Posted by Valrie Wafer, Vice-President & Director , Rotary International

In her  September 2021 Newsletter, in Basic Education & Literacy Month, Rotary International Director Valarie Wafer talks about one of Rotary International President Shekhar's overarching themes this year empowering girls with a focus on improving health, education, well-being and economic security of girls across the globe. She also talks about Dr. Tanyss and Gem Munro and that Amarok Society and how they teach mothers to teach children in the slums of India........

Dear Rotarains, Rotaractors and the whole Rotary family in District 7070,

September is my favourite month of the year.  As we head into Fall and back to school my cherished memories are of new back packs, new shoes and school supplies.  Reuniting with friends after the summer break and the anticipation of new classes, new subjects and new skills.

Unfortunately my cherished memories and opportunities for learning are not shared around the world. More than 775 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate. That’s 17 percent of the world’s adult population. More concerning is that girls represent two thirds of this number.  President Shekhar has made empowering girls one of his overarching themes this year with a focus on improving health, education, well-being and economic security of girls across the globe. Please read this month’s article by Zone Ambassadors Carol Tichelman and Mary Shackleton to introduce our team of Ambassadors. Please reach out to get more information on how you can help engage in one or more projects that address the inequities affecting girls.

“Teach a mother to teach the world” -   Amarok Society

I first learned of this initiative during a presentation to my Rotary club by founders Dr. Tanyss and Gem Munro, who packed up their children in 2005 and moved from Vancouver, Canada to the slums of Bangladesh to improve the education of children.  They quickly realized the key was to teach the mothers to teach their children.  “If you teach a mother, she invests that learning back into her community. She'll use her empowerment to stand up for women's rights, children's rights, peace, and equality. She'll use her success to improve life for everyone in the slum”

The last 18 months have shown us that fast-advancing digital technologies are transforming ways in which people work, live and learn, and are generating new skill demands and lifelong learning needs. They are also influencing ways in which education and learning are organized and managed.  Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with PRIP Wilf Wilkinson to discuss a new literacy program.  In Wilf’s presidential year of 2007 he added literacy as an area of focus for all clubs.  He is now leading the effort to support a new literacy initiative to teach anyone with a digital device and wifi to learn to read.  This new method is being adopted by the Amarok Society as they continue to teach the mothers to teach the children. If your club or district is interested in learning more and supporting this critical program, please reach out to Sharon McConnell, Literacy Chair of the Rotary Club of Belleville.

September is back to school for our District Governor line and partners as well.  We begin our virtual training sessions to prepare our future leaders. Please mark your calendars and register for our celebration event on September 23rd. Hear from RIPE Jennifer Jones, TRF Trustee Barry Rassin and celebrate our graduates as they prepare for International Assembly.

Be Well and Be Safe !

Yours In Rotary,


Valarie Wafer

Rotary International Vice President (2021-2022)

Rotary International Director (2020-22)

Rotary Club of Collingwood, South Georgian Bay