Each year, Rotary International honors the work of high impact, sustainable projects done by Rotaractors with the Rotaract Outstanding Project Award. The goal of this award is to recognize life-changing community or international service projects that highlight the humanitarian goals of Rotary International. This year’s winner of Rotaract Outstanding Project Award is Breast Cancer Awareness from District 2420, Turkey. Thus, we interviewed D2420’s DRR, Burak Kucuk.
Firstly, it is essential to introduce the project so can you briefly describe it, please?
Breast Cancer Awareness Project is conducted by District 2420 with contribution of our clubs; RC of Ataköy, Kalamış, Maslak, Bostancı, Beyoğlu, Fatih, Şişli, Galatasaray, Sarıyer, Etiler, Erenköy, Bakırköy, Yeniköyand involving RC of Ariranhafrom District 4480 and RC of Accra-East from District 9102. Our mission was to make sure that people are aware of the importance of early cancer diagnosis and to know how to do self-examination regularly. Early detection saves lives and we believed that we could do so by creating this awareness campaign in our country and our partner clubs’ countries, Ghana and Brazil.
How did the idea for this project originate?
Rotaractors in District 2420 have been organizing self-examination and early detection seminars in our clubssince five years. This year we believed we could make a bigger impact on our society by expanding our project’s scope, reaching every person we can and sharing our knowledge with our community to spread awareness through different ways. Furthermore, we opened our project internationally through cooperating with 2 clubs from Ghana and Brazil.
How did you start organizing this project? Can you take us through the process?
We decided to expand our project with collaboration of clubs in July. Then, we started to work with the Awareness Committee members of all clubs in our district. Members were divided into teams for organization of seminars, designing brochures, contacting patient organizations, and organizing the on-field work. Our team contacted the Ministry of Health Breast Cancer Center (KETEM) but they did not want to be involved due to their own ongoing projects. Then, we connected with MEMEDER (The Breast Health Society) and organized a meeting with them.We came together with MEMEDER and set the seminar and in-field training day. MEMEDER made sure to provideus with project materials such as brochures, pink ribbons, pink decorations, hats and banners. Then, we designed banners to use during the seminars and on the field. Additionally, ost clubs were determined, and they started to make announcements for the project.
On October 4, seminars were held. In total, we reached 397 people for breast cancer and self-examination. We worked with three different project partners in these seminars. We had 7 physician instructors. In-field work, 256 people were educated with brochures, breast model and VR-glasses. Brochures, hand banners, pink ribbons and breast sketches were distributed. 45 Instagram stories were posted during the month. Each story reached 500–600 people. We shared an awareness video on Instagram and reached 3921 people. For this video, our project partners were Galatasaray and Eczacıbaşısports clubs. Discount agreement was made with Memorial Hospitals which is the biggest private hospital chain in Turkey, for 4 Breast Cancer Control Programs; Rotarians, Rotaractors and their familiesbenefited from it.
How did you promote the project?
We used our Instagram accounts to promote our seminars and in-field work with MEMEDER. Ours and Memorial Hospital’s promoted our collaboration with them. Awareness video was shared from our social media accounts and those of volleyball players from Galatasaray and Eczacıbaşı sports clubs who included the video in their Instagram accounts. To create more awareness, we conducted an Instagram story campaigns called “Did You Know These?” and “General Facts” which reached 500–600 people in each story during October.
What were the strengths as well as the weaknesses of this project?
Our strength was our collaboration with many clubs and therefore many stakeholders in this project. Every participant did their best to contribute to this project and used their networks to enrich it. This made the project even bigger than we planned. Our weakness was our amateurship in this area. It took hard work to find our stakeholders in project and learn how to work with them. We missed some opportunities to become partners with other big institutions and NGOs because we reached them late. However, these were all great take-aways for us in our next years and other projects.
What were the main goals within this project? Did you achieve them?
Our goal was making sure that people were aware of the importance of early detection and know-how to do self-examination regularly. Early detection saves lives and we believed we could save lives through raising awareness. We believe we have achieved this goal because we used multichannel strategy to reach people. We taught them the importance of early detection, as well as how to do self-examination by applied learning methods with breast model and VR-glasses. It was not just teaching; it was also an experience. We reached many people by social media and not just told them about breast cancer once; we reached them every day for a month. We also expanded the number of people we reached by collaboration with female volleyball players in our awareness video. Finally, we gave our Rotary&Rotaract family an opportunity to reach breast control programs with discount and encouraged them to do so.
What is your final take on this project?
We will continue this project inthe next years, gain more project partners to expand our scale and make it more professional. We are planning to do our in-field work in multiple spots in İstanbul and maybe a few other cities in Turkey. We also want to work with more Rotaractclubs from all over the world to reach more people. We hope to make it better over the years.
How did it help your club as well as all the clubs and districts involved?
This project showed that we,all clubs and districts, are very strong together. When we work together and join our forces with every member in our clubs, we can achieve great things. All we need to do is dream big and work hard together with every single person in our family.
Finally, will there be continuity for this project even on a more international scale?
We want to continue this project in the next years with more countries’ involved. We are very grateful to RC of Ariranha from District 4480 and RC of Accra-East from District 9102 because they believed in us from start where we only have ideas and worked with us the entire project. With our current experience, we want to do it with many countries and create this awareness all over the world. Our biggest goal for the next years is to reach more people on an international scale.
This project was an incredible initiative form District 2420 and it deserved this prestigious award. We congratulate them for the hard work they did to change lives in their local communities as well as in different places in the world.
Photo credits: District 2420