Rotary Club of Hoedspruit – Projects

Last Updated: May 16, 2024Categories: News

 

Rotary Club Meetings in Hoedspruit

Our meetings take place at the Keystone Café. We are so grateful to all the staff at the Keystone Café. They have given us a home, have fed and watered us and supported us in so many ways. We have meetings every second week – one business meeting and one with a guest speaker or more social orientation. Our meetings this year have been busy …

During our ‘social’ meetings had the privilege of interesting guest speakers: Becky Harmon talking about the Zingela Ulwazi 10 trees project, Kevin MacDonald talking about his resident bushbabies, Dr Erika Coertzen about the TRE (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises), Wayne Gillan on the secret lives of Dung Beetles. We also learned a lot about Rotary leadership and organisation from Rotarian Chrisna Stander from Haenertsburg (our sponsoring club at the time we were founded).

Rotary is about service and fellowship. We had some socials: Supper at the Yum Factory, a Braai at the Timbavati HQ, our Christmas Social on Zandspruit Estate, a Quiz night – thanks to Mike and Linda Whatmore and a walk with Prof Wayne Twine at the Wits Rural facility followed by a picnic breakfast.

We were delighted to induct two new members to the club this year, but we also had to say a sad farewell to Monika Golightly, a Charter (founder) member and long-term secretary for the club who passed away in December after a short illness and also our Charter President John Lategan.

  1. Rotary friendship is lifelong and is an important part of our lives as Rotarians. Rotary membership is about Service (to others) as well as the importance of fellowship, or Social.

 

 

Being a President

 

Not everyone wants to take on this responsibility as we are a small but very busy club. It’s a busy year to commit to. Running from 1 July to 30 June the President’s year starts with an Induction event. It is then up to the President, in discussion with club members, to decide what they want to focus on during the year and what targets they want to set.

Ideally a president is an experienced Rotarian who has been a member of the club for some years and is happy to lead the club and oversee its working for the year. There is a one-day training to learn more about the administrative aspects of the job. This training is provided by our Rotary District.  The whole Rotary world is divided up into ‘Districts’. Ours covers the northern areas of South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Eswatini. The District Governor visits us once during their year in office.

As President, you oversee and support the different portfolio holders within the club. There are also some administrative jobs – preparing for and leading club and board meetings, accessing the Rotary International ‘My Rotary’ website to add information, including details and photos of our projects, setting goals for the year etc. This is done working closely with the Club Secretary. The website also has connections to other clubs and provides information about many aspects of Rotary. The Rotary year is coming to an end soon. This year the annual world-wide Rotary theme was Create Hope in the world. So, did our club do this?

Service Projects – 2023/2024

The 7 areas of focus for Rotary International (just for information):

Peacebuilding and conflict prevention

Disease prevention and treatment

Water, sanitation and hygiene

Maternal and child health

Basic education and literacy

Community economic development

Supporting environment

Some of our projects are larger, one-off projects. Others are regular events and activities that we remain involved in from year to year. Some of our regular, smaller projects are:

 

Health Day. In October 2023 the Club assisted the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic with ticket sales for their raffle and then manned a water table for their ‘Tekkies for Tieties’ walk at the Bosveld Centre, in support of Hlokomela’s work with breast cancer. On a scorching hot day, hordes of mums, dads, children and dogs turned out for the walk, all brightly arrayed in pink and bearing trophies and slogans supporting Hlokomela’s work with breast cancer and celebrating all breast cancer survivors.

  1. A focus on disease prevention and treatment and wellness as well as strong links between Rotary and Hlokomela.

The Hoedspruit Farmers Market Bookstall – Despite some of the frustrations of manning the market with building taking place all around, we have continued to have our bookstall, developing relationships with local people, selling used books and raising much-needed funds. We really rely on our members to man this stall, and sometimes we just can’t get enough people together. Is there anyone else out there who would help us as a ‘Friend’ of Rotary?

  1. Contact with our local community in Hoedspruit and small-scale fund-raising.

The Saturday Girls Group – Seeds of Light.

This has become a regular project which we contribute to.  On two Saturdays in March seven Rotarians went to the New Dawn Centre in Acornhoek with our English literacy teaching materials. Our aim: to stimulate comprehension of English speaking and reading. We facilitated group discussions and exercises, we read plays together and were also able to give each girl a book and good-quality magazine to take home to encourage them to read more in English. We are really grateful to Seeds of Light for giving us this opportunity to work with their Saturday Girls group. It helps keep us young!

