Thursday, 14 January 2021

Back to the Future in 2021

The picnic on the lawn at Marks Park towards the end of last year seems like a distant memory as we started off the new year with the first meeting for New Dawn amidst a raging new Covid-19 wave. There's not much new so far in this new year, just lots more of the same lockdown blues carried over from a fraught 2020.

We've already missed out on the traditional New Year's kuier on the Sligcher stoep and will certainly miss out on any group Valentine's Day celebrations but despite the gloom of recent weeks, the first meeting of the year started off with lots of good news.

                            President Ian Widdop amongst the plants

President Ian Widdop told the club that the larger portion of the Rotary International grant for the now defunct taxi sanitising project had been paid out to the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn specifically for the seedling project at the National School of the Arts.

Almost R350 000 is in the club account for the project, which should be in full swing soon. There's a speaker on the matter the week after next (see below).

President Ian also announced a new and prestigious Rotary appointment for PDG Jankees Sligcher.

                             PDG Jankees Sligcher takes on a new role for the Rotary Foundation

He has been appointed Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator (RRFC) for Zone 22 with responsibility for the area which covers the mainly eastern, English speaking part of Africa from South Sudan through Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenia and Mozambique to South Africa.

PDG Jankees is taking over from PDG Andrew Jaeger, who has decided he needs to spend more time with his businesses in the Western Cape due to the Covid crisis in the wine and restaurant industry.

Jankees has pledged to address the club on the appointment once he's got his teeth into what is expected of him, but be aware that his main job will be to wrest more contributions from clubs and members for the Rotary Foundation.

                                Joan Sainsbury hard at work making masks last year

Members of New Dawn were, as usual, not inactive over the festive season and many kudos must go to Joan Sainsbury who somehow manages to wave her magic wand and gather club support for a range of projects. The most recent of these has been a supply of very reasonably priced single use masks which members have paid for and which will be distributed to various worthy causes.

This netted over R2000 for the club coffers, a very generous amount.

Joan reports that she has also been able to have art and other supplies delivered to the Leeuwkop Prison despite the strict lockdown rules.

                                 Oliver Quambusch in one of the Hotel Hope charity shops

Joan Donet reported that a fourth candidate for a Rotary short-term exchange at the end of the year, from Parktown Boys High, has come forward, meaning that New Dawn will potentially be sponsoring two boys and two girls for the programme.

President Ian Widdop reported that Tim Bashall, chairman of The Link Trust, donated some of  the contents of his home in Forest Town to New Dawn because he has moved to Cape Town and is letting the house. These were passed on to the Christ Church Christian Care Centre in Berea and to Hotel Hope Ministries in Melville and were gratefully received.

One of the busiest of all our members has been Prof. Lucille Blumberg due to her Covid-related work.

Lucille gave an update on the current state of affairs and said the situation is pretty grim as the  second wave of infections sweeps across the country. She said the new variant has proved to be highly transferable although it hasn't necessarily increased the death rate.

                                 Professor Lucille Blumberg behind her desk

Hospitals are overwhelmed, there are no beds available and oxygen, for instance, is in short supply.

She ascribes the current increased death rate to an overwhelmed health system which is struggling to cope.

The country has not yet reached the peak of the second wave, which is only expected in the next 2 - 3 weeks.

She conceded that the health authorities had been a bit slow on sourcing vaccines, but that the first consignments are expected soon. She urged members to get vaccinated as soon as they qualify.

She recommends that people remain in lockdown until at least the end of February.

"My advice is to be particularly careful. There's no room for any slips. We don't know yet if the vaccines will work," she said, and added that initial  indications are good.

"We need to all push for a vaccine and I encourage you all to get it if it becomes available."

She said the vaccination rollout is complicated by the fact that you can't just round up people at venues such as clinics, because of the danger of infections spreading amongst them.

In keeping with her advice, the club decided to move back to Zoom-only meetings for the next few weeks at least.

