Rotary Club of Oak Bay
Bulletin, 16 June 2020
by Renate MacKenzie
President Joan opened the 35th meeting (and our 9th virtual meeting on zoom) with O’Canada played by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This was followed by Steve recounting a prayer of M. Teresa and finished with the words ‘the fruit of service is peace’.
Welcome to Guests: President Joan welcomed David Maxwell (returning from Toronto) and Henrik Horkko as well as John Jordan’s guests, Ignacio and Marg Perez (long time friends from California!)
We were encouraged to sign up for Friday night’s Trivia event - more members are needed to make this happen!
We were reminded to pay our membership dues (Tav is available to respond to any questions).
Henrik Horkko, The Rotary Exchange student from Finland is winding up his year with Victoria Rotary Clubs. He identified the things he learned from his three host families (the Merners, the Sternigs and lastly the Garret family). He shared his thoughts about the benefits of improving his English, learning about Canadian culture and political campaigns, helping with volunteer work, opportunities to develop skills in photography and music, and gaining greater independence, self reliance, and leadership as well as being part of a pandemic that included distant learning at Esquimalt High School. President Joan emphasized that Henrik’s contribution as an ambassador, not only for his home country of Finland, but also for the Youth Exchange Program was very appreciated.
Celebrations Master, Heather brought our attention to several notable anniversaries; a grand 50th wedding anniversary for Perry and Anna-Marie, a 20th wedding anniversary for Giles and Amanda, while Heather and Vicky share a 23-year anniversary in Rotary, and Wendy now has 8 years in Rotary!
If any members are celebrating the easing of restrictions with going out to restaurants, hair salons or doing some extra duty by participating in surveys that are now ubiquitous, there is a fine to consider! 
Happy Dollars included Heather’s son, Alexander, as he graduates from Esquimalt High and Perry marks his anniversary with a donation to Polio Plus!
Joan Peggs took the opportunity to share the benefits of contributing annually to Polio Plus.  She reminded us about the District Polio Plus Society. If you make a commitment to donate a minimum contribution of $100US annually until polio is eradicated you are a member of this elite group. She further requested that if members of the society hadn’t made their contribution yet, that they do so before 30 June. President Joan explained there is currently only $16 Million of a $50 Million goal to achieve a full Gates matching fund.
Today’s speaker.
Ben introduced club member and Director of International projects, John Jordan who made his first trip to Rwanda in 2009 following the period of genocide. His trip involved the motivation to support a return to justice in Rwanda.
Rwanda Rising: John spoke eloquently, sharing stories from his involvement in 2019. More recently there have been challenges for the impoverished women and families in Rwanda. He described progressive changes from subsistence to success.
A request was made to full-time workers in the NGO that there was a ‘need for a roof over our heads’ in a remote mountain region where four homes had been destroyed in a wind storm. John recounted the events that helped the NGO accept this assignment although there were no funds readily available. As a consequence of Jack Petrie offering $5,000 from a fundraising event and workers travelling to the area, staying in a school room, construction of four solid stucco homes,  the families felt they were seen by the rest of the world. It was the first time a father could provide furniture for his family of five and a mother with an autistic grandson could have a home large enough to accommodate church meetings.
John went on to explain the impact of a $3,000 grant for young, unwed mothers near the NGO headquarters. The initiative to set up training programs for 14 women and started with a sewing/training centre in December, 2019. The pandemic hit this project hard in March. However, they fulfilled a contract to create 500 face masks. This increased their confidence and they continue to develop their skills in the women’s cooperative.
An emergency grant of $1,900 recently helped to counter persistent hunger when two packages of food staples were given to each woman. Also help was given to 25 women who created Victory Gardens for growing fresh vegetables.
A further 55 women will benefit from training in government subsidized programs in sewing, hairdressing, shoe making, welding and managing produce markets. John is continuing the work hard and is looking forward to a $7,000 matching grant that will find a way to lift people out of wretched poverty if given just a little help.
David Maxwell took the opportunity to thank John and expressed his appreciation for the inspiring work that John has pursued so diligently in Rwanda, acknowledging that the need for housing never goes away.
President Joan awarded a bottle of wine in a random draw. Won by Perry, he will continue an Anniversary celebration as he was the lucky recipient! She finished the meeting on an upbeat note that next week’s meeting will involve the installation of a new President and Board members as well as some surprises in store for us!
Meeting adjourned.
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