by PDG Nick Frankle

The Rotary Convention in Singapore was a time of fun, friendship, and information sharing for members of RAGCED who volunteered to help Rotarians from around the world learn about community economic development.

Our stay in Singapore began on Thursday, May 23, with RAGTIME – a social gathering of Rotarians from different action groups meeting in an informal setting to learn about each other and develop opportunities for collaboration. It was an opportunity to catch up with long-time friends and make new ones. We also heard from past and future Rotary leaders about their vision for Rotary.

Friday was our first day of work. We set up the booth and met our neighbors. At the Singapore convention, the House of Friendship was organized by areas of focus. All the booths in our area had a focus on community economic development. We learned about other organizations involved in economic development and found areas to work together. Our booth was located near the entertainment stage, which provided easy access to the live streaming of the plenary sessions. However, the sound of the music often overwhelmed the sound of our voices.

The House of Friendship officially opened on Saturday. We had a steady stream of visitors from all over the world. Many of the people who stopped by had economic development projects they were thinking about or needed help implementing. We featured the Uganda FAST Village Savings Group global grant at our booth, which was also highlighted at the World Vision booth. Additionally, we were able to present the global grant at an in-person project fair in Peace Park.

Fourteen thousand Rotarians gathered for the opening ceremonies on Sunday. We continued to meet people at the booth and to sign up new members for RAGCED. We are thrilled to announce that we gained 51 new members during the convention. Many thanks to the RAGCED volunteers who helped at the booth.

We had two breakout sessions. Our project fair was held on Tuesday afternoon, hosted by Mary Coward. RAGCED presented seven economic development projects that were either in planning or in need of support. Many thanks to the Rotarians who provided projects and especially to those who attended the project fair to discuss their projects and answer questions.

Wednesday morning, RAGCED hosted a breakout session entitled “Village Savings Groups – Growing Economies Locally.” The breakout focused on the $780,000 USD global grant to support the establishment of village savings groups in the poor rural areas surrounding Kampala, Uganda. Carl Treleaven, Jim Louttit, Kaitlin McGarvey from World Vision/Vision Fund, and I introduced the concept of village savings groups, explained the innovative Financial Accelerated Village Savings Group Transformation (FAST) developed by Vision Fund, and told the participants how they could get involved. The session was scheduled to end at 10:30 AM, but people stayed until 11:00 AM asking questions and meeting with the RAGCED team. We received several offers of support for the global grant.

At 2:00 PM on Wednesday, the House of Friendship closed. We took down the booth and attended the closing ceremonies. We look forward to seeing everyone in Calgary next year.

Thank you to all the RAGCED volunteers and participants for making the Rotary Convention in Singapore a success. Your efforts and enthusiasm are greatly appreciated. See you in Calgary!