Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay

 

 

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Welcome to the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay - Celebrating Over 30 Years Serving Homer and Abroad

Homer-Kachemak Bay

Four Way Test: True, Fair, Goodwill & Beneficial to All

We meet Thursdays at 12:00 PM
Best Western Bidarka Inn
575 Sterling Hwy
PO Box 377
Homer, AK  99603
United States
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Home Page Stories

Rotary peace fellow applies lessons to life in Bogotá

As a child in Bogotá, Colombia, Lucas Peña was shocked to learn that violence between government forces and insurgent groups prevented his family from visiting relatives elsewhere in the country. 

Years later in college, he studied the conflict from what he calls an “academic, analytical point of view.” 

Only after graduating and joining the effort to demobilize ex-combatants did he really begin to understand the issues behind the violence that has plagued the nation for decades. (In February, members of the country’s largest insurgent group began surrendering their weapons as part of a peace deal with the government.)

Lucas Peña

Illustration by Monica Garwood

Thanks to the Rotary Peace Fellowship, Peña earned his master’s degree in conflict, security, and development at the University of Bradford in Bradford, England, in 2015.

He now works for the World Wildlife Fund as a specialist in land governance. A member of the Bogotá Capital Rotary Club, Peña encourages other Colombians to become peace fellows. And it’s working: Five peace fellows were selected from Colombia for 2017.

Q: After college, you began working with the Organization of American States Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia, helping monitor the demobilization process of right-wing groups. What did that process entail, and what was your role in it?

A: At that time, the paramilitaries were laying down their guns, demobilizing their combatants, and participating in judicial processes. This was in exchange for spending only five to eight years in jail. As part of the demobilization process, the government had to issue identification to the ex-combatants, because without identification, they couldn’t re-integrate into society. The government provided them with health insurance and education, too. 

What I did was report on their security conditions and the re-integration process of the ex-combatants. I did that by talking to people – local government officials, military, police officers, victims.

Q: How does your current work at the World Wildlife Fund pertain to peace?

A: We are working toward a policy for the provision of land to peasants who live in natural parks in Colombia. The peasants’ lack of land is what made them go to the national parks and live there illegally. There’s plenty of land in Colombia, but the good stuff is already owned; less than 1 percent of the population owns more than half of Colombia’s best land.

We expect the public-policy response will include the provision of land, but it also has to ensure that the peasants will be given productive land, as well as the means of making that land productive. Solving this problem is part of the peace accord that the Colombian government has reached with FARC [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], the biggest guerrilla group. 

Q: What did you learn from your time as a Rotary Peace Fellow?

A: Peacebuilding is not only a matter of local communities, not only a matter of national government, and not only a matter of the international community; it’s a mix of all those levels. Another thing I learned is that the world itself is getting safer, in that the number of people killed in conflicts has decreased proportionate to the population. It’s a very long and slow process, but the world is becoming more secure.  

–Anne Ford

Rotary remembers Sam Owori for his ‘quiet confidence,’ integrity, and friendship 

The Rotary flags in front of Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, and Rotary offices around the world fly at half-staff this week as friends and colleagues mourn President-elect Sam F. Owori, who died on 13 July from complications after surgery. 

With an engaging smile and a calming voice, Sam put everyone he talked to at ease, says Hilda Tadria , a member of the Rotary Club of Gaba, Uganda, and a close friend of Sam and his wife, Norah. 

Sam F. Owori, Rotary's president-elect, was always optimistic and brought an unyielding sense of right and wrong to his work. Owori died 13 July.

Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

“I call it the ‘Sam Smile,’” says Tadria. “It made him very approachable and easy to talk to. I think his smile is one of the things Rotary and his friends will miss most.”

Sam, who had been elected to serve as president of Rotary International in 2018-19, would have been the second African Rotary member, and the first Ugandan, to hold that office. He joined Rotary in 1978 and was a member of the Rotary Club of Kampala, Uganda.

“No matter the situation, Sam was always upbeat, always joking around and putting everyone else in a good mood,” says Tadria.

One of the admirable things about Sam, Tadria says, was his love and devotion to his wife. They met in primary school in Tororo, Uganda. Sam described Norah Owori as beautiful, well-educated, and full of character. 

“He adored Norah and always put her first.” Tadria says. “They were best friends and partners for life. It was very sweet to see them together. They never left each other’s side.”