  1. Rotary area of focus. Basic education and literacy and also a Rotary special focus at the moment, Empowering Girls.

Sewing Project.

This project has run in the background in the Rotary Club for a number of years. Assisted by Sherry Couch, we have met with groups of people from both Acornhoek and Dwarsloop to teach the basics of sewing through a few simple projects. I am so grateful for Sherry’s support, inspiration and great teaching. This project is slowly gaining its own momentum as one of our original ‘students’ now has her own sewing machine and is about to start teaching lessons to four people living in her neighbourhood. This project is only possible because our club has received some wonderful donations of fabrics, equipment and sewing machines. So, we end the Rotary year with a good range of teaching machines and equipment and four different used and new sewing machines now distributed to individuals in the community, helping them to develop their skills and therefore their income potential.

  1. Area of focus Community economic development and Basic education and literacy.

Nurses Day.

In May is International Nurses Day this week. Christine du Preez is busy buying small gifts for Rotarians to distribute to the hard-working nurses in our community. We often take them for granted, but they are so essential to health and healing.

  1. Linking with members of our local community and supporting health.

 

On a beautiful sunny but cool day in September 18 guests from Gracious Living went to Amafu Forest Lodge in Kampersrus for a lunch, hosted by Steve Trollip. The gardens were looking wonderful, the guests had a delicious meal and then appeared to thoroughly enjoy participating in a talk and discussion with Steve about his passion for growing cycads and palms.

  1. Helping all ages, although much of our work in recent years has focused on early years education.

 

We also became involved in a Hoedspruit town clean-up day. The club employed a number of gardeners under the management of Believe and with the support of some of the staff of the Raptor’s View HOA worked to clear alien vegetation in the spruit beside the Hat and Creek. This is the second time we have worked in this area to support looking after our town’s environment.

NB Area of focus: Supporting environment

Sorting Donations and Social event. Members of the public give us a wide range of donations which over time accumulate in our ever-busy store room. We try to direct these to where they can best be used. Under the leadership of Rose White, a group of us headed out to the Timbavati’s Graeme Naylor Museum, to spend the morning sorting donations. There was much planning, sorting and discussion, and each member identified where the various goods could best be used. Having packed and labelled all the boxes we enjoyed a social braai together. This event gave us lots of goods to distribute to various causes:

  • Creches in Acornhoek and the Oaks
  • GRIP, the Greater Rape Intervention Programme based in Tintswalo Hospital
  • Zingela Ulwazi for the ladies from the 10 Trees Project
  • Seeds of Light at the New Dawn Centre and the learners who visit that centre.
  1. Links with other NGOs working in the community and with members of the public who want to support us. Area of focus for this activity is Community economic development.

 

Creche Visits and Enrichment.

We visit certain creches on a regular basis to take them donated toys, clothes and other goods. We visited some in Acornhoek in October 2023 with Ulla Coco Jensen, a Danish Rotarian who visits family in Hoedspruit quite often. On our visit we distributed some goods and completed a needs assessment for the creches. This also gave Ulla an opportunity to visit and understand more about the needs of these places and about our local rural communities – quite a steep learning curve for her! She has taken the message back to Rotarians in Copenhagen and we hear that they will be donating money towards ventilation improved pit toilets (VIP toilets) in two of the creches. These toilets will be a huge improvement on the old pit latrines and are safe for the tiny tots to use. Let’s look forward to this contact with centres in Acornhoek becoming a larger project soon.

In addition, we raised some funds in October 2022 for creche and day care centre enrichment and they now need our attention to use them well. The ‘Youth Team’ members are busy planning how these funds will be spent following our needs assessment. Often these crèches just about have money to pay for food for the children and basic stipends for staff. That doesn’t leave anything for the comforts of blankets and mattresses for the little ones to rest on, water storage and kitchen equipment or more educational toys and repairs and/or additions to outdoor play areas, so we think that’s what we are going to concentrate on. Watch this space!

  1. Health and Sanitation is a major area of emphasis in Rotary International and our links with Rotarians in other countries help us to achieve projects that we could not raise funds for on our own. Another area of focus covered here is Basic education and literacy.

