Saturday, June 02, 2007

Rotary: Male, pale and stale?

Keely doesn't think so!

You may have read my posts here, here, here and here about the great work of Rotary International and the help they have given the School of St Jude. Have you wondered what the local Arusha Rotary Club does? Here are some interesting insights by Keely Stevenson.

She discusses some of the great work done by Rotary International, especially work to eradicate polio, then she draws comparisons between the context of Western philanthropy and African philanthropy.

Rotary is about fellowship. We meet weekly for lunch, learn from each other, and enjoy each other’s company. It has been a great way for me to understand the perspective of the Arusha business community. Our club also has many interesting projects, including the distribution of mosquito nets to prevent malaria, a rainwater harvesting project, a cataract surgery and more.

The connection [of African Rotarians] to poverty is many degrees closer than those Rotarians I met in Silicon Valley.

The African philanthropist likely sees the realities [of poverty] daily because his/her cousin, neighbor, employee, grandma, etc. is asking him/her directly for money to treat malaria, to pay for school fees, to get access to family planning services, to treat HIV, or to pay for food because lack of rainfall didn't yield good crops this season. All deserving cases for financial support from a charitable soul.

When we support the School of St Jude, we know we are making a massive difference to hundreds of children and their families. But it is not right up close against us, on our doorstep, in our back yard the way it is for Africans. We don't feel the impact of our assistance in the same way. We rely on news and letters and blogs from those who are close at hand.

So, I'm very glad for Keely's blog from Arusha -- it gives me another window into the context of life in Northern Tanzania. By the way, here's an amazing resource I just stumbled across. It is a collection of material about the history of Northern Tanzania, especially Arusha -- the personal scrapbook of David Marsh.

What wonderful trails there are to follow. The path just keeps leading us forward.

Note: Check out Mark Riffey's blog (April, 2007) on the topic of 'Male, pale and stale?' Rotarians.

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