Sam was highly respected in Uganda, Tadria says, for his high integrity and consistent ethical standards. Those qualities, she says, are important in a Rotary president. “He was a man everyone could trust.” 

She adds, “He preferred listening to speaking. It’s one reason he was so well-liked.” 

The road to president-elect

Like many members, Sam was invited to Rotary by a persistent friend. “I did not want to go,” he cheerfully acknowledged years later. “I had no interest. But I had respect for my friend, so I went. And when I got there, I was in shock. The room was full of people I knew.” 

The more Sam saw of Rotary’s good work, the more enthusiastic he became. He is largely credited with the tremendous increase in clubs in Uganda: from nine in 1988, when he was district governor, to 89 today. His friends called his enthusiasm “the Owori madness” — to which he mildly replied, “If it is madness, I would be glad if more people would catch it.”

Sam described himself as “an incorrigible optimist” who chose to see the best side of everyone and the bright side of any situation. Gentle in manner, unfailingly modest, and quick to smile, Sam is remembered as “Smiling Sam,” says RI President Ian Riseley. 

John Smarge, who was selected by Sam to be his presidential aide, called Sam a “rock star” among Rotary members. “In just the two weeks he was president-elect, you could see how much he was loved,” Smarge says. “The Rotarians in Uganda view him as a national treasure.”

Smarge adds, “He spoke with quiet confidence and simple complexity.” 

Sam brought an unyielding sense of right and wrong to his work as chief executive officer of the Institute of Corporate Governance of Uganda, to his previous work with the African Development Bank and other institutions, and to his work with Rotary. 

Sam, who was one of 15 children, attributed his deep ethical sense to his upbringing, and particularly his father, who had been a school principal and then a county chief in Uganda. “He was a very strict disciplinarian,” Sam remembered, “and when he became chief, he ran that county like a big school — with a ruler. He insisted that everything was done the right way.” 

Sam and his wife, Norah, traveled the world together.

Monika Lozinska/Rotary International

Sam’s Rotary career spanned some of Uganda’s most difficult years, including the dictatorship of Idi Amin, who was deeply suspicious of Rotary and often sent agents to spy on Rotary meetings. “Sometimes people came as guests, and you wouldn’t know exactly where they were coming from or who invited them,” Sam said later. “We always welcomed them. We had nothing to hide.”

Prominent Ugandan Rotary members, including Sam’s own manager at the bank where he worked, were picked off the streets by Amin’s forces and killed. Many Rotary clubs closed and most members withdrew: from a high of 220 members, Rotary membership dropped to around 20. 

One day, Sam recalled, a member was taken right in front of Sam’s club. “We had just finished our meeting and were standing in front of the entrance of the hotel. He got picked up right there in front of us. Two guys threw him in the truck of a car and we never saw him again.”

Undeterred, Sam was back at his meeting the next week.  

An avid learner, Sam held a graduate degree in labor law from the University of Leicester, England; a business management degree from California Coast University; and a management graduate degree from Harvard Business School. 

He served Rotary in many capacities, including RI director, trustee of The Rotary Foundation, regional Rotary Foundation coordinator, regional RI membership coordinator, and RI representative to the United Nations Environment Program and UN-Habitat. He was a member or chair of several committees, including the International PolioPlus Committee, the Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, and the Audit Committee. 

Sam and Norah became Paul Harris Fellows, Major Donors, and Benefactors of The Rotary Foundation.  

Sam is survived by his wife, Norah; three sons, Adrin Stephen, Bonny Patrick, and Daniel Timothy; and grandchildren Kaitlyn, Sam, and Adam. Condolences can be addressed to Mrs. Norah Agnes Owori, c/o Institute of Corporate Governance of Uganda, Crusader House, Plot 3 Portal Avenue, Kampala, Uganda or via sam.owori@rotary.org

Memorial contributions in honor of Sam can be directed to the Sam F. Owori Memorial to Polio

Rotary’s 2017-18 nominating committee will select a new president-elect, in addition to the president-nominee, during its scheduled meeting in early August. 

“Optimism is what brings us to Rotary. But Rotary is not a place for those who are only dreamers. It is a place for those with the ability, the capacity, and the compassion for fruitful service.”

Sam F. Owori, 1941-2017

 

Rotarians met to see Louise one more time, thank her for being such a wonderful exchange student and wish her will on her travels and transition back home.  The picnic was originally scheduled to be held at the Karen Hornaday Park, but cold weather and strong winds made our "Party Fairies" reconsider and the picnic was shifted to Susie Quinn's house.  About 25 Rotarians came to say goodbye to Louise and celebrate her time with us.
 
