The MedYear in review: #ComingTogether

Another year has gone by so fast! A year full of meetings, e-mails, events, friendships and work, here at the Rotaract Mediterranean MDIO. This is why on the last day of the rotaryan year, we decided to look back on how we came together this year to accomplish our projects and create an impact in our region and beyond, despite being separated by Covid-19 for most of the time. This year we wanted to focus on bringing clubs together to enlarge our outreach, encourage cultural exchange to have a bigger and better impact, diversifying our sources of income to make a more lasting change and finally on #ComingTogether to create a united and peaceful Mediterranean region.

  1. Projects and Challenges

This year was no exception for us to work harder and harder. It was the year of online conferences and virtual events with actual impact on us and our communities! All thanks to our multiple collaborations we were able to host three editions of MDIOs Unite for the Environment with Rotaract Oceania and Rotaract Europe MDIOs to tackle environmental issues in a scientific manner to raise awareness of more than 600 participants on protecting the environment and empower the on-going Rotaract and Rotary projects protecting the environment.

Besides, we have succeeded in bridging the gap between Rotaryans and Rotaractors through Rotaract Rotary Talks, our collaboration with Rotaract Africa and SEARIC MDIOs. During this virtual conference, we brought to the table matters as trivial as the 4-way test and as intriguing as applying for Global Grants. We did so by engaging participants in different topic-based breakrooms where they were asked to make resolutions which were then shared with Rotary International via VP Nicki Scott.

Now to the highlight of this year, our dear baby in which we take so much pride: the Rotaract Mediterranean Environment Academy. It was a first for our MDIO to host such a project where we train Rotaractors on social entrepreneurship and the UN SDGs. The Academy has also been a motive for Rotary and Rotaract lubs to consider more projects in Rotary’s new seventh area of focus. At the end, our five finalists pitched their ideas to partner Rotary clubs for them to sponsor their ideas and support them. In that way we encouraged the Collaboration between Rotary and Rotaract Clubs as well. An outstandingly successful event, if I do say so myself! 

Now when it comes to challenges, we went with more laidback and easygoing ones where clubs can participate very easily. We kicked it off with the #MedHolidays Challenge and took off to all corners of the Mediterranean and discovered the hidden gems of Tunisia, Egypt, Montenegro, Albania and more! To stay in the area of hedonic pleasures, we then wanted to bring the light to the #MedHealthyDiet through a challenge that highlighted the health benefits of our unique and nutritious diet. In December, for the holiday season, we invited clubs to give back and share with us how they spend their days at nursing homes, how they decorated someone’s house or what color socks they donated to local shelters. The festive spirit at its finest. Another year-long challenge that we had was Let’s Free the Sea where we asked clubs to give small training sessions to pupils in schools about waste disposal to raise awareness about ocean and sea cleanliness.

A new  important and remarkable event for us was the Rotaract Peace Conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in collaboration with  Rotaract Europe and Rotaract Sarajevo. It was a unique conference for European and Mediterranean Rotaractors to bridge peace through cultures while discovering the beauty of Sarajevo. What was also highly appreciated were the specific workshops we had for to discuss and coordinate our intervention as MDIOs and Rotaractors towards the war in Ukraine with the guidance of the DRR of Ukraine Irina Bushmina.

  1. MedShop

Another re-born star in our MDIO this year was the MedShop as we launched two new collections for the M2R Antalya 2021 and MediCon Morocco 2022! The #MedTravel and #HabibiRotaract Collections were such a hit and many items were quickly sold out which just shows how people were going loco about them. I mean, why wouldn’t they? They’re super cute products: stickers, socks, mugs, notepads and passport holders, etc. Besides serving as totems of the Mediterranean MDIO for rotaractors, it was also a fundraising tool for us to help us conduct all our projects. Better still, we have decided to open up to clubs and offer them the opportunity to sell their products on the MedShop! 

