Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Melville's Mr Charity Tells His Story

Oliver Quambusch is a humanitarian dynamo in the Melville/Westdene/Auckland Park/Brixton area and is known for the good works he does.
     He spoke to the club last week about his organisation, Hotel Hope Ministries and told of how he had come to South Africa for four weeks as a volunteer in 2006 at the Door of Hope Children's Mission.
     He made such an impact that he was asked to return as assistant general manager and then general manager. During this time he decided to start up his own orphanage.
The Resurrection shopfront
     "We learn, we earn and we return," Oliver summed up his philosophy of humanitarian aid.
     Oliver is German by birth and studied there before working in Germany and the United Kingdom.
     It was time to "return", to give back, he decided after his spell as a volunteer.
     "I didn't think I would be asked to give back everything I earned," he said tongue in cheek.
     " I left my home in Chelsea (in London), my BMW 3 Convertible and my job in the fashion industry and spent two years at Door of Hope."
     Hotel Hope has been going for the past 12 years. It now consists of three homes, two in Melville and one for the older kids in Westdene, each with its own charity shop to help fund the running costs.
Republic of Hope on Main Rd, Melville
     The 112th child came to the home last weekend. Hotel Hope currently houses 24 children.
     So far 87 children have been adopted into their "forever families" in South Africa and overseas from Hotel Hope.
     Oliver said South Africa has an orphan crisis, but also an adoption crisis. Last year 1144 children had entered adoptive homes, but there are millions of orphaned and abandoned babies.
     Oliver himself has adopted two sons, one of whom is now 18 years old and the other 14.
     Apart from the three homes and charity shops, they have also started a Montessori pre-school for up to 18 children in Westdene to save on school fees. There are currently 6 children in the school.
     They're currently in the process of opening a fourth home, again in Melville, he said. This will be followed by a fourth charity shop.
     "We want to run family-style homes, not large impersonal institutions," he told the club.
     Hotel Hope Ministries is also involved in counselling and aid to pregnant teenagers in Alexandra township.
The New Dawn crew at the handover in May 2016. Left is PDG Frances Callard. Then-president Jankees Sligcher is flanked by Oliver and Mike MacDonald, who sourced the bakkie 
     Hotel Hope derives about 30% of its income from the charity shops and will open a new shop for every home that is established. The latest is Republic of Hope on Main Rd. in Melville (on the corner of 2nd Ave). Resurrection is in 7th Street Melville, also on the corner with 2nd Ave and Hope Charity Shop is at 32 2nd Ave.
    The flatbed truck that New Dawn donated in 2016 has helped immensely with the shops, to cart goods around and do deliveries.
     The truck is branded with the New Dawn and Rotary logo and is a familiar sight in the area.
     New Dawn members have also been busy over lockdown and our family has been spending time at our property in the Magaliesberg (with all the legal permits) to look after the staff there as well as the possessions.
Tina and I and the masked staff holding up soup packets, which were distributed to families in the Magaliesberg
     Our daughter, Rudi and her nephew Guy Stucke (Linda's sister Tina's son) roped in the guest house staff to put together soup packages consisting of beans, rice, lentils and other nutritious foodstuffs to be able to give families enough soup for a week.
     These were handed out over the weekend to families in the Buffelspoort and Marikana district, an area particularly hard hit by job losses, apart from those lucky enough to get jobs at the platinum mines.
     The two of them would make good Rotarians!
     Board meeting: Last night was president Ian Widdop's second board meeting, with a very full agenda. Tomorrow's meeting will be a business meeting with a report-back.
     Next week Christoph Plate will be addressing the club on Beauty, Hospitality and Devastation - The Great Lakes region in East Africa.
     Next week we will also be inducting Errol Burman as the newest member of the club.
     A Thought for the Week: All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope. - Alexandre Dumas (1802 - 1870)

Monday, 27 July 2020

Kitchen Therapy for Woodside

It was teatime at the Woodside Sanctuary on Saturday when we delivered a whole range of home made and some bought teatime goodies for the residents and staff.
     There were cakes, banana bread, muffins and scones galore, biscuits, tea, coffee and many other goodies, hopefully enough to go round.
Jenine Coetzer joined Linda and me when we delivered tea goodies to Woodside Sanctuary on Saturday morning.
Jane Mkhwanazi was there to receive the trolley load outside the gate
Lots to choose from for a slap-up tea

