Thursday, 17 September 2020

Sowing the Seeds of a New Project

The discussion that started with buying a few seeds after Joan Sainsbury introduced the club to Angel Network in June, culminated in a full-on zoom meeting last week with groups of urban gardeners (amongst other amazing work they do) to whom we supplied seeds.

The seeds, at R23 a pack of four (mainly beetroot, carrots, cabbage and onions) were a bargain and a great number of club members bought a supply to donate onwards.

                      The Parkhurst garden where vegetables are grown for people in need 

Some of the recipients were the Parkhurst Community Garden, the Brixton Community Centre, the Alexander Veggie Garden (near the Gautrain station) run by John Mahlangu of the Alexandra Football Association, Makers Valley and Coronacare.

Special visitors (and speakers) at the meeting were Ishmael Mkhabela, David van Niekerk and Anne Steffny of the Johannesburg Inner City Partnership, of which Makers Valley are a section, Thobile Chittenden and Siya Ndlangamandla of Makers Valley and Kim Harrisberg and Robyn Garruda of Coronacare.

In true Rotary networking style Helene Bramwell (Anne Steffny is a friend client and who knows the Makers Valley team) and Lucille Blumberg (Kim Harrisberg's father is a colleague) connected the club with the speakers who spoke to the club about their projects.

Each team got ten minutes or so to address us and there was a bit of time for a general discussion afterwards. One gets the feeling this will be nowhere near the end of that and related discussions.

                          One of the aims of the JICP

First up was David van Niekerk of the JICP (, who told the club in general what the organisation does (it focuses on a clean, safe and welcome inner city in partnership with, amongst others, the City of Johannesburg and more recently the Gauteng Province). He also spoke more particularly on projects such as inner city farms, help for the homeless, recycling projects and city tourism.

He took the club on a virtual tour of Johannesburg and showed a map of where all the farms are where food is grown to feed communities, many of them on rooftops in the CBD. Many of these were established by Makers Valley Partnership, who are based at Victoria Yards in Lorentzville on the eastern side of the city.

                      Spinach fresh from the earth and ready for the pot

Thobile Chittenden, who hosted a New Dawn group at Victoria Yards a few weeks ago, explained how the Victoria Yards owners had granted them space where they could set up an office and a bank of computers where prospective entrepreneurs can go and work on business proposals.

The idea is that once people have the means to get going, they stay in the area and invest in the community. A large part of this consists of feeding schemes with much of the food donated by Nandos, whose head office is a close neighbour.

                  A slide from the Makers Valley presentation. Top left is Meghan Markle during her visit there

Victoria Yards (, which is owned in partnership by the urban developer Brian Green, also responsible for the 44 Stanley complex in Richmond in the Auckland Park area, is an inspiring place to visit.

It consists of dozens of artisanal shops and businesses, for instance the coffee shop Foakes, whose Happy Sekanka sources his honey from local beekeepers and trains locals in baking skills in his spare time. Tshepo the Jeanmaker makes jeans and employs 30 local seamstresses, who made dungarees for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's son, Archie. She was a recent visitor there as the British Council is a sponsor.

                    The Makers Valley team during our visit. Left is Thobile and right Siya

Siya is in charge of the gardens at Victoria Yards, which are lush and magnificent, but mainly overseas gardens in the community, teaching communities how to grow their own vegetables and other edibles. They have established many edible street gardens where people can help themselves in passing, but are now also promoting backyard gardening.

He's also looking into a truly sustainable garden in Joubert Park, an area that sorely needs it.

                        A screen shot of the Coronacare website                          

Kim Harrisberg, a journalist with Reuters, told how she and family and friends decided at the beginning of the lockdown in March to do something to help in  the community. This saw eight of them give birth to the organisation Coronacare (

They aim to connect people who have the money, time and the inclination to organisations who need their input and expertise. She says they have already helped 180 organisations in this way and estimate that they have provided and distributed up to 250 000 meals during lockdown. They aim to provide more sustainable help in the future and to move from providing food vouchers to more lasting urban farms.

Dates to Diarise: Next week (Wednesday, 23 September) is the social meeting at 6pm at the Country Club Johannesburg. The address is 1 Napier Road. If you're asked at the security entrance, say you're meeting with Carol Stier or Linda Vink, both whom are members. (Hannes Dressler is also a member.) Linda and I won't be there as we'll be in the Pilanesberg for the week, but all the arrangements have been made.

