AGM Convener Reports April 2017

What happened during the Rotary year

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International and Foundation.

District 1010 Matching Grant.

Just over 12 months ago the Rotary Club of West Fife was successful in applying for matched funding for a project in Malawi. This was supported by the Rotary Club of Limbe and Renewable Malawi(Renema).

The object of the exercise was literally to take light where only poor light previously existed. Only about 9% of the Malawian population have access to electricity. As a result kerosene is used for lamps along with candles. Often the kerosene is purchased far from the home , resulting in long walks carrying the fuel. Burning kerosene in a small confined space creates toxins and provides poor light.

Our project is based on providing solar panels which can charge lights which are then rented to the community on a daily basis. This gives clean and efficient light that allows work to continue at night along with study.

We have now been up and running for approximately one year in two villages. In Bungawe things have been moving forward well despite drought followed by flood. These naturally occurring events have taken our entrepreneurs attention at times away from the project as they struggle to deal with the day to day realities of life.

None the less lights are going out on hire and the entrepreneurs have extended their work into barbering, showing videos and phone charging. Barbering and showing videos sounds slightly glamorous but the accompanying photographs show how basic facilities really are.

The Rotary Club of Limbe has now assisted with the purchase of a bike equipped to carry charged lights to more remote areas.

In Gunde things are moving more slowly due to difficulty in acquiring a property to use as a hub. In the meantime the group have diversified into making fuel briquettes to meet the demand from a nearby refugee camp.

The project has had its challenges. However if we are to extend this work we must learn from our experience. We have excellent staff on the ground. Martina is a member of both the Limbe Rotary Club and Renema and Clement is our main man on the ground. Clement meets the entrepreneurs on a very regular basis to advise and support. This includes financial advice, project planning etcetera.

Our past President Alex visited the project in its early stages and hopes to visit again to monitor progress. We Skype call when required and it is good to get our committee speaking to Martina and Clement in Malawi along with Mark in Singapore.

Working from a distance is never easy but despite this barrier good progress is being made and we are looking forward to year two of our project.

Thanks to District 1010 for all their support and thanks to our entrepreneurs for working so well with us.  In addition to the matched funding grant, during this year the following activities have been supported:

* Shelter Tents displayed at local galas

* Purchase of Shelter Tent in support of the Syrian crisis

* Re introduction of the Foundation Box at weekly meetings. Currently around £150 has been raised for Foundation.

* Donations have also been made by the Club to Haiti Help, Malawi Fruits et cetera.

* A Curry lunch is now scheduled for June

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