Rotary projects around the globe
Worldwide, only 17 percent of electronic waste and less than 5 percent of devices containing lithium ion batteries are recycled, even though their chemical elements offer a “cycle of nearly infinite recyclability,” according to Redwood Materials. Since early 2022, more than a dozen Rotary clubs across the United States have collaborated with the Nevada-based battery recycler to host collection drives, yielding tens of thousands of pounds of cell phones, laptops, power drills, electric toothbrushes, and more. “This is a turnkey project,” says Clari Nolet of the Rotary Club of Los Altos, California, a board member of the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group. “You clean out your junk drawer, address U.S. supply chain security and environmental issues, and assist in the adoption of electric cars.”
On 17 September, volunteers from the Rotary Clubs of Oakville, Oakville-West, and Oakville Trafalgar, Ontario, packed more than 1,000 bags of barley bound for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean country recovering from a series of natural disasters. Rotary members emptied sacks of barley into bins, manually weighed the grains into 1-pound bags, and boxed them. Normally “it takes two shifts of five full-time people to accomplish what we did in three hours,” says Sundeep Khosla, an Oakville club member. His club has made a commitment to monthly shifts at the warehouse, run by GlobalMedic, a charity focused on rapid response to disasters worldwide.
Cell phones discarded annually in the U.S.
Number of food-insecure people around the world in 2021
Charity walks are a staple of Rotary fundraising, but the Rotary Club of Silves stepped up the effort. Its members tackled a 75-mile portion of the Way of St. James (the Caminho de Santiago in Portuguese) during a six-day journey along the route from Valença, Portugal, to the grand Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The club used social media for fundraising and sharing dispatches from the route as seven Rotarians and three of their friends set off on 23 September. By the end of the trek, the group had raised about $14,000 to help fund a sensory room and garden for children with autism or Down syndrome at the Silves Sul school in Armação de Pêra. The schoolchildren tracked the pilgrims’ progress online. They also gave the walkers toys for “constant encouragement” and to serve as school mascots they could cheer for, says Pam Winn, one of the walkers.
The Rotary Club of Peja dedicated a 9/11 memorial, dubbed “Memory and Friendship,” in the city on the 21st anniversary of the attacks. The club, its members, local businesses, and individuals offered financial and in-kind contributions valued at more than $30,000 for the project. “But the real value of the memorial is immeasurable,” says Club President Arbër Asllani. “Searching for such memorials globally, we found that none of them is in southeast Europe.” The idea was first suggested by Nehat Devolli, a club member and businessman. The centerpiece — a steel beam from the ruins of the twin towers donated by the New York City Fire Department — was a must, according to Asllani. “New York City is almost 7,400 kilometers away from Peja,” Asllani said in his address at the dedication ceremony, “but on that particular day, Sept. 11, it felt closer because tragedy unites people.”
Year construction began on Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Minimum number of nations that lost citizens in the 9/11 attacks, according to the U.S. State Department
Along with community volunteers, members of the Rotary Club of Lautoka planted more than 4,000 mangrove saplings in September along a nearly 2,000-square-foot stretch of beach at Taiperia. The area, home to low-income Fijians, is about 2.5 miles from central Lautoka, on the island of Viti Levu. “For a small island nation such as Fiji, it is particularly important to protect our homes and livelihoods, as the vast population of the country lives near coastal areas,” says Club President Chirag Parmar. “The planting of mangroves helps protect these areas from coastal erosion and also rehabilitates the ecosystem of our shoreline.” The club teamed up with the Ministry of Forestry on the project and used $130 in donations to buy the plantings. “We used a small batch of funds from a much larger donation received from the International Fellowship of Rotarian Scuba Divers,” Parmar adds, illustrating the depth of Rotary partnerships.
This story originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Rotary magazine.