Monday, 18 February 2019

Spanning the Generations at New Dawn

In true New Dawn style we celebrate the young and the slightly less young all in the same week.
     This has happened because last week Frayne Mathijs had her 80th birthday and this week the Rotaracters will be addressing the club.
     We also had a speaker last week, fellow Rotarian Elvis Munatswa of the Johannesburg North East club.
A toast to a favourite member on her 80th birthday, and may there be many more
     Frayne's 80th was celebrated with some orange juice and something fizzy for breakfast provided by President Linda Vink, and a magnificent carrot cake compliments of Carol Stier, for the health conscious amongst us.
If you weren't there you missed out
     In true Frayne style she managed to get in a plug for the National Progressive Primary Health Care Network during her brag and even produced a photograph of her with the founding members. See if you can spot Frayne, or rather a much younger version of her in the photo.

Frayne with the photo while Steve du Plessis listens to her brag, spade at the ready
Where's Frayne? Hint: somewhere in the middle
     Elvis Munatswa told the club that he runs a corporate wellness programme aimed at ensuring that people in the workplace remain functional. People often go to work hiding conditions such as depression and end up not being fully functional, which can frustrate fellow workers.
     Sadness is the major sign of depression, he said, but sadness is not the same thin as depression.
     "Depression has sadness for breakfast, lunch, dinner, on walks and in other everyday activities."
     "People on the edge don't smile as much, laugh as much, hug and high fives each other as much. They show fatigue and loss of energy."
Elvis Munatswa talking on depression
     As a community we have lost the capacity for compassion, he said.
     The answer is to try to spend time with colleagues who seem a bit off-colour. Give free hugs, high-fives and a kiss on the cheek freely.
     "People who get depressed are you and I, the person sitting next to you. If you don't have the tools to help them, refer them to people who have."
     Judging by the questions afterwards and the intensity of some of them, it'll be a good idea to invite Elvis back at a later stage.
Judy Sligcher and Carol Stier at the COSA meeting at the weekend
     As usual fellow club members were doing things Rotary at the weekend and a number attended PDG Jankees Sligcher' COSA (that's Rotary-speak for Council of Southern African District Governors) meeting at Twickenham Guest House in Auckland Park.
     Linda and I hosted the meeting as part of our day job as guest house owners and by all accounts it was a very successful conference.
     Delegates from all four Southern African districts attended and there were DG's, IPGD's, PDG's, DGE's and DGN's galore.
DGA Colleen Deiner won the prize for the most spectacular hat, proving that Rotarians can also have fun.
 PDG Shirley Downie looks on
     Rotary is a very American and Western orientated organisation and regional interest often get swamped by the interest and passions of the larger areas with the most members, so a conference like this serves a very useful purpose and helps build friendships and networks between the different districts.
     The speakers this week are Nadine Mitchley and Minenhle Majola of the Rotaract club who will each give a short presentation on the research they did in Middelburg under the watchful eye of DG Charles Deiner last year.
     They're inviting all the members of the Rotaract club along, which presents an ideal opportunity for members to get to know them a bit better, so please do attend the meeting.
Ian Widdop talks about our link with The Link
     Ian Widdop, fresh from his knee operation, was at the meeting last week and said that Tim Bashell of The Link Trust, our major project, will try to be at the meeting this week, hopefully giving him an opportunity to speak to the club about developments there.
     Dates to Diarise
     The speaker the following week is Wayne Duvenage, CEO of Outa (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse), which gives us another great opportunity to invite guests and prospective members to showcase the club and the work we do.
     The theme of his talk will be: Are we winning the fight against corruption?
     The other important date is of course the Bridge Drive on Thursday, 14th March in Orchards.
Linda and Joan Donet have all the details.
     A Thought for the Week: Be sincere; be brief; be seated. - Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 -1945)

Monday, 11 February 2019

Three Aussies Tackle South Africa

There was a great turnout at the meeting last week to provide a quorum (two thirds of the membership) to change the club bylaws in line with the requirements of an application for Public Benefit Organisation status.
     This entails an application to the South African Revenue Service for tax exemption, which is in process and the application will hopefully be lodged fairly soon in line with what other clubs in the district are doing.
Ringing in the changes ... Julian Nagy explaining the procedure

