Friday, 20 August 2021

Rotarians Roaming the World

In the absence of a speaker from Gravitree as scheduled, three more members introduced themselves to other club members on Zoom at the meeting this week.

First up was Zena Kimaro, who has been a member of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn since 2012, a year after she moved to Johannesburg to do post-doctoral studies.

Zena came to New Dawn via the Rotary Club of Kilifi, a club on the coast of Kenya, a country where Rotary is truly prospering, where she had been a member since 2004.

                                    Zena Kimaro, molecular biologist, proud mother and proud Rotarian

Zena said she wishes she could be more involved in Rotary, something her work and being the mother of two boys doesn't always allow.

"I believe that you enjoy Rotary even more when you're involved," she said.

Zena has a PhD in molecular biology, two sons of 7 and 11 months and a medical doctor partner who has returned to Nairobi because he has not been allowed to practise is South Africa.

She works for the pharmaceutical company Merck. She lived and worked in the USA for two years but says she loves living in South Africa as a middle ground between the USA and Kenya and its proximity to her mother and siblings in Kenya.

She loves travelling, running, gardening, which she finds very therapeutic, and spending a lot of time with her boys and a small bubble of friends over weekends.

                                     Carl Chemaly, aka the Sheriff of Parkview

Next up was Carl Chemaly, also a Rotarian for a number of years, most recently with New Dawn. He joined the club in 2018 and had previously been a member of the Rotary Club of Johannesburg.

Carl told the club that he was born of a Lebanese father and 1820 Settler stock mother and went to school at St Andrews in Grahamstown and the University of Cape Town where he did a degree in marketing.

Carl owns his own business specialising in financial services and human resources.

After university he travelled overseas for 4 years doing jobs such as waitering and being a security guard "and realised what it is to be invisible".

Carl is married to the journalist Jacquie Myburgh, who is very involved in the charity Vintage With Love, which resells second-hand clothes from mainly northern suburbs women and manages to raise up to R1,5 million a year. The Alexandra Education Committee is one of their beneficiaries.

Carl himself is a champion of Realema, which takes promising young black pupils and sponsors them through a teacher training degree and then helps place them at good schools.

He is also a joint founder of Safe Parkview, an organisation which strives to keep that suburb crime-free, and is chairman of the Parkview Residents' Association because, he joked, nobody else wanted to do it.

Carl says he would love to see Rotary roping in more kids for projects that would at the same time help the children fulfil their community service hours. "I would love to help more people," he said.

                                                     One of Babette Gallard's travel guides

Babette Gallard hails from Shropshire in England, where she grew up among horses. She describes it as a very beautiful place.

At age 11 she broke her neck and back, but recovered and started riding dressage. She spent four years training in Germany and rode semi-professionally before going to university in Bristol. She then became a journalist, working for the BBC as a television researcher.

Her next stop was Papua New Guinea, during which time she married and had a daughter. The marriage ended in Portugal and she returned to the UK where she worked for a number of NGOs and learnt project management. She then went to Moscow as a business consultant and there met her present partner, Paul Chinn.

Together they bought a 600 year old house in Northern France and rode the Santiago trail on horseback. The following year they did the Roman Way trail, also on horseback. Their adventures let to a publishing business based on their travels, which she described as "reasonably successful".

They ended up in Johannesburg after building a hospital in Kinshasha. Getting it off-grid by installing solar power was one of the things that led her to being very aptly called an eco warrior.

Mpho Mosia, a singer, artist and clearly a bubbly young woman of much talent, also (not so briefly) introduced herself at the meeting and is one of four prospective members who could be inducted at the meeting on 1 September. Watch this space.

                                    Emma Franklin will be talking about her Zondo Commission experience

Next week: Remember that the meeting next week is an evening meeting at 6pm on Zoom, and the last of the meetings chaired by Carol Stier. Graham Donet will be presiding over the meetings in September. The speaker next week is Emma Franklin, who is about to become a commercial law barrister in the UK, but who has spent much of lockdown on the Zondo Commission legal team.

She'll be speaking about her experiences and the way forward. She was part of a number of work streams for the legal team, including the State Security Agency, SARS, procurement irregularities in the State Owned Entities and the preparation for the questioning of both the former and current President.

Although her specific field is commercial law, Emma has a broader interest in the social impact of the law. She has used the time in between her studies at the University of Cape Town and the University of Oxford to be involved in various legal NGOs, pro bono organisations and legal aid clinics. Most recently, her internship at the International Bar Association gave her a platform to share her views and ideas with a wide audience on topics like gender-based violence and how technology might be able to solve the very “human” problem of sexual harassment in the workplace.

As a bonus there'll be a second speaker. Seropane Lesoka is a graduate from the Alexandra Education Committee programme and is now a 5th year medical student. He'll be talking about his experiences with the AEC.

Reminders: Remember to place your orders for delicious honey from Peter Standish by contacting Gavin Atkins, who will then email an order form to you. Orders must be in by end of business on Tuesday for delivery on Sunday.

Also remember to sign up and pay up for the Power of Pennies sustainable fundraising effort, also by contacting Gavin and Sarah de La Pasture.

A Thought for the Week: I speak two languages, Body and English. - Mae West (1893 - 1980)

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