Tuesday, 19 September 2023

All Clean On Cleanup Day

For a day at least the section of the Braamfontein Spruit running through the Parkview golf course was pristine with wild ducks swimming in the ponds, all thanks to World Cleanup Day last Saturday, 16 September.

About 50 volunteers from Greenside High (they came in a busload), the Greenside Residents' Association and members of Johannesburg New Dawn tackled the spruit at the golf club, successfully dodging flying golf balls in the process.

                          Pristine after the cleanup last Saturday

This was all thanks to the efforts of Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn, who started the Cleanup last year, concentrating on the Braamfontein Spruit and its tributaries.

This year cleanup efforts were extended to Soweto to the north and Alexandra to the south and a whole lot of river space in between.

                            President Mbali Zulu, Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn in Soweto

Paul and Babette report that more than 100 organisations took part this year, with more than 2000 volunteers getting their hands dirty. They estimate that 25 tons of waste was removed from Johannesburg's streets, parks and rivers on the day.

    There was no shortage of volunteers to help pick up rubbish in Soweto
    Pupils from Greenside High after their Cleanup session

The cleanup confirmed that community power can literally move mountains and transform trash-filled landscapes, says Babette.

"We must safeguard the natural environment and strengthen our city's response to the waste management problem. United with local communities, we believe we can make a meaningful difference, leave a legacy of hope, and sustain a cleaner future for generation to come," said President Mbali.

                         Brad Neille and one of his  daughters, Suzy

One of the visitor volunteers at the Parkview Golf Club was Brad Neille, our speaker from last week and a resident off Parkview, where he is an estate agent.

Brad spoke to the club about his experiences as a Rotary exchange student in Brazil, a programme he had learnt about from a Brazilian boy who had joined them at St John's College in Johannesburg as a Rotary long-term exchange student in 1995.

                        Brad with Joan Sainsbury and Barbara Angove at the meeting

The following year Brad set off for Brazil to a world where nobody else around him spoke English and he could immerse himself in a new culture. He says he was the only "foreigner" in his first home village, about 4 hours south of Sau Paolo.

There he founded an Interact club, which is still going strong after 27 years.

While at the University of Pretoria he formed the Rotaract Club of Hatfield, in 2001 and said he'll be willing to talk to other Rotary clubs about forming and maintaining Interact and Rotaract clubs and about spreading the word about the value of exchange programmes.

Meeting: The meeting tomorrow will feature feedback on Donate a Loo and on the World Cleanup Day.

A Thought for the Week: If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. - William Blake (1757 - 1827)


Friday, 8 September 2023

The DG Came, Saw and Was Conquered

There's a new energy in Rotary of recent, District Governor Riana Pretorius of the Rotary Club of Pretoria Capital said in  her address to the club during the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn held at the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein on Wednesday.

"I find such a good vibe at the moment. It's as if everybody is suddenly waking up after Covid."

"There's a new energy for projects, many in new directions such as tackling environmental issues, developing entrepreneurs and others."

     DG Riana Pretorius addresses club members in the Beethoven music room at the NSA

She emphasised the value of training in Rotary, the importance of paying your dues, of the Rotary Foundation and of sustainability in projects. With regard to sustainability she pleaded for the establishment of economic hubs in townships. "We meed to show that we can work together. Rotary can play a huge role here."

She said not enough members attend training sessions such as PETS (training for Presidents-elect and club officers), pointing out that ordinary members are also allowed to attend these as well as courses on global and district grants. Not enough people do the myriad online courses available on the My Rotary website either. Members should follow these and revisit them regularly, as the organisation changes every year.

     President Mbali Zulu, Weza Solange and Joan Sainsbury at the New Dawn plaque at the NSA music rooms

After a stirring organ recital by an NSA pupil, the focus moved to the seedling farm run by Frolinah Malaza and Mpho Mphatse of Lemang Fresh Table, who explained to DG Riana what they're doing, how they're doing it (both seem to have become accomplished seedling farmers) and what their aims are going forward in terms of the sustainability of the project.

Frolinah, who also addressed New Dawn at the previous meeting at Parkview Golf Club, said then that they had increased production from 16 000 seedlings to 60 000 seedlings a month and explained that they accept orders for seedlings, plant the seeds and have them ready for delivery according to the orders.

They also sell surplus produce at markets and have been in a position to donate seedlings.

                       DG Riana, PP Ian Widdop and Mpho Mphatse in the seedling tunnel

Frolinah said their next step is to supply schools in the Braamfontein area close to the NSA with seedlings and advice on how to plant them and tend to them, to overcome the logistical problems of transporting the seedlings over long distances.

