R. I. President Message


RI President 2020-21 Holger Knaack - February 2021

Dear Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends,

In Rotary, 23 February is our anniversary, and February is also the month when we focus on promoting peace. There is a reason for this: Contributing to peace and international understanding has been a high priority for us since our earliest days.

We are often asked: “How can we get involved in peace now?” There are many paths to peace in Rotary. Our youth programs point us in the direction of Positive Peace, as does the work of intercountry committees and the Rotary Action Group for Peace.

Another path is the Rotarian Peace Projects Incubator (RPPI), an inspirational collaboration among Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Rotary Peace Fellows and alumni. Led by Rotarians in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, RPPI has designed 48 global projects that any club can support, either directly or through Rotary Foundation global grants. Nino Lotishvili and Matthew Johnsen, alumni of the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, are two of the many volunteers.

During my Rotary peace journey, I have learned how personal resilience helps build inner peace and create sustainable outer peace. This was the inspiration behind the Women Peace Ambassadors for the South Caucasus project, which is based on my field research in Georgia. The RPPI team of Rotarians and peace fellows recognized the incredible potential of women from mixed-ethnicity families who live on borderlands to be role models for peace within and beyond their communities. Through workshops on building inner and outer peace that draw on the power of storytelling, 40 participants will be sharing their stories and reaching around 400 extended family and community members. These inspiring but marginalized women will reclaim their inner strength as peacebuilders at the grassroots level. In this way, we will take steps toward the sustainable, peaceful society we need so much, not only in our region, but throughout the world. — Nino Lotishvili

I was excited to join the peace incubator project and to further strengthen my ties with Rotary’s peace community by working with past and current peace fellows to develop these proposals. My team wrote five proposals — three in Bangladesh, one in Iraq, and one in Poland — that focus on the arts and on education to generate dialogue across religious divisions and avert the radicalization of young people. I was inspired by how, despite the pandemic, we came together via technology with a vision to develop, test, and strengthen ideas and to produce workable solutions that clubs across the world can support to advance peace. I am excited to work with Rotary’s peace community to transform these visions into reality. — Matthew Johnsen

Here is further proof that in Rotary, we prefer action to words. This is Rotary at its best. I encourage you to visit https://www.rppi.ch/  to explore the projects and support them.

We have lasted 116 years because of our strong ethics, our passion for Service Above Self, and our unique approach to problem-solving. One of our greatest strengths is how we reach across our communities and across national, ethnic, religious, and political divisions to unite people of all backgrounds and to help others. This month, let’s celebrate our history and the many ways that Rotary Opens Opportunities to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace, our ultimate mission.

President 2020-21

Trustee Chair's Message - Feb. 2021

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

Trustee chair's message

Trustee chair's message - February 2021 Giving is more than an activity. It is a way of life and a beacon in the search for hope in troubled times. There is great turmoil today, but these are not unusual times, not in the span of human history. The wisdom of the ages is especially important to help us set our path and purpose.

Such wisdom comes from the 12th-century philosopher known as Maimonides. Born in Córdoba, Spain, he and his family went into exile in Morocco to escape religious persecution. As a young man, he mastered Aristotle, astronomy, and later medicine. After moving to Cairo, Maimonides became known as the city’s greatest rabbi, producing tomes of commentary on the Torah, and he lived out his final days as a renowned doctor.

But his greatest gift to humanity captured his thoughts about giving itself. His Eight Levels of Charity is a masterpiece that teaches us about what giving means and what motivates us to do it.

The bottom rung of Maimonides’ ladder is giving out of pity or grudgingly. The next step up is giving less than one should, but doing so cheerfully. Climb up to the fifth rung and you are giving before being asked. Further up the ladder is giving in a way that the receiver does not know who the giver is. The eighth and highest level of charity is to anticipate distress and giving to avoid or prevent it.

When we immunize children against polio, we are anticipating potential illness. We do so with other efforts, such as Rotary projects that reduce the incidence of malaria or cervical cancer.

When we teach someone a profession that enables them to earn a living, we apply the eighth step. From microfinance to education, The Rotary Foundation helps us give the gift of self-reliance.

All of this good work awaits us, as does the work of supporting newborns, cleaning water sources, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and countless other efforts we lead.

I am proud to say that many Rotary members climb to the top of Maimonides’ ladder. Many of them do so anonymously. Whoever they are and for whatever reason they share their gifts with the Foundation, I thank them.

As an organization, Rotary climbs that ladder as well. Every one of your donations helps us reach higher levels. As we climb this ladder as one, we gain a wider perspective. We see all those who need to be uplifted as well as the countless opportunities we have to help them in Rotary. And as we do so, we find our own meaning and purpose.


K.R. Ravindran
Trustee Chair 2020-21

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