Rotary club hosts international speaker online
The Rotary Club of Woy Woy has taken advantage of operating online during the coronavirus pandemic to host an international speaker at its recent meeting.
The club joined the Rotary Club of Terrigal to hear a speaker from the club's sister club in South Africa, the Helderberg Sunrise Rotary Club in Somerset West, located about a 40-minute drive out of Cape Town.
The South African club's community services chair Mr Chris van der Leij spoke about the challenging conditions being faced in South Africa during the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the lack of social security and government funded health care, as well as the overcrowded living conditions, had led to issues of health and hunger for those living in African townships.
Woy Woy club president Mr Don Tee summarised the main points of the presentation.
"He told us that, of the 60 million people in South Africa, the majority work in the informal sector - housekeepers, gardeners, domestics, selling goods at traffic lights and the great majority have no money saved.
"Of these, three million people receive a grant of about $A30 a month with which they have to feed a family.
"Unemployment is running at about 40 to 50 per cent.
"Many of these families are living in sheds of four metres by four metres which, in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, is making social distancing impossible.
"Sheds are adjacent to other sheds and people share a water tap out in the street.
"A queue forms for the tap.
"The Helderberg Sunrise Rotary club has also been providing food parcels to enable these people to survive but they are only able to feed a tiny percentage of the people who need their support.
"Each of their basic parcels costs the club about $A20 and is enough food to keep a family of four alive for the week.
"Unfortunately, there is a need to provide more nutritious food that would inevitably be more expensive.
"Crops in garden plots tend to be stolen before the owner can get to them.
"The Rotary club distributes food via other non-government organisations as this enables the club to concentrate on raising funds and providing the food rather than on the distribution.
"The club also supports schooling in the African townships and provides books that are specially written for primary school children as well as providing food.
"Chris commented that often they find that the little food they provide is shared by the recipients with their friends and neighbours.
"The community spirit is very strong.
"Chris presented a very disturbing picture of the situation in the African townships.
"He was very emotional when in summary he said that he felt it important to have done something with his life that would embody the Rotary motto of Service above Self."
Newsletter, 19 May 2020
Don Tee, Rotary Club of Woy Woy