This is the most exciting time for Rotary leaders at different levels… present, past, incoming and dreaming of being a leader in Rotary. Because the next 5–7 years will be the most critical in the history of Rotary, as they will launch us into the next century of our Foundation.”
Addressing the Foundation seminar at the KL Zone Institute, Trustee Chair Paul Netzel said that in the last 10–12 years in particular, “we have defined so well our six areas of focus, which might become seven if our president (Ian Riseley) has a way of injecting some of his ideas (on environmental conservation) into our focus areas. We’ve started off the first year of our second century with tremendous credibility.”
He said though he had set his comprehensive TRF goal for this year at $315 million at the International Assembly, but with the Gates raising their match from $70 million to $100 million for polio eradication, and with the Rotarians committing to go from $35 million to $50 million for the same, he had raised the bar to $360 million.
Thanking his predecessor Kalyan Banerjee for his “great leadership” during the TRF Centennial year, and raising his goal significantly through several innovative ideas, Netzel said that through different fundraising heads and initiatives, “we have given proof of how we have matured as an organisation. Last year Banerjee set a breath-taking goal of $300 million and we ended up raising $304 million. And you in your zones 4, 5 and 6A raised $20.89 million and India alone has raised $20.04 million. Zones 4 and 5 are among the top nine zones in the world in terms of contributions raising $15.24 million.”
You in your Zones 4,5 and 6A raised $20.89 million and India alone has raised $20.04 million.
– Trustee Chair Paul Netzel
Netzel added that in essence, Rotarians were both “peacekeepers and peacebuilders. We have learned that in the last few years when we provide clean water and sanitation and eliminate illiteracy, reduce maternal and infant mortality, educate girls and women and bring economic viability to strengthen communities, we contribute towards removing the sources of conflict and poverty, which will bring peace in the long haul.”
TRF Trustee Sushil Gupta also paid a tribute to Banerjee’s leadership during the TRF Centennial year and congratulated him for putting forth a courageous goal of $300 million, which initially appeared impossible, but was surpassed.
Everybody was now looking to RI and the Foundation for the next big challenge Rotary would take up. “And one conclusion is clear… the Rotary world is not ready for a mega project that will take 30 years and cost millions of dollars. But we have to keep looking, and ask ourselves where would Rotary be if we didn’t have polio eradication programmes? If we didn’t have that success story behind us, could we have raised this kind of money?”
But whatever the Rotary world decides to take on next, “I am sure, it will be measurable, achievable and sustainable”.
The seminar had an open session and Trustee Elect Gulam Vahanvaty urged the incoming DGs to constantly upgrade their knowledge on the latest developments in TRF, take full advantage of such opportunities and utilise the open forum to ask questions and share their views.
“I remember when the Future Vision was in its pilot stage, towards its third year, several concerns were raised at a similar open house. These concerns were heard and suitable changes were incorporated. So please speak up. And always keep TRF contributions in your minds. When god blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living, raise your standard of giving.”
In another session PDG and IPPC Chair Deepak Kapur urged Rotarians to never lose sight of history as they made the world polio- free. They should always remember the respect, esteem, credibility and acceptance that the PolioPlus programme gave Rotarians. “It gave us respect so that the doors of Rasthrapati Bhavan opened for us, so that prime ministers would be happy to meet Rotarians; it gave us the esteem of the topmost bureaucrats, gave us credibility with philanthropists such as Bill Gates, Rajashree Birla, Amitabh Bachchan and brought us the acceptance of religious leaders in mandirs, masjids, churches, and so on.”
He added that for long years “despite holding soup kitchens, health camps and other charitable events, respect eluded Rotary. When asked where is Rotary, Bernard Shaw said Rotary has gone for lunch! In India the media still calls Rotary club a roti club… a club that donates four sewing machines to widows while splurging on an elaborate meal in a five star hotel!”