R. I. President Message

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RI President 2020-21 Holger Knaack - July 2020

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Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,

This does not seem like a time for great optimism, but it has to be. Long before Rotary was founded, the world dealt with great crises that tested humankind’s ability to progress and endure. In the age of Rotary, the world has faced many more catastrophes; however, we have survived, and every step of the way, Rotary has helped the world heal.

Every great challenge is an opportunity for renewal and growth. I revealed the theme of Rotary Opens Opportunities at the International Assembly in San Diego just as the COVID-19 crisis was beginning, but these are words that I have believed for many years.

Rotary is not just a club that you join; it is an invitation to endless opportunities. We believe in creating opportunities for others and for ourselves. We believe that our acts of service, large and small, generate opportunities for people who need our help, and that Rotary opens opportunities for us to live a richer, more meaningful life, with friends around the world, based on our core values.

Governments and institutions are gaining a greater appreciation for the types of public health partnerships that are critical to our work. People stuck at home, eager for greater connections and hungry to help their communities, are now embracing the values we have promoted since our beginning.
All of this is positive news, but just because there are greater opportunities than ever for Rotary to thrive does not guarantee that we will succeed. The world is changing rapidly — and was doing so even before this crisis. People were starting to move away from regular lunch meetings and toward online gatherings. Friendships were being cultivated and revived in social media relationships even before most of our meetings moved to Zoom and Skype. Younger generations have a strong desire to serve — but have questioned whether they could play a meaningful role in organizations like Rotary or whether they might make a bigger impact forming different types of connections. Now is the time to put everything on the table, test new approaches, and prepare Rotary for the future.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced all of us to adapt. This is good, and our new Action Plan specifically calls on us to improve our ability to adapt. But adaptation is not enough. We need to change, and change dramatically, if we are to face the challenges of this new age and provide the Rotary that the world so desperately needs.

This is our great challenge, not just in the next year but into the future. It is up to us to remake Rotary for these new times — to wholeheartedly embrace the ideas, energy, and commitment of young people eager to find an outlet for idealism. We must become an organization fully enmeshed in the digital age, not one that simply looks for online ways to keep doing what we have always done.

The world needs Rotary now more than ever. It is up to us to make sure that Rotary Opens Opportunities for generations to come.

Kindest regards,

HOLGER KNAACK
President 2020-21

Trustee Chair's Message - July 2020

K.R. Ravindran
Rotary Club of Colombo
Western Province, Sri Lanka

Trustee chair's message


I believe that RI President Holger Knaack’s theme, Rotary Opens Opportunities, fits the times so well. You might ask how that can be, given all of the turmoil happening around us today. The following story, paraphrased from British author Alan Watts’ telling of a Taoist parable, helps explain why.

Once there was a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate. They said, "We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate." The farmer said, "Maybe."
The next day, the horse came back, bringing seven wild horses. In the evening, everybody said, "Isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!" The farmer again said, "Maybe."

The following day, his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors said, "Oh dear, that’s too bad." The farmer responded, "Maybe."

The next day, officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbors said, "Isn’t that great!" Again, the farmer said, "Maybe."

What we learn from this is that nature is immensely complex. It’s impossible to tell whether anything that happens is good or bad, because you never know what the consequences will be. All we can know is that with every action and reaction, there is an opportunity — a chance to live our values, express our desires, and take action to make the world a bit closer to the way we want it to be.

The Rotary Foundation is our conduit to make those meaningful changes. Through the Foundation, we do our part to help rid the world of polio. In addition, we can help support important COVID-19 projects and prepare the world for the massive vaccination effort that will be needed soon. And we can help keep some continuity in service to people in need when so many regular services are being disrupted.

Will this be Rotary’s great moment to become an even stronger organization in the 21st century? Maybe. Is this your great opportunity to live your values? Maybe! It’s up to you and me.


K.R. Ravindran
Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair


K.R. "Ravi" Ravindran is a third-generation Rotarian, joining Rotary at age 21. As RI president in 2015-16, he introduced the Rotary Global Rewards program and led a delegation of about 9,000 Rotarians to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.

Ravindran was the first president of the Sri Lanka Anti-Narcotics Association, which today is the leading agency fighting drug addiction in Sri Lanka. He headed a national committee consisting of Rotary, his country’s health ministry, and UNICEF for the eradication of polio, and worked closely with UNICEF to negotiate a cease-fire in the ongoing civil war with the northern militants to facilitate National Immunization Days. Sri Lanka became the first country in South Asia to become polio-free. He also headed a Rotary project to build 25 modern schools across the country to replace those destroyed by the 2004 tsunami at a cost of over $12 million.

Ravindran is the CEO and founder of a publicly listed company engaged in the print and packaging industry with worldwide clientele. His company, Printcare PLC, is a winner of national and international awards of excellence. He is the recipient of The Rotary Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service, Distinguished Service Award, and Service Award for a Polio-Free World. His country conferred on him the title of “Jewel of Sri Lanka” and released a postage stamp in his honor.

 

http://www.endpolio.org/donate.


K.R. Ravindran
Trustee Chair 2020-21

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