President’s Comment – 29 Oct 17

Hi All,

Our next meeting will be held online by  ZOOM meeting on Wednesday 1st November at 7.30pm ESDT or 6.30pm EST. This meeting we will be visited by District Governor George Weston for his official visit to our Club. Please try and attend.

If you are not a member and wish to attend or invite any other guest please supply an email address so that the email with the meeting link can be forwarded – Email the address to johnroberson@bigpond.com

 

The power of a gardEN

Rotary members in Harvard, Illinois, USA, have teamed up with community groups to help alleviate hunger and bring the community together.

By Arnold R. Grahl Photos by Monika Lozinska Videos by Andrew Chudzinski 

On a sunny morning in July, two dozen preschool children from Brown Bear Daycare inspect a bed of milkweed plants for monarch butterfly eggs, holding magnifying glasses to the underside of leaves in search of the tiny, off-white objects.

View Slideshow
Preschool children from Brown Bear Daycare plant a young tomato plant. The class visits the garden every Monday morning spring to fall.

Curiosity stoked, the five-year-olds and their teachers move to the shade of a large tree to listen to a master gardener explain the role these butterflies play in gardens. The preschool class visits the community garden in Harvard, Illinois, USA, every Monday from spring to fall to learn about garden-related topics and even help out. 

“They get to taste the vegetables, some that they have never even seen. They get to experience what it is like to plant a garden from the planting to the picking to the eating,” says Sheila Henson, executive director of the day care center and a member of the Rotary Club of Harvard. “At the end of the summer, we have a parent night where the parents come and get to see the different things their children have been involved with.”

With the goals of alleviating hunger and educating the community, master gardeners from University of Illinois Extension planted the garden in 2001 on a half-acre parcel donated by the city and adjacent to the public library. Over the years, the master gardeners have enlisted the support of many businesses, organizations, and clubs, including the Rotary Club of Harvard, making the project a community-wide effort. 

As many as 250 needy families benefit from the 10,000 pounds of vegetables that are grown and donated every year to the local food pantry. The fresh produce serves as a safety net for many families. 

Roughly a quarter of the community’s 9,200 residents live below the federal poverty line, a result of the limited employment opportunities in small farm towns across Illinois. The already fragile economy was further affected by the closing of a Motorola  plant here in 2003 after only seven years of operation.

“In this community, the only way we can get by is by helping each other,” says Dave Decker, site director for the Harvard Community Food Pantry. “Everybody needs a little help now and then.”

The Rotary Club of Harvard took on the project seven years ago, looking for a way to address hunger and help the community. With only seven members, the club has had an impact far beyond its size, amplifying its efforts by working with the master gardeners and other groups.

“Harvard is definitely a better place because of the members of this club, and that is what keeps us going,” says Mike Morris, the club’s president. “It’s the expertise of the master gardeners, individuals in the community, farmers who help, and the education provided through the day care that makes this an amazing team effort.” 

The Rotary club has provided $400 to buy seeds and starter plants from a local nursery every year since 2011. It also purchased plastic drip irrigation tubing and fertilizer valves after a drought threatened the garden in 2012. This year, it provided a letter of support needed by the master gardeners to secure a $5,000 grant from the McHenry County Community Foundation for an organic compost mix that will add nutrients back to the soil and help keep weeds at bay.

Morris has made the garden his special focus and enlisted every member of the club to help with planting, weeding, and harvesting. Henson also recruited day care employees to volunteer. 

The garden needs everyone for planting, says Dale Nelmes, one of the master gardeners who volunteer every week.

“Many of us master gardeners are up there in years and can’t get down on our hands and knees like we used to,” he says. “I was so impressed with Rotary and Sheila, who brought all these young volunteers in. It was incredible how much we accomplished.”

The Harvard Rotarians also used a Rotary grant to buy a new freezer, which allows the food pantry to store vegetables longer. 

Last winter, Morris secured another Rotary grant  for $2,000, which, when combined with $5,000 from club funds, funded seven weeks of food deliveries from the Northern Illinois Food Bank. A mobile unit from the food bank set up at Brown Bear Daycare once a month from October to April, each time distributing 9,000 pounds of meat, vegetables, boxed goods, breads, and fruits.

Morris says growing up on a farm in northwestern Illinois played a big part in his interest in fighting hunger. 

“I know we can produce more than enough food to feed everybody in the country,” he says. “It’s just a matter of the logistics of getting it from the farm to their table.”

On a July morning, about 20 people – Rotarians, master gardeners, and community volunteers – are scattered among the 14 rows, each 125 feet long, pulling weeds and picking vegetables. The garden is behind schedule this year because of heavy rains, and today’s harvest is smaller than normal. At the food pantry, Nelmes weighs each crate: 9 pounds of broccoli, 6 pounds of kohlrabi, 8 pounds of peppers, and 22 pounds of zucchini. Later in the season, many more hands will be needed to harvest.

