Rotary Shanghai was first established in 1919, but after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 it became difficult for club members to meet and by 1951 the club officially disbanded. “I was involved in the ‘revitalization’ of Rotary Shanghai in 1995,” said Frank Yih, a long-time Rotarian and recipient of the Service Above Self Award – the highest honor Rotary bestows on an individual. “Since that time we have covered three areas in China – health, education, and living standards.” According to Yih, in 2001 Rotary Shanghai was again given provisional status by Rotary International.
Since returning to Shanghai, Rotary has helped 269 children through its flagship project Gift of Life by paying for the patients’ heart surgeries after evaluating their health and financial needs. Aside from that, Rotary Shanghai has also spearheaded several other projects.” Overall from 1991 to 2003 Rotary International clubs have spent about $117 million plus countless hours of volunteers’ time in providing help in the fields of education like the construction of primary schools, scholarships, health and medical support. About $22 million was spent on polio eradication including building a polio vaccine production plant in Kunming,” said Pradeep Kumar, the current president of Rotary Shanghai. In conjunction with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the US Center for Disease Control, Rotary International has been a leader in the fight to eradicate the world of polio.
Another project that has seen much success in China is Stop Pediatric Aids Now (SPAN) which was initially launched in Hubei Province in 2005 and has now expanded to Yunnan Province. “We went to a county in Yunnan, just near the Myanmar border, which had the highest HIV infection rate in China,” Yih said. “Our results there were better than worldwide statistics.” Rotary tested more than 30,000 newlyweds, educated local communities and administered medicine to help stop the spread of the disease. Originally the rate for mothers passing the virus on to children was 30 percent; now, through Rotary’s efforts, the rate is less than 2 percent. Rotary has also improved education in rural areas in China, through the Shin Shin Foundation and provided clean water for people in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region among other projects….