Rotary Foundation's Goals for 2007-08
Foundation Trustee Chair-elect
This is indeed an inspiring sight to look out and see the cream of
Rotary's leadership. It is an honor to appear before you, the dedicated
men and women who have accepted the challenges of leading each of
Rotary's districts in the coming year.
It was so long ago that I was in your seat trying to learn to become a
good and efficient governor. Now, 44 years later, I am privileged to
stand side by side with you, ready to work hand in hand on a mission
that we all share.
I am grateful for the simple fact that we have come here
from every part of the world, representing different cultures, races,
languages, religions, and politics. I am grateful for these days spent
in hard work, strengthening the bonds of our shared humanity and our
commitment to those in need.
This year, I am grateful for the exemplary leadership of
our president-elect, Wilf
Wilkinson. With the unveiling of the RI theme Rotary Shares,
President-elect Wilf has given us our mission, a mission for you to lead
the Rotary world and share the Rotary ideal in every part of the world.
But is this the only reason you are here?
answer this in the simplest manner, we are here to learn to do good in
the world — just as Arch
Klumph said at the 1917
convention when he proposed the creation of an endowment fund. That idea
became The Rotary Foundation, as we know it today, an organization that
touches the hearts and souls of millions upon millions.
I think the Foundation is one of Rotary's most successful
and significant accomplishments. If we had achieved nothing else — and
we have achieved many other things — the Foundation would have justified
our existence. Arch Klumph had a dream for doing good in the world, and
we are indeed fortunate to be a part of Arch Klumph's dream.
My friends, I do not have any personal agenda, nor have I
set any specific goal, because I know that whatever goal I set can never
be achieved without each of you setting and achieving your goal. Your
goal, therefore, is my goal. Your goal, therefore, is the Foundation's
But I do have dreams, which I want to share with you and,
through you, I want to share these dreams with the Rotarians in your
district and take action to make the dreams come true.
Like all of you, it is my dream that next year the sun
will never set on Foundation projects. Every hour, somewhere in the
world, a new day will begin full of hope and love be-cause Rotary Shares
and The Rotary Foundation cares.
And like all of you, I dream of a polio-free world, and I
believe that this is a realistic dream. Twenty years ago, we stood up in
anticipation of a world free from a disease that killed and crippled
millions of people. That momentous declaration came as a great beacon of
hope to millions of people.
More than 20 years later, we have brought down an
estimated 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries each year to less than
2,000 cases in four countries, but we have not won the war. The battle
is still on! Our promise has yet to be kept! Our dream has yet to be
What would you tell your fellow members back home after
all these years of hard work?
Tell them that because of our polio eradication
initiative, more than five million people who might have been polio
victims are now walking. Share with them the words of the former chair
of the International PolioPlus Committee, Bill Sergeant, who said: "As
thrilling as the decline in polio cases is, it isn't over. Be proud and
be encouraged, but do not let up."
Tell them not to seek to satisfy our thirst and justify
our task by closing one eye and pretending that our mission has been
accomplished. No, it is not over! There are still children living who
need those drops of vaccine, so that ultimately we can interrupt the
transmission of this virus. Otherwise, our efforts for all these years
will be in vain.
Please tell your clubs that we must continue our
offensive in terms of our time and energy and, above all, our financial
support, which is so vital, to wrap up this long operation. We must
pledge to march ahead with even stronger determination until the work is
That is my first dream.
fellow Rotarians, at this very same place last year, our chair of The
Rotary Foundation, Luis
Giay, shared some exciting and challenging goals, many of which are
being implemented at this very moment. In essence, these goals are
captured in the words Rotary Shares. Our Foundation is about sharing
your love, your wisdom, your wealth, your time, and your talents with
others. Above all, it is about sharing yourself to do good in the world.
My friends, with all of you I dream that every Rotarian
will experience firsthand the joy of service by actively participating
in our Foundation programs next year and every year thereafter.
Yes, Every Rotarian, Every Year — that is my second dream.
Is this an impossible dream? I don't think it is, because
Rotary Shares through the hands-on personal involvement of each and
every Rotarian and through the grassroots efforts of each and every
club. While The Rotary Foundation supports many wonderful projects, the
success of those projects relies upon the contributions of individual
Rotarians. It is through these individual efforts that we have the
combined strength to change lives.
A few months ago, Past RIBI President Gordon McInally,
Past District Governor Ian Raul, and I visited the tsunami-affected
areas in my country to formally hand over 32 houses — the construction
of which was funded by Rotary clubs — to the people who had lost their
After the ceremony, we were approached by an old lady who
was clutching something wrapped in a piece of cloth. She carefully
unwrapped the cloth and handed a large, empty shell to Gordon and, in
Thai, told me that the shell had been her lucky charm for more than 30
years. She was grateful that she now has a new home but had nothing to
give to show her appreciation except this shell, a modest gesture of
gratitude from an old lady who had lost everything.
She then led us into her new home. The only visible
decoration was a picture of a man and a young girl. She told us that the
man was her husband, and the girl their only daughter. The tidal waves
had taken both of them into the sea that fateful morning, and now she
was living by herself.
I think of this lady so very often. I think of those
people who lost their lives, their homes, and whatever little they had,
and how the Rotarians around the world, individually and collectively,
have played such a meaningful role in making their lives a little bit
better. Without the financial support and personal involvement of
Rotarians and The Rotary Foundation, there would have been no ""homes"
to give. And we would never have met that old lady, who perhaps has
inspired us to want to do more.
Direct participation in service infuses service with love.
And without this love, service is hollow. The power of this
participation is so potent that it only takes a little bit to trans-form
our lives and the lives of those we serve.