                                  PDG Robert Strachan of Cheshire in England

Speakers: The speaker next week (on Zoom) is Robert Strachan, a director of Disaster Aid UK and Ireland, an organisation affiliated with Rotary. He hails from Cheshire and will update the club on the Disaster Aid project, of which we've heard before from the Aussie Dave Tuzewski of DisasterAid Australia.

The week after Brendan Martins of Urban Agricultural Initiative will be speaking on sustainable food production linked to the seedling project at the National School of the Arts.

A Thought for the Rotary Year Ahead: So many gods, so many creeds/ So many paths that wind and wind/ While just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs. - (Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850 - 1919)


Sunday, 6 December 2020

No Rain On The New Dawn Picnic Parade

The rain stayed away and it was all systems go! on Friday afternoon for the New Dawn picnic and end-of-year social gathering at Marks Park Sports Club in Emmarentia.

This was a last-minute change last Thursday when it seemed that there would almost certainly be rain on Friday afternoon and evening. George Hay Park would not have afforded us any undercover facilities if the forecasters were right.

They weren't, but Marks Park, where we've been having our annual Festive Dinner over the past few years, came to the party and offered us their verandah, bar facilities and lawn free of charge.

    Picnic in the park. The scene from the lawn, looking towards the main building at Marks Park

We managed to raise R20 000, not bad in a year where significant fundraising has proved almost impossible. This is thanks to some generous donations, even from members who could not make it for various reasons.

The money goes to the Donate-a-Loo's toilet installation at the Reamogetswe Crèche in Diepsloot.

                                            Some of the WhatsApp messages after the picnic

The evening was rated a success by everyone and by the time we left shortly after nightfall, the rain had still stayed away. Marks Park will definitely see us again. We numbered almost 40 people including guests and, I'm afraid to say those of you who couldn't make it missed out on a very pleasant and relaxing evening.

The new loos at the crèche in Soweto
Richard Jones, our minstrel from the Christmas Dinner last year, was in his element and played songs that all of us recognise. Richard complained about the acoustics in the bowling club hall last year, but had no problem making himself heard this year and added immensely to the relaxed atmosphere.

     Carin Holmes came to greet before leaving for Lusaka. Here she is with Dave Marshall and Joan Donet

As has become a habit of New Dawn, a number of guests had their arm twisted to take time over the summer break to think about joining the club.

      If there had been a competition for the best picnic basket, Carol Stier would've won hands down. She
                                    shared it with Melanie Walker and Shannon Ludbrook
        The raffle prize was won by Errol Burman. Here he is with President Ian Widdop and Joan Donet

The raffle, for the hamper donated by Carol and Linda Vink, and for which most tickets were sold on the day, netted R3600, not bad for these difficult times. The Thrupps hamper proved to be a popular drawcard and we even managed to get some of the bar regulars to have a try at winning it. Errol Burman ended up with the right number.

        Ronnie Kasrils, Amina Frense and their guests, Faith Isiakpere, Shaaista Bulbulia and her mother, Firdoze,
                                                     chose to sit at a table on the verandah

One of the plus points of the venue was that you felt part of the same group whether you sat on the lawn or stayed at one of the tables on the verandah. Amina Frense, new member Ronnie Kasrils and their guests, the movie personality Firdoze Bulbulia, Shaaista Bulbulia and Faith Isiakpere, were amongst those who stayed upstairs.

    Robin Widdop with their new dog Duffy, Ian Widdop, Hannah Botha and Dave Marshall enjoyed the lawn

Firdoze is one of those who will be spending the holiday deciding whether to join New Dawn, as were the Nagy guests Nick and Marnie Vujovic, who both stated that they are definitely in, as well as Wendy Challis, Helene's guest.

