Rotary International


K.R. "Ravi" Ravindran

Rotary District 5160 Governor:

Ken Courville

Durham Rotary President:
Mick Wacker


Rowel Editor: Phil Price




April 5th, 2016


The  2016 Harvest Festival will be held on September 18, 2016


2016                                         Calendar for Durham Rotary



  1 2
3 4 5
Gale Wineries in Durham.  It is located at 9345 Stanford Ln
(Travis Edsall)
6 7 8 9
3rd Annual Durham Rotary/Interact Joint Stop Hunger Now event at DHS's Multipurpose Room
10 11 12
Mike Crump, Butte County Director of Public Works, who will talk about the new bridges on the Midway
(Dave Jessen)
13 14 15 16
17 18 19
(Bruce Miller)
20 21 22 23
24 25 26
(Ravi Saip)
27 28 29 30


1 2 3
(Roy Ellis)
4 5 6 7
8 9 10
(Jim Kirks)
11 12 13 14
15 16 17
Hog Dog Picnic at Durham Park
(Roy Ellis)
18 19 20 21
22 23 24
25 26 27 28
29 30 31
No Meeting
Memorial Day

After some wine tasting, President Mike Wacker opened the meeting at Gale Wineries in Durham by asking Steve Greenwood to lead the pledge, which he did. Then he asked Larry Bradley to lead us in a song.  In honor of the season, he led us in singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”.  Jim Patterson then gave the invocation.  Following that there was more wine tasting and pizza for dinner in the winery garden.  Very pleasant.




April 9th:  Stop Hunger Now Packaging Project at HS


April 12th:  Dave Jessen will present Mike Crump, Butte County Director of Public Works, who will talk about the new bridges on the Midway.


April 19th:  Bruce Miller will take us to the Almendra Winery in Durham.


April 26th:  Ravi Saip will present a program at the Air Museum.


May 3rd:  Roy Ellis


May 10th:  Jim Kirks


May 17th:  Hot Dog Picnic with students


May 24th:  ?????


May 31st:  No Meeting





Roy Ellis introduced Jan Ellis and Cindy Price.  Larry Bradley introduced Mary Saip and Anne Polk .  Mike Wacker introduced Rene Hutchings and Jan Wacker.  The introductions at Dave Jessen’s table took place while I was refilling my wine glass so it got a little confusing however he was sitting with J. R. and introduced Jen and Brianna.  Since J. R. hasn’t gotten the information on the club’s website updated I couldn’t do my usual check on spellings and relationships, but I think they were connected to him.




Dave Jessen will present Mike Crump, Butte County Director of Public Works, who will talk about the new bridges on the Midway.




Food for the Stop Hunger Now Project Saturday


The packaging of meals will take place Saturday, April 9, 2015 beginning at 9 am in the High School Multi-Purpose Room.  Jen Liu expects that we will have help from the Interact Club.  He needs about 50 people including you and your spouse or significant other.  The work should conclude about noon.  He is working on a lunch as was provided last year when the work was done.


Paradise Club Anniversary Event


The Paradise Club his holding an Evening Celebration at the Paradise Elks Club, 1100 Elk’s Lane, Paradise.  It will be on Thursday, April 14th from 6 to 9 pm.  They will have a special guest, Dr. Sylvia Whitlock, PDG and the first women club president in Rotary History.  The tickets are $25 for a dinner of chicken with Portabella mushrooms.  Business attire.  Tickets may be purchased online at


It’s Spring, the weather is gorgeous, we just enjoyed an outstanding District Conference……. and  it’s time to begin plans for our next Rotary year.

Announcing:      Rotary District 5160's  Spring Training Assemblies

When:                North Assembly, Saturday, April 30,  9:30 am – 2:30 pm

                          Red Bluff High School, Red Bluff     

                           South Assembly, Saturday May 14,  8:30 am – 1:30 pm

                           Benicia High School, Benicia  

What:                 A chance to learn more about so many different topics

Who:                  Rotarians, Interacters, Rotaracters, Youth Exchange, everyone!

Why:                  Why REGISTER?  So we have enough coffee, food, and chairs!



Updating the Websites


The members are asked to go in the Club website at , click on “members”.  Then scroll down to your name, clicking on it to bring up the page with your information.  Then email Jen giving him any corrections, changes, and missing information.   J. R. tend to this!




Bring guests, who you think you can interest in becoming a member, to meetings.  Steve Plume is planning a past members meeting.




President Mike came upon the following two photographs from an anonymous source.  Actually they “mysteriously” appeared on my phone while I was conversing with a couple, most of you know, at my usual lunch hangout.


