By MELITO SALAZAR, JR.
November is the month when the ten Rotary districts in the Philippines honor the generous donors to The Rotary Foundation (TRF). Without them, Rotary International and the Rotary Clubs all over the world would not have their resources augmented to be able to “Do Good in the World.” These Rotarians have given not only treasure but also time and talents to pursue the six areas of focus of TRF — maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, economic and community developmemt, peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, and water and sanitation.
A singular program of RI and TRF started in the Philippines with the vaccination of children in the Philippines in 1979 when Past RI Director Paeng Hechanova was district governor and with PRID Benny Santos very much involved. Since then, more than 2.5 billion children have been immunized against polio in 122 countries, reducing polio cases by 99.9 percent worldwide. It has become a global movement in partnership with the World Health Organization and with funding support from many governments and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In the Philippines when I was chairman of the National Polio Plus Fundraising Campaign, my UP classmate Robert Kuan helped get a $250,000 donation from the Angelo King Foundation. Subsequently many individuals followed, increasing significantly as many realized how the country has gained from TRF support.
Having been a TRF technical cadre, I have seen how TRF funding and Rotary clubs’ mobilization have improved the lives of many. In the Philippines, the Concentrated Language Encounter (CLE) addresses the full range of literacy and mathematical challenges for primary, vocational, and adult learners as well as teacher training. In Bangladesh I talked with women who said that Rotary deep wells saved them from walking kilometers daily to get stream water, giving them more time with their children. In Sri Lanka, fishing boats from Rotary and TRF facilitated the early recovery of local fishermen from the onslaught of the tsunami caused by the earthquake in Indonesia while orphanages sheltered the orphans and provided education. The happy faces of the beneficiaries inspire many Rotary volunteers to do more.
The annual gift giving also illustrates the selfless Rotary leadership of the ten district governors and their teams because the funds raised this year will go back to the district three years hence. This is one of the sterling qualities of Rotarians – they set the foundation for those who come after them to be better than them. This is the reason for the Rotary mantra – The Best Is Yet To Be.
The sterling reputation of The Rotary Foundation accounts for the continuing contributions. Charity Navigator is the USA’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities, having developed an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess over 9,000 of America’s best-known and some lesser known but worthy charities. Specifically, Charity Navigator’s rating system examines two broad areas of a charity’s performance – its Financial health and its Accountability and transparency. Beginning 2007, up to the present 2018, TRF has attained a four-star rating with overall scores ranging from 90.34 to 100.00. In a letter to TRF, Charity Navigator noted, “Only 1 percent of the charities we evaluate have received at least 10 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that TRF outperforms other charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets The Rotary Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.”
As Rotarians sustain their giftgiving, the reach of TRF would be greatly enhanced if others, especially non-Rotarians do their share. They will discover as Rotarians have that “Real Happinees Is Helping Others.”