Rotary International Kalyan Banerjee's March 2012 Message
RI president's monthly message - March 2012
My dear brothers and sisters in Rotary,
In the first message I wrote for this magazine, last July, I quoted Mohandas K. Gandhi, who said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." And in the months since, I have had incredible opportunities to travel the Rotary world and see how Rotarians everywhere are bringing those words to life.
Creating positive change means, at its simplest, using our knowledge and resources to solve a problem. But when we are talking about solving humanitarian problems in a real and lasting way, knowledge and ideas and resources are not enough to ensure results. We have to remember something else that is no less important: sustainability.
A sustainable solution is one that will continue to work even after the Rotarians who proposed and facilitated it are gone. This means that even though the project might have come from Rotary originally, the community will take ownership of it. That, of course, means that when a part breaks on a water pump, there will be a process in place to repair it and to keep that pump functional – carried out by the community, and without further recourse to Rotary.
The first step toward sustainability is understanding the need – for example, the cooking fuel problem common in much of the developing world. In many regions, solar ovens are a wonderful solution: They are inexpensive; they rely on a source of energy that is free, nonpolluting, and inexhaustible; and they are simple to use and maintain.
But before we step into a community and attempt to solve its fuel problem with solar ovens, we have to fully understand its situation – and look beyond the problem we see. Perhaps the local foods need to be cooked at a temperature higher than the solar oven can provide. Perhaps the area is windy, and the solar ovens would blow away. Perhaps it's traditional in that area to begin cooking before dawn, which, of course, you cannot do with a solar oven. These are issues you simply might not have thought of, but that could soon lead to the solar ovens being used to patch roofs or keep animal feed dry instead of for cooking.
If we are trying to bring about change, it's not enough to say, "My way is the better way." We have to be listening and watching, not just talking. We can only help others if we reach out with an open mind – and with the knowledge, the commitment, and the perseverance to deliver on what we promise.
Get ready for a simpler, more powerful Foundation with Future Vision
Trustee chair's monthly message - March 2012
I am still occasionally asked why we decided to develop our Future Vision Plan. The question is, if the Foundation wasn't broken, why fix it? The truth is that our Foundation, which has served Rotary and the world so well for over 90 years, was becoming dated. We were reacting to a changing world by adding yet another program or altering our rules, which made the Foundation increasingly complicated and expensive to administer. It was time to face the reality that we must change or see our impact on the world diminish.
We asked over 10,000 Rotarians what changes we should make and then began to work on a Foundation that is simpler and easier to understand, that involves clubs and districts more in spending and stewardship, and that builds more sustainability into our activities.
Just as polio eradication has defined Rotary to the international community in recent years, in the future, our six areas of focus will define us. We will have lifted ourselves above the multitude of little projects that felt good but addressed symptoms, not causes, and too often had a short-term impact. We have demonstrated through our polio efforts what we could do, and we will show the world that there are answers to other major issues, and that Rotary is prepared to lead the way. We can't do it on our own, but we can and will make a difference.
The pilot districts
are saying that Future Vision is exciting, leads to greater engagement
and enthusiasm, is more efficient, is creating more interaction
between clubs, is making Rotarians more aware of opportunities,
has scaled up the size of projects, and is leading to greater giving
to the Foundation. As chair of our Foundation, I can only agree!
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Rotary eClub NY1 * Updated 2012