     Helene Bramwell with Wendy Challis, Adele Dabbs and Debbi Burman

    Lucille Blumberg made a cameo appearance. Here she is with Amina Frense, Graham Donet and Carol Stier
The picnic followed on from the meeting last week where Gavin Atkins was inducted into the club, keeping our numbers on 38 with Carin Holmes leaving as an active member.
At the meeting it was announced that Julian Nagy has agreed to make himself available as president for the Rotary year starting on 1 July 2021.
    Julian Nagy announcing the names on his new-look board for 2021/2022
Julian announced a new-look board for his year at the helm. Llewellyn Leonard will act as president-elect, Karlien Kruger will be his secretary, with Joan Donet remaining as executive secretary for the website access it grants. Hannes Dressler, a CA and former treasurer of the Rotary Club of Moscow, will be treasurer and Dave Marshall will take over as Foundation officer.

Carl Chemaly has agreed to take over the membership portfolio. Gavin Atkins will be the projects head.
      Gavin Atkins being inducted, with Karlien Kruger and president Ian Widdop
Gavin, a project manager by trade, was inducted into the club as the latest member. The charge was read out by Karlien Kruger, who brought him to New Dawn

Julian said he wants to involve as many members as possible more directly in the running of the club.

Remember that there will be a last meeting of the year this coming Wednesday. The first meeting in the new year will be on Wednesday, 13 January. This is my last blog of the year.

Have a great festive season and stay safe.

A Final Thought for the Year: Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place. - Josh Billings (1818 - 1885)

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Getting Creative With President Ian

In trying to define what creativity is, he has a vision that everybody is more creative than they think they are, President Ian Widdop said during his talk on the theme of A Creative Life at the meeting this week.

President Ian, himself more creative than most, gave the same talk over Zoom to Nick Bell's Rotary Club of Holt in the UK last week.

All 7.8 billion of us on earth spend most of our day, probably 70 - 80% of our time, in our own heads, in our minds, in ourselves and only 20 - 30% in conversation with others, he said.

      President Ian Widdop with his mind map on creativity on the TV screen behind him
       President Ian's theory of creativity in the form of a sketch

Our thinking, he said, leads to actions, which leads to habits, which become a pattern of behaviour, which is how we show up to other people.

He quoted T.S. Eliot from the poem Little Gidding (I've used the quote as my Thought for the Week, so do scroll down) to show how the quest for creativity is never-ending and ultimately enhances our lives.

By opening yourself up more, we allow more in. We notice more, pay better attention and become better people in the process.

It's hard to do justice to such a complex subject in just a few lines, but it was indeed a vitally important lesson in how we operate as human beings.

    Julian Nagy with Paul Channon and President Ian Widdop

The hybrid meetings have been going smoothly although the technology does pose a few challenges.

It's great to be able to meet in person again and the Parkview Golf Club go out of their way to make sure we operate in a reasonably safe environment.

At the meeting it was announced that Julian Nagy has agreed to make himself available for the club presidency for the next Rotary year starting in July 2021.

Rotary International demands that the names of the incoming president and club officers (secretary, treasurer and foundation officer) be made available to them before the end of this year and the other office bearers will be made known before that deadline, Julian said.

    The Dresslers announced the birth of a baby boy and Linda and I dropped off flowers on behalf of the club     
     Katya, Liza and Hannes with baby Theodor Johannesovich, their German/Russian/Saffer newcomer

Hannes Dressler has of course been walking around with a big grin following the birth of a baby boy, Theo, to add to his family with Katya and Liza. 

Hannes has donated a plastic children's playhouse as well as a rather large wooden wendyhouse from his neighbour in Westcliffe, which Linda managed to get for our grandchildren in exchange for a donation of R5000 to the picnic fund.

     Judy Sligcher with Karlien Kruger and Sarah de La Pasture at the meeting

       PDG Jankees Sligcher (right) with myself and Julian Nagy

The Sligchers have made a further donation of R1000 to the picnic, even though they're unable to attend, so we've gotten off to a good start.

Please don't forget to RSVP and to pay before next Friday.

The picnic starts at 4pm and is to be held at George Hay Park in Parkview.

The musician from the Christmas dinner last year, Richard Jones, will take the role of a wandering minstrel at the picnic and Linda and Carol Stier are donating a hamper from Thrupps as a raffle prize. The small playhouse from Hannes will also be part of the raffle.

