Rotary news in brief from around the globe
Wheels of Hope, a collaboration between Rotarians in Nigeria and Traverse City, Michigan, USA, is providing free wheelchairs to polio survivors in northern Nigeria.
Rotary clubs around the globe have many things in common, including a commitment to service. All year long, clubs are taking action to make a difference in their communities. Here’s a roundup of recent club activities worldwide:
Last year, flooding in Cambodia killed 247 people and displaced more than 200,000 families. As floodwaters receded, diseases such as cholera and dengue fever emerged. The Rotary clubs of Eltham, Australia, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, coordinated the distribution of Aquaboxes – tanks that can purify up to 290 gallons of contaminated water – to families, medical centers, and schools.
Malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and illnesses caused by lack of sanitation have devastated many villages in South Africa. In rural Hluvukani, the nonprofit Kunavelela Community Project maintains a communal garden to help nourish residents affected by disease. Last year, the Rotary Club of Bowen Island, B.C., pledged to raise funds to purchase and install a windmill, water tanks, and a basic irrigation system to support the garden. Bowen Island club members, working with the Rotary Club of Burnaby, B.C., raised more than US$12,000, and the village now has a reliable water supply.
During an event at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, 2011-12 RI President Kalyan Banerjee spoke about the success of the fight against polio. The occasion was a charity dinner celebrating a full year without a case of the disease in India. Guests included British Home Secretary Theresa May and Ian Macfadyen, constable and governor of Windsor Castle. BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh, who traveled to India in February for a series on the polio eradication campaign, was the event’s keynote speaker.
Lake Izabal, at 228 square miles, is Guatemala’s largest lake and an important fishing area. Fisheries biologists are working with the Rotary Club of Guatemala de la Ermita and a Guatemala City dive shop called Pana Divers to improve underwater habitats by building artificial reefs. In 2010, they sank 62 concrete balls to protect shallow-growing sea grasses and to shelter food fish such as Vieja maculicauda and Mojarra luminosa. This June, they completed the project by sinking 161 additional balls about 130 feet from shore, which should provide local fishermen with 1,500 tons of fish annually. The club raised US$10,000 for the effort through a golf tournament and barbecue cook-off.
Indian Rotary clubs’ work to eradicate polio is highlighted in a new book by Muriel Sukumaran, a retired microbiologist and wife of Past District Governor P. Sukumaran. “I wanted everyone to know Rotary was involved in a big way,” she says. The book, titled Microbia and published in July, personifies the microbes that cause influenza, smallpox, the bubonic plague, and cholera (in addition to polio) in a narrative format to make microbiology interesting to a lay audience.
Wheels of Hope, a collaboration between Rotarians in Nigeria and Traverse City, Michigan, USA, is providing free wheelchairs to polio survivors in northern Nigeria. The hand-crank wheelchairs – built and donated by the Handicapped Advocacy and Rehabilitation Center, founded in 2007 in the city of Jos – can navigate rugged terrain and are in high demand. Rotarians in Nigeria and five U.S. districts, along with the Rotarian Action Group for Polio Survivors and Associates, raised US$120,000 – including a $63,385 Rotary Foundation Matching Grant cosponsored by the Rotary clubs of Naraguta, Nigeria, and Traverse City – that has allowed the center to build 1,000 wheelchairs for polio survivors.
Nearly 49 million Americans don’t have enough to eat – including 79 percent of students at Greene County High School in Georgia. The Rotary Club of Greene and Putnam Counties has launched Second Harvest to help neighbors who are struggling with grocery bills. In 2008, the program began collecting food that otherwise would have been thrown away from grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels. The food is distributed through local pantries and monthly events at the high school. The Rotarians are working with Boy Scouts, the Humane Society, and Meals on Wheels, and the program has provided more than 500,000 pounds of food to families.
U.S. Virgin Islands
In December 2010, the Rotary Club of St. Thomas delivered 49 virtual babies to four schools as part of Baby Think It Over, a program that aims to demonstrate the pressures and responsibilities of being a parent. The club raised more than $28,000 to provide the babies, which come equipped with computer chips that record how the students care for them over several days. The effort, which the St. Thomas club has sponsored since 1996, has been credited with helping to reduce the rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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