President’s Comment – 23 Sep 17

Hi All,

We had a great social meeting last Wednesday with four members attending.

The next meeting will be held on:

 Tuesday 3rd October, 7.00pm – Eastern Summer Time – 6.00pm Queensland time. 

Our guest speaker will be Evan Burrell who is a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Turramurra, D9685 who began his Rotary life as a Rotaractor. Evan is an amazing fellow who is passionate about Rotary and puts an amazing amount of effort into Public Image. I am sure you will find his enthusiasm contagious. Please join us and it would be nice if you could invite a guest. It is a great opportunity for them to understand Rotary and hear Evan speak of the value of Rotary and the humanitarian work that Rotary does.

Please note the different day, which was changed to suit Evan.

If you have a friend who wants to attend please let me know and I will ensure that they receive the email with the link to the meeting.

If you have a friend who wants to attend please let me know and I will ensure that they receive the email with the link to the meeting.

 

5 things you might not know about ending polio 

The road to eradicating polio has been a long and difficult one, with Rotary leading the fight since 1985. Going from nearly 350,000 cases in 1988 to just 10 so far this year has required time, money, dedication, and innovation from thousands of people who are working to end the disease. 

Here are five things you may not know about the fight to end polio:

1. Ice cream factories in Syria are helping by freezing the ice packs that health workers use to keep the polio vaccine cold during immunization campaigns.

John Cena

2. Celebrities have become ambassadors in our fight to end the disease. 

They include WWE wrestling superstar John Cena, actress Kristen Bell, action-movie star Jackie Chan, golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Grammy Award-winning singers Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, and world-renowned violinist and polio survivor Itzhak Perlman.

3. Health workers and Rotary volunteers have climbed mountains, crossed deserts, and sailed to remote islands, risking their lives to vaccinate children against this disease. Rotary has funded more than 1,500 motorbikes and 6,700 other vehicles, as well as 17 boats, to make those journeys. Vaccinators have even traveled on the backs of elephants, donkeys, and camels to immunize children in remote areas.

4. In Pakistan, the polio program emphasizes hiring local female vaccinators and monitors. More than 21,000 vaccinators, 83 percent of whom are women, are achieving the highest immunization coverage rates in the country’s history.

5. Thanks to the efforts of Rotary and its partners, more than 16 million people who otherwise might have been paralyzed are walking today. In all, more than 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated since 1988.

 

Watch World Polio Day on 24 October

Learn more

President’s Comment 17 Sep 17

Hi All,

As I and some others cannot attend a social meeting on Wednesday I will schedule a social meeting for Tuesday 19th at 7.30pm EST. Please email me the email address of any non- member or guests you want to invite ASAP – johnroberson@bigpond.com

I will send the ZOOM meeting link tomorrow.

Below are a couple of articles that I found interesting:

Rotary, Heifer program helps farmers provide healthier food to people in their own communities

By Arnold R. Grahl Visuals by Miriam Doan

Joe Carr bends over to pluck a handful of smooth, dark-green leaves, using a pocketknife to prune weak spots before bundling them with a rubber band and dropping the bunch into an orange crate. 

Eight neat rows of vegetables line the ground under a tunnel of greenhouse plastic, supported by a series of steel hoops.

“I got a little bit of bok choy here. It’s a favorite of a lot of the customers. Generally, I can get about $2 a bunch,” Carr says. “These are totally organic, no chemicals whatsoever, totally healthy, leafy green, and all the vitamins that go with it.”

Volunteers from Rotary and Heifer International built the hoop house, also known as a high tunnel, to let Carr extend his growing season, getting an early start on crops like bok choy and tomatoes. 

Carr is one of 24 farmers scattered across central and southern Arkansas who are engaged in small-scale sustainable agriculture to grow organic produce, filling an increasing demand for locally grown food.

Heifer has been using the small-scale agriculture model for decades to alleviate hunger and fight poverty around the world. The approach has the added benefits of being environmentally friendly and offering healthier food options.

That mission dovetails with Rotary’s mission to grow local economies and improve health, so it’s not surprising the two groups have teamed up on a number of occasions in the past 30 years to improve communities by helping families escape poverty.

The connection has strengthened because several Heifer employees are members of the Rotary Club of Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, the city where Heifer has its headquarters.

“Our values line up very well,” says Ardyth Neill, a member of the Little Rock club and president of the Heifer Foundation. “With Rotary, it’s Service Above Self and helping to serve others. Heifer has been working with farmers to be accountable, pass on their gifts, train other farmers, and work together in community. It’s learning to share and care, basic things that work well together.”

