Emphases key to Lee’s lofty challenge
After RI President Wilfrid J. Wilkinson talked about RI President-elect Dong Kurn Lee's new emphases, Lee and his wife, Young, wave to the crowd of district governors-elect.
The 2008-09 theme challenge to reduce the child mortality rate is a tall order, RI President Wilfrid J. Wilkinson told incoming district governors at the International Assembly yesterday, but by working within the framework of Rotary’s emphases set by RI President-elect Dong Kurn Lee, it's a goal worth achieving.
Guided by Lee's emphases of water, health and hunger, and literacy, Rotarians can help prevent needless deaths of children, Wilkinson said. “There is no question that this is something that Rotary is very capable of doing.”
Wilkinson told district governors-elect that the lack of safe water worldwide contributes to at least 6,000 preventable deaths of children under the age of five every day. It's why the first emphasis in 2008-09 will ask district leaders to encourage clubs to create water and sanitation projects.
"Every Rotary club should be proud of the work they do in this area, and every Rotary club should be involved in work in this area, directly or in partnership in other clubs," he said.
Health and hunger is the second emphasis of the upcoming Rotary year. Wilkinson cited bleak statistics of children dying from preventable diseases such as acute respiratory infection, diarrheal illnesses, and malaria. Prevention begins with knowledge, he said.
"All of us need to know what it is that kills children," said Wilkinson. "If we are to stop the deaths, we must understand the causes."
The third emphasis for 2008-09 is literacy "because many of the issues affecting children's health are issues of access, knowledge, and education," Wilkinson said. Rotarians can provide children education, a gift that only improves the future generations.
Reducing child mortality is a "monumental" task, Wilkinson told the audience, but one he believes the global network of Rotarians is uniquely capable of taking on. "We talk a lot in Rotary about the need to balance ambition and realism, our minds and our hearts, small projects with large ones. I can't think of any better example of how to do this well than President-elect Lee's theme and emphases for 2008-09."