Reflections from the field: intensive disaster relief courses inspire service

By Luke Addison, member of the Rotaract Club of University of Winchester, England and Rotaract Multi-District Contact for RIBI

I first heard about ShelterBox in 2013. I had just become the President of the University of Winchester Rotaract Club and was working with several friends to get the group involved in local and international projects. We were, and are still to this day, very lucky to have the support of the Winchester Rotary Club in all that we do. Their club allowed our members to engage with their projects and therefore create some great connections. There was a particular Rotarian who had spoken with me about ShelterBox and the work they did and suggested we raise funds for them. In just a few days we were at Winchester University at 7:00 AM putting up a ShelterBox tent and then standing alongside it for several hours.

In the past few years since working closer with Rotaract and Rotary on an international level, as well as being involved in many diverse projects and with many organisations across the globe, my interests and drive for what I want to achieve sit very much in the humanitarian sector.

One morning I received an email inviting me to the three-day Understanding ShelterBox Operations course, and there was no way I could turn this down. I replied without hesitation and several weeks later, found myself packing a bag and booking a ten-hour coach journey to Truro! After arriving at the ShelterBox Headquarters, I was extremely early and one of the team members must have taken pity on me and invited me in from the cold. The course didn’t begin until noon, but I was met by Alex Youlten and several other staff who offered to show me around and gave me a great introduction to ShelterBox. Along the tour, we were invited into an actual operations meeting which was taking place in a board room and involved the whole team looking at where ShelterBoxes and other ShelterBox aid were currently being deployed, and also talking much about international affairs of the world… I was hooked and I hadn’t even started the course yet!

After meeting the rest of the course participants, we boarded a minibus and headed towards the training camp. We opened with a briefing about the organisation and then went straight into setting up three tents outside. These would be our accommodations for the next few nights!

The three days of the course were a fascinating combination of problem-solving activities, treks, team-building games and even critical thinking within a classroom. The last part surprised me because although I was expecting to hear more about what they did, I hadn’t fully appreciated exactly what it is they do. By this I mean, we looked deeply into human psychology and how people react in a disaster while also looking at ethical and moral dilemmas and the level of strength and compassion needed to operate effectively.

We even learnt how the organisation’s fundraising department worked and had a great presentation from Richard Lee, Director of Fundraising and Communications. Again, it was a side I was not expecting to see, but was so clearly effective as it had everyone in the room suggesting ways to help.

ShelterBox and Rotary share the same humanitarian aims, and have been linked by common goals and ethics for more than sixteen years now. The two organisations have formed a durable international project partnership which grows in scale and sophistication with every year. It is quite unique in international aid. Obviously this includes Rotaractors too, whose youthful energy, compassion and local knowledge are harnessed in so many ShelterBox deployments and disaster responses.

We were treated with so much respect and I felt so valued as an “outsider”; I’m grateful to have been invited to this course but given so much whilst on it. I could feel my place within ShelterBox already forming!  I have never met a single other charity that would invite you to their headquarters, show you around everything, let you sit in a real operations meeting, then take you to the training ground and give you three days of training on what they actually do. It was genuinely one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had and I would absolutely encourage everyone to go and take part in the course and learn about the many ways your club can work with ShelterBox.

I am so grateful and look forward to working with ShelterBox again!

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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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How can you make new friends from all over the globe?

By Azka Asif, Rotary Service Connections Staff

By joining a Rotary Fellowship! Throughout the month of June, we’ve been celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories have inspired you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

As the 2015-16 Rotary year comes to end, we’re taking a look back at all the new fellowships that were recognized this year:

