|By Thomas V. McConnon (188.8.131.52) on Saturday, February 21, 2009 - 9:12 am: Edit Post|
Globally-minded professionals and business leaders that have joined Rotary International have ascertained, a long time ago, that Peace Corps Volunteers are a valuable partner to many of the humanitarian projects that their Rotary Foundation is funding. Additionally, this partnership is certain to increase with the recent $250 million matching-grant from Bill Gates. With this in mind, Peace Corps Volunteers are encourged to contact their home-town Rotary Club or the Rotary Club in their host-country for financial assistance and general support. They can also contact Thomas V. McConnon at Thomasref@aol.com for assistance.
This article was written by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Thomas V. McConnon (St. Vincent 1981-84), and a Director of the Rotary Club of New York. It outlines the annual Rotary /United Nations conference in New York. During this conference, it is increasing evident that Peace Corps volunteers can become an even more important partner with the United Nations and Rotary International in the fight against global poverty.
On the chilly and misty morning of November 8, 2008, the United Nations hosted more than 1,600 Rotarians and their guests at the Annual “Rotary International Day at the United Nations”. At this annual conference, Rotarians take the opportunity to examine the working partnership between Rotary and the United Nations in alleviating global poverty.
The enthusiastic attendees were from forty-four countries and twenty-seven states. Included were two-hundred Rotaract (young members of Rotary International from college age to approximately thirty years old), and six-hundred Interact members, (high-school students sponsored by local Rotary clubs).
“Rotary Is An Indispensable Partner of the UN”
The first speaker was Erik Falt of the United Nation’s Department of Public Information (UNDPI). Prior to joining the UN, Mr. Falt was the Press Attaché for the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations. Eric has been a long time supporter of Rotary since the time he was stationed in Chicago and frequently visited clubs throughout the Mid-west and he has recognized that Rotary is an indispensible partner to the United Nations. He also pointed out the long history of Rotarians in the creation of the United Nations, with no less than forty-nine Rotarians contributing to the twenty-nine delegations at the San Francisco Conference in 1945.
Mr. Falt strongly encouraged Rotarians to take advantage of the United Nations Speaker Program. The UN hopes to work even more closely with Rotarians and asks that Rotarians invite United Nations personnel to speak at organized events throughout the United States. The speakers do not accept honorarium, however, they only ask that the clubs finance travel and accommodations expenses. He also invited Rotarians to the UN’s annual events around the world. The upcoming conference will be in Paris, and the year after that to Mexico, with the program dealing with human- rights and disarmament.
“Rotarians Do Not Differentiate”
The next speaker was Dong-Kurn Lee (aka DK), the President of Rotary International and the chairman of the Bu-Bang Manufacturing Company in Seoul, Korea. He joined Rotary in 1971 and in 1996 he charted thirty-two new clubs and added 1,800 new Rotarians to his district.
It was only two months earlier, when President DK addressed government and civic leaders at the forum convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, on September 25, 2008. At the forum, attended by top government and civic leaders, President DK reaffirmed Rotary's commitment to working with the UN to eradicate polio, and to build a healthier, more peaceful world. He stated that Rotary has helped to bring “the world closer to the end of a disease, and to the achievement of the fourth Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality” In a speech during a breakout session on health and education, President DK said that "We have created partnerships that will endure and will yield benefits far beyond the elimination of one disease."
At today’s address to Rotarians, President D.K confirmed that Rotary is a very diverse organization, but we know that on the inside, people are all alike, and we trust in the same “golden rule”. When a country or village needs assistance, Rotarians do not consider how the people address, or how they speak, or
RI President DK Lee and Eric Falt of the United Nations Public Information Department.
how they pray, he said. “What matters is that they are all human beings and they need help.” As a result, for the last twenty years we have partnered with the United Nations, Rotarians have donated $720 million to Polio irradiation, and have immunized more than 2 billion children in 122 counties and we and our partners reduced polio cases by 99 percent in our organized Polio-Plus program. President D.K. concluded his address encouraging all of the 1.2 million Rotarians, in more than 200 hundred countries, to continue working to “Make Dreams a Reality”
“MDG Progress Has Been Made In The Aggregate, But Not In All Countries.”