The Wednesday after (30 September) is a zoom meeting again and will be attended by DG Annemarie Mostert. She'll meet with the New Dawn board after the normal club meeting.

A Thought for the Week: Between saying and doing many a pair of shoes is worn out. - Iris Murdoch (1919 - 1999)

Monday, 14 September 2020

To Zoom or not to Zoom

After nearly six months of various stages of lockdown, things are slowly getting back to a more normal rhythm in the world out there, the world from which we have been sheltering ourselves in fear of contracting Covid-19.
     So it is with the world of Rotary too. Although meetings are still on zoom, the club has decided to have a social next Wednesday evening (23 September) in lieu of the usual fifth Wednesday social. The fifth Wednesday of September we'll be visited via zoom by DG Annemarie Mostert, which will be her official visit to the club.
     The board meeting this evening to further discuss the strategic plan, will be at Carol Stier's home in Parkview, so also face-to-face. The aim is to get the updated and revised strategic plan ready for the DG's visit.
The new covered veranda at the CCJ
     The social meeting will be on the new veranda of the Johannesburg Country Club in Auckland Park. When the plan was mooted last week nobody said they wouldn't attend, but it being a social evening, attendance is by choice.
     More regular face-to-face meetings at the Parkview Golf Club will be discussed again at the next board meeting (the first Monday evening of the month). Several suggestions of a mixture of zoom and physical meetings have been proposed.
     There seems to be a consensus that board meetings will be held on zoom and many members have said they'd prefer at least some of the regular meetings to remain on zoom.
     In advising on the possibility of a social meeting next Wednesday, Lucille Blumberg said new cases of the virus are definitely coming down, as are hospital admissions.
     Lucille said she avoids any contact with anybody for more than 15 minutes at a time, and always keeps a distance of at least a metre.
     The CCJ has advised that it follows full coronavirus protocol and that the wearing of masks is compulsory to all visitors.
The pizza menu at CCJ
     The idea is to have a pizza evening, starting at 6pm. A pizza typically costs about R60 to just over R100 and there is a bar available, so remember to bring cash and a mask.
     There's another deadline looming after Tony Reddy resigned as secretary of the club and withdrew his candidature to be the next president after Ian Widdop, due to business pressures.
     Tony is working on a project involving 19 African countries and feels he won't be able to give either positions enough attention to warrant staying on. He's definitely not leaving the club, he says.
     Joan Donet is filling in as temporary secretary and nominations for both posts must be in with her before the next board meeting on 5 October.
     The position of secretary is obviously more urgent, but a new president-elect will have to be in place by the very latest at the end of this year.
     Remember, in accordance with Rotary practices, you cannot put a name forward without clearing it with the person concerned. They have to be willing to accept a nomination before it can become official.
     The seed project, so brilliantly kicked off by Helene Bramwell, will be under discussion at the meeting on Wednesday. There will be four speakers telling us about their gardening projects and efforts in helping urban communities feed themselves. Don't miss it.
     A Thought for the Week: It is easy to sit up and take notice. What is difficult is getting up and taking action. - Honore de Balzac (1799 - 1850)

Monday, 7 September 2020

The State of the News is Terminal

There are people who say that asking whether newspapers will eventually vanish is like asking 65 million years ago whether dinosaurs would become extinct.

The answer is probably not quite as emphatic as a meteorite wiping out a whole world of living creatures, but there is no doubt that newspapers are in terminal trouble.

 This was one of the themes that President Ian Widdop brought up when he introduced the topic of mass communication for a club discussion at the meeting last week.

There is little doubt that 45 minutes was not long enough for what turned out to be a lively and layered debate on a topic that has vexed the media industry for the better part of two decades.

Newspapers, which once played a pre-eminent role in media, are in the firing line, losing readership to electronic media and advertising to social media, with attempts to turn the tide back in their favour with paywalls and a larger Internet presence, being only partial successful.

This is a far cry from circulations counting in the millions, readership in multiples of that and newspaper management meeting with cigarette and liquor company executives once a year to discuss solo advertisements on front pages over drinks in fancy restaurants.

The New York Times building in Manhattan, the world's best known newspaper

Ian quoted Mark Thomson, the outgoing British born CEO of the New York Times (one of the few remaining truly successful publications) as predicting the demise of newspapers in 20 years' time.

