Rotary Projects Around the Globe
The Louverture Cleary School, a 360-student secondary school near Port-au-Prince, has used solar power since 2005, but it lacked batteries capable of providing dependable energy. Kent Gilges, a member of the Rotary Club of Canandaigua, New York, saw this need while volunteering with his family at the school, which is run by education nonprofit the Haitian Project. “I was passing the dormitory,” Gilges recalls. “I looked in the window and there were 40 kids in one room, and they were all trying to study by one lightbulb.” In late 2020, Gilges’ son and his son’s friend took up the effort to provide reliable power as a school capstone project, supported by the Canandaigua club as well as other clubs in District 7120 (New York) and the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg, Florida. The batteries, wiring, inverters, and other equipment were procured from a company operated by a Louverture Cleary graduate. “A big storm can blow through and they can still run their power needs for three days,” Gilges says.
When Canada suspended the export of potatoes to the United States from Prince Edward Island because of a fungus found in two fields, Rotarians in Ontario rallied to help farmers offset their losses. Dozens of clubs coordinated the purchase, transport, and distribution of the still-edible crops to food banks. The Rotary Club of Bracebridge began the effort, tapping local government connections to arrange for a provincial grant of about US$9,000 to cover the acquisition and transport of 4,000 10-pound bags of potatoes from one of the growers. On 19 February, members of five area Rotary clubs and one Rotaract club gathered in a warehouse to offload the spuds, sort the bags, and deliver them to 14 food pantries. Some 800 miles away, at his family farm near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Rick Sanderson marvels at the thoughtfulness of those who worked with him to salvage a portion of his harvest. “I just really appreciate Rotary helping us out here in the time of need,” Sanderson says.
Percentage of Haitian children who leave school by ninth grade
Annual value of the Prince Edward Island potato industry
In the immediate aftermath of an explosion that leveled a village in southwestern Ghana and killed at least 13 people, Rotary clubs across the country rushed in with aid. The Rotary Club of Tarkwa brought in clothing, food, soap, and other items just one day after the January disaster, which had been triggered by the collision of a motorcycle and a truck carrying mining explosives. The club’s involvement was not a one-off, says Abdel-Razak Yakubu, a club member. Later, Yakubu says, they learned that nearly 200 children had lost their homes — and with them, essential school supplies such as uniforms, books, and stationery. Using nearly $4,500 donated by Ghanaian clubs, the Tarkwa Rotarians were able to replace the supplies in February.
Celebrating national foodstuffs is a tradition among Dutch Rotary members. Clubs produce and sell such goods as beer, wine, and coffee to generate money for charity, says Pieter Schut of the Rotary Club of Naarden-Bussum, a past governor of District 1570. After taking a field trip to view bee cabinets managed by club member and part-time apiarist Erik Berkelmans and the local beekeepers’ association, club members had a honey of an idea: They began processing and marketing jars of honey as a fundraiser. Berkelmans, Schut, and two other club members packaged and sold the first 60 jars, each with 18 ounces of honey, for about $8 each, with the proceeds funding an information board near the beekeepers’ stand at the Goois Nature Reserve.
Estimated global mining-related deaths annually
Percentage of bee species in the Netherlands that are threatened or extinct
For the patients of the Men’s Health Education Rural Van, the free and confidential 10-minute screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol are a literal lifesaver, notes Graeme Hooper, a member of the Rotary Club of Warners Bay and the van team coordinator. Recently, the nurse-staffed, two-room trailer returned after a pandemic hiatus. Over seven weeks in February and March, the caravan toured 23 towns and saw 730 patients. “Of these, 26 percent were requested to see a doctor, while 2 percent needed to see a doctor urgently,” Hooper says. Warners Bay Rotarians plan the route and coordinate onsite volunteers, local publicity, and accommodations for the nurse.
This story originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of Rotary magazine.