Please invite family, friends and acquaintances to join us as it is the only ordinary fundraising event the club has been able to hold this year.

         Judy Sligcher, Peta Thomas and Graham Donet all masked up and ready to go

Money raised will go to the Donate-a-Loo project fronted by Helene Bramwell, Adele Dabbs and Errol Burman. They are installing three juvenile and one senior toilet at the Reamogetswe Nursery School in Diepsloot and hope to have it completed by 4 December.

The total cost is around R100 000 and will be funded 50/50 by Seeds of Africa (Sally Viljoen) and with money that Helene has raised. Help from New Dawn would of course be very welcome.

Helene and her team are working closely with Seeds of Africa to identify suitable sites. There are four installations of toilets at crèches in Cosmo City currently running successfully in conjunction with Seeds of Africa.

Dates to Remember: The meeting next week (2 December) will take the form of a club assembly devoted to the strategic plan we're developing. The last meeting of the year is on 9 December and will be a fellowship meeting. The first meeting next year is on Wednesday, 13 January.

A Thought for the Week: We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. - T.S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)

Thursday, 19 November 2020

The Dogs of the KNP Revealed

 When PDG Jankees Sligcher was District governor, he managed to persuade Audi South Africa to help donate a Belgian Malinois (a type of Belgian sheepdog) to the K9 project of the Kruger National Park, where he held his District Conference in 2018.

The Belgian Malinois is one of the breed of dogs that are used in the KNP and other South African game parks to track poachers, as attack dogs and as sniffer dogs at the gates. Others include bloodhounds, a doberman/bloodhound cross and labradors and other breeds suitable for sniffing out contraband such as rhinoceros horn.

                        Moira Shein of SANParks Honorary Rangers talking about the dogs of the park

These and other interesting facts were shared with the club by Moira Shein, a member of SANParks Honorary Rangers.  She is  vice-chairperson of their Canine Project Watchdog which  gives support to the KNP by arranging donations of food and medical supplies for the dogs and their handlers and also training for the unit. She mentioned that dogs are fitted with a GPS unit as a tracking device and that these cost in the region of R25 000 each.

The Rotary dog was injured in the line of duty and is now being used to breed, hopefully including more dogs to keep the animals in the KNP safe.

The number of dogs used has grown from just three in 2012, to 46 currently, with a further 14 dogs used elsewhere, most notably to combat abalone poaching on the coast and to safeguard tourists on Table Mountain in Cape Town.

                         An attack dog goes through his paces during a demonstration at Discon 2018

Moira told the club that the KNP is dealing with more than one poaching excursion into the park per day, which makes it very difficult and very expensive to safeguard the more than 2 million hectares area. Dogs and handlers often spend 10 days at a time in the bush in difficult and dangerous circumstances and provide companionship to one another.

She said amongst the biggest headaches are rhino poaching for their horns and pangolins for their scales, both used for a variety of products and potions in the Far East. Lions are also poached, as are tigers in the northern hemisphere, for their carcasses and bones.

A rhino horn, she said, fetches $65 000 per kilogram in the black market, making it more precious than gold or diamonds.

                                     Lauren Winchester speaks about Soweto

There were some very welcome visitors to the meeting as well, starting with Lauren Winchester, a lawyer by training who has worked extensively in public relations, advertising and media. Lauren decided on the unthinkable two years ago and moved her company offices to Soweto's famous Vilakazi Street to gain better insight into the way townships work and to help a township like Soweto to develop into a city in its own right.

The good news is that Lauren, who was introduced to the club by Jankees and Judy Sligcher, is keen to join New Dawn, bringing in much needed expertise and contact with Sowetans, which will help no end in our attempts to get Rotary better established there.

                     Velani Buthelezi with Carin Holmes, his predecessor at the Salvation Army

Another visitor was Velani Buthelezi, a captain in the Salvation Army, who is succeeding Carin Holmes as public relations chief for Southern Africa. Carin is, of course, leaving for Lusaka soon.