Word at Media24, the largest newspaper and magazine publisher in South Africa, is that that timeline is unlikely to be much longer than two years. Koos Bekker, now chairman of Naspers, the holding company, reportedly has referred to newspaper technology as "platgestampte boomstompe", or flattened tree stumps.

Thompson in an exit interview compared the the relationship between newspapers and their print editions to that between the Titanic and an iceberg.

The truth is that a publication once every 24 hours just doesn't cut it against live streaming news (TV) or on the conglomeration of thousands of websites all chasing breaking news and all being able to publish almost instantaneously.

A newspaper like the Sun in the UK, which not so long ago was selling more than 5 million copies a day, dropped to 1.2 million in February this year. No wonder that Rupert Murdoch has decided to stop publishing the circulation figures of his newspapers in the UK. His newspaper The Times of London, which has been going since 1785, has dropped to under 350 000 daily sales from a high of over 700 000. Interestingly, the combined print and online circulation is less that the highest daily sales were.

South Africa's two biggest Sunday newspapers, Rapport and Sunday Times

In South Africa Rapport, for example, once had an average circulation of 500 000 every Sunday. That has waned to under 100 000 and that was before the present lockdown. When I worked there it was battle to keep the circulation above 400 000. That battle has been emphatically lost.

The Sunday Times, which sold more than 500 000 copies a week for decades, fell to about 200 000 before the lockdown caused further carnage. Most South African newspapers didn't report circulation after March this year because of the havoc the lockdown has caused.

The attempt to boost sales figures with tabloids publishing mainly in the townships in South Africa was a spectacular success just after the turn of the century, with Daily Sun selling more than 500 000 copies a day and Sunday Sun almost 250 000. Daily Sun now sells less than 100 000 a day and Sunday Sun has been closed down.

It's hard to compete with a smart phone that fits in your pocket.

The FT website. Most major newspaper titles have a heavy presence on the Internet

With all due respect to print journalists all over the world, the best journalists are more and more opting for the internet, thankfully creating pockets of excellence, balanced reporting and thoughtful comment around titles such as the New York Times, Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Guardian, etc (note that the scales have tipped heavily in favour of financial and economic journalism. When I started out financial journalists were seconded from the ordinary newsroom because they could vaguely understand what was being said in company reports).

The nature of the internet also means people all over the world have access to the same news, in some ways a blessing and in others a danger. But at least you don't have to live in Manhattan, DC, London and a handful of other cities to have access to quality reporting.

Rather than agonise whether newspapers will last or not (they won't, at the very least not nearly in the dominant position they had until a decade or two ago), we should be asking whether journalism will last against the attacks of fake news and other forms of news manipulation.

It's a facile argument that right-wing thinking is responsible for this, because the whole ethos of political correctness and shouting down anybody who dares raise an opposing view, is just as damaging. We all long for the days of balanced reporting, giving the reader enough information to make up their own mind.

You only have to think about the state capture reporting of the past few years to realise how critically important the dissemination of reliable news is.

I'll be reading all about it in the flattened tree stumps (augmented by online sources) until the day I die ... or the day my favourite newspapers finally die.

One of the gardens at Victoria Yards 

And in other news

There's a board meeting tonight and a business meeting on Wednesday. 

On Wednesday 16th September we'll be hearing more about the seeds project that the club undertook during the darker days of lockdown, and from the people who received them.

The speakers are Siya Ndlangamandla and Thobile Chittenden of Makers Valley at Victoria Yards, Kim Harrisberg of the Reuters Foundation and Anne Steffny of Inner City Projects

The meeting of 23 September will be an evening social meeting, but at the time of writing the decision to do it online or face to face was still pending.

The meeting on 30 September marks the visit of the DG, Annemarie Mostert. She has said she'd prefer an online meeting.

A Thought for the Week: To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea. - Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Monday, 31 August 2020

There's a Spring in Our Step

Spring is all about renewal after the hardships of winter and a fitting turning of the season in the southern hemisphere this year, signalling a change and opening up after the harsh lockdown conditions of the past five months.

Well, not quite time for a complete change, according to Prof. Lucille Blumberg, our in-house specialist on all things virus related, especially Covid-19.

