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Global Scholar to Sao Paulo Dr. Isis Mejias
Greetings from Dr. Isis Mejias
Hello Rotarians, I wanted to reach out to you to share my excitement to speak at the Rotary International Convention this year. I want to share with you how I got to be a WASH advocate and why I was invited to speak at the convention.
When I ask myself why education is so important in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) crisis, I always reflect on how education was rooted in my family for nearly a century and how this transformed my life. My answer is always the same: making education a top priority can open a world of opportunities for people to evolve. Having access to safe and sufficient water, sanitation, and hygiene is essential to living a life in dignity and upholding human rights. Yet, billions of people still do not have these fundamental rights, and continue being affected by water-borne diseases. Building local knowledge and skills in safe, acceptable, and affordable WASH practices can enable people to obtain these basic rights and search for their own evolution as human beings. 
Education is what made me a WASH advocate today. I grew up in Venezuela, and during the early years of my life, I witnessed people being affected by water-borne diseases, such as Malaria. This was a spark to use science in the years ahead to build knowledge that could empower people to solve these kinds of problems. So here I tell you the story of how I continued this passion.
My grandmother Juana and my uncle Ali in Valle de la Pascua, Venezuela
My professional career started in the private sector. To further explore my research interests, I obtained my PhD at the University of Houston in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department where I focused on evolving water remediation techniques, particularly for water reuse applications.
My years of research focused on developing processes with nanotechnology and biotechnology for water treatment applications, and applying those technologies in the developing world. My research related principally to the removal of pernicious environmental contaminants in drinking water, particularly disease causing microorganisms and heavy metals, such as copper and lead. My investigation demonstrated that some derivatives of the revolutionary nanomaterial graphene can destroy harmful bacteria in water while causing no damage to human cells. I also demonstrated that some of these materials could remove heavy metals dissolved in water. This line of research has led to the development of a water filtration system.
Taking my research into the field, I spent two years in São Paulo, Brazil where I developed a column biofilter using microorganisms taken from a heavily contaminated river in São Paulo, the Tietê. I tested the resistance of these microorganisms in order to scale up the filter for heavy metal sorption. While in Brazil, I established an international research collaboration between the University of São Paulo and the University of Houston.
My consciousness for environmental and global WASH issues increased further during my work in Kenya and Uganda, where I led water and sanitation projects in rural and underserved communities. It was in a rural village in Kenya where I truly discovered my passion for community engagement in WASH issues.  I had the opportunity to manage the design and construction of a water distribution system in Kenya for the Maseno Municipal Hospital, through a partnership between Engineers Without Borders and Rotary. The success and visibility of this project resulted in an invitation to lead the project planning and management of a WASH in Schools program in Uganda with Rotary. 
When I was offered the challenge of leading an assessment team to address water and sanitation needs in Uganda and Kenya, I was thrilled to envision solutions to uphold the principles of health, human dignity, and equality. My commitment to increasing the quality of life in developing countries is a reaffirmation of Rotary’s long history of reaching out to those in greatest need and to redressing health inequalities and their causes.
I hope to draw attention to innovative strategies that will lead to real improvements in WASH issues, such as metal pollution of surface waters and the impact that mining brings to humans and the environment. My research has supported my long-term career objective: to create worldwide incentives for the recycle and reuse of water, by supporting the development of sustainable and affordable water treatment technologies. My aim is to stimulate policy dialogue at county, state, and country levels, to inform actions by legal entities, consultants, the medical community, NGOs, and governmental agencies. But most importantly, my aim is to create awareness of our daily impact on this planet and ourselves. Ecotourism and voluntourism can bring an intercultural exchange to bring a meaningful learning experience for all involved. This is why my next efforts over the years to come will involve creating adventure charity challenges to support WASH education programs around the world.
Hope you can join me at the Rotary International Convention for my Keynote Address on Water and Sanitation, scheduled during the Third General Session, which is from 10:00 – 12:00 on Tuesday, 26 June 2018 in the Air Canada Centre. During this talk, you will hear why is so important to invest in WASH education and how we can focus on hands-on education by empowering our communities.
Another opportunity to connect will be during the World Water Summit on Friday, June 22, 2018. This year’s topic will be WASH and Health. I will be a leading a round table discussion for WASH Capacity Development. This summit will be held at the Delta Hotel by Marriott, 75 Lower Simcoe Street, Toronto, across from the Toronto Convention Centre, and you can register HERE.
Hope to see you there!
Dr. Isis Mejias  
International Services Committee  |  Rotary E-Club of Houston
WaSRAG Ambassador |
Humble Rotary: Paul Harris Members
Polio Vaccinators in Iraq
In Iraq, polio vaccinators work to protect conflict-affected children. In places where families are displaced due to conflict, it is especially important to ensure high population immunity, to protect all children and to prevent virus spread.
Happy Birthday, Paul Harris!

Paul Harris history

After setting up his law practice in Chicago, Paul Harris gathered several business associates to discuss the idea of forming an organization for local professionals.

On 23 February 1905, Harris, Gustavus Loehr, Silvester Schiele, and Hiram Shorey gathered at Loehr’s office in Room 711 of the Unity Building in downtown Chicago. This was the first Rotary club meeting.

“I was sure that there must be many other young men who had come from farms and small villages to establish themselves in Chicago ... Why not bring them together? If others were longing for fellowship as I was, something would come of it.”

In February 1907, Harris was elected the third president of the Rotary Club of Chicago, a position he held until the fall of 1908. Toward the end of his club presidency, Harris worked to expand Rotary beyond Chicago. Some club members resisted, not wanting to take on the additional financial burden. But Harris persisted and by 1910 Rotary had expanded to several other major U.S. cities.

Harris died on 27 January 1947 in Chicago at age 78 after a prolonged illness. 

His death prompted an outpouring of contributions from around the world and his name continues to evoke the passion and support of Rotarians and friends of Rotary. 

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Rotary Voices RSS
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blog posts from the 2018 Youth Leadership All-Stars, participants in Rotary’s programs for young leaders, in celebration of Youth Service Month. By Shannon Chow, Rotaract Club of Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, … Continue reading
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