That is why I dream that Every Rotarian, Every Year will
experience the joy that comes from this participation.
My third dream is that we encourage Rotarians in our
clubs and districts to reach out to our Foundation alumni. Our
Ambassadorial Scholars, Rotary World Peace Fellows, Rotary Volunteers,
Group Study Exchange teams — all of the dedicated men and women who have
participated in these programs have experienced firsthand the warmth of
Rotary fellowship and the power of Rotary service. By reconnecting with
our Foundation alumni, we are reconnecting with people who share our
Rotarian values, values that I believe are the single most important
element in the human personality.
With our alumni, we can build relationships with like-minded
people who want to do good in the world. Many of our alumni are
interested in joining a Rotary club, if only they are asked. And what
better candidates could there be for Rotary membership than men and
women who have already acted as Rotary ambassadors of goodwill? Let's
continue to invest in our Foundation alumni by giving them the
opportunity to serve others through Rotary.
And my fourth dream that I want to share with you is the
dream we all have for peace and goodwill in our world.
was our founder, Paul
Harris, who said that "the way to war is a well-paved highway, and
the way to peace is still a wilderness." Today, I think many of us feel
lost in that wilderness. As a man from a country that has long been
surrounded by political turmoil and uncertainty, I know that feeling all
Recently, my country, Thailand, and Vietnam marked the 30th anniversary
of diplomatic relations and cooperation. Today, our countries work
together for the mutual benefit of both — honoring numerous agreements
on issues of border security, fishing rights, trade, and investment.
This is our reality today. But 30 years ago, this harmony was just a
dream, and a far-away dream at best.
In 1976, as a foreign minister for Thailand, I was part of a delegation
charged with opening a dialogue and bringing normalcy to relations
between the two countries. We went to Vietnam with nothing to offer,
with no bargaining chip except our goodwill. We went through the long
and difficult negotiations for two full days. At times, everything
But we stayed with it because we understood that we had a
common cause. Like all people in our world, we needed to recognize how
we are all connected to each other. Both countries had so much to gain
from peaceful relations and cooperation, and so much to lose if we
stayed mired in distrust. So it was perhaps the proudest moment of my
diplomatic career when we signed a joint communiqué on 6 August 1976
establishing diplomatic relations between two formerly hostile countries.
The peace that brought us together on that day was not just a piece of
paper but a practical instrument in ending the long conflicts and
distrust between us.
As we look at the conflicts raging in our world today, we
must take heart. I say to you that we must redouble our efforts to work
for peace. In one way or another, all of the excellent programs of The
Rotary Foundation contribute to world peace and understanding — the
humanitarian programs that relieve human suffering and the exchange
programs that bring together people from diverse cultures.
But there are two programs that directly address this important issue:
our Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict
resolution and the new Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies program, an
important addition to Rotary's peacemaking efforts.
While the Rotary Centers offer a two-year course of study,
the new Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies program at Chulalongkorn
University in Bangkok is completed in three months. This shorter program
provides mid- and upper-level professionals with the opportunity to
study a curriculum focused on the theory and practice of peace,
professional mediation, and conflict resolution. What makes the Rotary
Peace and Conflict Studies program so exciting is that in just a few
months, participants will be able to take their new knowledge and apply
it on the job.
Both of Rotary's peace programs are educating tomorrow's
diplomats and peacemakers, supporting dedicated scholars and
professionals as they work toward solutions to the problems that are the
root causes of conflicts in our world: poverty, ignorance, disease,
intolerance, and hatred.
To realize this dream, financial support of this program is crucial. The
Trustees have set the target to raise US$95 million by 2015, necessary
to fully support Rotary's dream of peace in our world and make it a
Let us start now!
My Rotary friends, these are my dreams, but it is simply
not enough to dream of a better world. Indeed, if a dream could do it,
we would have that world, because who among us does not have that dream?
No, a better world has to be built. And it will only grow from the
grassroots, never from the top down. It will have to be a pyramid
building from where we stand, stone by stone, brick by brick, and timber
In his final letter to the American people, the late
President Ronald Reagan said: "I now begin the journey that will lead me
into the sunset of my life." At my age, I am also starting to begin my
journey into the sunset of life, and I don't know how many years are
left for me to join you in doing good in the world. But Rotary and its
Foundation are just starting their journey at the dawn of a new day, a
new century. The sun will never set on Rotary and its Foundation.
I am sure in Rotary, now and in the future of every dawn,
there are many people, wealthy individuals, who have made their fortunes
and who are watching us carefully, waiting to be approached, waiting to
be asked, and waiting to share.
I ask you to share your dreams with them and show them
that our Foundation can do great things. Remember, when Rotary Shares,
our dreams will come true.
I leave you with a story.
surgeon on an oceangoing vessel heard that a boy had fallen overboard
and that the crew rescued him and tried to revive him. When the surgeon
arrived on the scene, the crewmembers said, "It's no use, he's dead."
The surgeon was about to turn away, when a sudden impulse told him to
examine the boy and make sure there was nothing he could do to revive
him. When he looked down at the lad's face, he discovered it was his own
son! The surgeon immediately bent over the boy, breathed into his mouth,
blew into his nostrils. For four hours he worked, and at last he saw
signs of life.
"Oh, I will never see another boy drown," said the
surgeon, "without doing all I can to save him, just as if I knew he were
my own boy!"
This story could be applied to the ideal of doing good in
When we see a boy or a girl in spiritual danger, are we
as sympathetic and as concerned as if it were our own child? Do we
really do all we can to help the situation? Do we really try to do good
in the world?
I hope you do, and I urge you to do so before we begin our journey into
the sunset of life.