Volume 02 Issue 22
Dear Fellow Rotarians,
We joined our friends in Macau last week at the Lisboa Hotel in Macau, for a special joint meeting to bring us up to date on finalisation of the Guangxi Schools Project. It was a fun trip over and we had plenty of time for fellowship with our fellow Rotarians and our guests – First Lady Regina Chugani and other “first wives” Kamal Harilela, Ann Stinson, Malou Kleinteich, Renee Hackston and Christine Montague.
PP Gary and his wife Kamal
President Alfredo welcomed us to their club and gave a brief introduction to the Schools Project and President Ramesh presented 4 sets of autographed photos of Hong Kong’s top jockeys to be raffled. They each then launched into introductions of all the Rotarians present, the guests, the visiting Macau Rotaractors and of course, the special guests Father Lancelot from the Macau Catholic Relief Centre and PDG Anthony Hung.
During dinner, we were shown slides of the students and their “schools” prior to construction and then a video which highlighted the enormous progress that has been made. The schools were in villages with no running water or electricity, in the middle of the mountains. This meant a journey from the nearest large town of several hours, along a “road” (which is more like a track than a road) which had been constructed in the early 1990’s and on which several major obstructions were encountered; such as the landslide in which everyone was “press-ganged” into moving the huge boulders out of the way.
It was really uplifting to see the squalid conditions in which the children had to learn prior to Rotary’s involvement and then the difference that had clearly been made in their lives. Picture a rag-tag bunch of children forced to take naps on top of their desks for want of accommodation, transformed into bright-eyed happy students studying in relatively spacious, bright classrooms at proper desks and sleeping in clean dormitories with access to running water. Many of the villagers, teachers and students were in tears (of happiness) at the finalisation ceremony of the first project.
The video was very professionally done – congratulations to the Rotary Club of Macau.
After PDG Anthony’s talk (see below), we moved on to a number of presentations, starting with a surprise birthday cake for VP Nic and PP Morais Alves from RC of Macau, who has been in Rotary for 36 years!
At the head table – President Alfredo, PDG Anthony, President Ramesh & VP Nic
Long-standing certificates were presented to PP Morais and PP José Maneiras, both of whom are former mayors of Macau; “Thank You” banners from one of the primary schools which benefitted from the schools project were presented to PP Bruce for the RC of Taipei, IPP Bill for the Ama RC of Nagoya and President Ramesh for our own club; President Ramesh presented the RC of Macau with a small painting entitled “Visitors in Autumn”; and finally, PP Bruce received a plaque from PP Choi of RC of Macau in thanks for his part (as President that year) in involving the RC of Kowloon North in the Three Schools Project.
Presidents Alfredo and Ramesh receiving a banner for the Three Schools Project
The raffle of the photographs presented by President Ramesh raised an impressive HK$4,050 which the RC of Macau will use to help fund one of their community service projects.
The meeting was then adjourned, but the night was still young and so PP Stella and Hon. Sec. Synthia took us to the Moonwalker Bar in Macau’s equivalent of Lan Kwai Fong, where … but that’s another story!
Till next week …
Yours in Rotary,
Last Week (23rd November) PDG Anthony Hung joined the Joint Meeting with the Rotary Club of Macau and, after telling us that his version of the acronym PDG is Permanent Dinner Guest, he gave us a talk in his capacity as Rotary Foundation Chairman for the District. He really is a splendid speaker with a real passion for his subject.
He explained how, despite the fact that there are approximately 300 paid employees in Rotary Foundation, every cent donated is used for community projects. This is because a dollar donated today, is invested for 3 years before being used. In the past, this has generated a return of $1.25 for every $1 and the growth has been available to cover the Foundation’s costs. The donations are then used to fund two types of programmes: humanitarian or educational.
PDG Anthony Hung
PDG Anthony outlined the different types of grants that are available from the Foundation:-
The Matching Grant is available to assist in projects being carried out by 2 or more Rotary Clubs from different Districts. If a grant application is successful, Rotary Foundation will match the total contributions from each of the Clubs involved, dollar for dollar.
The Helping Grant is available for projects being carried out in a non-Rotary country, such as China. The Foundation will match contributions at a rate of 50 cents for each US$1 up to a maximum of US$15,000. Our Club’s Baby Milk Project was itself, the recipient of a Helping Grant.
The Cal Miller Discovery Grant is an obscure one which is rarely used in Hong Kong, but which could have been used to fund the visit to Guangxi. It assists with the costs involved in travelling to a third country to monitor projects in which Rotary Clubs are involved.
