Friday, 3 April 2020

Facing Down the Virus

On a Sunday morning 7th Street in Melville is normally a busy, bustling boulevard of breakfasters. Last Sunday it was deserted. Restaurants like Nuno's, Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar, La Stalla, The Whippet and De la Crème were all closed. All the other restaurants, bars and clubs were also locked on a strip which is now known all over the world for its vibrancy, a symbol of the good life, a place where people go to meet people, thanks to publications and websites such as Tripadvisor and Time Out.
Melville in lock down mode
          Who knows how many of these joints will be able to open again after 16 April, or whenever the lock-down ends?
     Will we ever truly now the toll that the coronavirus has taken here and all over the world? Think of the suffering and hardship of all those waiters, chefs, restauranteurs, storekeepers, piece workers, car guards and even the beggars and vagrants that made the street such an appealing place?
7th Street in busier times, as seen on Tripadvisor
     Millions of other South Africans and people all over the world face the same hardship with few, if any, resources to last the weeks and possible even months of lock-down that lie ahead.
     Business owners face the prospect of paying salaries without any income to give them the means to do it. Many will go bankrupt in the process.
     About the only thing we know with any certainty, is that once all this is over, the world will have changed.
Zooming in on the club meeting
     The coronavirus crisis was of course the focal point of the board and club meetings this week, with a lot of emphasis at the board meeting on what New Dawn can do to help.
     The consensus in the club is that members should be encouraged to channel any financial contributions through the New Dawn account while having the freedom to help others efforts related to the coronavirus if they wish to do so privately.
     We're all being inundated with appeals in social media and elsewhere for this and that effort and as a club with limited resources we could not possibly give attention to even a fraction of those.
     We must also take into account that club projects like The Link, Meriting, 5 Cees, Hotel Hope and all the others are going to need all the help they can get in the coming months while fundraisers such as the Bridge Drive may not happen at all and certainly not in the present financial year. In short there will be minimal income and maximum pressure.
     There was also an appeal to contribute what you would have to breakfast and brag each week, to the club to keep us afloat. This can be done into the main bank account, FNB cheque account, 62217422609. The reference should be your name and Breakfast.

The initiators of the sanitisers project are Eckard Steyn (Sandton Satellite), Nokwazi Gxubane (in front, Johannesburg North Central), Larry Hyde (Benoni Aurora), Monica Kiwanuka (Johannesburg North Central), Audrey Gatawa (Johannesburg New Dawn and Sharon Fitzgerald (Benoni Aurora)
     The most exciting news to come out of the past few meetings is the initiative called Hlanza Izandla - meaning "wash your hands". A number of New Dawn members (Audrey Gatawa, Ian Widdop and Jankees Sligcher) are participating.
     The project was conceived at an RLI training session on 14 March by Rotarians from several clubs  in D9400 just as the virus fears were starting to grow.
     The project's primary purpose is to support the sanitisation of public transport hubs. This includes the provision of hand sanitisers, installation of sanitisation units at transport hubs and a campaign to promote a culture of hand washing.
     The members of the project team are President-elect Ian Widdop as chairman, PDG Jankees Sligcher, Audrey (Johannesburg New Dawn), Larry Hyde (Benoni Aurora), Monica Kiwanuka and Nokwazi Gxubane (Johannesburg North Central) and Eckard Steyn (Sandton Satellite).
The Wanderers taxi rank where project team member Nokwazi Gxubane held the first meeting with the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) members a few short weeks ago
     To date, the project has received R500 000 in sponsorship from Standard Bank which has also included Hlanza Izandla in their CSI matching programme which will ensure further funds during the lifetime of the project.
     Jankees Sligcher arranged for industrial grade sanitiser, which works for much longer than the ordinary product, through his contacts in the poultry business and the first consignment has already been ordered. The first delivery of 1480 Rotary branded hand sanitisers for distribution to commuters was made to Santaco today.
Jankees zooming in on the meeting
Joan and Graham Donet listening in
Karlien Kruger proposed Sarah de La Pasture as a member

