As we near the end of our year-long celebration of The Rotary Foundation’s 100th anniversary, let’s stop to think about what the world would be like if Rotarians had never created an endowment fund for doing good in the world.
I think we can say for certain that without Rotary’s historic PolioPlus programme, the world would not be on the verge of eradicating polio. Although public health officials and governments would have carried out routine vaccination efforts, it was Rotary’s leadership and support that provided the impetus to move beyond containment of the virus to global eradication.
And let’s consider the other diseases our Foundation grant projects have prevented and treated by providing access to health care, clean water, and adequate sanitation. Malaria, cholera, HIV/AIDS, Guinea worm — the list goes on and on. How many thousands of people have avoided suffering and even death because Rotarians carried out projects?
Without the Foundation, many more people would have remained illiterate and many others would not have the vocational skills needed to earn a living and provide for their families.
And then there is our quest for peace. In 2002, the first peace fellows started class at the Rotary Peace Centres. Today, hundreds of our graduates are using their skills to prevent and mediate conflict and help those, whose lives have been devastated by war.
In villages around the world, you see hundreds of signs identifying Rotary Foundation projects. They stand beside water wells and are affixed to clinics and schools. When I see one of these signs, I feel proud to be a Rotarian and I think, “My contributions helped make this happen.”
Let’s never forget that behind every one of these signs is a story of the people whose lives have been touched and perhaps even saved. It is their stories that demonstrate conclusively how much better the world is because The Rotary Foundation exists.
Foundation Trustee Chair