 
 
Bon Voyage, Louise!

Interactor from Brazil combats a deadly online game 

White Whale designed to promote peace and self-esteem

Horrified by stories about an online suicide game called Blue Whale, Gabriel Kenji of Brazil decided to create a game to counter the dangerous online trend, and hopefully, save lives. 

The Blue Whale Challenge is a chilling suicide game allegedly run by a social media group. The game preys on vulnerable adolescents and teenagers, who are instructed to complete a set of challenges over a 50-day period. The tasks begin harmlessly but become increasingly more dangerous, including self-punishing, and end with the teenager being urged to take their own life. 

Interactor Gabriel Kenji from Brazil is combating the deadly "Blue Whale" game with "White Whale," a social media project that promotes peace and self-esteem. 

 

“When I first heard about the horrific game, I thought it was a problem far away from Brazil,” says Kenji, a member of the Interact Club of Pinhais, Parana, Brazil. “Once it reached my country I realized this type of evil can be anywhere. I had to do something to alert others about the seriousness of the problem.”

The game may have originated in Russia where more than 130 suicides have been allegedly linked to the game. The online trend has caused significant concern in Western Europe and South America, particularly in Brazil, where alleged suicide attempts from the game have cropped up in at least eight states. At least two suicide cases in the U.S. have been linked to the online fad. The title is said to refer to blue whales that beach themselves purposefully to die. 

While no one can prove the existence of the game or identify who is behind these suicidal challenges, what is clear is that young people are ending their lives and documenting it on social media. 

So Kenji decided to do something about it. He devised a social media game that he named White Whale to help boost self-esteem, self-worth, and peaceful interactions among young people. 

Challenges include forgiving yourself for mistakes, exercising daily, discovering new facts about people in your life, participating in volunteer activities, and posting positive messages on social media. 

We want to show young people that they can make small changes to change the direction of their lives.


Interact Club of Pinhais, Parana, Brazil

White Whale is a way for teenagers, who may be vulnerable to the suicide game, to engage in positive activities and feel valued, says Kenji. He chose the name White Whale because he says the color white signifies peace, purity, and clarity. 

“We want to show young people that they can make small changes to change the direction of their lives,” says Kenji, who will enter college this year to study dentistry. “There is another path for teenagers to take that is far removed from an action like taking their own lives.”

Fellow Interactors and local Rotaract club members are helping to spread the word about White Whale by passing out brochures and information at bus and train stops, busy intersections, and to friends and family. They also helped Kenji create some of the game’s challenges. “I’m so grateful that my club and others people in the Rotary family are taking a small idea and making it big,” he says. 

According to Kenji, about 4,000 people have shared the White Whale’s Facebook page with a reach of nearly 30,000. 

Kenji says he’s already seen tangible results from the game among his own friends. “I’ve had friends tell me that the game is giving them the courage to reconcile broken friendships. It’s great to see. I hope this is just a start.” 

 

July 7th Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke to us and members of the public, to give us a legislative update about what is happening with legislation in Washington, D.C. After the update, she took questions from the audience and answered them.
 
Representative Seaton and Senator Murkowski
Senator Murkowski speaking to Homer-Kachemak Bay Rotary
 
 
 
 
Speakers
Erin Cline
Aug 03, 2017
"How Chinese Religions/Philosophies Have Influenced Chinese and East Asian Cultures."
Chuck Hawkins
Aug 10, 2017
NE Asia
Beth Trowbridge
Aug 17, 2017
Club Assembly
Hannah and Laura
Aug 24, 2017
Resilience Coalition--MAPP
Rebound YE
Aug 31, 2017
Youth Exchange Experiences
Chris Figureida
Sep 07, 2017
Biking for the Heart
Marie McCarty
Sep 14, 2017
Katie Koester
Sep 21, 2017
Ballot Measure 1
DG Harry Kieling
Sep 28, 2017
District Governor Visit
Dr. Sean Dusek -- Superintendent of KPBSD
Oct 05, 2017
Kenai Peninsula School District
Van Hawkins
Oct 12, 2017
Boyd Walker
Oct 19, 2017
Inbound Youth Exchange
John Mouw
Oct 26, 2017
Thanksgiving
Nov 23, 2017
No Meeting
Holiday
Dec 21, 2017
No Meeting
 
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