     Helene Bramwell provided fruit and a fruitcake, Judy Symons baked a cake, as did Ian Widdop and Lucille Blumberg. Jenine Coetzer gave countless packets of biscuits. Paul Channon provided date and orange muffins and there were some other goodies that we couldn't quite trace back to their donors, so forgive me if I've left your name out. There were also cash contributions into the account by Peta Thomas, Carol Stier, the Sligchers and Amina Frense with which we could purchase the basics like tea and coffee, sugar and milk.
Lucille Blumberg delivering her cake from a safe distance

     Some members, like Lucille, were only too happy to take time off from the daily grind to indulge in a bit of kitchen therapy to take their mind off things. In Lucille's case it's from the coronavirus, of course. She delivered her very yummy looking chocolate cake by car and again warned that the worst is yet to come in facing down the Covid-19 threat. Stay safe, folks!
     The seeds project also received some impetus when Helene had more seeds delivered to the Makers Valley Partnership in the Bez Valley area to the east of the Johannesburg CBD, who have instituted a feeding scheme in the area during these times of crisis.
     A part of their efforts is a vegetable garden run by the "urban farmer" Siyabonga Ndlangamandla, who is also a director of Makers Valley.
     Helene has suggested that we get Siyabonga as a speaker at a forthcoming meeting, so watch this space.
Peta's slide presentation

     Peta Thomas was the speaker at the meeting last week, speaking about the process of vetting candidates for the Rotary Peace Fellowships.
     This is a relatively new Rotary scholarship in which succesful candidates complete either a Masters degree or certificate course in peace and conflict resolution. Some of the top universities in the world are involved in the project, but there is a big push to get candidates from Africa to attend the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
     Nineteen candidates were interviewed and a final list put through to Rotary International. The final list of those selected is scheduled to be announced at the end of the year.
     Peta estimates the scholarships to be worth between $50 000 to $75 000 a year as full tuition, accommodation, air fares, etc are paid for.
     During  her talk she thanked PDG Frances Callard from the Rotary Club of Northcliff, who sat on the selection panel with her, for his efforts.
     Snippets: President Ian Widdop announced that Llewellyn Leonard has agreed to join the New Dawn board as International Services chair. 
     Paul Channon reported that the Alexandra Education Committee is carrying on with their work in feeding bursary children and their families and have enough to continue at least until the end of August and maybe even longer.
     President Ian also expressed satisfaction that the new arrangement with the WhatsApp groups (one for official club business and a separate New Dawn Chat group) is working well.
Oliver Quambusch inside one of the Hotel Hope charity shops in Melville, Resurrection

     Speaker: The speaker this week is Oliver Quambusch of Hotel Hope Ministries. Oliver is German by birth and was a successful businessman in Germany and the United Kingdom before he fulfilled a dream in South Africa of helping placing orphaned children into what his organisation calls "forever families".
     A Thought for the Week: They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea. - Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)


Monday, 20 July 2020

Setting Goals and Keeping Warm

Write your goal in life down on a card, keep it in your pocket and read it many times a day. You're then almost guaranteed to obtain that goal, the mindset coach (amongst other many talents) Lee Roebeck told the club at the meeting last week.
     Lee has already spoken to other Rotary clubs in the area (Sandton and Northcliff and came highly recommended by PDG Frances Callard.)
     Lee offered a free 45 minute call to the first three New Dawn members to discuss their goals and how to unlock them.
Lee's Facebook page with the address for a private consultation

     He said there are three types of goals: Type A is something you already know how to do, which means it's not a challenging goal. B-Type, he said, is what you think you can do. The real goal is the C-Type, he said, and is what you really want to do. You don't know how, but you know what you want.
     It was a well-received message, especially now during the coronavirus lockdown.
Delivering baby clothes, toys, nappies and other supplies to Mbali Maistry, supervisor at Hotel Hope in Melville

     We celebrated Nelson Mandela's birthday on Saturday by collecting baby clothes and other items for Hotel Hope in Melville. For those who don't know them, Oliver Quambusch, a German by birth, started Hotel Hope Ministries a number of years ago to help place orphans into deserving families, some as far away as the old Soviet Union Countries.
     He and his team fund the home mainly with three charity shops in Melville where they sell the usual sort of stuff that people donate, but also wood furniture items made as part of their upliftment scheme and sold in the shops.
     New Dawn has been a part of the Hotel Hope family for a number of years and a few years ago we donated a flatbed truck for them to transport goods to the shops. It's handed with the Rotary logo and can often be seen in and around Melville.
Warm feet, warm hearts

