In our Rotary World November is FOUNDATION MONTH. Now I could recite some statistics regarding the number of dollars raised for The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International but you might get bored. So I’ve decided to make this months “read” more interesting by talking about the real children and adults served by Rotarians through their Foundation.

I joined Rotary in 1975 but what really got my attention was what happened in 1985---the start of Polio plus. The grand scheme was to wipe the crippling polio virus from the face of the earth. While this Rotary dream started in the middle America the dream quickly spread around the world thanks to the Rotary network of local clubs. Today, tens of thousands of men, women, and children have been spared from this horrible crippling disease thanks to your contributions to Polio eradication. It is now reported that India, a country of over one billion people, has not had a new case of polio in over six months! Phenomenal!


Thanks to a matching grant from the Rotary Foundation World Fund, my own club built eight water purification plants in central Thailand in 2007. Now the Saint Joseph East Rotary Club is working on similar water purification plants for Thailand’s poor children. These plants are needed because all the ground and rain water is polluted and not safe to drink. Purification plants are built near schools so the children have safe drinking water. Many of these schools are filled with orphan kids in very poor villages (average income about $1 US dollar a day for an adult worker). Clean drinking water means less disease and healthier kids.    

Not all funds from The Rotary Foundation go to water and sanitation projects. Many clubs including the Independence Rotary Club are quite involved with improving child literacy. Working with a partner called “Friends United” the club provides literacy, teacher training programs, libraries, and educational supplies and develops teacher Resource Centers for rural schools and students in Honduras.

These are but a few of the wonderful humanitarian service projects Rotarians, in our District, are serving others both here and overseas. Other such projects include, the South Platte Rotary club’s Philippines Medical Mission now 19 years in operation which provides indigent patients with medical treatment and trains local medical professionals in health care practices. Now in it’s 12th year of operation, the North Kansas City Rotary Club does a yearly Jamaican Medical/Dental Mission. A project of the Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club severs AIDS orphaned children in 37 villages along Lake Malawi in one of the poorest regions in all of Africa. This project provides health care, education, and basic life services for children whose parents have died of AIDS. The South Kansas City Rotary Club works with the poor in the Dominican Republic by building a 35 bed hospital which has served over 40,000 people during the last five years from both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Efforts are now underway to expand the Mirocredit Program into this same hospital service area. Members of the Kansas City Rotary Club have worked with Rotary District 6780’s Heart2Heart Program for seven years serving the poor in Mexico on a variety of projects. Finally, our district 6040 Rotarian are now (our 11th year), collecting new shoes, socks, and shoe laces for orphan children housed in orphanages around the world. 

Other Rotary Foundation programs promote world peace through international cultural exchanges. One such program is the Rotary International Foundation Group Study Exchange (GSE). Another is the Ambassadorial Scholarship that is dedicated to international understanding and the Rotary Peace Centers where graduate students and professionals enter a program of study in peace and conflict resolution.

A skeptic might ask, why are you Rotarians doing these good things when you may never get much, if any, recognition from the public for your hard work. Well, as the Quaker Oats spokesperson would say about eating oatmeal, “It’s the right thing to do.” Your District Governor believes that helping promote health, economic opportunity, and literacy are ultimately the best antidotes to tyranny and war.  Perhaps we may not convince the skeptics but we Rotarians know, in our hearts, “It’s the Right Thing to do!”

Dan Hall, Governor                                                                                                                   Rotary District 6040