began in England in 1947 and has grown to 126 fleets, with about 3685 members in 38 countries. Throughout the month of June, we’ll be celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

Yachting enthusiasts support secure health access throughout African island communities

By Bernardo Rabassa Asenjo, member of the Rotary Club of Madrid – Puerta de Hierro, Spain, and past regional commodore of the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians’ Iberia chapter

International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians
International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians

Our group of more than 3200 members across 32 countries shares a common love for the open water and a passion for yachting. Since the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians first formed in 1947, we have grown to 90 fleets and we have been involved with countless voyages across the globe. Along with making life-long friends with other yachters, we’re proud to emphasize humanitarian service through our beloved hobby.

Lamu Island, located off of the coast of Kenya, is only accessible by boat. Since motorized vehicles can’t be found on the island, donkeys are the primary mode of transportation. This water-locked community is served by Lamu District Hospital, one of the best-equipped medical facilities on the Kenyan coast. The hospital also services all of the surrounding islands in the archipelago. As the only hospital for the archipelago’s 105,000 residents, the local community voiced mounting concerns to obtain a motorized ambulance boat to transport patience in need of medical assistance.

06_16_AmbulanceBoatIn the spirit of equipping communities reliant on water with needed resources, the International Yatching Fellowship of Rotarians formed a partnership with non-governmental organization Anidan to help secure the ambulatory boat. Our Fellowships’ members are working with external foundations and Rotary clubs in Spain to apply for a Rotary grant to help provide the needed medical resources for residents near Lamu to quickly and reliable access health services. The ambulatory boat will be used to quickly transport local residents to the hospital for needed medical attention. The boat will also be used to raise awareness about preventative health care and immunizations around the archipelago.

Since joining this effort, we have been worked with the local communities including the Rotary Club of Malindi, the medical staff at the Hortsmann Hospital of Lamu, and the Kenyan Fleet of the Rotary Mariners of East Africa to create an entire medical initiative for the 2015-16 Rotary year:

  • Identify prevalent local health issues particularly in children
  • Promote immunizations and secure access to medical treatment to address most wide-spread health concerns
  • Utilize the ambulatory boat to implement standardized immunizations across the different regions

This project is expected to directly benefit more than 100,000 people, the entire population of Lamu County.  Contact the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians for more information about their activities or this project.

The International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians consists of 197 active Rotary yachting fleets across 37 countries. The Fellowship strives to advance international understand and goodwill through cruising, yachting, racing, sailing, kayaking and other activities involving boats and boating.

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