Foundation helps Rotary do ‘good in the world’

Presentation at Weyburn Rotary Club

Gifts and donations to the Rotary Foundation help the service organization to do “good in the world”, Weyburn Rotary members heard at their luncheon on Thursday.

Rotary member Bruce Kwochka gave a presentation about what aid projects the Foundation helps to provide funding for, with six main areas of focus.

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They include promoting peace and conflict resolution, fighting disease, providing clean water, promoting good health and education, and helping to build local economies and promoting job skills.

“Our mission is to promote world understanding and peace, we fund programs in developing countries, and help out in times of natural disasters, such as with the Shelterbox program,” said Kwochka, who noted that each of the six areas of focus tie together, with programs such as health and education overlapping into other areas.

A gift of $100 US will help provide school supplies, water test kits and hygiene training. A gift of $1,000 US will help provide treatment for HIV, and mobility for the disabled, as just some examples of how donations can help.

In regard to peace and conflict resolution, Rotary International has six peace centres around the world where people are trained in conflict resolution and mediation techniques, whether it’s political or social conflict.

In the area of fighting diseases, Rotary has been involved heavily with the goal of polio eradication, along with Bill Gates’ Foundation, and are getting very close to reaching that goal. Rotary also helps provide vaccinations, HIV treatment and staff on the ground to help give out vaccinations.

Rotary also helps provide funds to dig new water wells, and provides help with water and sewage treatment.

“Even with our struggles with city water sometimes, you take it for granted until there’s a major problem,” said Kwochka.

In regard to health, ensuring mothers in Third World countries have good health is important as they seek to reduce infant mortality rates, and to help women who are in a bad situation and need assistance.

Promoting education is an important goal as there are programs to provide lunch programs at schools, and building schools in developing countries through programs like Ripple.

“It’s amazing what that little bit of money and support can do,” said Kwochka.

In helping local economies in developing countries, they try to help entrepreneurs to build a market for their products, or to help provide something they can manufacture and sell.

Kwochka said every Rotarian, or even members of the public who might like to donate to the foundation, can donate at least $100 US a year, or more if they are able to. Of the donations given, 92 per cent goes directly to the programs, with two per cent paying for administration, and six per cent for fundraising costs.

Some of the money used for administration comes from the interest of monies which in a fund, so that each year most of the money donated goes to its designated purpose. This percentage is much higher than for most charities, said Kwochka.

Donations can be given monthly, quarterly or annually, which helps make giving to the foundation more accessible to people.

The funds for Polio Plus is separate from other funds for the foundation, and is only used for the purpose of eradicating polio.

The foundation has a permanent fund of $630 million in assets, with interest generated between $10 to $15 million a year.

The annual fund has donations of $95-105 million each year on average. There is a an endowment fund for the Rotary Foundation, in which the principle is never touched but the interest generated goes to help out programs.

The Weyburn club gets education grants from the foundation each year of around $2,000, which helps send students to RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Assembly), fund scholarships at the Comp and buy “books for babies” through the Weyburn Public Library.