November 2018 I visited Sierra Leone, one of the two poorest countries in the world, where most of the people live in tin sheds or mud houses with no running water or electricity. It is situated in the S.W. corner of Middle Africa, almost on the equator and average daily temperatures of 35 degrees.
When June and I were there in 2003/4 helping build a hospital wing I made friends with a minister who was also working in the administration offices of the hospital. Pastor Albert Sam had a small church in the village of Morabie 30 miles from the capital Freetown.
He had a dream to build a primary school in his village. 5 years ago in 2013 I read in his church newsletter that they had laid the base for the building and had run out of money. So with the help of Renfrew Rotary Club, Renfrew North Parish Church and Newmains Primary School we raised the money to build their 3 classroom school.
They had just opened in 2014 when the Ebola Virus swept through the country. Schools and churches and community centres were closed for 8 months. People did not gather in groups in case they caught the virus. Parents in the village died leaving children as orphans. Villages were quarantined.
The world health organisations and UNICEF eventually got on top of it and sent detergents and medicines to clear it. Renfrew North Coffee Bar sent another £100 which fed 80 families for 2 weeks and the people were so grateful. The school reopened with 50 children in each class, here they are going in. Across the yard is the church built with mud bricks and corrugated zinc sheets another 3 classes met.
The classrooms are very basic, the desks and benches were paid for by Newmains Primary School. You can see the children sitting 4 or 5 to a bench.
Then along came the Education Department who said you have a school, you need a toilet block. We held another fundraiser and Renfrew Rotary paid for the block. Children would go to open wells and fill plastic containers and carry them some distance on their way to school or home later. Morabie Church and School employed someone to had hand dig a well in their grounds and at 25 feet down he hit rock Some more fundraising and a local firm was employed to drill a bore hole 55 feet deep. It was lined and a hand pump fitted. They had water.
The Children could crank the lever and enjoy clean water. The local community could also use it for an hour in the early morning and evening, otherwise it was padlocked. The school used some of our money to render and paint the outside and I received many e-mails thanking the people of Renfrew for their help and prayers.
2017 they started a Junior Secondary in the afternoons and another 150 children aged 11 to 14 enjoy the opportunity to learn. They are desperate even though when they go home they have many parents who do not read and write.
November 2018 I decided to visit this month and see how everything was progressing.
The car was stopped on the verge of the motorway and I was asked to get out. What a sight, the whole school had turned out to welcome Papa Charlie.
They closed the motorway and walked across both lanes and back again singing and dancing. One of the mothers walked alongside typically balancing a basin of fruit on her head. The traffic drivers sat patiently watching the procession. Then we made our way down the mud track for 1 mile to reach the school. It’s the first time I have sung and danced my way to school.
Everyone crowded in to the church and various people and parents spoke and thanked Renfrew because without us they would not have a school or a well. Even one of the 13 year old girl students thanked us and passionately told everyone how important education was to them all. They could become teachers, doctors or even President.
I met the mothers, many cannot read or write. I met the teachers who do a fantastic job sometimes waiting 2 or 3 months to be paid..
On Saturday they had a going away party for Papa Charlie and a Church Service where I was invited to preach. Albert translated into Krio. I finished by reciting John 3:16 “For God so loved the world He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. All the children joined in and recited it with me.
The minister’s wife and one or two mothers prepared the meal for 300 children on an open fire.
Then the real treat all the children lined up for lunch, rice with corn and small pieces of fish. Many walk miles to school each day most without breakfast. Can you imagine walking to Paisley or Glasgow to attend school?
Finally a special treat as they walked past with their plates for dinner I gave each of them a lolly. We can have sweets and treats every day if we want. They may only get 1 treat a year if lucky.
I said my goodbyes to them and Albert presented me with plaques for the groups in Renfrew they are so grateful to for their support.
There is so much to be done in Africa but the little we do has made a fantastic difference.
Pastor Albert Sam asked me to give sincere thanks and God’s blessing to the people of Renfrew and for us to remember Morabie in our prayers..
Tuesday 11th September.
Yes – I’m missing you loads too!
I visited Renfrew Rotary Club for their lunch time meeting. I was very warmly welcomed and made to feel at home. Their equivalent of Mac was at my table. (Larry I think he was called).
An exchange student did a very good presentation on her home country Hungary.
The meal was Canadian fast food priced at $12 +tax
Banners were exchanged and I was given a booklet on the clubs history and a business card folder with the club crest. I declined both due to luggage weight considerations.