At the meeting President Ian Widdop presented her with a certificate of Honorary Membership of New Dawn, thus keeping the strong ties between Rotary and the Salvation Army that have existed since Carin joined the club in 2012.

                             President Ian Widdop handing over the induction kit to Sarah de La Pasture

Velani told the club that he hails from Zululand and is family of Mangosuthu Buthelezi. He is very keen to follow in Carin's footsteps and join New Dawn.

Ian also handed her badge and certificates to Sarah de La Pasture, who attended one of her first face-to-face meetings since joining the club.

            Paul Channon, Julian Nagy and Gavin Atkins at the meeting

Gavin Atkins was also a visitor and after the meeting  attended a fireside chat that Julian Nagy, Joan and Graham Donet and I had with him to tell him more about the workings of Rotary and to answer any questions he has.

Gavin has already submitted his CV, which will be discussed at the next board meeting and a recommendation made to the club as per the stipulated procedure.

                    President Ian thanking Reckson Nkuna for his years of service

A last bit of ceremony at the meeting was handing over a wad of cash to Reckson Nkuna, who is retiring from the Parkview Golf Club where he has been looking after the New Dawn breakfast meetings ever since we moved there from the UJ School of Hospitality about five years ago. We managed to collect R1 500 for Reckson with extra donations during the brag.

Dates to Diarise: The speaker next week is President Ian Widdop, who will be speaking on the theme of A Creative Life, a talk he gave to the Rotary Club of Holt and District, the home club of Honorary Member Nick Bell, last week.

There's a special board meeting on Monday to discuss, amongst other things, the club succession plan after Tony Reddy withdrew his nomination for president for the Rotary Year 2021-2022 and the club's strategic plan.

The annual festive dinner gives way to a picnic at George Hay Park in Parkview on Friday, 4 December at 4 pm. The invitations have already gone out, so do invite as many of your friends and family to come along for a fun evening during which we can hopefully raise some much-needed funds for the club.

Precious few members have paid, so don't forget the joining fee of R150 per person (you're welcome to donate more) and don't forget to bring your own picnic basket with food and drinks and chairs and blankets. Please pay by EFT as taking cash doesn't sound like a good idea during the Covid crisis.

A Thought for the Week: Manners maketh man. - William Horman (c 1440 - 1535)

Thursday, 12 November 2020

A Festive Meeting as Covid Continues

Anything Zoom can do, a face-to-face can do better, or in these strange times, a hybrid meeting, but it was nevertheless refreshing to be able to do physical inductions and Paul Harris awards at the meeting last week.

Many other clubs have not yet started meeting in person, like the Rosebank club, and having the choice of a physical presence as well as online for those who so prefer, has been a great success, thanks mainly to Hannes Dressler and the IT team from SAP.

     A hybrid handshake and elbow bump from President Ian Widdop for new members Errol Burman and Ronnie Kasrils as re-inductee Linda Vink looks on

Hannes says he's working on a permanent solution for the club to this tough technological nut, something for which members are most grateful. It also makes us the envy of other clubs who haven't managed to sort hybrid meetings out yet.

The Wednesday morning meeting, where we were once more made very aware of the Covid-19 dangers, was followed by President Cyril Ramaphosa's latest address to the nation where he significantly lifted lockdown restrictions, most notably on overseas arrivals and visits and alcohol sales hours, but emphasised that a second coronavirus wave would only be averted if people stuck to wearing masks, kept up with social distancing and sanitised and/or thoroughly washed hands regularly.

    President Ian Widdop with the four Paul Harris recipients, Ronnie Kasrils, Megan Maynard, Mike MacDonald and Joan Donet

The meeting on Wednesday was a do-over of the handing over of the Paul Harris awards at President Ian Widdop's Zoom induction in July, the re-induction of PP Linda Vink and the induction of new members Christoph Plate and Sarah de La Pasture on Zoom during the lockdown and of Ronnie Kasrils and Errol Burman at the meeting.

Paul Harris Awards were handed over to Ronnie Kasrils, Joan Donet (sapphire), Mike MacDonald and Megan Maynard of The Link.