She advised that the club sits tight for another few weeks and only contemplates meeting in person towards the middle of September to the beginning of October again.

There will obviously be a discussion about when the best date is, but the club is already planning a joint talk on the seeds project for the meeting on 16 September, which could well be an opportunity to meet in person again.

The Parkview golf course in summer

The Parkview Golf Club has given assurances that they're ready for any event involving less than 50 people regarding social distancing, enforcing the wearing of masks, sanitising and other measures. The possibility of live streaming meetings for those who don't want to venture from their lockdown homes yet, is also being investigated.

The Rotary year is slipping by and so many things have been put on hold that Spring seems like an ideal opportunity to get going again. What we do now, will hopefully bear fruit later or, in the words of Walter Scott (1771 - 1832): Unless a tree has born blossoms in spring, you will vainly look for fruit on it in autumn.

The trees that we need to bear fruit are of course mainly to do with fund raising. Two of our major fund raising events are looming: the annual Golf Day and the annual Festive Dinner.

We've managed to get a later date for the Golf Day, namely Friday, 27 November at the Parkview Golf Club.

The golf day that Mike MacDonald had arranged for earlier in the year to help a young black golfer, had to be cancelled due to to lockdown and the plan is now to combine the two, hopefully with an expanded field of players.

Andy Ostle of the SAGDB and Mike MacDonald at the meeting in February

Andy Ostle of the SA Golf Development Board told the club in February that the 12-year-old youngster, Eric, is already playing provincial golf against children much older than himself and that the SAGDB was trying to raise money to help educate him and further his career.

The Golf Day is unfortunately just a week before the Festive Dinner, provisionally booked for Friday, 4 December at Marks Park. Diarise those two dates, as the club as a whole is going to have to put in a major effort to make both a success. It's not ideal to have them so close together, but still far better than having to cancel either of the two.

Both these dates naturally depend on the situation with the coronavirus at the time and the circumstances based on lockdown levels and other regulations.

Pat Dixon on zoom

The speaker at the meeting last week was Pat Dixon, who told the club about her new career as a life coach and what life coaching entails. Pat is an Englishwoman who came to South Africa in 1981. After being retrenched from the catering company Fedics (where she met Graham Donet) she trained as a coach. She specialises in transition coaching and retirement issues.

She and her husband, Peter, have a daughter and son, who is a professional county cricketer in the UK.

She spoke about the impact that Covid-19 is having on a large number of people, not only regarding health and welfare, but also in terms of retrenchments, job loss and loss of business and about resetting your goals to overcome the negative effects.

Pat owns a company, Your Time is Now, and left her contact details for any members if they wanted to speak to her (website:, email:, cell: 082 776 5963).

At the meeting on Wednesday President Ian Widdop will be leading a discussion on the state and future of mass media in these times of investigative journalism, social media and mad coronavirus theories. He's asked the five members in the club who either work or have worked as journalists  (Carol Stier, Christoph Plate, Amina Frense, Jenine Coetzer and myself) and of course any other members, to contribute to a discussion. It's bound to be a lively debate, so make sure you're there.

A Thought for the Week: Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only. - Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902)

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Planting the Seeds of Hope

 The year 2020 started off on a positive note. Things were looking up, said Dawn Nathan-Jones in the first webinar arranged by the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn.

     She told how she and her business partner, Lesley Waterkeyn, had addressed more than 200 entrepreneurs in Johannesburg towards the middle of March, part of a countrywide tour they were undertaking. 

     Then came the news of a pending lockdown. "It was only supposed to last 21 days, remember," Dawn said. After the first 21 days and growing signs of a worldwide crisis, they decided that rather than sit back and wait for things to happen, they needed to find the positives in this strange new situation.

     "We felt morally obliged to do something more, something positive."

Stories of hope in a new book

     That something positive translated into writing a book about stories of hope in these critical times. The book, Hope Stories, authored by Dawn, Lesley and Sandy van Dijk, was published this week and ought to be in bookstores by now. It costs R299, but if you order it through Linda, they'll sell it directly for R250 and donate 10% of that to Meriting, the entrepreneurial NGO who'll also be the beneficiary of the rest of the funds raised from the webinar.

     There were payments from 24 club members, although not all of them attended. There were a further 16 payments, amongst them Rotaract members who were sponsored by individuals at New Dawn. The total income, without the proceeds of the book, comes to R6450.