  • International Fellowship of Rowing Rotarians plans joint travels and sporting contests for those interested in rowing. Visit their website or contact chair Hartmut Jaeger.
  • Rotarian Fellowship of Corporate Social Responsibility aims to help Rotarians address social responsibility issues as well as encourage clubs and districts to incorporate social responsibility themes into their service projects. Contact chair Gaetano Papa.
  • The International Fellowship of Rotarian Educators was formed to promote quality education (both public and private) as well as training and development initiatives such as continuing education; read how this group got started. Visit their website and contact chair Charles Grant.
  • The 4X4 International Fellowship for Rotarians will attract those who enjoy outdoor exploration in 4×4 vehicles while experiencing nature and conserving it for future generations. Contact chair Ida van den Bergh.
  • Rotary on Pins Fellowship will connect those passionate about Rota
    ry pins and serve as a resource for clubs and individual Rotarians who want to learn more. Follow their Facebook page or contact chair Ed Book.

View a complete list of Rotary Fellowships or form a new one today!

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Doctors’ Fellowship aims to empower albino community in Tanzania

By Dr. John Philip, Past District Governor and Chair of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors

Albino FamilyThree years ago I was on the island of Ukerewe in Tanzania leading a Rotary project when I heard a child had been abducted and murdered. The child was an albino and was targeted by traditional healers. I was in utter disbelief when I discovered traditional healers, sometimes called witch doctors, target albinos to use their body parts in ritual practices, which they claim bring wealth and good luck. The Tanzanian government banned witch doctors in January 2015. Since then more than 200 witch doctors and traditional healers have been arrested, but many people with albinism still live under the threat of death.

People with albinism lack melanin pigment in their skin and appear to have “white” skin. They have sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation and are at risk of developing skin cancer and significant sight problems. The Rotarian Doctors’ Fellowship is supporting a campaign in Tanzania to help this marginalized and discriminated community claim their rightful place in the society and live without fear. Our project addresses many interconnected challenges – reducing stigma through village seminars, vocational training and improving eye care.

ROTARIAN WITH AN ALBINOAs a cancer specialist, my initial interest was to help this high risk group receive better treatment for skin cancer. Skin cancer is not a lethal disease and is easily preventable. I soon realized that improving skin cancer care was important, but will have little effect until other complex social issues are addressed. Through village education and peace building efforts, we sought to help persuade communities with high incidences of violence against people with albinism to abandon old beliefs and myths.

This year, I went back to evaluate the campaign and our efforts. Our local partner, the Mennonite Central Committee of Tanzania (MCC), had conducted more than 40 village education meetings engaging 2,000 villagers.  At the review meeting, I met with 16 village leaders and heard their plans of action. There had been a dramatic change in their perception about albinism and a sense of determination that they did not want the good names of their villages to be tarnished by attacks on people with albinism.

Then I witnessed something that had never happened before. I heard a joint presentation by a traditional healer and person with albinism. As a result of the year-long peace building efforts, traditional healers and people with albinism had formed an alliance called CHATAS to openly fight against albinism myths.

They called for action to bring to justice those who propagated abhorrent views. The leader of CHATAS, a traditional healer himself said, “We – the traditional healers – condemn and disown those who bring disgrace to our profession. We hope they would be debarred from practicing healing. Albinos are people just like us.”

This type of collaboration was unimaginable a year ago. The village education meetings and peace building program were funded by Rotary and implemented by our partners – MCC and Albino Peace Makers. Rotary helped make this miracle happen.

Through the Fellowship’s network of contacts, I have been able to share my experience with colleagues all around the world and thus highlight the plight of people with albinism.  The project has attracted support from seven Rotary districts and a number of organizations. I was even invited to share my experience with delegates at the Rotary International Presidential Conference on Disease Prevention and Treatment in Cannes.

PEOPLE LIKE US1Helping people with albinism is one of many projects supported by the Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors. The Fellowship offers for Rotarians, their family members, and program participants and alumni a unique opportunity to bring their vocation into service, change lives and make friends. The group shares a vision for supporting and promoting global health improvements, an enthusiasm for making advancements through volunteering, and a strong commitment to support local and international healthcare initiatives. For more information, contact me.

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Celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month!

