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People of action around the globe

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United States

What began with a mother’s request for an all-terrain wheelchair for her daughter with spina bifida has grown into an initiative spanning several high schools in Georgia. In February 2019, the robotics-oriented Interact Club of Etowah High School in Woodstock delivered its first mechanized wheelchair, created with help from Go Baby Go, a mobility project of the University of Delaware. The Interact club was soon fielding requests for more devices. Inspired by the response, the club created the Interact First Alliance, a consortium of like-minded Interact clubs in Canton, East Cobb, Tucker, and Woodstock dedicated to getting students involved in science and technology.

More than 15 million people participate in weekly Zumba fitness classes in 186 countries.


Led by professional instructors brought in by the Rotary Club of Campana, about 300 Zumba enthusiasts stepped up funding for emergency responders. The gathering, in May 2019, raised a portion of the $3,000 needed to purchase a thermal-imaging camera for volunteer firefighters in the community, says Club President Walter Waisman. The Latin-styled dance workout, held in a school gymnasium, injected energy into the club’s 80th anniversary celebration. In recent years, the club’s projects have funded scholarships for high school students, farming equipment for an agricultural school, and stock for an eyeglasses bank.


Since 2012, the Rotary Club of Fermo has been helping inmates of an area prison find their voice. The club equipped the prison with computers and provided professional guidance to help the inmates produce a newsletter, L’Altra Chiave News, translated as The Other Key News. Angelica Malvatani, a club member and journalist, visits the Fermo prison weekly to work with the inmates to write news articles and editorials and design the publication, which prints hundreds of copies quarterly. “Through the newsletter they feel more responsible for their choices and seek to be appreciated for what they are: men, fathers, sons, brothers, simply persons,” says Malvatani.

Image credit: Rotary Club of Prague-International

Czech Republic

In May 2019, spectators lined the banks of the Vltava River as 27 teams made a splash during the 10th Dragon Boat Charity Challenge. The race, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Prague-International, raised $25,000 for three charities: Život 90, a support organization for seniors; Nadace Naše dítě, which helps abused children and children with disabilities; and Výbor dobré vůle, which aids people with disabilities. The 17-person teams, with 16 paddlers and one drummer to keep the rhythm, paddled the course as fast as possible and built a little Bohemian bonhomie, notes Christian Noll, a club member who helped organize the competition with assistance from the Czech Dragon Boat Association. Teams were formed by companies, clubs, organizations, and friends. “In terms of who won? Of course the charities won by receiving hundreds of thousands of [Czech] crowns in donations. As for the race, the Rotary Club of Praha-Staré Město won,” says Prague-International member Josef Simpartl. The 2020 race is scheduled for 23 May.

Rain-related weather events kill five people every day in India.


After heavy rainfall in August 2018 unleashed floodwaters and triggered landslides, Rotarians from clubs in southeast India’s District 3181 and around the world rallied to collect money for the victims. By June 2019, the Rebuild Kodagu Trust Committee had completed 25 houses, which cost a little more than $7,000 each. The homes were dedicated by 2011-12 Rotary President Kalyan Banerjee, who was one of the driving forces behind the project. The beneficiaries were selected with help from Habitat for Humanity India, which also helped coordinate construction. Another 25 houses were expected to be turned over to their new owners in March.


• This story originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of The Rotarian magazine.