June marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another in Rotary, a bittersweet time to reflect as we look ahead.
Looking back on this year, The Rotary Foundation accomplished a great deal. We renewed our determination to fight polio to the end. Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are implementing a strategy to stop the transmission of all wild poliovirus in the endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan and the circulation of vaccine-derived poliovirus in outbreak countries. Last October, Rotary, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the global community collectively pledged $2.6 billion toward this plan.
We know what it takes to eradicate polio, and we have the strategies to do it. I urge all clubs to continue to take action in this historic effort by raising awareness and funds, especially around World Polio Day in October. Also, consider joining or starting a PolioPlus Society in your club or district to collectively give a set amount each year until polio is eradicated.
Our Foundation also responded to the devastating earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey through disaster response grants that helped clubs and districts provide aid.
The Foundation continued to grow. Rotaract clubs began volunteering on and applying for Foundation grants on their own. And our next Rotary Peace Center, made possible by a gift from the Otto and Fran Walter Foundation, will be located at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul.
To all who supported The Rotary Foundation by volunteering on grant projects or through giving, I thank you. If you haven’t yet made your gift to the Foundation, please do so online by 30 June so we can end this remarkable year on a high note and reach our goal of raising $430 million.
We can be proud of what we have done this year, but let us never rest on our laurels; rather, let us remain persistent. One of those who best personified persistence was Nelson Mandela. Speaking to a crowd of global dignitaries before his 90th birthday in 2008, he said, “It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all, especially the poor, vulnerable, and marginalised.” Changing the world is indeed in no one else’s hands but our own, and helping those in need is what defines and will continue to define Rotary and its Foundation in the years ahead.
I wish incoming Trustee chair Barry Rassin, the trustees, and our staff continued success in making a difference through The Rotary Foundation.
Ian H S Riseley
Foundation Trustee Chair