     Julian Nagy explained the procedure to the members and the changes were voted in by a show of hands and duly minuted.
     PBO status will allow Johannesburg New Dawn to operate within set SARS guidelines without having to pay taxes on the proceeds of our fundraising.
     Most of the rest of the meeting was taken up by a trio of Australian paramedics, in South Africa to receive training in their chosen field.
PDG Jankees Sligcher with the three Aussies, Damien Barfolo, Liam Flint and Phat Kevin Nguyen
     They explained the difference between paramedics as practised in their home country and in South Africa. Predictably the main theme was that the Aussies are orderly, everybody obeys the rules and the South African situation is chaotic.
     With about 200 road deaths annually in Australia compared with 160 in Cape Town alone in December, that is hardly surprising.
Damien Barfolo is a member of the Rotaract club at Western Sydney University and the other two say he, true to Rotary tradition, has put a bit of pressure on them to also join
     They said the most surprising to them was that road users don't bother giving way to ambulances and other emergency vehicles in crisis situations and drivers often become abusive. This obviously includes minibus taxi drivers.
     In Australia their work is more about treating medical conditions and helping the elderly and sick, whereas in South Africa most of the work is about trauma and violence. In Australia Aids is almost unknown whereas South African paramedics are regularly exposed to HIV and other communicable diseases.
     There were a number of other visitors, amongst them prospective members. Helen Bramwell of The Mask paid a return visit while Nick Bell came for the last time in a while, as he and his wife are off for a holiday to Namibia before returning home to his retirement in Holt. He has promised to visit again the next time they visit their daughter in Greenside.
Tony and Carolina Reddy expressed an interested in joining Rotary
     Also there were Tony and Carolina Reddy, who said they're scouting clubs to see where they fir in prior to joining Rotary. We did our best to persuade them that they need look no further than New Dawn.
     Tony said they had decided to become involved in community work now that their children have become independent. They have three daughters and one grandchild and live in Birdhaven.
     Tony runs an investment company involved with technology and private investment and Carolina works at Standard Bank. They've been married for 25 years.
     Judy Sligcher's brother, Harman Gonggryp, was also a visitor while Tina and Kate Stucke attended as Kate is interested in becoming a paramedic.
Nosipho and Lipho Bekani
     The final two visitors were Nospiho Bekani and her daughter, Lipho, who attended to get to know Rotary a bit better. Zipho attended an interview for a stint as a short term Rotary exchange student after being interviewed by club members just before the last board meeting.
     Everyone agreed she'd make a ideal participant and we hope all goes well with her during the interviewing and matching process.
     Lipho is a Grade 11 student at Parktown Girls across the road from the golf course and could provide the motivation for the creation of an Interact club at the school.
Elvis Munatswa is the speaker on Wednesday
     The speaker this week has visited the club before and is a member of the Johannesburg North East club. He is a registered psychotherapist focusing, in his own words, on the wellness of individuals in corporates, families and in daily life.
     Elvis practices in the Westdene area. He has been through the Rotary mill, starting in Interact, moving up to Rotaract and now as a full-blooded Rotarian.
     Elvis says he hopes to popularise conversations that normalise mental health through seminars, radio and TV programmes.
     The theme of his talk will be overcoming depression in the modern world.
     A Thought for Valentine's Week: The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. - Audrey Hepburn (1929 - 1993)

