“Africa and Long Beach – What do they have in Common?”
— Ann Ackerman
The sounds of drums and African music filled the room in Long Beach, California. As I walked to my seat for the opening session of the Rotary Large Club Conference, I saw a drum waiting for me – in fact every seat had a drum! Rotarians spent the next hour playing the drums and learning from our African leader how to work together as a team to make music.
That session was the beginning of an informative, inspiring and interesting conference that I feel very fortunate to have attended. The African music was particularly meaningful to me since I took a wonderful safari to Kenya and Tanzania last October.
The next session I attended was about International Rotary Grants. Club 29 has been the proud partner and recipient of numerous grants thanks to the hard work of Steve Shepelwich and the World Community Service Committee. We just contributed to a water distribution project at Mara Telek, Kenya and are working on grants in Rwanda and Tanzania. I learned that writing these grants and getting them awarded are not easy. Kudos to our committee.
But my biggest take away from Long Beach was the opportunity for our club to join with other large clubs to eliminate malaria. Malaria is prevalent in Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania – one of the places I visited on my African safari. Of course, this peaked my interest. If you recall on February 5 at our regular lunch meeting, we heard Nancy Osbourne and Bill Hammond from Seattle-based Rotarian Malaria Partners talk about the efforts they are leading to eradicate malaria. At the Large Club Conference, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that they would match up to $500,000 for this project. The Phase I Global Grant has been submitted to RI for this purpose. It outlines a process to eliminate malaria throughout Zambia’s Copperbelt Province that calls for the training and equipping of approximately 1,000 community health workers, protecting a population of over 500,000. These workers will detect and treat malaria cases and ultimately transform communities. Future phases will broaden the impact by expanding to Uganda and Tanzania.
Each large club was asked to pledge $10,000 to be part of the partnership. If you want to know more about this project, review the video on our website from our February 5, 2019, meeting or visit www.rmp.com. This is being described as “the next polio campaign”.
In closing, I must also admit that I had a good time networking with the other large club presidents-elect and executive directors, especially our friends from Tulsa