For a hundred years, Rotarians across the world have been changing the lives of millions of people through humanitarian projects.
Starting with a $26.50 donation in 1917, the Rotary Foundation has since spent $3 billion on sustainable, life-saving projects over the last 100 years.
From resolving conflict and fighting diseases such as polio, HIV and Alzheimer’s, to educating children and their parents in literacy, hygiene and the importance of vaccinations; the Foundation has remained loyal to its roots as individual clubs that are able to give back to the community.
The history of the Rotary Club starts in Chicago in 1905 when solicitor Paul Harris saw the need for a club where professionals could exchange ideas and build friendships. The charity launched 12 years later, upheld by six main focuses: promoting peace; fighting disease; clean water, sanitation and hygiene; mothers and children; education; and economic and community development.
Here in South Yorkshire, Rotherham Rotary Club has been helping support the Foundation’s causes since launching in 1921. Along with worldwide projects such as building a $35,000 teaching farm in Lesotho for the village to become self-sufficient, they have also kept their charitable work closer to home by opening a dementia café at Kiveton.
A Key Celebration
To celebrate the Rotary Foundation’s centenary, Rotherham Rotary and Doncaster St Leger Rotary Clubs are holding a special piano concert by distinguished pianists Ben Frith and Heidi Rolfe.
Musical Partnerships will see Ben and Heidi perform a repertoire of music composed in the Romantic era of the late 18th century.
Celebrating the connections between husband and wife partnership Clara and Robert Schumann and brother and sister Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, Ben and his fiancé Heidi will share the keys at Hill House School in Doncaster on Tuesday 27th February.
Ben, an award-winning pianist who trained with Dame Fanny Waterman, has his own connections to the Rotary Foundation; his father was a member of the Worksop branch where Ben often performed Christmas concerts to raise money for the cause.
The money raised from Musical Partnerships will go towards the international End Polio Now campaign – the Foundation’s 30-year drive to rid the world of polio. As a young child, Rotherham’s president John contracted polio and so the club is keener than ever to help young children across the world no longer live in fear of this debilitating disease.
When the campaign began in 1985, there were 350,000 new cases of polio reported each year over 125 countries. Thanks to a joint effort by the Rotary Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who matched every Rotary donation, cases of polio were reduced by 99.9 percent to just 11 cases in 2017 across three countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Although incurable, through repeat immunisation of children under five each year, the Foundation has almost reached its End Polio Now eradication target. This January, a member of Rotherham Rotary is one of 90 people from the UK who will be going out to India to immunise 170 million children.
The polio campaign is also backed up by the Foundation’s other causes which all work in harmony to give people their natural human rights such as the right to education, clean water and vaccines.
Six Main Beliefs
Alongside global organisations such as UNESCO and World Health Organisation, the charity has gone on to provide various reliefs in the world.
To promote peace, six universities in the world, including the University of Bradford, offer a Masters degree in conflict resolution, with graduates then going out into the field to help reconcile communities at war.
Along with the polio campaign, the Foundation is constantly fighting disease by setting up blood donation centres, health clinics and providing training to vaccinate against HIV and malaria.
With a healthy life being the key to a successful life, the Foundation has also created resources such as clean water supplies in communities and schools or hospital equipment for clean births. Instilled by education and awareness, their plight to increase knowledge from basic literacy in adults to gender quality in training means they are setting a platform for communities to want to become self reliant.
And with the right tools such as microloans for entrepreneurs or agriculture to set up farms, the Foundation keeps on providing sustainable solutions to reduce poverty across the world.
Rotary Foundation is one of the world’s biggest charities with a maximum four-star rating meaning that those who donate know exactly where their money is going.
By attending the Rotherham Rotary Club’s Musical Partnership this February, you can support them to enable the Foundation to continue on its mission of service before self.
Musical Partnerships is on Tuesday 27th February from 7.30pm at Hill House School, Doncaster DN9 3GG
Tickets are £12 for adults and £5 for school children and can be purchased from Michael Sumption on 07836 518872 or Jack Cusworth on 01302 539612.