Access to technology prepares students for innovative careers

By Andrea Paolo Rossi and Oliviero Zondini, Rotary Club of Cesena in Italy and global grant project leads

Our Rotary Club of Cesena is big with more than 100 members who represent the rich culture and strengths of our region. The local economy in Cesena is centered around agriculture and the manufacturing industry, in particular mechanics, manufacturing, and construction equipment. These companies must remain innovative to compete in the global market. Our region has high unemployment rates among youth coupled with manufacturing companies can’t find skilled workers.

To address this concern, we decided to focus on educating local high school students about the skills they need to establish a career in the manufacturing industry. The project aimed to create a 3D print lab for the Technical School. We partnered with FabLab Romagna to provide training for the students. FabLab Romagna, headquartered conveniently near the school, works with the international network of fab labs, small-scale workshops offering personal digital fabrication. Fab labs began as an outreach project from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) to provide access to modern innovation technologies.

The project was presented in September 2014 at the 8th Multi-Club Workshop in Ischia, where we met Serbian Rotarians who presented a project with similar characteristics. A partnership was formed from which two global grants were born with the Rotary Club of Cesena and Rotary Club of Beograd-Skadarlija each serving as the local host for their respective project and as the international partner supporting each other’s efforts.

In May 2015, our club’s project was presented to local authorities and citizens of Cesena during the Rotary Romagna Festival. Twelve clubs from our district committed to contribute their time and service to the project. Our artisan association, Confartigianato, supported the project by providing needed consumable materials for the lab.

The Rotary Foundation approved our global grant in June 2016, and in February 2017 the equipment was officially handed over to the school with a public ceremony in which students and teachers presented about their experiences using the fab lab. Our Serbian partners also attended this event.

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The project, valued at $60,650 USD, is now in full swing. The training courses held with FabLab Romagna allow students of different ages and classes to work together to develop a project under the supervision of a fab lab technician. The 3D printers are self- assembled with electronic and mechanical components. Course participants learn to manage the entire supply chain, from starting the project with computer graphics through to the creation of the final product.  The students themselves then become teachers to other students. Students also participate in educational trainings at the local manufacturing companies.

The project will continue throughout the 2017-18 school year, after which the Technical School will have a full 3D printing laboratory and technical expertise to continue training students in an increasing technologically-demanding world of mechanics. But what is most important, these students will learn a method of work that will make them leaders of a changing global industry.

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! 



From “over there” to “over here” – access to toilets changes lives

 By Clem van den Bersselaar, member of Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay (Philippines)

If you ask a Filipino living in a rural area of the Philippines where they go to the toilet, they will turn their head towards a non-specific direction and say “over there.” This means that they use any location that gives them some sort of privacy to do their needs. Women generally have to go longer distances to avoid prying eyes and avoid assaults. In fact, when one talks to local community health workers about the risks of open defecation, they tell you about parasitic and bacterial infections while also emphasizing the high percentage of women being molested or harassed.

In November 2013, part of the Leyte province in the Philippines was hit by the devastating typhoon Haiyan, the country’s worst typhoon affecting 25 million people and claiming nearly 6000 lives while leaving tremendous damage throughout the island.

Immediately after the typhoon, Rotary clubs from various countries came to the rescue. Local clubs responded with food supplies and worked with NGOs to begin rebuilding homes. Once immediate relief was provided, the focus shifted to meet sanitary requirements in restoring water supply and the construction of toilet facilities.

The Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay identified the WAND Foundation (Water, Agro-forestry, Nutrition and Development) as having the expertise to construct 20,000 latrines together with various NGO’s immediately after the typhoon in the province of Samar in the Philippines. WAND Foundation’s previous contacts with the Malmö (Sweden) International Rotary Club, provided a natural connection to propose this project at the 8th Multi Club Workshop (MCW) held in Ischia, Italy.  The project was accepted by the MCW and the partners applied for a global grant, which was approved in February 2016.  Seven Rotary clubs and three districts from Italy, the Philippines and Sweden contributed to the US $52,000 project.

