Rotary Day at the United Nations 2007

Rotary Day at the United Nations
November 3, 2007

On November 3, 2007, Rotary International’s Representatives to the United Nations, headed by Brad Jenkins from the Bernardsville, N.J. Rotary Club welcomed more than 950 Rotarians, 150 Rotaractors and Interactors, and 350 High School students from forty-eight countries and twenty five states to the Annual Rotary Day at the United Nations in New York. Speakers at this sold-out conference included Rotary International’s President, Wilfred Wilkinson; RI President–elect Dong-Kurn Lee; Chairman of The Rotary Foundation, Robert J. Scott; UN directors; and Rotarains to outline successful global poverty reduction Rotary Projects. Most of RI's Directors and dozens of Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars, Peace and Conflict Scholars, and Rotary World Peace Fellows also attended.
This annual Rotary program over the last 20 years has become so popular that over 300 Rotarian attendance requests had to be turned away from this year's event.

Almost 1,300 Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interact tors and high school students spent the day at the UN to understand more about the Rotary and United Nations Partnership to Alleviate Global Poverty.

The focus of this informative day was to strengthen the increasingly important partnership between Rotary International and the United Nations in achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals include halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental stability, and providing universal primary education by the target date of 2015. ∞∞

The President of Rotary International, Wilfred Wilkinson, gave an inspiring examination of how, with the efforts of Rotary, Peace is Possible. President Wilfred had been in New York on October 25, 2007 to accept an award on RI's behave from the United Nations Association of New York in recognition of Rotary’s contribution in providing access to clean water to villages around the world and work on the global water crisis.
He emphasized that if we are to teach real peace in the world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we will have to start with the children. Anger and hatred are not inherited, they are learned, and children who see hate learn hate. But people in conflict can achieve peace, and Rotarians can help because “Rotary is a long standing, non-religious, non-political organization, and we are not beholden to any prime minister or government” he noted.

From left to right are RI Representative to the United Nations, Brad Jenkins; President of RI, Wilfred Wilkinson; Undersecretary for Communications and Public Information at the United Nations, Kiyotaka Akasaka; and RI Vice President, Michael K. McGovern.

He also wanted his fellow Rotarians to keep in mind that a “person becomes great to the degree for which he works for his fellow man”. Each of us has the opportunity to build peace and create bridges by collaborating with the United Nations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Building bridges, even small ones, is something that many Rotarians have done very well, he added.
He noted that this year Rotarians and guests from dozens of countries gathered recently for three Rotary Presidential Peace Forums.
They were:
  • Boyana, Bulgaria, in August that invited participants to discuss the possibilities of peace with a focus on the Balkans.
  • Istanbul, Turkey on September 1 which coincided with the UN World Peace Day, initiative with a focus on peace in the Middle-East.
  • Nairobi, Kenya, on September 20, that outlined Rotary's role in building peace in Africa.

    Kiyotaka Akasaka, the United Nations Undersecretary-General for Communications and Public Information, also welcomed the Rotarians. Mr. Akasaka joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 1971 after graduating from Kyoto University. He held senior positions in the World Health Organization and was a member of the Secretariat of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT – the precursor of the World Trade Organization) up until April 2007. He also held the position of Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) where he was responsible for sustainable development, the environment, and partnership with other international organizations. He also chaired the Kyoto Protocol.

He recalled his mind-set when in 1996 he participated in one of Rotary's vaccination campaigns in Africa, and he realized that the children he had just dispensed the vaccine to will never get polio! It was a profound and inspiring feeling, and he was grateful to participate in such a noble program. He also invited Rotarians to support the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 2008 in Paris, France where the original document was signed.


  • From left to right are Mr. Cream Wright, Chief, Education Cluster of UNICEF; Bill Miller, Alternate RI Representative to the United Nations; and Barbara Walters of the Kalamazoo, Michigan, Rotary Club

    Mr. Cream Wright, Chief of the Education Cluster at UNICEF welcomed the Rotarians and clarified that every child deserves an education, and that school is about more than just learning.He pointed out that UNICEF supports education programs serving children from pre-school age through adolescence. Since the majority of children not in school are girls, we make a special effort to give girls a learning opportunity which transforms lives, and yields spectacular benefits in social and economic development. However, Mr. Wright also pointed out that the quality of education is very important. It is essential to determine when children stay and complete school that they learning.

