22 Members in Attendance
Gem Munro – Amarok Society
Mike Haas – Rotary Club of Qualicum Beach Sunrise
Two minutes of Rotary:
Kirk Walper – Taste of Oceanside Update: (10) vendors have committed – Butlers at the Mansion, Cha Ch’a Java, Chameleons, Lefty’s, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, Coast Cake Company, Pacific Prime, Art’s Café, Deez Bar & Grill and Cedars. Eric will be looking for volunteers from the club along with spouses, family members and friends.  A sign up list will be circulated soon. Tickets are available from Helen. Work hard at selling your tickets. Posters will be coming soon.
Mike Haas is here to promote the Qualicum Breach Sunrise’s biggest fundraiser,  the Spring Ball. Date: Saturday, March 22.
Tickets: $75 each or reserve a table of (10) for $700.
Dinner: (3) course fillet mignon.
Entertainment: Patrick Nicolson will provide music. There will also be a silent auction and complimentary drive home.
Helen Dyck distributed (10) Taste of Oceanside tickets to everyone at the meeting this week. It it crucial for restaurant planning that Helen keep track of all the tickets and sellers. Please DO NOT share tickets between members. She would also like to thank John O’Brien and Diana Matsuda for volunteering to help with the Silent Auction planning. If you have anything of material value or know anyone that might donate a gift card or basket please let her know or drop it off at Marlin Travel.
Guest Speaker:
Gem Munro – Amarok Society: Gem met his wife Tanis in Toronto. Together they started teaching in isolated First Nations communities in Alberta. Their experience changed them forever. They were committed to raising education standards for First Nations children. From there they moved to Bangladesh with thier family (much to their chagrin) to raise the quality of life for young mothers and children living in the slums. They have received Diamond Jubilee medals for their work.
Bangladesh has escaped the world’s attention. They have a reputation of being the poorest of the poor, and worst of the worst. Bangladesh distinguishes itself negatively by having the lowest standards in education. When they got there realized that the education ‘system’ was bad, but soon realized that millions of children didn’t go to school at all. Nobody wanted anything to do with the city Slums. Their endeavor seemed as foolish as believing that Polio could be eradicated! The Amarok Society is very close with Rotary. There would be no effect if they went about educatioin in the ‘normal’ way with teachers teaching in schools. It would do nothing to diminish fact that millions of children can’t go to school at all. The Society went into slums and recruited young mothers to be teachers. No one thought it could work. We’re talking about the poorest Muslim women in the world. Access to wives is difficult, the slums are impenetrable with corruption and violent husbands controlling the women. It was assumed that if you could reach the uneducated women they would never be able to learn enough to teach. Gem showed a brief video of one of their teachers working with a young mother on learning a simple task. She had no literacy at all. (8) months later she could read poetry in English (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star). The first lesson is always how to hold a pencil, the second is which end goes to the paper. We must teach them her own language, they start out with a vocabulary of 600 – 700 words (we each probably have around 15,000 words). English is the language of opportunity in India. In Bangladesh it is the language for the privileged that protects the upper class. The Society also teaches health, hygiene and nutrition education. In these poorest communities none of the most basic social standards (by western standards) are being met. It is a mockery of human existence. The women from the time they are married lead isolated lives. The mothers of the Amarok ‘schools’ coalesce into their first real communities. What teachers like to say is that they are teaching women to think. The first benefit is that finally their lives are making a little bit of sense. They start to feel equipped to start making decisions. Birth Control education is another avenue of education where 1/6 of the area of BC has 175 million people living in it. It is the densest country in the world with the desperately poor living is deepest despair. It is not unusual for a mother to tell us that she felt life was over when she got married. Starting school was like life beginning again. The only requirement from students is that she must agree to teach (5) students in her home everything they learn. She profits most who serves best! Teaching children becomes the core of new found happiness. The process is transformative, they move from pessimism and despair, to optimism and hope.  Regarding the Society’s relationship with Rotary: Gem and his wife wrote a book as fundraiser about their experience and the people that they met. Michael Malone, Literacy Chair for the Rotary club of Bellville read it and got in touch with Gem. The first thing to do was to involve a Bangladesh Rotary Club. Dhaka is the capital city with (20) million (plus) people. It grows by the population of Edmonton every year. There are (53) Dhaka Rotary Clubs. They began a formal partnership with the Belleville and Dhaka Rotary Clubs. This is not a third world problem, it’s a world problem. The other major issue is that this moderate Muslim nation is under pressure by forces determined to radicalize it. Extremists rely on pools of ignorance and desperation to promote hate education. They detest what the Amarok Society is doing. The Society is very concerned about the possibility of their success of promoting their ideals that the path to meaningful life lies through hating the west. This hate will resulting in dealing with the issue in the ‘other way’ that will take millions of lives and cost billions of dollars. With the power of Rotary, the Amarok Society and the mothers change can happen.
Discussion: How do you get wives away from husbands? It depends on the individual woman. They started with widows, (4) out of first (6) were young widows. The wives were being beaten daily but still came to learn. The husbands’ minds needed to change, and only the women were in a position to change their perception. Some of those men are now their greatest supporters. Now there are uneducated husbands that sit in on the home classes…not to monitor, but to learn! The young mothers are teaching their brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.
How long did it take to accomplish that? (8) years ago they started on the 20th school.
How did you communicate?: The Amarok teachers were taught English in the same way they would in turn teach the young mothers.
Do you have information on the longer term affects on children? Initially the Society wanted to educate up to a grade (8) education. No one thought they could do it. Many children have passed the mother schools and are excelling in secondary education. There is even a reasonable hope for college degree for some.
So you have support from the Bangladesh Government? Yes, but in verbal support only. The government is grateful and realize their failures. The political system is so volatile, there is never one that can be an ambassador for education as a focus.
Helen Dyck thanked Gem with a Polio Plus certificate.
Notice of Motion:
International Committee Strategic Planning Initiatives: Lynne Pearson put a motion on the floor to support the directives outlined in the Summary provided last week. Bruce asked for a review of items 7, 8 & 9. They were reviewed in order and the members were asked if they had questions or comments. No questions. Lynne Pearson motioned to approve the International Committee Strategic Planning Initiatives. Angela Dadoush seconded. CARRIED.
50/50, Birthdays, anniversaries, joke and Sergeant at Arms:
John O’Brien won $19 in the 50/50 and donated it to Amarok Society.
Joke of the week:  Major Norm, thinking on his feet came up with a great joke.
No birthdays or anniversaries except everyone insisted on singing for LAST WEEK’S birthday anyway!
The Sergeant’s Totally Useless Trivia: What do you call the (2) lines that connect the top of the lip to the nose? The philtrum.
Names in the news: Lynne Pearson was nominated for Volunteer of the year at the Glassy’s.
Meeting adjourned 8:13AM.
Next weeks meeting:
Technology Day, bring your weapon of choice for searching the Internet. Please have your Clubrunner username and password with you to login to our website.