Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Together, Let’s Light Up Rotary

RI President Gary C.K. Huang and his wife, Corinna, at the International Assembly, Rotary’s annual training event, in January.

By RI President Gary C.K. Huang

As we begin a new Rotary year, I would like to tell you that I’m honored to be your Rotary International president and to stand with you as Rotary members.

Being a Rotarian is about a way of approaching the world and its challenges. There are many people in this world who need help and many changes that need to be made. It can be overwhelming.

Confucius and Rotary share similar ideas, and one idea from Confucius is that “It is better to light one single candle than to sit and curse the dark.” To me, this means that we shouldn’t lose hope and do nothing.

Instead, do something positive in your community, and let people know that Rotarians enjoy being together and working together. Involve your spouse and family in Rotary. Sharing your love for Rotary will recruit new members and keep current ones, and be the action that lights a candle.

Tell your community about Rotary 

Holding a Rotary Day is a great way to share your love for Rotary with your community, friends, family, Foundation alumni, and Rotaract and Interact clubs. You can make your Rotary Day simple, you can make it fancy, you can make it a whole day or just a few hours. But do something for your community to show people what you do locally and internationally. Make sure your community knows that Rotary is there, Rotary is active, Rotary is fun, and Rotary is doing good work!

Download the Rotary Days brochure to learn more, and share your Rotary Day photos on social media using #RotaryDay.

I appreciate each selfless act of kindness you do and for sharing the love and ideas of Rotary. Thank you for joining me as together we Light Up Rotary!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Rotary’s Challenge for the Future


It was a wonderful privilege to have attended the District Conferences of District 9210 in May and D9400 in June. Both conferences gave us an opportunity to Celebrate Rotary and the success of the respective Districts over the past year. A district Conference is such an opportunity to celebrate, evaluate and motivate and I had the privilege to talk on Rotary’s challenge for the future, because the Future of Rotary is in Your Hands.


Rotary has offered me more than I could have had in a single career path in a typical workplace. It has given me connections and friendships that I never could have dreamt up. It gave me the world and over 1.2 million new friends. It gave me the opportunity to develop personally and equally develop my fellow members because through our vocations each one of us imparts our skills onto others. It gave me the opportunity of making a difference in my community and it gave me the opportunity to serve and feel good about it.


Now I want you, for a minute to imagine Rotary to be your business. A business you started two decades ago and when you started this business your subscriber base was approximately 1.2m.  You were making good progress with your service to your subscribers but each successive year operating costs increased and your subscriber base remained the same. Now imagine that in order to grow your turnover you needed to diversify, so you added in new products like satellite clubs and associate clubs. You allowed your subscribers some flexibility to operate, offer some incentives, perhaps some awards, etc. and still your subscriber base does not increase. You develop a new strategic plan to include a new and exciting market, the up and coming middle class and still nothing happens. You have got to agree that before long you will be in a crisis.  



The worldwide trend for membership changes show a decreasing trend. In July last year we dipped below that magical 1.2m membership mark to 1,185m members. In the Southern hemisphere we have a growing region whilst we have some problems in the Northern hemisphere. Africa in particular is growing with great gains in Central & West Africa.



On the African continent we have 54 countries. Of these 52 countries have the presence of Rotary. The economic indicators show a net GDP growth of 5% across Africa. This provides a great opportunity for the creation of a new middle class of individuals. Individuals who are making money from IT activities and entrepreneurial talent and unless we engage with this new generation of members, we run the risk of losing them to other non-profit organisations and community based organisations. Organisations that do not require an attendance commitment. Organisations who do not charge annual fees. Organisations who are specific area focussed. Organisations who receive government funding for their operations. Because if we do not ask them to join us at Rotary then these organisations will.


The second issue on membership is retention. When we invite someone to join our Clubs and when they do, do we take care of them? Are they assigned a mentor? Are they kept informed about the workings of the Club and District? Are they engaged in service activities?


Most people join Rotary to positively impact their communities and for friendship and fellowship. Rotarians who feel that they are a valuable part of the organisation, who are contributing to our projects and feel appreciated do not leave. While one can argue that recruitment and retention in a volunteer organisation can be different than in a business, the goals are very similar;

·       Bring in the individuals who are the most qualified to advance your organisation

·       Do what you can to keep them satisfied.



One of the biggest challenges for SA clubs is the concept of CSI (Corporate Social Investment). Large corporations are investing monies in social upliftment programmes via their staff pool. Any staff member can identify a worthwhile project in their community, submit a plan of action to the CSI committee and if approved the project is undertaken with corporate funding, personnel and time. Now why would one want to join Rotary when one is employed in Corporate which provides the time, money and opportunity of doing good in our community. That’s where our PR skills come into play. We need to clarify what Rotary stands for, how it is different and how people should care. It is our responsibility to inspire, motivate and engage prospective members and strategic partners.


