Skip to main content

Rotary projects around the globe

April 2024


United States

OysterFest has been a calendar highlight of the Pacific Northwest’s fishing industry for more than four decades. The two-day festival is hosted by the Rotary Club of Shelton Skookum, Washington. Last year’s event, held in October, attracted 13,000 seafood enthusiasts and raised $170,000 for community organizations. Seasoned seafarers and landlubbers alike got in some serious shelling, as the victor in a speed-shucking competition opened 24 oysters in 73 seconds. The champion in the half-shell — a separate challenge that also accounts for presentation, with penalties for errant cuts — clocked in at an adjusted time of 2 minutes and 10 seconds. “It is quite an event with the crowd cheering on their favorite to win,” says Laurie Brown, the club’s president-nominee. “Anyone can sign up, but most of the shuckers come from the various shellfish farms or restaurants.”


Passing rates on secondary school entrance exams that have dipped as low as 50 percent have vexed officials in Suriname. The Rotary Club of Paramaribo Residence, whose members include several teachers or retired educators, is aiming to improve those results and reduce dropout rates. In October, the club instituted a mathematics training project for around two dozen teachers at schools serving older children. The program includes courses on topics such as set theory, equations, functions, plane geometry, and trigonometry. “You have to use mathematics at every level of your life, and statistics show that in Suriname kids have low grades” in the subject, says club member Yvonne Mohabir. A retired school dean and Rotarian, Ewald Levens, leads the sessions, which are funded with the support of the Dutch Association of Mathematics Teachers.

  • $56.00 million

    Annual value of Washington’s farmed oysters

  • 75.00%

    Share of Surinamese children ages 7-14 who lack foundational numeracy skills


The Rotary Club of Macau’s meeting place — one of the world’s most profitable casinos — has turned out to be an ace in the hole for the club. Sands China, the operator of The Venetian Macao, sponsors the club’s signature project, a Christmas party for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It supports the gala that is the club’s primary fundraiser. And in December, Sands employees were among about 200 volunteers involved in a club effort to assemble 27,000 hygiene kits destined for the Philippines. The packages were provided to an organization that collects bath items from hospitality companies to be recycled and redistributed. Club President João Francisco Pinto says the club’s projects align with Sands’ philanthropic endeavors.


Nigeria has one of the world’s highest breast cancer mortality rates, a statistic that has not gone unnoticed by the Rotary Club of Ikoyi. “With an incredibly scary rise of the incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria, the club became saddled with the huge responsibility of combating this scourge with every resource available,” says club member Winifred Ebiye Imbasi. The club partnered with the Sarah Ayoka Oduwaiye Foundation to conduct free breast cancer screenings for more than 500 women at Lagos Island General Hospital in July 2023 and for 400 women in the neighborhood of Obalende in December. In January, the club held a Jazz Nite concert and awards ceremony at the Alliance Française theater to raise awareness.

  • 1.98 billion

    Number of people who lack basic hygiene services

  • 36.00%

    Three-year survival rate for Nigerian women with breast cancer


A stroll inspired Rod Morrison to suggest that his Rotary club in southeast Australia offer public tours of a structure that has long loomed beside the Barwon River: the 1878 Fyansford Paper Mill. Though listed by Australia as a heritage site, the mill and its legacy hadn’t received their due, says Morrison, a member of the Rotary Club of Highton. Rotary members pored over old photos and drawings to assemble displays for the 75-minute guided tours, which began in 2022. The mill made paper out of rags, ship sails, frayed rope, military uniforms, reeds, and other old fabrics until it closed in 1923. “It was one of Australia’s first recyclers,” Morrison says. During World War II the plant served as a secret sea mine facility for the Royal Australian Navy. The heritage tours have already generated more than US$12,000 for community projects, along with enthusiasm for history.

This story originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of Rotary magazine.

Rotary projects make a difference in communities around the world.