There were 18 members in attendance this morning, joined by four Rotarian guests: PDG David Stocks and his wife Frances; ADG Ed Fougner from Qualicum Beach Sunrise; and Brent Barootes from the Rotary Club of Calgary West.

President Bruce began the meeting with a few announcements, advising the members that Greg and Tracy Greenshields are progressing after their accident and that Don Tardiff has submitted his resignation to the Club.  Diana Matsuda then provided a brief explanation of how to access the Club's Photo Albums - just go to the front page of our website; Photo Albums are located in the right column beneath Club Documents.  You don't need to login to the site to see these albums.

Kirk Walper talked about membership during Two Minutes of Rotary.  He urged members to record their make-ups, and then went on to present some ideas to attract new members.  We need to change commonly held perceptions that Rotary is "old, male, exclusive and not open to new ideas".  People often think that they don't need to join Rotary to help their community; however, many would not otherwise become involved.  It is important to get non-Rotarians involved in our projects so they can see Rotary in action.

Ed Fougner then took the floor to make a presentation to Ray Walker who has achieved his Paul Harris Plus 3.  Congratulations Ray!

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David and Frances Stocks then spoke to the Club about a project they have a special passion for - the APA School for girls in Malawi, also known as "girls on the move".  They have been involved with this school since 2005, working with its two founders, Christie Johnson and Memory Chazeza to create a school that David emphasizes is not a Canadian school parachuted into Malawi.  It belongs to the people of Malawi and it is a huge success.  The school opened in 2008 with 80 girls enrolled.  Since then, three classes have graduated in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  In September 2013, enrollment will increase to 120 girls, one third of whom are poor rural girls on a scholarship.

In Malawi, if a girl does manage to complete primary school and earn a place in a secondary school, her family will need to pay school fees, uniform costs and examination fees.  Devalued because of gender bias, girls are often seen as unworthy of financial support, their only value being that of earning the family a bride price when she marries.  In the face of extreme poverty and discriminatory cultural practices, many poor girls are pressured to marry as young as 14 years of age and are extraordinarily vulnerable to HIV, early pregnancy, complications from childbirth, and lifelong physical exploitation.  Once married, they are isolated and unsupported, with little or no voice to demand their rights.  In fact, they have no idea that they have any rights.  The cycle of povery, illness and abuse continues, not only for them but for the children they will bear and raise.  With all these obstacles, it is no wonder that classrooms in secondary schools, particularly in rural areas of Malawi, are populated almost entirely by boys.

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Christie Johnson teaches at Lester Pearson College in Victoria and Memory Chazeza is the proud Director of the school as well as a wonderful role model for her students.  The first 5-year strategic plan was successfully completed in 2013 with all objectives achieved.  The next 3-year plan will see internet installed, a library stocked, the school farm become more productive, a primary school built, and a teacher training school for girls built and operational in the three year time frame.

Memory has become a powerful leader and teacher, fighting corruption, educating her girls about their human rights, and inspiring her staff of teachers to believe that they are capable of creating one of the best schools in the country.  In 2008 and 2009, her Grade 10 students achieved pass rates on their national exams of 100% and 98% when the average national pass rate for girls was around 15%.  Funding for the school has been attained through the development of a solid administrative framework which has included about four dozen Rotary clubs, several Rotaract and Interact clubs, District and TRF funds, and many individual supporters.  For further details on this inspirational project, go to the Malawi Girls on the Move website. PDG David Stocks has also agreed to provide a list of ways to get involved in "Girls on the Move".

The 50/50 of $17 was was won by Ian Dewar who promptly donated it to the Malawi project.  Ian and Bashir then did their "tag team" Sergeant-at-arms routine, with profitable results.  Gord Elliott offered a series of "one liners" as his joke of the week, and anniversaries from last week were celebrated for Cara MacDonald and Nigel Gray (August 2) and Bashir and Judi El-Khalafawi (August 7).

Our guest speaker next week will be Mary Beil from Parksville Elementary School who will tell us about literacy programs at the school and obstacles that need to be overcome.