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A Glimpse Into the Future

His prognosis for the coming months in South Africa is that the election result shouldn't have too many surprises, but that the months between now and May could be stormy.
     That was the message of Peter Bruce, well-known newspaper columnist and editor.
     Peter spoke to a roomful of 34 New Dawn Rotarians and friends and family for one of the most interesting meetings the club has had.
Peter Bruce addresses the meeting
     Peter said his father was a Rotarian and a founder member of the Umtata club, which is still going strong.
     The election result, he predicted after talking to pollsters and pundits, would be in the region 55% - 60% to the ANC, with the DA stable or perhaps a little down on the previous election, the EFF more or less stable or slightly higher and little change amongst smaller parties. It means there will be little change over the 2014 election.
     "This means only a slight shift, but it's going to be a rough next few weeks."
Peter Bruce explaining a point while President Linda Vink and Joan Donet look on
     The big danger is that the ANC could dip below 50% in Gauteng and take on the EFF as a coalition partner, giving them access to power and the tender process.
     He doesn't foresee that the ANC could dip below 50% of the popular vote anywhere else, not even in Northwest Province where the ANC has been in turmoil.
     He said there are fissures showing in the DA and that the party is spending so much time arguing about policy that they'll end upon offering much the same as they did in 2014. "It's not good enough."
Carl Chemaly brought a veritable boardroom of friends and contacts to the meeting. From left are Richard Gush, CEO of Merrill Lynch and Dale Sargent with Carl and Graham Donet
     He also said the Zuma faction in the ANC is underestimating President Cyril Ramaphosa's fightback against their fightback after the ousting of Jacob Zuma as president.
     "It'll only take one or two arrests to change things," he said in reference to the appointment of Advocate Shamila Batohi as the new NPA head.
Adriaen Sligcher, Mike MacDonald, David Marshall and Wayne Duvenhage sharing breakfast
     "South Africa isn't broken. We all went on holiday in December as usual. The country functions most of the time. We'll have robust but free and fair elections. My advice is to go into the elections as enthusiastic citizens."
     "Enjoy the next few months, it'll be exciting."
Frank Odenthal, Paul Kasango, Peta Thomas, Frayne Mathijs and Jankees Sligcher at the meeting
Russ Smith and Debbie and Paula Nagy were amongst the guests
Nick Bell, a retired Anglican priest, was a welcome visitor again, with Judy Symons
     Carl Chemaly invited a group of friends and contacts to the meeting and we could just see some of them again soon, as one of them was Wayne Duvenhage from the organisation Outa, who will be the speaker at the meeting on 27 February.
     This promises to be another highlight of the Rotary year, so try to be there.
Nick Barnes of Jozi Housing, Joan Donet, Peter Bruce and Tina Stucke listen as President Linda Vink addresses the club
     Amongst the guests were Peter Delmar, a journalist and amongst other things organiser of the Parkview Literary Festival, which will be held on Heritage Day in September again. It sounds like an initiative with which New Dawn would want to be involved.
     Also there were Peter Day and Nick Barnes from Jozi Housing, Peter Raubenheimer from the Veterinary Wholesaler Lakato, Dale Sargent of ArtVault, Richard Gush, CEO of Merrill Lynch and Ross Randall, CEO and co-founder of Ivy Private Equity.
     Most of them live in the Parkview/Parktown North area so could be persuaded to join New Dawn.
Peter Bruce speaking to Richard Gush, Ross Randall and Wayne Duvenhage of Outa
     Adriaen Sligcher and Dave Marshall were also visitors, but both are becoming members. We've received a letter of good standing from Rotary Brits-Hartbeespoort, so to all intents and purposes David is already a member. He will be formally invited into the club once we receive his new badge.
     Also amongst the guests were Tina Stucke (Linda's sister), Debbie and Paula Nagy (Julian's wife and daughter), Nick Bell and Russ and Andrew Smith.
Damien Barfolo, Liam Flint and Phat Kevin Nguyen
     Although the meeting this week will take the form of a mini-AGM to ratify changes to the club constitution and by-laws for our PBO application, there will also be what promises to be an interesting talk by three young Australians.
     They are Damien Barfolo, Liam Flint and Phat Kevin Nguyen, three paramedic students from Western Sydney University in Australia, in Johannesburg to pick up experience of paramedic work for the usual obvious reasons.
     Damian is a Rotaractor at the WSU.
     And finally ... don't forget the Bridge Drive on Thursday, 14th March. There is still a shortage of decent prizes and of course an initiative like this stands or falls by the number of players, so please canvass amongst people you know who play, even if it is just social bridge. One half of the Bridge Drive is for social players, while those who prefer competitive bridge will be catered for.
     A Thought for the Week: The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down a dinner invitation without giving an excuse. - Jules Renard (1864 - 1910)

