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People of action around the globe

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About 300,000 Nicaraguans are permanent residents of Costa Rica.

Nicaragua

To help bring together a nation riven by political turmoil, the Rotary Club of Ciudad Sandino and the Rotary Community Corps of Nueva Vida, which it sponsors, created a peace-building workshop designed to encourage civil discourse. Trained moderators led the three-day workshop in November, which cost the club only $250. “The facilitators told their own experiences of solving conflicts non-violently through humor and creativity,” says club member Becca Mohally Renk. The 25 participants from the Rotary club and the RCC played games designed to reinforce peacebuilding strategies and discussed examples of how they employ empathy in their personal lives.

United States

Every year, Greg Asimakoupoulos, a member of the Rotary Club of Mercer Island, Washington, watched as participants in his Rotary club’s annual charity half-marathon ran past the front doors of the church where he was the lead pastor. In 2010, Asimakoupoulos canceled Sunday morning services on race day and asked the congregation to consider getting involved as volunteers or athletes. About 200 of the 300 churchgoers participated. When Asimakoupoulos moved to a new position as chaplain of a retirement home in 2013, he recruited residents there to support the race as well. He sees it as a demonstration that “faith groups and Rotary can work together on a bigger vision.”

Ghana

Rotarians and Rotaractors in the Accra area have hit the beach with a campaign to clean up the shoreline along the Gulf of Guinea. For five years, the Rotary clubs of Accra-Spintex, Tema Meridian, and Tema-Sakumono have teamed with the Rotaract Club of Regional Maritime University to collect garbage along the coast between Accra and Tema, a town about 18 miles east of the capital. In April, dozens of volunteers converged on Sakumono Beach, where local fishermen sometimes net more trash than fish. Besides helping the environment and benefiting the fishermen, the effort heightens the area’s tourism potential, says Accra-Spintex club member Prosper Edem Amevordzie.

Image credit: Rotary club of Warszawa Zoliborz

Poland

To help fund an education program on the dangers of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), the Rotary Club of Warszawa Zoliborz has organized annual jazz concerts. At the 2019 event, renowned Polish jazz singer, composer, and violinist Dorota Mis´kiewicz was the headliner.

At least 1 in 50 Polish school-children are affected by FASD, according to Polish government researchers. To address the problem, the Warszawa Zoliborz Rotary club inaugurated a program to educate women about the risks of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. The club distributed an informational booklet and held public events on International FASD Awareness Day, 9 September. The club’s Facebook page about the initiative targets educated, professional women, a group that is sometimes overlooked by similar outreach programs.

“The subject of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is very close to us,” club member Ania Markowska-Kejler says, because the club regularly works with a local orphanage. The club members, she says, “have seen firsthand the limitations caused by this syndrome.” According to a 2014 study, about 900 children in Poland are born each year with full fetal alcohol syndrome — the most serious, and irreversible, manifestation of FASD.

Roughly 1,200 butterfly species can be found in Malaysia, and 33 species of birds are endemic to Sabah state alone.

Malaysia

After a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck Borneo in June 2015, the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu mobilized to help local mountain guides whose income suffered when Mount Kinabalu was closed to tourism for several months. Led by club member Stephen Sutton, an entomologist and enthusiast of the rare Kinabalu birdwing butterfly, the club provided training in ornithology and entomology for 10 local tourist guides. The club sponsored the first Sabah Kids Bird and Butterfly Festival and gave courses on birds and butterflies to residents who host travelers in their homes. The club hopes to nurture a sustainable ecotourism industry.

— BRAD WEBBER

• This story originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of The Rotarian magazine.

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