Community Papers

Technology brings Rotary International president to Abbotsford

Members of the Rotary Club of Abbotsford listened to some inspirational thoughts, thanks to a simple idea and some computer technology.

Using Skype, a computer program that makes video calls, members were able to listen to, and ask questions of, Rotary International president Sakuji Tanaka.

Tanaka, who lives in Japan but is currently in Chicago, spoke with the help of a translator and told the crowd of about 100 people that he first joined Rotary because he “couldn’t say no to the person who invited him.” But he quickly learned how important the club’s work was.

As president, Tanaka has travelled the world and seen how Rotary has impacted people’s lives. His first trip was to Africa.

“There I saw Rotarians doing a lot of service to help people in the community. I was very impressed with the water project, to provide clean water for the community.”

He has also witnessed members helping children in various countries who have been abandoned by their parents or have been orphaned.

“These children are supported by Rotarians to build their own lives. Some of them go on to college or university.”

He said by helping those in need, children, the physically challenged, those that need help, Rotary is “helping the community” itself.

One cause that has been the prime focus for Rotary International since 1985 is the eradication of polio. When Rotary’s work began there were about 350,000 cases of Polio a year around the world, now there is approximately 600 a year. Tanaka called it a “great achievement.”

But the work isn’t over.

“I believe we still need to continue to focus on the eradication of polio,” he said, until it is completely gone.

His comments received a huge round of applause from the members.

Sean Hogan – Rotary’s district governor covering the area from Hope, B.C. to Everett, Washington – was also at the meeting and called it an excellent event.

“This is the first year that we’ve ever had a club meeting with the Rotary International president by Skype.”

He said the local group should be applauded for thinking of the idea.

“”No one has ever done it before. This was a really unique experience and a great way for Rotary to enter into 21st Century technology.”

According to Hogan, Tanaka has only agreed to participate in Skype sessions with three of the more than 34,000 clubs worldwide.

As for Tanaka’s presentation, Hogan felt it was a positive experience for members.

“It’s always great to connect with the senior leadership and realize that they are just a volunteer worker like everyone here.”

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