I have been a member of the Rotary Club of Boulder, Colo., USA, for more than 25 years, and a recipient of the RI Service Above Self Award. This Rotary year is the first in which emi> The Rotarian has achieved heights of excellence in so many issues. I have particularly enjoyed the issue devoted to latrines and clean water [“Nowhere to go,” January] because I annually volunteer my services in India, where there is such a need for this. The article was well presented and illustrated.
Likewise, the article on Paul Harris [“The remarkable Mr. Harris,” December] was extremely good in illustrating his life and times. I learned a great deal in an enjoyable way.
Richard F. Bedell
Lafayette, Colo., USA
My appreciation for the article on the latrines. The many reasons to go for a common toilet have been mentioned. However, I have some reservations.
One of the practical reasons for going out into the fields: It is much cleaner. To bring that many people to a common place takes a lot of education. Nobody feels ashamed doing their natural thing; only the outsider feels ashamed. No woman or man will have more time to earn a better living because they save time by going to a common toilet.
Cranbrook, B.C., Canada
I remember first noticing public defecation in India in 1930, when I was five years old. I traveled all over the country with my father, who worked in railways. As our train reached or left a railway station, I saw people of all ages squatting on high ground along ditches on both sides of the train. Until I was about 15, it never occurred to me that it was wrong!
The practice is not restricted to slums. In 1998, I stayed in a four-star hotel in an Indian city. As I sat in the dining room sipping my tea, I saw an educated man (he had a newspaper tucked in an armpit) peeing under a sign which read “Urinating is prohibited here.” The posh Defence Colony in New Delhi is bordered on one side by an open 15-foot-wide sewer. It is used extensively for defecating by poor people at all hours of the day.
People defecate in public because they have “nowhere to go.” The problem has quadrupled in India since its independence in 1947, but the number of public latrines has probably not even doubled. Rose George has focused on the subject of public defecation. But this problem is merely the symptom of the real problem of the exponentially increasing human population, not only in India but also in most third world countries. How long are we going to shove this major problem under the rug?
Edmonton, Alta., Canada
I read the December issue and was excited to see the story about anonymous giving, a long tradition of Rotary. I just wanted to add my share.
Giving is a service. The giver is a servant. In the pursuit of peace and a better world, philanthropy is just a single face of serving humanity.
Defending a nation from terrorists and warriors is a noble service to the soldier. Risking imprisonment and one’s dearest life for the cause of human rights and democracy is another noble service to the activist who struggles in dictatorial regimes. The list goes on like this. These givers rarely receive any merits.
If giving in the sense of serving humanity is followed by focused recognition toward the philanthropist, the balance of service and servanthood itself is disrupted, as the recognized are assumed to outweigh the unrecognized. What matters most in philanthropy is the giver and the cause; the name rarely does.
Yonathan Menkir Kassa
Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
You note many reasons to give anonymously. On a smaller scale, on 11 October, a major new stained-glass window, dedicated to the common mission of peace, was installed above the choir loft where Johann Sebastian Bach worked the last 27 years of his life and where he is buried. Because of Bach, St. Thomas church in Leipzig, Germany, is a prominent tourist destination. The major funding was donated anonymously to honor Rotary District 5890 (Texas, USA) and the sister city movement. The donor made two observations:
- If I donate in my own name, I have 30 minutes of renown. If I donate through Rotary, the dedication will have meaning for the whole millennium.
- I do not have to monitor the gift myself, because I trust that not one penny of my contribution will go astray.
Rotary works! Phil Cezeaux
Houston, Texas, USA
I was deeply moved by the article about Rotary clubs in Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor [“Sister clubs turn scars of war into bonds of peace,” Up Front, December].
Two cities, Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor. Two seeming foes, Seiki and Bob, so many miles apart. The two bury their hatchets and past, and undertake worthy enterprises. The two create bonds of peace, friendship, and understanding. What more can be said of this fulfillment of the Object of Rotary!
Are there any Rotarians in Jerusalem, Gaza, Beirut, and other areas of devastating conflict in the world to emulate this?
Getting Paul Harris
Congratulations on a really outstanding piece of work in the December issue. The piece on “The remarkable Mr. Harris” was just that. My 8- and 11-year-old sons devoured the comic strip and perhaps understand a little better why their father is so often in Rotary-related meetings, particularly as club president this year.
I believe that this strip can have lasting value if Rotary International would consent to publishing it in a format that is cost-effective and suitable for distribution to elementary school students. Not only can it have the wide application to teach students about the possibilities of one person making a lasting impact, but it can also offer an opportunity to recruit more 30-somethings like me when it is placed in the usual folder of papers coming home in the backpack with an explanation of how it got there and what a local Rotary club does. I hope you will consider reprinting this valuable piece.
Kenneth R. Robinson III
Perrysburg, Ohio, USA
Editor’s note: Buy reprints of the story at shop.rotary.org . To ask about bulk orders, contact RI’s Publications Order Services at 847-866-4600 or email@example.com .
Thank you for the article about Paul Harris. Because of its cartoonlike style, I was able to share it with my son. It was educational and fun to read. And it held special meaning to us.
In 2005, the year after my spouse passed away from cancer, our local Rotary club honored his memory by naming him a Paul Harris Fellow. Then in 2008, our Rotary club made it a goal to become a 100% Paul Harris Fellow Club. We met our goal, and I was once again presented with the award. My son has seen both of the awards and now has a better understanding of their background.
Nancy L. Thane
Caro, Mich., USA
Excellent story in December’s issue on the life of Paul Harris.
As a former club president and a Paul Harris Fellow, I would have excluded the part of the article mentioning his passion for cockfighting. Like dog fighting, this is a cruel and illegal sport that all Rotarians should abhor. It may be in cartoon form, but it is still not funny.
Bernard, Maine, USA
The December issue of The Rotarian carries me back a long way. In the early 1930s, my uncle, John B. Reynolds, was president of the Chicago club. I was in college at the time and visited him often. On a couple of occasions, I was his guest for lunch at the old Blackstone Hotel, when I had lunch with Paul Harris. Of course, I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I am the only Rotarian I know who can say that.
New York, N.Y., USA