     If the board meeting was all about the clubs response to the coronavirus, then the meeting on Wednesday was about the way in which members in lockdown mode are dealing and coping with the crisis.
     The virtual meeting on Zoom was well attended, and we even had our fair share of guests joining in.
     These included DG Maurice and DGA Chrisna Stander, our old friend Rev. Nick Bell, Nick Stier, Sarah de La Pasture and Ronnie Kasrils even made a quick appearance behind Amina's shoulder. Twenty members made an appearance at one time or another and each got a turn to tell the others about their experiences.
A screenshot of the meeting
     By the time all this is over, virtual meetings will have become second nature, one of the ways in which behaviour will no doubt change all over the world.
     Sarah, who was introduced to the club by Karlien Kruger, joined a few club members for a virtual fireside chat on Thursday and her membership was unanimously approved. She and Christoph Plate, who is transferring from a Rotary club in Germany, will be inducted during the meeting on 15 April.
     For the next meeting, at 8am on Wednesday, 8 April, President Judy Sligcher asks that everyone should wear a necktie of some sort, just for the fun of it.
     In closing, I'd like to give a personal word of thanks to Graham Donet for carrying on with the blog in my absence over the past six weeks. He can confirm that it's not always an easy task and often a thankless one.
     The latest stats from Mailchimp show that on average only about 60% of the recipients open the blog email and only 39% click through the link to the blog. Hopefully with everybody having a bit more time on their hands, these figures will increase during the lockdown.
     A Thought for the Week: Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. Leo Buscaglia (1924 - 1998)

Monday, 30 March 2020

The Zoom Meeting Blog

Virtual attendees to our first Rotary New Dawn Zoom Meeting held on Wednesday 25th March at 07h00

The Corona Virus Pandemic and the subsequent "Lockdown" has caused us to do things differently at Rotary New Dawn.  Unable to travel to our normal Wednesday meeting, we held our first "Zoom" meeting sitting with a cup of coffee in the comfort of our homes.  Some even had breakfast!  

On the Agenda was our Goal Setting for the new Rotary year, and ably led by our Incoming President. Ian Widdop, on My Rotary, proceeded to guide us through our goals for 2020/21.  As these are still in draft form and have not yet been confirmed, and might be amended, I will not share them with the Club at this time and will wait for Ian to present them at the appropriate time.  All in all it was a stimulating discussion, with a lot of fruitful input from all those present.  The Club is growing in Membership which is very exciting and promises to bode well for the future.

As the Brag is such an important part of our fund raising, all "attendees" are asked to make their usual donation to the Club via EFT, stating their name for the records.

Our next Zoom Meeting will be on Wednesday 1 April at 18h00.  Please join the meeting via your cell phone or computer and as this was going to be a Pizza Evening, maybe a home baked pizza and a glass of wine as well?  If not, just join in anyway.

The following week please join us via Zoom for some fellowship and a bit of business on Wednesday 8th April at 08h00.  To make the meeting a little interesting we ask everyone to wear a tie (creatively) or a scarf.  Again please pay your Brag via EFT.  

Another reminder is the Board Meeting to be held on Tuesday 31st (tomorrow) at 08h00.  All Board members are requested to please join in.  

Some news concerning the Corona Virus Pandemic:  Our Club is involved in a collaborative project with about 8 other Gauteng Clubs to address hand sanitization at taxi ranks on the Reef.  The project is in association with SANTACO and is funded by Standard Bank.  More details to follow as soon as they become available.

Thought for the Week:  "We will come out of this storm.  In the coming days, we will have to stay calm and confident.  And for sure, we will overcome this moment of despair.  How long this will last cannot be ascertained.  But the one thing that we can be sure of is that we will not be the same anymore.  Hopefully, we would have changed for the better.  This is the way of life.  This is how life teaches us its lessons."  Avijeet Das  1987 -

Monday, 23 March 2020

Coronavirus - Flatten the Curve

"Dear Fellow South Africans - There comes a time in the affairs of a country when, in the face of the most formidable of challenges, its very existence as a nation is put to the test".  This is the introductory paragraph to the President's latest newsletter, which I sincerely recommend you all read.  The full newsletter is on on the New Dawn WhatsApp group, thanks to Carol Stier.

