Rotary in The Time of Covid-19

By definition, a friend is a person who has a strong liking and trust in another person with whom common interests are shared.

In an increasingly complex world, Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset [RCBUS] provides its members with one of the most basic human needs: the need for friendship. The Covid-19 pandemic has not lessened that need. If anything, the pandemic has highlighted people’s need for friendship. But neither has the pandemic lessened RCBUS’ ability to provide opportunities for building friendships to its members.

In 1905, Rotary International was founded, in part, on friendship building, an ideal that remains a major attraction of membership today. RCBUS members enjoy friendships with like-minded people of all backgrounds, regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, skin color, abilities, religion, socioeconomic status, culture, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We want to ensure that we reflect the communities we serve. Our many different club projects offer opportunities to develop and maintain lasting friendships.

RCBUS has active projects in the following fields: disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, economic and community development, and support of the environment.

So . . . in this Covid-19 pandemic environment where people must remain masked when outside their homes and remain properly socially distanced if they are even allowed to gather in small groups, how does RCBUS support building and maintaining friendships among its members? We work purposefully doing so. Our meetings are held on the first and fourth Monday of each month. When government Covid-19 regulations allow, we meet in local restaurants in person. Our members who cannot be with us in person can attend these meetings via Zoom. Such meetings are intercontinental, including our members who live on Bali and our members who are in Australia until borders in both countries are open. When government regulations do not permit public meetings, we all meet on Zoom.

Why are these virtual and semi-virtual meetings and activities successful in maintain friendships? First of all, for in person meetings, all of our members agree to wear masks and to remain properly socially distanced. We don’t have to spend time reminding or reprimanding each other to follow the government mandates. We are a small club with 25% of our membership in Australia until the borders are opened, so small group meetings are no problem. We meet in restaurants that have both internet capabilities and open air spaces. We respect one another and try our best not to interrupt or talk over other members.

Secondly, and more importantly, our friendships are bound together by a common desire among members to support the local Balinese community. During this past year despite Covid-19, RCBUS members have safely installed public sinks at 4 large temples, completed a water project in Kedampal which allowed 80 families to have access to running water without having to walk for up to 4 hours to reach a water source, and expanded our Sewing For Living project which allows local women to earn money to feed their families.

Friendships will continue to grow as we work together to support the opening of the Bali Sehat clinic in the Karangasem Regency which will provide medical care in an area where, currently, there is none; the mobile library for kids, a Rotaract project (Rotaract is for members 18 – 30 who work side by side with Rotarians to take action through service); initiate water harvesting in the Karangasem Regency; and support The Wehea Project to save the rainforests and animal life in Kalimantan.

RCBUS members are also working together to form an internet fundraiser to support our projects. We will use products crafted by Sewing For Living Participants to raise funds on at least four different continents. Keep reading this column for more information about our progress as the plan evolves.

Our Zoom meetings have expanded to include Cologne, Germany as we work to arrange a collaboration with a Rotary eClub there. That collaboration will include cultural exchanges (when the borders reopen) among other activities. Again, keep reading this column for more information about our progress as the planning between two countries evolves.

Someone once said, “It’s not what we have in life, but who we have in our life that matters.” If, during these traumatic times of Covid-19, you find yourself looking for a friend, consider the people who are members of RCBUS. If you sincerely want to help the Balinese during a time when livelihoods have simply disappeared for many locals, consider the many projects of RCBUS. They all need an extra hand. And you might just make a new friend as you are helping.

If you would interested in joining this dynamic group of people who love Bali and work to help the people who live here, information to do so can be found at

You can also find more information about our projects at


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