A child bathes in Río Bajabonico in La Grúa, Dominican Republic. Rotary club members have helped install 19,000 bio-sand filters, which make water safe to drink, through the Rotarian-led Children's Safe Water Alliance. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson

Worldwide, Rotary Foundation Matching Grants are saving and changing lives. Since the first Matching Grant  was awarded in 1965, more than US$335 million has been distributed through more than 30,000 grants.

This is a tremendous achievement for Rotarians, who have made these grants possible through their generous donations to the Annual Programs Fund , and dedicated their time and talent to help carry out projects that put Service Above Self.

By giving $100  a year -- less than $2 a week -- to the Annual Programs Fund through the Every Rotarian, Every Year  (EREY) initiative, Rotarians become part of the Foundation's mission to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

Here are just a few of the projects made possible through Matching Grants.

Repairing cleft palates

Australian, Dutch, and Indonesian Rotarians have helped repair cleft lips and palates for more than 2,000 children. One of the most common birth defects, clefts can interfere with eating, speaking, and breathing.

Thalca Hamid, an orthodontist from the Rotary Club of Surabaya Central, Surabaya, Indonesia, and two other club members began the project in 2001, arranging patient transportation, educating parents about postoperative care, and providing children with books and toys. Rotarians also recruited local villagers to talk to rural families about the benefits of the surgery. 

"The children and their families have unbelievable pressure and stress because many feel that such defects are a curse," Hamid says. "Previously, few in our community realized how complicated this defect is." Read more .

New hope and self-esteem

The Bitone Center for Disadvantaged Children , located in Kampala, Uganda, is home to two dozen children ages 8-18. Many are orphans; others have lost their homes or been estranged from their families by disease, war, or economic hardship. The Rotary clubs of Kampala-East and Traverse Bay Sunrise, Michigan, USA, are providing support with help from a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant.

By connecting children to traditional Ugandan dance, music, and theater, as well as providing shelter, food, and education, the center strives to give them new hope and self-esteem.

Read more , and see some of the children perform a traditional Ugandan dance.

Without water, there is no life

In many parts of the world, people lack access to clean water, leading to disease and death. More than 3.5 million people die from water-related diseases each year, and more than 40 percent of those deaths are due to diarrhea, which UNICEF lists as the second-leading childhood killer. Polio  also spreads through contaminated water.

Rotary club members have helped install 19,000 bio-sand filters, which make water safe to drink, through the Rotarian-led Children's Safe Water Alliance in the Dominican Republic. They've reached an estimated 100,000 people in 300 communities.

For seven years, more than 200 clubs in 18 districts in Canada, the Dominican Republic, the United States, and other Caribbean countries have supported the effort, as has the Foundation, with 30 Matching Grants.

We believe every Rotarian has a story about EREY. Why do you give through Every Rotarian, Every Year? Send your story to my.erey.story@rotary.org , and it might be chosen to appear in the next EREY ad in The Rotarian .

Your contributions to Every Rotarian, Every Year help make projects such as these possible .