Salil Shetty, a native of India, joined the United Nations in 2003 as the Director of the Millennium Campaign. Prior to joining the UN, Mr. Shetty was the Chief Executive of Action Aid, a leading international development NGO in South Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa. He provided an assessment of the progress at the half-way point of the Millennium Development Goals
He noted that some regions, particularly China and India, have made significant progress, especially in the first goal of eradicating poverty and hunger. In addition, the world has made advances with much of the crippling debts being canceled, and that forty-million more children are going to school. Overall, he noted that on the global level, it is likely that we'll reach the universal target of halving extreme poverty by 2015.
Yet, he emphasized that these goals are not about aggregates, they are about the people of individual countries. He pointed out that there are still huge difficulties in Sub-Saharan Africa and many countries in south Asia and are not likely to reach the goals. Also, he specified that in some parts of Latin America, things are not as successful as the numbers may indicate be-cause of the high degree of income disparities in many of the countries with a large indigenous population.
There is concern that even though the world has made strong and sustained progress in reducing extreme poverty, however, this is now being undercut by recent higher prices of food and oil and of the global economic slowdown.
Mr. Shetty’s department at the UN organized more than 115 million of people around the world to “Stand Up and Take Action” on October 17, 2008 and to remind their political leaders that they expect them to deliver on the commitments made in 2000 to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. While the global movement in support of the Millennium Development Goals is growing from famous film actors and musicians taking part, more assistance is needed.
Our speaker also noted that the Doha Development Rounds, which are the current trade-negotiation talks of the World Trade Organization (WTO) - also part of the United Nations - needs to allow developing economies to sell their competitive products to the industrialized countries without imposed trade barriers. The most recent round of negotiations in July 2008, broke down after failing to reach a compromise on agricultural import rules.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, was scheduled to address the con-conference but had to unexpectedly travel to Nairobi, Kenya for the African Union Regional Summit on the conflict situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
His welcoming letter was read by Mr. Kim Won-soo who has been the Deputy Chef de Cabinet since January2007 and assistant to the Secretary-General. Prior to that he served as Ambassador of the Republic of Korea as head of the Transition Team for the eight Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Dear Rotary International President Lee and Rotarians:
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to the United Nations. It is always a pleasure to host Rotary International. We share your commitment to securing global public goods, and we value the energy you bring to global challenges. Ours is a good, long-standing partnership. Today we need your hard work more than ever.
Earlier this year, I started speaking about what I describe as “a people crisis”. Soaring prices for food and fuel, accelerating climate change, and stalled development for the world’s poorest people, are some thoughts I was eager to raise. Today, we see that if anything, it was an understatement. The global financial crisis has brought an additional shock compounding all the others. Although it may have receded from the headlines, the food crisis is still very much with us. Food and fertilizer prices are two times as high as they were one year ago. Climate change is worse with every passing day and some ask how we can take steps to prevent climate change in the middle of this financial crisis. But given the situation we can create green-jobs and spur investment. I ask, how we can offer not to.
And progress toward the Millennium Development Goals has been uneven; many countries are falling behind especially in Sub-Sahara Africa. We hear about of how our problems on Wall Street affect people on Main Street. We also need to think about people around the world even with no streets at all. A series of upcoming meetings provide an opportunity to get back on track. These include the G-20 gathering in Washington, the Finance for Development Conference, later this month in Doha, and climate negotiations early next month in Posna Poland. We must make the most of these occasions.
