There were 29 members in attendance and one guest. Bob Baker handled the Thought of the Day. Rich Lalley did the Dig N Grin. John Thomas presented Bob Baker with his Paul Harris (plus 4) award and Robert Mardirossian with his Paul Harris (plus 5) award. Happy Bucks were given by Rob Mardirossian in celebration of his 15 years of perfect attendance at Rotary meetings; by Tony Kambich in celebration of Rob’s 15 years of attendance; and by Dr. Stone for having tickets for tomorrow’s Cub’s game with the Sox (which they lost).
 
The guest speaker was Patrick Sinclair Gazley, a 2004 graduate of New Trier. Patrick told about his career in the engineering field and then his eventual decision to spend considerable time working for and raising funds for the RIPPLEAfrica organization. RA is a London based charity (and also a 501C3 charity in the U.S.). It has about 20 volunteers in the U.S. who fund raise money and actually spend time in the African country of Malawi to support its mission. Malawi is the smallest country in Africa with about 40 million population. Since 2003, RA has built medical facilities (dispensaries), 8 pre-schools, 5 primary schools and employs 15 trainee teachers to work at these facilities. RA also provides scholarships to the better students to attend local and government-run secondary schools, as well as to attend universities and colleges in Malawi. In addition to helping with education and healthcare services, it has established environmental programs to help with tree planting, forest and fish conservation projects and developing fuel efficient cooking devices.
 
Patrick provided several pictures of the RA facilities and the scenery in this very beautiful country which sets on a huge lake, much like Lake Michigan. It is a clear water lake which is excellent for swimming, especially since it  is free of crocodiles, unlike other lakes in the area.. There is little industry close to the lake but the country is trying to restore its fishing industry. Malawi was once part of the British Empire, but the Brits were pushed out in the  middle of the last century  before they could invest much money in the country. The country is basically Christian with some Muslims. Villages are set up so that a local tribesman is the “chief”. Patrick has spent considerable time in an area that is about an 8 hour drive from a major city. It is a relatively safe country. Women seem to do most of the farming, cooking, raising the families, etc. and the children seem to be very happy even though they live a very basic type of life. When asked about the men, Patrick indicated that there is quite an alcoholism problem among the men. Patrick said that more information was available on Malawi and RA’s activities on the RA website, which is RIPPLEafrica.org.
 
 
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