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The project included constructing 222 toilets in various barangays, six rainwater collectors, seven communal handwashing stations, 20 biosand filters, and community-led training seminars for the beneficiary communities. As a result, this project has provided nearly 1100 people with access to proper toilet facilities and almost 600 people now have a regular supply of clean water. The community-led training seminar included a series of group discussions and a workshop to demonstrate which practices can prevent water contamination and to recognize the interconnection of water, sanitation and hygiene. We also discussed the medical costs related to open defecation in order to help the community understand how much money is spent on treating illnesses resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene.

We are happy to report the beneficiary communities have not had a single case of parasitic or diarrheal infections since the project was completed. Now when asked where they go to the toilet, the proud community members say “over here”!

Looking for international projects to support? 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! 



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! 

Foster service partnerships and new friendships at the 10th annual European project fair

By Leonardo de Angelis, 2013-2016 District Rotary Foundation Chair, District 2072 (Italy)

Dear friends,

Registration is now open for the 10th annual Multi-Club Workshop, scheduled for 7-11 September 2016 in Palermo, Italy. Similar to project fairs, Rotarian friends are invited to come learn about European service projects in need of support at our September event. Join us for three days in striking Palermo where you’ll learn about opportunities to support fellow Rotarians’ work in their home countries including Greece, Macedonia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Zambia and others, build life-long friends, experience Sicilian culture, and explore historic sites. Attendees will also participate in workshops and informational sessions on global grants, planning and implementing sustainable service projects and Rotary resources and tools for enhancing projects.

View the preliminary agenda and take advantage of early-bird prices by registering before 31 May.

For those wishing to extend their stay, additional excursions around Sicily have been arranged for 11-14 September.

Over the past nine years, international friends from all over the world have worked together to support 30 large-scale projects at previous Multi-Club Workshops, amounting to US $1.6 million invested in Rotary projects. We look forward to seeing you in beautiful Palermo and making an even greater impact in communities needing our assistance!

Warmest regards,


Previous Multi-Club workshops have been hosted in Stockholm, Bari, Riga, Ravenna, Malmö, Manfredonia, Belgrade, Ischia, and St. Petersburg. Collectively, we’ve supported 30 international projects, many of which have received funding from The Rotary Foundation. The 2015 Multi-Club Workshop in St. Petersburg resulted in five supported projects totaling US $353,000. Because of the partnerships built at last year’s event, six global grant applications are currently under review or already being implemented.


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Annual European project fair helps bridge the west and the east

By Leonardo de Angelis, Member of the Rotary Club of Ravenna, Italy, and Multi-Club Workshop Coordinator

ImageModeled similar to project fairs, the Multi-Club Workshop (MCW) is an annual event where international Rotarians, relatives and friends meet to promote the implementation of international humanitarian projects. Hosted in a different city every year, the first few days of the workshop are dedicated to planning international humanitarian initiatives while the rest of the event focuses on cultural immersion, site seeing, and building fellowship.

The 9th MCW will be hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 2 to 9 September. An optional group trip to Moscow will follow the workshop. During times of tension between the West and the East, we hope meeting in Russia will help us continue to serve as catalysts for advancing peace, strengthening international relationships, and promoting good will. Through this event, we hope to bring better understanding and friendship between two parts of the world that are pivotal to global advancement within our six areas of focus. Join us for this life-changing experience that will build relationships across country lines resulting in better humanitarian projects and greater global awareness and understanding.

Since the first Multi-Club Workshop was hosted in Stockholm, Sweden, in September 2007 , many Rotarians and their partners and friends from around Europe have met in Bari, Riga, Ravenna, Malmö, Manfredonia, Belgrade and Ischia. Between the eight previous workshops, we have welcomed 516 participants, 188 clubs, and 66 districts to our community.

Thanks to these meetings, the MCW community has supported 25 Rotarian-led projects totaling US $1,130,000. Here’s an example of just some of the efforts we have made possible with the help of global grants:

  • Ohrid, Macedonia: provided medical equipment to the Ohrid Hospital’s pediatric ward
  • Mirandola, Italy: provided equipment and training to ten classes at the recently rebuilt “Luosi” Intstitute following the 2012 earthquake
  • Bagamoyo District, Tanzania: provided equipment and training to the Health Centre of Pande Village

Together we have improved the lives of thousands of people. We hope you join us in September.