Last weeks meeting was probably our last "face-to-face" meeting for some time as we enter into a period of self isolation due to the Coronavirus.  As I write, we are expecting even more stringent measures to be announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, including the use of the Defence Force to ensure we isolate ourselves and reduce the risk of infecting each other.

But first, onto the content of last weeks meeting.  Our guest speaker was Dr David Furness (son of the late Frayne Mathijs) who fascinated the Club members with a deeply philosophical discussion on the Universe and where we come from (and where we are going).  I won't try and summarise the detail of his presentation, safe to say that it was extremely interesting and thought provoking and he has promised a follow up at a later stage, as he ran out of time. 

Rtn Mike Mac Donald and our guest speaker, Dr David Furniss.
My thanks to Helene Bramwell who sent us a very interesting message from Bill Gates (the message is also on our WhatsApp group).  His final paragraph is chilling - "Whereas many see the Corona/Covid-19 Virus  as a great disaster, I prefer to see it as a great corrector.
It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten and it is up to us if we will learn them or not".

As per the email recently sent out by Ian Widdop, our next meeting will be via "Zoom" and I urge everyone to try and respond to his invitation.  For those requiring a trial run, do as I did, and call Jankees Sligcher or Carol Stier, who will guide you through the process and help with a trial run.  Once you have down loaded the App it is very easy.  You will need a computer with a camera and make sure that your sound is on.  Ian Widdop will send out an invitation prior to the meeting on Wednesday and you must click on to the link.

Please note that the Wanderers Golf Day  and the Bridge Drive have been postponed / cancelled.

I end with wise words from our resident Professor from the NICD, Lucille Blumberg - "We must continue as normal as possible".

Ian Widdop chatting to our visitor Errol Berman
Jankees collecting the brag
Thought for the week:  "It took a modern pandemic to infect the collective attention of the world to remind us of our shared vulnerability and to restore humanity and kindness".  -  Farshad Asl, 1985-

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Rotaract - a vision of what Rotary must become

This week we featured two speakers - Nadine Mitchely (Incoming Rotaract President) and Cara Kotze, our Short Term Youth Exchange Scholar (STYE), who visited France in December last year.

Pres Judy opened the meeting (to our new seating layout) saying that March is the month we celebrate Rotaract in Rotary and read excerpts from RI President Mark Maloney's speech on Rotaract.

Pres Judy reading from RI President Mark Maloney's address on Rotaract
RI President Mark Maloney said that "March is the month we celebrate Rotaract.  Last Spring the Council on Legislation (CoL) elevated Rotaract in our Constitution.  RI is now the association of both Rotary and Rotaract Clubs.  Then in October, the Rotary Board eliminated the artificial Rotaract age limit and took other steps to break down barriers that are preventing Rotaract from growing in some parts of the world.  These steps were long overdue, because Rotaract is a vision of what Rotary must become.  Not only do we need to open our doors to our young colleagues, but we also have to open our ears and minds to the Rotary experience they find most engaging.

This is one of the best ways we will meaningfully grow Rotary.  Rotaractors provide the opportunity not only because they can transition to Rotary at the time that is right for them, but also because they understand what it will take to attract others like them. 

Ultimately it will be up to Rotaractors and young Rotarians to create new Club models that are most meaningful to the next generation"

Nadine Mitchely
Nadine (who has just recently been awarded her Masters in Strategic Management (Cum Laude) at UJ), spoke on the current status of the Club.

"We currently have 10 members, with 4 new members about to join.  Our membership is a diverse group with some from other countries in Africa. Our focus is on growing the Club to enable us to do more.  We have a joint project with Rtn Judy Symons at the Johannesburg Children's Home, where we are assisting Judy with the sorting of books for their Book Shop.  We also have a joint project with the Rotaract Club of Wits University on the Twilight Children's Home - a home for young boys where we have a need for clothing - all donations will be welcome.

We also will be assisting the Meriting Project with skills to assist their students and are also working with the Interact Club of the National School of the Arts.  We also plan to provide a New Dawn stand at the annual Jozi Book Fair to keep the legacy of the late Frayne Mathijs alive.