     Sarah Sunker of the 5Cees sent a few more photographs after we delivered warm winter socks to the Berea home last week. Sarah says they managed to save some socks for the kids at their Bramley home, as can be seen in the photograph above.
Children at 5Cees in Berea with their socks
     She thanked the club again for the donation. Sarah runs the administration of the Christ Church Christian Care Centre and is the daughter-in-law of Pastor Mike Sunker.
     Other club news is that New Dawn bagged a Platinum Presidential Citation for the previous year, the highest award by the Rotary International president honouring clubs that meet the strictest standards of successful operation.
     President Ian Widdop also announced that New Dawn has been granted a District Grant of $1000 by Rotary International, which has been earmarked for fixing and upgrading the playground at Zoo Lake. This falls somewhat short of the amount required and will of course be on hold until the current lockdown is eased considerably more than at present. This will give the club a bit of time to decide on how to proceed once it is possible to do so.
John Mahlangu with a packet of seeds
The veggie garden in Alexandra, with the Sandton skyline in the background
     Along with the socks and baby stuff, there's also been a big push for seeds in the past few weeks and during the last round seeds were also delivered, via Paul Channon, to a community vegetable garden in Alexandra.
     Rotary is all about sustainable projects and, as President Ian has said, about being people of action. New Dawn is made up not only of big projects, but gets its aura from the accumulation of the myriads of smaller (and some not so small) projects that members tackle, also including the work that Joan Sainsbury is doing at the Leeuwkop Prison.
     Speaker: Peta Thomas has been heavily involved in choosing candidates for the Rotary International Peace Scholarships and will be speaking to the club on this process on Wednesday. She has asked PDG Frances Callard, another member of the selection team, to join us. It's a very important new RI initiative and should make for an interesting meeting.
     A Thought for the Week: The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - Saint Augustine (354 - 430 AD)

