Annual tennis tournament brings together Rotarians from all over the world

By Rotary Service Connections Staff

The International Tennis Fellowship of Rotarians held their 11th  annual world championship tournament in southern Georgia, USA.  44 competitors from nine countries, including Italy, Romania, and Paraguay, and from around the U.S. participated in the tournament. They arrived to play tennis, but they came as much for the fellowship and camaraderie. Read more about this story featured in The Rotarian.

“This fellowship deal, it’s a part of Rotary that 90 percent of Rotarians know nothing about and don’t have an idea of what they’re missing. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity. There’s nothing better than being hosted in a foreign country by fellow Rotarians with whom you have a connection not only through tennis but through friendship. They show you what the real country is, what the real food is, the real average, everyday events and life.” — Eugene McNease, avid tennis player and Vice Chair the International Tennis Fellowship of Rotarians

P1010138Since the International Tennis Fellowship of Rotarians was founded in 2004, its tournaments, including the championships, have raised more than $300,000 for Rotary projects, according to Fellowship Chair Mladen Novaković. The group has grown quickly to 1,494 members from 72 countries.

Visit the group’s website or contact Fellowship Chair Mladen Novaković to get involved!

Beer enthusiasts celebrate fellowship at the Korea Convention

Beers Rotarians Enjoy Worldwide (BREW) Fellowship is an international community of Rotarians who enjoy and appreciate the fine art of brewing, tasting and drinking of beer. Since water is a primary ingredient in beer, BREW also strives to support efforts and projects that bring clean water to those in need. Follow BREW on Facebook for more information and contact Fellowship Chair, Moses Aryee, or to join today!

Below are some pictures of their annual summit at the 2016 Rotary International Convention in Korea:

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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!



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.



Combining vocational service and fellowship


By Dr. Charles Grant, Rotary Club of North Shore (Houston), Texas, USA, and Chair of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Educators

Last year when I received the June issue of the Rotarian magazine, I noticed the listing of all the Rotary Fellowships.  Before then, I wasn’t that familiar with fellowships, I thought they were just for Rotarians who were interested in the same hobbies like chess, golf, or yachting.  I didn’t know there were vocationally oriented fellowships as well.  I looked at the list and saw a few fellowships for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and police & law enforcement but I thought there were many missing, so I went on to to see if there were more and there weren’t. That’s when I decided I wanted to take action.

The last sentence on that page of The Rotarian encouraged those interested in forming a new fellowship to contact and so I did. Zuhal Sharp, the Service and Networking Programs Specialist at Rotary International, helped start the process of forming a brand new fellowship for educators. To qualify, we had to have at least 25 interested members from three different countries.  We had interested Rotarians from seven countries!  During this time I met Maria Bossa from the Rotary Club of Río Tercero, Argentina,  who is now our Fellowship Secretary.

Maria had been using Rotary Discussion Groups to exchange ideas and had started the Rotarian Educators group which has more than 200 members and is one of the most active groups in My Rotary! She always had the dream of transforming the group into a fellowship. Maria found out about my fellowship idea and contacted me telling me she wanted to get involved. Through our collaborative efforts, we were able to make Maria’s dream a reality.

At the start of the 2015-16 Rotary year in July, I met with Belinda Kaylani from the Rotary E-Club of Houston, USA, on her first day as District 5890’s Fellowship Chair to discuss the idea.  She helped me get all the required signatures and documents for our proposal which was submitted and approved in December 2015!

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. We also hope to provide access to education, especially for girls, in many developing countries.

Get involved

It is important to note that one does NOT have to an educator by trade to be a part of our fellowship. Anyone who has a passion for or interest in education is encouraged to join.  Frankly, I don’t know of any Rotarians who aren’t interested in education.  We all know that education is the key to a better quality of life!  Contact me for more information.

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.



International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians encourages youth service

By Steve Henning, Rotary Club of Kutztown, USA, and member of the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians

In the early 1990’s, several Rotarians who were also Scouters met and discussed how to provide an outlet for other Rotarians who shared their same interest through a Rotary Fellowship. The principles and goals of Rotary and Scouting are closely aligned: serving our community, others, and ourselves, developing leadership skills, building character, and becoming aware of the world around us.

A group of British Rotarians interested in scouting formed the basis of the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians (IFSR). An organizing meeting was held at the Rotary International Convention in Mexico City in 1991 and shortly after the fellowship was approved. The Fellowship’s first formal meeting was held in Marseille, France; today we have more than 1000 members worldwide and promote the Rotary motto of Service Above Self.

IFSR is a group of Rotarians dedicated to promoting the scouting movement internationally. We aim to develop a strong international network of Rotarians with a passion for scouting. IFSR provides opportunities for social and fellowship interaction among its members. We also give active encouragement to scouting at local, national and international levels and recognize individuals who have provided exceptionally unique service to scouting and Rotary.

We are committed to supporting youth in their physical, mental and spiritual development through a strong focus on the outdoors and survival skills. We encourage youth service and honor Rotary clubs who provide service to or work with Scouts with the IFSR Youth Service Award.  Below are some recent recipients of this award:

  • In the Cayman Islands, seniors were in for a special treat when young ladies from the Girl Guides, Brownies and Rainbows spent the evening with them at the Cayman Brac Rotary Club’s Annual Senior Citizen Dinner. Seniors were treated to a traditional Caymanian Christmas dinner and each given a gift prepared by the Rotarians.
  • In Australia, the Diamantina Scouts lost their scout hall when the building was targeted by arsonists in 2010. Through sausage sizzles and badge sales, the group raised more than USD $20,000. With the support of the Rotary Club of Belconnen, the Scouts Australia ACT branch raised the remaining USD $130,000 needed to rebuild.
  • The Brentwood Noon Rotary Club of Tennessee in the United Sates held its 11th Annual Little Harpeth River Cleanup, cleaning up nearly 3,000 pounds of trash in a river that runs more than 10 miles through the city. In addition to Rotary club members, volunteers from the Boy Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs helped.
  • In England, thanks to a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Sherborne Castles, 21 members of the 1st Sherborne Girl Guides will take part in a camping trip.