Sustainability is the latest trend

Sustainable agriculture, a hot trend globally, refers to a method of growing or raising food without harming the environment, while providing fair treatment for workers and supporting local communities.

In the United States and other developed nations, a lot of food production is controlled by large industrial operations, which produce cheaper food by focusing on a single crop and using specialized equipment to cut labor costs.

But advocates of sustainable agriculture say those operations can also damage the environment by using commercial fertilizers, heavy pesticides, and other chemicals. 

The corporatization of farming has also contributed to the failure of smaller family farms, increasing the poverty rates in places like rural Arkansas. 

In addition, people become more detached from their food. 

Nationwide distribution networks have resulted in food deserts in urban areas, particularly in the U.S., England, and Australia, where poor neighborhoods have little access to fresh produce and instead rely on less nutritious fast foods and packaged products.

Small-scale sustainable agriculture, on the other hand, tends to benefit communities by keeping things local. The money you spend on food stays in your community and helps your neighbor. Farmers maximize land use by planting multiple crops that replenish the soil and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides. If needed, organic fertilizers are used that improve a plant’s root system. 

And many nutritionists say fruits and vegetables grown closer to consumers’ homes keep more of their nutrients.

Consumers are increasingly aware of these health benefits, fueling the market for local produce.

“There’s a phenomenon going on, really nationwide, about people becoming more and more concerned and thoughtful about where their food comes from,” says Sharon Vogelpohl, a past president of the Little Rock Rotary club and a volunteer on the project. “I’m a mother of two. That’s something that I take very, very seriously.”

Jordan Beard, another Rotarian involved in the project, says: “I think people see that they can change their habit around how they eat, and it can make a big difference in their life and health. It’s connected with the idea of a more active lifestyle.”

View Slideshow
Joe Carr of Arkansas works with a Heifer USA adviser who is helping him transition smoothly into full time organic farming.

In Heifer’s back yard

In Arkansas, Rotarians and Heifer USA teamed up after conducting a study that found considerable untapped demand for locally grown produce. According to Wes Ward, Arkansas’ secretary of agriculture, the state spends $7 billion  a year on food, with about $6.3 billion of that coming from outside Arkansas, a state with the nation’s fourth highest poverty rate.

“There’s a significant opportunity in Arkansas, and small-scale producers can take advantage of it,” says Ward. “They can start producing things on much smaller acreage and sell their products at premium prices.”

Carr and the other Arkansas farmers are part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) network — a food subscription service in which consumers buy produce in advance at a fixed price, guaranteeing farmers a market for their crop regardless of how weather or other factors may affect their output.

Heifer provides the farmers with training in sustainable practices and teaches its philosophy of accountability, sharing, passing on training, and self-reliance. 

Rotary members offer the farmers advice in marketing, finance, and business planning, as well as helping market CSA shares. 

The first season in 2014, the CSA had 150 shareholders, including 10 shares set aside for social service agencies and food banks, partly reaching people in food deserts. The number of shareholders has since grown to 450.

“What I like about my CSA basket is that it allows me to share,” says Beard. “I take it to my office because there’s always more than one person can go through. It’s a way to spread the word about what we are trying to do.”

The plan called for creating a financially independent cooperative by 2018. The New South Produce Cooperative reached that goal a full year ahead of schedule, with a manager and four year-round employees overseeing the collection and distribution of shares, while seeking new markets for the farmers’ produce.

One of those new markets is selling mixed greens, microgreens, tomatoes, and peppers in wholesale amounts to grocers with high demand for them, said Ben Wihebrink, operations director for Heifer USA and a Little Rock Rotarian. 

Last year, initial wholesale efforts brought in $60,000.

  • 84th where Arkansas ranks in the nation for poverty
  • 86th where Arkansas ranks in the nation for obesity
  • $8billion what Arkansas spends a year on food
  • $86.8billon what Arkansas spends to import food

The partnership is also trying to get more of the farmers under high tunnels, allowing them to approach year-round production. High tunnels seal in heat from the sun and can reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit (about 26 degrees Celsius) even when the outside temperature is at the freezing mark. About a third of the farmers have tunnels, many through government subsidies.

Volunteers from Rotary and Heifer spent a few weekends building the tunnel for Carr, who has been farming since he left his job at Whirlpool in 1987. He started a farmers market in 2003 that has grown to more than 60 vendors. The co-op and high tunnel have allowed him to increase his income.