The two entrepreneurs agreed that they now need a proper business plan to map out the way forward and Glen Meyer has indicated that he's willing to help them do this.

                       Glen Meyer, Frolinah Malaza and President Mbali with the moringa seeds

Glen also handed over a whole sack full of moringa seeds, a so-called superfood rich in vitamins and antioxidants worth about R1600 that had been donated to Lemang Fresh Table, much to the delight of Frolinah. These seeds are apparently quite easy to grow and thrive even in poor soil,

Moringa trees grow all over the world and are found in most provinces in South Africa, most commonly in Limpopo and the seeds, leaves and bark have been used in traditional medicine for centuries.

      Frolinah, DG Riana, Mpho, district secretary Alice Meyer, and President Mbali

The next stop on the way to the monthly board meeting, was at the Izwe Lethemka Day Centre in Soweto where Donate a Loo have installed toilets for the children and staff.

A bus full of New Dawners left the NSA bound for Lebo's Backpackers for the board meeting and visited the day care centre on the way there, where they were met by Helene Bramwell, fellow club member and founder of Donate a Loo, one of the beneficiaries of the Golf Day last month, and IPP Julian Nagy.

                                   Paul Kasango testing one of the new loos

This is a project close to the DG's heart as she has pledged to help 120 schools with decent ablution facilities in honour of Rotary International's 120th birthday in February next year.

The DG told the club that apart from support from our own district, D9400, many other Rotary bodies have become involved in this effort, amongst them D9370, the district that includes the Western Cape, the UK-Southern Africa Inter-Country Committee and Rotary International itself.

"How can you have dignity, whether you're male or female, if you have to 'go' in the veld," she said.

Fundraising: With a number of late payments now in, the total income from the Golf Day has risen to R150 000, making it a new record. Well done, everyone!

If there's still anybody who doesn't know why we're so proud of our club, read through President Mbali's excellent Club Overview 2023 powerpoint presentation to the DG. It covers a lot of ground on our most important efforts and yet somehow only scratches the surface of all the myriad efforts big and small that New Dawners get involved in. It was emailed to all members.

A Thought for the Week: Leap, and the net will appear. - John Burroughs (1837 - 1921)

Monday, 28 August 2023

And the Winner Is ... New Dawn

The big winner on Friday night wasn't the ecstatic golfer Koena Sesele with his wheelbarrow full of bottles of the good stuff. It wasn't even the Springboks who gave their traditional rivals the All Blacks a rare and thorough thrashing later that evening.

It also wasn't the Parkview Golf Club, even though they were superb hosts to an enthusiastic crowd of rowdy (but well behaved) golfers and New Dawners of the kind that they probably seldom see in their sometimes staid environment.

The big winner was of course The Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn at our premier fundraising event of the year. That was to the tune of more than R125 000.

                           A very happy Koena Sesele with his barrow of booze and President Mbali Zulu

While all the money is not in yet, the gross amount to date is about R125 000, out of which the Parkview Golf Club still needs to be paid for green fees, halfway house meals and the curry buffet for dinner.

More than R25 000 of the takings are from the raffle for the barrow of booze. The take just for Friday was R11 400 and the rest came from pre-sales like Jeni Lobel's R1400 for her birthday lunch.

Included in the raffle amount for the barrow of booze was an extra R2100 for the raffle of a bottle of Johnny Walker Black donated by Barbara Angove for the closest score prediction for the rugby. Alas, there was no second prize because my score was the closest but for one of the golfers, Alexander Buchanan, who guessed even closer to the real runaway score of 35-7.

    Mbali and some of the team after a hard day's work

A big thank you to everybody who pitched in to help on Friday and all the sponsors of bottles for the wheelbarrow, of contributions to the fantastic prize table and of connections for the hole sponsorships.

As usual the planning for the next golf day started at the 19th hole on Friday and there promises to be some exciting new developments including an emphasis on getting many more hole sponsors.

    Nazreen Benjamin and Natasha Sallie at the registration station with the New Dawn team

A very big thanks too to Nazreen Benjamin and Natasha Sallie from Adele Dabbs's office for once again taking on the registration and creating sense out of the chaos created by Mike MacDonald and Linda Vink!

