Members will bring home indelible memories and new insights on how to improve lives and bring positive, lasting change to communities around the world.
In his keynote address, Rotary International President Barry Rassin said, “Service to others is an integral part of our mission, whether it’s through the plans and actions of individual clubs, Rotary’s six areas of focus, or the transformational support of The Rotary Foundation. And the service that most defines us and our global mission is the ongoing goal to rid the world of polio.”
Alongside partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Rotary has achieved a 99.9 percent reduction in polio cases since spearheading the initiative more than 30 years ago. Since then, Rotary members have contributed $1.9 billion and countless volunteer hours to protect more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries from polio.
Today, just two countries continue to report cases of wild poliovirus, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Rotary is committed to raising $50 million per year, with every dollar to be matched with two additional dollars through a matching agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Including the matching funds, Rotary is committing another US$102 million this year to fund polio eradication efforts in 13 countries.
Michel Zaffran, director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization (WHO) presented on the progress and global significance of the initiative. “We’re truly on the cusp of eradicating a disease for only the second time in human history,” said Zaffran. “Our responsibility is nothing less than to ensure that no child anywhere will ever again be paralyzed by the poliovirus.”
German Rotary members have contributed more than US$31 million to end polio, and on 1 July 2020, Holger Knaack, owner of the real estate company Knaack KG, will oversee this effort as the first German to serve as Rotary International president.
Knaack of Ratzeburg said, “I’m honored to have the confidence and support of Rotary’s 1.2 million members,” said Knaack. “As president, I plan to highlight the best Rotary has to offer where people of all backgrounds can see themselves reflected in our service and impact.”
During the four-day event, attendees heard from an array of world class speakers, including:
— Dr. Peter Tschentscher, First Mayor of Hamburg
— Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic
Cooperation and Development
— On the closing day, Eckart Diepenhorst, CEO of mytaxi
presented a check for €70,000, representing 100 percent
of the proceeds from all rides to and from the Hamburg
Messe from 31 May through 5 June to support the
following German Rotary club projects:
— A bee pasture project developed by the Rotary Club of
Ahrensburg to help the dwindling bee and butterfly
— Emotions Training for Autism, developed by Rotaract
Germany, to support those with autism spectrum
disorder thrive; and
— HANWASH, a collaborative initiative by local Rotary
members, The Rotary Foundation and DINEPA to bring
clean water to Haiti.
About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 35,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas.
Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. Germany’s 56,000 members and 1,100 clubs are taking action to make the world a better place at home and abroad.