“The beauty of the high tunnel is it gives you the quality you need for public demand,” he says. “Choy, kale, broccoli, carrots, and lettuce will all go through the winter. With the proper crop management, you can harvest all winter long.”

Farming around the world

The tools of small-scale sustainable agriculture look different around the world, but the principles are the same. Noel Mace, Heifer International’s program manager for Africa, explains that cooperatives play a crucial role in bringing together groups of farmers — many with both livestock and crops — and connecting them to markets.

“We are now developing more of a market-driven approach,” says Mace. “Historically, Heifer has spent a lot of time on how to bring poor farmers to a subsistence level where they can feed their families. But our mission is to end hunger and poverty, not to lessen it. Poverty is a big challenge without connecting to markets.”

Volunteers from the Rotary club of Little Rock, Ark., USA, and Heifer built a high tunnel for Joe Carr.

“So the question,” he continues, “is not just how do we make sure you are not hungry, but how do we move you beyond a family-level production to participating with others in a market” that creates income and increases livelihood?

Heifer’s model also strives to increase women’s decision making and encourage groups to form common goals, because when a community faces poverty, everyone’s part in fighting it is crucial.

Africa has a strong dairy program, so much of Heifer’s work there flows out of milk. Tight groups of 15 to 20 farmers join with other groups in cooperatives that then have enough scale to access chilling plants and, ultimately, processing plants. The farmers then look to diversify further by using their milk co-op to sell avocados, lettuce, tomatoes, and other produce.

“If I am a consumer, I now can go to the co-op and buy milk, but also buy fresh fruits and greens, and I know it will have the same level of quality,” says Mace. “It’s really about marketing a brand, something I can rely on and know they will have when I go there.”

Mace believes the sustainable farming movement is driven internationally by a growing middle class that wants access to healthy food and can now pay for it.

“They don’t want the broiler chickens anymore with the huge breasts and giant legs. They want local poultry and are willing to pay two or three times more for it,” says Mace. “It creates a great opportunity for individuals to come together and produce poultry, vegetables, or fruits using sustainable methods and in a way this market wants.”

Spreading success

Back in Arkansas, Wihebrink says the larger vision is to encourage others to copy their model. “There is an infinite demand across the (American) South specifically for local foods and organic foods,” says Wihebrink. “And as long as there is consumer interest, there is opportunity to help farmers in many places struggling to make a living.”

Carr says the program has given him a new outlook. 

“Lots of doors have opened up for me along the way, and the biggest was when Heifer stepped in and offered this program and Rotary helped with the tunnel,” he says. “I just didn’t have enough time or money to get (the land) back into production the way things were. By getting this help, that’s got me back in the driver’s seat.”

 

Rotary connects food banks and farmers

A program created by Rotarians in Seattle, Washington, USA, is fighting hunger and poverty in Arkansas thanks to connections formed through Rotary.

Rotary First Harvest has been funneling donations of imperfect or “ugly” produce to food banks in Washington via donated shipping since the 1980s. The program also organizes volunteers for gleaning, the ancient practice of going through fields after harvest to pick up remaining crops for the poor.

Leaders of the Seattle program visited Little Rock last fall to talk with Rotarians who have been supporting a project that helps small-scale sustainable farmers in Arkansas. The two clubs discussed ways to bring farmers and food banks together to fight poverty and build better food delivery systems.

Recently, Rotary First Harvest has taken its hunger fight to the national level with its Harvest Against Hunger initiative. The effort places volunteers from AmeriCorps VISTA with partner food banks to create new programs for recovering produce, recruiting volunteers, and gleaning, with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of healthy foods available to those in poverty.

“We refer to (the initiative) as an incubator for ideas,” says David Bobanick, executive director of Rotary First Harvest. “We are not saying, ‘Here is our model — make this work in your community.’ Instead, our approach is, ‘Here is this VISTA resource — make something that works in your community.’” 

Harvest Against Hunger wins award

Rotary’s Harvest Against Hunger program has received a special award for national service partnership.

The partnership between Rotary, the Corporation for National and Community Service and Seattle hunger relief organizations has strengthened the food bank farm infrastructure and its capacity to grow healthier communities, AmeriCorps said in announcing the award Wednesday at its annual conference.

After the meeting with Little Rock Rotarians, Harvest Against Hunger placed a VISTA member with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to work with local farmers, including those in the Little Rock project.

One effort that has been working in Washington is a Farm to Food Pantry program, which awards small grants for scattered hunger-relief groups to form two-way relationships between small-scale or remote farmers and food banks.

