A Blast from the Past - Soulfire Interview with Shanghai President Frank Yih

This is something which I bet President Frank has forgotten about - but I think it is important to preserve and share -an interview on Soulfire radio in Shanghai from 2007.

This is a 45 minute Soulfire program from 2007 - featuring an interview with current Rotary Club of Shanghai President, Frank Yih.

Shanghai West - now a Provisional Rotary Club!

After working hard to complete and submit the required paperwork to Rotary International just before Christmas, we were delighted to receive the news from Evanston on 31 December - that the Shanghai West club is now a provisional Rotary Club.

Congratulations to President Richard for so quickly reaching this milestone - and congratulations to all of the members of the new (provisional) Rotary Club of Shanghai West!

Please take note that this is our first Mandarin Chinese language club on the mainland -- since 1948 -- and it follows in the footsteps of the original Shanghai West club that was chartered on 16 November 1948.

Now let's 加油 and quickly get this club fully chartered! 

Shanghai Fresh Start Election Results

Our provisional Shanghai Fresh Start club held its annual elections last Friday which resulted in a couple of empty director slots for 2014-15 being filled and the following leaders elected for 2015-16 Rotary year:


President - Angie Eagan
Vice President - Steffen Ummelmann
President Elect - Sebastian Martin
Secretary - Gary Permenter
Treasurer - Sean Doherty
Immediate Past President - Philippe Hugot

Directors (5)

Richard Brubaker
Cecile Cavoizy
James Feldkamp
Lynn King
Gautier Vasseur


Shanghai West Election Results

After almost 2 months of weekly meetings, the newly formed Shanghai West Fellowship - our first Mandarin Chinese speaking club has held its election of officers and directors to lead it through the balance of 2014 and in the 2015-16 Rotary year.

Congratulations to PP Richard for leading the charge and making this happen with such efficiency and enthusiasm. RC Shanghai Club Secretary Moto was present and counted the ballots and was pleasantly surprised because this time no one yelled at him. True progress!

Congratulations to the new leaders of 上海浦西 club:

President - Roy Chu  朱光亮
President-Elect - 
Secretary - Vincent Zhou  周尚漢
Treasurer - Anne Chen  陈思安
Immediate Past President - Richard Zi  徐乃达

Directors (3)
David Zhuang 莊震霆
Julian Huang 黄家麟
Alice Chen 陈敏莉

Backup Director Gary Zhao 赵恩博

Rotary Shanghai Election Results

Congratulations to the newly elected 2015-16 Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Shanghai.

The club had to also fill a couple of vacancies on the board for the balance of this year 2014-15 because director Dean Merritt was elected as President-Elect (to take office 1 July 2015). Congratulations Dean!

Also congratulations to:

  • Andrew Hill - President Nominee
  • Terry Lau - Vice President
  • Linnet Kwok - Secretary
  • Yvon Russon - Treasurer
  • Michel de Vriendt - Director
  • Alejandro Rocha - Director
  • Tiffany Storey - Director
  • Samuel Tung - Director
  • Marjorie Woo - Director



Restoring Vision to Hundreds in China

Seeing an elderly Tibetan woman weep with joy when cataract surgery restored her vision after 10 years is the kind of moment Dave Razo will never tire of.

For several summers Razo, a member of the Rotary Club of Warner Robins, Georgia, USA, traveled to rural northwest China with a team from Georgia-based nonprofit Gansu Inc., to provide free sight-restoring cataract surgery to some of the country's poorest residents. In 2012, after 22 years and 6,000 successful procedures, Gansu's founder, ophthalmologist William Conrad, retired and discontinued the organization's operations.

But Razo didn't want the effort to end. He had seen how life-changing the surgery could be, not only for the patients but for their families and their community.

"When you see the face of someone who regains their sight for the first time in years, you can't help but share their overwhelming happiness and gratification," says Razo, who is a retired U.S. Air Force pilot. "There was so much good work done by Dr. Conrad and his organization that I felt I could continue his legacy through Rotary."

Cataract, a clouding of the lens of the eye, is responsible for an estimated 2.5 million cases of blindness in China, nearly half of the country's blind population. In rural areas, blindness can be a death sentence for villagers who must walk dangerous mountain trails to obtain food and water.

Nearly half of China's population lives in rural areas, without access to the same health care as urban residents. With its huge population of older people, China is likely to face a growing backlog of people in need of cataract surgery, Razo says. "Chinese families in these regions are close knit, and three or four generations often live together. So giving sight to a patriarch or matriarch has a multiplier effect for the family and the community," he says.


During one of his missions with Gansu, Razo had met Frank Yih, of the Rotary Club of Shanghai. Yih, who is chair of the nonprofit HuaQiao Foundation, which provides in-country logistical support for international charities, arranged housing for team members during their last two visits to China. When Gansu closed its doors, Razo's Rotary club and the Shanghai club partnered to fund cataract surgery for 400 people at two hospitals in the northeast provinces of Shandong, Gansu, and Qinghai, as well as remote areas closer to Shanghai.

The clubs raised a total of $46,000, including $21,000 in matching funds from The Rotary Foundation. The surgeries, each of which cost about $110 and took about two hours, were completed in June. The Shanghai club collaborated with Vision in Practice, an organization that provides surgical training, consultation, and assistance to eye care institutions and professionals, to oversee the procedures and assist hospital staff.

Yih says the grant project has introduced a low-cost, high-quality cataract surgery model into the Chinese health care system, and he hopes his club can help expand the effort.

