Rotary projects around the globe


To raise funds for Australian bushfire relief, Sarah Ash of the Rotaract Club of Prince George, British Columbia, organized an old-fashioned bake sale. “My dad is from Australia, so for my family, the topic was close to home,” says Ash. “My dad is also a chef, so when I brought the idea up of doing a fundraiser for the bushfires, a bake sale was one of the first ideas the club members had.”
The club hosted two sales, the first at the University of Northern British Columbia in mid-January and the second a month later at Ash’s father’s catering business in Prince George. For the second bake sale, the club refined its process, creating advance order forms so it would know what was in demand. The sales generated more than $1,000, which was sent to support Australian Rotary relief efforts. Ash’s father, Bryan Ash, piled tables high with a variety of confections. Among the treats he made were Australian cream buns — brioche buns filled with cream and strawberry jam.

Costa Rica

In Alajuela, Costa Rica’s “City of Mangoes” (so called because of the mango trees that dominate the city’s central park), many people who need glasses have never had them. The Rotary Club of Alajuela worked with two California Rotary clubs to hold two days of clinics at which they distributed eyeglasses to more than 600 people. “We purchased 800 pairs of glasses in an assortment of powers,” says Will van Kranenburg of the Rotary Club of Templeton, California. The Rotary Club of Paso Robles contributed funds, and van Kranenburg and fellow Templeton club member Georgia Vreeken trained nine Paso Robles Rotarians to conduct the clinics, which were held in late February. Rotaractors helped deliver eyeglasses, and students at Alajuela’s San Diego Bilingual High School served as translators.
“The experience left us with an enormous bond of solidarity, teamwork, coordination, and gratitude that we will always carry in our hearts,” says Lucitania Zúñiga Montoya, a member of the Alajuela Rotary club.\


Wildfires that raged across Greece in July 2018 killed more than 100 people, decimated local wildlife, displaced thousands of residents, and left a charred landscape on the coast east of Athens. One year later, the Rotaract Club of Athina-Filothei teamed with local government units and two ecological nongovernmental organizations — We4all and Project Phoenix — to plant trees in one of the hardest-hit areas.
“The reforestation took place at Mati and Rafina, in the East Attica region, and our goal was to plant 150 trees” on 26 October and 9 November, says Florentia Pikrou, immediate past president of the club. “We managed to plant 200. All 18 club members participated to make Attica green again, to give hope to the community, to promote environmental awareness, and to stand by our fellow citizens.”


Rather than let workers at floral greenhouses and farms lose their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, which has decimated the market for their products, Kenya Flower Council growers continued operations to offer thousands of free bouquets to hospital patients and health care workers. Rotarians from nearly 20 clubs mobilized as delivery agents for the blooms in an effort that was expected to continue throughout the crisis. “Rotary will be distributing the flowers all around Kenya to isolation centers and front-line health workers,” says Sharon Wanyeki, a member of the Rotary Club of Nairobi-East. In late April the Flower Council, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, Kenya Airways, and other associations and corporations were all involved in the “Flowers of Hope” initiative.


In 2014, the Rotary Club of Taipei Rui An embarked on a career training program for collegians from low-income families that has since expanded to 90 clubs across Taiwan and given more than 1,000 participants an edge in the job market. With more than 300 Rotarians now serving as mentors, the Bridge of Life initiative provides scholarships of about $1,700 each to students. The funds cover the cost of courses and professionally licensed coaches who offer their services at a reduced fee. “A generous mind, not necessarily a monetary donation, is the key to being a true Rotarian,” says the program’s creator, Sara Ma, immediate past governor of District 3521. — BRAD WEBBER