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)

Monday, 15 June 2020

Connecting the World With Rotary

Rotarians representing six countries were part of the meeting last week which President Judy Sligcher used as a Zoom vehicle to thank people from clubs all over the Rotary world for their contributions to the Alexandra Education Committee's Covid-19 project.
     Paul Channon, a member of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn and director of the AEC, told the remarkable story of Alexandra for the benefit of the virtual visitors.
The sprawling township of Alexandra
     The land on which the township stands was originally sold to black owners because it was so far away from the new gold mines in Johannesburg and just before the 1913 Natives Land Act which made it illegal for black people to own land in South Africa.
     He also told of the stay of Nelson Mandela in Alexandra as a young law clerk.
Nelson Mandela's Alexandra home where he lived as a young law clerk before moving to Soweto
     Mandela visited his home after his release from prison, describing it as "no more than a shack, with a dirt floor, no heat, no electricity, no running water. But it was a place of my own and I was happy to have it."
Rotarians from all over the world joined the meeting
     Four overseas Rotary clubs contributed R100 000 to the AEC, which has managed to keep their scholarship students and their families going during the lockdown period with donations and food. New Dawn members contributed a further R50 000.
     First up was the Rotary Club of Lindau-Westallgäu in southern Germany and the home club of new New Dawn member Christoff Plate of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The workings of the AEC as explained by Paul Channon
     Club president Robert Gierer represented the German Rotarians along with six other members of the club, including Gabriele Donner, Martin Janthur (secretary), Albert Kirchman, Markus Lutterloh (president-elect), Nikolaus Turner, Bernd Paffenholz, Peter Rösler and Thorsten Knopf.
     Strini Reddy represented the Rotary Club of Winnipeg in Canada and Dirk Otto joined in from Barcelona where he now lives with his South African born wife, Andrea.
President Robert Gierer
President Greg Cooper
     Nick Bell is a familiar face at club meetings and lately also on Zoom and he was there with his club president, Greg Cooper, of the Rotary Club of Holt and immediate past president Terry Sands.
     Genevieve Jamieson (Sligcher) also joined the meeting from the UK.
     Also at the meeting was Val Hackett of the Rotary Club of Deerfield Beach in Florida, USA, who said their club had not been meeting during lockdown, but had resumed meeting every second week now that the lockdown has been lifted in the state.
     Candice Harrison-Train of Forest Town, who had been a Rotary exchange student with the Rotary Club of St Catherines in Ontario, Canada, also joined.
Letters of thanks from students are testimony to the good work that the AEC is doing 
    The most moving part of the presentation was the letters of appreciation that students sent to the AEC thanking them for their help in often very difficult and adverse situations, proof that we do make a difference in people's lives.
President Judy Sligcher with Mlungisi Mvelase, centre manager of Rena le Lona
     Last week the last of the 100 blankets that New Dawn collected  were handed out when PDG Jankees and President Judy Sligcher and Paul Kasango visited the Rena le Lona Creative Centre for Children in Diepkloof, Soweto, with them and a load of dry foodstuff for the children.
     The centre had to close during lockdown, which means that the children were not getting the cooked meal every day that is provided.
     The Community Corps of the now disbanded Soweto Rotary Club has been helping the centre to distribute food to the children and their families.
IPDG Maurice Stander at his computer during the Zoom Discon
     On Saturday District 9400 held the annual Discon on Zoom, with a number of New Dawn members in attendance, including the Sligchers, president-elect Ian Widdop, Amina Frense, Joan Donet and Peta Thomas. Jenine Coetzer admitted to peeking over husband Steve du Plessis' shoulder every now and then to catch up.
District Governor for 2020-2021 Annemarie Mostert
     The electronic Discon was the first of its kind in Southern Africa and by all accounts a huge success, thanks in large part to the smooth technological input by Steve, a former club member. Steve was awarded a Paul Harris Sapphire during the meeting.
     It was the 10th anniversary of District 9400 and obviously marked the beginning of Annemarie Mostert's year as DG. There are exciting times ahead!
Memorable times in the Kruger National Park
     New Dawn got a number of mentions during the five hours that Discon lasted.
     PDG Jankees was one of the contributors to the 10 year celebration presentation prepared by PDG Francis Callard and wrote mainly about his Discon in the Kruger National Park two years ago.
     Jankees was also thanked for his term as District Membership chair and that he and Judy are now Major Donors to the Rotary Foundation.
     New Dawn also received accolades for having applied for and receiving a Covid-19 grant from the Rotary Foundation of $25 000.
     A Thought for the Week: A hungry man is not a free man. - Adlai Stevenson (1900 - 1965)