The second challenge in SA is the invitation of the black members of the community into our organisation. Whilst critics may continue to castigate us for not trying enough, the actual problem lies in the very concept and philosophy of Rotary. Why must I pay fees to belong to an organisation that requires me to give off my time to uplift others whilst I myself may need help. And until we can convince a change in mindset we will continue with this challenge in SA. But all is not lost. With 20 years of democracy behind us we believe that the younger generation would embrace Rotary’s values and principles and we remain hopeful.


So dear friends in Rotary… what is the future…


Behind me… I find infinite power, the power of knowledge that we have a great organisation and have done great work without which our world would have been that much poorer.

Before me…. is see endless possibilities, the possibility for each one of us to make a determined effort to share the joy of membership and invite an individual to experience the same joy and magic of Rotary each of us enjoys.

Around me I see boundless opportunities for all of us to work together, across our borders in growing our organisation for it matters not where we live, what matters is that foreign friend, relative, associate being introduced into Rotary.


So I encourage each one of you to share the gift that you were once given, to reach out to that friend, colleague, business associate or young generation’s member, to ask the question once posed to you…would you be my guest tonight at my Rotary Club? It could be the start of a new friendship for you and it would change the life of the person you invited and yours too.


And as we look to the new Rotary year I encourage you to continue to Engage Rotary and to make a difference in your communities by changing lives and creating such an illumination in their lives that we Light up Rotary.


July 2014

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Conferences, Conventions and Council

The month of May heralds in the fellowship spirit of Rotary when many Districts around the world hold their District Conference. A district conference is a time to celebrate the year’s success and to honour and acknowledge clubs and individuals who have gone beyond the call of duty in their endeavours to assist those in need. It is also the time to reconnect and rekindle friendship and a wonderful opportunity to “catch-up” with the many friends from other Clubs.

My home District D9370, celebrated its conference aboard the splendid cruise liner MSC Opera during April this year. The organisation was good and the cruise liner was really great with on-board service a marked improvement from previous experiences. The daily floor shows were spectacular with the programme director whose wit and great humour being the favourite of the shows. One of the highlights of any conference are the keynote speakers and this Conference surprised all by not having any. Instead the novel idea of presenting two leadership videos proved to have limited success. Once school of thought was that they wished to have a key note speaker with whom they can see, feel and engage with and some felt that the video provided an alternative to the rising costs of engaging keynote speakers at a Conference held on a cruise liner.

By the time you read this article D9350 would have held their conference in Knysna and D9210 will hold their conference in Nyanga, Eastern Highlands, Zimbabwe later in May. In mid-June D9400 will hold their conference in Polokwane. Both of these conference straddle the Rotary International Convention to be held in Sydney in the first week of June. I look forward to attending some of these events in May and June.

The Rotary International Convention is the annual worldwide attraction held in a host city which is selected at least 5 years prior to enable the Host Organising Committee to plan and host a convention that usually attracts 20 000 convention goers. One can imagine the organisation that goes into organising an event of this magnitude and the logistics that need to be available to make it a successful one. Overall it is great fun and a tremendous honour to host such an event. We are all keeping our fingers crossed as Africa is still a talking point in RI headquarters for a future convention and Cape Town has been invited to submit a memorial to the RI Board indicating their willingness to host such an event, perhaps in 2020.

Talking of memorials it is also time for Districts around the world to select it’s COL representative. The Council on Legislation (COL) is Rotary’s legislature. It meets in April every three years to consider changes to the policies that govern Rotary International and its member clubs and it holds the authority to amend Rotary’s constitutional documents. The Council is made up of one representative from every Rotary district. These representatives are the voting members of the Council.

The next Council will sit in Evanston, Chicago in April 2016 and Districts are required to select their representative by no later than 30 June 2014. The date and procedure for the selection is determined by each District and is usually co-ordinated by the District Governor. So how then does all of this work?

The Council considers proposals from Rotary Clubs, Rotary Districts,  RI officers and the RI Board for changes in the way Rotarians operate at every level of the organisation. At District level, legislation may be proposed by a Rotary club or via the District Conference. Club proposals must be endorsed by the District before it can be sent to the Council. Proposed changes to legislation is submitted in the form of enactments or resolutions. A club or district may also submit a petition (also known as a memorial) for consideration by the Board at any of the planned meetings if these suggestions do not change constitutional documents. If your Club would like to submit legislation to be considered by the 2016 Council then you would need to think about the type of issues for legislation, determine whether the issue to be addressed has a universal impact affecting Rotarians around the world or whether it is limited affecting only a small percentage of the members. If the issue has a broad effect then consider a proposal of legislation. If the issue will have limited effect then consider a submitting a petition. The most important factor though is to seek the assistance and guidance of your COL representative whose primary responsibility is to assist Clubs prepare proposals in the correct format and to act as objectively as possible as a legislator.

