Rotary will honor six women – all members of Rotary clubs across the globe – at its “Rotary Day at the United Nations” event on November 7. Rotary’s ‘Global Women of Action’ will be recognised for donating their time, talents and expertise towards helping thousands of people in need throughout the world.
Since the volunteer service organisation’s founding more than 100 years ago, Rotary has harnessed the strength of professional and community leaders to tackle humanitarian challenges at home and abroad. Today, Rotary provides a platform for successful men and women of all ethnicities, faiths and cultures to make the world a better place through volunteer service.
Rotary’s ‘Global Women of Action’ are:
Kerstin Jeska-Thorwart, Nuremberg, Germany: A member of the Rotary Club of Nurnberg-Sigena, Jeska-Thorwart is the creator of the “Baby Hospital Galle” project, which she launched after surviving the devastation of the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. With a budget of USD 1.8 million and the support of 200 Rotary clubs and 6,000 members, the project rebuilt and equipped the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital in Galle, Sri Lanka. In the 11 years since its inception, the project has helped more than 150,000 children and provided healthcare services to more than 2.2 million women.
Dr. Hashrat A. Begum, Dhaka, Bangladesh: A member of the Rotary Club of Dhaka North West, Begum has been at the forefront of the women’s health in Bangladesh, implementing several large scale projects to deliver health care to underserved communities. She works to organize free weekend clinics for slum dwellers, providing vocational training to girls who have dropped out of school, empowering women to earn livelihoods as seamstresses, and working to raise awareness of social and health issues among young people. Begum also works to fund a clinic for the people of Washpur, a densely populated slum township outside of Dhaka with virtually no access to clean water or health facilities.
Dr. Deborah K. W. Walters, Troy, Maine, United States: A member of the Rotary Club of Unity, Walters, a neuroscientist, has served as the director and supporter of Safe Passage (Camino Seguro), a non-profit organization that helps to provide educational and social services to children and families who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump. Walters also led an initiative to improve water systems and build latrines for people living in and around the dump.
Razia Jan, Wellesley, Mass., United States: A member of the Rotary Club of Duxbury, Jan, an Afghan native living in the United States, has worked for decades to build connections between Afghans and Americans while improving the lives of young women and girls in Afghanistan. She is the Founder and Director or the Zabuli Education Center, a school that serves more than 430 girls in Deh’Subs, Afghanistan. The school teaches the girls mathematics, English, science, and technology, as well as providing practical skills, preparing them to succeed and achieve economic freedom within a challenging social environment. She was recognised as a CNN Hero in 2012.
Stella S. Dongo, Harare, Zimbabwe: A member of the Rotary Club of Highlands, Stella Dongo leads the Community Empowerment Project in Zimbabwe. The project provides basic business skills and computer training to more than 6,000 women and youth infected or affected by HIV in urban Harare. She is working to expand the project to serve an additional 600 participants in the region. She has served on the boards of World Vision Zimbabwe and Women’s University Africa.
Lucy C. Hobgood–Brown, Hunters Hill, NSW, Australia: A member of the eClub of Greater Sydney, Hobgood–Brown is a communication and project management specialist and educator with more than 30 years of experience living and working in nine countries. She is the co-founder of HandUp Congo, a non-profit organization that strategically links existing and potential collaborators with grassroots community initiatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Working with Rotary clubs, she raised funds and led a team of experienced health care workers to support public health infrastructure for Ebola containment in the Congo.