Making an impact through international service

Pictured is student Putul Srivastava, who joined Ispat Cooperative Hospital after completing her college and training under the Global Grant that received support from the District 5160 International Service Committee.

By Sheila Hurst, Ed.D., Rotary Club of Redding West, District 5160’s International Service Committee Chair, Health Education and Wellness Rotary Action Group Director

In 2006 I was a new member of the Rotary Club of Redding West in District 5160, Northern California when I was invited to go on a trip with Rotary members to the International Vision Volunteers Eye Hospital in rural Zimba, Zambia.  Fortunately, I said yes, and the decision led to memorable experiences, lasting friendships, and a commitment to international service.

Since that first trip, I’ve visited more than 20 countries to learn about innovative and sustainable club and district-led programs, written several grants, and consulted on health, education, and literacy projects.  As District International Service Chair (DISC), I’ve been able to build on and expand these experiences and relationships by collaborating with members of our District Resource Network, members with technical knowledge and project-planning skills who mentor clubs, and others in our district and beyond.

Our District International Service Committee is a policy and decision-making group that provides guidance and coaching on projects, grants, and programs.  We also coordinate and provide training, presentations, and exhibits for district and club events and activities.  Each year, our Committee partners with the District Rotary Foundation Committee to allocate District Designated Funds (DDF) and other funds as they are available to international projects of special interest.   

We recently contributed US$5,000 in DDF to help set up a Vocational Training Centre at PACE Learning Center in Piyali, India.  Since the Centre’s official launch in December 2021, 60 students have already completed the program and received certificates from the National Skill Development Corporation, a Government of India undertaking that opens employment and entrepreneurial avenues. One student is Putul Srivastava, who joined Ispat Cooperative Hospital in Kalikapur, India, after completing her college and training with support from a TRF Global Grant and District 5160’s International Service Committee.

Accepting the invitation to join a trip with Rotary members to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2006 has led to exciting and productive opportunities, including serving as District International Service Chair.  I encourage club members to connect with their DISC to learn about the support and guidance they may be able to access to help implement their ideas, strengthen their projects, and empower their programs. With questions, please contact me at

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