July 2020 District Governor’s message
Fellow Rotarians, Rotaractors and Friends in Rotary,
As we start another Rotary year, let me thank the Club Presidents, Assistant Governors and District Leaders who have agreed to step forward to serve alongside me with commitment and passion.
The vision statement ‘‘Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change across the globe, the communities and in ourselves’” forms the basis for Rotary’s new Action Plan, which all of us will have a critical role in implementing. This new Action Plan is all about growing Rotary and helping us adapt to the digital age and changes ahead of us. The time is now to take this Action Plan and run with it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a life-changing event even if we are untouched by the disease itself. The upheaval caused by the virus has proven to have a profound impact on the livelihoods and daily circumstances that are assimilated to times of war. It goes without saying that the world is going to be very different over the next 12, if not 18 months.
However, it is also an amazing catalyst for it accelerated change which is very much needed in Rotary. There are new opportunities now we need to take advantage of in this newly enhanced virtual world we are now living in.
This year’s Presidential Theme ‘Rotary Opens Opportunities’ is very apt in the current situation, and perfectly describes the mindset that Rotarians should adopt in these unprecedented times we are now facing.
This year’s theme calls for us to look at new opportunities in line with our four Strategic Priorities:
Increase our impact – this is our purpose and top priority as Rotarians, our impact to make the world a better place.
Expand our reach – this allows more of us to come together and do more for more beneficiaries all over the world. Under this Priority we now have Rotaract Clubs as equal partners as they are now members of Rotary International. The framework and implementation of this recent development is yet to be understood, with the District Elevate Rotaract Task Force formed to look into this matter.
Enhance participant engagement – through constant engagement we will be able to keep everyone highly active and inspired.
Increase our ability to adapt – this has been actively carried out by all Rotary Clubs in these recent times.
In fulfilling our four Strategic Priorities in the coming Rotary Year, it is crucial to recognise it is not still business as usual, in the sense that the methodologies that we have traditionally used to reach out to people in distress must change. These include the manner in which we prepare for and deliver our projects, our communication channels and our current activities. Some of the challenges clubs will face are keeping projects relevant with the current times without comprising their impacts, finding external partners for project funding, member retention and keeping them engaged, and attracting more youths to join clubs. The Assistant Governors and the District Committees will be available to assist in the action plans.
I know that the coming year is going to be a challenge. As the incoming District Governor, I have a very onerous responsibility of steering our District perhaps at the most challenging of times but am taking it in my stride.
Having said that, I am confident we will meet the challenges as Rotarians are known for thriving in difficult times. This was evident in the District COVID-19 disaster relief projects carried out by 45 clubs which quickly participated in 38 district COVID-19 matching grant projects amounting to RM 737,000.
At club level, many clubs have embraced technology to meet virtually during the lockdown period, and members have remained connected amidst isolation. We should keep this momentum going and move towards a hybrid method of physical and virtual meetings considering there have been talks about this movement for a long time now. We should take the opportunity with virtual meetings to make Rotary effective and less expensive in order to make it attractive for our current and future members.
The doors are open, and we can invite more people to our club meetings and training sessions with inspiring, engaging speakers and guests from all over the world. We also now have the advantage of recording speeches which can be replayed on demand and accessible to a global audience.
At the District level it created opportunities for e-learning as we have witnessed the successful completion of the PETS and DISTAS. Special thanks goes out to the District Learning and Development committee. The trainings were accessible to a larger number of Rotarians which would not have been achieved if done physically. Many club officers benefited from the trainings and it is heartening to see that the District is now far more knowledgeable.
Furthermore, this new norm will give me much needed interaction and engagement with the district committees to administer District matters. It has also opened the door for virtual DG official visits which looks to be the case for the first half of the Rotary year. The plan is to start off with the DG visits in East Malaysia sometime in mid-July.
In this time of crisis, it is so important that we take care of our members, but also great care in reaching out to new members. We must look for new members who are the right fit for our clubs. This is an important task so do take your time as you are choosing new friends for life.
Incoming RI President Holger Knaack said, In Rotary, now is the time for change, do not be afraid of change, embrace it.
The pandemic has forced us to operate in the virtual world. When we return to normality, he is asking us to continue with many of this successful way we have been operating. Rotary is borderless and we must operate nimbly and efficiently.
We need to capitalise on the springboard we are on to get further, faster and embrace the wonderful elements of our legacy of 115 years already serviced to the world, to become more vibrant and relevant for our next century of service.
We have important work ahead of us and so many opportunities to open for others and ourselves. As Rotarians, we are community leaders and People of Action.
I look forward to embarking on this new journey with all of you as we continue to serve our communities so that future generations can thrive as Rotary Opens Opportunities.
District Governor, RID 3310