    Rotarian Barbara Walters of the RC of Kalamazoo, Michigan is a reporter and columnist with the Kalamazoo Michigan Gazette and she first became involved in Rotary when she was assigned by her newspaper to report on a Rotary 11-day Caravan drive to Belize. Barbara arranged for her club to provide a full time certified teacher for Casa Amparo ala Mujer (House of Mercy for Women) that served as a shelter for abandoned girls in Reynosa, Mexico which is across the border from Texas. The shelter is managed by Catholic nuns who provide physical, spiritual, emotional and educational needs of these children who have nowhere to turn. Today, the shelter serves close to one hundred girls from age 6 to 17.
    Barbara recognized that many of the girls needed additional assistance to learn to read and write. Poor reading and writing skills made employment opportunities difficult for these girls when they entered adulthood and could send them back into the cycle of poverty. In response to this, in the mid 1990s, with used desks from public schools, the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo provided funding for a full time, certified teacher for the home. In 1993, there were no children from the orphanage that entered high school and now, with the hired teacher, there have already been two girls that graduated from college. Recognizing success, the club is now funding a second teacher. Barbara also pointed out that 35 years ago she and her husband served as teachers for three years in Malawi. Hearing about her participation at this conference, one of Barbara’s former students, Steven Mackenzie, who is now the Ambassador to the United Nations for Malawi, has arranged to meet with Barbara and her husband during her visit to New York. Insightfully, Barbara noted that, at times, teachers may forget some of their students, but seldom do students forget their teachers.

    From left to right are Rotarian Dr. Ron Denham, Rotary’s General Coordinator of Water, and Sanitation Resource Action Groups , Clarissa Brockelhurst, Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation Programs at UNICEF; Alternate RI Representative to the UN Sylvan Barnet; and John Booth of the Summerland, British Columbia, Rotary Club.

  • The moderator of the Water Panel, RI Alternate Representative to the UN, Sylvan Barnet pointed out that clean water is a local problem and solutions are at the local level. He also pointed out that about two percent of the world's water is used for human consumption, and seventy percent for agriculture. Project sustainability and longevity were discussed as the most critical variables. Sustainability can best be insured by having those who are the recipients of the effort involved on all levels of development. Dr. Ron Denham, Rotary’s General Coordinator of Water and Sanitation Resource Action Group (WASRAG) also participated in the panel.

    Clarissa Brockelhurst, Chief of UNICEF’s Water, Environment and Sanitation Section, spoke about the need for clean water and sanitation, although she remarked that she felt that she is speaking to the converted. UNICEF has a $245 million budget and is currently working in 90 countries with a staff of 300. Needless to say, with such a colossal task, it needs the support and assistance of organizations like Rotary. In addition, UNICEF works with the World Bank and the African Development Bank for funding major sanitation projects such as pipe lines and treatment plants.
    More and more, NGO’s are looking at the linkages of clean water and its impact on the other Millennium Development Goals. It is now apparent that health and nutrition are related to access to clean water. Clarissa pointed out that in a recent medical journal it was asserted that proper sanitation is the greatest medical milestone since1948, even more important that most medicines. For example, people with AIDS cannot successfully adhere to their treatments and remain healthy without clean water. Sanitation also affects education. Schools have to be girl-friendly, and separate bathrooms are needed for girls or many parents would not send their girls to school. Also, time saved not carrying water from a distant well allows more time for classroom time and studying.While many wells and pump are being installed and storage tanks for rain water are being built, thanks to Rotary and other NGO's, promotion of through hand-washing is an important step to stop the spread of infection. Social marketing is very effective when executed properly. Therefore, a major campaign is on-going to encourage more hand washing. WASH partnerships with Unilever, Procter and Gamble, The Gates Foundation, and others have promoted through hand-washing habit at the community level. When an educational campaign is effective, then the family and villages will build their own sanitation facilities, UNICEF has ascertained.She also announced that while it is still somewhat of a taboo subject in many societies, next year (2008) is the International Year For Sanitation and she proudly promoted UNICEF’s ”Sanitation is Beautiful” flyer. She also noted that storage of clean water is also important.

