Changing the world. A Rotary Experience.

Changing the world. A Rotary Experience. (Guest Speaker).

A few weeks ago when I started to visit Rotary International at Greenbelt in Maryland, these experiences provided an insatiable appetite and motivation to continue in my efforts in making a difference in the world. At the Marriott Hotel in Greenbelt Maryland, Mark Fuerst, Club President welcomed my visit with a glowing smile and accommodated me to a breakfast that was as warm as his smiles. The Rotary members all spread a welcome mat for me with equally warm smile. The aspect that I found equally  refreshing was their patience in listening to my personal stories in changing lives in Sierra Leone West Africa. They wanted to also show and tell of all Rotary does and stands for in their pursuit to make a difference in the world.

On my first visit I was opportune to also hear first hand, the work of Rotary by  the Guest Speaker of that day (the Rotary District 7620), and Rotary Governor) William 'Bill' Fine. Bill's history of the Club, the transformation it has made around the world in its activities from polio eradication to education, poverty eradication and water sanitation has been through small but bold steps and contributions of its members. More often than not, the Rotarians meet on social outings and functions where they share their projects and get to attract members to back a cause that can save human lives. This format help them to pledge support and raise cash that culminate in the implementation of a viable and life-changing project. Bill Fine (Rotary District Governor 7620) was delighted to see the positive impact that the contributions of members make for the good of our world, especially in current times when humanity is plagued by a lot of man-made and natural disasters, health hazards such as polio and Ebola as well as  wars, it is refreshing to see the efforts made by Rotary members in putting a smile on the faces of millions of people through their humanitarian efforts.

The members I met on my first, second and third visits to the Rotary club, are all in good positions in society and have proven track record of service and success. Their self-introduction and Rotary assigned name-tags shares a reverential leadership in the public life. Their were Senior Geologist, lawyers, brokers, Real Estate Owners and developers, Film Actors and educationist and so on. One will simply be blown away by the variety of achievements they have and yet, these wonderful members were humbled by one goal to make a difference in the world. Understanding all the impact these individuals have made in the world, one wonders whether I have done enough although I am aware that my efforts at  creating opportunities for young people in Sierra Leone has really made an impact. These meetings and hearing the Rotarians speak of their passion to solve human challenges was more of a motivation to me.

My presentation was made in the morning of Tuesday March 24th 2015 at the Rotary Club of Maryland Marriot. After a great coffee break, and a quick technical setup for my PowerPoint presentation by Mark Fuerst Rotary President and an introduction of me as a Guest Speak, I started by greeting the club members and thanking them for their invitation of me as a Guest Speaker.

In my presentation, I gave a brief background history about the war in Sierra Leone and the current situation of the Ebola, a background of  my education, my efforts with peace promotion and human rights projects. I also highlighted my work in relation to serving humanity in the context of my role as founder whilst working with former child soldiers of Sierra Leone and war affected youth and my efforts in giving voices to children affected by war. I also delved into a greater demonstration of the strategies I used in intervening for the education of children and youth whilst enhancing the understanding of the Rotary Club members of the ongoing challenges young people face in Sierra Leone and the agonies of a civil war that left many reeling in trauma and unemployment.
I was pleased that my presentation served as an eyeopener that helped the participants to understand deeply about the situation of children and youth as well as their needs. Mark Fuerst, Club President remarked whilst thanking me for my presentation. 'Andrew we thank you for taking the time to share your personal stories with us. We were moved by your presentation and shows us how we can move out of our own comfort zones and make a difference in the world. We applaud you for your great strides and hope that Rotary members will learn from your experiences'. I was awash with pride and gingered up by this motivation, and was thrilled to receive the specially designed Rotary tea cup gift as an appreciation from Rotary and which I continue to drink my tea from every morning as a reminder of that special day. 

Also important for me, apart from the tremendous opportunity to meet people who share a common desire to change the world and make it a better place, I was quick to keep in memory the words of commitment and courage recited by every Rotary Club member every Tuesday morning as we assembled to chisel out discussions that will change the lives of people in a far away country or a land remote from the comfort and luxury of the Marriott hotel: i.e  'The Four way test of things we think, say or do... 
First :  Is it the TRUTH?

Second :  Is it FAIR to all concerned?

Third: Will it build GOODWILL and a BETTER FRIENDSHIP?

Fourth: Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

I will continue to strive hard to live a life that makes a difference in the lives of others. Having been in the international scene often and seen the push-button way of life and moments of luxury, and having also seen and experienced the flip-side of life, where children and youth in my communities have to live on less than a dollar a day, whose parents can ill-afford, and for whom a toy is a luxury, and education is hard to come by, who wear the same clothes everyday and who think of where to get the next meal or worrying about where to sleep the next day, it is important to meet with other people like the Rotarians who share a common vision of bringing light into darkness and restoring hope. I thank Rotary Club members at Greenbelt in Maryland, especially for the encouragement I got from Mark Fuerst and James Liggett.


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