Shortly after I published my book, Letters from a Rotarian, I sent a copy to RI Past President Frank Devlyn. He sent me an email back with some encouraging words and asked me to promote his book, Frank Talk, and the avoidable blindness projects for which he started a Task Force in his year as president. He also suggested that I could do so through my letters. It makes me feel good that my letters are read in Mexico and by an RI past president.
Frank Devlyn began promoting his book in the months leading to the Rotary International Convention in San Antonio. He had excerpts of and comments on the book loaded on his website with instructions on how to place orders. I promptly ordered 25 copies so as to get the maximum discount offered. At San Antonio, Frank spared no time and effort to advertise his book. He did a first class job. He would give away the book to most speakers and guests with his autograph and indeed every participant of the Convention received a complimentary copy. All proceeds from the sale of the book would go the Rotary Foundation to support avoidable blindness projects.
There was a counter in the House of Friendship in San Antonio promoting the book. When I found that they offered even more discounts, I ordered 50 copies more. I was thinking of giving a copy each to the presidents of my year and members of my own club who could not be in San Antonio.
I read the book on the flight back to Hong Kong. It was compelling reading. Once you pick it up, you will not put it down until you have finished it; and it is a very readable book. Those of you who have heard Frank Devlyn speak would agree that he is a motivating speaker. He speaks well, he speaks with sincerity, he speaks from the heart, and he speaks to you. Reading the book would be like having Frank talking to you beside you.
Frank Talk has had third party endorsements from no less than 15 RI presidents, the UNICEF Executive Director, the Prince of Monaco, and chief executive officers of charity foundations, all highly complimentary. Frank Talk is Frank explaining to us how one person can make a difference in one’s career, one’s community and one’s world through membership in Rotary.
The publisher told me that all 15,000 copies from the first printing ran out after 10 days, so that he had to wait for the second printing to fill all my orders. It has been sometime since all the copies were delivered. I could have begun distributing the book, but somehow I haven’t yet got round to doing so. This is my plan. I would give a copy to each member of my club. I would then give a copy to anyone who would come to my office to collect it and as long as stock lasts, provided that he or she undertakes to read it and to give a small donation to any charity, preferably the Rotary Foundation. One more secondary but non-obligatory condition is that he or she would try to pass the book along to a friend after he or she has read it and suggest the friend to do the same.
I think this would be more meaningful than passing along chain letters or chain emails; and if each club in the District gets at least one copy, there is a good chance that most members in the District would have read Frank Talk in a few months from now, which in turn would go a long way towards membership development and promoting Richard King’s Global Quest. Hopefully, the Rotary Foundation would receive more donations in the Rotary Foundation Month.
I mentioned earlier that proceeds from Frank Talk would support avoidable blindness projects. This is something very close to Frank’s heart and Rotarians of District 3450 may wish to know that their District contributed a good proportion of the uncommitted District Designated Fund towards the programme and hence would enable thousands of people to see again. It is such thoughts that would make Rotarians feel proud of being members of the Rotary family and of being able to fulfill our international obligations towards our fellow human beings. Some of you may be aware that ORBIS’s DC-10 aircraft is now in town and parked at Chek Lap Kok. Rosita and I had the opportunity to visit the plane this week and were rather impressed with its work. ORBIS is of course an international organization with a mission to preserve and restore sight by helping its local partners in their efforts to prevent and treat blindness. Since its plane first took flight in 1982, ORBIS has carried out over 450 programmes in more than 80 countries and has trained more than 54,000 doctors and nurses in sight-saving skills. But the work seems never ending. In Asia alone, mainly in China and India, there are 20 million cases of blindness most of which could be avoidable. ORBIS or any charity, including Rotary cannot possibly handle the work, but the work needs to be carried out.
If you are reading this, it means you are more fortunate, much more fortunate than the 20 million brothers and sisters in China and India who cannot see and who are waiting for their sight to be repaired or restored. I urge you to think along with Frank Devlyn, think of how one person can make a difference, think of the avoidable blindness projects and think of what you can do to make a difference.
Before I sign off, and still on the subject of giving, let us congratulate the Rotary Wheelers who completed the Trailwalker 2001 as a team and has raised more than $1 million for the Trailwalker Charitable Trust. The four Rotarians – David Lindsay, Gilbert Collins, Howard Davis and Bill Benter – have done Rotary and the District proud. The team would like to remind clubs and Rotarians who have pledged towards the Team to send their donations to David Lindsay as soon as practicable. And remember, you can send your donations even if you have not pledged. As far as charity is concerned, past consideration can still be consideration.
Talk to you soon.