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20 noteworthy global grants

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To celebrate its 100th year, The Rotary Foundation is recognizing 20 global grants that  exemplify what a project should be: a sustainable endeavor that aligns with one of Rotary’s areas of focus and that is designed in cooperation with the community to address a real need. These noteworthy projects demonstrate how your club can leverage the resources of the Foundation to do good in the world. 

Equipping a neonatal intensive care unit in Brazil

Area of focus: Saving mothers and children

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Registro, Brazil

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Nakatsugawa, Japan

Total budget: $172,500

Background: Neonatal mortality rates were significantly higher in the Ribeira Valley area of southern São Paulo state than in other regions.

Scope: The Rotarians worked with the Hospital Regional Dr. Leopoldo Bevilacqua in Pariquera-Açu to determine the best approach. The grant provided equipment for the hospital’s neonatal ICU and provided prenatal care and breast-feeding workshops for pregnant adolescents. 

Impact: Infant mortality in the region has been halved to seven per 1,000 live births. 

Supporting Rotary Family Health Days in Uganda

Area of focus: Saving mothers and children

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Kiwatule, Uganda

International sponsor: District 5500 (Arizona, USA)

Total budget: $97,750

Background: A health care summit in Uganda, funded by a district grant, uncovered a need for improved prenatal diagnostic capabilities in rural communities and for better nutrition for expectant mothers.

Scope: A combination global grant provided humanitarian supplies for Uganda’s Rotary Family Health Days and a vocational training team for health care workers at the health camps. 

Impact: The team trained 23 nurses, midwives, and other health care practitioners to use ultrasound scanning devices to diagnose abnormalities in pregnancies and other life-threatening conditions.

Fun fact: Ten Rotary clubs in Uganda each adopted a rural health care center.

Collecting donated human milk for newborns in the Philippines

Area of focus: Saving mothers and children

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Chinatown-Manila, Philippines

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Tomobe, Japan

Total budget: $82,000

Background: The Rotarians conducted a community needs assessment and decided to fund the creation of a human milk bank at a hospital in Manila.

Scope: The facility collects, screens, processes, and distributes milk to premature and sick newborns, and to well babies whose mothers cannot provide their own breast milk, at Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital. It will also supply milk to infants in communities affected by natural disasters throughout the country.

Training young community leaders in Guatemala

Area of focus: Promoting peace

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach, California, USA

Total budget: $39,873

Background: Students attending overcrowded schools in poverty-stricken areas of Guatemala face bullying and street violence. Crimes stemming from gang and drug activity are common. 

Scope: Project sponsors worked with Alianza Joven, a Guatemalan organization focused on preventing crime and violence, to train students in four municipalities around Guatemala City on techniques for deflecting aggressiveness, strengthening leadership, making decisions, and serving their communities. Teachers, principals, and parents were involved.

Impact: More than 6,500 teachers and students received training. 

Fun fact: The project sponsors connected at a project fair in Antigua, Guatemala. 

Teaching peaceful problem-solving in Israel

Area of focus: Promoting peace

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Haifa, Israel

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Coral Springs-Parkland, Florida, USA

Total budget: $161,750

Background: Israel faces challenges with water scarcity and ongoing conflict. 

Scope: This water project has a “hidden” peace component: Water challenges form the basis of a science curriculum that helps schoolchildren from different backgrounds in Haifa find solutions peacefully and creatively. 

Impact: Students from 10 schools worked together to present 38 science projects focused on water and sanitation. One project involving students from three schools won first prize in a national competition. Schools also participated in 15 cross-cultural activities. 

Bringing clean water to public schools in Lebanon

Area of focus: Providing clean water

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Baabda, Lebanon

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Kernersville, North Carolina, USA

Total budget: $43,550

Background: Municipal water supplies in Lebanon are often tainted because of deteriorating infrastructure, so most people buy bottled water for drinking. Many public schools collect rainwater in rusty tanks, leading to contamination, illness, and missed school days. The influx of refugees from Syria has made schools even more crowded and created an even greater need for clean water.

Scope: This grant supplied new water tanks, pipes, filters, and faucets to 19 schools; it also provided hygiene training. 

Impact: Now, 6,743 children have access to clean water and the project is being replicated throughout the country. Rotarians in Lebanon aim to bring clean water to every public school – totaling more than 1,000. 

Providing safe water for rural communities in Peru

Area of focus: Providing clean water

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Cajamarca Layzón, Peru

International sponsor: District 2201 (Spain)

Total budget: $258,195

Background: Before the project, residents drank untreated spring water, and the rate of intestinal and respiratory diseases, especially among infants and the elderly, was high.

