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Presidential message

GARY C.K. HUANG

President 2014-15

Gary C.K. Huang - Rotary International President-elect 2014-15 When I began this Rotary year as your president, I wanted us, above all, to Light Up Rotary. I wanted us to share with the world how many wonderful friendships and experiences we have found in Rotary, and how Rotary has transformed and enriched our lives. I knew that by telling others about Rotary, we would increase membership, build stronger clubs, and improve our ability to help people in need.

As we end this 2014-15 Rotary year, I am honored by your response and will always be grateful for how you have risen to this challenge. You have answered my call to Light Up Rotary by holding many successful Rotary Day celebrations in your communities; you have outdone yourselves in your contributions to our Rotary Foundation; and you have moved all of Rotary forward with new members and new clubs.

When I chose my theme for my year as president, I was inspired by the words of Confucius, who said, "It is better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the darkness."

This year, more than 1.2 million Rotarians, along with Interactors, Rotaractors, Rotary Youth Exchange participants, and Rotary Peace Fellows, have lit their own candles in tens of thousands of communities. Together, the lights we have kindled have created a great light that shines for all the world to see.

I thank all of you for the opportunity to serve as your president this year, and for the hard work and dedication of our volunteer leadership and our staff members. I came to them with high expectations – and they delivered.

I also am grateful for the many friends I have made during this Rotary year, and for the wonderful visits I've had to so many places. I will always remember, with great fondness, riding on the Rotary float in the Rose Parade, watching children enjoy the Japanese drummers at the Rotary Day open house at RI headquarters in Evanston, and bicycling through the night in Colombo during the Ride to Light Up Rotary event, celebrating a polio-free Sri Lanka.

I have seen a new energy in Rotary this year, and felt a new excitement. We've seen more and more women and young people join Rotary as well – including my wife, Corinna, and our three children.

I hope that in the year to come, you will continue your wonderful work to Light Up Rotary – and to help it Be a Gift to the World.

 

Marion Bunch (left), a Rotary member from Georgia, USA, whose son died of AIDS, sits with Me Maria, a South African grandmother who is raising her two grandsons after their parents died of AIDS. 

 produced by Rotary's broadcast media department that features Rotary member Marion Bunch and her work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in underprivileged African communities won two 2015 .

The prestigious awards are given annually to the finest film and video productions. Rotary's documentary, "Rotary Family Health Days" received a Silver Telly, the highest honor, in the online video-documentary category, and a Bronze Telly in the online video-branded content and entertainment category. The documentary was shown by the South African Broadcasting Corporation and throughout Africa.

"What we tried to accomplish with the film was to get the good news and the good deeds out there so that the non-Rotary world can see it," says producer Andrew Chudzinski. "It was a great collaborative project."

The film documents the tremendous burden HIV/AIDS places on African families and communities. It covers the journeys of two women: South African grandmother Me Maria, who is raising her two grandsons whose parents died of AIDS, and Bunch, from Atlanta, Georgia, USA, who became a global advocate for AIDS prevention and the inspiration for  after she lost her son to the disease.

"Because of that one single tragedy, my life's journey changed dramatically, from a very engaged businesswoman to a warrior on AIDS and advocate of human rights," Bunch told senior White House staff in October, when she was honored as one of 10  for 2014. A member of the Rotary Club of Dunwoody, Bunch is the founder and CEO of Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention, a group of members that collaborates with Rotary clubs and districts on health-related projects.

The Rotary Health Days project, now in its fifth year and supported by Rotary clubs in Africa, has grown to deliver free basic health care, including HIV/AIDS screening and other preventive services, to underserved communities in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. It began in 2010, when Ugandan Stephen Mwanje, then governor of District 9211, asked Bunch if the Rotarian group would organize a multisite, comprehensive health event.

"The tremendous burden on the families of those infected by HIV/AIDS -- particularly for older people caring for their terminally ill children and raising their grandchildren, and for children orphaned by this disease -- is incalculable," says Bunch. "This is a story of people coming together to help fight this global killer and other preventable diseases."

The award-winning documentary was a joint project of the public relations and broadcast media staff at Rotary's world headquarters in Evanston, Illinois. In addition to Chudzinski, producer Vivian Fiore, video editor Todd Murphy, and executive producer Stephen Guenther worked on the film.

"We went through many different outlines, thoughts, and angles, and worked closely with Marion [Bunch] on it," says Fiore. "It evolved into a better piece than we all imagined."

In 2012, Rotary won a Silver Telly for its documentary ""



 

Sue Paget on the go for Rotary Family Health Days.Based in Johannesburg, Sue Paget is one of the driving forces behind the Rotary Family Health Days in South Africa. She has been married to Trevor for 34 years and has three children. This is the last in a series of blog posts leading up to International Women’s Day 8 March.

“Africa is a harsh reality – we see, hear, and live with suffering on a daily basis, most especially in our disadvantaged communities. And yet the people still shine through.

This is why being involved with Rotary Family Health Days has been so rewarding. It has been incredibly gratifying to know that collectively we have been able to help over 120,000 people in two years access free health services and screenings.

It all started in 2000 when I was contracted by Rotary International to work in South Africa on the Polio Eradication Private Sector Campaign. Later I was invited to join the Rotary Club of Johannesburg in 2002 as a volunteer and over the years worked on various campaigns.

During this time, I was introduced to Rotarians for Family Health & Aids Prevention (RFHA) based in Atlanta, Georgia. Their CEO Marion Bunch appeared as a guest speaker at the Rotary Africa Centennial celebrations conference. I was immediately struck by her total dedication to making a difference in this world in the name of her son Jerry. In 2012, on a visit to Johannesburg, Marion and I connected again and she told me about the Rotary Family Health Days program. She was looking for a program manager in South Africa and that was how it all began again for me!

As the program director for South Africa, now expanded to Africa, it has been my responsibility to coordinate, develop, activate, execute, and monitor all plans around communications, media, training, and the roll-out of the health days. I facilitate and coordinate all partners.

My days are filled with meetings, challenging decisions, and dogged determination to push the ball up the sometimes slippery slope! I have been known to get very little sleep particularly close to the campaign roll-out! After each event, I feel a great sense of achievement tinged with relief.

We have two Rotary Family Health Days under our belt, with the next one planned for October 2015. If you want to make a difference, consider joining us. Our ambition is to reach 75,000 people in South Africa in 2015 and  2 million people globally by 2020. So we need all the helping hands we can get!