William “Bill” Boyd
Nearly a year ago, I wrote on this page that, as Rotarians, "we are not content to let matters stay the way they have always been, in our clubs or in our communities. We are the ones who ask, Why not us?"
In the last year, I have been privileged to meet thousands of Rotarians who have asked themselves that very question and risen to its challenge. I have seen projects that have astounded me with their creativity and their ambition, and projects that came to fruition through an incredible degree of thought, planning, and insight. I have seen clubs overcome all sorts of barriers to deal with the true problems facing their communities. And I have seen all of this done with warmth, grace, and the skill born of local knowledge – and, often, with the support of our Rotary Foundation.
Every project I have seen has impressed me in its own way.The projects that have impressed me the most, however, have been those addressing a need that no one has been able to meet before, whether because of a lack of resources, a lack of ability, or simply a lack of awareness.Sometimes the problem was obvious and acknowledged, such as an ill-equipped clinic or a polluted water source. Sometimes the problem was never openly mentioned, such as the dilemma faced every month by girls attending schools without bathrooms. What I have seen this year is that whether the need is for water filters, blood banks, HIV treatment, toilet stalls, or literacy, Rotarians are finding what needs to be done – and doing it.
The projects that stand out in my mind the most are those that are meeting real needs and quietly changing lives. I will always remember the Rotary club project that’s bringing simple, yet effective, low-cost prosthetic hands to amputees, returning to them employability and self-sufficiency; the Rotary clubsupported library in Hsinchu, Taiwan, that gives so many more children access to books; the Rotary club-sponsored classroom that’s educating children living in the tuberculosis ward of an African hospital; and the Rotary club-built school for autistic children, for whom there had been no services in the area.
These are just a few of the projects that have truly made a difference.There is no need for exaggeration or hyperbole here: These projects have very literally moved the courses of lives by giving people education, improved health, and a real chance at a better future. In some cases, Rotarians invested tremendous resources of time, energy, and their own funds. In others, all that was needed was a knowledgeable and caring person to step in, look around, and do what needed to be done.
It has been a great joy this year to see how Rotarians all over the world are choosing to Lead the Way. I look forward to continuing with you in this great task for many more years to come. Lorna and I thank you for your many kindnesses to us.This year has changed our lives.
W.B. (Bill) Boyd
President, Rotary International