How did the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians grow during the pandemic?

By Angie Mesistrano, International Rear Commodore of International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians

It is said that the secret to feeling good and enjoyment consists of the ease and speed of adaptation to new situations. And that we have done at the International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians (IYFR). Despite the pandemic, we have continued to work in service to our communities, meeting and growing.

In our fellowship, we have detected an urgent issue on a global scale. This involves the 139 fleets that we have in 42 countries and impacts each community in which our fleets work. This issue is about the plastic pollution of rivers, seas and oceans. In keeping with the spirit of our fellowship, this concern for our inland waters and oceans has been turned into an international service project.

The IYFR has created a strategic plan for this service initiative that is adapted by each fleet for their particular needs. Our fellowship also has other service projects, such as nautical therapy, sea scouts, scholarships for young people to navigate, teaching sustainable fishing, health care in islands, etc. Our Plastic Free Waters (PFW) program differs from other service projects because it involves fleets from different countries with the same objective. Many District Governors have supported our Plastic Free Waters program, declaring it of district interest. Therefore, having detected this urgent need to contribute to the cleaning of rivers, seas and oceans, we have turned it into a worldwide service. For our International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians, the oldest and largest of the more than 90 Rotary fellowships, this is a great challenge.

We have more than 3,800 members around the world, therefore coordinators of this PFW program have been appointed in three major areas on the planet and a general coordinator. We have developed strategic alliances with different institutions and organizations (partners). In this way, we extend our reach and spread our public image.

For many years, following our development in so many countries, we have enjoyed the internationality of our fellowship. During the pandemic, we were able to continue with our international development without great difficulties and met the challenge of improving our IYFR.  The pandemic has also not stopped us from developing our camaraderie and friendship. With fleets in so many countries, we meet once a month with a large number of members from different fleets, putting into practice the system of “visits” to hosts in different countries. In these numerous meetings, we meet again with dear friends and discuss the news. Each host welcomes us with a “welcome party”. We enjoy traditional music from that country, the most outstanding places for tourism, the most spectacular nautical narratives in those seas, or with the most notable local speakers. This has been a year in which we have had to maintain isolation; however, friendship and camaraderie have grown and strengthened.

In terms of membership, these multitudinous events have served to invigorate it, increasing the desire to meet again. And we have gone further. Through technology, it has been possible to create new fleets around the world. This is how the new fleets of Hawaii, Tokyo, Taiwan Voyager, Taiwan Polaris, Kyivska Rus Ukrainian, Black Sea Ukrainian and Dubai fleet have been formed. In some cases, the charter has been delivered through the virtual system and when the pandemic allowed it, they have been personally chartered. Although we have suffered the pandemic like everyone else, our fellowship has remained active, developing an international program, strengthening its membership, and growing in the number of fleets through technology.

We invite you to contact us on our website www.iyfr.net and enjoy this wonderful Rotary nautical world with us. We will be happy to welcome you and let you know more about our Plastic Free Waters global service program.

Lifting the Charter for the Taiwan Voyager Fleet
Taiwan Voyager Fleet


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