The Ambassadorial Scholarship Grant sends scholars from various Districts out into the world with the aim of promoting harmony and understanding by teaching young people about different cultures and having them act as Rotary ambassadors. Each scholar has a Rotary counsellor in their home country and at their destination. District 3450 has sent 7 young scholars to different countries this year and our Club has a named scholarship – The Kowloon North Scholarship.
Group Study Exchange is another programme which is similar to the Ambassadorial Scholarship programme, except that it is between 2 countries and involves one Rotarian looking after 4 non-Rotarians for the period of the exchange and teaching them about the culture, way of life and different vocations in the Rotarian’s home District. The Group Study Exchange this year is with America.
The final programme which PDG Anthony talked to us about was one which is closest to his heart – The PolioPlus Programme. Rotary has pledged to eradicate polio from the world by our centenary year, 2005. This ambitious project was started in 1985 and has had a 90% success rate so far, with more than US$500 million raised. However, a further US$450 million is required to complete the task and there is still a lot of work required in India and those areas of the world which are currently war zones (e.g. Afghanistan and certain parts of Africa). These need to be monitored especially carefully, as it only requires one case of polio to destroy all the good work which has been carried out in the past 16 years.
This Week (30th November) Dr Mark Houston, whose talk is entitled “Traditional Chinese Medicine & the Fitness Industry” will discuss how a nature-based medicine and physical exercise/fitness can greatly reduce the health care costs of the modern world.
Friday 7th December: Mr Terry Hart, MLI Limited – Investments & Life Assurance
Friday 14th December: TBA
Thursday 20th December: Katherine Ma, The House of Energy – Psychic Reading
Friday 28th December: Annual General Meeting – Election of Officers for Rotary year 2002/3
VP Nic is planning your programme for speakers for next year and he would welcome any names and addresses of speakers for January and early February.
Friday 30th November: Nigel Montague & Albert Lam
Friday 7th December: Howard Davies & Steve Lan
Friday 14th December: Joseph Lee & Frank Kleinteich
Thursday 20th December: David Lindsay & Patrick Shum
Friday 28th December: Raj Mirpuri & Nic Robinson
NEWS – NEWS – NEWS
The New Schools Project
A report on IPP Bill’s and Rtn. Brian’s recent visit to China is now available on the Club Web Site.
THE YANTU PROJECT UPDATE (written on 23rd November 2001 by Veronique Faure)
7th Yantu update: “Sometimes it’s hell”
Right after I sent you the 6th update last week, where I was telling you about routine aboard Yantu, I got a phone call from Christian to say that they had just had “24 hours in hell”.
It started with very strong tropical rain and very difficult waves. Then, at one o’clock in the morning, they saw a ship coming straight at them, which of course is very dangerous. Yantu is so small and so low on the water that even with its navigation lights and its radar deflector, in high waves, it is invisible to bigger ships. They eventually managed to contact the ship on the emergency channel of their VHF radio, and the ship changed its course to avoid them.
Then the waves became very short and very frequent, violently shaking the boat from side to side, like a metronome. Christian explained that the movements were so fast and violent that sitting on the rowing seats was real torture, because his hip bones were almost hitting his rib cage: “I have never experienced so much pain in 2 hours”. When Sun Haibin came back from his “resting period” (it can’t have been very restful in those conditions), fortunately, things had calmed down, and he did not have to suffer the same ordeal, but was suffering from strong pain in his hands. Christian was hurting so much for hours afterwards that he was unable to row his following 2 shifts.
Then they noticed that their reserve canister of lighter fuel (bought brand new in Tenerife) was empty – the gas must have evaporated with the heat… ever since they have had to use the sparkle of the lighter stone to make hot food – it works, but it is not very gentle on their fingers…
Then, to top it all, they noticed that the hinge of the cabin roof hatch was also broken! This is a real safety hazard, as one of the things that keeps the boat from sinking, and its inhabitants safely dry in case of capsize, is the air bubble in the cabin. With two damaged hatches letting water through, especially the one from the roof, the boat was becoming really unsafe. When Christian spoke to me that day, he had serious doubts (for the first time) about them getting to Barbados, at least without outside assistance.
Fortunately, in the meantime, they have managed to repair the hatch in an acceptable way. Although it is not 100% waterproof, Christian says it is no longer a safety hazard. And the weather has improved, their physical condition and their morale as well.
They now have about 500 nautical miles (925 km) to go, and have reached the 10th position in the race. The most concrete proof to them that they are approaching their goal is the time difference: they have now changed their watches to Barbados time (GMT minus 4 hours) in order to match the time with the actual daylight.
