GARY C.K. HUANG
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.
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!
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