Partnerships will be crucial as we move ahead. The United Nations attaches great importance to close ties with Rotary International, and is grateful to the contributions you have made to global health, education and poverty eradication efforts. We also look forward to working with the administration of the new President Elect Obama, who has spoken often of the importance of diplomacy, international cooperation, and especially strong United Nations. Together we must deliver results for a safer, healthier, and a more prosperous world. It is encouraging to know that the United Nations will continue to be able to count on Rotary International to do its part. Please accept my best wisher for a memorable day at the United Nations. I thank you.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
Secretary-General of the United Nations
“Water May Become the New Oil”
The moderator of the Water Panel, Bill Miller, reaffirmed that water is critical to human survival. However, over 1.1 billion do not have access to clean water, and over 2.7 billion are engage in a conflict over water. Water could become the new oil. A member of the Water Panel, Tom Hamlin a native of Canada worked with UN Environment Program (UNEP) department has worked on alternative energy and transportation projects in more than thirty countries in the last ten years. He currently works for the UN Department of Technical and Social Affairs.
Mr. Hamlin pointed out that approximately thirty countries, representing 2.8 billion people, especially China, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Peru confront chronic water problems. Furthermore, effects from climate change can be very dramatic within the next twenty years, particularly in Africa. One projected effect is that there will be twenty-percent drop in available water supply, with a concomitant an increase in population. There is evidence that floods and droughts are occurring more frequent and are more severe.
The tactics to moderate water shortages are:
• Seek new sources - desalinization and reverse osmosis.
Save water - repair porous pipes and upgrade water delivery systems.
Reduce demand – initiate water efficient farming techniques and reduced flow-rates in faucets and toilets.
Recycle - terrace farming, hierarchical, multi-uses of water, and more water treatment plants.
“There are Three Legs to End the Cycle of Poverty: Health Hunger and Education
Frank Mayhew, from the Sebastopol, Rotary Club of California, updated Rotarians about the “Ending Poverty - One Village at a Time” model. Frank and his wife, Cathleen, were inspired by Jeffry Asch’s book “The End of Poverty “to create this program and it was first initiated on the couple’s trip to visit a fellow Rotarian in Uganda.
To reduce the “cycle of poverty” requires meaningful improvements in health, hunger and education improvements. To clarify the “One Village at a Time” model an effective metaphor of a three-legged stool was provided by Frank: If all “three legs” of the stool are present, the stool will stand. If one leg is missing, the stool will not stand. The same is true with poverty reduction, with the three legs being health, hunger and education.
The project starts by a Rotary club in the developing country doing a “needs- assessment.
The Water Panel included William A. Miller, James Sniffed of the UN, and Rotarian Frank Mayhew
Books to Children
The panel moderator, Sylvan Barnet, explained that significant progress has been made in literacy around the world, and local governments are spending substantial resources. Nevertheless, currently there are still 102 countries that have not yet reached universal literacy and about 72 countries are not on track in achieving the millennium Development Goal of Universal literacy.
Dr. Carmen Ramos-Bemoan MD, a pediatrician and a native of the Philippines, is the National Director of “Reach Out and Read” (ROR) in the Philippines. She is also very familiar with Rotary because her husband has been a long-time Rotarian. Started in 1989 in Boston by a concerned group of pediatricians, ROR encourages literacy promotion as a standard part of pediatric primary care so that children will grow up with books and a love of reading. Doctors, nurses and other health care providers advise parents about the importance of reading aloud, and give age-appropriate books to children at pediatric check-ups from six months to five years of age. By building on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers, ROR helps families and communities encourage early literacy skills so children enter school prepared for success in reading. This program has helped more than three million children. Dr. Carmen concluded her presentation informing the attendees that with the help of the United Nations and Rotary “we can eliminate illiteracy”.
The Rotary Books for the World program was summarized by Rotarian Charles Clemmons (PDG) of the Rotary Club of Seabrook, Texas. He and his wife, Barbara, are recipients of the Rotary International's “Service-Above-Self A-ward". With vast Rotary service, Charles and Barbara co-founded the “Books for the World Project” which collects used books from schools, libraries, and individuals and then ships them to southern and eastern Africa. The program has sent over eighty shipping-containers of books over the last few years. Many of the used books are collected from school districts in Texas and are then sent to Johannesburg, South Africa. The Texas and African school districts are storing the containers, and students are stacking and distributing the books.