By John A. Bernaden, Rotary Club of Milwaukee, USA

Did you know that Rotary Fellowships can provide a great way to make new friends around the world and enhance your Rotary experience?  Rotary Fellowships are international, independently organized groups of Rotarians, family members, program participants and alumni who share a common passion.

The oldest fellowship dates back to 1947 when a group of Rotarians who loved sailing began flying the Rotary flag from their boats, calling themselves the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians. Today, more than 3,300 Rotarians sail together in one of 109 Rotary fleets in 37 countries.

Currently, more than 60 other fellowships similarly unite Rotarians in friendship and expand opportunities to enjoy their favorite recreational activities, sports, and vocation. These groups range from cycling to skiing, Latin culture to jazz, doctors to photographers, and even wine-tasting to beer. View the complete list of Rotary Fellowships.

I recently joined the Recreational Vehicle Fellowship of Rotarians and rallied for a week in Tucson this past February with a dozen couples from Rotary clubs in Canada, California, Colorado, Texas and Arizona. We toured local attractions together, shared meals and enjoyed the comradery of like-minded leaders including two past district governors. My wife Kathleen and I also hope to someday join the thousands of Rotarians in the United Kingdom who caravan together in recreational vehicles across Europe every summer.

The Rotary Wine Appreciation Fellowship is a learning tool for those who are interested in expanding their knowledge and sharing ideas regarding all aspects of wine appreciation. Like most fellowships, the group has an email newsletter and members are encouraged to visit an interactive wine website frequently for updates, features, articles and information on wine events and trips.

While most day-to-day fellowship activities may take place online or through correspondence, the most successful fellowships facilitate regular opportunities for members to interact in person. For example, sporting fellowships hold regional matches and world tournaments, fellowships related to travel or excursions plan destination trips, and vocational fellowships often plan get-togethers at professional conferences and seminars.

A growing number of vocationally oriented fellowships have been formed during the past decade. Rotarians who are doctors, lawyers, educators and other professions have started sharing their expertise and experiences with fellow Rotarians in the same professional field around the world.

Many fellowships also use their special interests to serve others. The Fellowship of Canoeing Rotarians has organized cleanups of polluted rivers; members of the International Computer Users Fellowship of Rotarians have conducted training sessions for Rotarians and others in their community; and members of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Scuba Divers join local Rotary clubs to undertake service projects on each of their diving trips.

Lastly, developing acquaintances and even friendships by participating in one of the Rotary Fellowships can help improve your understanding of the world.  “The best way to cultivate international understanding is through business and social intercourse,” said Paul Harris at the Pacific Rotary Conference in Tokyo, 1928.

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.

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West Africa Project Fair exhibits the power of Rotary

By Dr. John Philips, Past District Governor of District 1040 and Chairman International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors

Natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes bring the best out of Rotarians. We roll up our sleeves, rattle tins, raise money and deliver support, care and assistance.

When a Rotarian colleague recently told me he was disappointed with the outcome of his club’s emergency assistance efforts to another country some years ago, I was not surprised. “Our results were most unimpressive. The disaster relief help we had provided was a gut reaction, unplanned, disorganized, and driven by the international community” he told me.

Historically, developed countries have often tried to impose their own solutions for challenges faced by developing countries. We can stop this through Rotary.

A few years back, I saw a large wooden box in a hospital in Tanzania. The box contained an x-ray machine donated by a North American group. The box was never opened. The hospital did not have electricity and did not know what to do with the machine.

Through the Rotary network, we have opportunities to build sound international partnerships to work on service projects outside of our immediate communities. I was privileged to meet a group of West African Rotarians in Abidjan last month at the 10th annual West Africa Project Fair. The event was created in 2005 by Rotarians from 15 West African countries to facilitate international partnerships to help address the primary challenges in the region. This year, the Fair was hosted in Cote d’Ivoire by District 9101.

