Dec 2, 2008

RI president's message: Focus on families in December

December 2008

Dear fellow Rotarians,

As a father of four and grandfather of five, I have been fortunate to have spent many years in the company of children. When raising our own children, my wife, Young, and I worked hard to give them what all children need most: a loving, safe, and stable home. Our children were our first priority, and we made sure that they always had nutritious food, appropriate clothing, quality medical care, and a good education. We knew very well how fortunate we were to be able to do this. We were grateful that we never had to say to our children, “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing to eat tonight,” or “I’m sorry, but we can’t pay your school fees.”

When I was a child, Korea was a poor country, and there were many children who went to bed hungry at night and had no school to go to in the morning. As a Rotarian, I know only too well that there are still far too many children in the world without the absolute essentials: food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education. And as a Rotarian who is also a father, I consider all of the world’s children to be my responsibility.

When I see my own grandchildren – happy, healthy, and enrolled in good schools – I cannot help but think of the millions of children who do not have so many advantages. I think of the children who have too little to eat and only dirty water to drink. I think of the children who are sick with diseases that could have been prevented and those who will have nowhere safe to sleep tonight. And I think of the children, millions of them every year, who won’t live to see their fifth birthday.

December is Family Month. It is a time to focus on our families, to involve them in our Rotary service, and to challenge ourselves to do even more for those in need. Because there are so many families and so many children waiting for our help, we, as Rotarians, cannot look away. We cannot and will not rest until all children, everywhere, have the chance for a long and healthy life. We will not rest until we Make Dreams Real for every child in every home where there is hunger, sickness, and want. As Rotarians, we can do no less.

Dong Kurn (D.K.) Lee
President, Rotary International