Published in the Delaware County Daily Times
Monday, October 5, 2020 \
By Joseph Batory, Times Columnist
Most people are not aware of what Rotary is or what it has been doing.
So here is a bit of information: There are 1.2 million Rotary members in 34,000 Rotary Clubs in 200 countries. In addition, there are more than 10,000 Rotary-affiliated “Rotaract” Clubs,” comprised mostly of university students (200,000+) as well as nearly 15,000 Rotary-affiliated Interact Clubs, comprised of high school age students (340,000+). Each one of those Rotary organizations, many of them local, is dedicated to humanitarian causes, doing “hands-on” caring outreach projects in their communities and beyond by providing support where needed. This adds up to many thousands of caring and meaningful efforts each year.
BUT…beyond that, Rotary’s umbrella organization, Rotary International, has its own Foundation which annually distributes hundreds of millions of dollars (mostly contributed by Rotary’s 1.2 million members each year) to save and improve lives internationally.
What follows are short summaries of where Rotary International has been focusing, highlighting its goals and some remarkable achievements.
Rotary International has been working to eradicate polio for 30 years. When Rotary’s involvement began, 1000 people, mostly children, were paralyzed with the polio virus each day. Remarkably, since becoming a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary International, with its partners (including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) has helped immunize a staggering 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. As a result, polio cases worldwide have now been reduced 99.9%.
Today, over 70 million people have been forced from their homes because of conflict, violence, persecution, and human rights violations. Half of them are children.
To confront this situation, Rotary International has created its own unique fully-funded peace fellowships and scholarships which each year train 130 leaders to better enable them to address the underlying causes of conflict, including poverty, discrimination, ethnic tension, lack of access to education, and unequal distribution of resources.
Since the program began in 2002, the Rotary Peace Centers have trained and enhanced the skills of more than 1,300 fellows who now work in more than 115 countries. Many serve as leaders in governments, NGOs, the military, education, law enforcement, and international organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank.
Just in 2018,*** Rotary International supported these programs with $3.5 million.
400 million people in the world do not have basic health care.
Disease results in misery, pain, and poverty for millions of people worldwide. Rotary leads efforts both to set up temporary clinics, blood donation centers, and training facilities in underserved communities struggling with outbreaks and health care access. Rotary designs and builds infrastructure that allows doctors, patients, and governments to work together.
Rotary’s programs combat diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and polio. Prevention is also stressed with a focus on health education and bringing people routine hearing, vision, and dental care.
Just in 2018,*** Rotary International contributed more than $35 million to fund international projects fighting disease.
And Rotary International has recently contributed millions of dollars to support 65 projects worldwide which are addressing the Covid 19 pandemic.
Providing Clean Water and Sanitation
When people have access to clean water and sanitation, waterborne diseases decrease, children stay healthier and attend school more regularly.
Through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, Rotary International’s people of action mobilize resources, form partnerships, and invest in infrastructure and training that yield long-term change.
Just in 2018,*** Rotary International funded nearly $19 million for projects to improve sanitation and create clean water worldwide.
More than 17% of the world adult population (775 million people) are illiterate.
Rotary’s goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy.
Just in 2018,***Rotary International supplied $11 million to support education and literacy programs for children and adults in a myriad of ways.
Maternal Health Care
Rotary International has been significantly expanding access to quality care, so mothers and children everywhere can have the same opportunities for a healthy future. An estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five die each year because of malnutrition, inadequate health care, and poor sanitation — all of which can be prevented.
Just in 2018,*** Rotary International supplied $7 million for initiatives to improve maternal health and childcare.
Nearly 800 million people live on less than $1.90 a day.
The Rotary International Foundation continues to work to strengthen local entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly women, in impoverished communities.
And Rotary provides training and access to well-paying jobs and financial management institutions.
Just in 2018,*** Rotary International funded more than $10 million to create economic development sites where desperately needed in the world.
All of this is the ongoing daily miracle of Rotary Clubs, Rotaract Clubs, and Interact Clubs and Rotary International….A continuing presence for more than 100 years, helping those in need and creating hope in our turbulent world.
*** 2018…latest available data via Rotary International Foundation website
Joseph Batory has been a Rotary member for more than 30 years, initially in Upper Darby’s Rotary Club, and currently in the Philadelphia Club.