Thursday, 23 July 2015

An exemplary Rotarian

On July 1rst  2015 Cathy Gourbault Lawrence was honoured and awarded by Lionel Beffre High Commissioner of the French Republic, KNIGHT in the FRENCH NATIONAL ORDER OF MERIT in recognition of high dedication and commitment in the community for 36 years.

Cathy  was born in Paris, spent all her youth in Perpignan (French Spanish border) before moving to Brittany and to Tahiti. She was raised with very strong public values, where hard work and sport were the foundations;
Very early she was involved in swimming at national and international level thanks to her father who was her coach and mentor. Cathy’s father was a fireman officer who died on duty in the the South of France at the age of 46.  All her life she has tried to follow his path; serving as a fire woman for 5 years,  being a life guard for 18 summer seasons on the southern France beaches, volunteering as a first aid instructor. She managed to graduate at Uni at the same time two  BA bachelors in French and English.
 all her working life since 1986 Cathy has been dedicated to adult training. 

Cathy created and has managed her very successful training and coaching business in human resources and management for 21 years in French Polynesia. 

Besides her business Cathy has been heavily involved in Junior Chamber international (Jaycees) for 13 years reaching  all the levels of the NGO and being one of the 17 world vice presidents in 2001 and being awarded Outstanding World Vice President. Cathy is a JCI international graduate trainer, a JCI senator  and held the office of JCI senate group president in French Polynesia.

Cathy joined Rotary in 2003 and has held many positions including club president, assistant governor (3 years) and  has ran many projects including two  Rotary major projects in French Polynesia , an 18k swim in the ocean between  two islands Tahiti & Moorea for 10 years,  and co organized with the Australian consulate  the Anzac day and Papeete project 2015. She has been involved in the Rotary leadership institute, was awarded by Rotary international a PR prize in 2009 and is a 3 sapphire PHF

Cathy has been since 2011 a councilor of exterior trade for France  (CCEF) and has been a board member of a wine club in Tahiti (AOC) for 15 years.

At a personnal level, Cathy has for 18 years  lived her life between Tahiti and Nagambie where she married Hugh Lawrence in 2002.

Cathy created a new business 18 months ago, La Galerie de Nagambie which sells collectables, antiques and art works.

What drives her ?  She never stops, and has always pushed her limits aiming at new dreams, new challenges and new goals.

Her  strong values, her determination, her optimistic bone have always been supported by her beloved ones (families and friends); Without Hugh’s love and ongoing support she would not have been able to achieve, to grow and to blossom. Hugh’s love and support have allowed her to be herself and  to serve the community (whether in JC or in Rotary). This recognition is also dedicated to Hugh.
Serving the community is being part of this school of friendship where you meet some special people who will play a key role in your life and will give you the energy, the faith and the will to follow your dreams and push your limits further and further.

The official ceremony  in French Polynesia at the High Commissioners residence was a great evening full of emotions, where friends and Hugh were gathered for a very unique moment.
Cathy has been so blessed to be honoured with such a prestigious national award. Surely her dad would have been so proud.

Last Saturday Hugh organized at the Nagambie Bowling Club a  fantastic surprise party  to celebrate the French Order of Merit Award and Cathy’s birthday with family and friends.

Special moments of pride for a special award.

Joined Rotary at 39 and served 60 years

Jack receiving Rotary Service Above Self Award
John Fletcher (Jack) Barlow Passed away in is 99th year on 14 July 2015.  

Jack’s 60 years of Rotary service can be epitomised by the Rotary motto of Service above Self. He was an outstanding Rotarian who was always quick to put his hand to plough in the interest of improving the quality of life for others. 

Jack demonstrated a servant heart and took great satisfaction in seeing positive differences made in the lives of those in our community. He first joined Rotary 1955 at Te Kuiti and remained there until 1964 when he transferred to Taumarunui and joined the club there. In 1976, after moving to Tauranga he was welcomed to the membership of the Rotary Club of Otumoetai. 

Jack has served as Club President, was made a Paul Harris Fellow, and has been awarded two Sapphire pins in recognition of his tireless work and contribution to people and communities in need. 

