|June 3, 2013 Merrymeeting Messenger|
by Sfirri, Michael
President Dave Gleason went traditional by calling for silent reflection before leading the audible Pledge.
P-E Claudia Frost found no visiting Rotarians in the crowd, but did espy some guests, including a passel of Jones and a fiance of one of said Joneses. We sang distractedly.
Never distracted is Mark Alexander, resident humorist. He paused to collect his thoughts, but then thought it would be better to collect someone else's. And three words to humiliate any man - Hold my purse. Then ankles that were the same age and where there's a will, I hope I'm in it.
Always in it is Keith Koehler as Sergeant at Arms.He stretched to get to a great day in the great state, so appropriated some greatness from the weekend and got there, then on to happiness. Carol Taylor spent the weekend in Boston, during which her son in law got married. Patty Biggs was in Fall River, Mass, and attended a PawSox game. And Don Kniseley caught a Red Sox game in which comebacks prevailed and Sox win! Sox win! Claudia Frost broke up the baseball fetish and announced the close of her 9 year run doing concerts in Portsmouth, NH. Tom Jones rambled about President Dave's sartorial choices and a grand old hotel in Falmouth. Dave Taft has a newly arrived grandson in San Diego. Ben Ford caught some grandson time as his son celebrated his 30th Bowdoin reunion. John Kilbourne was a scooter, but also told of the Bowdoin Give and Go sale in Merrymeeting Plaza - left over stuff from the students at the end of the year. Also, for longer range planning, Wings Over Wiscasset is in August, a must for aviational types. Sandy Morrell-Rooney told of Bob Beaumont (Mr. Lennie Burke) fell off his bike and ended up with a hip replacement - sounds like one mean fall. Fred Horch was a scooter because his wife is having knee replacement surgery in an hour.
As advertised last week, Gary Torow proudly announced the first annual (hopefully) BRC education grants, three in number they were, one each for a student from Mt Ararat, Brunswick and Region 10 Technical high schools. Names rattled off too quickly, but President Dave recognized Gary's efforts to make this happen and thanked for same.
Announcements were few, Chuck Mull held a Brunswick Pride Committee meeting, and next week will not be Barry Mills as the speaker, but rather Bruce Hardina, editor of the Coastal Journal.
Dave Nadeau introduced this week's speaker, Matt Cancian, fiance' of Maddie Jones, daughter of Dodie and Mike, the aforementioned Joneses. Matt is a Virginia native, and a UVA grad, so wicked smaht. And he also was (is) a Marine, doing stints in Afghanistan and Vietnam. So he had some adventure in him, and when Maddie, who is studying medicine, had the opportunity to do a stint in an exotic locale through a program at Northwestern (again with the wicked smaht), Uganda was chosen. And while Matt had some experience in third world countries (or second world at least), Maddie was fairly taken aback by third world conditions and medicine. Much different from the US.
Matt got involved with a group called African Hearts who work to save children from an existence in the inner city slums. Uganda is a land locked sub Saharan country in Eastern Africa that is very poor, with a median age of 15 years and a middle class that earns $1.25 a day. Life in the slums of Kampala includes lots kids orphaned by HIV or simply abandoned by their parents. They exist by sorting through trash for recyclables and food. The money they get for the recyclables they use to buy what they call jet fuel, and do what we call sniffing glue, which they do all day.
African Hearts is a community based organization formed in 2001 that is Christian based but not evangelical. It is a loose network of people, organized, but not US type organized, that was started by 5 original board members to do something about the existence of those kids in the slums. Education is a big part of achieving that goal and Matt was teaching kids twice a week - which is the first exposure to school for most of them. Matt's experience teaching included sharing one book, a lot of rote memorization and copying off the board so the kids can assemble their own books. And then there is a whole faction of kids who are high and just come for the food promised at the end of the day.
Outside of Kampala there is a good deal of open spaces, and African Hearts sets up rural schools so the kids can escape the slums and get a more stable home life. Included is some exposure to music and vocational training so they can have some skills to draw upon later in life. There is talk of setting up scouting troops and scholarships for boarding schools.
Which, of course, requires money. So , in a unique kind of approach, they ask people to propose a ballpark amount they would like to donate and African Hearts will propose a use for the money. Transfer of the money, always a tricky proposition, would be through Rose Charities. Matt didn't have all the details on them or how that would work. Tragic life that these kids are left to face and noble work being done by African Hearts.
We raffled and we were out.