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A fun, meaningful difference

This Sunday the third annual Rotary National Day will start with a walk at 8:30 from Black Lion Hospital (near Tekelehaymanot). Then at 10:00 am there will be a day of fundraising and fun at Saint Joseph’s School. There will be games, networking and a raffle for items including international air fare. With 9 Rotary clubs in Ethiopia and 14 Rotaract (youth oriented) service organizations there is sure to be quite a crowd.
Formed when attorney Paul Harris got together with three of his business associates in downtown Chicago, Rotary, which got its name because members rotated their weekly club meetings to each other’s offices is now widely known for contributing to wiping out Polio.
The group did this by promoting and distributing the RI Polio-Plus vaccine. Since the project began in the 1980’s, Rotarians have contributed over USD 850 million and hundreds of thousands of volunteer-hours, leading to the inoculation of more than two billion of the world›s children. Inspired by Rotary›s commitment, The World Health Organization passed a resolution in 1988 to eradicate polio by 2000. Now a partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Rotary is recognized by the United Nations as the key private partner in the eradication effort. In Ethiopia, fighting polio happens every year as part of Rotary Ethiopia’s primary nationwide project, the Annual Polio Eradication Initiative.
Rotary came here during the reign of Emperor Haileselassie when the Rotary Club of Addis Ababa was chartered by Royal decree. The year of its inception was 1955, making it the second oldest Rotary club in East Africa, after the Rotary Club of Nairobi. The first Rotary in Ethiopia had 120 people from at least twelve different nationalities and met at the Polo Club Restaurant in Janmeda. After a few years, it moved to Ghion Hotel. By 1975, it established its regular meeting place at the Addis Ababa Hilton. As the Emperor was the Patron of the club, each Rotary meeting began with a toast to “His Imperial Majesty.”
Membership dwindled during the Derg because it was seen as too “American” but it has thrived ever since the Rotary Club of Addis Ababa West was formed in 1991. The Rotary Club of Addis Ababa Bole was formed in September 1992.  The first Rotary Club in the world whose working language is Amharic, one of the official languages of Ethiopia, is the Rotary Club of Addis Ababa East, was set up in 1999.  
Rotary International in Ethiopia currently comprises of over 200 business, professional leaders, and governmental officials.
Rotarians come together to provide free service enthusiastically to people from diverse social, economical and cultural backgrounds, as they share their experiences, form good friendships based on mutual understanding and respect, while helping their communities and networking at the same time.
In Ethiopia Rotarians have served those in need for over sixty years and invested millions into their communities as well.  
One of the areas is the polio eradication initiative a global program which has been primarily undertaken by Rotary in partnership with worldwide organizations making significant inroads into freeing the country from polio. This has been supported greatly by the Ministry of Health. Today, this effort is amplified as since August 2013 the total number of WPV (Wild Polio Virus) cases reported in Ethiopia has reached 10.   
Members of the 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries form a global network of business, professional and community leaders who volunteer their time and talents to serve their communities and the world. Their motto, “Service above self; exemplifies the humanitarian spirit of the organization’s more than 1.2 million strong network. Fellowship among Rotarians and meaningful community and international service projects characterize Rotary worldwide;  they have fun while they use their resources, projects, communities;  and commitments working for  a better world, in peace, without hunger, without avoidable diseases, literate, with clean water and sanitation.
Their goal is supported financially by the Rotary Foundation a supporting branch of Rotary International. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions. The mission of TRF is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty. It spends USD 15 million a year to promote international understanding and peace through educational and humanitarian programs.
As part of its international program for mentoring the young, Rotary International formed one of the largest and primary youth service organizations in the world called Rotaract. This means “Rotary in Action” and it helps younger people catch the spirit of volunteering and making a difference in the lives of people in their community. It took a little time but Rotaract clubs are all over Addis and now they have expanded to the Rotaract Club of Blue Nile in Bahir Dar University, Rotaract Club of Keradion in Jimma University –Medical Faculty and the recent Rotaract club of Temsalet in Adama 2012.
Currently there are 14 active Rotaract clubs comprising over 600 active volunteers of different professional backgrounds. These clubs are chartered either as university based or community based meaning they are either made up of students or young professionals. Since 1992 over 5,000 youths have passed through the doors of Rotaract, engaging in fellowship through service in Ethiopia.
They have a Facebook. Look up the Rotaract Clubs in Ethiopia page.
To join a specific Rotary club or Rotaract club near you and for more information please visit www.rotary.org or www.rotaryethiopia.org