He has he left a legacy of service and inspiration to others. Rotary is without reality until men and women translate it into their lives and the lives of others, that’s exactly what Jack Barlow did. He will be sadly missed by many.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

The picture that paints a thousand hurts

 World Press Photo of the Year, Mads Nissen, Denmark
 Peter Muller’s photo of medical staff and a delirious patient at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center for National Geographic and The Washington Post won first prize in General News.
Glenna Gordon’s shots of school uniforms belonging to three girls kidnapped by Boko Haram won second prize for the General News stories category.

A poignant moment shared between gay couple Jon and Alex may, at first glance, seem unremarkable. Yet this image has been chosen as the most outstanding photograph from almost 98,000 entered into this year’s World Press Photo competition.

In a year when nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamic militants Boko Haram, Ebola was rife in Africa and Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crashed in the Ukraine, this intimate moment in St Petersburg, Russia, was judged as the best example of a contemporary issue.

 “This photo is aesthetically powerful, and it has humanity,” Michele McNally, Assistant Managing Editor of the New York Times, and chair of the World Press Photo judging committee, says. “It is an historic time for the image.”

Life for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people is becoming increasingly difficult in Russia, with sexual minorities facing legal and social discrimination, harassment or even violent hate-crimes.

Jon and Alex posed for photographer Mads Nissen for the Danish newspaper Politiken. “Make no mistake, in many parts of the world, distributing this image will cost you your freedom,” Nissen says.

“Being in this peaceful image will get you killed. With this photograph we are challenging homophobia and the hetero-normative definition of love.”

The powerful photo features in the World Press Photo Exhibition being hosted by the Rotary Club of Auckland in July. Now in its 58th year, the World Press Photo Exhibition is a compilation of the best images chosen from nine categories in the internationally-renowned competition.

Rotary Club of Auckland President Craig Horrocks is proud that his club continues to host this high-calibre showcase.

“That an image of a gay couple is so culturally significant seems incongruous in a country where we have sexual equality.

“It’s just one example of the powerful, thought-provoking images in the exhibition that remind us just how peace relies on acceptance of diversity as a cultural value. New Zealand is fortunate in that our geographical isolation has protected us and tolerance is still a feature of our society,” Horrocks says.

“The collection brings the world to New Zealand, and that is why our Rotary club is proud to be involved, because it showcases so much of what we believe in and work towards.”

·         World Press Photo Exhibition, July 4-26, Smith & Caughey, Queen Street, Auckland. Tickets: $10 each (students $5). Online bookings and information:

International volunteering at the remote Kioa Island School in Fiji

My Rotary Moment - PDG Raewyn Kirkman

Seven members of my Rotary Club of Waikato Sunrise, NZ headed to remote Kioa Island in Fiji - home to 300 people and a four room school for around 100 children - to refurbish a school building. Apart from a beautiful beach and stunning sunsets, this was not the resort version of Fiji - we had a flush toilet that worked for the first three days, the shower was a bucket and bowl and our beds were mats on the floor. 

Each day, the village women would bring lunch, welcome us to the communal area and we shared a meal. 

On the first day, a woman thanked us for helping changing the lives of the young people of the island, for giving them hope for their children’s futures and for opening up the world beyond Kioa for the next generation. Every day, the welcome would be the same – thank you for giving up a week of your lives to make a difference to the rest of the lives of our children.

And I thought I had just gone there to fix up a rundown building. 

For 18 years, I had heard Rotarians talk about their Rotary moments - those special moments when they went from Rotary member to Rotarian - and while I have had many special moments in Rotary, as I sat there on the ground in Kioa that first day listening to the village matriarch talk about changing the lives of their children, tears streaming down my dusty, paint splattered face, I truly understood the magic of Rotary. 

- Words and photos: PDG Raewyn Kirkman, of the Rotary Club of Waikato Sunrise, NZ

International volunteering

Simon Manning administers precious polio drops in the final push for a polio free India

My Rotary Moment - DG Simon Manning, District 9940

A few years ago, I assisted with a National Immunisation Day (NID) in Delhi, India that was an experience that changed my life! 