On a personal note I will also be taking up my Phd".  Nadine currently lectures at UJ.

From the top:  Cara Kotze speaking to Club on her experience in France; Cara with her school friends at the French school; Father Tiaan and Cara Kotze;  Loube's family who hosted Cara
Some of you will remember our incoming Rotary Exchange student, Loube Montcomble, who spoke to the Club last year.  She was hosted by the family of Cara Kotze, who recently returned from France after being hosted by Loube's family, and spoke to the Club on her experiences in a very cold french countryside. She spent 6 weeks in Northern France near Amiens with school hours (including the bus ride), from 6am to 6pm!  She learnt to become independent and to "take nothing for granted"!  She thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Rtn Hannes Dressler looking none the worse for wear after meeting Chancellor Angele Merkel in Angola as part of a business trip
Rotarians at Work:

Hannes Dressler gave feedback on his recent trip to Angola where he manned a SAP stand, marketing their involvement in a massive Gas Project; he said it was a great networking opportunity.

Paul Kasango gave us feedback on the relocation of the Jungle Gym from Woodside Sanctuary to Rays of Hope in Alexandria, a project facilitated by Rtn Paul Channon.  Mike MacDonald has referred Paul to a Landscaper who will assist in creating a garden in the space at Woodside.

Graham Donet announced that our next Youth Exchange student, Anya Brink, will be going to France at the end of the year and our second student, Felicity Kasango, will be going to Hungary.

From the top: Rev Nick Bell saying goodbye to the Club; our new table format; a reminder of the upcoming Golf Day at Wanderers (we still need prizes and 4-balls); our donation of Lego to the Johannesburg Children's Home
Please keep Robin Widdop, who has recently undergone a serious back operation, in your thoughts. We wish her a speedy recovery.


  • Please don't forget to keep a record of the hours and/or money spent on Rotary projects (no matter how small), since July last year to the end of February.  This can be volunteering, visiting other clubs, training, project meetings, etc.
  • We appeal for boy/men's clothing for the Twilight Home, a box will be available.
  • Easter Eggs for the 5 Cees, Johannesburg Children's Home and Woodside Sanctuary
  • Important dates:
    • 18 March: David Furniss (Frayne's son), Associate Professor, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Science, will be the guest speaker
    • 25 March: Ian Widdop will be setting goals on My Rotary for the 2020/21 Rotary year
    • 31 March: Board meeting
    • 1 April "April Fool's Pizza evening at the Club, 6.30 for 7pm - so NO meeting in the morning
    • 8 April - Meeting Cancelled
    • 15 April - Business meeting

Thought for week:  "We make a living by wat we get, but we make a life by what we give"  Sir Winston Churchill   1874 - 1965

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Business Meeting Feedback

This weeks meeting took the form of a Business Meeting, following on from the Board Meeting on Tuesday, 3rd March.  The feedback was as follows:
  • RLI Training - whilst there were some challenges regarding the format and the speakers, it was found to be generally informative and an excellent opportunity for networking.
  • Youth Portfolio - Graham gave feedback on the Rotaract Meeting as well as the news that Anya Brink and Felicity Kasango had been accepted onto the short term youth exchange for the end of the year.  Feedback is awaited from the RYLA camp attended by 2 learners from Dominican Convent.
  • Treasurer - Julian gave feedback on a payment in excess of R9000 made to the Link Literacy Project.
  • Fundraising - Karlien asked for donations for the upcoming Golf Day to be held at Wanderers Golf Club in April where prizes and sponsors are needed. We also need 4-Balls for the Golf Day.  Karlien also gave feedback to diarize a new date for the Concert from Scratch which has been moved to 25 July due to issues with the Church booking. 
  • Zoo Lake Playground - David Marshall said that a meeting was to be held with City Parks regarding permission for the removal of the existing playground equipment (which was in a dangerous condition) and for funders to be found for a new playground equipment made from recycled plastic.  Julian suggested that a District Grant could be used for this purpose.  The fencing in of the area was also recommended.  
  • Woodside Sanctuary - Paul Kasango discussed the existing Jungle Gym at Woodside and said that a School had been approached to relocate this and the area to be used for a garden that the residents of Woodside could use for recreation.  A donation of toiletries was made to Woodside which was collected by members and handed over to Paul at the end of the meeting.
  • Johannesburg Childrens Home -  Judy Symons said that she was assisting the Home to sort out their donated books into suitable categories for a Monthly Book Sale to raise funds.  Arrangements were made for the Rotaract Club to assist Judy with the sorting of the books.
  • The Reverend Nick Bell expressed his appreciation to the members of the Club for their hospitality and for making him feel at home whilst on his visit to SA. He was formerly the Vicar of Luton and is a member of the Rotary Club of Luton.  New Dawn hopes to involve the Club of Luton in a Global Grant.
Reminders -
  • Revised date for the Concert from Scratch:  25 July.  
  • Nadine Mitchely (Incoming President of the Rotaract Club) and Cara Kotze (Youth Exchange Scholar) to give talks next week.  
  • Carol Stier will be training the Club on the 25th of March and will be joined by incoming President Ian Widdop, who will talk about goal setting
  • There will be no meeting on 1 April and we will have a social pizza evening at the Golf Club instead.                                         
  • Please collect prizes, approach players and sponsors for the Golf Day at Wanders Golf Club in April.
  •  A reminder regarding Easter Eggs for Easter as well as used mens' clothing for the Twilight Home.