Monday, 13 July 2020

Of Seeds and Socks and Other Things

President Ian Widdop, with the help of Julian Nagy, will soon be starting a strategic plan process to upgrade the club's goal setting and aims.
     This was last done a few years ago so the time seems ripe to relook at the things that make the club what it is and what members want it to be.
     The lockdown, social distancing and the barring of most meetings have made such a process a bit of a challenge, but Julian says members can soon expect a 2-page communication from him to set the ball rolling.
     This will start with a SWOT Analysis (what members see as the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to the club), followed by a more general questionnaire about what your vision of the club and its activities is.
     Ian has stressed that it is important that everybody in the club gets involved.
     Hopefully it won't be too long before members can have a physical meeting so that we can have proper debate on what the future of the club should look like.
Socks for Africa ... Margaret Lediga, Sarah Sunker, myself and Pastor Mike Sunker with some of the socks we delivered to 5 Cees 
     This goes hand in hand with Abi Sligcher's taking on of social media for the club.
     In her new role Abi has pledged to try to get the word out about what New Dawn is, what the club's goals are and how we live up to those expectations.
     She says we'll get the most out of a presence on the ubiquitous Facebook as well as Instagram and we'll have a New Dawn presence on LinkedIn as well.
     At a minimum there will be postings on Wednesdays and Sundays, so keep an eye open for them and disseminate the posts as widely as possible.
     Ian wants to take a personal interest in the website, which has also been left behind a bit over the years.
The new-look website, thanks to Carol Stier and Steve du Plessis
     The website has recently been updated and its worth taking a look.
     It includes information on membership trends, highlights some of our projects and has links to other important Rotary sites such as Rotary International, the End Polio Campaign and District 9400.
     President Ian says we'll be hearing more about the strategic planning and social media at upcoming meetings.
     He was very excited by the quick whip-around to collect money from members for winter socks for the people at Woodside and the Christ Church Christian Care Centre (5 Cees).
Itumeleng Sekhu and Kgotso Pedi delivering the socks
     Joan Sainsbury was the contact person with Itumeleng Sekhu of the Itumeleng Sekhu Foundation, who are selling the socks to raise funds.
     Itumeleng is the author of a book about her recovery from almost life threatening burns she sustained as a child, titled What do you see?
Itumeleng's book
     She's also an internationally accredited motivational speaker, media personality and entrepreneur.
     The money members raised was enough to buy 82 pairs of socks, after initially aiming for 67 pairs to commemorate Nelson Mandela's birthday on 18 July.
Linda Vink handing socks over to Jane Mkhwanazi of Woodside Sanctuary
     Some were pledged to Woodside and some to 5 Cees.
     Pastor Mike Sunker thanked the club on behalf of the children and said they'd be handing the socks out today already. After a quick count he seemed to think there were enough for all the kids in Berea.
     Pastor Mike says the lockdown has come with many challenges for the Berea home and that two children have had to go into isolation already. Not all the schools that children attend are open yet, which also causes problems.
     The current load shedding is causing further headaches and he said the most pressing need they have is for a proper generator that can handle 3-phase power to keep the lights on and the children warm and safe.
     If anyone has a contact for such a beast, I can put you in touch with Pastor Mike.
Tamzin Botha with a packet of seeds for a pilot gardening project
     The Socks initiative came hard on the heels of the Seeds initiative spearheaded by Helene Bramwell and Joan Sainsbury. Money was collected from members to buy seeds and donate them to worthy causes.
     One of the beneficiaries was a group of volunteers who run a community garden in Parkhurst.
From seeds grow plants at the Parkhurst garden
     Elize Vara, one of the volunteers, wrote in an email to New Dawn: "The garden is situated on municipal land and accessible to the public, and we encourage people to help themselves to the vegetables that we grow there. The Parkhurst clinic is also situated on the precinct, and the patients and staff are amongst our regular 'customers'."
     Amongst other recipients of seeds was Tamzin Botha, who is working on a pilot gardening project with informal reclaimers in Brixton. She also thanked the club for the seeds that were donated.
     Helene Bramwell says seeds were also donated to Paul Channon for projects in Alexandra.
Lee Roebeck, who'll be speaking at the Zoom meeting on Wednesday
     The speaker on Wednesday is Lee Roebeck, a mindset coach and professional speaker and facilitator, who is going to speak on Thinking BIG and Goal Setting.
     A Thought for the Week: When one burns one's bridges what a very nice fire it makes. - Dylan Thomas (1914 - 1953)

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Opening Rotary Opportunities

