A new year is upon us. As we look forward to new beginnings and experiences, let’s think outside the box and find new opportunities to serve through Rotary.
Consider taking up a community economic development project this year. In this Rotary area of focus, we apply our professional experience by promoting the entrepreneurial spirit as we help communities help themselves in a sustainable way. Community economic development projects, to paraphrase the universal adage, don’t just give someone a fish today but teach them to fish so they can eat for a lifetime.
These projects can be microloans to start a livestock breeding business, or they might take the adopt-a-village approach in which Rotary works with communities on multipronged efforts to boost local economies sustainably.
In 2000, during its transition to independence, Timor-Leste was reeling from political violence and destruction. Communities not only needed shelter and improved living conditions but also a new economy.
This is where Australian Rotary clubs stepped up with the East Timor Roofing project to produce and install corrugated roofing, and later, water tanks and grain silos. As the project grew, other organisations joined, including The Rotary Foundation, which delivered a grant that set the project on its path to success.
Before long, East Timor Roofing became a financially viable enterprise, raising enough money to build roofs for homes, schools, orphanages and commercial buildings. Subsistence farmers got silos for their crops. Hundreds of Timorese received professional training in basic building and administrative skills. Thousands of new water tanks ensured that young girls could attend school rather than fetching water.
What began as a roofing project is today a commercial enterprise employing local people and making a huge impact. And your Foundation paved the way. What experiences lie ahead for you in 2023? A district or global grant? Or possibly a visit to Melbourne, Australia, just up the road from my home, to make new friends, reunite with old ones, and find partners for projects during the 2023 Rotary International Convention?
Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to take advantage of opportunities to learn, grow and serve. And let’s have some fun in the process. This is Rotary, after all. So, my friends, let us go forth and carpe annum — seize the year.
Ian H S Riseley
Foundation Trustee Chair