Monday, 28 January 2019

An Expert View on the Elections

With the final public voter registration drive behind us, the country will soon be gearing up for the general election, scheduled for May.
     To lead us to a better understanding of what to expect between now and May, Peter Bruce, a columnist and ex-editor of Business Day, will be talking to the club on Wednesday.
Peter Bruce, the speaker this week
     This promises to be a very interesting meeting and is an ideal opportunity to bring along friends and family to let them find out a bit more about Rotary.
     Peter is a respected columnist and punter and should give us some valuable insights into what lies ahead for the country and the state of affairs of the main parties contesting the election.
Men in dresses ... PDG David Grant, Julian Nagy and John MaCallum in kilts and Jankees Sligcher and Graham Donet at the annual Burns Supper of the Rotary Club of Fourways Main Reef
     It is always rewarding to support other clubs and meet Rotarians from other clubs when possible and a group of us therefore decided to go to the annual Burns Supper of the Fourways Main Reef club on Saturday night.
     It was a cultural feast with haggis, bagpipes, readings from the Scottish poet Robbie Burns and Scottish country dancing, all arranged by John and Brenda MaCallum at the Douglasdale Retirement Village, where they live and where the club meets.
The piper Kelvin against the backdrop of the words to Flower of Scotland
     For those of you who haven't tried it, haggis is the minced up bits of sheep insides and organs laced with oatmeal and spices and as gross as that may sound, is delicious.
     It's even better with a dressing of Scottish Whisky.
Joan and Graham Donet with Linda Vink at the Burns Night
Julian and Debbie Nagy in their Scottish regalia     
     The speaker last week was ex-member Peter James Smith, now of the Rosebank Rotary club, who spoke about his career as a radio journalist with the SABC.
     Peter specialised in supplying stories to magazine programmes and is of course an expert in the fields of food and wine. He was a foodie long before the term was even coined.
Peter James Smith with Joan Donet and Judy and Jankees Sligcher
     Peter originally came to South Africa as a public relations practitioner but soon switched to the more noble profession of journalism after the BBC World Service approached him to do freelance work. He and Jean spent many years in the Free State, first near the Lesotho border and then in Bloemfontein before settling in Johannesburg.
     We had an unexpected visitor at the meeting in the form of Nick Bell, a retired Anglican priest from the Rotary Club of Holt in Norfolk, England, near the Queen's country home of Sandringham.
Nick Bell flanked by Joan Donet and Jankees Sligcher, with Carl Chemaly in the background
     Nick and his wife visit their daughter, her husband and their three grandchildren in South Africa every second year during the Northern winter.
Lucille Blumberg and Frayne Mathijs at the meeting
In the pipeline
     The meeting next week will be a business meeting to cross the t's and dot the i's on the club bylaws in preparation for the application for tax-exemption and PBO status.
     This is all in line with the club's global grant, where all the hurdles have now seemingly been cleared and the good news is that the money should be arriving soon.
     There will be another opportunity to meet other Rotarians on 27th March where the proposal is to meet at Tashas in Mandela Square for breakfast at 7am.
The statue of Nelson Mandela at Mandela Square
     The reason is threefold: to meet with the members of the new club that is in the process of being founded by PDG David Grant in Sandton; to see the much smaller replica of the Mandela statue that Rotary has placed in the square primarily so that the blind can also experience the statue; and then to have a talk by PDG David on how the statue came about.
     The new statue stands only 1 metre tall to make it approachable to the blind, as opposed to the towering 6 metre high original statue, which was unveiled in 2004.
     This promises to be a fun outing, so please diarise the date.
     Another date to diarise is Thursday, 14 March for the Bridge Drive. The invitations have been going out and the response has been great so far.
     Also, remember to pay your club dues. The invoices have now been sent and we have to cover considerable costs out of that money,  
     A Thought for the Week: Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. - Bernard Baruch (1870 - 1965)

