Forget the crusty notion of a gentleman’s club full of well-heeled, cigar smoking businessmen who gather weekly to exchange the latest gossip and arrange the occasional deal in between courses.
Rotary is different. It is far more accessible than ever before, and even more relevant. Clubs are now filled with members drawn from both sexes, across all religions and creeds, and from a wide range of ages. In fact its diversity is one of the strengths of Rotary.
Worldwide, Rotary International is one of the globe’s oldest and largest service organisations, and currently has 1.2 million members located in 30,000 clubs located in 166 countries.
Fundamentally, Rotary is about providing humanitarian service, encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations, and helping to build goodwill and peace in the world.
Our motto is “Service above self” which is symbolised by our emblem, the Rotary wheel.
In a practical sense, that means Rotary clubs engaging with their communities. It’s not just about shaking a tin outside a supermarket, or dressing up as Santa at Christmas, Rotary is about service and helping the community that you live in, as well as helping those across the world.
At a local level, there are numerous projects Rotary clubs have been involved with, and for the Rotary eclub West of England, one example is our work around hearing loops, and encouraging more people with hearing aids to access loops to help better communication.
As the club develops, we want to encourage more projects being developed at a very local level.
Here are some of the projects which Rotary International has become involved with across the globe:
Polio eradication: In 1985, Rotary International created PolioPlus – a programme to immunise the world’s children against polio. To date, Rotary has contributed £603 million and countless volunteer hours to the protection of more than two billion children in 122 countries.
Rotary is currently working to raise an addition £151 million towards a £268 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These efforts are providing much-needed polio vaccine, operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment and educational materials for health workers and parents.
In addition, Rotary has played a major role in decisions by donor governments to contribute more than £3 billion to the effort. With its community-based network, Rotary is the volunteer arm of the global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio.
Rotary volunteers help with vaccine delivery social mobilisation and logistical help in co-operation with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.
Peace: In an effort to educate tomorrow’s peacemakers and ambassadors, up to 110 Rotary World Peace Fellows are sponsored each year to study at one of the eight universities for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution. Since 2002, 339 fellows from over 75 countries have participated at a cost of more than £17 million.
International education: Rotary is the world’s largest, privately-funded source of international scholarships. Each year, about 1,000 university students receive Rotary scholarships to study abroad.
Humanitarian projects: Rotary clubs initiative thousands of humanitarian service projects each year. These volunteer-driven projects address the root causes of conflict, such as hunger, poverty, disease and illiteracy.
Literacy: Rotary clubs work to improve literacy rates worldwide. A unique Rotary-pioneered approach called the Concentrated Language Encounter has proved very effective in resource-strapped developing countries. It was so successful in Thailand, that the Thai government adopted the programme nationwide.
Water management: Recognising the importance of clean water, many Rotary clubs have helped to install wells, develop water treatment and distribution systems to increase access to fresh drinking water for communities in need, especially in developing countries.
Water – a girl washes her hands at a new was station funded by Rotary in Guatemala.
Humanitarian – Muyenga Rotarians Japheth Semogerere (right) and Dr Francis Mukasa greet a young woman at the headquarters of the Humanitarian project against Malaria at Kasamu in Uganda.
Credit all photos: copyright Rotary International