Durham Rotary Club. P.O. Box 383 Durham Ca. 95938
Rotary District 5160 Governor:
Durham Rotary President:
Rowel Editor: Phil Price
Rowel Publisher: Jen Liu
April 30, 2019
2019 Harvest Festival will be held on Saturday, September 15, 2019
Calendar for Durham Rotary
No Meeting - Dave's Birthday
Michelle John, Superintendent of Paradise Schools.
Harvest Festival Meeting at Durham Memorial Hall
Community Relations Officer
(KR Robertson/Steve Plume)
Alexa Benson-Valavanis, President of the North Valley Community
Hot Dog Picnic with DHS students at the Durham Park
(Thanks to Jen Liu and Jim Kirks for doing the next two
Rowels while I am in Mexico).
Dave Jessen, opened the meeting at the BCCC.
He asked Mike Wacker to lead us in the pledge, which he did. He asked Larry Bradley to lead us in song. He led us in singing “God Bless
America”. Jim Patterson then gave the invocation.
May 7th: Robert Olea will present Alexa Benson-Valavanis, President of the North Valley Community
May 7th: Board Meeting at
May 14th: Jim Patterson will present Rian Farley.
May 21st: Hot Dog Picnic with students.
May 28th: No Meeting.
June 4th: Daryl Polk will present Robert Kevmar
June 11th: Ravi Saip
June 18th: Steve Plume
June 25th: Demotion Party
If a Tuesday is not listed above, there is no
meeting that week.
VISITING ROTARIANS & GUESTS
Larry Bradley introduced Student of the Month Abrahan
Balmaceda-Valenzuela and his father, George. He also introduces Student of the Month
Garrett Luce and his parents, Jerry and Julie.
Ravi Saip introduced Blair Parrott, our program for the night,
with his wife, Wendy.
Steve Plume introduced Student of the Month Joanna Orozo-Villegas,
her parents Maria and Salvadore with sister, Nancy,
and brother, J. P.
We had more visitors than members at this meeting.
Jen Liu reported on this year’s Rise Against Hunger event
which was held on Saturday, April 27th in Durham Elementary
School. Larry Bradley secured it’s cafeteria to facilitate the event. Our new member Kristen Cargile was there 8:00
AM in the morning to make sure the doors to the cafeteria are open to us. Truck from Rise Against Hunger arrived
shortly after 8:00 AM, setup and preparation ensued shortly after their
arrival. Interact Club coordinator Mrs.
Collen Coutts brought with her 16 club volunteers to the event. PDG Pamela Grey and her husband Brian Grey,
the current president of the Paradise Club brought 3 other members and their
family member as volunteers.
The actual meal package event started around 8:45 AM after a
brief introduction on the purpose of this event and the proper packaging
processes. We were all done with 10,152
package of meals a little before 11:00AM.
It was another smooth event with a great success. Below are some of the picture we took during
Early birds at setup
Before kicking off
(Mrs. Colleen Coutts):
Announcement of the
first 1,000 packages:
Robert Olea will present Alexa Benson-Valavanis,
President of the North Valley Community Foundation.
There will be a board meeting at 5:00 pm, before the May 7th
We had 3 Students of the Month.
The first was Joanna Orozo-Villegas,
who you will recall could not appear last month due to a severe infection that
resulted in hospitalization. Since then
she injured a knee running. Anyway, she
was presented a plaque recognizing her as our Student of the Month for February.
Next were our Students of the Month for March, Abrahan Balmaceda-Valenzuela, and for
April, Garrett Luce.
REPORTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
From the District
Dear District 5160 Rotarians:
The Rotary 4-Way Fest is just ten days away
and registrations are coming in fast!
As a result, we
expect to sell out and have to close registrations early. The Conference has great speakers,
breakout sessions and fun activities for all. If you want to be part of this
amazing event, you should register while there is still space.
Under the ‘Register’
tab you will find hotel information – the room
block at the Peppermill will be released on April 25th.
There is also information about back-up hotel space at the Hyatt Place Hotel.
