During the very difficult days of the pandemic, when physical meetings were impossible, technology was a gamechanger and an invaluable resource to stay connected, though virtually. Zoom, or other good platforms, helped us remain in touch during this grim period. Children remained connected to teachers when schools remained shut. Restaurants served customers through online aggregators. The downside is that businesses have suffered immeasurably and children have missed out on physical and social contact. Also, virtual learning has brought to the fore our great income divide. Poor children, whose families could not afford smartphones, missed out on schooling. One hopes and prays that with more and more people vaccinated we will see the pandemic being brought under control and that normalcy returns soon.
In this difficult period, Rotarians did not slacken in their efforts in reaching out to the not-so-fortunate. In fact, they redoubled their efforts; in 20–21, a record 2,066 global grants were approved with total funding of $143.55 million.
The number and value of global grants by way of Areas of Focus have been as follows: fighting disease — 1,020 ($74.75 million); providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene — 341 ($25.71million); growing local economies — 264 ($16.95 million); supporting education — 184 ($12.12 million); saving mother and child —129 ($8.38 million); and promoting peace — 128 ($5.64 million).
The above should give you a snapshot of how our Foundation has helped to do good in the world.
The pandemic has made lives extremely difficult and uncertain for large swathes of the community. This article will appear in October, while Diwali is in the first week of November. Let me wish you, in advance, Happy Diwali. On this joyous occasion I urge you to open your hearts and purse strings. Your gift to the Foundation would spread the light of well-being, education and good health to those who live on the margins and are in need of a helping hand.
As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.”
Gulam A Vahanvaty
Trustee, The Rotary Foundation