Monday, 8 June 2020

Winter in the Time of Covid-19

Winter is upon us and we managed to get the 100 blankets, paid for with the proceeds of the Quiz Night, to their recipients just in time.
     We all know how harsh Johannesburg winter nights can be, even if you do have a proper roof over your head. If you don't, life can get very tough.
     In these times of coronavirus it can be even tougher than other years.
Lorna Lourens accepting blankets for the Woodside Sanctuary
     We started the rounds handing over the blankets at Woodside Sanctuary where Lorna Lourens, marketing and fundraising co-ordinator, accepted them on behalf of the home.
     Sanitisation protocols are very strict there to protect the patients and neither we nor the blankets were allowed inside the building. The blankets were taken in after being thoroughly cleaned.
The kids at Christ Church Christian Care Centre looking forward to a warm winter. Noel Bouwis, the education co-ordinator and Margaret Lediga, the supervisor joined in the fun
     Our next port of call was the Christ Church Christian Care Centre in Yeoville. For those who've not been, it is housed in the old Yeoville Hotel building on Louis Botha Ave, with the entrance at the rear of the building.
     There was great excitement when we arrived, probably because the children are getting tired of being cooped up.
     About 70 children live on the premises along with staff and social workers. The children range in age from toddlers to Matric.
Pastor Mike Sunker joined us for the handover of the blankets
     Pastor Mike Sunker, director of the home, said they're battling to get donations to keep the home running and there is always a shortage of supplies.
    The area around the home was teeming with people, very few of them practising any form of social distancing and definitely not everyone wearing masks.
Handing over blankets to Candice Harrison in Forest Town. Candice hurt herself jogging
     Our next stop was at the home of Candice Harrison in Forest Town. Candice is helping the homeless in the suburb and at the Pieter Roos Park with food parcels and other kinds of donations such as the blankets.
     She was a Rotary long-term exchange student in Canada and she and members of her host club, St Catherines in Ontario. Candice  will be joining us for the Zoom meeting on Wednesday evening.
Jankees and Judy Sligcher with supplies for Soweto
     Our final stop was at the home of Jankees and Judy Sligcher, who will take the blankets and supplies donated by members of the club, to the Rena Le Lona (We Are With You) Creative Centre for Children in Diepkloof, Soweto tomorrow.
     Rena Le Lona is a project of the Soweto Community Corps, with whom New Dawn is establishing a relationship with the aim of getting a Soweto Rotary club going again.
Jankees Sligcher and me wearing Rotary branded masks
     The meeting on Wednesday promises to be a busy one with overseas Rotarians joining in. President Judy Sligcher has convened the meeting specially to thank all the donors, both local and from overseas clubs, for contributing the the R150 000 that New Dawn has managed to give to the Alexander Education Committee over the past few months.
     Diarise: Remember, the meeting this week is an evening meeting and will start at 6pm sharp.
     Other Dates to Diarise: Discon 2000 is this coming  Saturday in the comfort of your living room. All you need to do is register as per the email sent from District and log onto Zoom on Saturday. For especially newer members, it's a great way to get to know your organisation better, meet some of the other people running it and this year it costs nothing.
     Saturday 4 Judy, 6 - 7.30: The induction of Ian Widdop as President of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn for the year 2020-2021.
     And Finally: Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Carol Stier (foot) and Joan Donet (shoulder) from their operations. The club needs you both.
     A Thought for the Week: When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. I'm beginning to believe that. - Clarence Darrow (1857 - 1938)