Travis Edsall became a Bell Ringer with a contribution of $100 for his hunting trip to New Zeeland.  Actually, President Mike was going to assess him $70 but he volunteered the balance.


Steve Greenwood auctioned the Grinder.  Apparently no one is doing anything in April because he got no bidders.  President Mike extended it to include May.  Dave Jessen got it for $60.




Travis Edsall took us to Gale Wineries in Durham.  The proprietors talked about the history of their winery and the making of their wines as well as the use of their gardens for weddings.


Must Be Present To Win

None tonight.


From Rotary International:

A wave of compassion

Kerstin Jeska-Thorwart (left) talks with a nurse at the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital in Galle, Sri Lanka.    Photo Credit: Rotary International / Alyce Henson

From the April 2016 issue of The Rotarian

What Kerstin Jeska-Thorwart remembers is the silence. No birds chirping, no dogs barking, no car engines revving. Nothing. “I’ve never heard such a silence before, and never since,” she says. “I knew something must have happened.”

It was 9:35 the morning after Christmas 2004, and in Sri Lanka, it was a Poya Day, a Buddhist public holiday held every full moon. Jeska-Thorwart, a lawyer from Germany, was on vacation in Hikkaduwa, on the island’s southwestern coast. Any other morning of her holiday she and her husband would have been on the beach, but today they stayed back at their vacation home, up a small hill about a half-mile from the water’s edge, to clean and prepare for guests.

After a few minutes, sound returned, as though it had been switched on. Now she heard people running, crying. She went down the main road to see what had happened. She saw people in swimming suits, shoeless, covered in blood.

They told her there was a big wave.

The tsunami, as she later learned, was caused when an earthquake with the estimated force of 23,000 atomic bombs rattled the floor of the Indian Ocean. The seabed rose 10 feet, displacing 7 cubic miles of water. A wall of water, in some places up to 100 feet high, slammed into countries throughout Southeast Asia and as far away as Africa. All told, more than 230,000 people died in 14 countries, and 1.7 million were left homeless. More than half of the dead were in Indonesia, followed by Sri Lanka, where 35,000 people were killed.

Sri Lanka was hit by several waves that day. They knocked out cellphone service, land lines, electricity, television, radio. Jeska-Thorwart, then governor of District 1950 (Germany), opened up the house as a makeshift first aid clinic. Four days later, when the situation had stabilized, she and her husband, the late Carl-Otto Thorwart – himself a member of the Rotary Club of Nürnberg-Sigena – together with some Sri Lankan friends, drove down the coast looking for clues to the extent of the damage. “We had no information about what had happened,” she says. “Was it only Hikkaduwa that was hit, or other towns too?”

The first city they came to was Galle, about 12 miles south. Conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th century and fortified by the Dutch in the 17th, the city had long served as the main port between Europe and the East. The tsunami killed 4,000 people in the city and damaged 12,000 houses. “Every minute that went by,” Jeska-Thorwart says of her Sri Lankan companions, “they were more and more silent. They were completely shocked. They realized their country was destroyed.”

On the edge of the city, directly across the road from the beach, the group arrived at a hospital. It was Mahamodara Teaching Hospital, the primary maternity hospital in the province of 2.5 million people. “It was totally empty,” Jeska-Thorwart recalls. One of the women in the car had delivered four children there, and when she saw the devastation, she cried out: “Where are the babies?”

When the first wave of the tsunami slammed into the hospital, deliveries had been underway. Although the 10-foot wall around the hospital could not stop the wave, it buffered its force, so the water was only 4 feet high by the time it reached the prenatal ward that faced the sea. The power failed, the backup generator failed, the water supply and sewer systems failed. Patients’ mattresses were soaked with foul-smelling water. The 349 patients were evacuated, first to a nearby temple, then to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, a couple of miles inland. By the time the subsequent waves hit Mahamodara, no patients or staff remained on site. One baby had died.

Upon learning that the patients and staff had been moved, Jeska-Thorwart and her companions went to check on them. Only the most urgent cases had been transferred – others were sent home – and the maternity hospital had been squeezed into 70 beds in the male neurology wing and portions of two other wards at Karapitiya. Jeska-Thorwart saw pregnant women sitting outside in the rain. They lay in beds to deliver and moved to the floor to recover. There were not enough toilets; there was nowhere to eat or drink. “It was a horrible situation,” she says. She asked to speak to a doctor.

Her first words to him were: “Don’t worry. We will help you.”

“Excuse me, may I know your name?” asked Malik Goonewardene, the head of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Ruhuna in Galle and a consultant at Mahamodara Teaching Hospital. He eyed Jeska-Thorwart, who was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, like a tourist.

