Rotary Ethiopia: 60 years of selfless service

Rotary Ethiopia celebrated its 60th anniversary at the Hilton Hotel on Saturday June 27, 2015. The celebration was attended by Foreign Minister and Honorary Rotarian Tedros Adhanom, Bimal Kantaria governor of the Rotary’s East African District 9212, and District Governor-Elect Teshome Kebede, among other prominent guests.
Rotary Ethiopia was formed during the reign of Emperor Haileselassie, making it the second oldest Rotary club in the district. The Rotary had 120 members drawn from at least twelve different regional towns and met at the Polo Club Restaurant in Jan Meda. After a few years, the meeting place was moved to Ghion Hotel. By 1975, the club established the Addis Ababa Hilton as its regular meeting place. As the Emperor was an honorary patron of the club, each Rotary meeting began with a toast to “His Imperial Majesty.”
Although membership started declining during the Derg regime, it picked up again in 1992, after the Rotary Club of Addis Ababa West was formed. Rotary International in Ethiopia currently assembles over 200 business, professional leaders, and governmental officials.
“In the past 60 years, we have done a lot and we want to pay tribute to the pioneers. Nevertheless, looking back as a nation of over 90 million people, we have not done enough in terms of membership compared to our neighbors. Private business is flourishing in our country. Professional institutions are also mushrooming. Rotary provides a great forum for fellowship and mutual help,” said Terrefe Ras-Work, President of Rotary Club of Addis Ababa. “As we go forward, we must resolve to expand membership and the number of clubs in order to cover the whole country and serve our entire community,” he also noted.
Among its successful programs, Rotary International is widely known for its contribution in the campaign to eradicate polio in Ethiopia through its PolioPlus program, which promoted and distributed the polio vaccine.
Since the project began in the 1980s, Rotarians have contributed over USD 850 million and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours, enabling the inoculation of more than two billion children around the world. Inspired by Rotary’s commitment, the World Health Organization passed a resolution in 1988 to eradicate polio totally by the year 2,000.
Now a partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary is recognized by the United Nations as a key private partner in the polio eradication effort. In Ethiopia, the Annual Polio Eradication Initiative, a campaign to fight polio, takes place every year as part of Rotary Ethiopia’s primary nationwide project.
Rotary Ethiopia participates in the global initiative to eradicate polio through Rotary International as well as other international organizations. Routine vaccinations are carried out every year during the National Immunization Day. The Ethiopian Ministry of Health remains a strong supporter of the initiative.