Child mortality conference draws 10,000 in Korea
RI President Dong Kurn Lee presents a check on behalf of Korean Rotarians for W500 million (US$431,890) to two organizations working to reduce childhood mortality. Photo courtesy Rotary Korea
Nearly 10,000 Korean Rotarians gathered on 2 September to pledge their commitment to reducing child mortality, the focus of RI President Dong Kurn Lee's service emphases for 2008-09.
"Together, we can save a child who is at the threshold of death," Lee told the audience at the Kintex convention center in Ilsan, Korea.
On behalf of the gathered Rotarians, Lee presented a check for W500 million (US$431,890) to two Korean organizations working to reduce child mortality, Korea Foundation for International Healthcare and Community Chest of Korea. The groups will match the funds with the goal of building a small hospital dedicated to mother and child care in Africa.
Conference attendees spent the morning in a symposium on child mortality with medical and academic experts and a UNICEF representative. In the afternoon, Rotarians heard from the heads of several nongovernmental organizations, such as World Vision Korea.
"It was awesome to see 10,000 Rotarians gathered in one place to get energized and educated about reducing child mortality," said Past District Governor Sang Koo Yun.
Korean President Myung-bak Lee, a Rotarian, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent video messages to the gathering. Reducing child mortality is one of the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
"I am heartened that President D.K. Lee and Rotary International have also taken up this issue," Ban said. "I am sure this will bring the same energy and dedication as Rotary [has] marshaled in the fight against polio."
At the end of the event, Rotarians adopted a statement on child mortality.
A second presidential conference on child mortality will be held in Singapore on 6 March.