The West Africa Project Fair was a unique opportunity to build international partnerships while experiencing a new culture and creating life-long friendships. We met local Rotarians and Rotaractors to learn about their priorities and talk about club and district projects in need of assistance.  More than 30 West African projects were exhibited during the Fair– all well planned and well explained.

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I was part of a group of 34 international visitors from Canada, England, Guadalupe, Mauritius, Rwanda, Turkey and the United States. We met more than 100 participants from West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. We listened to presentations from The Rotary Foundation on the new grant model and sustainability, Rotary’s project resources, Rotary’s Areas of Focus, and stewardship. We met with each project exhibitor to learn about their initiative and discuss projects in hopes of working with each of our clubs and districts back home to partner on at least one of the exhibited projects.

We toured Abidjan with our hosts, visited with the U.S. Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire and Embassy staff, and attended a welcome reception with cultural shows.  We also participated in a Polio immunization day accompanied by Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Mines and Industry and the Country Director for the Center for Disease Control. We visited a Global Grant project site, met with the Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire and attended a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Mines and Industry.

I came away proud to belong to the Rotary family and burning with a desire to do more, to make a difference. I want to say to my friend, who was “most unimpressed” by his efforts to help a developing country: it is time we rethink the way we do international projects.

We are an army of friends with bountiful expertise and experience that can be leveraged to help the community prosper. As international partners, it’s our turn to express our desire to help and then close our mouths, open our ears, and work in partnership to support our international friends.

The end result will be most thrilling.

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The 2016 West Africa Project Fair will be hosted 19-26 October in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. More information about the 2016-17 project fairs will be available here throughout the coming weeks.

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Wine enthusiasts address food insecurity in Portugal

By Conrad C. Heede, Past District Governor of District 5790 and President of the Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship

RWAF members enjoying a wine dinner in Portugal.
RWAF members enjoying a wine dinner in Portugal.

Every year, the Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship (RWAF) members plan exciting wine-related events at the annual RI Conventions. Claire Larson, a member of the Rotary e-Club Porches International and an avid wine aficionado and collector, volunteered to plan our Fellowships’ activities at the 2013 RI Convention in Lisbon, Portugal. Through her connections to the local wine trade, Claire set up seven events including nightly wine dinners at different venues, two cooking courses and a wine tour of the Douro Valley.

In appreciation for all her work to plan these events, the Fellowship decided to undertake a humanitarian project in the Algarve, Claire’s home base. Immediately, Claire announced food security was her local community’s greatest challenge. I found it hard to believe that parts of Portugal experienced food insecurity and shortages. In 2013, the economy in the Algarve was extremely unstable. Claire’s club at the time, Rotary Club of Estoi Palace International, was supporting the all-volunteer Food Bank of Algarve and could not provide enough food for the growing demand. The food bank could only distribute the food that was delivered to them and had trouble securing fresh produce and products without a refrigerated vehicle to collect excess food from stores and farms in surrounding areas.

The Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship put together a USD $53,000 Matching Grant to purchase a fully-equipped refrigerated food truck, complete with 300 heavy duty plastic food baskets. The grant was funded almost entirely by RWAF members from five countries with assistance from the Grapevine Rotary Club, Texas, USA. (Matching Grants have since been phased out; learn more about Foundation grants at www.rotary.org/grant.)

RWAF members model the new truck.
RWAF members model the new truck.

The vehicle was officially presented to the Food Bank at their Faro warehouse several months later.  The project was well-promoted by local and national press, radio and TV network coverage and the Food Bank formally accepted the keys to the vehicle and presented a short video message thanking our Rotary Fellowship for this project.

Almost 25,000 people receive monthly food parcels from the Food Bank of Algarve. Thousands of people in the Algarve now have access to more food and healthier fresh produce options. The vehicle is now also used to redistribute produce to a second warehouse in Portimão, about 50 miles away.

The Rotarian Wine Appreciation Fellowship includes more than 3,800 members in 62 countries. The group strives to educate Rotarians on how to best enjoy wine and properly pair wine and food while meeting friends with a mutual love for wine from all over the world. The group also heavily emphasized involvement in local and international humanitarian projects to help make this world a better place.

