Humanitarian service by definition is aid and action meant to save lives and eliminate suffering, while at the same time maintaining and protecting human dignity. Rotary International has been on the forefront in providing humanitarian service and assistance over its 110 years of existence. Made of individual Rotary Clubs, the organization comprises of leaders from businesses and professional communities, who not only help in the provision of humanitarian service, but also help in the encouragement of high ethical standards in all professions and assist in the building of goodwill and peace in the world (Rotarian 61). The concept of humanitarian service therefore remains core to the service provision of the organization and is among the objectives of the organization’s strategic plan, with specific focus on the expansion of our services through a number of action plans.
One of the major humanitarian services that Rotary International has been involved with is the eradication of Polio, a service that the organization has been spearheading since 1985. Through the PolioPlus program, Rotary International pledged $120 million towards the eradication of Polio (Gautam 1). The organization has been consistently involved in Polio eradication initiatives in collaboration with other organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, we believe that the eradication of the disease is imminent, given that the world is 99 percent Polio-free (Rotarian 60). This is a considerable achievement, along with the fact that India, a country that had one of the highest prevalence of the disease is currently no longer Polio-endemic (Rotarian 60).
Even with such impressive feats in the eradication of Polio, more still needs to be done, until the world is 100 percent free of the crippling disease. Medical experts on Polio indicate that the eradication of Polio is important, given that controlling the disease creates a favorable breeding ground for the disease’s incubation, with the possibility of more than 10 million children under five to be paralyzed by the disease in 40 years (Rotarian 60). Moreover, the eradication of the disease is possible given that the new bivalent vaccine has the ability to target the two remaining strains of the disease, in addition to being good investment as global investment worth $9 billion in the eradication of the disease is estimated to net, economically $40-$50 billion over the next 20 years. Even more is that such eradication efforts help in the strengthening of disease surveillance systems worldwide, while at the same time setting the stage for success in the next major global health initiative, which the organization hopes to be part (Rotarian 62).
Rotary Internal does more than its involvement in Polio eradication. The organization gives grants to clubs and districts towards the assistance of these needy communities. The grants cover a number of categories including projects, scholarships, as well as training (Rotary n.p.). Although the grant application process and model had previously been complicated, the organization has adopted a new model is in place to provide quicker turnaround for the needy communities. Most of the documents for the grant processing are online, as well as within Districts, which (Districts) review the documents and projects for which funds are requested, therefore hastening the process of getting the grants. Moreover, the Foundation has expanded its grants and now includes District grants, Global grants as well as the Original Foundation grants, all of which go to support different charities, ensuring that the needy communities in need of these grants get the requisite assistance.
The fact that Rotary International works with communities necessitates partnership with other like-minded organizations (Rotary n.p.). The organization’s partnership base has expanded to include even more organizations and institutions. Rotary International collaborates with international, governmental and higher education groups in tackling global humanitarian problems. As a spearheading partner in the fight against Polio, the organization has collaborated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC, WHO and UNICEF.
Partnership for the organization has expanded to higher learning institutions, particularly those important in the tackling humanitarian issues the organization finds pertinent to its cause. For this matter, the organization has expanded its partnership on issues dealing with peace and conflict resolution, and in so doing collaborate with among others, Uppsala University, International Christian University in Tokyo, as well as Duke University in providing Rotary Peace Fellows with master’s degrees in conflict resolution, to act at catalysts towards the achievement of global peace. This expansion has also included direct involvement with partnering organizations such as Dollywood Foundation for literacy, Peace Corps towards the promotion of peace, Global FoodBanking Network working to alleviate hunger and YSA to involve the youth in the work that the organization in doing in the community (Rotary n.p.).
Providing humanitarian services is at the core of the Rotary International. With support of projects along the areas of peace and conflict resolution and prevention, diseases prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy and economic and community development, the organization has had a tremendous impact in the world (Rotary 3). As one of its priorities, Polio is almost eradicated in the world thanks to more than US$1 billion that the organization has contributed towards the eradication of the disease (Rotary 3).
Other areas of impact include provision of sustainable water in rural Sierra Leone, where, through the installation of wells, the organization has helped more than 70, 000 people get access to clean and safe water. In Surakarta, Indonesia, through grants for equipment and education, residents of more than 1,400 households have lower risk of contracting dengue fever. The grant helped educate the residents on ways of disrupting the breeding cycles of the disease-spreading mosquitoes (Rotary 4). In Guatemala, Rotary International has helped in the education of more than 500 students thanks to a project grant towards education. The project has so far expanded to include a medical clinic, which serves more than 25,000 people, a clean water project as well as a vocational training center among others (Rotary 4).
Although the organization has done much in its 110 years of existence, we still feel that we need to do more. Education of the Rotarians on the six areas of focus will go a long way in enhancing our work in the six focus areas. Moreover, it is only through proper education and planning that we can ensure that the projects we initiate are sustainable. Work towards sustainability for the projects is meant to ensure that the organization continues in its work around the world. Therefore, even as we measure our impact and look back at our milestones, it is important to remember that provision of humanitarian service remains core to the organization.
Gautam, Kul. A History of Global Polio Eradication. UNICEF, 2007. Web. 9 May 2015
Rotarian. “Global Outlook: A Rotarian’s Guide to Advocacy for Polio Eradication.” Rotarian, 2013. Web. 9 May 2015.
Rotary. Major Gifts, Major Impact: Rotary International Meets Vital Needs. Evanston, IL: Rotary, 2012.
Rotary. Partners. Rotary International, 2015. Web. 9 May 2015.