Membership in the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians is open to Rotarians, family members, program participants and alumni in any country, who are also former current members or supporters of any (girl or boy) Scout or Guide Association. Learn more on our website and join today!

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.



Fostering international understanding through Rotary Fellowships

By Franco Clemente, Rotary E-Club of and Chair of the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotarian Fellowship  

My first encounter with Rotary Fellowships was in 1993 when the Magna Graecia Fellowship hosted their annual tour in South Italy. This was the first time I met Rotarians from around the world and enjoyed their fellowship. In 1994, I took part in the Italian Rotarian Ski Championship with my family, spending a week in the mountains alongside Rotarian skiers. In 1997, I joined the Yachting Fellowship (IYFR), launching the South Italy Fleet, and since then I have taken part in meetings all around the world, making friends with Rotarian sailors from everywhere:  Hawaii, England, the Philippines and Spain.

I joined Rotary in 1992, and I almost immediately appreciated its huge global network. Along with that I appreciated the wide variety of Rotary Fellowships. I’ve been a member of many Fellowships, and I have participated as a guest in many events organized by other Fellowships. My family has always been involved in these activities, and I can say that Rotary Fellowships helped my daughters understand what Rotary really is, since in Italy we tend to be a little too formal and serious in our meetings.

I was among the founders of the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotary Fellowship (ICWRF) and I can say that this fellowship truly embodies the Rotary spirit. ICWRF originated from the common activities of a small group of Rotarians from different continents who met through Rotary exchanges and international projects, and for almost ten years had been using their friendships to support their own district’s international projects.

The ICWRF is open to all Rotarians, their spouses, Rotaractors and Rotary alumni to be used as an international service network for those interested in Italian culture, living abroad, and meeting Italian Rotarians. ICWRF’s purpose is to promote collaboration among various cultures, people and countries, using the Rotary network for better understanding how different cultures adapt and integrate with each other, and paying particular attention to immigration problems and fostering international understanding.

Since the formation of ICWRF, my Rotary life has changed, as has my personal life. On one hand, I had a new means of getting in touch with old Rotarian friends, often met through other Rotary Fellowships. I have led quite an unconventional life. I have lived in many different countries, and I have always been grateful to Rotary for the opportunity to make so many friends, and to serve locally with them. Unfortunately, changing jobs and changing countries, I have lost touch with a lot of them.

I had the incredible pleasure of being contacted by young Rotarians from London, England and Tirana, Albania who formed new ICWRF teams in their nations. These teams included friends of mine who I hadn’t seen for years but they recognized my name and got in touch with me. I’ve been living in the Arabian Peninsula for the last three years – the last two in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), where Rotary is currently not present – and believe me, it was very good getting in touch with so many new friends, and being able to serve, even from the remote KSA. Miracles of Rotary!

Every year the Italian Culture Worldwide Rotary Fellowship (ICWRF) observes the Day of Remembrance on 8 August to concentrate our actions on celebrating immigration and analyzing common and shareable roots to better understanding different cultures. Contact me to learn how you can get involved.

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.



Providing service through Rotary Fellowships

By Ralf Ludewig, Rotary Club of Bad Kissingen, Germany, and Chair of the Fellowship of Rotarian Marathon Runners

The Fellowship of Rotarian Marathon Runners (IMFR) was founded in France in 2006. The initial idea for forming the fellowship came after the very first group of Rotarian runners formed a team that took part in the Paris Marathon of 2005, with more than 200 Rotarians running for Rotary. The founding of IMFR was celebrated in October of 2006 in Berlin, Germany during the Berlin Marathon. Since then, IMFR has taken part in many marathons around the world (New York, London, Paris, Australia, Vienna, Rome and many more). This year we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary in Budapest, Hungary this October!

I’ve been a member of IMFR since the very first team in Berlin and I’ve never regretted the decision. I’ve met many Rotarians from all parts of the world and our fellowship events are always a lot of fun and filled with enthusiasm. It’s wonderful to meet so many people who share your same interest of running and Rotary values. The highlight of my experience with IMFR was when we took a three-week trip to Australia where we were crowned the largest team of participants in the Townsville Marathon.

Our 10th anniversary in Budapest from 7-10 October will be a very special event. There will be a chance to run shorter distances (10 km, 30 km). That’s a great opportunity for EVERYONE to have fun, learn more about our fellowship and members, and enjoy a nice weekend with Rotarians while doing good. Proceeds from the event will go towards the Rotary project Gift of Life, which is saving children with heart diseases.

The IMFR board, the Rotary Club of Budapest-Center and the District Governor Elect of Hungary Ilona Pénzes have all been planning the program for this event for over a year and it’s something you don’t want to miss!

Join us and please pass along this information to any Rotarian you think would be interested. Help us become the largest group of participants in the Budapest Marathon and help as many children with heart diseases as possible. Learn more about IMFR and about this special event on our website and like us on Facebook for the latest updates. Thank you very much for your support.

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.



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.



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

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.