More than 30 club members (out of 36) attended the induction of Ian Widdop as the new president of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn on Saturday evening, surely a number record for any meeting of Johannesburg New Dawn and our first online induction. No pressure Ian, but I suspect expectations are running high.
     There were also almost 40 guests by my count (which is not that easy, as the panels on screen keep shifting). At the highest count there were 53 panels joining the meeting, many of them obviously couples.
Incoming president Ian Widdop raises his glass to the club
     Zoom meetings will never replace actual meetings, but Ian saw to it that it was a festive affair, marking the beginning of the Rotary year with the theme Rotary Opens Opportunities.
     It was also an opportunity to look back on what has been a year to remember for the world, for Rotary and for the club.
Ronnie Kasrils and Amina Frense. Ronnie plans on joining Amina as a member of New Dawn
     There were many highlights during a quite packed programme, starting with making Megan Maynard of The Link, Ronnie Kasrils and Mike MacDonald Paul Harris Fellows, and awarding Joan Donet with a Paul Harris Sapphire (meaning that it is her second Paul Harris).
     A person becomes a Paul Harris Fellow either by donating $1000 to The Rotary Foundation, or if someone donates $1000 on their behalf. Of current members, 16 are Paul Harris Fellows.
One of the latest Paul Harris Fellows, Mike MacDonald
     All the certificates, pins and medallions have been delivered and the handover will take place as soon as we can meet in person again.
     Ronnie Kasrils was so moved by the award that he has (finally!) decided to become a member of New Dawn. We'll hold him to his promise. He made the announcement on Saturday evening during the meeting.
     Needless to say all four are very, very deserving recipients.
Nadine Mitchley, incoming Rotaract president
     The evening also saw the induction as Nadine Mitchell as president of the Rotaract Club of Johannesburg. Nadine has been involved with the Rotaracters from the beginning and great things are expected of her term. She is one of the students who based their Masters degree research on Rotary projects in Middelburg under the stewardship of PDG Charles Deiner.
Nick Bell, who spoke on the theme of kindness
     Another highlight was the awarding of honorary membership of Johannesburg New Dawn to Nick Bell, who was also the keynote speaker on Saturday evening.
     Rt. Canon Nicholas Bell, to give him his full title, spoke on the theme of kindness and quoted Mother Theresa who said her life is all about doing small things with great love.
     Nick is a member of the Rotary Club of Holt in Norfolk, England. He and his wife, Hillary, spend three months each year with their daughter and grandchildren in Greenside and Nick has been attending New Dawn meetings regularly during their South African visits.
     Nick is only the third honorary member of the club after Yakub Essack of Gift of the Givers and the late Frayne Mathijs.
District Governor Annemarie Mostert with the year's Rotary theme in the background
     Judy Sligcher then introduced a number of guests, amongst them the new District Governor, Annemarie Mostert. Immediate Past District Governor Maurice and Chrisna Stander were also attendees, as were PDG Francis and Janet Callard, PDG Charles and Colleen Deiner and PDG Lynette and Koos Stassen from Cape Town
     We'll be seeing the new DG again on 30 September when Annemarie pays her official visit to New Dawn.
Waddy Sowma of Surinam
     Other guests included our AG, Peter James-Smith, John and Brenda McCallum, Tad Hasanuma, Waddy Sowma of Surinam, Tim Bashall of The Link, Grace van Zyl, president of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg and Errol Burman, a friend of Helene Bramwell and a prospective new member.
     Waddy said afterwards that he thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and the opportunity to speak to tell members a little bit about where he's from and about his Rotary connections.
PDG Charles and Colleen Deiner
     After the award ceremonies Judy Sligcher looked back on her year and its many highlights and then handed over the reins to Ian Widdop.
     Ian's first act as president was to re-induct Linda Vink into the club.
     In his speech he thanked Judy Sligcher for her successful year as president and continued:
   "The circumstances this evening are unusual, socially distanced and perhaps lacking atmosphere relative to our friendly environment at Parkview Golf Club. And yet we are all adapting to the changed requirement. Are we more efficient these days than in the past in how we adapt to change? Perhaps, I think so, if only because we have little choice. Charles Darwin was the first person to say species either adapt or they die. This imperative drives us on, made even quicker by the adaptations we find causing our existence to be less painful or more pleasant. So, for instance, it has been recently with remote, or virtual, communications. We now expect the opportunity presented by the likes of Zoom to extrapolate beyond our original expectations. This is how change works; sometimes it overtakes us and pulls us along opportunistically.
     Rotary is in this mix. Perhaps no surprise, given its size and global character. However, it is interesting that many months ago when the incoming Rotary International President, Holger Knaack, crafted a theme for his year in office 2020 to 2021, he chose Rotary Opens Opportunities, and a trio of opening doors as a logo. Back then, Holger had had no sight of Covid-19.
President Ian Widdop
     So – if we as individuals wish to remain relevant, empowered, and magnetic - our expectations should naturally incline towards constant change and constantly opening doors through which to venture. On this cusp is where Rotary people live and form relationships. 
     However, the opportunities, once opened, do not launch themselves. They need agency and again Rotary people step up to the plate. The creativity required to understand the new opportunity and its consequences, the structured thinking to evaluate the investment, the action orientation to make it happen, the dedication to persevere in the gathering of funds – all these and more characteristics enabled members of Rotary International, for instance, to collaborate in the reduction of the number of global polio cases from 460 000 in 1980 to less than ten in 2019.
     There is more: the real deal of Rotary is how we live. Open to opportunity and ready to act, thinking fast and slow, relevant, compassionate, and willing to share. Oh - and laugh! Fellow Rotarians have the opportunity open to them to form life-long friendships.
     And the last word: voluntary. Once a committed Rotary volunteer has made up her mind, she becomes a force of nature.
     So, to Rotarians and their friends and family, thank you for your presence here tonight. Thank you for playing a role in this community, for listening, for your moral support, and for your love. Good evening."