 

Reina Montes began volunteering at the garden after a back injury forced her to stop working temporarily and she had to go to the pantry to supplement her groceries. When she learned about the garden, she persuaded her daughter, Elizabeth Sanchez, to join her on Mondays to help plant, pick, and weed.

Montes moved to Harvard from Mexico City more than 20 years ago and fell in love with the smaller town. Her daughter now has two college-age daughters of her own, whom she hopes to teach the value of community service. 

“Thanks to the garden, we can feed people who can’t afford to buy fresh food at the supermarket,” says Sanchez. “I believe it is everybody’s responsibility to help the community. If our children see that there is unity, love, and support, they are going to do the same thing. We are leaving them a legacy.” 

President’s Comment – 22 Oct 17

Hi All,

What a great meeting last Wednesday. We did not have a large attendance but all present enjoyed the presentation from  Rev. Mal Dunnett, one of our own members. He spoke on his work on RAWCS project, 9-2010-11: Community Development & Education Assistance, Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands. 

Please note that our next meeting will be held online by  ZOOM meeting on Wednesday 1st November at 7.30pm ESDT or 6.30pm EST. This meeting we will be visited by District Governor George Weston for his official visit to our Club. Please try and attend.

If you are not a member and wish to attend or invite any other guest please supply an email address so that the email with the meeting link can be forwarded – Email the address to johnroberson@bigpond.com

 

 

 

Please enjoy this article that explains how technology is assisting with our goal to eradicate polio:

Cellphones power disease fight

Pakistan and Nigeria replace paper-based reporting with fast, accurate cellphone messaging

By Ryan Hyland Photos by Khaula Jamil

Mobile phones and simple text messaging may be the keys to victory in the world’s largest public health initiative: the eradication of polio. 

As the disease retreats from the global stage, thriving in only a few remote areas in three countries, it’s up to health workers to deliver vaccines and share information with speed and accuracy. 

Health workers in Pakistan are receiving cellphone and e-monitoring training at the Rotary Resource Center in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative are strengthening the lines of communication by giving cellphones to health workers in Pakistan and Nigeria, where a single text message could save a life. 

In Pakistan, Rotary has been working to replace traditional paper-based reporting of maternal and child health information, including polio immunization data, with mobile phone and e-monitoring technology. 

Community health workers across the nation have received more than 800 phones through a partnership with Rotary, the Pakistani government; Telenor, the country’s second-largest telecommunications provider; and Eycon, a data monitoring and evaluation specialist. Organizers plan to distribute a total of 5,000 cellphones by the end of 2018. 

Health workers can use the phones to send data via text message to a central server. If they see a potential polio case, they can immediately alert officials at Pakistan’s National Emergency Operations Center. They also can note any children who didn’t receive the vaccine or parental refusals – and record successful immunizations. In Pakistan, the polio eradication effort aims to reach the nation’s 35 million children under age five.

The result is a collection of real-time information that officials can easily monitor and assess, says Michel Thieren, regional emergency director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergency Program. 

Pakistan health workers are replacing traditional paper-reporting with accurate and timely cellphone-based reporting. 

“Cellphone technology signals tremendous progress in the polio eradication program,” says Thieren, who has directed polio-related initiatives for WHO in Pakistan. “The data we collect needs to have such a granular level of detail. With real-time information that can be recorded and transcribed immediately, you can increase accuracy and validity.

“This gives governments and polio eradication leaders an advantage in the decisions we need to make operationally and tactically to eliminate polio,” Thieren says.

Beyond polio

Health workers also are using mobile phones to monitor a multitude of maternal and child health factors. 

Pakistan’s child mortality rate ranks among the highest in the world, according to UNICEF, with 81 deaths under age five per 1,000 live births. 

But mobile technology can help reduce those deaths, says Asher Ali, project manager for Rotary’s Pakistan PolioPlus Committee. 

“Our health workers, including community midwives, are tracking pregnant mothers,” Ali says. “When a child is born, they can input and maintain complete health records, not just for polio, but for other vaccines and basic health care and hygiene needs.”

They also can monitor infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and influenza-like illnesses, as well as child malnutrition and maternal health concerns. 

“If there is a problem with the baby or the mother, we can send information to the government health departments immediately, so they can solve the issue quickly and adjust their strategies,” Ali says. 

Cellphones also facilitate follow-up visits with families, because health workers can send appointment reminders over text message. 

Proliferation of phones

Mobile phone use worldwide has spiked recently, with about 7 billion subscribers globally, 89 percent of them in developing countries, says WHO. Even people living on less than $1 a day often have access to phones and text messaging, according to WHO. Cellphones are used more than any other technology in the developing world. 

