Top five Rotary stories of 2011
Top: Damage from the March tsunami that devastated parts of Japan. Photo courtesy of Naoko Kurauchi
Bottom: RI President Kalyan Banerjee unveils the 2011-12 theme during the International Assembly in January. Rotary Images
From the tsunami in Japan to the launch of strategic partnerships that will help Rotary expand its reach, 2011 was an eventful year for Rotary International and Rotarians. As the year winds down, we share our list of the top five Rotary news events of 2011.
1. Tsunami strikes Japan
Rotary clubs and districts worldwide mobilized to bring aid to victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March. The 9.0-magnitude quake, the strongest in Japan's history, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread destruction, paralyzing much of the northern coast.
In response, The Rotary Foundation established the Rotary Japan 2011 Disaster Recovery Fund, which has raised almost US$6 million for long-term recovery projects.
The fund is being administered by a committee of local Rotarians who are identifying communities’ needs, managing the distribution of funds, overseeing and reporting on project implementation, and ensuring proper stewardship. Rotarians have already completed 10 projects with $400,000 from the recovery fund.
In addition, clubs and districts held benefits in support of tsunami victims, including a concert organized by Miki Okubo, a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar from Japan studying in Paris. Read more
2. RI theme
RI President Kalyan Banerjee unveiled the 2011-12 RI theme, Reach Within to Embrace Humanity, during the International Assembly in January. He urged the Rotary leaders-in-training to harness their inner strength to achieve success in Rotary.
3. The fight against polio
India has been making great strides toward polio eradication in 2011, with only one case of the virus reported from January through early December. Rotarians helped administer bivalent oral polio vaccine to more than 35 million children in the country during a Subnational Immunization Day on 13 November.
On 20 November, a team of Rotarians from District 3700 (Korea) served in a health camp in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, where children were immunized against the disease. The camp was organized by Indian Rotarians in cooperation with local health officials and UNICEF.
Rotarians also worked to get out the message about polio eradication for World Polio Day in October. In Australia, Rotarians and the Global Poverty Project carried out a petition drive to persuade world leaders to fully fund the critical work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Almost 25,000 supporters signed the petition, resulting in a A$20,000 (US$20,700) contribution to Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge by the Rotary Club of Crawley, Western Australia, which had offered to donate A$1 for each signature.
In Perth, the Global Poverty Project's End of Polio Concert on 28 October raised additional funds. The concert coincided with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the city; Rotarians had teamed up with the group to urge government leaders to put polio eradication on the agenda. After the meeting, the governments of Australia, Canada, and Nigeria, along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced a combined pledge of more than US$100 million to support polio eradication efforts.
4. 2011 RI Convention
More than 16,000 Rotarians from around the world converged on New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, in May for the 2011 RI Convention. Rotaractors, Rotarians, and Rotary Foundation alumni participated in service projects to help families still recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Among the highlights during four packed days of plenary and breakout sessions was a speech by Bill Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in which he praised Rotary for its success in the campaign to eradicate polio and urged Rotarians to redouble their efforts to keep the disease from spreading. Another speaker was Michael McQueen, a leading authority on youth trends, who said Generation Y has much to offer Rotary. Read more
5. Strategic partnerships
The Rotary Foundation Board of Trustees approved four strategic partnerships in 2011 under the Future Vision Plan. These partnerships will help Rotary broaden its impact in the areas of focus by offering service opportunities for Rotarians through packaged global grants.
Rotary clubs will be teaming up with UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education to train scientists and engineers to solve problems related to water and sanitation, particularly in developing countries. Grants will support scholarships for master's degree programs at the institute's campus in Delft, the Netherlands.
Through the partnership with Aga Khan University, vocational training teams will enhance the clinical and administrative skills of health educators at the university's campuses in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Rotarians will work with Oikocredit International to advance community and economic development through the Netherlands-based cooperative's network of microfinance institutions.
And the partnership with Mercy Ships will enable clubs to get involved in improving health care services in West Africa.
The packaged global grants are available to Future Vision pilot districts and clubs.