     Ian's year kicked off last night with his first board meeting. For those who wish to attend, and he is encouraging members to attend board meetings and take part, they are going to be held at 6pm on the first Monday evening of the month. The next board meeting will therefore be at 6pm on Monday, 3 August.
     Board meetings will, as always, be followed by a club business meeting.
     A Thought for the Week: A book must be an axe for the frozen sea inside of us. - Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924)

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Looking Back on Judy's Year

Almost a year ago the members of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn and guests were braving the cold at the Vulture Restaurant in the Magalieberg for the induction of Judy Sligcher as president of the club for 2019-2020.
     The venue and the occasion were the first of many highlights of a year that had its challenges, but has proved to be a giant step on the upward curve that RCJND has embarked on over the past five or so years.
President Judy Sligcher with some of her new board members in the Magaliesberg, all seemingly armed against the cold with good red wine. From left they are PDG Jankees Sligcher, myself, Carl Chemaly, Julian Nagy with Joan Donet peering over Judy's shoulder
     Who would have thought then that the world looks as it does now, after endless months of lockdown and coronavirus scare after scare, with the peak of infections always seeming to be a few months ahead. In May it would come in July, the scientists predicted. In June the prediction was for August. Now that we've hit July, the prediction is for the peak to be in September, with worse to come in November and December.
Julian Nagy and Carol Stier both became Paul Harris Fellows at the induction
     One of the first highlights of the Rotary year was the awarding of Paul Harris Fellowships to Julian Nagy and Carol Stier at the induction.
     This was followed by President Judy bestowing honorary membership of the club on Frayne Mathijs at her first club meeting as president at the Parkview Golf Club.
     At the meeting on 21 August Hannes Dressler and Adele Dabbs were inducted as members.
Dr Nobs Motjuwadi with the shattered wine glass
     Also in August Dr Nobs Motjuwadi of the NGO Copessa, made everybody sit up straight when she shattered a wine glass at the meeting, symbolising shattered lives when children get abused.
     She made such a great impact on Karlien Kruger that Kalien has been advising Copessa on how to run their operation more smoothly and has now even started the process of identifying a specific project with Copessa that can be used to leverage a Global Grant.
Steve du Plessis and Jankees Sligcher welcome Spring
     One thing the coronavirus crisis has proved, is that we are a club of Rotarians in action, but we also like to have fun on occasion and one such occasion was the Spring party we had at the home of Julian and Debby Nagy in Craighall Park. It's sad that a repeat this year will probably be unlikely.
     September is also the time for the annual Jozi Book Fair and as she had done for the past few years, Frayne Mathijs set up stall there to tell as many people as would listen, all about Rotary, about New Dawn and about the Humanitarian Distribution Centre in Bedfordview where she spent so many hours sorting and choosing books for those who need them the most.
DG Maurice Stander inducting Stella Dees during his official visit to the club, while President Judy looks on
     September also saw the official visit by District Governor Maurice Stander to the club, where he inducted Stella Dees as a member. She didn't last long as a member due to personal reasons, but the club has grown during this past year nevertheless.
Realema's Pier Myburgh, ex-CEO of Standard Bank Ben Kruger, Standard Bank head of compliance Ian Sinton and Carl Chemaly at the meeting
     The teacher training programme Realema took centre stage during the first meeting in October when Carl Chemaly hosted a large number of prominent Joburg business people at the golf club to explain how the programme works and to hear some of their students speak about what the experience has meant to them.
     It's an incredible programme, with Carl's sister-in-law Pier Myburgh as the driving force, and worthy of Rotary support.
Katya and Hannes Dressler at their home in Parktown West
     Also in October it was back to partying when Hannes and Katya Dressler hosted a pizza evening at their home. Hannes is German by birth and Katya Russian. He recently informed the club that Katya is pregnant with their second child, destined to be a child of Africa.
