The Spark for our "Books for Somosomo" Fundraiser

In 2014 I was lucky enough to receive an Australian Government grant to travel to Fiji to work in a school as a part of my teaching degree. The organisation that supported the project is called the SEE Foundation, a Brisbane based educational outreach community group.  I found myself on Taveuni, the fifth-largest island in Fiji working in a school in the village of Somosomo. At the school I helped create a library with books donated from Australia. I also provided support to the teachers with using technology in their classrooms, using computers donated by Queensland University of Technology. During the 10 days that I spent working at the school, that was accessed by a tough 15 minute uphill walk through dense tropical forest I learnt some incredible lessons about the integral role of community in Fijian culture. The experience that I had changed my perspective of my role in my community and my career as an educator.

img_9350.jpg

When I came back to Australia I was speaking to my friend Mel about how touched I was by the people that I had met in Fiji. I shared my desire to do more work for the community of Taveuni. Thankfully Mel was in the process of starting the Rotaract Club of Brisbane CBD. I joined the club and was able to share my story of my experience in Fiji and my dream of giving more to the community. The wonderful members of the club shared my joy and we decided to use Taveuni as a fundraising focus which was later named  ‘Books for Somosomo’. As a group we arranged a lovo (a traditional Fijian method of cooking food under the ground) with the help of the Fijian Methodist Church in Brisbane. From the night and various donations from schools in the Brisbane and Redlands area we managed to raise enough money to send some books in a shipping container to Taveuni. The Rotary Club of Taveuni has since distributed the books to Somosomo District School, for which the students and the teachers are extremely grateful.

img_9350.jpg

Following the completion of the fundraising project I packed up my life and moved to Fiji. I am working with the Fijian division of The SEE Foundation in Suva on projects to help provide local schools with resources. Some of the books that were shipped to Taveuni have since been forward onto Suva. The books will be distributed to various schools in the Suva area. A box of books has already been donated to the Suva City Library.

I would like to say a massive vinaka vakalevu to the Rotaract Club of Brisbane CBD for assisting me in my dream of helping the children at Somosomo District School. A particular mention to Mel, the club president at the time,  who had the enormous task of ensuring that the books made the journey from Australia to Fiji. The children of Somosomo District School’s educational outcomes have been greatly impacted by everyone’s hard work.

- Lauren Edmondson is a qualified Primary School teacher from Queensland, now working in Fiji

What is "Days for Girls"?

Did you know? In some countries today, a girl may be forced to miss more than 5 days of school every month, due to cultural stigma around menstruation.

Days for Girls is an organization that empowers women and girls in developing countries, through providing sustainable feminine hygiene solutions and health education. It turns out this issue is a surprising but instrumental key to social change, and DfG’s efforts to help girls stay in school has had an enormous impact on education and economic growth in communities where DfG kits and programs have been rolled out.

At a recent club meeting in February, Rotaract Brisbane CBD hosted a guest speaker from DfG, Lynne Sutherland, to hear more about the kits and what Rotaract can do to provide sustained support for this important organization. We brainstormed many ideas for fundraising drives and collections.

Rotaract Brisbane CBD has fundraised for DfG in the past, when our members endured the heat and humidity of the great Queensland outdoors for our Bake Sale at Milton Markets last November. Our homemade brownies proved to be the top-seller, among the delicious array of Monte Carlo’s, cookies, and cakes. We spoke to many interested shoppers as well as our neighbouring stallholders about DfG and Rotaract in general.

We are looking forward to working with Days for Girls with our upcoming drives for kit supplies and funds. For more information, please visit https://www.daysforgirls.org/.

The future of urban Brisbane

Have you ever wondered who approved all those shiny, new office buildings in the CBD? About the person who advocated to subdivide the lot next door to build an extra house on it? Or the person working with your neighbours to develop council's new community development plan?

For the most part, the person coordinating these projects would be an Urban Planner (or Town/Regional Planner).  On Tuesday, 7 February, we welcomed Ben Weaver, Assoc. Director at Urbis (the company whose office we meet in) and member of the Rotary Club of Brisbane High-Rise to speak at our meeting and share a snapshot of his life as an Urban Planner.  

We learnt there are two general streams of planning, strategic (think long term planning)

Video from Utopia Season 1 property ABC

and statutory (development approval planning).

Video from Permission Impossible: Britain's Planners property BBC

Both must accommodate a vast array of subject matter including transport, heritage, social and community development and environmental planning matters in decision making processes.  

From Ben we learnt that life as a planner is varied and never boring.  He also shared an overview of some of the major projects Urbis are currently working on in Brisbane, like the Queens Wharf and Howard Smith Wharves developments.  It was exciting to see how the CBD is set to change in the coming years and decades.

Header Source: Urbis

Fortnightly Roundup – Making Connections

The last fortnight was a busy one for the Rotaract Club of Brisbane CBD. Six of our members were sponsored by the district to attend the Rotary District 9600 Conference (1st to 3rd of May, 2015). Hosted by the Rotary Club of Bribie Island, the conference brought together Rotarians from South-East Queensland, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Despite the wet weather on Friday which cut off access to Bribie Island and left us stuck in our cars for hours on end on Friday, the conference was an a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Rotary  and the great work of other charitable organisations. We were especially delighted to have our President Melanie recognised as a Paul Harris Fellow for her work in setting up the club. 

However, Rotarians were not the only ones getting together. The District Rotaract Representatives Training also took place over the 2nd and 3rd of May. Our District Rotaract Representative David was able to meet with other representatives from around the country who flew in to attend the training in Brisbane. 

Needless to say, our following club meeting was a great opportunity for members to share their experiences. We were also joined by Bill from the Rotary Club of Brisbane High-Rise who spoke about how their club has been supporting the Mamba Primary School in Tanzania. It was especially great to hear their latest projects there have been undertaken in partnership with the local Rotary Club of Mkuu Rombo. 

The official Rotary theme for this year is ‘Light up Rotary’. However if I had to choose a theme for the past fortnight, I would call it ‘Making Connections’ as we saw how Rotary and Rotaract connects not only people in the their local community but also across the country and the world.

Hospital Supplies Packed for Vanuatu, East Timor & PNG

Rotary Australia - Donations in Kind 

On Saturday, 9th May, four club members from Rotaract Club of Brisbane CBD were up bright and early to help out with a Rotary Donations in Kind (DIK) project. 

The closure of the old Children's Hospital in Herston (Brisbane) left many beds and supplies which were still very functional. Rotaractors were very involved in packing 40ft and 20ft containers with beds, mattresses, surgical supplies, cots, chairs and more. 

Much of these supplies will head to Vanuatu to rebuild a hospital destroyed by recent Tropical Cyclone Pam. More will be sent to Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea where they will improve medical facilities. 

More information on DIK can be found at: http://rawcs.com.au/RAWCSPrograms_dik.htm