From the top:  Amina, Dave, Karlien and Mike listening attentively;  Nick Bell expresses his thanks;  President of the Johannesburg Club Grace van Zyl (who attended the Rotaract meeting) and Graham Donet; Peta Thomas, Judy and Nadine Mitchely at the Rotaract meeting (which followed our meeting); Dave Marshall giving feedback; Helene, Adele and Julian discussing funding for Donate-a-Loo and Judy handing over the Woodside toiletries donation to Paul Kasango.
Thought for the week;  "Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."   Albert Schweitzer 1875-1965

Sunday, 1 March 2020


It is normal in a growing club such as ours, that new and existing members would need updated information on our Projects, as they are dynamic in their nature.  Our President, Judy Sligcher felt that it was time to hold a Project Meeting to update all members, both new and old on the current state of our projects.  

This also gives our members the opportunity to see where they can offer their experience and knowledge to ensure the smooth running of our projects.

President Judy reinforced the Six Focus Areas of Rotary prior to the start of the meeting, namely:

The Six Focus Areas of Rotary

She then handed over to Carl Chemaly (Head of Projects), to lead the meeting.

Carl reiterated that generally all our projects are in need of funds and it was important for members to see where they can use their talents in supporting and strengthening the projects.

Head of Projects, Carl Chemaly, leading the meeting
  1. Project Realema (Project Owner - Carl Chemaly)   The major need is fundraising followed by mentoring and training where members could offer their skills and experience.  This is a large and effective project, offering comprehensive bursaries to talented and hard-working black pupils who could not otherwise afford a tertiary degree, to study for a Bachelor of Education degree through Unisa, while gaining valuable work experience as full-time teacher interns at top schools.  Any assistance from members would be most welcome and contact can be made through Carl.  This project could qualify for a Global Grant and in doing so would need an International Partner Club to leverage the funds raised.
  2. Project Donate-a-Loo  (Project Owner - Helen Bramwell)  The major need is also fundraising, then the identification of qualifying new sites (schools) with a need also to assist in painting of the toilets.  David Marshall is in charge of the technical aspects of the project and would be the one to approach should you wish to assist with painting or maintenance work.  Helene and Adele Dabbs would be the people to contact to assist with the identification of schools.  This project currently has limited resources and could also qualify for a Global Grant.  A possibility exists of involving Nick Bell's Club in the UK to partner in a Global Grant.
  3. Campaign for Financial Independence in Africa (Project Owner - Audrey Gatawa)  In terms of project resources a structure does exist but there are not many hands on deck at the moment.  Money and sponsors are required and this project would also qualify for a Global Grant.  A possibility exists to involve DGN Christopher Forster from Sierra Leone as an International partner for a Global Grant.  Those members wishing to get involved should contact Audrey Gatawa.  
  4. The Link Trust  (Project Owner Ian Widdop)  This project has good project resources and we have been involved for a number of years, with a Global Grant already allocated.  Volunteers are need for one on one mentorship in Literacy and Numeracy.  A possibility exists to apply for a Global Grant to fund a mobile library.  Contact Ian Widdop.
  5. Meriting (Project Owner Ian Widdop)  The project resources as defined as thin and in an embryonic status.  Needs are funds, teacher, facilitators and mentors.  This project would also qualify for a Global Grant and is in need of an International Partner.  Please contact Ian for further information.
  6. Woodside Sanctuary  (Project Owner Paul Kasango)  This project has good resources and is well run and caters for profoundly mentally and physically handicapped people of all ages.  Needs are substantial and are focussed on toiletries, funds and regular visits.  Field trips are always welcome.  Some funding is received from the Government.
General -  
There are a number of other ongoing projects that were not raised in the meeting, but are covered in the "Project Line-up:  End February 2020" sent out by Ian Widdop.  
These include the folllowing:
  • Libraries (Amina Frense)
  • Copessa (Karlien Kruger)
  • Christ Church Christian Care Centre (Judy Symons)
  • Zoo lake playground (David Marshall)
  • Humanitarian Centre  (Amina Frense)
  • SA Golf Association (Mike MacDonald)
The various Project Owners can be contacted for more information or offers of support.

