We have a great track record of supporting projects to help local communities in the developing world. Closer to home, exchange visits with our partner club in Germany give us a valuable insight into the lives of people in another country.
Rotary is a truly international organisation with clubs in around 160 countries. Many of our members have visited clubs in other countries and have found that their members are just like us – pleased to offer service, together with friendship and fun. Thus we can work with clubs in less-developed parts of the world to help disadvantaged people to progress.
Currently we are supporting an orphanage and school in earthquake hit Haiti. We pay the salary of a teacher, fund supplies for medical team visits and collect clothing and school supplies, even used laptops, for the children.
The Rotary Foundation is our own worldwide charity. We donate to it each year and the money accumulated is used to provide grants for major projects organised by clubs. In 2009 our Club joined with the Rotary Clubs of Karstadt Arnstein in Germany and Charumati, Kathmandu to mount a £15,000 project. This comprised a bio-gas generator, solar panels, toilets and showers for the school in a remote village Nepal. Now we, and the Karlstadt Arnstein Club are working to undertake a major project in Haiti to help the orphanage and school we support.
A recent innovation is our support for micro-finance to help small businesses in poor countries, particularly in South America, Africa and Asia. Through an internationally recognised organisation we lend modest amounts of capital which are repaid over a period of time so that we can lend the money out again. This is proving very rewarding in that it helps people to help themselves.
Finally for fun, we have exchange visits with our German partner club which is based in Karlstadt, about 100km east of Frankfurt. It is on the river Main, near Wurtzberg and in the centre of the Franken wine region. As you can imagine a good time is had by all. In between years we host them here. This year, Karlstadt Rotarians are visiting the UK in October starting with a visit to Oxford and we are hosting them in West Sussex.