Finally we are coming to that time of the year when the changing of guards begin to take shape and plans are being put in place to induct the incoming President and Board. It is also an opportune time to look at your Club’s strategic plans and to consider what has worked and what can be done differently. Perhaps it is also the time to become creative and innovative and to make changes that would attract younger people into the organisation.

So if you are conferencing, convention going or just involved in council matters then I wish you all well. Make the best of it. Rotary’s best years ahead are in your hands.

Natty Moodley

Rotary Africa

May 2014

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Alumni award winners turn heads with unique accomplishments

Maya Ajmera visits a shelter for abandoned girls in Chennai, India. The Global Fund for Children, which she founded, provides seed funding to organizations that educate children and protect their rights.


Maya Ajmera founded the Global Fund for Children in 1993 to provide seed money to community-based organizations that help at-risk children across the world. Since then, GFC has awarded more than $32 million in grants to over 600 organizations in 80 countries, improving the lives of millions of children – from educating AIDS orphans in Uganda to conducting so-called curbside classrooms for waste pickers in Cambodia.

"Education is the key to getting human beings out of poverty," says Ajmera, whose studies at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai were sponsored by the Rotary Club of China Lake in California. "Community-based organizations are probably the most creative in being able to find the most marginalized children and provide education that is meaningful and makes sense in their lives."

In recognition of her work, Ajmera was chosen by The Rotary Foundation Trustees to receive the 2013-14 Rotary Foundation Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award. She will receive the honor at the Rotary International Convention in Sydney on 3 June.

Ajmera credits extraordinary leadership at the grassroots level, combined with the ability and willingness to work as partners, for GFC's success. "Trust is really important," she says. "You also need good ways of measuring outcomes: how many kids got educated, how many were kept off the streets, how many got psychosocial counseling."

Nowhere was the need for leadership and trust more evident than in Afghanistan in the 1990s. GFC awarded $5,000 to the Afghan Institute for Learning to fund the secret education of 600 girls. Even after the September 11 attacks, GFC continued its support, including a $25,000 sustainability grant to establish a reserve fund. Today, the institute reaches more than 400,000 women and children annually with education and health care. GFC has also released over 30 children's books, including "Children from Australia to Zimbabwe," co-authored by Ajmera, of which a portion of the proceeds from sales support the organization's grant making. And it's invested in documentary films like "War Child," which tells the story of hip hop artist Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier in Sudan's brutal civil war. Jal spoke at the Rotary World Peace Symposium in Bangkok in 2012.

Ajmera stepped down as GFC's president in 2011. She is now a visiting scholar and professorial lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., and social entrepreneur in residence and visiting professor of the practice of public policy at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

"For me, Rotary was an incredible inspiration," says Ajmera, adding that without the scholarship there wouldn't be a Global Fund for Children. "The scholarship fed my soul."

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Working together...Lead by example

Chicago was cold. Colder than the year before and just three weeks before we arrived there, a new buzz word was noted...polar vortex. It is when the USA was plunged into a deep freeze that brought the temperature in Chicago to minus 21 degrees Fahrenheit or an unbelievable minus 29.5 degrees Celsius.

I arrived in Chicago late on Saturday afternoon for the meeting of coordinators from around the world. The temperature was minus 8 degrees Celsius. As a Durbanite that is extremely cold and the wind chill did not help the situation. As I walked out of the airport to the bus terminal to get the hotel transfer my brain began to register the cold, the extreme cold and then like a moment in time your body gets the shock and kicks into survival mode. The rest of the week was no better as the snow falls created a winter wonderland and continued to bring in the cold. Fortunately for us, it was all work and a little play so being "locked away" in your hotel for 7 days was welcomed with a smile.

Our purpose for the meeting was for engagement and strategic planning and an opportunity of working together with our fellow coordinators focusing on Public Image and Rotary Foundation matters. As a Rotary Coordinator my focus areas are membership development, strategic planning and new generations. We had come together for the second year and as we develop into our roles more lessons are learnt and experiences shared amongst the delegates. It is also a wonderful opportunity for us to network, to look at possible project opportunities in our respective countries and to build on the friendship and fellowship we have. Our theme for the week was " Working together...Lead by example"

And whilst this might be our theme it does resonate through our wonderful organisation in that it is necessary for all of us to work together to achieve the success we so desire for our clubs and for ourselves. Lead by example is also apt for it is the responsibility for each one of us, no matter our area of responsibility within the organisation to lead by example. To show that we care. To show that we want to share. Share in our friendship, our fellowship, our service activities and most especially share in the responsibility of growing the organisation.