     A notable guest that evening was Paul Channon, who has since become a very valuable member.
     We also learnt from PDG David Grant that R5000 had been donated to the Polio Fund of The Rotary Foundation on behalf of New Dawn, following a very successful dinner and concert at the Balalaika Hotel in July. New Dawn took a table and Helene Bramwell another one that evening. The donation was over and above the $1000 that New Dawn donates to the Polio Fund annually.
Another anti-polio milestone
          24 October is World Polio Day and we marked it at the meeting on 23 October with a talk by Lucille Blumberg on polio and the news that the wild poliovirus type 3 has been eradicated worldwide, leaving only one poliovirus strain in existence.
The induction of the Interact Club at the National School of the Arts
     During the same week New Dawn attended the induction of the Interact Club at the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein under the guidance of Graham and Joan Donet. President-elect Ian Widdop announced that Tony Reddy had agreed to becoming president after him, for the Rotary year 2021-2022.
President Judy and PDG Jankees Sligcher at the annual Christmas dinner
Guests helping themselves to food prepared by New Dawn members
     December kicked off with the annual Christmas Dinner at Marks Park. Little did we realise when we broke up for the summer holidays that the reports of a new coronavirus outbreak in China would soon have such a devastating effect worldwide.
     The year 2020 kicked off with a different kind of tragedy, though. The death of Frayne Mathijs in a car accident on her way to do charity work, came as a profound shock. She was the best kind of Rotarian, always willing to help others.
     At our meeting at the end of January Lucille Blumberg spoke about Covid-19 and warned of things to come.
     The District Governor paid the club another visit to hand over the certificate that marked Johannesburg New Dawn as the club in District 9400 that contributed the most to The Rotary Foundation during the previous Rotary year. That was made up of the $1000 to the Polio Fund and $100 per member for the Every Rotarian Every Year effort.
     He also welcomed Jankees and Judy Sligcher as Major Donors to the Foundation for having donated a minimum of $10000.
     We also learned that after tireless effort by Julian Nagy, the club had been granted Public Benefit Organisations status and declared tax-exempt by the SA Revenue Service.
PDG Jankees and President Judy Sligcher at their function to see in the new year
     The first meeting of 2020 was followed by a gathering on the stoep at the Sligcher home in Craighall Park, one of the last social gatherings for quite some time.
Marja van Leeuwen, the Sligchers and Bert Ettekoven
     A few weeks later we had visitors from the Netherlands in the form of ex-member Bert Ettekoven and his wife, Marja van Leeuwen. Newer members won't know that Jankees Sligcher met Bert and Marja one day in the queue at Woolworths and heard them speaking Dutch. Bert then joined New Dawn and on their return to the Netherlands they have tackled joint projects with us.
Meeting on Zoom
     18 March marked the last physical meeting of the Rotary year at the Parkview Golf Club, followed a week later by the first meeting on Zoom.
     We've since had our first inductions on Zoom (Christoph Plate and Sarah de la Pasture), first speaker (Rudi Swanepoel) and first board meeting.
     New Dawn, under the leadership of President Judy Sligcher, has also tackled two major projects related to Covid-19. The first was helping the Alexander Education Committee, under the guidance of Paul Channon, to fund some of their students that have been hardest hit by the lockdown. The second is an inter-club effort to sanitise taxis and taxi ranks and to disseminate information on the coronavirus.
     There have also been countless smaller efforts by individual members, such as Joan Sainsbury's work at Leeuwkop Prison and now the seed procurement to help disadvantaged communities to grow their own vegetables.
     Coming up is the first virtual induction on Saturday, 4 July when Ian Widdop takes over the reins from Judy Sligcher.
     Remember that there is no meeting, Zoom or otherwise, tomorrow morning.
     It has been an eventful year and in many ways a difficult year to manage, but we'll all agree it has been done masterfully. Well done, Judy!
     Yours will be a hard act to follow.
     A Thought for the Week: History is a vast early warning system. - Norman Cousins (1915 - 1990)


