Not only this year was I Father Christmas at the Rotary Club’s Christmas Tree in Kingston upon Thames, but also for one night I was Santa on the sleigh driven through local neighbourhoods correcting donations door to door to go into funds to help local charities and people.
It is that time of the year again in many parts of the world where the festive season of Christmas is celebrated.
Sometimes it is good to stand back and look at other people and what they have achieved.
My trip to Shanghai, China, has not been the first, but one of many, the previous being perhaps five years ago, and what a change there has been.
This is a special time of the year to many peoples though-out the world, Christmas.
We are constantly reminded of how ill prepared we humans are to disasters. We instantly see on our televisions images of not only the consequences of earthquakes, mud slides, flooding, tsunamis and war, but images before disasters occur and as they actually happen and unfold.
We witness the suffering now through the whole process, the unfolding of the disaster, from the comfort of our own homes.
We, the fortunate, sitting in comfort, rise to the occasion, and raise lots of money, gather together essential items to house, water and feed those in need.
Organisations are there to provide support, sending volunteers, firemen, nurses, doctors, military to give ground support.
As a member of Rotary Club, where members volunteer their time, talents, professional skills and energy to improving the lives of people in their local communities and others around the world, having the opportunity to give something back, to give hope to those less fortunate and to make lives worthwhile and fulfilled, we also contribute by being part of the ShelterBox scheme.
ShelterBox supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and lifesaving equipment to use while they are displaced and homeless all in one box.
It was at a recent raid or visit to another Rotary Club, Surbiton, that we were given a talk following a superb meal about the plight of survivors after disasters.
We as organisations, as individuals, are very good at sending to the areas affected, shelter, food, drinks, but what is often forgotten is that what goes in, has to come out.
In other words we have to pee pee and poo poo, we have to go to the toilet, and that is often forgotten, as i have seen on the reports on my TV screen.
How often it was asked, do you think about what happens to your waste after you flush the toilet?
It has to be taken away, often underground in pipes that we do not see, to a sewage plant or machinery that is hidden away, that safely treats the waste in a safe way.
Because our waste is out of sight, it is out of mind, and so it was suggested when we deal with disasters.
But, what happens in the disaster areas?
Their infrastructure is often wiped out, perhaps there is no power or electricity to power the sewage works, but more likely, the survivors move away from their devastated towns and cities, seeking shelter in the wide open where there is no sanitation, no toilets, as seen in Haiti Earthquake or Dafur.
Where do they go to the toilet?
How does the sewage get treated?
Does the sewage enter into the eco system, the water supply?
How long is it before diseases, including cholera, typhoid and dysentery, takes over the population, leading to many deaths.
With this in mind, our two speakers have taken the idea of ShelterBox and are developing a unique sanatory system which can be deployed quickly, and they are saying could serve about 100 people. Packed in a box, the system would be shipped to an area, where it would be unpacked, giving a tent for four people with toilet facilities, and a treatment plant which is small, easy to set-up, and results in an output of treated sewage, free from disease.
Still in the design stage, what a wonderful gift this will be to those who find themselves in need.
For more information, please contact the Surbiton Rotary Club.
Being a member of The Kingston upon Thames Rotary Club gives me great pleasure and enjoyment. The idea of Service above Self, being able to give back to the community, to other people, what I have in my portfolio of life experience gives me great joy.
Today, I had the honour to be asked to be part of a small team of Rotarians to visit a local school (The Richard Chandler School), to give mock interviews to 16 year old pupils, so that they can prepare themselves for life outside school, to experience and to gain knowledge of what to expect when being interviewed for a place at university, for a job, and to give feedback on how they did.
Just to listen to a young man who wished to become a creative writer, but failed to mention that he was already doing this on the internet as a so called game, because he thought it was not important, to draw out of another the fact that he manages a young football team, coaching them and leading their training sessions every week, to listen to one saying that he did not think he was sporty because he did not play football or rugby yet was a member of a swimming club, going swimming three times a week, and the enthusiasm of a young man who liked horror movies, yet the more I asked and drew him out, I realised that he did not just look at the film but analyzed what was really being said below the surface, (click to understand) the social messages being given.
I trust my little effort has helped them on their road, to point out to sell themselves, to prepare themselves, and to give them an experience.
I love my work.