Scope: The project repaired 32 reservoirs and installed gravity-fed drip chlorination systems for drinking water. The Rotarians also trained residents to administer and maintain the system.

Impact: More than 10,000 people, including 1,138 children under age four, now have clean drinking water.

Fun fact: The Rotary Club of Cajamarca Layzón has only 11 members; this was its first global grant.

Improving sanitation and hygiene training in Benin

Area of focus: Providing clean water

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Abomey-Calavi, Benin

International sponsor: District 2080 (Italy)

Total budget: $158,999

Background: The village of Paouignan needed improved clean water infrastructure.

Scope: The Rotarians provided a new well and water tower and 10 new taps, repaired seven older taps, and provided hygiene training in Paouignan. 

Impact: Improved water access and sanitation practices benefited 17,000 people.

Fun fact: This grant was part of the Future Vision Pilot. The sponsoring clubs understood the Foundation’s desire for sustainable projects and created the hygiene component of the grant before any training documents were available. The grant sponsors communicated in three languages while carrying out this project.

Bringing basic sanitation to a remote village in Colombia

Area of focus: Providing clean water

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Los Angeles, California, USA

Total budget: $38,507

Background: Sanitation facilities in the village of Leticia were nonexistent; residents had to relieve themselves outdoors. Environmental contamination and lack of hygiene contributed to illness among people in the village.

Scope: The Rotary Community Corps in Leticia proposed a project to provide bathrooms – each including toilet, shower, sink, and septic tank – to 25 of the village’s 75 homes. University students and Rotarians trained residents in hygiene, food handling, and waste management.

Fun fact: A nearby village has asked the Rotarians to organize an RCC there.

Top tip: Work with an RCC; talk with clubs that have done a similar project; form strategic alliances with universities, local companies, and government officials; and actively involve local Rotary members.

Improving literacy in Guatemala 

Area of focus: Supporting education

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Guatemala Vista Hermosa, Guatemala

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Summit County (Frisco), Colorado, USA

Total budget: $339,191

Background: The Guatemala Literacy Project is a 20-year partnership between Rotary clubs and districts and the nonprofit Cooperative for Education. 

Scope: This global grant provided textbooks, computer labs, teacher training, and scholarships to impoverished schools. The sustainable model requires families to pay a fee to rent the donated textbooks; schools use the money to buy new books when the old ones wear out.

Impact: This grant served 5,880 students and trained 337 teachers. First-graders in the program scored 71 percent higher than the national average in letter naming. 

Fun fact: More than 500 Rotary clubs have participated in the Guatemala Literacy Project over the past 20 years.

Providing equipment for indigenous farmers in Paraguay

Area of focus: Growing local economies

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Asunción, Paraguay

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Flensburg, Germany

Total budget: $52,500

Background: Indigenous residents of the village of El Paraiso, 300 miles north of the capital, Asunción, relied on subsistence farming.

Scope: The Rotarians provided agricultural equipment – a tractor, plow, and harrow – and worked with an organization that provides vocational training to the village chiefs and makes regular visits to the village to monitor progress.

Impact: Two weeks after the launch of the project, the villagers planted 500 acres of sesame.

Screening for breast cancer in Turkey

Area of focus: Fighting disease 

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Adana, Turkey

International sponsor: Rotary Club of San Antonio, Texas, USA

Total budget: $38,000

Background: In Turkey, breast cancer is the eighth most common cause of death. Early detection is key to effective treatment, but women in rural areas have little access to, or education about, screening.

Scope: Working with local officials, Rotarians provided breast models that health workers use to explain the effects of breast cancer and to demonstrate how women can detect signs of the disease. Rotarians and the Public Health Directorate worked together to organize breast cancer awareness events in 15 districts of Adana, a city in southern Turkey.

Fighting cervical cancer in rural Bangladesh

Area of focus: Fighting disease

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Padma Rajshahi, Bangladesh

International sponsor: Rotary Club of North Columbus, Georgia, USA

Total budget: $59,500

Background: Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in deaths from cervical cancer. Prevention and early detection can lead to higher survival rates. 

Scope: Project sponsors worked with the Rajshahi Cancer Hospital and Research Center to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer through vaccinations. They also worked to raise awareness about symptoms and funded training for female paramedics in 10 villages around Rajshahi. 

Impact: Nearly 1,000 girls and women ages nine to 45 participated in the program.

Fun fact: Response to the program was stronger than anticipated; the Rotarians plan to include more villages in a future project.  

