I have always said that we are ordinary people achieving extraordinary results because of our passion to serve and that we do not put anything out there that lacks positivity and our success is authentic. We have no hidden agendas; it’s how we roll; it is how we take the opportunity to serve seriously and sincerely that sets us apart from the rest.
Now it is your chance to make a single important decision since you joined our wonderful organisation; to take our organisation into a completely different direction; to recreate the future and focus on and embrace the concept of diversity.
Diversity does not just look at the r ace issue. It engages our minds to think younger, to bring in the youth, to provide opportunities for women, to look at our classification spread and to look at how we grow our organisation in an all embracing environment so that we ensure it’s future existence.
But for our organisation to grow we need to accept that change is critical. We need to look at things differently. How we ease on our meeting protocols; how we make the effort to integrate the younger more digitally oriented demographic. Just look at our membership statistics. More than half of our membership is over 60. Just 1% are under 30, yet the world population of under 30s is approx. 50%. This is the group for the future success and continued existence of our organisation. Just look around us how many of us engage with a person under 40 in our Clubs?
Unless we become serious of the age demographic of our organisation and unless we start to put our ideas, thoughts, and words into action…two decades from now we would have an organisation half the size that we have today. Keeping our organisation relevant is the key to attracting the younger generation. RI General Secretary. John Hewko, said “it is clear that members have been able to accomplish a great deal but he asked what are they willing to do to make Rotary stronger. So let us be the voices in Rotary to do everything we can to grow our organisation. We have great traditions in Rotary, but it is our traditions. We made them, we own them and it is up to us to change them if they are no longer relevant”.
We need to go out there and bring in the new members for you see, new members come without any preconceived ideas and traditions. Change and innovation are led by people who have fresh ideas, ones who are prepared to go the extra mile to make them work, ones who think outside the box. Young people are ambitious, yes and they are climbing the corporate ladder or starting their own businesses but they have a strong sense of civic duty. Our membership and services are what makes our organisation powerful and strong and to keep it strong, membership recruitment and retention is a priority to every one of you.
Just think of what we have achieved over the years. I grow inspired as I witness your relentless devotion in improving the lives of the unfortunate. Your actions clearly indicate that those children who have been saved from the dreaded polio virus is just one of the epic things that you have accomplished. You have toiled for more than a quarter of a century to rid the world of this virus. This has been the call on our lives for over 25 years. This is your mission to be delivered and a dream that must be realised. Anything less is surrender. Our heroes are not just the vaccine carriers and immunisers; our heroes are the men and women who each day pursue our personal victory, a win over mediocrity and success over defeat. No matter what the odds we contribute towards our goal of a Polio free world. So on this day I want you to know that you are a gift. You have powers beyond what you know and together we have the strength and the fortitude to achieve this dream. We promised our children a gift; a gift of a Polio Free world; a gift to walk without fear of becoming cripple; a gift taken for granted in most of our daily lives.
Each one of you is special. You are a special gift to your parents. And when you joined this wonderful organisation you became a gift to our community. You began to work within our clubs and perhaps our district. You worked within the confines of your comfort zone. In the coming year RIPE KR Ravi Ravidran is asking you to do things differently. He is asking you to engage with other clubs, within our zone, to engage with clubs and people within our continent and around the world. He is asking you to meet that stranger who is waiting to be your friend. The reciprocity of a smile that will translate into friendships, that handshake that would lead to many projects and ideas and overall lasting friendship. He is asking you to expand your horizons and to Be a Gift to the World.
So my friends, the challenge is before us to embrace. The challenge of a bigger, stronger more powerful and youthful Rotary, the challenge of increasing our support to the Rotary Foundation and to promoting our organisation to the world, to sing our praises of our good work, to create the awareness that would translate into greater interest of and for our organisation.
As you continue to Light up Rotary and bring relief to those in need, as you shine the beacon of hope on the darkness of other people’s lives I applaud you for your commitment to Be a Gift to the World.