R. I. President and Trustee Message


RI President 2021-22 Shekhar Mehta- Oct 2021

Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,

A quarter of the Rotary year is now behind us. I am sure you are helping Rotary to grow more and do more. And I hope you have already done your part for the Each One, Bring One initiative by introducing one person to Rotary.

Do you ever think about your earliest days as a Rotarian? I often do — because those first moments of discovering the power of service shaped who I am today. When I joined my Rotary club, our efforts focused on India’s rural communities, where people were living without toilets, getting their drinking water from the same pond they bathed in, and sending their children to outdoor classrooms set up under a tree. The nearest health care provider often was miles away — and the services were inadequate. But after Rotary clubs carried out some service projects, the villages had toilets, clean drinking water, a classroom for early learning, and a nearby health care center.

The spark that Rotary kindled within me forced me to look beyond myself and embrace humanity. It made service a way of life and led me to a guiding principle I still stand by: Service is the rent I pay for the space I occupy on Earth.

If you feel the need to reignite the spark of service in yourself or your club, October — Community Economic Development Month — is a great time to do so. When we work to improve the lives of people in underserved communities — through, for example, projects that provide vocational training and access to financial resources — we help build and sustain local economic growth.

The need is great. According to the United Nations, 9 percent of the world’s population — that’s 700 million people, a majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa — live on less than $1.90 a day. By supporting strong community development as well as entrepreneurs, we can help improve conditions for people in that region and others.

Your club can also promote economic development in your own community by expanding vocational training opportunities through local schools and community colleges, partnering with lenders to improve access to financial services, or working with a nonprofit that provides resources to entrepreneurs and connects them with the business community.

Of course, developing strong communities is impossible without strong public health. On 24 October, World Polio Day, we’ll celebrate our tremendous progress in the effort to eradicate polio. But we also know the fight is not over. We still need your help raising funds and awareness to ensure that all children are immunized against polio. Please don’t forget to activate your clubs on that important day and encourage them to donate here: endpolio.org/world-polio-day.

Service has been rewarding for me throughout my life. I know the same is true for many of you. Join me this month in becoming a good tenant of our planet by helping others to better themselves and their communities. Together, we can Serve to Change Lives.

Shekhar Mehta
President 2021-22

Trustee Chair's Message - October 2021

John F. Germ
Trustee Chair 2021-22
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Trustee chair's message

When Rotary courageously stepped up to pursue the dream of a polio-free world, we knew realizing our dream wouldn’t be easy. But since 1988, working with our partners, we’ve brought worldwide case counts down by 99.9 percent.

However, it’s not over ’til it’s over. It will take courage. We’re going to keep up the funding and keep on the pressure until this fight is finished, and no child ever again has to experience the devastating effects of polio.

As we mark World Polio Day on 24 October, we can take heart; we continue to make progress, and with the current low transmission rates of wild poliovirus in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have a unique opportunity to interrupt transmission. We also have a new strategy and vaccine that will bolster our eradication efforts.

To eradicate wild poliovirus and stop outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s new strategy centers around several key areas: political advocacy to create greater urgency and accountability in the endemic and outbreak countries, improved engagement with high-risk communities, improved operations and polio surveillance, and the inclusion of polio immunization in broader health programs. (For more on the new polio eradication strategy, see page 30.)

Along with our new strategy, Rotary and its partners are using a new tool, novel oral polio vaccine (nOPV2), to help address outbreaks of type 2 cVDPV. This new vaccine has been deployed in a growing list of countries and is a promising development in our quest to end polio once and for all.

But there is still much work to be done. In particular, we need to remain strongly committed to our goals in the face of recent events in Afghanistan. As a nonpolitical organization, Rotary will continue to do the work that is necessary to protect the health of children everywhere.

After all the progress we’ve made in our decades-long fight, the worst thing we could do is to become complacent, so here’s where you come in.

Let’s raise awareness of Rotary’s role in polio eradication. And let’s double down on our commitment and keep raising $50 million each year for polio. Remember: Thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, any contribution you or your Rotary or Rotaract club makes will be matched 2 to 1.

In Rotary, when we dream, we get behind our dream with everything we can muster. We have always risen to challenges — and now it is more important than ever for us to rise again, with courage, to defeat polio.


John F. Germ
Trustee Chair 2021-22

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