PDG John Wan – GML – March 2001

District Governor 2000-2001

Rotaractors celebrated World Rotaract Week; Ask a friend to join Rotary now; Don’t miss the next District Conference

My Dear Action Presidents, Club Secretaries and Rotary Leaders,

World Rotaract Week is the week in which 13 March falls. This year, our Rotaractors celebrated the week by launching a campaign to create awareness in the community that spina bifida in children can be a largely preventable and hence avoidable condition. Spina bifida is a congenital abnormality affecting the spinal cord and spinal column. During the early life of the embryo the outer layer of cells running down the back of the body curls over to form the neural groove and this closes right over to become a tube lying just below the surface skin. The tube then develops into the spinal cord and spinal column. In spina bifida the primitive neural groove fails to close and the vertebral canal becomes deficient at the back causing anatomical and functional abnormalities of varying degree. The condition could be life threatening at worst and causes severe clinical management problems as well as social, educational and emotional adjustment problems at least. Research has now indicated that 80% of the condition in the newborn can be avoided if the mother takes sufficient folic acid three to four weeks before pregnancy. Folic acid is available in all vegetables and fruits.
Our Rotaractors created awareness for spina bifida by preparing information cards and distributing them to passers-by in busy streets. They also motivated the over 100 graduating Rotary Youth Leadership Award campers to be volunteers. Speaking of RYLA, this is the first year the District RYLA Committee had Rotaractors as full members. They participated fully and actively in the planning, organizing and running of the RYLA Camp. At the Closing Ceremony, participants demonstrated their enthusiasm and newly gained Rylarian spirit. It was a highly successful operation and I am positive that both Rotarians and Rotaractors have learnt useful lessons in the process. Hopefully, we have planted Rotary seeds in these youths’ mind that would last them for a life time, regardless of whether or not they would become Rotaractors or Rotarians one day.
By the time you read this, there would be less than 100 days left in this Rotary Year. I thank you to ask yourself what you have done to create awareness for membership growth and what action you have taken. Remember that long before our year began, President Frank Devlyn challenged each club to increase its net membership by five Rotarians. In response, I set ambitious goals to achieve a quantum increase in membership. I was glad that PDG Moses Cheng agreed to be the District Membership Development Task Force Coordinator. Moses and I have since been urging each club to take up President Frank’s challenge. Indeed, Moses further designed the “Challenge 2001” scheme with the object of bringing the District membership to 2001, or an all time high, by 30 June 2001.
So far, only a handful of clubs have met President Frank’s five-a-club challenge, and we are still a long way to the membership goal set by PDG Moses. For the past eight months, our membership strength has been hovering around the 1,700 mark. We recorded 1,702 members at the end of February. During this period, we actually brought in some 160 new members, but we also lost 130. At this rate, it would seem that we would never make our goal.
But this cannot be the attitude or mindset of Action Presidents and Action Team Members. We have all been encouraged from the outset to emulate the spirit of Don Quixote – to dream the impossible dream and to reach the unreachable star. More than that, we have been reminded that we are to be Don Quixotes with a mission and a goal. This month, President Frank Devlyn asked, “Have you asked someone today to join Rotary?” President Frank went on to say that now is the time to ask, to ask someone to join Rotary today. If every member in District 3450 does that between now and end of June, we would over-achieve our target of 2001 before 30 June; and even if only a fifth of the membership succeeds in bringing in a member each, we could achieve our District membership goal comfortably.
Take action now. Talk to a friend. Talk to your friends about Rotary. Tell them not just the wonderful fellowship and the great time that they can expect from you and your club. Tell them that Rotary is about service. Tell them the great deeds that many quiet men and women have been doing for their less fortunate fellowmen. If they are still interested in joining us, you can be sure that they will be joining Rotary rather than a Rotary club.
Before I sign off, I would like to appeal to you again to register for the District Conference. We have good and solid programmes lined up. For speakers, we have from the Government, the Secretary for Home Affairs Mr W K Lam, from the academia, Professor Michael Enright, author of The Hong Kong Advantage, from the Mainland, a committee member of All China Youth Federation, and from the media, Bonnie Chiu from TVB. And I have yet to mention RI President’s Personal Representative Director-elect Toshio Itabashi and the many experienced and learned Rotarians from the District all of whom are worth their weight in gold.
Still on the programme, we are going to have, for the first time in a District Conference, a face-to-face encounter with the RI President himself through a satellite link-up. RI President Frank will be speaking to us live from Manila at the Asia-Pacific Presidential Conference. The theme of his conference will be “Youth and Service Opportunities” which is along the vein of ours, “Back to the Future.”
On entertainment and fellowship, Past President Haywood Cheung has promised a Governor’s Banquet with a difference and in style. There will be no long speeches, no endless presentation of awards and definitely no dull moments. For a preview, watch the recent broadcast of the Oscar Awards Presentation.
Talk to you soon.
Your Governor John Wan


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