    Rotarian John Boot of the RC of Summerland, British Columbia, Canada outlined the Nakuru (Kenya) Rain Water Harvesting Program, a proven model for gathering rain water into a tank that costs about $400 and lasts for 30 years. Nakuru is the provincial capital of Kenya's Rift Valley province, with roughly 300,000 inhabitants, and currently the fourth largest urban centre in Kenya.

    He emphasized that given Rotary's incredible reach of 32,000 clubs in 172 countries many tanks can be built. There is a need for 3,500 tanks to be built in the Nakuru area of Kenya alone. The tanks are financed by a combination of club- level fund raisers, RI matching grants, and Canadian government matching grants. The families that receive the tank are required to pay fifty dollars, or contribute labor to help build other tanks in the community. The program has built over 1,200 tanks.
    John outlined a number of points to remember when building these tanks:
    · Search for new partners with sponsoring with African clubs.
    · Talk to the people involved.
    · Let the recipients of the tanks do most of the work.
    · Appropriate scale is vital - small projects work best.
    · Plant 100 trees around the tank

    President-elect Dong-Kurn Lee, from Seoul, Korea also addressed the Rotarians. D.K. Lee is president of Yonsei Company, Ltd. and Bubang Techron Co. and has been a Rotarian since 1971.
    He pointed out that the United Nations and other NGO's had a significant effect on the restoration of Korea when it was devastated by its civil war in the 1950's. The United Nations responded to the bleak situation by providing humanitarian aid. As a result, Korea was able to rise from the ruins of war and is now ranked third in Rotary Foundations contribution and fourth in Rotary membership. That is because Korean Rotarians as well as all Rotarians believe that there a time to help, and a time to act, President-elect Lee noted.

    Rotary Foundation Panel
    From left to right are Panel Moderator Brad Jenkins; Dr. Stephen A. Nicholas from the Yonkers, New York, Rotary Club - and Columbia University Medical Center; RI Peace and Conflict Scholar Richelieu Allision; RI President-elect Dong-Kurn Lee; and Robert Scott, Chairman of The Rotary International Foundation.

Robert Scott, Chairman of the Rotary Foundation is a member of the Cobourg, Ontario, Rotary Club. He was born in Scotland, and a graduate of the Edinburgh University School of Medicine. Bob reaffirmed that the the mission of The Rotary Foundation is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.
The foundation supports thousands of water, health, and hunger programs and they will bring about peace, but the world also needs peace makers. He recommends that Rotarians also focus on the “Rotary Peace Makers” network the thousands of Ambassadorial Scholars, Peace and Conflict Scholars, and Rotary World Peace Fellows that our foundation has sponsored and the six Rotary Centers in partnership with seven leading universities:

  • Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA (joint Rotary Center)
  • International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • University of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
  • University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Dr. Stephen Nicholas, a Rotarian from the Yonkers, New York, Rotary Club is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University and has pioneered care for children and families with HIV/AIDS since 1983 and narrated a very encouraging presentation regarding the treatment and spread of pediatric HIV/ AID's. He has also directed clinical research in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, South Africa and St. Petersburg, Russia.

While forty million people have HIV/AIDs and four million people still get it every year, and tragically three million will die this year, it is a serious and grave crisis. However, Dr. Nicholas clearly noted that there is progress and hope for the eradication of global pediatrics HIV/AID’s (mother-to-child) and he described the major advances in HIV/AIDS treatment.
Back in the 1980’s the fight against HIV/AIDS seemed to be hopeless when infected children rarely lived beyond three years old even in the developed countries. However doctors soon learned that mothers only occasionally transmitted HIV/AIDS to their children in utero. Most HIV/AIDs is spread the day of birth and by breast feeding. As such, the first step in fighting global pediatric HIV /AID’s was to instruct, and make it possible for AIDs infected mothers not to breast feed their babies, and to only have caesarian delivery.