In respect of Global Grants - these are a solid resource of funding from leveraging funds raised with International Rotary Clubs and a multiplier effect of 4-5 times through the Rotary Foundation.  Those members with contacts with International Clubs should discuss with those Clubs the opportunity to partner with New Dawn.  The catch is that they are administratively time consuming.  If you would like to offer your services to assisting with Global Grants on behalf of our projects, please contact Ian Widdop.

Julian Nagy made the point that we need well described projects with their needs clearly outlined in detail.  David Marshall said that it was important that those members or organisations donating money to also assist with donating time and effort.

Rtn Audrey Gatawa with DGN for West Africa Christopher Forster

Thought for the week:  Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision.  The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organisational objectives.  It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.  Dale Carnegie (1888 - 1955)

Monday, 24 February 2020

New Dawn on a high note!

New Dawn is always up for a challenge!  Especially when our President Elect, Ian Widdop sets us one a little out of our reach.

As you all know, Ian is a keen singer, and it has long been a dream of his to involve the Club in one of his musical ventures  With the help of this weeks Guest Speaker, Sue Cock, (wife of the well known conductor and radio presenter, Richard Cock) he has set New Dawn the task of putting together a "Concert from scratch" performance of Faure's Requiem on 23 May at St Martins in the Field Church, starting at 4.30pm.

This will be a fundraiser for the Club, with participants and audience paying for the privilege of performing this magnificent work. Furthermore, it will be presented with a live orchestra of 20 musicians, which we will pay for by donations and fund raising.
Sue made the point that everybody can sing by getting the Club members to get into the act at the meeting!

Carol Stier, Karlien Kruger and Joan Sainsbury will be assisting with the marketing/fundraiding for the event, and the Finance/Admin team will organise the payments and collection of monies. So, start warming those vocal chords!

Sue Cock in action!

Julian Nagy gave an update on the Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) status.  The PBO is different to the NPO status (which we already have).  A NPO status gives sponsors and donors a sense of comfort in that they are dealing with an organisation with an Object and a Purpose for acting for the Public Good, whilst a PBO is to do with SARS and ensuring that the first R200 thousand of nett income is exempt from tax.  Additionally we have a Section 18a status and can issue a tax certificate to donors and sponsors.  (There are a number of rules to this, so please check with Julian).  Kudos to Julian for his persistent effort in obtaining our registration.

It is always very special when we induct new members, and todays induction was no different. A hearty New Dawn welcome to Joan Sainsbury and Audrey Gatawa, who were inducted this week. Please welcome them both with open arms to our Club membership!

Audrey and Joan, suitably inducted by President Judy!

A special New Dawn welcome also to our guests, Nick Bell, Sarah de Lapasture, Kasthurie Singh and Chibesa Chitangala (who leaves shortly to return to Zambia).

Thought for the week:  Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything"  Plato