As usual, their speed depends a lot on the winds and current, and has varied since the last update between 47 miles and 63 miles in 24 hours. The latter was achieved in these very last 24 hours so it is nice to think of them speeding towards Barbados. Their expected arrival date is still some time around 1st December. The first two teams have already arrived in Barbados, respectively on 18th and 21st November!
Thank you for your continuous support.
Rtn Susie is arranging an evening at the Panto – “Snow White and the 7 Dwarves” – on Thursday 13th December starting at 7.30 pm in the Shouson Theatre at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Road, Wanchai. Tickets are only HK$210 (HK$180 for children) for this fun evening so why not bring your families and start getting into the spirit of the festive season. Please e-mail Rtn Susie at firstname.lastname@example.org (or telephone her at 29722952) with your requirements before it’s too late.
BIRTHDAYS THIS MONTH
Sunday 25th November: Rtn Raj Mirpuri (who lives in London) shares his birthday with philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835) who was born in Dunfermline, Scotland (the birthplace of my own grandfather), baseball legend and one-time husband of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio (1914) and infamous Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (1915).
Andrew Carnegie: Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.
On this day in history ….
2348 BC – According to Archbishop James Ussher’s Old Testament chronology, the Great Deluge (“Noah’s Flood”) began on this date.
1867 – Alfred Nobel invents dynamite (duh! I think the Chinese have this claim to fame many years prior to 1867!)
1998 – Britain’s highest court ruled that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose extradition was being sought by Spain, could not claim immunity from prosecution for the crimes he committed during his rule.
Monday 26th November: Celebrating the next day, Rtn Peter Daswani shares his birthday with “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz (1922), Adolfo Perez Esquivel (1931) Argentinian winner of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize and Anna Mae Bullock (1938) better known as the indefatigable Tina Turner.
Charles M Schulz: Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.
On this day in history ….
1716 – The first lion to be exhibited in America went on display in Boston, USA
1922 – In Egypt, the entrance to King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered by archeolist Howard Carter. The Egyptian child-king became pharaoh at age nine and died when he was 19.
1949 – India’s Constituent Assembly adopted the country’s constitution The country became republic within the British Commonwealth two months later.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
Saturday 1st December: Wear a Red Ribbon today to commemorate World AIDS Day
Monday 3rd December: Rotary International President Rick King, will be guest of honour at a District 3450 Inter-City meeting to be held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Tsimshatsui at 19.00. This will be a unique opportunity to meet the incumbent RI President. In addition, this will be the induction of Mr Tommy Tam, so please make the effort to show support for a new member to our Club and let President Ramesh know urgently if you wish to attend. After all, it’s only one evening out of 365!
Sunday 9th December: The Camp Quality Christmas Party will be held at the Karting Mall this year. Everyone will meeting at Kowloon Tong KCRC Station at 9.15 am to get to the Karting Mall for 10.00 am. After safety briefings and practice races, the kart races will start at 10.40 am with the final championship race at 12.00. After the awards ceremony, there will be a buffet lunch at 12.30 pm followed by a visit from Santa Claus. The party is expected to end at 3.00 pm.
Saturday 5th January: The Annual District Mahjong Championships will be held at the World Trade Centre Club at 38/F, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay. The event starts with a 12.00 pm buffet lunch with the competition starting at 1.30 pm. The fee is HK$500 which includes lunch and dinner. For further details, contact Mr. Frederick Ng on 90427077 or Tony Hui on 94610814.
Sunday 13th January: The District Sports Day will be held at the Wanchai Sports Ground from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Saturday 16th March: District Conference to be held at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel.
FROM THE BREADBASKET
“Scaring You to Action”
(Excerpted from a speech delivered by Stephen King at the Vassar College commencement, May 20, 2001. Submitted by Grahame Leon-Smith)
I have to tell you the scary truth, because that’s my job. You know the old proverb, don’t you, about the woman who carries the drowning scorpion across the raging stream? Once they’re on the other side, it stings her and as she staggers to her knees, dying, she reproaches it for ingratitude. “C’mon lady,” it says, “you knew I was a scorpion when you picked me up.”
And you knew I was the scary guy when you picked me for this job, so deal with it. That human life is brief when placed in time’s wider perspective is something we all know. I am asking you to consider it on a more visceral level, that’s all.
What will you do? Well, I’ll tell you one thing you’re not going to do, and that’s take it with you. I’m worth I don’t exactly know how many millions of dollars–I’m still in the Third World compared to Bill Gates, but on the whole I’m doing OK–and a couple of years ago I found out what “you can’t take it with you” means.