A second major development in fighting AIDs was in 1989 a new medication changed HIV/AID’s from being lethal, and then in 1996 the “AIDs Cocktail" was develop and this significantly helped in the treatment. As a result, the treatment of AID’s infected mothers has been refined and has virtually stops HIV from being passed to the child and this significantly stop the pediatric HIV in the US and Europe. However, in the developing countries, “hopelessness, and not funding”, is the cause for the lack of political will to eradicate pediatric HIV transmission. 40 percent of infants will get HIV/AIDs if their mothers do not stop breast feeding. However, if we treat the HIV infected mother and use bottle feeding formula rather than breast feeding, the rate of pediatric HIV is zero percent! Needless to say, the mothers need to be treated or all the babies saved will become AIDs orphans. In the mid 1990’s it cost about $10,000 for the drugs to treat this infection. Happily, in 2004, infected parents can be treated for about $300 year. In addition, drugs are usually available free of charge in many countries from the Global Fund for AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The doctor outlined the Rotary World Community Service Project in La Romana, Dominican Republic to prevent mother-to child HIV transmission and to reduce the number of orphans. The Dominican Republic and Haiti has the highest rate of AID’s outside of Sub-Sahara Africa. This Family Aids Center was created by the RI Foundation and is supported by many local Rotary Clubs in New York.


Richelieu Marcel Allison in 2006 completed the RI Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. He also received a degree in Business Management form Zion University in Liberia and is a founding member and regional program director of the West African Youth Network.
He pointed out that Rotary’s Peace and Conflict Studies Program is a unique short-term certificate program aims to inspire people to work for a “culture of peace and tolerance”. It selects candidates who are already working in the area of conflict resolution and concerned with on-going and emergent regional conflicts.

Richelieu Marcel Allison from Liberia is a Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Recipient

Mr. Allison expressed his gratitude to The Rotary Foundation because it is recognized around the world has a “bringer of hope”. He outlined how Liberia, that was founded by freed American slaves, and named its capital Monrovia after President Monroe, was engulfed in a brutal civil war in the early 1990’s. As a young boy then, Mr. Allison witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of civil war and a countless number of dead bodies. Also, he expressed how frightening it was to know that you and your family could be killed by anyone with a gun.
Thankfully, Liberia has come a long way since then and is now an exemplary democracy and is actively rebuilding its civil-society infrastructure. In 2006 Richelieu was selected to attend the Rotary International Peace and Conflict Studies program at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. He was initially denied a visa but the Ambassador was an alumnus of Chulolangkorn University and a visa was ultimately granted and Mr. Allison studied a three month intensive program.

The program reinforced a “culture of peace” to be brought to West Africa including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Mr. Allision hopes to starta "Peace Caravan" in West Africa. Together these countries share border areas and local people can discuss peaceful solutions for their differences. “Everywhere there are conflicts, and therefore we need to invest in peace, and to invest in more peace-ambassadors for a better peace.” Mr. Allison also said that he wished every individual could inculcate the “Four Way Test” into all their actions to make a better world. He concluded his talk by quoting Martin Luther King “that “we make peace by talking not to our friends, but by talking to our to enemies.”


From left to right are Past President of RI-Britain/Ireland, Brain Stoyel; Moderator Sylvan Barnet of the Rotary Club of New York; and Senior Health Advisor for Malaria at UNICEF, Melanie Renshaw; with the malaria reducing Insecticide Treated Mosquito Nets (ITN) on display.