The containers sea transport cost about $4,100, and a container itself cost about $2,100 to purchase. Stemming from a recent promotion, Johannesburg Rotarians have received more than 7,000 requests for books. Charles also underscored the might of Rotary Inter-national’s Foundation Matching-grants to leverage the funding. The program, however, does not ship to countries that require custom duties to be paid on the books.”Rotarians Take Actions to Prevent War and to End the Reasons for It”
Incoming RI President of Rotary International, John Kenny of the Rotary Club of Grange-mouth, Scotland has been a Rotarian since 1970, and is a past dean of his local law faculty, and a judge. He is a Major Donor to Rotary Foundation, and has received the Foundation’s Meritorious Service, and the Distinguished Service Award.
President-elect John gave a brief, yet insightful address insuring that our real riches are those that we keep inside us, commonly known as our values. Those of us that have joined Rotary know that it is not only our thoughts, but our actions that make a difference. Rotarians take actions to intelligently prevent war and to end the reasons for it. We train future leaders, conduct international service projects of water, health, hunger, and education, and by establishing international fellowships with emphasis on ethical and honest behavior, with the other Rotarians in more than two-hundred countries and geographic regions. The in-coming president concluded that we want to bring solutions to the problems of the world, and Rotary is the organization that helps us to do this.
Grace Agwaru, a native of a Uganda, is an agricultural economist and was the first recipient of the Gift of Life Program where she was to sponsored and hosted to receive heart surgery at Saint Francis Hospital in Manhasset, Long Island in 1974. Grace was four years old then. This program that was initiated by the Manhasset, New York, Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Kampala, Uganda provides heart surgery to children from countries where the life-saving surgical procedures were not available. This year, the Gift of Life provided surgery to more than 10,000 children and is established in fifty-two countries.
Grace gave a moving account of how grateful she was that Rotarians gave her the Gift of Life. When she was four years old, she simply had a dream to be a child, but she soon learned that she had a hole in her heart, and she was diagnosed not live to adulthood. As the first recipient of the program, and since so many have sacrificed for her, she was inspired to use her life to give back to others. Grace is currently a community development manager of the Tesco Foundation for Education, Research and Rural Development. Funded by the Pearl of Africa Foundation, Tesco is a non-profit, non-governmental organization whose aim is to enhance the lives of the people of Kumis District in eastern Uganda. Uganda was given the name the “Pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill when he was overcome by Uganda’s magnificent natural beauty.
Grace is very active in micro-finance, education, and other community programs. She has also started a Rotary club in Uganda which is working to provide open-heart surgery for more than the 350 children in Uganda waiting for surgery.
Grace received a standing ovation by many when she told the conference that “When we save the life of one person, we are also saving the life of thousands of people, and by saving my life, you have helped me to reach out to the poor in my community”. Wolf Wilkinson, the immediate Past –President of Rotary International, and a member of the Rotary Club of Trenton, Ontario substituted for the chairman of the Foundation, Jonathan. Past President Wolf read an inspiring letter from Chairman Jonathan B. Majiyagbe, reminding Rotarians to bear in mind Margaret Mead’s words to “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing has ever had.” He points out in his letter that when Rotarians work together, we can truly “Make Dreams Real” and our foundation is our way of each Rotarian of being part every Ambassadorial Scholars, Rotary Peace Centers, polio eradication, and every Rotary project that our foundation supports. The letter concluded with that when we support our foundation “we shine a light that will illuminate a path to understanding and peace, and it is our privilege and responsibility to keep that light shin-in for generations to come.”
Mr. Jonas Hurtle, who was asked to fill in as a guest speaker the night before the conference, is a senior advisor and local network co-ordination for the United Nations’ Global Compact in the Americas, Africa, and the Middle-east. The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary agent driving globalization, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology, and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.
The ten principles are:
• Support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.
• Make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
• Uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
• The elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor.
• Eliminate effective abolition of child labor;
• Elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
• Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.
• Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.
• Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
• Work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
Incoming President John Kenny was also speaker at the conference.
The Health Panel Focuses on Polio and Diabetes Anand Balachandran, the inter-agency coordinator of the World Health Organization gave an update on Rotary and the World Health Organization’s Global Polio Irradiation Initiative. As most Rotarians are well aware, in 1985, Rotary International unilaterally embarked on the world-wide initiative to bring about a polio-free world. At the time, there were 125 countries that were polio-endemic and 350,000 children were infected every year. A few years later, the global health community joined and partnered with Rotary in 1988. He noted that Rotary’s initiative has saved more than five-million children from polio-inflicted disabilities by vaccinating more than two billion children. Also, what is less recognized, is that this vaccinating program prevented the deaths of an additional 1.2 million children by providing Vitamin-A along with the vaccine.
However, there a few regions, in four countries, that have been elusive where the Di-rector-General of W.H.O. has intensified efforts. The four countries are Nigeria with over 750 cases in 2008, India with over 500 cases and Pakistan with over 100 cases and Afghanistan with over 30 cases. As a result, since polio knows no geographic boundaries there have been polio cases detected in Chad, Sudan, Angola and Geneva Switzerland due to the stubborn persistence of polio in these four countries.
While Type 1 polio - the most dangerous strain - is prevalent in only one or two state in India, in Nigeria, there has been a disturbing outbreak in a much wider cross-section of the country. Being the largest country in Africa, Nigeria has threatened the world-wide progress on the war on polio, he said. Of the four endemic countries, Nigeria has been singled out by the United Nations to increase efforts in their national universal immunization program. This is one of the few times a single country has been pressured by the 192 member-states of the UN and the Secretariat-general to muster the “political-will”.
WHO is planning steps to immunize for the Type 3 polio virus? This is a much less dangerous strain of the virus, and is easier to fight. Sadly, Mr. Kalitadra also pointed out that a suicide bomber attacked a clearly marked United Nations convoy on September 15, 2008 in southern Afghanistan and killed two WHO doctors together with their driver. They were on their way to provide polio vaccinations to children.
Bill Miller PDG,,Anand Balachandran, Dr. Martin Silink and C. Wayne Edwards of the Health Panel
Dr. Martin Silink, of the Rotary Club of Lane Cove, Australia, is a professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Sydney. He is also President of the International Diabetes Federation: the umbrella group of over 200 diabetes associations in more than 160 countries.
Dr. Silink gave encouragement and thanks to New York Rotarian and RI representative to the UN, Sylvan Barnet. He thanked “Barney” for his “indispensable help to open the door and assist in the campaign for the UN resolution in 2006”. The 2006 resolution recognized that diabetes is a serious risk to family, and the entire world, and designated World Diabetes Day on Friday, November 14, 2008.
Dr. Silink pointed out that diabetes in the developing world it is an epidemic. 250 million people worldwide or 6% of adults have diabetes, and it is increasing by seven-million individuals per year. There are two types of diabetes. Type one is due to insulin deficiency and type 2 is primarily caused by obesity and in-creasing. Approximately 440,000 children have Type 1 diabetes and 70,000 are in truly desperate circumstances. Due to lack of access to insulin, for example, the life expectancy of children with diabetes in Mozambique and Malawi is less than one year. The doctor pointed out than several Rotary clubs in Australia have partnered and have supplied insulin and syringes for 1,000 children in eighteen countries. He also pointed out that the cost of insulin is prohibitive in many countries. The average-days-to- needed- to-work to buy one month of insulin is more than two weeks in many countries.
C. Wayne Edwards, PDG of the Rotary Club of Tallahassee. Florida and a certified Financial Planner outlined his district’s assistance to assist in diabetes. Wayne underscored that there is no vaccine for diabetes, and without insulin a diabetic child will die. With this in mind, each Rotary club in the Tallahassee Rotary district were given “Pink Piggy-banks” that were donated by Walgreens Drug Stores, and each club was asked to make a donation.
