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Rotary century in SA

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The Rotary organisation celebrates its 100th birthday in South Africa in April – a century of doing good and facilitating impactful socio-economic change on the continent. Rotary has been instrumental in ending polio in Africa while promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, supporting education, providing maternal and child support, and facilitating disaster response.

The first Rotary club in Africa was founded in Johannesburg in 1921. In Paarl, the local Rotary club was launched in 1940, and the club celebrated its 80th birthday last year. The club has been a force in the town, raising funds for charity with an annual cycle race, a wine auction and other activities.

The club was instrumental in the founding of The Haven Night Shelter for the homeless and the Drakenstein Palliative Hospice, and members of Rotary still serve on the board of Hospice.

One of the biggest club projects was the construction of NorSa’s Phumelelani youth centre in Egoli, Wellington, in 2012. Rotarians helped to clear the site and teamed up with the Wellington Lions and NorSA to access financing. A team of professionals was organised to design and build the centre, and donations of building materials were sourced from various businesses. As a result, a well-designed, functional building was erected valued at R2,2 million in 2012. Donations from local businessmen of materials and installations reduced the cost by about R890 000.

Paarl Rotary has also cooperated with British, Dutch and German Rotary clubs to access a matching global grant to upgrade the Path onto Prosperity preschool centre on a farm in Nieuwedrift over the past three years. With this international funding the kitchen and other areas were upgraded and education materials, computers, security fencing, a covered play area, a storage container and a sewerage system were provided.

The club partnered with German Rotary clubs through another matching global grant to finance Girl’s Talk, an education project to inform young school learners in the Boland area about the dangers of teenage pregnancy.

Tens of thousands of learners were reached through lectures at their schools, resulting in a significant reduction in school pregnancies. The project is continuing and is now known as the Royalty Project.

For the past year the club has managed the upgrading of the Kerith Retreat mental health centre in Muldersvlei, where the kitchen and some other buildings were improved with funding from donors. Currently the development of a food garden is in progress to make the centre more self-sufficient.

Paarl Rotary financed the construction of the Salvation Army’s Island of Hope shelter for abused mothers and their children through various fund-raising projects and donations from Belgian Rotary clubs. While the Salvation Army is no longer based in Paarl, the centre is still being used for other community projects, including a pre-school centre and a thrift shop.

Donations of pre-owned clothing, domestic ware, furniture and building materials are welcomed at the shop in Breda Street, near the corner of New Street (opposite the Shoprite centre).

To celebrate Rotary’s centenary in Africa, a Centennial Conference on 24 and 25 April will see delegates from around the world gather online to hear from and network with leading visionaries and icons. Bookings to secure exhibition space at the Rotary International Virtual House of Friendship are now open at https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/Event.aspx?itemid=1505366838.

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