    Amina Frense and the two Mikes (Vink and MacDonald) welcome Greg Smith and Debbie de Vries
    A wee dram from a sponsor was just the thing for Amina Frense, Joan Sainsbury, Ivone Vosloo and Wendy Challis
                                 Adele Dabbs with Peter Primich, both staunch supporters of Donate a Loo
                                 Nola Ostle was ever the stalwart at selling raffle tickets

                                Paul Chinn surprised himself by winning one of the golfing prizes
                 Adele Dabbs, myself, Amina Frense, Julian Nagy and Linda Vink at the registration station

This all means that we haven't done too badly compared with previous years.

In 2015 the income was about R40 000 of which the club kept almost R30 000, with the raffle contributing R10 000. This grew up to 2019, when the income was over R115 000, of which the club kept more than R75 000. The raffle takings were R33 000.

Then came Covid, with no golf in 2020, an iffy 2021 but a bounce back last year to earnings of more than R80 000 and a raffle contribution of R29 500.

With money in the bank already over R100 000, some 80 golfers in the field, an eye-catching wheelbarrow full of thirst-provoking tipples, a slap-up curry buffet for dinner and a golf club brimful of enthusiastic golfers, Golf Day 2023 can be pronounced a success. Bring on Golf Day 2024!

This week and next: It's back to Rotary business this week when Frolinah Malaza and Mpho Mphatse from Lemang Fresh Table will be speaking to the club about their efforts at the National School of Art, part of the New Dawn seedling project.

We'll also be seeing them the following week at the NSA during the District Governor's visit to New Dawn, as that meeting will take place at the NSA before those who can, depart with the DG for a tour through Soweto. The details are all in the WhatsApp chat group if you can join.

A Thought for the Week: Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté. - Margaret Atwood (1939 -)

Saturday, 19 August 2023

A Victor, Not a Victim

She was born underprivileged in Ventersdorp in what was then the Western Transvaal (these days Northwest Province and Eugene Terre'Blanche territory) in a one-roomed house. In this world there was no-one to look up to, no mentors, Mpho Mogotsi told the club at the meeting on Wednesday.

Mpho, who is in charge of the youth portfolio in the new New Dawn board, was talking on the theme of challenges to a woman's dreams for Women's Month.

"For met to go back to my rural roots and giving back, is a no-brainer," she said.

                          Mpho Mogotsi, former Mrs Universe Africa

"My mother made sure I kept my dreams alive. She made it her mission in life that we'd re-educated." She said her mother had improved her own lot to the point where she could work as a secretary and her father was a teacher.

"They spent everything, all their money, for me to spend 5 years at Potchefstroom Girls High. When I went off to school for the week, I knew there was no food in the house."

I was the poorest child at Potch. In Matric I designed my own dress for the Matric dance. I had new shoes and looked at myself in the mirror and my dreams were validated.

"I knew then I was not a victim but had tasted victory."

                   Mpho being congratulated by President Mbali Zulu after her talk

After school she moved to Johannesburg where she met a boy and got married, but he was abusive, "physically, mentally and financially."

She eventually left him as she was afraid for herself and her son, who is now 16 years old. She wrote a book, Awakening to Truth about her experiences and the lessons she has learnt. In it she describes herself as an entrepreneur, life coach, energy healer, visionary, author, gender-based violence activist, humanitarian and philanthropist. She can add TV presenter to that list, as she presents the show Come Alive with Mpho Mogotsi on Soweto TV on Channel 251 on DStv.

She remarried and has three children aged 31 (her husband's son), 16 and 4. After university she was an investment banker for 21 years.
She had tried out for Miss South Africa and then Mrs South Africa, until becoming Mrs Universe Africa offered her the opportunity to represent her country.
     Mpho with Nyami Khanyile, Babette Gallard, Ian Widdop, Joan Sainsbury, President Mbali and Paul Chinn

"Often as women we go through a lot, but we are victors. We have permission to shine. Be fearless, be unapologetic for who you are.

"I want to be the person who intervenes when I see social evils."

Mpho says she was the first one in her family to get a degree, to be on TV, and to write a book and loves the fact that when she goes back to Ventersdorp (she goes often to visit her parents) she can be a role model and mentor to young people in what is still an impoverished area.
   Glen Ross, President of RC Brits-Hartbeespoort, DG Riana Pretorius, John Wesson and PDG Jankees Sligcher

Last weekend a number of Rotarians attended the official opening by PDG Jankees Sligcher of a new lookout hide at the vulture restaurant in the Magaliesberg near the Hartbeespoort Dam. The container for the new hide was donated by Pas Reform Southern Africa, represented by PDG Jankees and Judy Sligcher and their son, Adriaen.

The hide, near the old hide where PDGA Judy Sligcher had her induction before the Covid years, features one-way glass and special hatches for photographers to put their lenses through.