The clubs raised $25,000 and leveraged this initial amount with District Designated Funds and an RI matching grant, and the $25,000 grew to $106,000 dollars. With this funding, in partnership with IDF the Tallahassee club organized a diabetes camp in Bolivia. Seven Bolivian clinics were established to instruct diabetic children on how to live with diabetes, provide the insulin they needed, and arrange transportation for the parents and the patients to the clinics. Since then, the Bolivia Program now has expanded and established several clinics in Nigeria and Cameroon.
In addition, The Eli Lilly Corporation’s Foundation donated $180,000 placed in trust with the Rotary Foundation to the project. The corporation also produced a video that has been nominated for an Academy Award about the program. Rotarian Wayne was informed at today’s conference that an Insulin Rotary Action Group has been approved by the Rotary International Board of Directors at their pre-conference meeting.
Hunger Panel Promotes Villagers Growing Their Own Food
Dr. Ian Darnton-Hill is a physician and public health nutrition official in UNIEF headquarters in New York. He stressed that hunger alleviation is the underpinning base of all development programs for UN agencies and partnerships. 850 million people suffer from hunger and additional 135 million more have been significantly affected this year’s price rise of food staples. There are six to eight counties in Sub-Sahara Africa and south Asia where the situation has gotten worse. 64 countries are on target, but 51 counties are not making progress and there are 24 countries that have a have a chronic shortage of food. Work is still needed to improve breast feeding, diarrhea and parasite control, treat severe malnutrition, and improve household food security.
Additional effort is needed for women during pregnancy and the child’s first two years of life. If a child is malnourished for more than the two years of life, the damage is probably irreversible. While more than a third of all child deaths in developing countries are from malnutrition for those that survive, “it blunts their intellect, saps the productivity of every-one it touches, and perpetuates poverty.”
Although fewer children are undernourished than in ten years ago, over 140 million children in the developing world are still underweight. Significant progress has also been made in relation to Vitamin A supplementation, thanks to Rotary’s Polio Plus program. However, micro nutrition (essential vitamin and mineral intake) deficiencies remain significant public health problems in many countries.
UNICEF needs partners such as Rotary com-mitted to scale-up and sustain the current high impact nutrition interventions in areas such as Infant and Young Child Feeding, Micronutrients Nutrition Household food security in emergencies, and nutrition and HIV/AIDS.
“If you give a child a meal, you feed him for a day; teach a child to grow food, feed him/her for life.”
John Batcha, of the North Mecklenburg County Rotary Club in North Carolina was an executive director of the Asgrow Seed Company, that distributes garden seeds to twenty-nine countries. He is now president of Seed Programs Inc. and partners with Rotarians Sowing Seed To Fight World Hunger.
This program is based on the ancient proverb:
If you give a man to fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life. John emphasized that the Rotary Seed Program does not give food, it teaches children how to grow their own food, with the result that “If you give a child a meal, you feed him for a day; teach a child to grow food, feed him/her for life.”
It also provides informational material to plant the seeds and partners with Peace Corps volunteers to work with school, and orphan-ages to plant local gardens in developing countries. The SPI has already sent eleven mil-lion packages that planted one million gardens in sixty countries. The vegetables produced are rich so a
. The Hunger Panel included Helen B Reisler PDG, Rotarian John Batcha,, and Dr. Ian Darnton-Hill of UNICEF
The conference ended promptly at 4:00 pm and there was every indication that all of the attendees discover more about the important partnership of Rotary and the United Nations. More importantly, the day highlighted just how well Rotary provides the organizational structure to assist ordinary business and professional people to do extraordinary things.
Many participants sauntered across the street to Trump’s World Bar and attended a cocktail reception hosted by the Rotaract Club of the United Nations. At the reception, which was held on the main floor of the tallest residential building in the country, Rotarians of all ages continued their support of Rotary projects by participating in the omnipresent “Rotary Raffle” with the proceeds supporting the Rotaract water project in Central America.