“I’m from Rotary. I want to help you.”

Goonewardene invited her into a meeting where the Mahamodara doctors were gathered. Jeska-Thorwart explained who she was and asked the doctors to compile a list of everything they needed. (She still has it.)

A few days later, she drove to Colombo, which – because of its location on the island’s western coast – had not been damaged as severely. She asked local Rotarians to email the list to her office in Germany. By the time she returned home on 6 January, her office was jammed with medical equipment, and by 10 January, German Rotarians had shipped the doctors 2 tons of supplies, including scalpels, drapes, arm slings, gloves, three ultrasound scanners, and 1,360 diapers. Less than a month later, they shipped another 7 tons.

And that was only the beginning.

A decade later, Mahamodara Teaching Hospital’s only ward that has not been replaced or refurbished after the tsunami stands empty. Inside, pieces of plaster are falling off the walls. A couple of old bed frames are stacked in a corner, and wires hang from the ceilings. The building dates to the 1800s, when the hospital was built to quarantine South Indian immigrants arriving to work on Sri Lanka’s plantations and vaccinate them against smallpox.

In contrast are the bright and airy new buildings designed by Lakshman Alwis, an architect and a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo. Inside one, lofted ceilings with vents allow the tropical heat to rise, so the building stays comfortable without air conditioning. Large windows illuminate a room filled with beds where women rest, waiting to deliver. Since patients come from all over the province, many arrive before their due date so they don’t have to travel while in labor. The hospital serves the entire socioeconomic spectrum; the wife of its deputy director delivered her baby here.

Within a few weeks of the tsunami, more than 6,000 German Rotarians had donated €1.3 million, and in 2008, The Rotary Foundation supported the project. Other partners included German-headquartered global corporations such as Siemens, Trumpf, and Ejot, as well as a foundation set up by former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who had been vacationing at a coastal resort southeast of Galle when the tsunami hit.

In the past 11 years, this funding has helped renovate or build 10 departments and wards, and provided equipment worth more than €1 million. The Rotary Club of Colombo, which partnered with District 1950 on the Foundation grant, managed much of the construction. Since work started, 160,000 babies have been born and more than 2.5 million women have received gynecological care. In 2014, a year the hospital saw more than 12,000 births, not one mother died – a statistic many Western hospitals would covet. “That speaks volumes about what we have been able to achieve here,” says RI President K.R. Ravindran, a member of the Rotary Club of Colombo.

“When this hospital got damaged and we had to evacuate, it was an absolute calamity. We didn’t know what to do,” says Goonewardene. “Without our donors, including Rotary, who came to our aid from the start, I don’t know how we would have managed.”

The project has included many steps over the years: first, operating rooms and intensive care units for mothers and babies; then the prenatal wards; and, finally, training. Jeska-Thorwart, whom Rotary honored as a Global Woman of Action at the United Nations in November, says they plan to celebrate the completion of the project in January 2017.

Since 2010, a team of doctors, midwives, and nurses has traveled once a year from Sri Lanka to Germany, and another from Germany to Sri Lanka, for training. At the biggest hospital in Nuremberg, where Jeska-Thorwart lives, only a couple of babies are born each day. In contrast, the Mahamodara Teaching Hospital delivers 70 babies daily. Because of the number of births in Sri Lanka, the German doctors get more experience in the neonatal intensive care unit dealing with birth complications. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan doctors get experience on state-of-the-art equipment in Germany.

The neonatal intensive care unit, one of the few air-conditioned buildings at the hospital, is a world of beeps and scrubs and needles. A 19-day-old infant lies in an incubator, connected to a neonatal CPAP machine to support her breathing, donated by Rotary, which equipped the entire unit. The newborn, who arrived two months premature, was transferred here because the hospital has some of the most advanced equipment in the country. “When I started here, I was amazed,” says Selvi Rupasinghe, the chief neonatologist. “Rotary’s contributions have made a tremendous change to neonatal care.”

Outside the unit, a woman holds a sleepy toddler in her arms. The child’s eyes are closed and her head droops as her mother, a dance teacher, smiles and hugs her daughter tight. The child, now 21 months old, was born premature, weighing only 2 pounds. She spent a month in the neonatal intensive care unit and today loves to dance, like many girls her age. “Without all of this equipment, she would not have been able to survive,” says Sumith Manathunga, the hospital’s deputy director.

English isn’t the mother’s first language, but she does know four words: “Thank you very much.”

Our video crew visited the Mahamodara hospital. Watch this video to learn how German and Sri Lankan Rotarians are collaborating and learning from one another.

By Diana Schoberg

The Rotarian



The Rotary International web site is:

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