     Some members said the price (R150) was too steep and others said the time (10am) didn't suit them.

     Dawn and Lesley said their book is divided into seven chapters, each representing lessons of hope they learnt from interviewing people who saw the lockdown as a unique opportunity not just to do business , but to give back to the community.

     They have branded the chapters with the seven colours of the rainbow, to tie in with their Over the Rainbow organisation. These interviewees include changing handbag manufacturing to face masks, teaching people how to plant and grow their own vegetables and making furniture for home offices. You'll have to read the book to get the full picture.

The famous stoep at the Parkview Golf Club. Picture yourself there with a G & T 

     This is possibly the first in a series of New Dawn Forum conversations proposed by some club members, although it raises the question of whether it will be a duplication of our normal speaker programme once we get back to meeting at the Parkview Golf Club again (hopefully soon now that we've been moved to Level 2 lockdown).

Linda, Helene and me flanked by Thobile Chittenden and Siya Ndlangamandla in front of a vertical garden at
 Victoria Yards

     Speaking of growing seeds, Helene Bramwell, Linda and I visited Victoria Yards in Bez Valley (it's actually in Lorentzville, but even most Johburgers don't know where that is. It's tucked away between Judith's Paarl, Bertrams and Bezuidenhout Valley).

     Victoria Yards is a complex of buildings housing small enterprises of mainly craftspeople and galleries, but also Makers Valley, an NGO which help tend the gardens in the complex, but also has an outreach programme in the area teaching people how to grow vegetables.

One of the gardens inside Victoria Yards

     They were one of the recipients of seeds for the programme which Helene spearheaded for New Dawn during the darkest days of the lockdown, which is also a story of hope that would've fitted in well with Dawn, Sandy and Lesley's book.

     Thobile Chittenden, CEO of Makers Valley and Siya Ndlangamandla, a director who is in charge of the neighbourhood gardening scheme, showed us around Victoria Yards and invited the club to attend their monthly market on the first Sunday of every month. We agreed that it sounded like a good idea for a club social outing, so watch this space.

     They'll be speaking to the club along with other recipients for seeds, in the near future.

     The ravages of time and load shedding got in the way of a blog last week, so I decided to combine the two weeks with a single blog.

Lake Kivu in Rwanda, on the DRC border and one of the African Great Lakes

     Last week's meeting was given over to Christoph Plate, a veteran journalist and now Director of the Media Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. 

     Christoph spent many years as a foreign correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya and covered most of the Great Lakes region in East Africa and other parts of the world from there. He sketched the colonial history of the region.

     He said it is a great tragedy that some of the world's worst conflicts (such as the Rwandan genocide) take place in some of the most beautiful places on earth.

     He is clearly well informed and many members said they hope he'll be available to speak to the club again soon.

Simon Selaledi at a Rotary display case at Promo World in Bedfordview

     The meeting last week also saw the induction of Errol Burman into the club after Dave Marshall read out the charge to him. I have Errol's badge and other induction paraphernalia safely at home after visiting the new Rotary Shop in Bedfordview for the first time. Simon Selaledi, who ran the old shop, has moved to Bedfordview and runs the Rotary Shop as part of the business Promo World, which specialises in branding merchandise and now holds the licence as an official Rotary vendor, the first in Africa.

     It was quite a busy Rotary week as Jankees and Judy Sligcher, Julian Nagy and I also met with David Southey, another prospective member, to give him a bit of a feel for the club, something that has been very difficult during lockdown. David seemed quite keen to join, but would prefer to see everybody in person before committing.

     There'll be a speaker next week, yet to be decided. Following that will be a board and business meeting the week after where a return to Parkview Golf Club will again be on the agenda, providing we get positive medical advice, of course.

     A Thought for the Week: Dreams will get you nowhere, a good kick in the pants will take you a long way. - Baltasar Gracian y Morales (1601 - 1658)

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Inspiring Tales In Uncertain Times

 It's just over a week to go to the first webinar in what the club hopes will become a regular New Dawn Forum fundraising mechanism. As we all know by now, raising funds, the lifeblood of any Rotary club, has become increasingly difficult as the lockdown continues into August of a year that for many has been traumatic.

