Rotary clubs participate in a broad range of humanitarian, intercultural, and educational activities designed to improve the human condition. The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is a conduit of world understanding. It serves as an instrument of peace and humanitarian service by bringing people together and helping them better understand one another and their respective cultures, philosophies, and traditions.
Rotary’s humanitarian grants support club projects that provide health care and medical supplies, clean water, food, job training, youth development, and education to millions of people in need — particularly in developing countries. In addition, Rotary International provides more than 200 grants each year to fund the work of Rotary volunteers, who travel to parts of the world where their technical expertise and knowledge are most needed to alleviate hardship and solve problems.
The Laguna Sunrise Rotary Club is active in international projects. Our goal is to improve lives around the world by supporting projects that provide the basic necessities of life: food, clean water, safe shelter, and medical care. Our Club supports the projects championed by Rotary International and our District 5180, such as Safe Blood Africa which provides basic equipment that is desperately needed to facilitate a safe blood supply for medical use.
At more of a local club level, our Club is very active in building homes in El Salvador. This project is very near and dear to our hearts as it involves the City of Elk Grove’s sister city Concepción de Ataco, El Salvador. This project is a coordinated effort with the local Rotary Club in Concepción de Ataco and involves building safe shelter for families who would otherwise live in extremely sub-standard conditions. Our Club enjoys the direct link to the community of Concepción de Ataco and there are often opportunities for Club members to travel there and give hands-on support. Given our Club’s connection, we hope to further expand our support and involvement in that community.
In 1985, Rotary launched PolioPlus, an ambitious program to immunize the world’s children against polio. Rotary’s grassroots leadership, volunteer support, and initial funding for vaccine provided the catalyst for the World Health Assembly’s resolution in 1988 to eradicate polio worldwide. Spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are the World Health Organization, Rotary International, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.
As a result of this partnership’s efforts, polio cases have dropped by 99 percent since 1988, and the world stands on the threshold of eradicating the disease. Rotary members have given more than $500 billion U.S. dollars and countless hands-on volunteer hours to this critical effort.
The savings to be realized from polio eradication are potentially as high as US$1.5 billion per year — funds that could be used to address other public health priorities. The savings in human suffering will be immeasurable.
Rotary builds understanding through international scholarships, exchange programs, and humanitarian grants. In 2002, Rotary launched the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution, an innovative program designed to educate tomorrow’s peacemakers.
Hosted at seven leading universities around the globe, the program funds 70 World Peace Scholars each year for graduate studies in international relations, conflict studies, and negotiation — providing promising leaders the tools to further the cause of peace.
Some 35,000 students from 110 countries have also studied abroad since 1947 as Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars. Rotary’s Group Study Exchange has helped more than 45,000 young professionals explore their career fields in other countries. And, each year some 8,000 secondary- school students experience life in another country through Rotary’s Youth Exchange program.
Without changes in water management, a third of the world’s people will likely suffer from chronic water shortages in 30 years.
Providing Access to Clean Water
Families in rural Zimbabwe have access to clean water, thanks to the initiative of the Rotary Club of Harare. The project upgraded over 900 wells for families in the area and helped significantly reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases. Previously, people had to either draw water from the deteriorated wells, which posed a public health risk, or walk long distances to communal water supplies. Rotary clubs provided supplies for the project, which received assistance in the form of Rotary Foundation Matching Grants involving the Rotary Club of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, and district 2330, Sweden, and grants from the Canadian government and SIDA, the Swedish development agency.
Delivering Clean Water
One of the most urgent needs of disaster victims is a clean water supply. District 1220, England, launched a project to supply “aquaboxes” to people in disaster areas in order to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Each box holds 75 liters of water and medical supplies. The container itself can be used as a water purifier, effectively replenishing the water supply 14 times. More than 10,000 aquaboxes have been distributed through clubs and other organizations to 25 countries, from India to the Balkans to Gambia.
Rotary International’s programs and service opportunities are designed to help Rotarians meet needs in their own communities and reach out to assist people in need worldwide.