Rotary projects around the globe
The Rotary Club of Conway-Morning, Arkansas, is aiming to deliver birthday messages to every child and young adult in the state’s foster care system. Between January and September, more than 2,100 cards had been mailed, with an anticipated 3,700 individuals to be reached annually. “These children already face great uncertainty and disappointments in their lives, and I strongly believe that to consistently remember them on their special day would give them hope to go on, and to show that others around them genuinely care for them,” says Mike Altland, a club member who started the campaign. A dozen or so Rotarian volunteers coordinate writing and forwarding cards to foster homes with the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services and The Call, a statewide nonprofit that works with churches to match children with families. American Greetings, which operates a production facility in the area, donated a supply of cards and envelopes expected to last nearly two years, Altland says.
The Rotary Club of Guadalajara Internacional in March began training girls from the city’s underserved communities in the Korean martial art of taekwondo. The Reconoce Tu Poder, or Recognize Your Power, program has trained dozens of girls, says creator Bertha Sánchez García, the club’s immediate past president. Sánchez García, a brown belt in the discipline, and Zulema Fernández Sariñana, a member of the Rotary Club of Guadalajara, developed a manual and a training regimen with the assistance of Patricia Mariscal Alcalá, an Olympian who is one of Mexico’s most accomplished female taekwondo athletes. “At the end of the program, each girl knows that she is capable of knocking down her obstacles by breaking a board with a kick,” says Sánchez García. The effort has been replicated by clubs in two other Mexican towns as well as in India.
Greeting cards sold annually in the U.S.
Mexico’s rank in Olympic taekwondo medal count
A project by the Rotary Club of Rosenheim-Innstadt serves as a reminder that the simplest of gifts can bring joy to children — and delight to the givers. For the past five years, the club has taken up a collection among members, raising about $1,500 each year to buy Christmas presents. The gifts, delivered to 33 youths during the 2021 outing, included toys and clothing — “whatever you can imagine on a child’s wish list,” says Hans-Georg Schmidt, immediate past president of the club. A local aid organization selected the recipients. “One girl asked for a skirt, which otherwise the family would never have been able to afford,” Schmidt says. Another girl requested and received perfume. A dozen club members coordinate the shopping, packaging, and delivery.
Up to 169 million tons of unused food is wasted in the European Union every year, and only about 40 percent of Italians take home their uneaten restaurant food. Working with the office of agriculture and food in the Piedmont region, the Rotary Club of Acqui Terme launched a project in April to encourage people to take home their leftovers. It offers recyclable and compostable boxes and wine bags to restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and farmhouses. Rotarians enlist members of the hospitality industry to reduce food waste and develop awareness of the value of quality foods produced by local farmers, says Giacomo Guerrina, immediate past president of the club.
Average 2021 Christmas spending per person in Germany, about US$500 now
The share of food waste in U.S. landfills from restaurants
Impressed by the work of District 3201 following a 2018 monsoon, Mumbai-based technology company Atos Global IT Solutions and Services decided to collaborate with Rotary members in its corporate social responsibility endeavors. The company donated nearly $300,000 for two global grant projects. About $250,000 of that funded construction of 31 low-cost shelters to house 126 displaced people in a project that involved eight Rotary clubs in Kochi (formerly Cochin) during the 2018-19 Rotary year. The second grant to support the installation of 25 water purification plants is underway in Kerala. “We found the Rotary organization in India was the best suitable organization to partner with because of their volunteer-based organizational structure offering negligible or minimal administration cost,” says Nasir Shaikh, a senior vice president with the firm. Damodaran Vellannur — a coordinator of the housing grant, past president of the Rotary Club of Cochin Midtown, and now a member of the Cochin Titans club — lauds the creation of the 500-square-foot homes as “a sustainable, well-executed humanitarian project.”
This story originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of Rotary magazine.