Rotary and other nonprofit organizations are leveraging this fact to boost a variety of health initiatives. 

The Grameen Foundation conducts a “mobile midwife” program that sends daily texts and weekly voice mails to expectant mothers, offering advice during pregnancy and the first year of the child’s life. UNICEF provides similar support to mothers, with a focus on nutrition throughout pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life. 

Mobile phones also are helping in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. The British nonprofit Absolute Return for Kids uses text messages to remind patients about medications and upcoming appointments. 

The Ugandan health ministry’s mTrac program, a mobile text messaging data collection network run in conjunction with UNICEF and other organizations, has a broader focus. Nearly 30,000 workers at 3,700 health centers submit weekly reports through their phones and receive surveys, alerts, and other communications. Questions go out to health workers about medical supply levels, conditions in clinics, and other critical issues.

Members of the Rotaract Club of The Caduceus, India, collaborated with the Jana Swasthya Project in 2015 to screen more than 8,000 people for oral health conditions, hypertension, and diabetes during Kumbh Mela, one of the world’s largest Hindu festivals. The project established a digital disease-surveillance system to study epidemiological trends, replacing a paper-based data-tracking process and allowing officials to access live data with a few clicks. 

In 2016, after Nigeria saw its first polio cases in almost two years, Rotary and WHO officials rushed to replace traditional reporting with a cell-based system in the northern state of Borno, where the new cases were identified. The mobile phone initiative has since expanded to more than 11 states. 

“Traditional paper reporting was misleading our program. The information we were getting was not entirely accurate. This gave us the sense that we were doing better than we actually were,” says Boniface Igomu, program coordinator of Rotary’s Nigeria PolioPlus Committee. “With cellphones, we’re identifying problem areas quickly and acting accordingly.”

The country has yet to see a polio case this year. 

Nigeria is also using cell-based mapping technology to identify areas that polio immunization teams have missed. Health workers test stool samples from children arriving from remote areas and log reports of acute flaccid paralysis. This effort started in Borno but has expanded to three additional states, Igomu says. 

After more than 1,000 people died earlier this year in Nigeria from meningitis, the country used the same digital tools in emergency vaccination campaigns, he adds.

“Mobile technologies are the type of innovations that can fill in the gaps of our program and finally help us end polio for good,” Igomu says. “Their uses have never been more important than now.”

President’s Comment – 15 Oct 17

Hi All,

Carolyn and I are currently attending the Campervans and Motorhomes Club of Australia (CMCA) Rally being held at Bundaberg, QLD over 9 days. There are over 900 motorhomes on the site. Having a great time, learning lots about our motorhome and enjoying the fellowship and entertainment.

We have met some members of the E-Club of Australian Nomads, D9630 who are attending the rally – They have 37 members and this is their website:   http://nomads.rotaryclub.asn.au/

Our next Zoom meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 18th October at 7.30pm ESDT or 6.30pm EST with Rev. Mal Dunnett one of our own members as guest speaker, giving a presentation on his work on RAWCS project, 9-2010-11: Community Development & Education Assistance, Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands.

The project aims to provide and build community training and vocational training centres in the Province of Santa Isabel. Assist in training to provide vocational education, leadership, PDHPE, drug/alcohol & youth development programs.

If you wish to attend and are not a member please email me with your email address so that you receive the invitational email to enter the meeting –  johnroberson@bigpond.com

You can also attend the Rotary International World Polio Day presentation by following the link below at the appropriate time.

Join us online for World Polio Day 2017

By Rotary International

You don’t have to buy a plane ticket to participate in this year’s World Polio Day festivities at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s facility in downtown Seattle, Washington, USA. You can watch the event live on 24 October at 14:30 Seattle time (UTC-7) for an update on our global campaign to eradicate polio. A recording of the livestream will be available later.

Sue Desmond-Hellmann, the Gates Foundation’s chief executive, will discuss this year’s progress with attendees, including Rotary members, Gates Foundation staff, and supporters, as well as the audience watching worldwide via livestream. Only 11 new cases of wild poliovirus have been reported so far in 2017, all in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Other speakers will include Jay Wenger, director of the Gates Foundation’s polio eradication efforts; Dean Rohrs, vice president of Rotary International; wrestler John Cena and singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage, Rotary polio ambassadors; Ade Adepitan, a Paralympian and polio survivor; and Jeffrey Kluger, senior editor at Time magazine overseeing science and health reporting. 

Claire Foy and Andrew Garfield, stars of the upcoming movie “Breathe,” and director Andy Serkis will also speak. “Breathe” is based on the true story of a polio survivor who became an advocate for others.