Taking cancer screening on the road in India

Area of focus: Fighting disease

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Madras East, India

International sponsor: Rotary Club of San Antonio, Texas, USA

Total budget: $70,242

Background: India has more than 800,000 new cases of cancer every year; many people, especially in rural areas, are not aware of, cannot afford, or are afraid of screening for the disease. Late diagnosis of breast and cervical cancer leads to high mortality rates.

Scope: Rotarians identified a significant public health problem in their area, then found a strong cooperating organization to work with. They helped design a special vehicle to bring screenings to women in rural areas and mobilized their networks to ensure that the mobile unit would reach as many women as possible. 

Impact: 3,650 women were screened during the project.

Top tip: Cooperate with an organization that is already experienced in the work your club plans to focus on.

Equipping a specialized medical center in New York state

Area of focus: Fighting disease

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, N.Y.

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Luanshya, Zambia

Total budget: $34,650

Background: Children in need of comprehensive services to correct cleft craniofacial abnormalities had to travel several hundred miles to Boston or New York City.

Scope: The grant funded specialized equipment, supplies, and educational materials for doctors and families at the Albany Medical Center, which serves an area of 15 million people. 

Fun fact: This was the New York club and district’s first time sponsoring a global grant whose beneficiaries were in the United States.

Improving health services in Nepal with a VTT

Area of focus: Fighting disease

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Patan West, Nepal

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Amagasaki West, Japan 

Total budget: $33,781

Background: Rotarians in District 2680 (Japan-Hyogo) have supported the Dr. Iwamura Memorial Hospital in Bhaktapur, Nepal, since it was established in 1998. Every month, the hospital treats 225 patients for emergency care and 1,300 outpatients. Rotarians saw a need for improved quality of services.

Scope: A vocational training team of an administrator and three nurses from the hospital received training on emergency care and dialysis treatment at Okamoto Hospital in Hyogo prefecture. 

Impact: The training team members observed how Japanese hospitals receive and treat patients, learned best practices for infection management and safety procedures, and gained skills in dialysis treatment and the use of other advanced medical equipment.

Bridging the health care gap in Mongolia with smartphones

Area of focus: Fighting disease

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Khuree, Mongolia

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Cheonan-Dosol, Korea

Total budget: $50,000

Background: More than 300 villages in Mongolia are so remote that access to advanced health services is limited. 

Scope: Doctors in 55 villages received smartphones and training in a tele-dermatology system through a user-friendly app.

Fun fact: The app was developed in Mongolia.

Fighting malaria with mosquito nets in Venezuela 

Area of focus: Fighting disease

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Key Biscayne, Florida, USA

Total budget: $77,500

Background: Venezuela is facing a malaria epidemic, with the eastern city of Sifontes at the epicenter. Rotarians already had relationships with area residents thanks to a previous Matching Grant project. 

Scope: The project distributed 6,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to indigenous communities around Sifontes and provided instructions on how to use them. Local young people, including Rotaractors and indigenous representatives, received training on how to perform house-to-house follow-up visits. 

Impact: New malaria cases have been reduced by 60 to 80 percent. Sponsors hope to build on this success in Venezuela and are working on a similar project in Peru. 

Fun fact: The project provides custom-made bed nets designed to work with the traditional hammocks used by people in the indigenous communities. 

Mobilizing rural medical care in Mexico

Area of focus: Fighting disease 

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of San Nicolás de los Garza, Mexico

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Austin, Texas, USA

Total budget: $50,000

Background: Isolated rural communities lack access to medical care. 

Scope: Rotarians, through a series of global grants, donated mobile health units with medical and dental supplies to a fleet staffed by partner organization Cáritas de Monterrey.

Impact: More than 5,000 people now have access to medical care. 

Fun fact: The Rotary clubs of San Nicolás de los Garza and Austin have been twin clubs for nine years. 

Fighting dengue fever in Indonesia

Area of focus: Fighting disease

Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Solo Kartini, Indonesia

International sponsor: Rotary Club of Westport, Connecticut, USA

Total budget: $70,725

Background: Dengue fever is the fastest-spreading tropical disease and a pandemic threat, according to the World Health Organization. An estimated 70 percent of cases occur in Asia.  

Scope: The project aimed to interrupt the life cycle of the mosquito that carries dengue in parts of Surakarta by eliminating a common breeding site. The sponsors tiled the cement bathtubs that are common in Indonesian homes with white ceramic tiles, which make mosquito larvae more visible, and trained residents to check for the larvae and to empty, scrub, and cover their tubs to prevent infestation. Community social workers followed up weekly. 

Impact: The Rotarians tiled 3,500 tubs. The government is now interested in taking up the project. 

Fun fact: This project has been supported by three global grants, including the first one to be approved under The Rotary Foundation’s new grant system. The host club’s members are all women. 

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