Monday, 22 June 2020

New Beginnings at New Dawn

The end of the Rotary year is in sight, but definitely not the end of lockdown in one form or the other. Most members probably agree that it would be great to be able to meet again in the flesh, to catch up with each others' lives before and after a meeting and breakfast at the Parkview Golf Club. To be able to do so at the induction on 4 July would be even better, but alas, it doesn't seem at all likely.
     Although Zoom will no doubt be with us for a long time yet, it cannot satisfactorily substitute for every kind of meeting.
Useful information for Zoom-ers
     A new Rotary year brings new challenges. We'll all raise our hand in agreement that President Judy Sligcher's year has been a magnificent success, despite the challenges that the coronavirus has brought.
     We'll all also probably agree that we look forward to a year of Ian Widdop as president in anticipation of the club growing both in numbers and, even more importantly, in influence.
     How is this going to happen?
Dr Michael Angelo Caruso during his Discon presentation from Michigan in the USA
     Dr Michael Angelo Caruso gave a few hints during his presentation at Discon last weekend.
     It's worth listening to it and it can be found through the Discon link emailed to all members in D9400.
     He's a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Troy in Michigan, USA, incoming Rotary Public Image Co-Ordinator for Zone 28 and a professional speaker. In 1996 he was part of a Vocational Training team that visited South Africa, of which he says he has happy memories.
     In his presentation he says there are four things we as Rotarians can do to improve Rotary.
     1. Shore up Comms: he uses a military term to say communications should be improved, starting with social media. The problem is that with all the social media presence, "they're all kinda the same. We copy and paste the same message to 5 or 10 groups and we don't care who sees it, as long as some people see it. We don't see if the relevant people see it and we don't hang around for the response, we don't answer questions."
The Facebook group's page. It's worth joining
     To counter this, he's started his own Facebook group called Get the Word Out, Now! Anyone can join and if you take the club seriously, you should do so.
     The idea, he says, is not to copy average anymore. "When we send average signals, people perceive us to be average, so we have to be exceptional all the time."
     2. Rotary should be very clear on our goals. Most importantly, goals should include numbers. Want to grow your membership? Say by how many and by when. "Numbers are not open to interpretation and numbers are not fuzzy".
     Do you want your club to be fun? Say how and say when and by when, he advises. Also measure how many visitors you attract to meetings and functions, because they are the potential new members.
     3. Rotary should commit to outward facing programming, which he describes as key to growing club, district and overall membership, recalling that when he was incoming District Governor in 2016 (D6380), the Discon was opened up to Rotarians from other districts and to non-Rotarians, mainly because he could arrange for top speakers through his connections in the public speaking circuit. Zoom has created the opportunity to get sustained interest especially from overseas member to join in meetings.
     4. An improved club experience is very important because "we need to be sure that when people miss your meeting, they feel like they really missed out on something and when they have that feeling they won't ever be gone for long.
     "When a visitor comes to your club and it's the most amazing thing they've seen in a long time, they can't wait to come back a second time and a third time and then eventually you can offer them a membership application."
     "This is the kind of club experience that we want . Our membership numbers show us that perhaps the club experience is failing us, that the value proposition of joining Rotary sounds pretty good to most people when they join, but somehow that is not fulfilled in the 6 months or year after they have joined, because a lot of members drift away from us. By improving the club experience we can make Rotary a better overall experience for everybody."
     Does New Dawn tick all those boxes? It's a question we need to keep on asking ourselves. And we need to keep on improving on the answers.
Audrey with honorary patron for the CampaignFIA, former President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia
     Good speakers are one of the elements that make for good meetings and experience has taught us that good speakers have a definite impact on attendance.
     We've been fortunate to have a number of excellent speakers for our Zoom meetings these past three months. One of them was  club member Audrey Gatawa at the meeting last Wednesday.
     Audrey is one of the newer members of the club, but has already made her mark.
     Audrey works at Standard Bank where her job entails engaging government and regulators with regards to financial sector policy and regulation.
Audrey with Sophie Williams-De Bruyn and Lindiwe Mabuza
     Through her travels in most parts of Africa she helped establish an NGO, the Campaign for Financial Independence in Africa (CampaignFIA), with ex-Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda as its honorary patron. "The aim is to embed financial literacy into the Basic Education curricula of all 55 African countries in the African Union." They've started their own short courses to get the ball rolling and attempt to teach basics such as why it is so important to save and how you need to contribute value to earn money.
     "We want to raise a generation of young Africans who understand the concept of stewardship and managing Africa's resources for the future."
     Dates to Diarise: The meeting on Wednesday (24th June) is the last one for Judy Sligcher as President. Judy will use the opportunity to have a casual Zoom meeting (it starts at 7 am) to catch up after a hectic few months.
     There will be no meeting on Wednesday, 1 July. The induction of Ian Widdop as president will take place on Saturday, 4 July, starting at 6 pm. The invitations and programme will be going out shortly. It's going to be fun, informative and a special event. Members are encouraged to invite friends and family and most of all, prospective recruits (see the summary of Michael Angelo Caruso's Discon talk above). According to Jankees Sligcher, we can host up to 100 people at the meeting, so let's try to fill it up.
     A Thought for the Week: The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people. - Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)