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Medical myths inspire fellowship and service

By Dr. John Philip, Past District Governor of District 1040 and Chairman of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors

John (back row, middle) and wife Chris (back row, left) with a local family they have befriended in Ukerewe.
John (back row, middle) and wife Chris (back row, left) with a local family they have befriended in Ukerewe.

In 2009, I led a team of volunteers on a trip to the island of Ukerewe, Tanzania, where I met with the Chairman of the Ukerewe Albino Society. A slogan scribbled in black ink on the wall of his simple mud hut office caught my attention: We do not melt in the sun, we do not disappear, we live and die like normal people.

Since 2009, my wife Chris and I have visited Ukerewe, Africa’s largest island, ten times with volunteer groups to support the local community, including those with albinism. The Government of Tanzania had declared Ukerewe a safe haven for people with albinism and the island’s small albino community lives in relative safety.

Unfortunately, people with albinism living on mainland Tanzania, particularly in the Lake Victoria region, live under constant threat. Skin colour has always divided nations and communities. Recently, the absence of skin colour, an inherited condition called Albinism, has put a price tag on people’s lives and on their body parts in some regions of the globe. People with Albinism lack of melanin pigment in their skin and appear to have “white” skin, sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation and risk of developing skin cancer and significant sight problems.

While numbers vary, an estimated one in every 20,000 people has some form of albinism in North America and Europe.  In Tanzania, albinos represent one in every 1,429 births, more than in any other nation. According to Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer, an albino Member of Parliament, 6,977 documented and up to 17000 undocumented Persons with Albinism (PWA) live in Tanzania. [i]

In Tanzania, the albino community is stigmatised, exclude from education and employment, often physically assaulted and sometimes brutally murdered.  They live in fear because of widespread myths that their body parts have magical powers. It is becoming increasingly more common to seek out albino limbs; the body parts are believed to bring good luck – they can help win elections, make businesses successful and destroy enemies.

Alfred Kapole, Chairman of Ukerewe's Albino Society. Photo courtesy of John Philip
Alfred Kapole, Chairman of Ukerewe’s Albino Society. Photo courtesy of John Philip

We knew we couldn’t turn a blind eye to this terrible situation. After I presented the case for a Rotary project to the Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors, we circulated information about our plans to the wider Rotary network and received support from the USA, France, Portugal, Sweden, Geneva and India. Working with the Rotary Club of Moshi, Tanzania, as the local host club, and Mirfield Rotary Club in the UK as the international partner, we obtained a global grant to run a two year holistic project to help people with albinism in Tanzania.

The main aspects of the programme include:

Village education and peace building – Through a series of meetings at the heart of the community with high incidence of violence against PWAs, we will seek to change beliefs and myths about Albinism. Several meetings have already taken place in the Mara region and the communities’ response has exceeded all expectations. One village leader in Chitari said “We’ll not tolerate any attacks on the Albinos. They are our brothers and sisters.”

Improved Health care – We will work with local health providers to ensure PWAs have access to affordable skin cancer screenings and eye care.

Vocational training and microcredit loans– We will provide training opportunities to PWAs to improve their skills, acquire new skills, and improve their earning potential. The Musoma Rotary Club has launched a training programme and microcredit project to help PWAs. Seven groups have already been formed, each being a mixed group – albinos and nonalbinos. Our hope is that by working together, they will come to appreciate that beneath our varied external appearances we are all the same.

We strive to help a marginalized and discriminated community claim their rightful place in the society and live without fear or prejudice and ensure they ‘live and die like normal people’.

For more information about this project, contact PDG Dr. John Philip.

The International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors consists of Rotary members, their spouses, and Rotaractors who are doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers. The group shares a vision for supporting and promoting global health improvements, an enthusiasm for making advancements through volunteerism, and a strong commitment to support local and international healthcare initiatives.

