Table Speech


Report on the Rotary Service Activity
“Participation in the Ardmore Rotary Club Project”
Report on the Rotary Service Activity
“Report from the Fact-Finding Visit to the Minefields in Cambodia ー February 2009 Clear Land No. 9”

May 13, 2009

Mr. Ryuji Funayama
Chairman of World Service Committee, Tokyo Rotary Club
Mr. Yoshio Okazaki
Chairman of Special Committee for Anti-personnel Demining, RI D2580
 

Report on the Rotary Service Activity
“Participation in the Ardmore Rotary Club Project”
Mr. Ryuji Funayama
Chairman of World Service Committee, Tokyo Rotary Club


After the last meeting, members visited the North Park of the Imperial Palace to view the dogwoods, which were given as a gift in 1971 by Ardmore Rotary Club in Pennsylvania State.
Tokyo Rotary Club sent cherry tree seedlings in return and beautiful cherry blossoms are enjoyed as an evidence of friendship in Wynnewood Valley Park. We were requested in 2007 to cooperate for the Park‘s restoration work. After consulting with the committee and board members, we sent them a check worth 10,000 dollars. Ardmore Rotary Club bought Japanese cherry trees with the donation.
We received some photos and a video of their weekly meeting and the completion ceremony, which I want to share with you today. As you can see, the check from Tokyo Rotary Club was received with a great cheering.
The project of Ardmore Rotary Club, costing 220,000 dollars, comprised the Park’s overall repair, including construction of the water area and landscaping. A ceremony was held on October 17th, 2008, to celebrate its completion. Rotarians, congressmen and people concerned were invited
At the ceremony, the project chairman Mr. Douglas Klepfer explained the relationship with Tokyo Rotary Club. Let me quote his message:
“Welcome to the Garden for Blind People and Children in Wynnewood Valley Park which has an international background.
In the early 1970s, the late Mr. George Yurig visited the Tokyo Rotary Club and was advised to tell his fellow Rotarians to resume the friendly program of exchanging cherry and dogwood trees, to reinforce bilateral ties between Japan and the US. This was because only a few dogwood trees given as a gift in 1912 from the US survived, while most of them either withered or were destroyed during the War.
George proposed to donate dogwoods to the parks in Tokyo, upon his return, and our club donated 300 dogwoods, as a proof of friendship and good will. They were planted in the North Park of the Imperial Palace, where members and families enjoy viewing the blossoms every April.
In the late 1970s, Tokyo Rotary Club donated 25 cheery trees for this Garden for Blind People and Children. In 2004, our Club sent 200 additional dogwoods to Tokyo to celebrate the Rotary International Convention in Osaka. Rotarians from Ardmore and Philadelphia Rotary Clubs viewed the dogwoods in the North Park and attended the Ceremony at the Imperial Hotel.
This year, Tokyo Rotary Club kindly donated 10,000 dollars for the restoration of this Garden. New cherry trees were planted here, in Normandy Park and schools and universities.
Tokyo Rotary Club describes this international project as “Beauty of the Flower Binds the World Together.” I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Tokyo Rotary Club and people in Japan for this wonderful gift of friendship. It is my sincere wish that world peace will be promoted and everyone will enjoy friendship.”
Although we have not made a Sister Club Agreement with Ardmore Rotary Club, we have established solid friendship through cherry and dogwood trees over the past 40 years. Here we are actually practicing “Beauty of the Flower Binds the World Together.” It is our sincere wish to continue this good relationship.

Report on the Rotary Service Activity
“Report from the Fact-Finding Visit to the Minefields in Cambodia ー February 2009 Clear Land No. 9”
Mr. Yoshio Okazaki
Chairman of Special Committee for Anti-personnel Demining, RI D2580

I would like to report on the findings from the visit to the Clear Land No.9 in Cambodia, which took place on 11-15 February, 2009.
Tokyo Rotary Club initiated the “Support for Anti-personnel Landmine Clearance in the Kingdom of Cambodia,” a special project among many service activities in our District 2580. I have talked about this project on various occasions. Please refer to the article titled “Rotary Project: 10 years of Anti-personnel Landmine Clearance in Cambodia” in the “Rotary-no-tomo, April issue.”
Nearly 10 years have passed since this Project was launched in October 1999. In 2001, the very 1st Clear Land was completed in Rohal Village, followed by the completion of 9 Clear Lands.
Thanks to the donations from Rotarians and various District activities, which covered the total project, costing 130 million yen, 3.15 million tsubo of land was cleared, where 12,000 families (56,500 people) have settled. The number of casualties peaked in 1979 with 4,674, but showed a dramatic drop to 266 in February 2008. Now I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your generosity.
The 9th Clear Land was completed and “handed over to the local community” this year. 24 Rotarians attended this event, including 7 Rotarians from our Club. It is located in the most dangerous region near the border between Cambodia and Thailand. When Khmer Rouge forces withdrew to Thailand, the Vietnamese Army laid massive numbers of landmines to keep them from re-entering the country.
We observed at first hand the actual landmine clearance operation of the last landmine of the 9th Clear Land at Tra Ok Village on 13th February.
We visited Rohal Village, our 1st Clear Land, on 14th February to see the changes in 10 years and were impressed to see how much the village has changed. 10 years ago, many villagers and livestock suffered from landmine accidents. They were too poor to operate a monetary economy and made their livings by bartering goods. There was only one small and shabby school.
What we saw today was a safe village, with not a single incident of casualty. Children, who have never seen the actual landmines, study in a refurbished school. The population has increased from 150 families (800 people) to 220 families (1,200 people). Villagers lead a peaceful and healthy life, with warm smiles.
The village chief explained that “in the past, landmines kept us from cultivation. Today, nobody is scared by landmines. We can clear forests for farming and enjoy harvesting. Water reservoirs and wells are built with development assistance. All children attend school.” Breakfast was served at school, using relief goods and the vegetables grown by children.
“Continuity is the father of success.” This summarizes our 10-year-Project, though we met many hardships in the beginning. This Project is an excellent example of what Rotary service activity can achieve, when we “lend a helping hand to those in need.”
The Completion Ceremony of the project will be held on 5th February, 2010. Delegates from the Cambodian Government, Japanese diplomatic missions and people concerned will be invited. We hope many of you will sign up to join this special event.