Rotary Club of Oak Bay
Bulletin, 2 July, 2019
by Janette Nation
 
 
President Joan Firkins opened the meeting in the usual manner with the national anthem and invocation followed by buffet lunch.
 
Guests were introduced by Atam:
Cheryl Nelson - visiting Rotarian from Jasper
Chris Kershaw (Host: Atam Uppal)
Doris T Lewis.
 
There was a series of announcements:
Joan Firkins, expressed thanks to Adam Farquharson who has put in a lot of time to improve and maintain our club website. Joan F, Jack P and Adam F have been meeting to discuss the website, utilizing Clubrunner and adding features from our old Wordpress site. Thanks to Adam we can now register, pay for events and sign up for service projects online. Way to go Adam! We are so pleased to have you in our Club. Adam received a special recognition pin for his contribution.
There will be no meeting on 23 July. Instead we will have an evening reception to which all current and past members are invited. The occasion is to celebrate 45 years since the club received its charter on 24 July,1974.
There will be a service project at the Food Rescue Distribution Centre, on 27July and 3 August. We need at least 10 people to volunteer on each of these Saturdays. You can visit our website to register.
Joan called for volunteers to our Oak Bay Wednesday night market, next week, to help spread the word about joining Rotary. John J will set up.  Ceci and Pablo volunteered for 4 - 6 and Ron and Atam volunteered for 6-8.
 
 
Celebrations Master, Jack Petrie tried to baffle the crowd with music trivia and somewhat succeeded. There were a number of happy dollars donated and a birthday to celebrate.
 
John Jordan, our Guest Speaker, was introduced by Heather.
He, once again, eloquently updated the audience on Rwanda Rising.
John was a clinical psychologist. It seems like we learn new snippets about John’s history every time he gives a talk. John met his wife of twenty years at a Habitat for Humanity Conference and has been going to Rwanda for eleven years, for approximately two months, each winter.
Initially, John repaired houses and was later asked if he could build houses. There was a need because there were many genocide survivors, many widows and fatherless children, living in poor conditions. John showed us pictures of mud and wattle houses in a bad state of repair.  These sad, small houses were home to parents and children some of whom are HIV positive. In some cases there are up to 7 children with terminally ill parents. Although there is free medical care available in Rwanda, many families have “fallen through the cracks”.
 
John agreed to build houses, and because the area sits on an earthquake rift, it was necessary to build a strong stone foundation. Porters carry 100-120 lb boulders to the building sites.
 
 
John showed a picture of a new 5 room house with 3 bedrooms - so much nicer! Roof rafters are made of the timber growing in the forest. The workers build with just two tools: a machete and a hammer. John also provides families with a raised bed garden already planted with vegetables, and a separate cook shack, equipped with a fuel efficient, smoke free, stacked stove.  Latrines that provide safety and privacy are also provided. There are now 12 stove factories.
 
 
John showed photos of individual people. They looked so happy!! “Beatrice” has 5 children and the eldest one is Maria who had finished Grade 9. John managed to find a place for Maria in a boarding school an hour and a half walk away. Education provides these youngsters with economic viability in the future. When Beatrice saw her new house with furnished bedrooms, she collapsed sobbing; she was so relieved to know her children would no longer have to sleep on a mat placed on a dirt floor.
 
 
Another family with 7 children and a father with advanced TB lived in a two room house.  None of the children were in school. The younger children were supplied with a uniform, a back pack and equipment to enable them to go to school. “Peter” is an older child in this family and when he was told a house was being built for his mother, he said he would do any labor necessary to help.  Peter ended up going to a vocational school and two girls from another family went to the vocational school to learn to sew.
 
John informed us that other NGO’s put signs on houses to indicate they cost $3,500-$4,000, whereas the houses John builds cost $2000.
 
Perry thanked John for his informative presentation. Perry noted that Tricia Timmermans, a past member, brought John Jordan to our Rotary Club. (Thanks very much Tricia - what an asset John Jordan is to our club and to those he has helped so tirelessly in Rwanda, for the past eleven years. If you wish to make a donation to the Rwanda Initiative, you can do so at this website: https://www.innovativecommunities.org/donate-ico-initiatives/)
 
Next week: President Joan encouraged every member to attend our meeting next week, and volunteer to serve on a committee. Joan ended with the following words of wisdom:
“There is no such thing as lack of time, only lack of focus. We must all do the things we really want to do.”
 
 
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