On the NID we were sent out to a school where families were being encouraged to bring their children for immunisation against Polio. The lines of people never stopped. I still get emotional just remembering how, when the eyes of a little girl who has probably never seen a white face before, connected with mine. Her eyes were full of fear at being bundled up by her brother into my arms, and for me those two drops not only changed her life that day, but they changed mine as well. 

You see my life changed because I had seen what a difference we can each make as Rotarians and it changed my life because I had engaged with Rotary. I was working to assist this little girl’s future away from a life which could have been very different if she had become a Polio statistic. 

This journey took us to the Polio Hospital in Delhi where we witnessed those who had not been immunised and the doctors who were doing their best to help straighten the bones of children who were otherwise unable to walk. We witnessed a boy who was able to take his first steps following his operation, so we were experiencing Polio face-to-face. 

The memory of that little girl again rose from my heart. I helped make a difference and I cannot describe to you how that has made a difference in my life. For me, the impact of being a part of placing the two drops in the mouths of those children and knowing that I was making a difference while working for Rotary will stay with me for the rest of my life. 

I encourage you all to consider donating your time and traveling with fellow Rotarians to make a difference in the world, as it will change your life. I still wonder about that little girl, where is she now, what is she doing. I will never ever forget her eyes. She will never know me, but she will always be in my Rotary heart. 

 - Words and photos: District 9940 Governor Simon Manning

Fostering new member engagement

Aubrey Richardson-Jones, Ainie Kwok, Miles Cain, Helen Richardson-Jones and Anastasia Grigoryeva
To retain new members, the common cry is “hold a ‘fire-side chat’ within six months” to educate them about what Rotary has to offer them and provide an orientation to the club and district.

Yet few clubs actually do this and the most common cited reason is because new members see this a little like giving up valuable time going ‘back to school’ for a dry, even boring session of having information crammed down their throats in one go with a ‘thou shalt attend’ mentality. Knowing this, the experienced members are often embarrassed and reluctant to try and organise these events. In any case many clubs simply do not get enough new members to make such a session viable other than every year or so. 

The Rotary Club of St Johns in Auckland, NZ found such evenings ineffective, despite careful planning, so asked the question, “What do new members really want at each stage of their early journey in Rotary?” The answer was they wanted good quality information at different times. 

For the prospective member, they want enough information about what the club can offer them, including upfront details about their time, cost and other commitments. Then following their induction and assignment of a buddy/mentor and to a service/project committee, they want the opportunity to get involved immediately which helps them become familiar with how the club and committees work while being able to get to know their fellow members by working alongside them.

It does not take long before the new member starts developing a curiosity about Rotary beyond what they are involved with in the club, so the club encourages new members along to Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI) and this has proven to be an extremely smart move. Doing so has reinforced the new member’s decision that Rotary is the community organisation for them, and without exception, these new members become more involved in club activities. Most move quickly into positions of responsibility, such as project leaders or other organisational/leadership functions of the club and some even join district committees in line with their interests.

The final step in this process is the annual new members and their partners’ evening where they casually get together as a group with senior club leadership at a member’s home for dinner. This evening is strictly social and because it is for them, they get a real feeling they are valued as full, albiet new, members of the club.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Are we really good Samaritans?

The Rotary Club of New Lynn multi-cultural collection brigade.
Each year Rotary Club of New Lynn, NZ members and friends wave charity boxes at passing motorists next to a busy set of traffic lights, asking for funds to help local disadvantaged youth. The collectors are a multi-cultural mixture of all colours and genders. But it’s interesting that the most generous people, those most willing to part with their loose change, are inevitably our Pacific Islanders. Few cars driven by these folk pass without giving, yet disappointingly, the least likely to part with money are, like myself, our more mature Caucasian male elders, many not even happy to acknowledge the presence of the collector. 

It’s certainly hard to fathom why our island born neighbours, many on the minimum wage and trying to support large families both here and abroad, should be so generous, and equally hard to reason why those of us, who are purportedly more educated, certainly with a larger share of disposable funds, should be among those who are the most close fisted. 

