1207_roundupThe Rotary Club of Mill Point’s BHP Billiton Ramble raised more than US$20,000 for the club’s projects, Australian Rotary Health, and a telethon trust.

Rotary clubs around the globe have many things in common, including a commitment to service. All year long, clubs are taking action to make a difference in their communities. Here’s a roundup of recent club activities worldwide:

 Afghanistan

After 5,000 vaccine carriers from Rotary International were delivered to Afghanistan, a ceremony was held in January at which the deputy minister of public health thanked Rotary for its work to eradicate polio in the country – one of three where the disease remains endemic. Officials from the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and USAID attended, and Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee Chair Robert S. Scott, Pakistan PolioPlus Committee Chair Aziz Memon, and two members of the Rotary Club of Kabul received recognition.

Australia

In a cross between a treasure hunt and The Amazing Race reality competition, teams participating in the Rotary Club of Mill Point’s BHP Billiton Ramble in October set out with maps, clue sheets, and cell phones to figure out challenges at 40 locations across Perth. During the four-hour event, teams earned points by texting their answers to the problems, and some won prizes for their costumes, which included Smurfs, fairies, and cartoon characters. The 4,000 participants raised more than US$20,000 for the club’s projects, Australian Rotary Health, and the Channel 7 Telethon Trust.

Canada

The members of the Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona are proud to be Canadian, and are making it easy for others in their Alberta town to show their patriotism too. Through the club’s flag project, residents can pay C$50 a year to have a maple-leaf flag flown on their front lawn for Canada Day, Victoria Day, and Labor Day. The flags remain up for each holiday weekend and are then removed. The program has 600 subscribers.

Malawi

Primary school is free in Malawi, but girls often don’t finish. Of those who do, few go on to secondary school, either because their families don’t think it’s necessary or because it’s too expensive. A girls’ school, Atsikana Pa Ulendo – which translates to “girls on the move” – is providing a secondary education to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. Two volunteer teachers, one from Canada and one from Malawi, opened the school in 2006 with support from dozens of Canadian Rotary clubs. In its first two years of operation, 10th graders had a pass rate of 98 and 100 percent on national exams, far exceeding national averages. As of 2010, the school had an enrollment of 320 students and employed 17 Malawian teachers.

Philippines

The Rotary Club of Downtown Davao, which has an entirely female membership, opened its Center for Hope in 2006 to serve women and children in the city’s Agdao slum. Last year, 56 children were enrolled in the facility’s daycare and preschool program. The Rotarians also run vocational skills training courses for mothers, free medical clinics, and children’s nutrition and youth literacy programs out of the center.

Puerto Rico

As a fundraiser, the Rotary Club of San Juan sold copies of Fondeando: Fondas, restaurantes tipicos y chinchorros/Eating Local in Puerto Rico and donated 40 percent of the proceeds to PolioPlus. The coffee table book – a guide to restaurants and cuisine that includes traditional recipes – is written in English and Spanish and was a top 10 bestseller in Puerto Rico during the Christmas season. The Rotarians raised US$1,568 for the polio eradication campaign.

Turkey

Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease among women in Turkey, accounting for 24 percent of all cases. But diagnoses and survival rates differ in urban and rural areas; in less-developed regions, most cases are not diagnosed until the late stages, and more people die within five years of diagnosis than in developed regions. Rotarians in District 2440 are working with District 6780 (Tennessee, USA) on a Health, Hunger and Humanity Grant project to educate women about breast health and early detection of breast cancer. The effort focuses on areas of Izmir Province that the Turkish Ministry of Health has identified as medically underserved.

USA

After a gunman killed eight people, then himself, in an August 2010 workplace shooting in Manchester, Conn., the Rotary Club of Manchester raised $57,600 for a memorial garden to honor the victims and $7,500 for a fund for their families. The memorial, which was dedicated on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, includes eight stainless steel pillars engraved with the victims’ names.