Programme for week commencing 16th July, 2015 we welcome back Rotarian Caroline who completes her presentation started on the 2nd July.

John Isles continues his interview with Caroline:

John: Caroline, welcome back.  A fortnight ago we were talking about your work in Kenya and I’d like to ask you do you get support from any Rotary Clubs in Kenya?

Caroline: Well, I only really became aware of Rotary in 2012 when our company accountant joined Rotary and invited me to her induction. As luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to John Asher the Rotarian who created Trade Aid www.trade-aid.org. A year later we shipped a 40ft container of tools to the polytechnics in Kianjai, and computers, books etc to the schools.
It was only earlier this year that I made contact with the local Rotary club in Meru, Kenya. They invited me to one of their meetings and I gave a presentation on our work in the area. They are an impressive group with a lot of energy and expertise.

John: The reason I asked this because Rotary through our Foundation arm we do offer Grants for Charitable work and small sums given by Clubs often turn into large amounts when combined with a Foundation Grant. I’m sure our Foundation Chair can tell you more on this.

kenya land

Caroline: This could certainly be very helpful John. On May 9th I have been invited to give a presentation to the international group at District 1070 assembly. I am planning to present how we have worked alongside the community in Kianjai to date, and what has been achieved, and I am also planning to present two forthcoming projects. One of these, the development of 200 acres of land which has been gifted by the community, will need a lot of expert advice and ultimately funds. Being able to access both advice and funds through Rotary would prove very helpful.

John: Perhaps this is combined with my last question but how do you see our eRotary Club helping with your charitable work?

Caroline: As I mentioned the development of the 200 acres of land into a community/demonstration farm is a large project with potentially significant long term benefits to the community, so we want to get advice from many sources and get it right! With this objective we are looking to make this land development a Rotary Multi Club project. When I speak on May 9th to district 1070 I will be looking for some clubs to join us in this venture. If our eRotary Club was also able to support the project through this Multi Club group that would be great. I have an initial concept paper on the project for anybody who has an interest in water harvesting/education/agricultural development in the third world, and who might be interested to get involved.

John: I also know you have recently become involved with Children with Special Needs in the Kenyan Community within the UK. Can you tell us a little about this and your objectives?

kenya kids dance

Caroline: Disability in Kenya is widely seen as a bad omen… a curse. Families with a disabled child are ostracised and even thrown off family land. Many disabled children are hidden indoors, the parents ashamed for their existence to be made known.  So the burden to the parents of a disabled child can be intolerable; some having no support abandon the child; others battle on alone drained and exhausted. Friends of Kianjai are working alongside some inspirational special needs teachers in the community to turn this negative view of disability around. We are working on many levels:

  • we run feeding programs to reduce malnourishment amongst the disabled
  • we resource the special units so the children have clothes and toys
  • we work alongside local medical professionals to provide interventions
  • we run economic empowerment programs for the families
  • we provide social days to bring disabled families together

Alongside this we have bought three acres of land, and we are building a respite centre, loosely based upon the School for Parents in Nottingham which was such a support to me. We still have a long way to go to change the lives of these children and their families, but we are encouraged that together we have taken some important first steps.
Finally, let me ask you; If I could invite a famous Celebrity to dinner who would it be and why?

angelina jolie kenya

Caroline: Well, this is a challenging question. I really spend so little time contemplating the celebrity world. I did once hear a very interesting ‘In the psychiatrists chair’ interview with Angelina Jolie. In typical fashion I missed most of it, but from the little I did catch she did sound extremely individual. As a youngster apparently she self-harmed as a way of contacting with reality, in this case the reality of pain. The general façade of life held no interest for her, and she wasn’t lured into the superficial illusion of glamour and beauty, so she went deep into herself to find meaning. This inward journey, plus her outward journeys into Cambodia and Africa would make her a lively and stimulating guest I think. Plus if she brought Brad Pitt with her too that would be an added bonus!

John: I’m sure many ladies would like to have Brad Pitt at the dinner table. Caroline thank you so much for sharing this story with us and I’m sure our members and others will enjoy everything you have said.

Part one of this talk was published on 2 July 2015

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