It is not surprising that Rotary International – the first international service club in the world – encourages us to be involved with other countries. RI inspires us via an excellent incentive system which can double or even quadruple our efforts through the matching program of The Rotary Foundation; often referred to as TRF.
It also requires us to partner with Rotarians in the host country and to focus on making our projects sustainable.
I cannot speak to our clubs involvement before joining in 1988, but I do know that we were very supportive of the new program to rid the world of the terrible disease called Polio. At the request of Rotary clubs in the Philippines, TRF was able to make that country polio-free in just a couple of years. When I joined, we were all encouraged to donate $100 to this cause, and worldwide RI raised almost twice the amount that they had targeted. I am sure our club surpassed our goal as well.
Our primary involvement in International service began when club president Tim Gerking and District Governor Lyle McLaughlin asked several members to help start a club in Russia at the end of the cold war. See separate report from our awesome member – Doug Smith.
Other International activities included:
- Partnering with RCs in Missouri and Michigan on a Sanitation project which built eight latrines for the school children around the Malawi Children’s Village in Africa.
- Providing books for eight libraries in South Africa with the assistance of the RC of Azalea South Africa for $20,000. This project was spearheaded by Virginia Ruffulo. – Providing tools and education for a demonstration garden in mountains of northern Guatemala.
- Sponsoring a Global Grant Scholar to earn a Masters Degree in Education at SOU. Our student, Mercy Tahuna, was a student under a tree in an impoverished village and later was a teacher under the same tree, before she became a TV reporter and embassy employee in England and Washington DC. Now because of Rotary, she can affect the education of thousands.
- Joining with our district in sponsoring another Global Scholar who is currently earning a masters degree in Public Health at OSU. He is also a physician and has been recognized by OSU faculty for his first-hand knowledge dealing with food insecurity and public health at a Hospital in Africa. And
- Earlier this year our member Ray Kistler with his wife Lucinda Kolo Kistler MD and their son Dylan, who is the current president of the Interact club at Ashland High School, completed a medical mission to some of the poorest areas of Africa. This included spending several days as the only medical personnel in a Relocation camp of 18,000. This grant included the purchase of a brand new Toyota Ambulance, which is being used by the same hospital in Malawi as our Global Scholar is employed. The vehicle allows trained medical personnel to bring modern medicine and medical education to 18 villages through the hospital outreach program.
Our members have also been involved with other projects: John Yaple, Bob Strosser and myself have assisted the Stove team to create factories in Central America that sell stoves below cost to villagers who would otherwise spend countless hours gathering wood and suffer terrible breathing respiratory problems from the smoke that they would otherwise breath. Karen Bartalini and I separately accompanied Amigo Vision in trips to Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. I have also gone to India as part of the National Immunization Days that Rotary sponsors with the World Health Organization and UNICEF each year to fight Polio.
We have also been involved with sponsorship of Peace Fellows through Rotary’s program that provides education at the master’s degree level and the 3-month certification level for over 1,000 students over the last 14 years. Our club has sponsored 5 – several from Kenya.
It is also not surprising that our members practice SERVICE ABOVE SELF internationally outside of Rotary. These efforts are too numerous to keep track of but two come to mind very easily. Ed Baich along with his wife Mary Jo have sponsored many children and served as treasurer of a nonprofit called The Makena Children’s Foundation and new member Chris Morgan MD has formed a Children’s Home and has to lead a group to Uganda for 9 years, to care for unwanted babies and the villagers in the area.
Currently, we are working with Chris Morgan on a grant to start a school in Uganda and hopefully will be able to assist Ray Kistler in his future missions to southern Africa.
Respectfully summited by,
District Governor 2011-12
District TRF chair 2016-19