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An Inspired Barry Rassin Is No Stranger To Helping Others

By DANA SMITH Former Rotary International director Barry Rassin said his work and various travels for the organisation have been "inspiring". No stranger to helping others, in addition to being the president of Doctors Hospital Health System, Mr Rassin has held several posts over the years as a representative of Rotary, which has led him to many different parts of the world. Notwithstanding his service on a global level, he has been a member of the Rotary Club of East Nassau since 1980 and has served his club as council secretary, district trainer and president. However, it was during his time served as district governor from 1991 to 1992 that he learned about the greater world of Rotary." As district governor, Mr Rassin travelled to all the countries within his Rotary district which include Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Haiti, Anguilla, St Maarten, St Barts, Trinidad, the British Virgin Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. "When you're district governor, you have to visit every club in your district so I would visit all the regions and all the countries," Mr Rassin said. "Every one of them was inspiring because the Rotarians in those countries really make a difference so it's fascinating to see what they do." But out of all of his trips as district governor, the time he spent in Haiti is especially memorable, he stated. "I've been to all the district countries a number of times, but certainly Haiti always stands out," Mr Rassin said. "What Rotarians are doing in Haiti with the earthquake relief is amazing." Haiti was left ravaged by an earthquake in 2010, not only killing hundreds of thousands but also leaving nearly a million Haitians homeless and in dire straights. Mr Rassin has been a member of Rotary's Haiti Earthquake Committee since its establishment and is one of four account holders for the Haiti Earthquake Relief fund - a donor advised fund created by the Rotary Foundation. "I'm basically the one who spent the money that's in Haiti," he explained. Rotary has raised over a million dollars for the Haiti relief fund as well as medical equipment, food, clothing, blankets and other needed items. Mr Rassin spoke of one experience in Haiti where they visited an orphanage that was in poor condition. "It was about an hour and-a-half out of Port-Au-Prince, it's up a mountain and it's this community where there are all these children and a priest that takes care of them," he said. According to Mr Rassin, the priest was working on fixing the orphanage and building a school for the children so naturally, Rotary agreed to help. "We're helping to build the school and they had no toilets or water so we're putting in a water and sanitation project as well," he said. Out of the 1.3 million Rotarians worldwide, there are only 17 directors and Mr Rassin became the first Rotary International director from the Bahamas when he served from 2006 to 2008. He said he "went everywhere" as director. Mr Rassin was often appointed to sit as a representative for the Rotary International president and also invited to sit on various Rotary councils, both of which led him around the world. He has been to New Zealand, Australia, Holland, Kuala Lumpur, Turkey, a host of states in the United States, Canada and England. His international travels as director have been extensive, though he points out his travels occurred "over a number of years." He has also been to Germany, France, India, Sweden, Puerto Rico, and Suriname. "You get those types of opportunities as director," he said. "Obviously the president can't go to every location around the world so he asks Rotarians to represent him at those district conferences. Every year I usually get at least one to represent. "Basically the role of the president's representative is to see what's going on in the district and help to motivate them and say thank you and get to know everybody. It's as inspiring for me as it is for them. Every conference is a little different." Akin to the way in which current Rotary International president Kalyan Banjeree was treated upon his arrival to Nassau, Mr Rassin stated he is "treated as royalty" when he travels internationally as president representative. "They pick you up at the airport, give you an aide, take you everywhere - they really treat you well," he said. "It humbles you." So far, for this upcoming year, Mr Rassin stated he will be going to a district conference in Haiti and will be moderating a Rotary magazine seminar in Chicago. "I try not to think too much about it, I just take assignments as they come," he said. "The club travel kind of catches up with you and you want to stay home a couple days but it's great seeing what people in different countries are doing."

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