New Dawn members, President Mbali Zulu, Julian Nagy and Linda Vink,  also attended a big strategy session of The Link, one of the main New Dawn projects for which the club obtained a Rotary Foundation Global Grant a few years ago. The Link has had to change focus to some extent and adapt to the changing world brought about by the virus and the lockdowns that went with it, but seem to be going full steam ahead.

Dates to Diarise: The meeting this coming week is a club assemble and also the last opportunity to bring contributions for the Golf Day next Friday. These include selling raffle tickets, contributing to the Barrow of Booze and donating items to be included in the hampers for prize-winning golfers.

A shining example of quick thinking was given by fellow club member Jeni Lobel, who contributed R1400 to the raffle, for instance, by asking friends and family to buy tickets rather than a birthday present for her.

DG Riana Pretorius will be visiting the club on 6 September a meeting where a good turnout will put the club in a good light.

A Thought for the Week: If you wish to avoid seeing a fool, you must first break your mirror. - Francois Rabelais (1484 - 1553)

Thursday, 3 August 2023

The Parkview Fairways Await

With 28 four balls showing interest, and in most cases much more than just a little interest, there could easily be more than 100 golfers teeing off on the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn Golf Day to be held at the Parkview Golf Club on Friday, 25 August.

Mike MacDonald, the main organiser, says invoices for some R50 000 to R60 000 have already been sent out.

That doesn't mean that the work is done, though. Although a number of holes have been "sold" to sponsors, many more are still available at R5000 per hole, so if you have friends, family or contacts in the corporate world, you'll be doing the club a huge favour by persuading them to come join in the fun.

    The fairways await ... the Parkview Golf Club, home of the New Dawn Golf Day 0n 25 August

The golf day is traditionally New Dawn's biggest single fundraising event of the year and without these funds the club cannot function properly.

Along with the raffle, the sponsorships make up the most of the profit to the club as there are considerable costs involved in terms of green fees, halfway house meals and the prize giving dinner.

The raffle has already netted about R5000, so please get selling. Forms are available from Linda Vink and the first prize is the traditional wheelbarrow full of wine, beer, spirits and other drinks. The Barrow of Booze has always been a very popular prize.

                                        Greg Smith and Mike MacDonald, co-founders of the golf day

Members can also contribute by bringing bottles for the wheelbarrow or contributing towards the prizes that the golfers take home. Speak to Linda Vink, Adele Dabbs or Mike MacDonald if you have ideas on how we can maximise our efforts before the big day.

Carol Stier will once again sponsor the main prize(s) - one for each of the players in a four-ball. Members have until he meeting on Wednesday, 23 August to bring contributions to the club.

                         Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn at the Cleanup Day at Delta Park last year

World Cleanup Day on 16 September is also looking to be a record breaking effort for New Dawn under the leadership of Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn.

Paul reported that more than 60 organisations are now on board and that both Soweto and Alexandra will be full participants in 2023.

What started as the All Spruits Cleanup Day has now moved way beyond the Braamfontein Spruit (although that is still very much part of the mix) and is set to become a major South African participant in World Cleanup Day.

              Joan Sainsbury with Glen Meyer and Weza Solange (now in charge of social media) at the meeting

President Mbali Zulu announced that six Soweto wards and their councillors had signed up already and that the cleanup day there will be rounded off by a Party with a Purpose on the Saturday evening to reward the participants. It will be held at Lebo's Backpackers, once a dump site itself.

President Mbali said each of the wards would involve at least one school to try to raise awareness for the benefits of a clean environment.

                        President Mbali Zulu, Adele Dabbs and IPP Julian Nagy

The meeting was also the first opportunity to hand over her Paul Harris Society certificate and pin to Adele Dabbs, first announced at Mbali Zulu's inauguration in Soweto at the end of June.

In thanking the club for the honour, Adele said: "I don't like the limelight unless I'm arguing or fighting!"

IPP Julian Nagy emphasised her work with the Donate a Loo project and the painting and renovation of music rooms at the National School of Art in Braamfontein as an unprecedented contribution.

Next Week: There will be no meeting next Wednesday, as 9 August is National Women's Day.

A Thought for the Week: I have never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from other men. There is not much harm in a lion. He has no ideals, no religion, no politics, no chivalry, no gentility; in short, no reason for destroying anything that he does not want to eat. - George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Thursday, 13 July 2023

Sleeping in Soweto

What started as a dream slowly became one of the most successful Soweto businesses in the tourism industry, even though there was never any formal business plan for their development, Maria, now owner  of Lebo's Backpackers in Soweto, told the club this week.