I found out while I was lying in the ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood and with the tibia of my right leg poking out the side of my jeans like the branch of a tree taken down in a thunderstorm. I had a MasterCard in my wallet, but when you’re lying in the ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts MasterCard. If you find yourself in the ER with a serious infarct, or if the doctor tells you yeah, that lump you felt in your breast is a tumor, you can’t wave your Diners Club at it and make it go away.
My life, as it happened, was saved. The man who saved it was a volunteer EMT named Paul Fillebrown. He did the things that needed to be done at the scene, and then he drove me to the nearest hospital at 110 miles an hour. And while Paul Fillebrown may have an American Express Card, I doubt very much if it’s a gold one or, God save us, the black one that offers double Frequent Flyer miles and special deals at Club Med. We all know that life is ephemeral, but on that particular day and in the months that followed, I got a painful but extremely valuable look at life’s simple backstage truths. We come in naked and broke. We may be dressed when we go out, but we’re just as broke. Warren Buffett? Going to go out broke. Bill Gates? Going to go out broke. Tom Hanks? Going out broke. Steve King? Broke. Not a crying dime.
And how long in between? How long have you got to be in the chips? “I’m aware of the time passin’ by, they say in the end it’s the blink of an eye.” That’s how long. Just the blink of an eye.
Yet for a short period–let’s say 40 years, but the merest blink in the larger course of things–you and your contemporaries will wield enormous power: the power of the economy, the power of the hugest military-industrial complex in the history of the world, the power of the American society you will create in your own image.
That’s your time, your moment. Don’t miss it.
I think my generation did, although I don’t blame us too much; it’s over in the blink of an eye and it’s easy to miss. Of all the power which will shortly come into your hands–gradually at first, but then with a speed that will take your breath away–the greatest is undoubtedly the power of compassion, the ability to give.
We have enormous resources in this country–resources you yourselves will soon command–but they are only yours on loan. Only yours to give for a short while. You’ll die broke. In the end, it’s the blink of an eye. I came here to talk about charity, and I want you to think about it on a large scale. We have enormous resources in this country, but they are only yours on loan. You’ll die broke. Should you give away what you have? Of course you should. I want you to consider making your lives one long gift to others, and why not? All you have is on loan, anyway. All you want to get at the getting place, from the Maserati you may dream about to the retirement fund some broker will try to sell you on, none of that is real. All that lasts is what you pass on. The rest is smoke and mirrors.
Here’s another scary thing to think about before you leave here.
Imagine a nice little backyard, surrounded by a board fence. Dad–a pleasant fellow, a little plump, wearing an apron that says YOU MAY KISS THE COOK–is tending the barbecue. Mom and the kids are setting the picnic table by the backyard pool: fried chicken, cole slaw, potato salad, a chocolate cake for dessert. And standing around that fence, looking in, are emaciated men and women, starving children. They are silent. They only watch.
That family at the picnic is us, ladies and gentlemen; that backyard is America; and those hungry people on the other side of the fence, watching us sit down to eat, include far too much of the rest of the world.
Am I overstating? Well, America contains 5% of the world’s population and uses up 75% of the world’s resources, so you tell me.
What we scrape down the kitchen disposal after Thanksgiving dinner for a family of eight would feed a Liberian village for a week, so you tell me. We’ve elected an administration–I guess we elected them, we might as well say we did–that takes a dim view of charity as national policy.
George W. Bush talks about “compassionate conservatism,” an oxymoron right up there with “jumbo shrimp” and “humane execution.” What he’s talking about has been Republican Party bedrock for a hundred years; it amounts to, “Don’t give a man a fish, give him a fishing pole and teach him to fish.” (This, of course, would be before idiotic conservation and environmental policies render the whole concept of “fish” irrelevant.)
My own philosophy–partly formed as a young college graduate without a job, waiting in a line to get donated commodities for the kids-is, by all means give a man a pole and teach him to fish, but people learn better with full bellies. Why not give him a fish to get started? Giving isn’t about the receiver or the gift but the giver. It’s for the giver. One doesn’t open one’s wallet to improve the world, although it’s nice when that happens; one does it to improve one’s self…
I give because it’s the only concrete way I have of saying that I’m glad to be alive and that I can earn my daily bread doing what I love. I hope that you will be similarly grateful to be alive and that you will also be glad to do whatever it is you wind up doing.
Giving is a way of taking the focus off the money we make and putting it back where it belongs–on the lives we lead, the families we raise, the communities which nurture us.
Right now we have the power to do great good for others and for ourselves. So I ask you to begin the next great phase of your life by giving, and to continue as you begin. I think you’ll find in the end that you got far more than you ever had, and did more good than you ever dreamed
AND FINALLY ….
“A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: huh?…” — Conan O’Brien