ROTARY ROUND-UP: Rotary International links for peace
This week, David Chapman, from the Rotary Club of West Worthing, gives an update on the latest and future goings-on.
West Worthing Rotary Club welcomed Yoshihiro Saito, a 29-year-old young man from Japan who qualified for a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship when he made the club aware of his studies and experience of working in refugee camps in Ethiopia.
The Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarships programme is aimed at promoting further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries and geographical areas.
The program sponsors several types of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students as well as for qualified professionals to enable the to pursue advanced vocational studies.
While abroad, the scholars serve as goodwill ambassadors to the host country and give presentations about their homelands and their work to Rotary clubs and other groups in their host country.
Upon returning home, scholars share with Rotarians and others the experiences that lead to a greater understanding of their host country.
Yoshi, as he likes to be known, comes from the Shizuoka region of Japan, a short distance from Tokyo and graced by views of the famous Mount Fuji.
He has an elder brother and his main hobbies are football and travelling, having visited 30 countries.
He obtained his bachelor’s degree in international relations and is now studying, with the help of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, for his master’s at Sussex University.
His experience enabled him to work for a non-governmental aid organisation in Ethiopia which was providing aid and support for thousands of refugees fleeing from the civil war in Southern Sudan into Ethiopia.
The two tribes who inhabit this area of Southern Sudan have always been rival pastoralist groups with their own territories and there has always been competition, enmity and skirmishes.
But all this was made more serious by the growing ease of transport, access to modern weapons and the creation of the state of Southern Sudan in 2011.
The onset of serious drought has further exacerbated the situation.
As a result of the conflict over 270,000, mainly Nuer tribes people, have been displaced, many moving to the safety of the Gambela area of Ethiopia where they are housed in six sprawling refugee camps.
Many have seen or experienced the most appalling violence.
Yoshi described his role in facilitating services such as water, sanitation and education for the refugees in very difficult circumstances.
He also mentioned how the discovery of oil and the intervention of powerful countries further complicates and inflames the conflicts.
It was this experience which gave Yoshi the focus for his future endeavours.
His studies will consider how to stop the conflict, overcome corruption and rebuild a new state with a stable government, with particular reference to Sudan.
While the problems may appear deeply entrenched and insurmountable, experience now shows that extremists take advantage of such vulnerable countries and provides a base for attacks on the wider world community.
West Worthing Rotary president John Bayley said: “We were delighted to welcome Yoshi and send our greetings to the club in Japan who sponsored him for his studies.
“We were saddened to hear about his experiences in Ethiopia and the conflicts and suffering in that region, but hope that the Rotary International Scholars scheme helps to break down the barriers that lead to misunderstandings and conflict.
“We wish Yoshi well in his studies and success in his work.”
Details of Worthing’s three Rotary clubs are:
• Worthing Rotary Club meets Monday, 12.55pm, at the Chatsworth Hotel, in The Steyne, Worthing, 01903 209564.
• West Worthing Rotary Club meets Tuesday evening at Tudor Close, Ferring, 01903 501961.
• Worthing Steyne Rotary Club meets Monday evening at The Ardington Hotel, in Steyne Gardens, Worthing, 07788 638757.
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