  1. Mediterranean Events 

After Covid restrictions had been alleviated, we had no more excuses to cancel any of our long-awaited meetings. We had a small taste at M2R Antalya 2021 in October where 45 participants got together from more than ten countries to experience an authentic Turkish late summer. It was also where we participated in the Rotary Polio Race hosted by Rotary and Rotaract clubs in Spain. Today, Cagla Ekiz,  Chairperson of M2R 2021 is so thankful that “after cancelling [the] event due to the pandemic, we would feel bad for not applying again. And we were right! After 2 years of not seeing each other [..], we were honored to organize such a beautiful event.” 8 months later, in May, the Mediterranean sea took us all the way to Morocco for MediCon 2022 where around 250 participants from all over the globe gathered for a week of pure fun, partying but also work! The annual Mediterranean Peace Forum was held at this event and it was highly appreciated by the attendees. And now, when he looks back at it, Hicham Berraj, Chairperson of MediCon 2022 says it is, by far “my best Rotaract experience, an experience that will change me forever. Yesterday, I had a Rotaract family. Today, I have a big Rotaract Mediterranean family!” All of these amazing gatherings left us hanging and craving another one! So we’ll see you soon at M2R 2022 Senigallia in Italy in September. Be there or be square!

  1. Sustainability

Because we believe in our MDIO’s sustainability and because we strive for it, this year we welcomed three new districts: D1770 and D1790 from France and D2072 from Italy and San Marino. Our family just keeps getting bigger and bigger and we love it! Moreover, we have hired an external consultant, STARTNGO, to assess our work and advise on how we can sustain the Organization and benefit from our legal status. 

  1. MedSkills

Now, it is only natural for us to keep working until the last second of the rotarian year. That is why we are super excited to share with you our last accomplishment of the term: the MedSkills platform. Its idea is to provide  all the Rotaractors a platform where they can showcase their skills and offer freelance services to  other Rotaractors and Rotarians. In that way the MedSkills platform will serve as a community for Rotaractors and Rotarians to support each other’s businesses. Better still, as a means of showing support to our Fellow Ukrainian Rotaractors, we have decided to reserve for them a special corner over the platform. That way, ones who lost their jobs due to the war, can get back on their feet and save some money from the freelance jobs they will get from this platform.

Seeing all the projects that we accomplished, all the meetings we held, all the work and fun we had, tears just fill our eyes in pride and self-satisfaction. We, hereby, confirm that 2021-2022 was, yet, another very successful year for our MDIO. And who other than our 2021-2022 President Jad Salame to confirm it: “Today, on the last day of this Rotarian year, I fondly and proudly look back at our achievements: What started with a simple idea to bring together again the Rotaract Mediterranean Districts, Clubs, and Members after the pandemic and the unfortunate conflicts in the region that set us apart, is now a mission accomplished! 

Through the numerous executed projects & events, we have succeeded to inspire the Mediterranean Rotaractors to ‘Come Together’ and work on important causes faced by our communities with an ultimate vision to promote positive peace in the region. We also successfully collaborated with other MDIOs, with Rotary officials, and with international organizations to expand our impact and reach.

For me personally, this year was the cherry on top, the perfect ending to a 9-year Rotaract Journey.

From just an ambitious 20-year-old, I developed gradually within the organization: leading local projects first, then being the president of a local club, then working in international teams of Rotaractors, to finally leading an International Organization like Rotaract Mediterranean! I am not sure how Rotaract will surprise me next or what my next adventure will be, but what I definitely know is that Rotaract has a huge influence on the person I am today.

On this day I want to thank and recognize the amazing Rotaract Mediterranean Team 2021-2022: Board Members, Rotary Advisors, Country Representatives, and the super Collaborators who believed in this year’s mission and worked hard as a team to accomplish it.

Tomorrow, the Rotary wheel will spin once again, and a new team, led by the amazing Maryem Sehli, will take over. A team that I genuinely believe is up for the challenge to continue the journey and assure the continuity and growth of Rotaract.

Ahmed Tahé Allala

MedTimes Journalist
Tunisian CR at the Mediterranean Rotaract
(Rotaract Club Tunis Hope, District 9010)

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