R. I. President Message

RI President 2018-19 Barry Rassin, - Oct. 2018

Dear Fellow Rotarians,

Every Thursday morning, I receive an email from the World Health Organization with an update on the status of polio eradication. It contains a wealth of information, country by country: where and how immunization campaigns are being conducted, how many millions of children are being vaccinated, and where environmental surveillance has found evidence of circulating virus. But every week, when that email appears in my inbox, my heart seems to stop for just a moment until I read the first few lines – and learn whether a child was paralyzed by wild polio virus that week.
That, my friends, is where we are today in the work of polio eradication. The question on my mind as I open that message isn't how many thousands of cases we might see in a year, as we did not too long ago, or even how many hundreds. Instead, when that WHO email arrives every Thursday, the single, binary question it answers is: Was there a new case this week, or wasn't there?

Thirty years ago, 1,000 children were paralyzed by polio every single day. Since then, we've marked our progress, year by year, week by week. We've celebrated as country after country, region after region has been declared polio-free. As we've come closer and closer to our goal, and the number of cases has dropped further and further, the children those numbers reflect have become less and less of an abstraction. When I open that Thursday email, I don't wonder what number I'll see. I wonder, was a child paralyzed this week or not?

We are so close to eradication – but there is so much work left to do.

This month, I ask every Rotary club to help End Polio Now by marking World Polio Day on 24 October. Last year, thousands of Rotary clubs around the world held events to raise awareness and funds for polio eradication. This year, we want to see more World Polio Day events registered than ever. If you have an event planned, be sure to register and promote it at endpolio.org so that more people can take part. If you haven't planned one yet, it's not too late – visit endpolio.org to find ideas, information on this year's livestream, and resources to help your club organize a successful event.

World Polio Day is a tremendous opportunity for clubs to highlight Rotary, and our historic work to eradicate polio, in their own communities. It is also a great way to take advantage of the challenge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: For every dollar that Rotary raises for polio eradication, the Gates Foundation will give two more. Join me, and Rotarians everywhere, on 24 October for World Polio Day – and Be the Inspiration for a polio-free world.

Barry Rassin
President 2018-19


Trustee Chair's Message - Oct. 2018

Ron D. Burton, Trustee Chair 2018-19

Trustee chair's message

Since its inception in 1905, Rotary has been a champion for peace. The 1914 Rotary Convention adopted a resolution that our organization "lend its influence to the maintenance of peace among nations of the world." Then, the 1921 convention incorporated into Rotary's Constitution the goal to aid in the advancement of international peace and goodwill through fellowship in the Rotary ideal of service. In 1945, Rotary played a key role in forming the United Nations when almost 50 Rotarians served as delegates, advisers, or consultants at the UN charter conference in San Francisco.
Today, one of our six areas of focus is promoting peace. Every Rotary service project, whether funded with a district grant or a global grant, has an impact on peace. It could be a peace project, a water and sanitation project, a basic education and literacy project, an economic and community development project, or a project in one of our human health-related areas – maternal and child health or disease prevention and treatment. It really doesn't matter. The ultimate outcome makes a positive contribution to our world by improving the quality of life for those affected, and that improvement is an element of peace.

Additionally, each year we select up to 100 professionals from around the world to be Rotary Peace Fellows who receive fellowships to study at one of our six peace centers, earning either a master's degree or a professional development certificate in areas such as human rights, international politics, public health, and development. To date, 1,100-plus people have participated in the program, and we are beginning to see positive results.
As we look to the future, The Rotary Foundation Trustees are discussing how we can improve this program as well as all of our peace efforts so that we can achieve the maximum possible positive impact. If you would like to help, you can contribute to the Rotary Peace Centers Major Gifts Initiative and help support the next generation of peacebuilders.

Ron D. Burton
Trustee Chair 2018-19

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