"If this type of surgery and outreach can be integrated nationwide, millions of elders in the rural villages can enjoy the benefit of regaining their vision through affordable operations," says Yih. "This will ease the burden of our country's health care dramatically."

This article was posted 29 October online in Rotary News.

See Chinese translation attached here: 數百位中國白內障患者重見光明.

Making a Difference

 Rotary Shanghai President Frank Yih, Rotary International President Gary Huang, RI Special Representative to China Randal Eastman

Rotary Shanghai President Frank Yih, Rotary International President Gary Huang, RI Special Representative to China Randal Eastman

[Press Clipping from the Global Times newspaper - 7 October 2014]

The Rotary China Conference was held September 20-21 in Shanghai. More than 130 representatives of Rotary International in the Chinese mainland gathered to share their current charity and community work as well as plans for the future.

Paul Harris started Rotary in Chicago in 1905. It is one of the world's first service organizations, which now has more than 1.2 million members spread across 34,000 Rotary Clubs in over 200 countries. Leaders from varied industries gather through Rotary to network, share ideas and take action against social problems. Rotary International sets global objectives and provides funding and tools for clubs worldwide. Each club develops its own projects, fundraising, and administration. Membership fees and donations go to both the Rotary Foundation and to projects around the world. 

Clubs worldwide are currently working together to eradicate polio. After years of hard work, only Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria are still polio endemic. The remaining 1 percent of polio cases are in the hardest to reach areas, and therefore are the most difficult to prevent. Rotary International's President Gary Huang told the Global Times that Rotarians are working to end polio by 2018. 

Huang was born in Taiwan. He is a member of Rotary Club Taipei and is the first Chinese president of Rotary International. He attended the China Conference and chartered the Rotary Club of Chengdu. Huang told the Global Times: "Rotary is a nonpolitical and nonreligious service organization. We do all the work according to the local government's laws and regulations." 

There are now three Rotary Clubs in the mainland, composed mainly of expatriates and Chinese from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.

Rotary Club Beijing was chartered in 1924, now with 45 members. The Chengdu Club was chartered during the conference on September 21. It took two years for this club to be officially chartered, and it now has 25 members. Unlike other Rotary Clubs, Rotary Shanghai has been through a lot of twists and turns throughout history. First chartered in 1919, then cancelled in 1943, in 1946 it was readmitted but closed again in 1951. After a half century's inactivity, it was officially chartered again in 2006, with 85 members.

Frank Yih is the President of the Rotary Club of Shanghai. Born in Shanghai in 1934, Yih is a US citizen and a pioneer in electronics and entrepreneurship. He returned to Shanghai in 1992. Dedicated to community work and helping others, Yih created the nonprofit organization HuaQiao Foundation. Yih told the Global Times: "Now everyone is talking about China dreams. But I am not a hunter of China dreams. I am a hunter of the 'nightmares.' One or two hours' drive away from the high-rises of Shanghai, you will see people in poverty. In Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, there are those living in remote mountain areas without drinking water. These people are who we help. We hope to improve their living standards with our projects."

Gift of Life is the signature project of Rotary Shanghai. As members of the world's largest nonprofit volunteer organization, Rotarians in China have been helping to "bring hope to children who have only known despair." This Rotarian-led project has funded over $750 million worth of surgeries worldwide and empowered medical staff globally with the skills and funding to care for children in need.  

This program sponsors lifesaving heart surgery. Over the past 10 years, in China alone, the Rotary Clubs of Beijing and Shanghai have saved and returned more than 800 children to their families to live long, productive and healthy lives.  

Another ongoing project is the Gift of Sight. The 2010-2011 President of Rotary Shanghai, Pradeep Kumar, a passionate leader of the program, explained: "Cataracts can cause blindness if allowed to develop without medical intervention. In China, 3,000 people per million get cataracts each year, but there is only the capacity to treat a third of the cases. There is a big gap." Kumar, who hails from India, has been an integral part of this project. He elaborated that doctors in India have perfected the surgical progress to increase the number of patients a surgeon can treat daily. In India, the capacity of treatment grew from 1,500 to 4,000 people per million per year. The quality of surgery is good, and the cost affordable. Shanghai's club has been helping the doctors and hospitals in India to transfer the technology and skills to medical staff and facilities in China. Our goal is to increase the rate of surgery while reducing the cost."

In addition to the Gift of Life project, the Rotary Club of Shanghai is providing wheelchairs, allocating scholarship money, supporting water programs, and training migrant workers by helping them find jobs through the Careers in Care program. As the club's website states, their club has provided funds that have helped train more than 4,000 migrant workers and made a positive impact on more than 800,000 people.

Randal Eastman, senior business executive at Dragonfly Spa, has worked in China for 15 years and witnessed the readmission of the Rotary Club of Shanghai in 2006. As Rotary Special Representative to Beijing and Shanghai from 2013 to 2016, Eastman has developed new clubs and set up a district structure for Rotary Clubs in China. 

According to Eastman, Rotarians focus their efforts in six areas: improving basic education and literacy, preventing diseases, helping with economic and community development, enhancing maternal and child health, promoting peace, and providing access to clean water and sanitation. Until now, Rotary has spent $3.40 million on basic education and literacy and $6.54 million on disease prevention and treatment in the Chinese mainland, accounting for 88 percent of the funding used domestically.

Rotary is making a difference here. China's Rotary Clubs hope to raise awareness among expats, find former Rotarians and like-minded individuals to join the clubs or start fellowships in different parts in China, and foster awareness about Rotary and its projects around the world.