Why is it that we in the more mature brigade don’t reciprocate our neighbours generosity. Perhaps we haven’t suffered enough hardships, endured unemployment or incurable illness and poverty. Maybe in our daily lives we only see light-hearted, bright, well fed kids and when we travel to their shores, only blue lagoons, swaying palm trees and sun. Perhaps we have become too insulated from the huge imbalances and growing inequalities in our own society and with our neighbours.

Certainly, every day we read stories of children living in our Pacific Islands without adequate health or educational needs. Tales of children suffering from floods, endemics or tsunamis, without doctors or teaching provisions; children enduring unbearable ailments leading to early deaths. Our own Rotary service activity, Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC) for example, receives many more requests for help from island children needing surgery to prevent an early death or a vestige of dignity than they could possibly satisfy. Yet this same Rotary charity seriously struggles to secure adequate funding, especially from our own kindred sources. 

But when those same Pacific people settle in NZ, they are our most generous and certainly when asked, top the group who will give the highest portion of their income to our local kids. When we flash our charity boxes at them and ask them to help our youth in need, we invariably report more social connection and spontaneous generosity than with any other group. Perhaps as mature Caucasians we need to likewise reciprocate our neighbours generosity and when similarly faced with a donor box at the traffic lights or pay-pal request for funds on ROMAC’s webpages and, we too need to be more altruistic.

Because this philanthropic magnanimity is essential, especially if we are to have a prosperous future in our part of the world, irrespective of colour, creed, religion or race; and if we are to truly fulfill our own Rotary Objectives of being part of an organisation united in the ideal of service and providing service above self.

 - Words: PDG Geoff Dainty, Past ROMAC Chairman

Dancing the night away - Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance in Kiribati

Rotarian Natasha Pinto and her husband Rufus cut a dash on the dance floor with a lively jive.
The Rotary Club of Bariki in the Republic of Kiribati (located in the Pacific Ocean close to the Equator in District 9920) hosted its first fundraising Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance on February 14. The special event was held at the Fairprice Golden Chinese Restaurant and all 100 tickets were sold.
The MC for the evening was Rotary President Matirita Nabong. Entertainment was provided by the ANZ Kiribati Star Idols (2014), who performed individually and as a group, with songs in English, Kiribati and Hindi. Raffle prizes and items for the silent auction were generously donated by local businesses and individuals.
After dinner there was dancing and revelers, including Assistant Governor George Fraser, “conga-ed” their way around the restaurant and outside. Luckily the rain held off for the evening. Everyone enjoyed themselves and several businesses have expressed interest in sponsoring similar events.
Overall the Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance was a great success, raising almost AU$4000 to be shared between the Rotary International Global Eradication of Polio program and KiribatisTe Meeria(Frangipani) Mental Health Service.
Thanks are due to the organisers, Natasha Pinto, Roger Norton, Lynne Hunt and Gillian Duffy, as well as the small army of volunteers who helped put up lights and decorations to create a night to remember. With the success of this first dinner dance, the Rotary Club of Bairiki hopes to make it an annual fixture on the Tarawa social calendar.

An unstable dangerous situation

Jan Pryor, Yvonne Lamont and daughter Summer Lamont slept on the ground for four nights: Home for four nights.
Jan Pryor is the founder of The Didi Foundation Inc. (Rotary Australia World Community Service project 60 2012-13), a high school teacher on the Central Coast and a member of the Rotary Club of Northlakes Toukley, NSW. She also founded a Non-Government charitable Organisation (NGO), Didi Foundation Nepal, which focuses on developing sustainable futures for women and children in Nepal. This is Jan’s survival story … 

On April 25, 2015 two Didi Nepal volunteers Yvonne Lamont, founder of WOW Girls (Waves of Wisdom), her daughter Summer Lamont and myself commenced an eight day road tour from Kathmandu to Tibet. On this glorious day and ten minutes after crossing the border into Tibet, our life changed from a sense of adventure to that of fear, isolation and imminent danger in the Nepal earthquake. 