“We saw increases not only in the variety of produce coming into food banks, but that those farmers selling produce were more likely to donate additional produce,” says Bobanick. “It’s one thing that could work in Arkansas. In any event, we will leverage off the pre-existing connections with the farmers in the Little Rock project.”

Rotary First Harvest has distributed 203 million pounds of produce to food banks since 1982

Presidents’s Post – 10 Sep 17

Dr Luc,  Presentation – 6th Sep 17

All who attended this online meeting enjoyed Dr. Luc and his wife’s presentation. Numerous questions were asked and answered so that we felt we learnt a lot about the work being done in the Uvira district of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Dr. Luc Mulimbalimba Masururu is a Member of Parliament of the DRC and the founder and Director of a respected NGO in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mission In Health Care and Development.  He also works closely with Birthing Kit Foundation of Australia. He is married with five children.

Dr Luc has a long history as a medical doctor and has helped saved countless lives after discovering people in his country were dying from inadequate health care. After seeing this he decided to devote himself to the people of Uvira district and especially Luvungi township. Later it was decided a hospital was needed and Dr Luc organised donors to finance the project, which was completed in 2010.

He has also built four radio stations so members of the community could learn about health and education. Dr Luc has built orphanages, schools, bridges and micro hydro electric plant to supply ongoing power to the hospital.

Dr Luc spoke about the Rotary Global Grant recently approved and supported by the Rotary Clubs of Wagga Wagga  to provide pig raising and fish farming to help sustain the villages in Bakavu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Thank you Dr. Luc for a great presentation.

Our next Zoom Meeting will be held on Wednesday 20 Sep 17 at 7.30pm. If you are not a member and want to attend please send  your email address to – johnroberson@bigpond.com

Another interesting article below that confirms our Club is on track working to create the Rotary of the future.

Club innovation: Hybrid club offers online options

The Rotary Club of Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA, merges features of brick-and-mortar clubs with e-clubs. 

Club members load medical supplies bound for Nepal.

The Rotary Club of Stone Mountain in Georgia, USA, was facing a common problem: The membership was aging, and the club struggled to attract younger members. “When you recruit, it ends up being people like you, people in the same neighborhoods and who do the same kinds of things,” notes immediate Past President Margie Kersey. “It’s a stretch for us to ask our older members to recruit people in their 40s.

As an alternate to the 2016 Council on Legislation, Kersey followed closely the discussion of changes to membership rules. “When I saw they had removed the barriers between e-clubs and regular clubs, I thought, we can be both.”

The district was encouraging her to embrace the e-club model, but the club didn’t want to lose the fellowship of in-person meetings. The solution was to become a hybrid, preserving in-person meetings but making them available online. The club launched online meetings in February.

“We use an online video conferencing service,” explains Kersey. “Many members had already used video conferencing for business, so they knew the software. And with a camera on the computer or on the person’s phone, they can see you and you can see them.” The first meeting had two online attendees, and the number has climbed steadily. Now six to eight people attend online in any given week.

Rotary Club of Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA Website: Stonemountainrotary.org Members: 42 History: When it was founded in 1965, the club was known as the Rotary Club of East DeKalb and chartered with 29 members. It changed its name to Stone Mountain in 1981. The club is involved in programs including AIDS awareness, Teacher Appreciation Day, immunization clinics, bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, and park cleanup and beautification. It also partners with other clubs on international projects addressing clean water and literacy.

This new model made membership more manageable for some current members. “We have a real estate agent in the club who is very busy,” Kersey says. “Before hybrid, the meeting was hard for her. Now she can attend from wherever she is, using her smartphone. So it’s increasing overall attendance.”

And the club is seeing clear indications that this model will draw new members as well. “We have eight potential members, and the hybrid model is part of the appeal.” One potential member is a restaurateur who can’t leave his business during the lunch rush. Attending virtually would let him keep an eye on the restaurant and still participate.

This new model may even prove useful for older members who are contemplating moving for retirement. “They can continue to be members in Stone Mountain, even if they move to Florida,” notes Kersey.

Remaking the club meant rewriting its bylaws from the ground up. “We had to rethink many things,” recalls Kersey. “We put in a requirement for 18 hours of service a year.” But they are flexible on how that requirement is fulfilled. “You could do service for a club near you”

She is convinced that Stone Mountain has found the way of the future. “I think most Rotary clubs will be hybrid eventually, with members attending in person and online.”

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