PDG John Wan – GML – January 2001
The mission of volunteers;
Rotary supports IYV; PolioPlus and our international responsibilities; Happy Year of the Snake
Governor-elect Johnson said in the Continuity Column this month that he had received only six report forms from clubs on the election results. I expect he would have received many more returns by now, but probably not all. I know because I also receive a copy of all returns. Johnson wrote his letter two days before the end of December. He sounded worried, and for good reasons too. Failure to send these returns on time could result in the records of the clubs concerned not being updated in the next Official Directory, which in turn could result in the club officials not being able to receive communications from World Headquarters in good time or not at all.
It is worrying that so many club officials appeared to have little or no regard to rules of the organization that had freely and voluntarily joined. It is true that we are all volunteers, but so are the Rotarians at district and international level that are chasing for these and other returns. As volunteers, we volunteer our time and talents to serve others. Very often, volunteers set high standards for their voluntary work. They would put in extra efforts and time to ensure that the work and hence the service they render others freely would be of a standard even higher than the work for which they are paid. In advanced economies where voluntary work is a way of life, volunteers are required to observe codes of conduct that prescribe standards for the service they pledge to render of their free will and accord.
Rotarians are volunteers, but they are also business and professional people dedicated to providing humanitarian service, to encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations and to helping build goodwill and peace in the world. It follows that the service we render must be of a standard befitting business and professional people, or service of the highest standard. The Year 2001 is the International Year of Volunteers (IYV). Let us remind ourselves of the international responsibilities of a Rotarian and let us all strive to be an exemplary volunteer.
In the beginning of this Rotary Year, I set a District goal for us to promote Rotary’s image by participating proactively in the IYV. I am happy to report that on 7 January, we partnered with members of the Lions Clubs International District 303 and the Hong Kong Junior Chamber in the Hong Kong Walk, and we walked under a “Support Volunteers” banner. There will be more programmes of this nature coming up. Watch out for them.
January is Rotary Awareness Month, and President Frank Devlyn has urged us to promote the message of PolioPlus through our local media. President Frank reminded us the dramatic success stories of PolioPlus, in particular, of how Rotary partnered with institutions such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and national governments worldwide to immunize more than two billion children against polio in the last five years, and of Rotary’s role in mobilizing 10 million volunteers each year in National Immunization Days. He said, “PolioPlus has proven that volunteers play a critical role in public health initiatives.”
I would like to join President Frank to urge you to make a special effort to create awareness in the community of Rotary’s efforts in the PolioPlus programme. The Rotary International Board of Directors has recognized PolioPlus as a special programme of RI that has the highest priority over all other programs until the certification of worldwide eradication is achieved in 2005. In 1985 when the programme began, there were 125 polio-endemic countries. The figure has since declined to 30. To date, 122 nations around the world have benefited from PolioPlus grants. As of June 2000, Rotary has committed more than US$378 million to global polio eradication and the contribution to the programme would exceed half a billion US dollars by 2005.
From PolioPlus, I move to The Rotary Foundation. In the year ending June 2000, The Rotary Foundation received total contributions of US$73.7 million and paid out US$90.7 million in programme awards, including US$37.6 on PolioPlus. The Foundation needs contributions on a continuing basis to ensure that the on-going humanitarian and educational programmes can be sustained. The returns ending November 2000 for the District showed that contributions from clubs had been slower than expected, and District Annual Giving Sub-Committee Chairman Past President Johnny Fan had made a number of appeals on several occasions to urge club presidents to remind members of their earlier pledges. Once again, I appeal to you to be mindful of the international responsibilities of a Rotarian and to develop a habit to contribute to The Rotary Foundation on a continuing basis. In the beginning of my term, I encouraged each member to contribute US$100 each year and clubs to become 100% Paul Harris clubs. We are not yet there.
Still on the internationality of Rotarians, Governor-nominee Gloria Chan is organizing a Joint Meeting of at least seven clubs to celebrate World Understanding and Peace Day on Friday, 23 February 2001. It will be an evening meeting, to be held at the Regal Hong Kong Hotel. I urge you to encourage your members to make an effort to attend. Gloria has invited Professor Edward Chan, Vice Chancellor of Ling Nam University to speak on “Towards a Harmonious International Economy.” It will be a great way to celebrate Rotary’s anniversary.
Before I sign off, I would like to wish all of you a prosperous Year of the Snake. As in every year this time, we are inundated with information, predictions and forecasts from astrologists, soothsayers and fengshui experts of all descriptions. So far, the year does not augur well. I urge you not to be disheartened, for it is in such times that the need for volunteers and do-gooders would be most felt.
Kung Hei Fat Choi.
Your Governor John Wan