The Rotary International Convention 2018 in Toronto inspired Rotarians from around the world to reflect upon the meaning of “service above self.” The following story was shared by Rotarian Linda Krahn with RAGFP Executive Director Reem Ghunaim during a shared bus ride at the convention:
My Rotary Moment
By Linda Krahn
During a Rotary Friendship Exchange in Southern India, several years ago, I experienced “My Rotary Moment.” We were travelling between Coimbatore and Tirupur when we stopped at the Sankara Eye Bank. We toured the hospital and visited the local Rotary project. Cataract surgery was being performed by 10 doctors in a large operating room with 10 patients lined up on operating tables all having their surgeries. But before we entered the working part of the hospital, the administrator explained to us that local Rotarians went in buses to rural areas as well as the surrounding urban areas and, with the help of medical personnel determined who were the best candidates for surgery from the many people who attended the cataract clinics. They then brought the men, women, and children to the hospital for an overnight stay. The Administrator encouraged us to contribute $30 USF to pay for the surgery of one person.
We them entered the surgical area of the hospital. Rows and rows of cots where set up for the patients who had been brought in the previous day. They included many children, adults, and the very elderly (another story.) Patients who were prepped and ready for surgery wore a green tag. We continued on the tour stopping to see the operating equipment area and looking through the glass at the surgeries in progress.
At the end of the tour people were standing around talking about what we could do to be part of this wonderful project. DG Elizabeth and I noticed three elderly women dressed in simple white sari’s, with green tags, sitting quietly in a row awaiting their turns in the operating room. We walked over to them and spoke to them realizing that they could see very little. We introduced ourselves as Rotarians visiting from Canada and tried to ask them about where they were from. But, as soon as we said the word Rotarians they all interrupted us repeatedly saying, “thank you Rotary, you are Rotary, thank you Rotary.” We tried to continue the conversation but they continued to call us Rotary and to thank us. Then one of the women reached out her hands, found my hands and drew me down to her, saying, “Thank you Rotary. Today I will have surgery and tomorrow they will take me back to my village and I will see my grandchildren for the first time!”
As a grandmother, I moved from “attending Rotary to being a Rotarian.”