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Million Bucks Projects

Busy weeks are what New Dawn feeds on it seems, whether we meet in person at the Parkview Golf Club (remember those days) or whether we meet, as has become the norm, on Zoom.
     The meeting this week started with a presentation by the Rotary Long-Term Exchange student Masego (MoMo) Matiko. Her parents, Nono and Jabu, also listened in and were rightfully proud of their daughter.
Momo on stage in Thailand speaking about the virus
     Momo matriculated from the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein last year and then went on exchange to Thailand at the beginning of the year on 8 January, so she's over halfway through her stay.
     She lost her grandmother, to whom she was very close, in February and had to make the tough decision to stay on in Thailand rather than returning home.
Some of her host families welcoming her to Thailand
     No sooner had that happened than the lockdowns began both in Thailand and in South Africa, with immediate border closures and all international flights cancelled.
     Momo says she's very happy that she decided to stay in Thailand for the duration and reckons the lockdown enhanced her experience of that country, its people and its culture.
     She's especially loving the food and the people she gets to share it with.
Some of her new schoolmates in another photo from her presentation
     Her parents live in Bramley, but Jabu said he regularly visits his parents and grandparents in Alexandra and the good news is that the exchange programme has got him interested in Rotary. Who knows, we could be inducting another new member soon.
President Judy Sligcher applauding the global emergency grant
     After the presentation President Judy Sligcher announced that the Global Emergency Grant of $25000 (well over R430 000) had been granted this past week for the inter-club taxi sanitisation project, Hlanza Izandla (Wash Your Hands) in which New Dawn is playing a big part, along with other D9400 clubs.
     With the original R500 000 donation from Standard Bank, plus further staff contributions matched by Standard Bank, this project has already netted almost R1 million and is being rolled out to other parts of the country.
A screen shot of the meeting. Paul Channon is in the third row, third from left, in the centre of things as he often is
     Another million rand success story is that of the Alexander Education Committee which, according to its chairman, Paul Channon, has already raised about R1,2 million to feed scholarship students and their families during the lockdown.
     About R150 000 of this has come from New Dawn, a truly stellar performance by the club.
     President Judy Sligcher announced that the meeting on 10 June will take place at 6pm rather than the usual 7am so that donors from overseas can take part and also so that the club can thank them publicly.
     She also told the club that the board had decided at a special meeting to divide the 100 blankets from the club, the proceeds from the Quiz Night, to four different charities.
     In no particular order the Christ Church Christian Care Centre, Woodside Sanctuary, the recipients of the Pieter Roos Park feeding scheme and the Rena Le Lona (We Are With You) Creative Centre for Children in Diepkloof, Soweto will get 25 blankets each.
Kids perform at the Rena Le Lona Centre in Diepkloof, Soweto
     Rena Le Lona was a project of the Rotary Club of Soweto, which has since disbanded. Their Community Corps has carried on the good work.
     It is good to remember that New Dawn made a pledge to the incumbent District Governor, Maurice Stander, to try to re-establish Rotary in the sprawling township.
     This is a great opportunity to do just that.
     The centre provides support for about 150 children who used to get a cooked meal every day. Because of the coronavirus this is no longer possible.
     The centre has appealed for donations of food and donations or sponsorships to help them get food to the children.
     Judy and Jankees Sligcher have said that any such donations can be dropped off at their home and they will see to it that it is delivered to the centre.
     The list includes:
     Cooking oil, maize meal, rice, samp, baked beans, Lucky Star Fish in Tomato, soup, onions, carrots, potatoes, sugar, cabbage, tea bags, milk, juice, chicken braai packs, salt, mayonnaise, tissues, sunlight bar soaps/washing powder, masks & sanitiser, Vaseline (kids), toothpaste and Dettol/Savlon.
     A Thought for the Week: Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC – 65 AD)

