That is my first dream.


The Rotary Foundation's Goals for 2007-08
Bhichai Rattakul
Rotary 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?

To 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 goal.


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 fulfilled!


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 done.

That is my first dream.

My 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 homes.


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.

Paul Harris in his 50's as president emeritus of Rotary InternationalIt 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 too well.

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 seemed lost.


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 reality.

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 by 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.

A 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 the world.


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.



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