Posted by Sharmila Bhatt

As Rotarians, we can find many different reasons as to why we joined Rotary, but one thing we can consistently agree on is that the reason we continue to come to Rotary is the value it adds to our lives.

Through Rotary we are able to join hands to inspire others so that they may follow in our footsteps of service towards making the world a better place. The more we participate and become involved, the more Rotary makes a difference to each of us. Rotary challenges us to become better people; to become ambitious in the ways that matter most, to strive for higher goals, and to incorporate “Service Above Self” into our daily lives.

I joined Rotary after being inspired by a presentation made by the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Mathai, at the DCA in Kampala. In 1977, Mathai had founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non- governmental organisation focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation and women’s rights. I was profoundly moved by Mathai’s work that rallied women to plant millions of trees in her region, and so were all the other Dar es Salaam members, who followed suit by planting 25,600 trees in theirs.

As an organisation, we support each other’s motivations for service, but we are guided by the three strategic priorities for our district as set out in our strategic plan: They are; to support and strengthen our clubs, to focus and increase our humanitarian service, and to enhance Rotary’s public image and awareness.

The year ahead looks promising for Rotary. Our clubs will be receiving an array of augmented online tools that will truly enrich our lives and make Rotary matters much easier to execute. The adaptation and implementation of these tools will be yours to embrace and make use of. As we look to strengthen our clubs, two specific challenges stand out clearly in our membership; existing clubs growing membership and keeping existing members engaged and converting them from members to fully fledged Rotarians.

For many years, the one idea that has stood at the heart of

all our service is sustainability. Sustainable service means that our work continues to have a positive impact long after Rotary’s direct involvement has ended. We should not just dig wells and walk away, we need to make sure communities can maintain those wells so that they may have a lasting impact on their lives. If we build a health facility, we need to make sure that it can continue to run without our ongoing support and intervention. If we provide consumable items, we need to make sure that the process includes the generation of a self-sustained supply, and when tackling diseases such as polio, we are doing more than containing it, but working towards eradicating it completely.

For 113 years, Rotary has made a difference to more lives, in more ways, than we can ever count. As Rotarians, let us be the inspiration and allow our work to speak for us as we strive for excellence in our work.

Thank you for all the work you have done so far, and the work you will do as an inspired Rotarian in the year to come.

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