Monday, 25 May 2020

Media Insights From an Expert

The life of a foreign correspondent is not always an easy one, as Christoph Plate told the meeting last week.
     My own spell in London as a foreign correspondent in the mid-90s didn't involve any wars, conflict areas, being shot at or any other hazardous situations (being shouted at by Princess Diana's bodyguards hardly compares), but Christoph certainly had a very different experience.
     He told the club that he studied political science and African studies at university in Germany before becoming a journalist.
     He experienced at first hand the horrors of the Rwanda genocide in 1994 ("a happy year for South Africa but not for Rwanda") when more than 800 000 people were killed in 100 days between April and June for ethnic reasons.
     "The death and suffering was unspeakable," he said.
     He was also a war correspondent in Somalia and in the Middle East in Iraq, Syria, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Christoph Plate
     The quality of journalism, especially print journalism, has deteriorated since 1994, partly because certain business people believe they can own media outlets to further their own aims, he said, predicting that the media business model will eventually change to one where outlets will be funded by donors.
     He was approached by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung to serve as director of their media programme for sub-Saharan Africa in 2017, a post he has filled since.
     He was a member of the Rotary Club of Lindau-Westallgäu in Southern Germany and has been looking for a home in Rotary in South Africa since arriving here. He has found it in New Dawn.
     Christoph says as an outsider he experiences less togetherness amongst South Africans than he did in the heady days of 1994.
Peter James-Smith, our AG, was a welcome visitor to the Zoom meeting
     Christoph is married to Sylvia, a Scottish Kenyan. They have two children a son, Phillip (15) and a daughter Leila (7). Both are at the Deutsche Internationale Schule in Parktown. We'll no doubt be able to get to know them a bit better once the lockdown allows for more social interaction.
     Christoph's talk was very enthusiastically received by club members and quite a few said they'd love to hear him speak again to tell some more about his adventures in Africa.
     His membership has also meant that New Dawn could pay a further R30000 to the Alexandra Education Committee for their feeding scheme for scholarship learners in the Alexandra township this week.
     This means that New Dawn has already contributed R123000 as part of the club's Sondla Abantwana project, with the promise of more to come.
     The speaker this week is Masego (Momo) Matiko of the National School of the Arts, a Rotary long-term exchange student in southern Thailand in the province of Songkia, in the Mueang district.
     Momo spoke very eloquently when we last saw her at the inauguration of the National School of the Arts Interact club late last year with Joan Sainsbury, who mentors her.
     She says she's looking forward to the Zoom meeting on Wednesday (at 7am sharp).
     She's been in Thailand for 5 months already and is only scheduled to return on 9 December. That's is the lockdown allows it, of course.
     A Thought for the Week: Some people are always grumbling that roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses. - Alphonse Karr (1808 - 1890)