President Ian also announced that Carin Holmes has been made an honorary member of New Dawn, as she is embarking on a three-year stint for the Salvation Army in Lusaka, Zambia, a fantastic achievement for a beloved fellow member.

In his remarks after receiving his Paul Harris, Ronnie told how one of the Rotary founder's first acts in Chicago, was to supply public toilets to the community.

"I was reading, and for the first time something amazing hit me, one of his first acts to the public was something very dear to my heart, he built public toilets in Chicago. I'd like to brag a bit, because as minister of water affairs, for the first time we got the issue of sanitation moving in wonderful ways."

"We had Nelson Mandela doing the first public wash in which we were saying to the public whenever you have been to the toilet and always before eating, wash your hands. We taught this to the kids in schools."

"Alas and alack, we all know what followed in terms of the downward plunge into the sewers that some government people had left us. I would really like to, when we can rise up and be public again,  look into sanitation as a Rotarian."

                           PDG Jankees Sligcher  handed over the Paul Harris to Ronnie Kasrils

Ronnie was awarded his Paul Harris for his decades of service to the country. Megan Maynard was awarded her Paul Harris because of her tireless work at The Link and for strengthening ties between `the Link and the club.

Joan Donet was awarded a Paul Harris sapphire (a second Paul Harris) for her work in keeping the administration of the club running smoothly and Mike MacDonald his for his charity work, not only for the annual New Dawn golf days, but also in the wider golfing world and for other charities.

The fundraising committee did a report back after a meeting on Tuesday evening where, at the prompting of Gavin Atkins, a project management expert who is about to join the club after being introduced by Karlien Kruger, a list of fundraising eight channels was itemised. These are all seen as complementary rather than mutually exclusive.

                                   PP Judy Sligcher awarding the Paul Harris to Mike MacDonald

The channels include traditional activities such as the golf day, bridge drive and festive dinner; crowdfunding and other online fundraising; membership rewards such as the My School programme. fellowship activities that can raise funds on an ongoing basis; overseas funding through overseas clubs and Rotary International; corporate help through CSI programmes and sponsorships and others.

Several possible fundraising channels were discussed, amongst them three outlined by Joan Sainsbury through her contacts in the art world for possible art auctions and art sales, that sound very promising.

Covid warriors: Ronnie Kasrils told the club that his visit on Wednesday to receive his Paul Harris and be inducted as a member, was one of the few times he'd ventured out since the beginning of lockdown.

Lucille Blumberg said she was also leaving lockdown to attend the graduation ceremony where her alma mater, the University of  the Witwatersrand, is awarding her an honorary doctorate, just so that she can wear the traditional red academic gown!

Apart from Carin Holmes leaving for Lusaka, Christoph Plate said he was on his way to Tanzania for work, so didn't feel up to attending the meeting as an extra precaution against the virus.

Hannes will of course soon be on his way to the maternity ward with Katya for the birth of their second child, a son. He'll have to report on whether they'll actually allow him to be present at the birth. Strange times indeed.

Ian Widdop reported that he'd been invited by Nick Bell to speak to the Rotary Club of Holt and that he'd been guest speaker on Monday evening. His theme: A Creative Life. It sounds like something he can speak to our own club about.

Remember: Although gatherings of up to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors are now allowed, the club has opted to do a Festive Picnic this year at the George Hay Park in Parkview instead of the usual dinner. It's on Friday, 4 December and starts at 4 pm. Invitations have gone out, so please pay up and start packing your picnic baskets.

A Thought for the Week: If you're lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it. - (John Irving (1942 -)

Friday, 6 November 2020

The More Activity, The More Active We Become

 A list of 28 projects and activities in which members of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn are involved, is a badge of honour for the club.

What potentially could be seen as a very daunting prospect, is actually just a reflection of all the things great and small that New Dawners tackle either collectively or in smaller groups down to individuals.

The great thing about New Dawn is that we still manage to have fun while doing it.

