For my first – much belated – post as International Director I begin by thanking John and Marilyn for their tenacity in achieving the charter of Rotary E-Club of D9700 – Serving Humanity. Several years in the making, our slow and steady start predicts a long and steady future as we take the time to grow and evolve this new way of engaging to serve through the extraordinary organisation of Rotary.
10-14 hour days in a dynamic role in rural remote northern Queensland, along with limited internet connectivity, have prevented me from being active in my role of International Director – although John rejected my request for leave of absence…. Work will compromise my availability for some years however I aim to contribute when I can, beginning by introducing my Rotary journey for those who do not know me.
Desire to participate and give back to the community led me to join the newly chartered Rotary Club of Forbes Ipomoea over ten years ago. I knew nothing about Rotary. Anticipating boredom – not a change in my life direction – I enrolled for only one day of my first district conference. Shelter Box; life-changing medical and eye missions; near eradication of polio worldwide; Aussie Gemma Sisia who founded the School of St Jude in Tanzania with 3 students and now educates thousands – these are just some of the humanitarian and development achievements of Rotary that excited me that day.
In the following year I jointly led DGE John Glassford’s Kili 28/8 project (summiting Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania) which raised over $100,000 with matching grants for AIDS and education projects in three African countries, including a generator for St Jude’s. Subsequently, I spent a year in Tanzania inaugurating governance systems for IEFT www.ieftz.org who opened Orkeeswa Secondary School on 14 April 2008 in an isolated Maasai area. On my return to Australia I enrolled in a Master of International and Community Development, which I completed in 2014 with an internship with the Alola Foundation in East Timor www.alolafoundation.org.
In the meantime I spent four years as CEO of an under-serviced outback local government in Western Australia, with a predominantly Indigenous population. On joining the Rotary Club of Geraldton (two hour’s drive away), then President Di Gilleland – now a lifelong friend and an incredibly active Rotarian with more energy than anyone I know – urged RCG to sponsor Orkeeswa as its first international project. In 2013 I led a group of ten (including Di of course!) to visit Orkeeswa and other Rotary projects including Food Water Shelter. RCG subsequently raised funds to build new specialist classrooms for Orkeeswa, and intends to continue to fund-raise to assist Orkeeswa in its mission to educate the poorest students to become leaders and drivers of community-led sustainable development to address poverty.
Rotary E-Club of D9700 – Serving Humanity has attracted a high proportion of members who run or support international service projects in various countries including several in Tanzania. I look forward to keeping up with your news.
Yours in serving humanity always.