Very good visit indeed
Five of the ‘seniors’ from Renfrew Rotary were collected by our chauffeur of the day (Mr Shan), who kindly transported us in his winged chariot.
Flying into the big metropolis of Scotland’s second city, we were slightly too late for a tour of the majestic City Chambers…
However, nothing daunted, Mr Williams sprinted off in the lead,with the aid of his third leg to introduce us to the delights of the Royal Concert Hall’s catering – coffee with roll & bacon!
Thereafter, once again ensconced through the gullwing doors of Mr Shan’s chariot, we embarked on a Mystery Tour, reminiscent of the Western SMT tours of the 1950’s.
Surprise, surprise… we ended up in that palm-tree lined coastal resort, much envied by the Vikings – Largs. Refreshed by a lemonade in the Anchor Bar, we repaired to a Morris Minor themed hostelry to partake of a lunch – soup, followed by steak pie or fish and chips.
Being in a nostalgic frame of mind, we felt drawn to visit the famous art-deco cafeteria by the sea-front (where we used to entertain our ‘lumbers’) for a ‘pokey hat’.
Happy, refreshed and with full tummies, the five boys returned home in their super-smooth transport just in time for their afternoon naps…
The Waverley Trip…
17 Rotarians’ and friends met at Glasgow Science Centre at 10am to board the Waverley for our trip doon the watter. We had an absolute smashing day out enjoying good weather and a sail with fantastic views.
We docked at Rothesey at 2pm and headed for a small refreshment before having fish and chips at Zavaronis back on the Boat at 5 for good humour and a few more beers.
A great day had by all.
Purple4Polio Rotary Grand Tour
DONATE, Search for: virginmoneygiving Renfrew REVellers
MONDAY 21 MAY 2018
Renfrew REVellers are participating in the Purple4Polio Rotary Grand Tour in a Merc E220 Convertible.
Around 50 cars and their teams are embarking on an epic road trip around the UK on the 21st of May in a bid to raise thousands of pounds for End Polio Now, the Rotary campaign to fund and administer polio vaccines as well as invest in research. The four day tour finishes at Halifax Minster on Thursday 24th May.
Jack, David S, Martin Moir and I are doing the Rotary Grand Tour for Purple4Polio. A bit of fundraising, you can donate online
Our overseas visitors will be with us Monday evening for dinner and an informal get together at Ralston Golf Club.
Ralston Golf Club
7:15pm for 7:30pm Start
Saturday 24th March 2018.
Priorscroft Bowling Club,
Paisley PA1 1JY
Cash Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd
Texas Hold’em/ Re-buys / Charity Raffle
£20 Registration Fee (Payable in advance)
Scottish charities supported:
Early Bird ‘Chips’
Contact us below and pay in advance to get
additional early bird chips.
Michael Campbell – 07789 864 632
David Atkinson – 07979 681 674
Tuesday 23rd January will be our annual Burns Supper. A light-hearted look at our national bard, this is a guest evening – all welcome!
Ralston Golf Club
5:45pm for 6:00pm Start
From Tuesday 28th November Renfrew Rotary with be meeting at Ralston Golf Club:
Ralston Golf Club
5:45pm for 6:00pm Start
Rotary Club of Renfrew, Club Visit to Braehead
(Not a Shopping trip)
DATE – 21st November 2017
Time to be confirmed 2.30pm-3.00pm possibly later. If Rotaract & Interact wish to join.
Bruce Harley has agreed to give us a tour of Braehead to see some of the behind the scenes processes, and to give us a history of the site of where Braehead now occupies. Meeting place to be advised.
We will be leaving Braehead in time to be at the Rotary meeting in the evening.
For further details contact Marion Wallace.
We hold weekly meetings at The Normandy Hotel, Inchinnan Rd, Renfrew PA4 9EJ. Telephone: 0141 886 4100. Tuesday, 5:45pm for 6:00pm
"One thing is for certain. The world would not be where it is without Rotary, and it won't get where it needs to go without Rotary." Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.
The president for 2016/2017 is Paul Maiolani. Iain said "Exciting times, I'm really looking forward to building on the success of Rotary in Renfrew over the last 63 years".
"I was introduced to Renfrew Rotary in 2005 through a business contact. Joining was the best business decision I have ever made" – David Atkinson, CO2 Design, Paisley.