Rotary Club of Oak Bay
Bulletin, 21 April 2020
by Ron Cooley
 
President Joan opened another online meeting conducted through ZOOM.  There was an excellent attendance of 40 Rotarians and guests and Joan welcomed all those that had logged in. Some of the guests were attending from different  corners of the world. They included,
Ian Riseley, Melbourne Australia - Past President of Rotary International 2017-18, (It was 5.00am in Australia!)
Brad Howard, California - Past RI Director.
Bob Menconi, Florida - Past RI Director - Joan had never met him in person.
Julie Aubry, Evanston, IL - RI Regional Membership Officer for the Western US and parts of Canada.
Lee Blankenship, California - Past District Governor.
Jim Hicke - former member.
Tom Croft - former member.
Stephanie Staples - Sidney by the Sea club.
Linda Murray - Downtown Victoria club.
 
The Rotary Foundation. President Joan praised the commitment of our Club members to TRF. We ranked
 #2 Club in total contributions for District 5020.
#3 District out of 531 Districts with $768,936.
#2 in Zone 27 for Polio Plus donations at $188,663.
Thanks to all those who have contributed to TRF.
 
International Committee update by Committee Chair John Jordan.
A Child health program in Rwanda had been giving vocational training to unwed mothers, including instruction on how to sew. As a result of pandemic announcements, the program shut down within 48 hours. However, a contract with a local hospital was negotiated so that the some of the group could continue and make face masks. As these girls have little to no status locally, they benefit from their learned skills and so will the community.
Mexico. Ceci and Pablo reported that the Marvel Project has comprehensive approval to provide work stations and build adobe housing. The project is about fifty percent finished.
The Club has committed $1,800 to purchase food for a community in Guatemala with desperate need due to the pandemic. Jacqueline Mealing and John Snively are both hard at work in Guatemala.
A contribution was also made to Soap for Hope.
Celebrations Master Neil Rawnsley:  Instead of the usual fines Neil requested that members make donations to the Rapid Relief fund which has raised $ 5 million so far. Our fines and donations are going to the fund. He reported that he had 7 Flags in front of his condo on the Songhee’s walkway. He has been asked whether they were for Health Care Workers or for victims of the Nova Scotia tragedy. Neil was wearing his “I am Rotary” T-shirt which has 7 statements on the back. Each statement describes the activities of Rotarians. On a happy note President Joan and Donna had an April anniversary. Lynne let us know that Jason and Rowena Ko have twin baby girls. With sadness it was noted that Past District Governor David Stocks’ wife Frances had passed away. Frances was a generous person and a great supporter of all things Rotary.
 
Guest Speaker, Heather Croft, was introduced by Chris Kershaw.
Heather is a Co-operative Education Coordinator at U.Vic with a background in protein biochemistry, plant virology and digital communications. She loves the rich and amazing culture that the talented artists of Guinea, West Africa, joyfully share. For almost two decades, she has enjoyed the rhythms, songs and dances learned at Moon Dance Arts in Victoria.
She became involved with the Matoto School in rural Guinea because she believes that every child has a right to experience the transformational power of education. There are 2,000 people in the local community. In Guinea, only 41% of adults can read and only 22% of women.
 The school is building a reputation as one of the top elementary schools and is adding students because of it. The students in Grade 7 are in the top of class in Guinea and can read, write and thus translate for their parents. The community request for increased intake capacity is being acted on. There are currently 344 children attending.  The school has morning and evening shifts to accommodate everyone.  However, it is currently closed due to the Corona virus.
It is a challenge for rural subsistence farmers to lose workers if they send them to school. Girls are vulnerable to being married off at a young age. Volunteers ensure that the girls are safe as they travel to and from school. They receive health education on birth control and HIV/AIDs from a teacher and nurse.
Teachers are provided with housing but there is added pressure on housing as teachers return with their families now that there is a quality school. There is a new teacher’s residence with space for 6 teachers being built. Heather showed pictures of the residence under construction and of a fence to keep wandering cattle out of the school grounds (not what she had envisioned).
There is no Government funding but other groups including the following are helping: Pirouette Association is providing French Text books, Bobzi, Aboubacal and Miss Guinea have been donating.
There was a question; How do you cope with attracting new teachers? Heather replied that more than half the teachers have been there since 2012. They continue to pay teachers even though the school is closed.
 
 
Janna Gisler thanked Heather, “It is refreshing to hear such positive news during these times.”
 
 
 
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