By Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary International News
If Rotary is to stay relevant in the 21st century, it must work to improve access to clean water, combat hunger, and expand literacy.
RI President-elect John Kenny set that challenge in front of incoming district governors on Monday, as he rolled out his 2009-10 presidential emphases, noting that The Future of Rotary Is in Your Hands.
Kenny stressed that while clubs are the backbone of Rotary, emphases help coordinate the many individual efforts, encouraging clubs to direct their work in the areas where the organization has seen the greatest need and where there has been the greatest benefit.
“We also strive for continuity of service, so that we many continue to go from strength to strength,” Kenny said. “In [2009-10], I will ask Rotarians everywhere to continue to learn from our experiences and to build upon our successes. I ask you all to continue to work for the health and well-being of not only children but their families and people everywhere.”
Access to clean waterKenny set water as his first emphasis because “it is the necessity of every man, woman, and child. We could, I suppose, all live without oil, but we can none of us live without water.”
Kenny, who has worked consistently on water projects for the past two decades, emphasized that water projects must also encompass sanitation, “because without adequate sanitation, our good work is easily undone.”
Health and hunger Kenny described health and hunger as the tent within which much of Rotary’s service dwells. Rotarians who work in the area of health and hunger are also working toward peace.
“How can there be peace in the world when so many will try to sleep tonight without having eaten today?” Kenny asked incoming governors, assembled for the annual International Assembly in San Diego, California, USA.
LiteracyLiteracy rounds out Kenny’s emphases. "In the words of Nelson Mandela, 'no country can succeed if its future leaders are not educated,' " he said.
“Whether Rotary will thrive or falter, whether our service will mean much to many or little to few, whether Rotary is known with respect or seen as a relic of days gone by -- all this is up to you,” Kenny said. “The Future of Rotary Is in Your Hands.”
Timothy Buckley, governor-elect from District 5870 (Texas, USA), said the emphases give the new class of district governors a good direction to follow. “We need to strengthen Rotary in order to help others,” he said.