R. I. President & TRF Chair's Messages

Rotary International President Ron Burton's February 2014 Message

Dear fellow Rotarians,

It was 109 years ago this month that Paul Harris and three of his friends founded the first Rotary club. His goal was simple: to create an oasis of friendship amid a city of strangers, with those who shared his values.

Over time, the philosophy of Rotary developed and matured, and Rotarian ideals expanded to include service, vocational ethics, and international understanding. As Rotary grew and spread, Paul Harris envisioned a world in which conflict would ultimately melt away – a world where personal connections and acceptance of differences would relegate war to history. If people could only come together in a spirit of friendship and tolerance, he felt, they would soon realize how much they had in common.

Paul Harris was fortunate in his lifetime to see the Rotary idea take hold and establish itself in dozens of countries around the world. Every week, in 34,000 communities, his vision lives on in every Rotary club meeting. But nowhere in the world does Paul Harris' vision take life as vividly as it does at our annual Rotary International convention.

At a convention, for a few short days, we see the world as Paul Harris imagined it: a world where men and women from every corner of the globe come together, to build peace, to serve others, and simply to enjoy one another's company. Differences of background, politics, culture, and religion are woven together, all part of one bright tapestry. It is an unforgettable experience, one that Jetta and I look forward to every year. Every convention is different, and every one becomes a memory that we cherish.

This year, I will have the tremendous privilege of presiding over the 105th Rotary International Convention in Sydney, 1-4 June. Sydney is a vibrant international hub, a gateway between East and West, and a wonderfully appropriate city to host a Rotary convention. It is tremendously diverse, rich in culture and history, and one of my favorite cities to visit; at once exciting and relaxed, it is a place where I know I will always feel at home – and always find something new to see and do.

In 2014, Rotary members will gather to say G'day from Sydney. We will come together as friends and Rotarians, to reach out to the world and to one another, in an environment where all are welcome. I hope you will join us as we celebrate our successes, look to the future, and discover new ways to Engage Rotary, Change Lives.

Ron Burton, President, Rotary International

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Rotary International Foundation Chair D. K. Lees

RI Trustee's message - February 2014

The last hurdle.

In 1985, we made a promise. We promised that we would eradicate polio, no matter how long it took. We have never backed away from that promise, even though the job has been much harder, and taken much longer, than we first thought.
Because of Rotary and its partners, the world has seen a 99 percent drop in the number of polio cases: from 350,000 children paralyzed every year to 223 in 2012. This progress is significant.

We are now combating an outbreak of polio in the Horn of Africa. Cases of polio were found in Syria. We all recognize that this presents a new and significant challenge to the process of eradication. The political and humanitarian situation in Syria is difficult, and responding to this outbreak will be difficult as well.

We have been told many times that we cannot end polio, that we will never do it. But we know better. We will conquer this challenge, as we have conquered so many before. We will stop these new outbreaks. And we will continue to fight polio until we have reached every last child. To do all this requires tremendous resources.

Right now, we have a funding gap of US$1.5 billion over the next five years. To eradicate polio, that gap must be filled. We are not alone in this fight. We will not be the only ones to help find these new funds. This must be the responsibility of every country and every government. A polio-free world is within our grasp.

All of us must be ambassadors for polio eradication. Every Rotarian should lead by example by making a donation. And we need to make sure that every Rotarian, in every Rotary club, understands that we are truly this close to ending polio – and that every Rotarian understands that this is our chance to make history together.

If we can summon the will and the determination in this final hour, we will have written Rotary into the pages of history forever.

Dong Kun (D.K.) Lee
Trustee Chair 2013-14

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