Out of the blue, a landslide hit our tour vehicle. Bewildered and shocked, we became surrounded by plummeting rocks as the hill was violently shaking and there was an incredibly loud foreign noise that added to our heightened sensory overload. Cars and trucks were bouncing on the road and we witnessed our first landslide which was tumultuously pelting down the opposite valley. Sadly this landslide demolished the quaint little town of Kodari where we had a cup of tea half an hour earlier.

For hours we waited anxiously through violent tremors, landslides and the road cracking around us. Fear generated us to be instant strategic planners of survival tactics, but in amongst all of this fear came an incessant Aussie sense of humour. Laughing became our saving grace over the next five days.

The first frightening night was spent at the Chinese army base where the next morning we were given five minutes to pack our small bag of essentials and trek through the completely annihilated town of lower Zhangmu.

We spent the next four nights in an unstable and dangerous Chinese evacuation camp. We slept on the ground under a plastic make shift tent, lined up for rice, had no drinking water and stayed in the same clothes and boots for five days. Sanitation was a very big issue until someone built a toilet. Our world became full of anxiousness as we graciously accepted that fact that we were going to die - we just did not want it to hurt. After being listed as missing by our families for five days, we were gratefully evacuated to Llhasa on April 30.

The Didi Foundation runs various programs to ensure that disadvantaged women, especially those from the lower cast, have opportunities to be educated and learn life skills. We currently run a sewing school, computer training and a women’s co-operative to manufacture various products to sell. In conjunction with the Nepalese Government, we are also running a traditional weaving course and an education course to prepare women to apply for government positions. We have also joined with the Nepalese Health Department to run workshops and health clinics specialising in women’s reproductive education. 

Didi Foundation carried out immediate relief aid to devastated villages, including teams of medical personal, food, tents and then iron. I returned to Nepal on June 23 to commence the rebuild Nepal program and finish the women’s centre in Kathmandu. 

Through the support of the Rotary Club of Woy Woy, NSW we are delivering much needed medical equipment to regional hospitals and assisting in supplying materials for the building of temporary schools. 

The Didi Foundation Inc. believes ‘one person can make a difference’ and we are “creating a future and changing a destiny.’ The Didi Foundation is currently fundraising to support Nepal in its rebuilding phase. Tax deductible donations can be made via

Jan Pryor is available as a guest speaker. All inquiries to

SchoolBoxes distributed to orphanages in earthquake-stricken Kathmandu

ShelterBox has now used the full range of its aid in its Nepal earthquake response – ShelterBox tents as medical facilities, ShelterKits to get aid swiftly to mountain villages, and now SchoolBoxes to bring some sense of recovery and normality to children in Kathmandu.
In the early days after the first 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25, ShelterBox tents were used as medical facilities outside damaged city hospitals, or as field hospitals in the foothills. Then a steady flow of ShelterKits – containing tools and waterproof tarpaulins – were the ideal choice for helping remote mountain communities to start rebuilding their homes. Over 15,000 people in Nepal have received ShelterBox aid so far. 

Now, an initiative by the new Rotary Club of Bhadgaon in the Kathmandu Valley is focused on children in need with their massive project of supporting over 200 orphanages across the area.
A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) - Tim Osburn from the US, Jimmy Griffith from NZ, Torstein Nielsen from Norway and Jessica Kim from Canada - have helped to source and deliver SchoolBoxes containing enough school materials for up to 450 children. Each orphanage looks after between 25 and 50 children up to the age of 18. The Rotarians have also brought in psychiatrists to help children traumatised by the quakes and ongoing aftershocks.

Torstein says, “It was wonderful to see how the older children were taking care of the younger children. It was evident that the staff fostered a healthy, inviting family environment.”

His SRT colleague Jimmy added, “It was great to see our SchoolBoxes in action and to peek in on how the children are enjoying a little bit of a distraction from their very difficult experiences.”
In another initiative, a ShelterBox tent has provided an adaptable space for a local children’s art therapy organisation in Balaju Park in Kathmandu. This has created a fun, friendly environment where children can overcome the trauma of the earthquakes. It provides them with a place to play, sing, dance and draw, where they can receive one-on-one therapy too. It will also be used to train counsellors and volunteers committed to helping children overcome their experiences.