Monday, 18 May 2020

Knowing the Answers

The lockdown quiz last Friday was a fun occasion for a fairly large group of New Dawners, family and friends. There were seven teams, each with a maximum of 6 members, although some teams had fewer.
     The Big Six (that's Ian Widdop, Karlien Kruger, Joan and Graham Donet and Linda and me) won hands down, with a score of 25.5 out of a possible 30. Not bad going for a bunch of oldies.
Participants in the quiz on Friday evening with quiz master De Waal Hattingh on the second row right   
     In second place was the Covid Crew with Nic and Carol Stier, David Marshall, Lucille Blumberg, Naomi Esterhuyse and John Frean. They came in a single point behind The Big Six.     Other teams had creative names such as Splendid Isolation, the Oscillating Otters (Sam and Rob Deverneuils' team, who came third), The Sly Sligchers (who weren't quite sly enough and came in 5th), The Quentin Quarantinos (who should've won a prize for the most imaginative name) and the Quizzy Quizzers.
Phillip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great
An artists' impression of the gunfight at O.K. Corral in Tombstone
Temba Bavuma, the first black South African to hit a test century
     The questions weren't all that easy, but if you know that Alexander the Great was the son of Phillip II of Macedon, the the gunfight at O.K. Corral took place in Tombstone and that Temba Bavuma was the first black South African to score a test century, well then, your team could have won.
    It was great fun, with about 30 participants and we raised close on to R7000 for the blanket drive to supply blankets for the cold winter months ahead.
     There were three groups of 10 questions each after which teams could discuss their answers (mostly by WhatsApp if they weren't together) and then send in one set of answers to the Quiz Master, De Waal Hattingh.
Just what the doctor ordered ... Dr Hekkies Laubscher talking about his experiences as a Rotary exchange student
     Amidst all the coronavirus fears and uncertainties it was good to be reminded of other spheres where Rotary plays an important role in the lives of countless of thousands of people all over the world.
     One such example is Dr Hekkies Laubscher, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Centre for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics in Rosebank and also a Rotary Exchange student before he started his medical studies. He was the speaker at the meeting last week in keeping with the Rotary theme for May dedicated to Youth Services.
     Heckroodt (it's a family name, he told the club, that he's also passed on to one of his sons) spent his year in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with four families, with whom he and his parents have kept close contact.
     He says he now understands that the year was a sort of "structured gap year". The year taught him to be independent at the age of 18 and helped him develop emotional intelligence. It also taught him how to be in contact with many people and to interact with many people.
     During the year there he spoke to many Rotary clubs in the area about South Africa.
     He hopes to be able to take his sons to the USA for the 30th anniversary of his stay in 2022.
     Long term exchanges such as this one require a measure of financial commitment from the club and involvement in placing children with suitable families, but is an aspect of Rotary that is widely known because it invariably involves people outside of the Rotary world.
A St. Catherines sign in Ontario, taken from their Facebook page, which also tells of the cancellation of their annual Ribfest in August, which normally nets up to CAD100 000
     In keeping with the youth theme President-elect Ian Widdop (a patient of Dr Laubscher, as was Joan Donet) reported that he had made contact with Candice Harris of Forest Town and through her with a Rotarian in Canada, Richard Evans.
     Candice is a former long term Rotary exchange student who is now running a feeding scheme for homeless people in Forest Town and the Pieter Roos Park near Empire Road. Rick Evans was her mentor in Rotary (he's mentored some 25 students over 40 years).
     The long and short of it is that the Rotary Club of St Catherines in Ontario, Canada, is now keen to become involved in an application for a global grant for the Meriting project with New Dawn.

The story of the chicken and eggs started off a little murky, but had a wonderfully positive outcome.
     The chickens have to do with Jankees Sligcher, of course. The eggs with feeding schemes.
     It all began when Carin Holmes asked Jankees if he could guide the Salvation Army towards a contact where they could buy eggs at a discount price.
     Jankees racked his brain, went through his list of contacts and came up with a name of someone who knew someone. The second someone didn't know Jankees at all and in any case had already retired, but knew of someone who could possibly help.
     This guy had also retired but gave Carin the number of his son, who'd taken over their business.
     It was the son who eventually came to the party and decided to not only donate the 2000 eggs required, but to do so on a regular basis.
     It then turned out that Jankees actually does know the retired farmer from way back. The son doesn't want publicity for his humanitarian act for fear of getting more such requests that he cannot meet, but Carin says the eggs have been very welcome.
     The eggs are used to feed about 800 homeless people in three different camps in Pretoria. They get two meals every day from the Salvation Army.
     "We use them in sarmies, boiled, scrambled, in whatever form they can be used and are very grateful for the donation," she said.
     That's yet another way in which Rotary New Dawn people are helping during the coronavirus crisis.
A face mask, prison style
     Another is Joan Sainsbury's project with face masks at the Leeuwkop Prison outside Johannesburg.
     Joan reported on the WhatsApp group that 12 tailors at Leeuwkop Maximum are hard at work making 8000 masks for the inmates. She says the task is so big that the tailors are allowed to take their sewing machines with them to their cell in the evening to carry on stitching the masks.
Christoph Plate
     The meeting this week will again take place at 7am. The speaker is one of our new members, Christoph Plate of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
     Christoph, director of the media programme for sub-Saharan Africa for the KAS, will be talking about his work at the foundation and more about his experiences with Rotary apart from telling us a little more about himself so we can get to know him better.
     A Thought for the Next Lockdown Week: But man, proud man, / Drest in a little brief authority, / Most ignorant of what he's most assured, / His glassy essence, like an angry ape, / Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven / As make the angels weep. - William Shakespeare (1564-1616)