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Rotary in the News
For the past five years, Rotary members around Tucson, Arizona, USA, have bicycled as many as 111 miles in a day to raise money for polio eradication. This year’s team of 70 cyclists and their supporters raised $730,000 in the Ride to End Polio, which, after matched two-to-one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will make $2.1 million available for polio eradication.
“With every penny going to end polio, we’ve immunized an awful lot of kids against this horrible disease,” says Gary Hirsch, a member of the Rotary Club of Tucson and a ride organizer.
The Ride to End Polio is part of the annual El Tour de Tucson bike event. This year’s ride, which took place 23 November, was dedicated to Rotary General Secretary John Hewko, who once again participated. The honor was given in recognition of his contributions to the bicycling community and the global eradication of polio. Hewko has raised more money than any other rider in a single El Tour event: over $243,000 in 2012.
“It was an incredible honor to accept the 2013 Dedication Award on behalf of Rotary and friends of Rotary — including our fine staff at the Secretariat — who supported the effort this year and also in 2012,” Hewko says. “And I can’t thank Rotary members in Arizona enough for inviting me to participate in their Ride to End Polio.”
Give to End Polio Now
Become an advocate for polio eradication
By Arnold R. Grahl
K.R. “RAVI” RAVINDRAN
One sunny morning at the end of June 1991, a van drove through the busy, rush-hour streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Winding through traffic to a northern suburb, the van arrived at the Forward Command Headquarters of the Defense Ministry. Security guards stopped it for inspection. When they did, the two suicide bombers driving the van detonated their cargo: thousands of kilograms of plastic explosives.
The roof of the building was blown off completely. Debris was strewn for blocks. In total, 21 people were killed and 175 people injured, among them many pupils of the girls’ school next door. More than a kilometer away, the blast shattered every window in my home. My wife raced toward the sound of the explosion – toward our daughter’s school.
Our daughter was then nine years old. That morning, she had forgotten her pencil case at home. At the moment of the blast, she was coming out of a stationer’s shop, admiring her new pencils. Suddenly her ears were ringing, the air was filled with sand, and everywhere around her people were screaming, bleeding, and running. Someone pulled her into the garden of the badly damaged school, where she waited until my wife arrived to bring her back to our home – its floors still covered with broken glass.
Sri Lanka today is peaceful and thriving, visited by some two million tourists every year. Our war now is only a memory, and we as a nation look forward to a promising future. Yet so many other nations cannot say the same. Today, more of the world’s countries are involved in conflict than not; a record 59.5 million people worldwide live displaced by wars and violence.
In Rotary we believe, in spite of all that, in the possibility of peace – not out of idealism, but out of experience. We have seen that even the most intractable conflicts can be resolved when people have more to lose by fighting than by working together. We have seen what can happen when we approach peace-building in ways that are truly radical, such as the work of our Rotary Peace Fellows. Through our Rotary Foundation, peace fellows become experts in preventing and resolving conflict. Our goal is that they will find new ways not only to end wars but to stop them before they begin.
Among the hundreds of peace fellows who have graduated from the program, two from Sri Lanka, one from each side of the conflict, studied together. In the first weeks of the course, both argued passionately for the rightness of their side. Yet week by week, they grew to understand each other’s perspective; today, they are good friends. When I met them and heard their story, they gave me hope. If 25 years of pain and bitterness could be overcome by Rotary, then what, indeed, is beyond us?
We cannot fight violence with violence. But when we fight it with education, with understanding, and with peace, we can truly Be a Gift to the World.
By Nancy Yancey
Rainbow Village has so many wonderful success stories from the more than 300 families (almost 900 men, women and children) who have found homes and hopeful futures here during the past 22 years.
Rainbow Village is a story of hope, transformation and permanently breaking cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence for today and many generations in the future.
It does “take a village” in order to make this important work possible. We are grateful for each family member, staff person, board member, and more than 1000 volunteers last year. Everyone who becomes a part of Rainbow Village becomes a part of the story and all our lives are transformed by the love, grace and mercy witnessed.
A Rainbow Village friend and volunteer who began working with a 10-year old deaf boy in the program writes . . . “My passion is working one-on-one, on ASL and English language development through fun activities, particularly with this deaf child in the Rainbow Village program. He is energetic, fun-loving, sweet, inquisitive, and loves to tell stories about his day at school and about his family and friends. He loves life and is looking forward to a happy future. I teach through activities ranging from art projects, games, and storytelling, to simple instructional time. I was first introduced to Rainbow Village through my church and interested in working with him since no other individuals were identified who could meet his need.”
And this, firsthand, from a recent Rainbow Village graduate . . . “My journey at Rainbow Village was full of lessons learned, and I thank you for providing me with the ability and tools necessary to learn as much as I learned and to grow as much as I have. And now I begin the journey we all worked so hard to prepare me for. I’m ready, and I thank the entire staff at Rainbow Village for working with me to make this day come to pass.”
There are many family successes at Rainbow Village. Here are just few in 2013:
Developing financial independence is the most crucial aspect of long term success for graduates. In 2013 Rainbow Village served 21 families (69 people ranging in age from 3 months to 54 years old.)
Six families moved to homes of their own without subsidies and a solid plan for the future.
100 percent of adults are continuing to build their Rainbow Village savings accounts and life skills to sustain them and their children now and for future generations.
100 percent of adults increased their wages through the work force development program.
100 percent of residents completed their taxes thanks to the assistance of Rainbow Village partner, Wilson Lewis CPAs.
We look forward to sharing all their successes in the upcoming 2013 Annual Report. Please sign up for the newsletter to receive the report.
Rainbow Village children and youth continue to excel and live up to their potential in our after school and evening programs. All children passed the CRCT as a result of excellent tutoring from Gwinnett County School teachers. After school is not all work but involves play as well. In fact, we believe so much in the importance of play in children’s lives that one evening weekly a “big recess” program is held following a community meal. Thanks to our community partners, they also participated in one field trip per month. Last month, two members of one of our faith partners, within a few hours after posting a challenge on social media, had reached their goal of purchasing tickets and lunch for all Rainbow Village children and youth to visit the Georgia Aquarium. Needless to say, every child was thrilled! They also attended summer, winter and school break camps thanks to our partner, Duluth Rotary Club that provided scholarships.
With assistance from Community Partner, HomeAid of Atlanta, construction of a third three bedroom apartment building for an additional six families will begin next month. These families will join the current 12 in our community. At the completion of the capital campaign, an additional 12 apartment homes will be available bringing our capacity to 30 families who will call Rainbow Village home and break the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. The Community Center is under construction and we will add early childhood education to our comprehensive program by year end.
There are so many stories of transformation, hope and possibility every day. There are many opportunities to get involved now and in the months ahead. Each of these stories and accomplishments touches the hearts of those privileged to work, volunteer, invest, and serve at Rainbow Village. We encourage you to become a part of the story. Please visit www.rainbowvillage.org to learn more, sign up for the monthly newsletter and get engaged.
Nancy Yancey is CEO of Rainbow Village.
People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services.
For more information contact Ellen Gerstein – email@example.com or at 770-995-3339.
Published Gwinnett Daily Post February 3, 2014.
Rotary International Doing Good Around the World