     The webinar is being presented by Dawn Nathan Jones and Lesley Waterkeyn and costs only R150 per person. Probably because of the long weekend registrations have been very slow, so please support your club in this effort and circulate the invitation with the registration details to everyone you know. We'll have to get at least 100 people to make it a significant fundraiser.

The invitation. Please forward it to as many people as possible

     The webinar is next Wednesday, 19 August at 10 am and will last an hour. It will be in place of the regular 7am meeting. Only people who have paid and registered with Karlien Kruger, as stated on the invitation, will be allowed to attend. The link will be sent out before the meeting to those who have registered.

     The club has also decided to sponsor attendance by 10 members of the Rotaract club and some members have already offered to sponsor Rotaractors, although we need some more sponsors. You're also welcome to pay more than R150 to help raise funds.

The cover of the book, which will be on sale at R200 a copy

     Dawn and Lesley have just written a book, Hope Stories, 27 Stories of Hope and Inspiration in Unprecedented Times, which will be officially published on 18August, the day beforethe webinar.

     During the webinar Dawn and Lesley will be sharing lessons of courage and inspiration during the current uncertain times.

     Proceeds from the webinar, as well as 10% of all sales of the book during the webinar, will go to Meriting, one of the club's signature projects, which empowers unemployed youth through education to become productive citizens and community entrepreneurs. You can read more about them at:

     Dawn and Lesley are both accomplished speakers and the webinar promises to be an experience to remember.

Dawn Nathan-Jones

     Dawn is known as one of the founder members, along with Carol Scott and Maureen Jackson, of Imperial Car Rental, which later became Europcar. She was CEO for many years before leaving in 2016 and becoming the only female Shark in the M-net reality series Shark Tank South Africa, where people with entrepreneurial skills could apply for funding for start-up projects.

     Part of her new life is giving back and this involves developing strategic partnerships with the aim to aid fledgling businesses, specifically focused on youth and women. One of these partnerships is her investment in Over the Rainbow, a social enterprise NGO that strengthens entrepreneurship ecosystems by providing entrepreneurs with resources that will enhance their success and sustainability in business.

     Dawn's passion for female and youth development not only stems from her role as a successful businesswoman, but from her ability to understand the difficulties women face in starting their own businesses. As a result, she is focusing her time on empowering female start-ups with innovative skillsets to succeed in today's challenging economic climate.

Lesley Waterkeyn

     Lesley Waterkeyn is the founder and vice chairman of Colourworks, now known as CWDi after merging with Design Ink in Johannesburg. The company has an impressive client base and deals with blue-chip companies throughout South Africa.

     She is described as a natural rainmaker whose generous and infectious entrepreneurial spirit uplifts and inspires others to do more than they imagined possible. A lifelong learner and active member of the world's largest peer-to-peer entrepreneurial network Entrepreneurs' Organisation, Lesley is passionate about unlocking the potential of South Africa's young people. She is also the co-founder of Over the Rainbow.

     You can find out more about Over the Rainbow at

A family in KZN with a Hippo roller

     A number of members, including the Sligchers, Linda and I, the Donets, Helene Bramwell,  and Lewellyn Leonard attended the Zoom meeting of the Rotary Club of Winnipeg last Wednesday evening. The speaker was Strini Reddy, who attended the New Dawn  meeting in June where we thanked our international partners for their help with the Sondla Abantwana (Taking Care of Children) project in Alexandra.

The contents of the Survival Kit

     Strini spoke about their 1000 Survival Gardens Project which aims to distribute a thousand Survival Garden Kits to 1000 women in Africa at a cost of about R2500 per kit. He also mentioned the New Dawn Alexandra project and was clearly pleased that so many members of New Dawn attended.

     The Rotary Club of Winnipeg has already delivered the first consignment of 40 Hippo rollers, which are manufactured in Johannesburg,  to the Rotary Club of Hillcrest in KwaZulu-Natal-Natal, which were transported to needy families in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

     The Hippo water rollers are of course not news to District 9400, as PDG Jankees Sligcher managed to get hold of them for a donation during his year as District Governor.

     Speaker: The speaker tomorrow is club member Christoph Plate, who will be speaking on East Africa. Christoph is Director of the Media Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

     President Ian Widdop will also induct Errol Burman as the newest member of the club.

     A Thought for the Week: What a child doesn't receive he can seldom later give. - P.D. James (1920 - 2014)



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)