District News

Peace Fellow Down Under

The Rotary Peace Fellows at the University of Queensland held our annual seminar last weekend at the State Library and Events Centre in Brisbane, Australia. The event was a grander affair this year, as it coincided with the 100th anniversary of The Rotary Foundation, and was offered as part of a series of centennial events. The venue was gorgeous, and we incorporated a cocktail/social hour after the event to allow further networking and interactions between fellows and Rotarians.

I am so grateful for everything this fellowship has offered me, not the least of which is the opportunity to meet the other fellows in my cohort. We are a diverse group of 11, representing a combined eight countries, fifteen ethnicities (some combined), and countless personal and professional experiences. Seminar presentations ranged from emphasizing the importance of education in preventing political extremism in youth to post-disaster management, from human trafficking to maternal health, and the global refugee and asylum-seeker crises to reconciliation between incarcerated people and the communities they injured in the Solomon Islands. I am humbled by the accomplishments of these amazing people and so proud to count myself as a friend and colleague.

My presentation was around the power of storytelling and narrative to transform conflict. As someone who has now worked on peacebuilding and conflict resolution in seven countries, the thread between them all had been the ways in which transmission of true stories, from the people directly impacted, humanizes conflict and promotes change at every level from individual attitudes to political policies. I have found that Rotarians are able to connect deeply with this approach, and am honored to have been invited to speak at a large number of clubs across Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Currently, I am working with the Peace and Conflict Studies Institute of Australia (PaCSIA)  on several projects. The first is locally, training staff at a youth shelter in mediation techniques as well as coaching the homeless and at-risk youth there, many of whom identify as Aboriginal, to prepare them to engage in mediation and self-advocacy as they move through court and foster care systems. The second is as part of a long-term and large-scale peacebuilding and reconciliation effort in the Pacific Island of Bougainville, which is currently an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. Concurrently, I am writing up a PhD proposal for a project that will have me working in Bougainville periodically through the year 2021 on a video-based dialogue project between communities that face logistical and relational barriers to communication. This design supports reconciliation as part of efforts to prevent the re-eruption of old tensions and potential reemergence of war in the region.

And, as though I do not have enough to do, I have accepted a position with a local service agency in their housing unit. I am working with several families that live in our crisis housing, as they transition from homelessness into longer-term housing. As homelessness and housing insecurity is part of my own backstory, I find this work deeply rewarding. The families I work with all come with their own strengths and my job is to help them build on those to establish a strong foundation from which to move into more stable and sustainable situations. And, I am happy to announce that my connection with this agency came through my Rotary host counsellor, Merv Richens. Merv was the first person we met in Australia (literally- he picked us up at the airport) and has become like family here. I cannot stress enough the importance of host counsellors for Peace Fellows and again, as always, urge all Rotarians in Peace Center areas to consider giving it a go. I also extend gratitude from all Peace Fellows for those of you who already have.

Much love and gratitude to all of you, and my next dispatch will be at or around graduation time!

Greetings from Edinburgh

I hope you all are well! My apologies for the delay in this update– I was preoccupied with final essays and my research proposal the last couple weeks. I’m very happy to say that I have officially handed in the last of my master’s coursework! Dissertation, here I come…

This last month has flown by, and I haven’t been doing much aside from studying and writing. My coursework was particularly demanding this semester, but I thoroughly enjoyed my classes; they were a perfect mix of theory and practice, and I learned a lot. To celebrate the end of term, I went to a masquerade ball hosted by the postgraduate law students at a very swanky hotel in Edinburgh’s New Town. Venetian masque balls are surprisingly popular in Scotland. (Some handy British lingo: “fancy dress” = costume, NOT formal wear).

Last month I also officially accepted a placement with Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Glasgow! I will be interning for the organization and conducting my dissertation research there. CPAG works on behalf of low-income families and children; my work will focus on the impact of social security policy on poor families in Scotland. If you’re interested in learning more about CPAG, here’s a link to their homepage: http://www.cpag.org.uk/scotland

There were no Rotary events in March, and so far the other scholars and I don’t have anything lined up this month either. There will likely be a few more gatherings and presentations this summer, however. I’ve had such wonderful experiences with the clubs in and around Edinburgh, and am looking forward to meeting more members in the near future.

Another notable Edinburgh attraction to add to the list: the Royal Yacht Britannia. She served Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip from 1953-1997, and is now moored at Ocean Terminal, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The yacht is absolutely beautiful– very well maintained and a fascinating piece of history. I highly recommend the audio tour!

I hope you all are enjoying the warm, spring weather and GO HEELS!!


Launch Raleigh

The first class from Launch RALEIGH graduated on March 28, 2017.

They have now each been assigned a business mentor and will be applying for microloans up to $2500 next month to build their business.

Zimbabwe Eye Project

Over the last two years, Keith Holshausen of the Morrisville Club has been planning a project to provide eye care to the people of Zimbabwe. This project in coordination with the Rotary Clubs of Bulawayo South and Victoria Falls received a Global Gant from The Rotary Foundation.