Related:

[i] International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

 

 

Happy Rotary Fellowships Month!

By Zuhal Sharp, RI Programs staff

06_01_Rotary Fellowships MonthFriendship is one of the primary reasons our members join and stay in Rotary. To help foster these life-long relationships, Rotary Fellowships offer Rotarians, their spouses, and Rotaractors opportunities to connect with one another while enjoying favorite recreational or professional activities. There are currently 64 Rotary Fellowships covering 64 unique topics of interests from tennis to wine appreciation, marathon running to cooking, scuba diving to recreational vehicles, jazz to computers, and more. Rotary Fellowships organize regional and international events, contests, and meetings where their members bond and build lasting friendships outside their clubs, districts, and even countries. Every year, nearly half of these groups attend the RI convention, exhibit in the House of Friendship, and organize events to practice their favorite activities and strengthen relationships with fellow members.

Whether providing a refrigerated food truck to a food bank in Faro, Portugal, or partnering with Rotary clubs on a humanitarian service project to help a marginalized community with albinism in Ukerewe, Tanzania, many Rotary Fellowships also use their hobby or vocation for service activities. Several Fellowships have been leveraging their major events such as annual sporting championships or dinners as a platform to raise funds for Rotary’s PolioPlus program.

Check back here throughout the month of June to help us celebrate Rotary Fellowships Month through inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.

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Relief and recovery efforts in Nepal

By Gary C.K. Huang, 2014-15 Rotary International President

Devastation in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital captured by Rotaractor Ashish Chaulagain. Photo courtesy of ShelterBox
Devastation in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital captured by Rotaractor Ashish Chaulagain. Photo courtesy of ShelterBox

Joined by Rotary members worldwide, we express our profound sadness and extend our sympathies to all those impacted by the devastation resulting from the 25 April deadly earthquake in Nepal. Rescue missions and emergency aid continue to arrive in Nepal as 8 million people have been impacted by the massive 7.8 magnitude quake.

As we mourn the thousands of lost lives, Rotary joins many international agencies in providing immediate relief to survivors and mobilizing our expertise to support long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts throughout the country.

Thank you to everyone who has expressed their concerns and desires to assist the devastated communities in Nepal:

  • District 3292, Nepal, has established a disaster relief fund to provide needed equipment and supplies to impacted communities. Contact District Governor Kumar Piya for information about contributing to the fund.
  • ShelterBox response team member Nicola Hinds with Geeta Shrestha, Nursing Director at one of the Kathmandu hopsitals that have received ShelterBox tents. Photo courtesy of Phil Duloy/ShelterBox.
    ShelterBox response team member Nicola Hinds with Geeta Shrestha, Nursing Director at one of the Kathmandu hopsitals that have received ShelterBox tents. Photo courtesy of Phil Duloy/ShelterBox.

    Rotary’s service partner ShelterBox is working closely with Nepali Rotary members to coordinate immediate relief efforts. On Monday, 27 April, and Wednesday, 29 April, Rotarians greeted ShelterBox response teams in Nepal who will mobilize temporary housing and relief efforts in impacted communities. Two more relief teams will arrive in Nepal this weekend. Working with local authorities, an initial 500 housing tents and 500 shelter kits will be distributed throughout impacted communities. An estimated additional 2,500 kits, tents, water purification kits and solar lamps may be deployed once further assessments are complete. Learn more about supporting ShelterBox’s relief efforts.

  • As with all disasters, the Rotary family may apply for global grants to support long-term recovery efforts in Nepal. Once immediate health, safety, and relief efforts have been addressed, work with local Nepali Rotary members and their international partners to develop projects within Rotary’s six areas of focus.

Monitor the announcements section of My Rotary for more information as it becomes available and do not hesitate to contact relief@rotary.org with any questions.

Our thoughts are with our Nepali neighbors during this difficult time. Thank you for continuing to Light Up Rotary through your compassion and generosity.

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