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626: Nairobi Presidential Conference Highlights

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  • sunilkzach <sunilkzach@yahoo.co.uk>
    RI president encourages Rotarians to go forth and serve mightily On 23 February, Rotary International President Bhichai Rattakul officially closed the RI
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2003
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      RI president encourages Rotarians to "go forth and serve mightily"

      On 23 February, Rotary International President Bhichai Rattakul
      officially closed the RI African Presidential Conference on health
      and development with a stirring address calling on participants
      to "go forth and serve mightily." Seven hundred eighty Rotarians from
      39 countries attended the three-day event at the Kenyatta
      International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya.

      "Throughout these busy and productive days, we have looked at ways we
      can address health concerns here in Africa — such as the HIV/AIDS
      epidemic, tuberculosis, and other health problems," said the RI
      president. "We have evaluated methods for supporting people in their
      effort to break the cycle of poverty themselves through education,
      micro-enterprises, and vocational training. We have examined how we
      can support and further long-term Rotary projects like PolioPlus and
      the Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict
      resolution. And perhaps most importantly, we have refined strategies
      for partnering with each other and with organizations and governments
      outside of Rotary."

      The HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa and Asia dominated the plenary and
      discussion group sessions at the conference. Speaker after speaker
      rose to share their experiences with battling the disease whose
      devastating effect on the economic and social infrastructure of
      African countries has left a heavy burden of orphans. Concrete
      proposals to deal with the problem were considered by the

      In his closing address, the RI president announced to thunderous
      applause that The Rotary Foundation is providing a US$15,000 Matching
      Grant to support an initiative of 14 African districts to assist AIDS
      orphans in Kenya. The districts are donating part of their District
      Designated Funds (DDF) to build 15 low-cost shelters for the
      unfortunate children in Cura village near Nairobi. District 9200,
      host of the conference, and District 9300, South Africa, are the
      primary sponsors of the project, which could easily serve as a model
      for similar efforts across Africa and other places severely impacted
      by AIDS.

      Kenyan Vice President Kijana Wamalwa opened the conference on 21
      February with a speech in which he thanked RI for choosing Nairobi as
      the venue for the event. He praised Rotarians for volunteering their
      skills, time, and money for worthy causes. "We as a government cannot
      fulfill all the needs of our people. In fact, no government can," he
      said. "We have gaps in our health and educational programs and we
      depend on organizations such as yours to fill the gaps."

      In his remarks, the vice president referred to Rotary's pioneering
      role in the global initiative to eradicate polio. "You started on
      this journey in 1988, and I understand that soon Kenya will be
      certified polio-free and the credit will go to you," he said.

      Other topics covered at the conference included the effects of trade
      on poverty alleviation; education and literacy: two keys to fighting
      poverty and hunger; successful participation in humanitarian
      programs; nearing our goal of eradicating polio; practical ideas for
      developing successful project partnerships; micro-enterprise and
      vocational training; and the Rotary Centers for International

      On 22 February, a projects fair showcasing close to 40 efforts of
      clubs in Africa and elsewhere attracted great interest. These efforts
      included a US$1.2 million project of a club in Kigali, Rwanda, to
      build the country's first public library, and nearly two dozen Kenyan
      projects aimed at providing better health, educational, and career
      opportunities for disadvantaged children, the blind, and amputees.

      Several activities sponsored by Nairobi clubs coincided with the
      presidential conference, including pre-conference eye camps; a
      diplomatic luncheon hosted by Nairobi clubs to mark World
      Understanding Day and Rotary's 98th birthday; and a rally for
      physically and mentally challenged children.

      K.C. Abraham, a Rotarian from Kerala, India, said the conference gave
      him an opportunity to interact with African Rotarians for the first
      time. "I am going back home more enlightened about Rotary," he said.

      Nigerian Rotarian Bamidele Salam called the conference "an eye-opener
      and a challenge. We have so much to do, and we can achieve better
      results by cooperating amongst ourselves and other organizations."

      Courtesy: Rotary Newsbasket
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