The two week project took two and a half years to plan and implement. An eight member team was involved including HCP ophthalmologists Dr. Huck Holz and Dr. Eric Hansen.

Project Achievements

  1. Supplied Vitamin A for 28,500 children in Mat North to combat Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) which causes childhood blindness. Provided a one year supply for all children under the age of five.
  2. 300 cataract surgical packs with lenses imported. Two surgeons completed 68 cataract surgeries at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo and 40 surgeries in Victoria Falls Hospital in just two days. TOTAL 108 cataract surgeries completed.
  3. Five outlying clinics visited in Mat North with approx 551 patients, followed by two day clinics at VFH for approx 280 patients. TOTAL 831 patients seen and glasses dispensed (285 prescription glasses + 369 readers).
  4. Training sessions hosted in two Bulawayo hospitals for Zimbabwe medical personnel. Zimbabwe ophthalmologist Dr Gilbert Moyo also trained alongside the HCP surgeons during the cataract surgeries.
  5. Glasses (4,000 pairs) and cataract surgical packs and lenses (200) stored in Victoria Falls ready for a return visit.

Special thanks to our many supporters including Rotary Clubs and members, Gorges Lodge, Hwange Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Wild Horizons, Victoria Falls Hotel, Mater Dei Hospital, Ministry of Health, Wild4Life, Children in the Wilderness, BonisAir Helicopters, Elephant Camp, Environment Africa and the numerous other wonderful people who all contributed in amazing ways.

Daily reports and videos/pictures were posted to www.facebook.com/lazylizardtravel

WASH in Schools ( WinS )

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools, know as WinS is a priority for Rotary International.

Your club can get involved in a WinS Adopt-A-School program in Nigeria. Every $1 provides $4 towards the project. Clubs can donate $500 to $1,000 to get started is matched.

Happy Feet for Kids Inspires Acts of Generosity

Thanks to many dedicated and generous members, Rotary Club of Raleigh is proud to announce that we will be purchasing approximately 100 pairs of shoes as part of the 2017 District Conference Happy Feet for Kids community service project. District Governor Rusine Sinclair, also a member of the Rotary Club of Raleigh, announced her goal to pave the way to the Atlanta Rotary International Convention by purchasing at least 500 pairs of shoes to be donated to the Children’s Home Society https://www.chsnc.org/, making sure that children in need of new shoes for the summer have them.

We are grateful to nearly 40 members in our club who donated $50 or more to purchase a large portion of these shoes.

Two specific acts of generosity are worthy of specific recognition, and these gifts come from people outside of our Club membership. Jannah Said, an 8th grader at Martin Middle School, won the first prize in our Club’s Four-Way Test essay contest. She not only won the contest, but she also won the hearts of our members when she wrote this email to Club member Eric Stevens, who coordinated the contest for our Club:

“I was the 1st place winner of the Rotary Club Essay Contest from Martin Middle School (yesterday). I was awarded $300. First of all, I would like to thank you and the Rotary Club for this amazing opportunity. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciate it. Secondly, upon discussion with my family, I’ve decided that, with the money I won, I will keep $100 to spend for myself, put $100 in my college bank account, and give the last $100 back to the community through a charity of my choice. Since the Rotary Club helped me to have my voice heard and my writings read by a real audience, not to mention winning a few hundred dollars, I have decided to give back through it. Yesterday, during the meeting, I heard a project mentioned called “Happy Feet for Kids.”  I was inspired by this idea and was wondering if you could direct me on how to send the Rotary Club of Raleigh a check for $100 to purchase 2 pairs of sneakers.”

To hear Jannah Said’s speech click on the Four-Way Test.

Second, Mark Hackett, who is a member of our Club and also the coordinator of the Happy Feet for Kids project at the District level, let his church know about this important project. As a result, members of the Baptist Grove Church (7109 Leesville Rd., Raleigh, NC 27613) under the leadership of Pastor Bankole Akinbinu, took up a collection of $2,100 to be donated to the Happy Feet for Kids Project, allowing our Club to purchase close to 50 additional pairs of shoes.

In service to those in need, Rotary Club of Raleigh is delighted to partner with other Rotary clubs in our district and play a small but important role in the lives of the children being cared for by the Children’s Home Society.

CART Movie now “Club-Sized”

Compelling. Inspiring. Tender. SHORTER. These are the most frequent comments CART gets about the made-for-TV-movie Remembering No More, A Story of Change  featuring The CART Fund.

Apparently Rotary clubs are having so much fun at their weekly meetings that they are looking for shorter programs than in the past.

The CART Fund is pleased to announce that a brand-new, shorter (15 minute) version of Remembering No More is now available on YouTube.

It’s a more concentrated serving of how CART is serving humanity with the cutting edge Alzheimer’s research funded each year.

Show it at your Rotary club meeting soon. And since CART’s FAQs answer so many questions, they are a great compliment to the movie.

Psst. Pass the popcorn.

District 7710 Makes a Big Difference in the Dominican Republic

Rotarians from across District 7710 renewed our international friendships with our gracious amigos from the Santiago Monumental Rotary Club, Dominican Republic. During the week of February 4–11, 33 volunteers from North Carolina traveled to the Dominican Republic to build 53 latrines, repair three houses, build a community playground and much, much more!