April is Rotary's magazine month. It is the month in which we acknowledge and celebrate the regional magazines around the world that bring us our news from RI and our regions. Rotary Africa is one such magazine that serves most of sub-Saharan Africa. We have several regional magazines worldwide each providing readers with an update of International and local news and activities. Having had the privilege of serving at Rotary Africa it must be said that the board of Directors all of whom are volunteers work tirelessly in bringing to us a professional and well presented magazine. And whilst many may consider this a self praise I think that it is appropriate that we salute and acknowledge the efforts of this band of volunteers who receive articles, edit them, set out the magazine, proof read and arrange its printing under difficult circumstances and licence requirements from RI. So I believe that it is important to support our regional magazine for this is your opportunity for telling us your story. Use this magazine so that it can be your voice on Rotary matters.

As we round up our training sessions, club president-elects will be moving to the next step of their planning process and I want to take this opportunity to talk a little on the importance of a strategic plan in your club and in our Districts. One important consideration is that when we draw up this plan, we engage our members and notably our successors who are required to build on the goals and aspirations of the Club. To this end one would consider short term goals, those which can be completed within the same Rotary year and then long term goals which may take a year or more to execute and achieve. And then there are those goals which are very long term and sustainable.

What steps should you consider when doing a strategic plan? These will include:

(a) Forming a small strategic planning committee. This should preferably be the troika of your club presidents plus some key portfolios in your club

(b) Do a SWOT analysis for your club

(c) Identify your goals

(d) Prioritise the goals

(e) Determine action plans to achieve these goals

(f) Set up time frames in which to achieve these goals

(g) Evaluate your progress


Don't be afraid to modify your goals. There may be a number of reasons for this but don't be afraid to make theses changes that reflect the current situation for the club. Finally it is appropriate to end with the new slogan on the RI website....

Join leaders..Exchange ideas...Take action or "JET"

So let's fuel up the JET and take our clubs and districts to another level.


Natty Moodley

Rotary Africa

April 2014

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

New Member Sponsor Recognition program

Sponsor a new member and you'll not only strengthen your club, you'll also get recognised for your efforts. Through the New Member Sponsor Recognition program, sponsors will now receive a specially designed Rotary pin and recognition on Rotary's website.
Simply enter new members into your club's records and identify the sponsor. Each week, Rotary will send clubs a packet containing the names of newly identified sponsors along with Rotary pins and as many as four different-coloured pin backers. The colour of the backer depends on the number of new members sponsored, ranging from blue for one member to gold for six or more.
Keep track of the number of members you've sponsored by checking your My Rotary profile page. Gold-level sponsors will also be listed in the Membership Recognition Gallery, and if they attend the convention, invited to join the RI president for a special recognition event.
All new members and their sponsors must be designated in club records in My Rotary to participate in the program. Sponsors of members who joined Rotary on or after 1 July 2013 are eligible.
Add your new club members and their sponsors in My Rotary Download the New Member Sponsor Recognition program guide
Questions? Contact for more information





Dear Colleagues:

Rotary is receiving significant international media coverage this week for its role in the historic polio-free certification of the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia region.   

Highlights include:

·       CNN International: India beats the odds, beats polio

·       The Guardian: India may be free of polio – but the disease hasn't been eradicated yet (op-ed by Archie Panjabi)

·       The Wall Street Journal Online: Q&A: India Eliminates Polio

· John Hewko explains polio's legacy

A complete report will follow next week. Please share the good news with others.  I am also pleased to report that Rotary received extensive media coverage throughout 2013, with more than 626 news organizations in 35 countries featuring our humanitarian efforts. Of those, 58 stories appeared in top tier international news organizations, including nine out of the 10 most influential ranked by Forbes, including the Associated Press, The New York Times, BBC, Agence France Presse, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.


Rotary's role in the fight to end polio was highlighted in top-level, global media at unprecedented levels last year. And Rotary’s partnership with its celebrity ambassadors for polio eradication helped raise our digital visibility to new audiences via posts on and celebrity social media channels.  


Enclosed are a report and summary of Rotary’s 2013 media coverage and a sharable compilation of the highlights with links to the coverage here. To view full articles, click on the headlines. 


Best regards,

John Hewko,

General Secretary

Rotary International