Maria was married to Lebo Malepa, founder of the thriving Lebo's Backpackers, who passed away nearly two years ago. They have two sons.

Maria told the club that she, like her late husband, sees the business as a catalyst for community development, utilising tourism as a vehicle for changing perceptions about the sprawling city within a city.

                                       Maria Malepa, Swedish by birth, Sowetan by choice

"Lebo never set down a business model on paper, yet the business has grown organically since it was founded in 2005. I moved here from Sweden in 2007,"

She recalled how Lebo had started by selling arts and crafts at tourist spots in Soweto. He then used his grandparents' home, where he grew up to set up the backpackers aimed at younger budget conscious travellers.

"Now we cater for everybody," she said.

                Babette Gallard, President Mbali Zulu and Karlien Kruger with Maria

Lebo's now offers Soweto cycle tours, tuk-tuk tours and walking tours to visitors. Overnight stays include more traditional bed & breakfast offerings for couples and others, as well as a new camping site with wooden chalets up on a hill close by.

There is also a restaurant serving basic, traditional food where a variety of events is hosted, amongst others monthly storytelling sessions, typically by locals who have lived through Soweto's colourful history and markets.

                      Emilio Kiyeya and Numsa Mazwai were surprise visitors                               

"We call what we're doing responsible tourism. Your stay guarantees that you give back to the community. We want to become a hub for other small businesses to flourish."

Already Maria and her team farm their laundry out to locals and use the spas shops in the area for basics.

"Once people have visited, they become brand ambassadors for us," Maria said.

                        Tshepo Ramutumbu with Wendy Challis

Emilio Kiyeya, who was on the verge of becoming a New Dawn member in the pre-Covid years, was a welcome visitor to the club. He told how business prospects and jobs had taken him to the mines in the Congo and also to Uganda, Spain and Canada. He's been back in the country for two weeks now.

There were also reports back on the Golf Day (25 August 2023) which still needs a lot of effort and contributions from club members. Each member should try to sell at least one raffle sheet and bring along a few bottles of booze for the traditional Barrow of Booze.

You can also contribute by inviting your golfing friends to come and join us, by organising prizes (in sets of four) for the golfers and by getting hole sponsors.

A Thought for the Week: If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people  to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 - 1944)


Monday, 10 July 2023

A New President for a New Dawn

It was a case of in with the new and on with the existing when President Mbali Zulu presided over his first meeting of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn last week.

In accepting the nomination, Mbali becomes the youngest president of New Dawn since the club was officially established in January 2009. Our founder, Don Lindsay, will be proud of this progressive step.

                       President Mbali Zulu takes the reins                 

In his first address to the club, President Mbali confirmed that Donate a Loo, the Spruit Cleanup Day and the Seedling Farm remain three of the most important ongoing projects for the club.

He also announced his new board and the names of people responsible for specific areas of focus.

       President Mbali with members of his new team

The new board consists of: Mbali himself, Julian Nagy (Immediate Past President); Karlien Kruger (Treasurer), Babette Gallard (Secretary); Ian Widdop (Rotary Foundation); Joan Sainsbury (Membership); Linda Vink (Fundraising); Weza Solange (Public Image); Mpho Mogotsi (Youth Services); and Gavin Atkins (Club Projects).

Members responsible for specific areas of focus are: Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn (Environment); Rianna Edwards(Community Development); Paul Channon (Basic Education); Helene Bramwell (Water and Sanitation); Lucille Blumberg (Disease prevention); Amina Frense (Peace Building); and Ivone Vosloo (Fellowship).

                                         Paul Chinn and Babette Gallard

Later in the meeting Paul Chinn and Babette Gallard gave a video presentation on their trip taking two "retired" race horses from France to South Africa and their adventures along the way.

The meeting was also an opportunity to give a progress report on the upcoming Golf Day on 25 August at Parkview Golf Club.

There's still a lot of work to be done and contributions to be made, so please contribute wherever you can to the most important fundraising effort of the club for the year.

The ambitious aim is to raise R100 000, which will only be possible if everybody helps to land a long drive, chips in and sinks the putts.

(Thanks again to Graham Donet for doing the blog in my absence)

                        Lebo's Backpackers in Soweto

This week: Maria from Lebo's Soweto Backpackers is the speaker on Wednesday. A number of us met her when we had a short tour there on our way to Mbali's Induction as President.

A Thought for the Week: Silver linings rise out of the most challenging circumstances. - Jennifer Jones, Past RI President