Rotary Internationalon September 5, 2012
Rotary International is a worldwide organisation which attracts business people of high standing who want to give something back to their communities. Sun International Zambia was honoured to host the annual gathering for African Clubs of Rotary. The meeting went on for 5 days as the members discussed issues and planned for the year ahead.
Margaret Whitehead, one of Livingstone’s Rotarian, was in charge of a stall selling local crafts made by a community group, Kwenuha Women’s Association. There were shirts, aprons and hats all carefully made by the women’s group with the material showing the Rotary emblem. Margaret was doing a good trade, selling many to the delegates to take home.
Kwenuha Women’s Association really got going 5 years ago when Bob Selinger, a Rotarian from Newport-Irvine in America, decided to get involved. He had lost his wife and decided that he needed to work to take his mind off the loss and to do something in her memory. He came to Africa and found the Kwenuha Women’s Association in Livingstone.
Using his American Rotary Club, he managed to organise a Matching Grant to set up a training scheme and to buy sewing machines for the women’s group in Livingstone. After 4 months of training, each women was given a sewing machine and got help to set up their own small business.
The Kwenuha Women’s Association is no ordinary women’s group; it is a group made up of previous sex-workers. The women previously hung around in bars and on street corners to find customers. They needed money to feed themselves and their children unfortunately this was the only way they knew. Many of them are HIV positive and without help their lives would have been short lived.
Bob’s intervention with the training course and sewing machines has made a huge difference in the lives of the women. Not only have they gained self-respect but they have become good role models for their children and the rest of their families.
Bob also sold bundles of shirts, aprons and hats at Rotary Conventions around the world. In Birmingham, UK, he raised US$14,000. With this money he organised another training course and more sewing machines.
It is amazing how one person, with one good idea, can make such a huge difference. And that is what Rotary is all about.