Malala Yousafzai is a young Pakistani activist for the education of girls and women. As a teenager, Malala, whom the world knows by her first name, courageously spoke out for the rights of girls to learn. Extremists in her country disagreed with Malala, and she was shot by a Taliban gunman on her way home from school.
But the attack didn’t dissuade her; it made her more determined. As soon as she recuperated, she resumed her mission of education activism. Today the Malala Fund supports education through projects around the world.
Not only is Malala an inspiration for Rotary members, we also have some commonalities: a drive to do what is right, a passion for literacy, and the power to transform dreams into reality.
One of my life mottos is: If you can dream it, you can do it. This applies to everything Rotarians do, particularly with The Rotary Foundation. We literally make our dreams happen.
Like Malala, we know that literacy is, for many, the first step out of poverty. To put our vision into action, we first understand a community and the unique problems of its members, and then form a partnership with them. Next we join forces with others — exchanging ideas with clubs in other districts, and working with people and organisations outside of Rotary.
Our solution, in the form of a district grant or global grant, will be tailored for that community. And if it’s a Rotary grant, you can bet it will be well-planned, strategic, and most of all, sustainable. We want that gift of literacy to not be a one-time book donation but a plan to transform a community over time.
Over the years, I have seen countless literacy efforts in Rotary, from national programmes to local projects. When the global Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, many clubs took action to help communities adjust to online schooling, including providing laptop computers. Rotary’s solutions are endless, our volunteers tireless. And if I know Rotarians, I know that more solutions are being created as I write these words.
Rotary’s passion for literacy and education projects is well-known. So is our commitment to make them happen. You, through Rotary, are a big part of helping people take their first step out of illiteracy, out of poverty, and into something much better. Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it — just like Malala.
John F Germ
Foundation Trustee Chair