   President Ian listening intently, with Joan Donet in front of the IT equipment, courtesy of Hannes Dressler and SAP,  that makes the hybrid meetings possible

Projects were the theme of the discussion at the meeting last week, led by President Ian Widdop.

The focus on projects, as is with fundraising, has to take into account the rather trying Covid-19 times we're living in.

President Ian said that because of Covid-19 and the various stages of lockdown, the club has no or very little money to spend on projects and very few prospects of raising funds in any significant way.

"We need to approach this in a different way," he said.

Paul Kasango, Helene Bramwell and Adele Dabbs keeping a safe social distance

By his calculation, 24 of the 38 members are directly involved in the various projects, mostly with children  as the primary beneficiaries, and most others members indirectly.

He said that although the list might be seen as a sign that the club is a bit unfocused, we would be nowhere during the lockdown without all the diverse activity, not all which involve direct financial contributions by the club.

These smaller projects have kept New Dawn alive while larger projects like The Link have gone quiet due to the lockdown.

Covid-19 has brought the focus back on the Rotary motto of Service Above Self, he said.

Examples of the input of New Dawn members in projects that are making a difference are aplenty and one of the larger efforts that was highlighted at the meeting was the work that one of the more recent recruits to the club, Karlien Kruger, has been doing with Copessa, the Community-based Prevention and Empowerment Strategies in South Africa NGO led by Dr Nobs Mwanda.

    Karlien Kruger and Gavin Atkins talking about their breakthrough work with Copessa

Dr. Nobs, as she is affectionately known, was a speaker at the club last year and grabbed everybody's attention when she shattered a glass with her fork to emphasise what child abuse does to a child's soul.

"That's what happens in Rotary, you get ambushed and shaken," President Ian said.

Karlien introduced a former work colleague, Gavin Atkins, who has been helping her sort out issues of corporate governance at Copessa and build a strategy to tackle all the projects they want to undertake such as starting up a community radio station, an App, a Gender Based Violence unit and efforts to combat violence against children.

         The marshal is back in town ... Dave Marshall holding up a screen photo of a possible Zoo Lake playground.             He also told the club he's seriously thinking of moving to Johannesburg

Another was the Zoo Lake playground, where Dave Marshall reported on ongoing efforts to put the district grant that was obtained earlier this year, to good use. This project needs to be signed off by the end of this Rotary financial year (30 June), but all involved seem to think that'll not be a problem.

At the meeting the club also congratulated Carin Holmes, who was promoted and is being transferred by the Salvation Army to Lusaka, Zambia, an exciting prospect for her and one which opens up possibilities for New Dawn as well.

Diarise: There was a board meeting on Zoom last evening so the meeting next week (11 November) will be a business meeting. New members (Sarah de la Pasture, Errol Burman and Ronnie Kasrils) are being asked to attend at the Parkview club,  where possible, next week so that badges and other induction paraphernalia can be handed over to them, as with the Paul Harris Fellowships announced at President Ian's induction in July.

The day before there is a major fundraising meeting at Twickenham Guest House (Tuesday (10 November) to discuss the possibilities of future fundraising events. All members are welcome and an invitation was sent out this week.

On Monday, 23 November there will be a special board meeting on Zoom to discuss the club leadership for the new Rotary year starting on 1 July 2021.

The invitation to the end-of-year Christmas meeting on Friday, 4 December will be going out soon.

The last meeting of the year will be on Wednesday, 9 December and the first meeting of the new year on Wednesday, 13 January.

A Thought for the Week: We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. - George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Friday, 30 October 2020

Raising Funds and Riding Bicycles

People in the performing and visual arts are known for their get-up-and-go attitude to life, often because they don't really have a choice. If you're not going to market yourself, you have to pay somebody to do it and then you still have to be involved.

Artists are also known for being individually minded and not organised as an industry in the way that, for example, the other great entertainment industry of sport is.

But, as they say in Afrikaans, Die nood leer bid which translates to Necessity is the mother of invention, more literally to, If choices are limited, ask (pray) or that other well-known South African idiomatic expression, 'n Boer maak  'n plan!

