Rotary Club of London-Lambeth

Posted by Geoffrey Faul
Geoff Faul tells the Club about the 2019 International Convention in Hamburg Germany
Hello, everyone, I am pleased to have this opportunity to report on the Rotary World Convention at Hamburg Germany, the 1st through the 5th of June. 
Registered attendees totaled about 28,000, out of 1.2 million Rotarians, representing 36,000 clubs.  Rotaract clubs, of which there are currently 10,000 were well represented and were given high visibility.  Rotaract clubs are seen as a significant pool of potential future Rotarians and Rotary leaders used the convention as a platform to highlight the importance of connecting with the 165,000 Rotaractors around the world.
RI has strengthened its commitment to Rotary Club Central, has implemented the Learning Centre, has redesigned the Grant Centre and continues to promote the use of social media to put Rotary into the public eye.
Interestingly, most of Rotary’s membership growth has come from non G-7 countries; in fact membership continues to decline in North America.  I am pleased to report the Lambeth club is running counter to District and North American trend, both in membership numbers and, as we learned at our President’s Dinner, in donations to Polio and the Rotary Foundation.
In the battle to eradicate polio, Rotary is still the driving force.  In terms of volunteer commitment, continued sustained effort, and numbers of donors, Rotary stands out as the incontestable champion of the cause. 
I learned that this year marks the third year of no identified case of wild polio virus in Nigeria; meanwhile Pakistan’s federal government is now unshakably committed to the eradication of polio in that country – and this is despite a small but violent faction of anti-vaxxers who attack and even murder polio volunteers and medical staff in their failing efforts to derail their country’s progress towards public health improvements.
The World Health Organization and other health care bodies around the world are using Rotary’s Polio Plus campaign infrastructure as a template to deliver vaccines for other diseases such as measles, ebola, diphtheria and others. The principles of disease surveillance, cold chain medical logistics, multi-inoculations and coordination of local health clinics are already being used to deliver better health care to hard-to-reach populations – a beneficial legacy of Rotary’s leadership in tackling endemic, entrenched diseases.  Beyond specific medical interventions, Rotary is using its Polio Plus networks to identify and target local public health deficits such as water, sanitation and education.  Improvements are being seen along a spectrum of community health issues, strengthening disease resistance in populations beyond polio eradication.  Rotary’s fight to eradicate polio has moved the needle on a whole range of public health issues.  The legacy of Polio eradication such as infection surveillance and contact tracing is now proving valuable beyond any single disease. Rotarians are not only delivering global health care, they are shaping it.
Of course, you all know that the primary motivator for me attending this particular convention was the opportunity to meet one more time with Katrin Rhode and to present a donation to A.M.P.O. on behalf of our club, publically.  In doing so, our club donation triggered spontaneous donations from at least one other audience member, as well as questions about how other clubs couId help A.M.P.O. I was also able to announce that, that very day was Katrin’s birthday; of course the audience spontaneously broke out into “Happy Birthday” and congratulations all around.
Katrin asked me to convey her appreciation to our club, for our continuing loyalty to her children.  It turns out that although we are not the largest donor, our club has been the supporting her children longer than other donor in their records.
Although our donations to A.M.P.O. have gone to build a water reservoir, to provide solar lighting around the girls’ compound and so forth, most of our donations have been directed towards building hand-powered bicycles for polio survivors and other mobility-challenged children and adults.   
I mention this because, in her plenary address 2019 Rotary Convention, 2019/20 Foundation Trustee Chair Brenda Cressley told a story that parallels and illustrates your own accomplishments.
I’d like to summarize the incident Ms. Cressley shared - her own experience with distribution of wheel chairs in a third-world country:
There was a teenage boy who came to the site to receive a wheelchair.  He walked in, carrying a small, older man piggy-back style on his shoulders.  The wheel chair was for the old man – the young lad’s grandfather - The man had no legs.  This boy had been carrying his grandfather wherever he needed to leave the house.  The wheel chair certainly restored the man’s mobility as well as his dignity but it also freed the young man to pursue the needs and interests of his own unfolding life.   
Ms. Cressley witnessed the power of personal freedom restored, not once, but twice, at least, no doubt with ripples of benefits extending throughout a family and into a community.  That is what you do and have been doing, for years now.  You don’t have to become an Executive at Rotary Foundation to have this experience.  You only need to witness that what you do here, connects around the world, that it takes a very tangible load off the backs of sons and daughters, men, women and children, giving them hope and new life. 
That’s what I re-learned at the Rotary Convention in Hamburg and that’s what I wanted to report to you this evening.
Thank you and congratulations!
Note 2019/20 RI President is:
President Mark Daniel Maloney: 2019 Theme is: Rotary Connecting the World
Objectives of the Rotary Strategic Plan:
Increase Rotary’s Impact
Expand Rotary’s Reach
Enhance Participant Engagement
Increase Rotary’s Ability to Adapt