Monday, 21 January 2019

Ten Years On, New Dawn Rocks

It was a double celebration on Sunday when we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the induction of The Rotary Club of Johannesburg into the Rotary International family on 20 January 2009. Sunday was also the birthday of Peter James Smith, a founder member and second president of New Dawn, who turned a lot more than 10 years old!
     The year started with a bang with a braai under the trees on the front lawn of Tower Lodge, one of our guest houses in Auckland Park.
Peter James Smith sparkled on Sunday
     Peter and his wife, Jean, were amongst the guests at the lunch where PDG Jankees Sligcher complimented New Dawn for notable achievements over the past two years, not the least of which was delivering a District Governor in the person of Jankees himself. He could not have done it without the wholehearted support of the club, he said.
     Graham Donet toasted the club and reminisced about the early days in the months leading up to 20 January 2009 when he, Peter, Don Lindsay, Arthur Begley and Paul Kasango met at the then Wellington's Restaurant in Parkview before the formal induction with 19 members.
The gathered guests at the long table at Tower Lodge were treated to perfect weather, perfect food and lots of wine and other drinks
A smiling trio of Kasangos; Susan, Paul and Felicity enjoying the sunshine
Amina Frense with husband Ronnie Kasrils and Julian Nagy
Carl Chemaly brought wife Jacquie and their two sons, Dan and Joe along
PDGA Margie and PDG David Grant and Brenda McCallum were amongst the guests
Adriaen Sligcher and Abi Barrell were guests this time, but both have pledged to become members. They're having a baby and getting married in this year.
Julian and Debbie Nagy were also there
Graham and Joan Donet enjoying the lunch
Nick and Carol Stier enjoying the company
     Now that the festivities are over, it is time to start looking forward to the second half of the Rotary year, one that promises to be as busy as the previous six months.
     We started off with a seminar on our NPO/PBO/CSI status given by PDG Grant Daly in Midrand and attended by Jankees Sligcher, Linda and me and Julian Nagy.
     We gained valuable insights into the process and, as Julian reported to the meeting last week, have ascertained that our next step is to apply for PBO status. To do this, we have to accept amended club bylaws, which will be done at the first meeting in February, a business meeting that will double up as a Club Assembly. The amendments must be passed with a two thirds majority of club members, so please try to be there.    
Helene Bramwell of The Mask Skin and Body Clinic in Parkview
     PBO status, which is basically an application for tax exemption from the SA Revenue Service, is compulsory for any organisation working within the welfare and charity sector, so this is a bullet we cannot dodge anymore.
     Julian and I will submit the application once the amendments for the bylaws have been approved.
The band of brothers (and one sister) at the seminar, from left to right are PDG Anton Meerkotter, Julian and myself and in the back are PDG David Grant, Jankees Sligcher and President Linda Vink
     Another task to kick off the year is our Global Grant, which has been approved but which will only be paid out once our bank accounts are in order (District 9400 has to feature in the name). This will be done soonest while Ian Widdop recuperates at home from what sounds like rather painful surgery.
     The first meeting of the year was a business meeting, lightened up by the presence of Helene Bramwell, owner of The Mask Skin and Body Clinic in Parkview. Helene has expressed interest in the goings on at the club and who knows, we might be able to persuade her to become a member.
Simona Flavio is thinking of joining
     We added five new members after July last year and already have a few more waiting in the wings, like Adriaen Sligcher and Abi Barrell and a friend of theirs, Simona Flavio, who was also at the lunch on Sunday. David Marshall, who has promised to attend the meeting next week, is another prospective member, as is Dale Fortuin. Both of them were brought to the club by Mike MacDonald. It would be a massive coup if we could add another five members before the end of June.
Carol Stier with the Rotary International logo for next year
     Watch out for a Rotary Minute at every meeting from Carol Stier, who kicked off this reinstated regular last week by introducing the incoming RI president and his new logo and slogan: Rotary Connects the World.
Steve and Jenine donating books at Paternoster
     Thanks also to Steve du Plessis and Jenine Coetzer for once again donating books from the Rotary Humanitarian Distribution Centre to the St. Augustine's School in Paternoster along the West Coast.

Money in the Bank
     The fundraising events at the end of last year were highly successful and we were able to bank R70000 from the Golf Day, R25000 from the Christmas dinner and almost R11000 from our efforts at Winex.
     Next up is the Bridge Drive on Thursday, 14th March, which could bring us close to a total of R150000.
     We're also looking forward to a busy speaker schedule in the coming months and many ideas were tossed around at the lunch on Sunday, the ideal setting for some creative thinking.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka has offered to speak at a meeting
     One possibility is an old friend of the club, the singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, who coincidentally attended a seminar at one of our guest houses this week and who has promised to come and speak to us again.
     Yvonne is well known for her charity work and has been a good friend to Rotary and more specifically to New Dawn, over the years.
Please sir, can I have some more ... of Graham Donet's delicious trifle, says Peter James Smith
     The blog ends as it began this week, with Peter James Smith, who will be our speaker at the meeting this week. Peter is now a member at the Rosebank club and spent many years in radio journalism as an expert on a wide range of matters, notably food, drink and religion (not necessarily in that order). It promises to be an interesting talk.
     A Thought for the Year Ahead: Many people die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five. - Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)