That all looks set to change, according to Bridget van Oerle, the speaker at the meeting this week.

      President Ian Widdop with Bridget van Oerle at the meeting last week

Bridget has a lifelong association with the theatre and started her agency, BUZ Publicity, a PR, events and media liaison company, 24 years ago with clients such as Pieter-Dirk Uys, organisations such as Wits Theatre and charities such as 67 Blankets for Mandela.

She spoke on the theme of what artists have been doing during the crippling lockdown months and said this can broadly be broken down to volunteerism and attempts to forge new unity in the industry.

The first has taken many forms, with individuals and groups trying to raise funds for charity online and, as an example, an ongoing feeding scheme in Machadodorp in Mpumalanga for about a thousand people over the last four months.

                      While theatres stand empty, the industry is trying to unify to face a post-Covid world                        

The second has seen a push to create an industry specific body with its own constitution to represent the industry as a whole and create unity within the industry. Bridget says the process of meetings and consultation amongst diverse interest groups has been very rewarding.

She was recently a driving force behind the movement I'm for the Arts, with the tagline Atists' lives matter. The organisation hopes to spread the word amongst artists and all South Africans to push government to take the arts sector more seriously and recently organised a march to the Union Buildings  in Pretoria to press home their demands.

The movement already has more than 19 000 Facebook followers.

                        We are marching to Pretoria ... artists march on the Union Buildings

She said the most heartening and inspiring thing has been to see artists who have not being able to work over the past months, banding together to give of their time and talents to help others.

What the industry needs most of all, is for people "to start buying tickets again for live shows" once that is again permitted.

The speaker at the meeting next week is a more local one, none other that President Ian Widdop himself. President Ian told the meeting that a number of members had been speaking to him about club and member projects and he thinks a discussion around that theme would be timely.

     Seed donations by New Dawn led to a bumper crop at Umbuyisa School of Arts & Culture in Soweto, the kind
      of project President Ian Widdop is punting during lockdown,

Fundraising has become ever more difficult during the dragging and draining coronavirus crisis because it is proving almost impossible to get out there and do the hard yards.

Ian told the club that on reflection he thinks the emphasis could be shifted from raising actual funds on a bigger scale to providing service where the need is greatest.

Your thoughts along these lines will be invaluable.

                      Fundraising is proving to be a bit harder than riding a bicycle

Fundraising will also come into play at a meeting of the fundraising committee on 10 November at 5pm at Twickenham Guest House (66 Twickenham Ave, Auckland Park).  Some drinks and snacks will be supplied.

The committee has said all members are welcome, specially those with well thought out proposals for fundraising in the post-Covid world that they are prepared to champion themselves. While brainstorming often yields good results, it's not very practical to say, for instance, "Let's do a cycle race" if you don't know if there's place on the calendar and whether it would be supported, etc.

Julian Nagy will be sending out an e-mail to all members with more details for the meeting.

                        There's a picnic basket full of goodies in your future

For a more immediate fundraising effort, please diarise Friday, 4 December from about 4pm, the date that the annual Christmas dinner would've taken place.

We've cancelled the Marks Park event on advice from Lucille Blumberg to rather err on the side of caution and will instead arrange a picnic at George Hay Park in Parkview, weather permitting. It's next to St Columba's Church in Lurgan Ave.

Lucille said that although a second surge does not look on the cards for now, preventing the spread of Covid-19 through non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand sanitising, wearing masks and only meeting in well-ventilated places, is critical.

The idea is to provide picnic baskets at R500 for two people, or R250 each, which would've been the price at the Festive Dinner, and hold the event outdoors, a far safer option. You'll need to bring your own picnic blankets, camping chairs and drinks.

All suggestions as to where to find the baskets (Fortnum & Mason do a good basket, but at exorbitant prices!) what to put in the baskets and offers to help provide such fare, will be most welcome.

A Thought for the Week: Be to their virtue very kind; be to their faults a little blind. - Matthew Prior (1664 - 1721)