 

And then to the larger Projects:

Our largest project this year was the Faith Burlington Creche (Acornhoek) Global Grant. After quite a few years of waiting (mostly because of Covid), our Global Grant project began in August 2023. The build proceeded exceptionally smoothly under the care of builder Lasten Kapunza, meeting time and finance targets. Faith Burlington now has two beautiful Enviroloo toilet blocks with sinks and running water for hand washing. The children can’t stop using it! At the end of the project there was a joyful and lively celebration with the builders, parent representatives and local dignitaries. Much appreciation was expressed to Rotary for the assistance that we have been able to give them. While we had a builder on site, we were able to help the creche with some much-needed improvements to their kitchen. It was effectively rebuilt, linked to a storeroom behind, with a double cement sink, water from the borehole, and a gas boiling table to provide better equipment for cooking. The grant money also includes maintenance of the Enviroloos over a five-year period as well as follow-up visits from Holokomela staff to provide Health and Sanitation teaching to children, staff and members of the local community.

  1. Our international links with Rotary International help us to do bigger and better projects than we could without support from overseas clubs. This type of project ticks a lot of Rotary ‘boxes: Disease prevention and treatment, Water, sanitation and hygiene, Maternal and child health as well as Basic education and literacy.

 

Poulo Creche toilet block. Some years ago, our club completed additional buildings at the Poulo Creche in The Oaks and installed a borehole with a manual pump. That pump was not very successful as they are bringing water up from a deep aquifer in that area. In November 2023 ground works finally began for another long-delayed project at Poulo. The VIP (Ventilation Improved Pit) toilet block, funded by Rotarians from Siegen-Schloss Rotary Club in Germany and Larry Sanders a Rotarian from the USA, was completed. While we were working these, some much-needed renovations and additions to the play area were completed by Claudia Schnell’s volunteers from her Aka’Ani NPC. We also completed a termite treatment, as the termites were literally building their mounds through the floors of the older creche buildings. This was followed in January by the installation of an electric submersible pump into their borehole, funded by a Welsh Rotary Club (Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr) and some individual Rotarians from that club. We left the place looking much better than we found it!

  1. Areas of focus – Water, sanitation and hygiene and Basic education and literacy.

 

We joined a Zoom Rotary meeting with the Rotary Club in North Wales. It was an opportunity to speak of the work we do in our local area which is very different to the activities of their club. It was good to make contact with other people in the wider Rotary world. As a result of this meeting, they collected and sent us funds for the electric pump and installation at Poulo Creche. The Zoom meeting also it marked the birth of the Vision Outreach Project.  Encouraged by requests from Rhian Twine (a Rotarian but also working with Tshemba) and Christine du Preez, our club made them aware of our local needs. They initiated a collection of hundreds of pairs of pre-loved glasses from the public in north Wales under the advertising slogan of

“Your old specs help someone in Africa to see into their future …”.

The glasses were brought out by a visiting family member and have been donated to the Tshemba Foundation operating out of Tintswalo Hospital. Hundreds of pairs have been painstakingly sorted by optometrist, Leoni Joubert, a volunteer at Tshemba, ready for distribution.

Leoni also identified an urgent need for two specialist pieces of equipment for Tshemba:

  • one, a portable tonometer, used to measure pressure within the eye, thus flagging up possible glaucoma.
  • The other, a vertometer or lensometer, is designed to measure the power of a spectacle lens. This helps with the sorting of the pre-loved spectacles, enabling staff and volunteers to assign them to correct patients as accurately as possible.

We were able to find some funds to buy these two instruments for Tshemba and a very exciting handover and demonstration took place on 29th February 2024 at the Tshemba Volunteer Centre on Moditlo. The instruments were immediately put to use in a week-long vision outreach campaign in Acornhoek.

 

Facts from the campaign – 1 event, 1210 patients, 1101 eye tests, 846 pairs of spectacles

 

An important message conveyed to Rotary by Leoni during this meeting was the need for ordinary sunglasses and ready-made readers for some of the patients who undergo eye cataract surgery at Tintswalo. We’re working on it and hope to set up collection points for sunglasses in Hoedspruit soon.

  1. Optometry was new area of focus for us, but we wanted to develop our Disease prevention and treatment focus as well as Basic education and literacy. The project was initiated by the Rotary Club in Wales.