This fifth year’s trip was initiated by Past District Governor Rick Carnagua, who created this ongoing relationship with his counterpart, District Governor Alexandra Martinez from Santiago while attending District Governor School in San Diego. The Central Johnston, Clayton, Cary, Cary MacGregor and Cary Page Clubs provided the initial funds for the District Grant. Almost every club in the district added in to the Community Fund to make this endeavor a smashing success.

PDG Rick has had additional District 7710 support from other 7710 District Governor’s experiencing the trip first-hand, Leigh Hudson, Matthew Kane, Newman Aguilar, Rusine Sinclair and Barry Phillips are all Dominican Republic veterans. Even District Governor Elect Shafi was set to go this year until he encountered his Pickle Ball predicament. Rick brought in Martin Tetreault to handle the planning of the project agenda with his counterpart, David Crow. Linda Sproat jumped on board to coordinate all of the volunteer travel plans, special requests & communication information and rooming details. Once our team arrived, George Harry, Ron Blackley and Rex Everhart herded the on-the-ground volunteer activities and work with our gracious hosts, the Santiago Monumental Rotary Club Team.

The efforts of the Santiago Monumental Rotarians before, during and after our week in Santiago were, as their name depicts, “Monumental”! Arranging for a week’s worth of food, transportation, lodging, and entertainment for 33 North Carolina 7710 Rotarians would be hard enough. Then came the challenges of building latrines, repairing dilapidated homes and creating a community playground.

The Dominican Rotarians leading their efforts were David Crow – Master Planner; Cesar Lopez – Club President and Los Cocos Community Coordinator; Rafael Lopez – Playground, Maximo Dominguez – Latrine Construction, Diana Abreu and Rosalina Dominguez – Entertainment and Community / Family Supplies; Ricardo Jimenez – Financial Controller. Even the Rotaract and Interact clubs brought high energy exciting the local youth with songs and games during the playground ceremonies.

The latrines were a combined effort of the actual families digging the holes, Maximo & Aneury & crew pouring the slabs and stools, transporting them over the holes and laying a layer of concrete blocks as the base for the walls. The NC Team cut the wood siding and frame lumber. Then assembled the pieces in place, adding a zinc roof and a door with a Rotary Wheel painted on it. The Santiago Monumental Rotarians coordinated with the local Rotary Corp in Los Cocos to locate latrine sites for the (53) selected families needing latrines to improve sanitary conditions. Ron Blackley lead our latrine team finishing on Thursday allowing a little time for celebrating with the families with supplies of mosquito bed nets, sheets, soap, paper products, sandals, clothing and an assortment of toys supplied by District 7710 Rotarians and the Community Funds donated by our clubs and individuals.

The house repairs were completed on 3 of the 5 selected houses. Material was bought and left for the local families to complete the other houses. Re-siding, re-roofing, building roof supports gave the houses new life. Josh Davis and Mike McLean headed up our housing crew with several others joining them.

The playground project brought a sense of community and enjoyment. Martin Tetreault coordinated the layout and installation with Rafael Lopez and Dinora Borrelly, architect. David Crow and Cesar Lopez negotiated a win-win with the Los Cocos – Jacagua Mayor William. Rex Everhart designed and built the wooden climber, truck, tire trees, and benches. The grandmothers were all smiles when they found out they could sit, talk and watch the children play. Seesaws, swings, jogging path and a tire picnic table filled the park with painted tire dividers brightening the layout. The centerpiece was the Dragon made out of painted tires. The Opening Ceremony can only be described as pure joy!

There was a dedication of the Otra Banda Medical Clinic that our 7710 provided assistance to CISAMA, the Church, the DR Government and Synergies to build. DG Leigh led 5 of our team to participate in their celebration. The medical clinic provides a clean medical building for medical and dental exams and treatments.

The week was not all work. Our group was taken up into the mountain village of Jarabcoa where a resort provided us a Sunday buffet, a mountain river and pools to swim, and magnificent trails and hanging bridges to wander. The annual Carnival Celebration was over the top with a parade, music and entertainment from various groups all over Santiago. Diana Abreu arranged a VIP viewing stand that put us almost in the parade itself. Every evening meal was special as we experienced The Santiago Monumental meeting including a visit from their DG Morris Tallaj and Monumental’s own DGE Roberto Almonte greeting our PDG Leigh. A country cooking demonstration was brought to the Fab Workshop by Yanet Dominguez and Lydia Sanchez including fire pit brewed coffee and yummy coconut / cocoa desserts. The Finale Celebration Friday night was highlighted with our awarding Maximo Dominguez with a Paul Harris Fellow along with a “PDG Barry Phillips” framed watercolor of the first latrine built in 2013. Yes there was a trip to the Porto Plata Beach, the Lopez Cigar Factory, the Leon Museum and a power-shopping lunch in downtown Santiago.

There is only one-way to truly understand the heart-filling experience that we were privileged to have. Just start making plans to join us for the next Dominican Republic 2018 Adventure.