Moderator Sylvan Barnet introduced the subject by referencing Jeffery Sach's (Earth Institute) remarks that malaria can be eliminated economically and is a do-able project. Further, Rotary clubs, through their Polio-plus experience, could also help in monitoring and surveillance of bed-net use.
Melanie Renshaw, the Health Advisor at UNICEF's Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa outlined how malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every 30 seconds. It infects 350-500 million people each year, killing 1 million, mostly children. In addition, ninety percent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, and that malaria accounts for about one fifth of all childhood deaths. Malaria also has serious economic impacts by slowing economic growth and development, and perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty.
The good news is that malaria is both preventable and treatable, and effective preventive practices have been implemented in many parts of the malaria infected regions of the world. She noted that sleeping under insecticide treated nets (ITNs) can reduce overall child mortality by twenty-percent. There are studies that show ITNs, when consistently and correctly used, can save six child lives per year for every one thousand children sleeping under them. ∞∞

Brian Stoyel is the Past President of Rotary - Britain and Ireland, and received the Service Above Self Award in 1999. In 2003, he started the Rotarians Eliminating Malaria in Tanzania and is chairman of Rotarians Eliminating Malaria Action Group. Brian pointed out that this Rotary action group raises funds to provide ITNs, insecticides and medicines as well as providing HaemaCue machines to monitor individuals for malaria. Funding is also provided for education and awareness programs by training local workers to go into villages to educate the local people to recognize symptoms, provide treatments, and to take steps for prevention.
The project is based on getting the local clubs to take responsibility for the project and then supplying the technical expertise and equipment required. The two Rotary clubs of Arusha, Tanzania are local partners for this program. Brian pointed out that one insecticide treated net (ITN) cost less than $5.00, and four people can sleep under it. The recipients are asked to pay 1,000 Tanzanian shillings or about $1.50. The nets have the Rotary logo and are manufactured locally to save shipping costs and to help the local economy. The nets have to be retreated every twelve months, but even if not treated the bed nets are still effective but the mosquitoes are not destroyed.

From left to right are Rotarian Gary Parrish of the Little Rock Arkansas Rotary Club; Moderator, Bill Miller, and Deborah Said, y N.Y. Director of the World Food Program of the United Nations.

Deborah Saidy, the New York Director of the World Food Program, is a graduate of American University in Washington D.C. and earned an Undergraduate degree from Smith College. She joined the UN in 1992 and previously served as the Emergency Coordinator for World Food Program in Johannesburg.
She noted that the WFP strives to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the need for food-aid itself. Yet in any given day, the WFP has twenty planes in the air and 5,000 trucks on the ground. She emphasized that the development of agriculture in key troublesome regions is the long term solution to alleviate global hunger. File 2 1 hour 00
The core strategies behind WFP activities, according to its mission statement, are to provide food aid to:
· Save lives in
refugee and other emergency situations.
· Improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives.
· Help build assets and promote the self-reliance of poor people and communities, particularly through labor-intensive works programs.
· 25,000 people die every day and many are susceptible to malaria and tuberculosis. These are the chronic poor.

Gary Parrish, Past President of the RC of Little Rock and a second generation Rotarian since 1989, outlined the Farmers Feed the Children Program. Gary visited farming families in Romania where he noticed that many children had no energy because of lack of nutrients in their diet, and many families were impoverished. To help with this, his Club partnered with Heifer International, a non-profit, charitable organization that is based in Little Rock, Arkansas and dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty. It donates livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture, to financially-disadvantaged families around the world. The animals are chosen to be large milk producers and appropriate for the Romanian farms.

In partnership with Heifer International, Gary sketched out how the Rotary Club of Little Rock delivered two dairy cows to a farming family in the Transylvania area of Romania. In three months, the two heifers became four. Under this program, the first calf is donated back to another farmer, and 600 liters of milk per year are given to community centers such as schools and hospitals. The famer can then sell the remaining milk on the open market.
When several months passed, Gary noticed that he saw that once poor farmers were now feeding poor children of other farmers. He also noticed that the children were happier and healthier looking, and repairs were completed around their houses. Previously there was little protein in their diet, but thanks to this program, 20,000 children have benefited from a better diet.
A very important aspect of this program, Gary pointed out, is that this program is a hand-up, not a hand-out, and it is sustainable. He emphasized that Rotary also brought credibility, as well as providing a 3H grant, to the project in view of the fact that Heifer International needed outside partners to keep this program going. The end result is that once again we have seen Rotary Change Lives, and we have built better friendships and goodwill, Gary clearly illustrated.