R. I. President Ravi's Theme/ Message

Dec. 2015 President's Message

RI President Ravi's Message - December 2015

When the Canadian army liberated the Netherlands in 1945, they found the country on the brink of starvation. Seeing the suffering of so many, and especially moved by the faces of the children, four Canadian privates stationed near Apeldoorn that year decided to make that Christmas special for as many Dutch children as they could.

Together, they made the rounds among their fellow soldiers, collecting chocolate bars and chewing gum, candy and comic books. In their spare moments, they built toy trucks out of wood and wire, sawed scrap lumber for building blocks; one, risking the military police, sold his cigarette ration on the black market, using the money to buy rag dolls. Each thought longingly of his own family at home; each channeled his energies instead toward the children whose Christmas they knew they could brighten.

By 1 December, four sacks of gifts lay ready; the soldiers eagerly looked forward to the 25th. But two days later, they learned the date they were to depart for Canada: 6 December, long before Christmas. With mixed emotions, the soldiers decided that the best plan simply would be to take their sacks over to the local orphanage and leave them there to await Christmas.

The night before they were to leave the Netherlands, the four set off for the orphanage, one of them in a makeshift white beard and red cap. On their way, they were surprised to hear church bells ringing and see houses lit brightly, with Christmas still some weeks away. As they approached the orphanage, boots crunching in the snow, they saw through the windows that the children, two dozen girls and boys, were gathered at their evening meal. Only a few months after the war's end, food was still scarce; the meal was small, and the children's faces pale and thin.

"Santa Claus" raised the knocker on the door and knocked three times, hard. As if by magic, the chatter of young voices inside fell silent; a priest opened the door. His polite expression gave way to one of shock, as the children behind him erupted into cheers, rushing forward and swarming the private who had dressed for Christmas three weeks early – but exactly on time. For in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas comes on St. Nicholas Eve: 5 December.
For an hour, joyful chaos reigned as packages were opened and exclaimed over, sweets were tasted, dolls caressed. The last wooden truck, the last bar of chocolate, went into the hands of a little boy who had been waiting patiently all the while. After thanking the men, he turned to the priest and said something to him in Dutch, his face alight with happiness. The priest smiled and nodded. "What did he say?" one of the soldiers asked.
The priest looked at them with eyes full of tears. "He said, 'We told you he would come.'"

By sending joy out into the world, we do not sacrifice it for ourselves – we only multiply it. As we enter this season of giving, let us multiply the gifts we have been given by sharing them with others. Through acts of caring, kindness, and generosity, in our clubs and through our Foundation, we become and remain a gift to the world.

R Ravindran, President 2015 - 16


Dec. 2015 Trustee Chair's Message

Presidential conferences have become popular meetings for Rotarians from around the world, but the conference programs vary from year to year with each president. President Ravi has planned five unique conferences during this Rotary year, each inspired by one of the areas of focus established by The Rotary Foundation as part of its Future Vision plan:

• Peace and conflict prevention and resolution: 15-16 January in Ontario, Calif. - peaceconference2016.org
• Disease prevention and treatment: 19-20 February in Cannes, France- rotary-conference-cannes2016.org
• Community and economic development: 27 February in Cape Town, South Africa - rotarycapetown2016.com
• Literacy and WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) in schools: 11-13 March in Kolkata, India - rotaryteach.org/presidentialconference
• WASH in Schools: 18-19 March in Pasay City, Philippines - 2016RotaryPresidentialConferenceManila.org

President Ravi and I will attend all five of the conferences, which are co-sponsored by Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation, and we hope that Rotarians will take an active interest in supporting them, particularly the ones closest to their homes. These events offer opportunities to explore the issues alongside Rotary's leaders and outside experts in the various areas of focus, as we spotlight practical approaches for Rotarians to become involved in new and effective projects.

If you find any of the conferences to be of interest, which I hope you will, please consider attending one of them, or perhaps sending a representative from your club. The presidential conferences are excellent supplements to the Rotary conventions, and they are further proof that Rotary is truly Doing Good in the World all around the globe!

- Ray Klinginsmith, Trustee Chair 2015 - 16


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