Seeking new horizons

John Davis

By John Davis, past governor of District 9800 (Australia) and district Rotary Foundation committee chair

After two years of working with the Future Vision pilot, we are certainly aware that change and sustainability are important concepts to Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation.

But some may ask: Why change a formula that on the surface appears to be producing results? Is it simply change for change sake? Most certainly not. As an organization, we are not attracting young adults in the numbers we would like. Is our organization too rigid and inflexible to attract these young professionals, who wish to make a difference in the world? If we are to reach them, we need to demonstrate that Rotary can make a visible difference in the lives of others.

Vocational training teams are designed to do just that. Using the vocational and professional skills of team members, particularly in countries where resources and infrastructure are limited, the teams improve the facilities and living conditions of the people living there.

As a Rotary district, we wanted to know what we could do to improve conditions in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. The lifetime risk of maternal death at child birth is 1 in 30, and the percentage of deliveries with a skilled birth attendant is less than 30 percent. The first step was to send an investigatory group to the country, partly funded by a Future Vision district grant. With the information from that visit, Districts 9800 and 9550 submitted an application for a global grant to fund five vocational training teams over a three-year period, with the focus on maternal and child health. The teams will provide refresher courses for midwives working in Timor.

Two training teams have now been sent, the first in November 2011 and the second in May 2012. The third team will leave this month. The teams are working under the endorsement of the Departments of Health of the Timor government and the United Nations Population Fund, and the refresher courses are closely aligned with the United Nation’s emergency obstetric care program.

The global grant will also provide much needed basic medical equipment. This surely is how Rotary can meet the challenges of a changing world, and be a force for good in its second century of service.

Learn more about the Future Vision grant model.

Source: Rotary Voices

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