To learn more about the Rotary 4-Way Fest and
register for the conference, visit
our website at: www.rotary4wayfest.com
Under the ‘Events’ tab you
can also register for the following:
Registering for the
Activities below can be done on-site at the Conference:
- Poker to End Polio
- Slots to End Polio
- Karaoke to End Polio
Hope to see you at #Rotary4WayFest!!
Yours in Service,
District Governor 2018-19
District Conference Chair 2018-19
Bring guests, who you think you can interest in
becoming a member, to meetings. In the meantime please invite Durham business owners and/or
managers to one of our meeting.
President Dave Jessen recognized your editor for his Birthday next week,
when I will be in Mexico. I argued that
what happens in Mexico stays in Mexico and since I would be in Mexico I wasn’t having a birthday here. I fact my last birthday here was my 57th
so I am still 57 here. That argument
didn’t work so I elected to have a song and contributed $7.
introduced Blair Parrott, the California Highway Patrol Community Outreach
Officer in this area. He first gave a
history of how he ended up living in Durham (lost his house in Paradise). Then he talked about cell phones and distracted
he talked about the Explorer program where members are taught law enforcement
Must Be Present to Win Drawing:
Bradley drew the name of Jim Patterson, who was present to win.
From Rotary International
conflict in their own countries, a group of young Rotaractors
is healing wounds and bringing cultures together in a Ugandan refugee
Jonathan W. Rosen Kate Benzschawel
It’s Monday morning
in one of Uganda’s largest refugee settlements, Nakivale,
and the line at Paul Mushaho’s shop is out the door.
Mushaho has lived in Nakivale since
2016, when he fled violence in his native Democratic Republic of Congo. After
receiving death threats, he crossed into Uganda and joined a friend in the
184-square-kilometer settlement that serves as home to 89,000
26-year-old, who has a university degree in information technology, runs a
money transfer service out of a wooden storefront that doubles as his home.
Business is booming
because he offers his clients – other refugees from Congo, Burundi, Somalia,
Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, and South Sudan – the ability to receive money via
mobile phone from family and friends outside Uganda.
He also exchanges
currency, and his shop is so popular that he often runs out of cash. On this
day, he’s waiting for a friend to return with more money from the nearest bank,
two hours away in the town of Mbarara.
Sitting behind a
wooden desk, armed with his transactions ledger and
seven cell phones, Mushaho grows anxious. He’s not
worried about missing out on commission – he’s worried about leaving his
clients without any money.
“I don’t like making
my customers wait,” he says, looking out onto the lively street of tin-roofed
stores, women selling tomatoes and charcoal, a butcher shop displaying a leg of
beef, and young men loitering on motorcycles. “There’s nobody else around who
they can go to.”
Paul Mushaho organized a team of volunteers and formed a
Rotaract club in Nakivale, Uganda, to give refugees
something constructive to do.
Photos by Emmanuel Museruka
As a young
entrepreneur who is intent on improving the lives of others in his community, Mushaho is in many ways the quintessential member of
Rotaract, the Rotary-sponsored organization for leaders ages 18 to 30.
Yet his story and
that of his club are far from ordinary. Established in late 2016, and
officially inaugurated last July, the Rotaract
Club of Nakivale may be the first Rotaract club based inside a
refugee settlement or camp.
Its founding, and
the role it has played in the lives of its members and their fellow Nakivale residents, is a tale of young people who’ve
refused to let conflict stifle their dreams; of a country that sees the
humanity in all the refugees who cross its borders; and of a spirit of service
that endures, even among those who’ve experienced unspeakable tragedy.
A place where
refugees are welcome
war, genocide, and persecution find safety in Nakivale.
New arrivals to Uganda are allocated a plot of land, are allowed to work and
run businesses, and can move freely around the country.
If Nakivale doesn’t sound like a typical refugee camp, that’s
because it isn’t one.
Covering 184 square
kilometers and three distinct market centers, Nakivale
feels like anywhere else in rural southwestern Uganda, an undulating land of
banana trees, termite mounds, and herds of longhorn cattle.
Nakivale blends in with its surroundings in part because it’s
been here since the 1950s, when it was established to accommodate an influx of
refugees from Rwanda during a flare-up of pre-independence violence
Over the years, its
population has ebbed and flowed as it accommodated those seeking refuge from a
variety of regional conflicts, including civil war in South Sudan, violent
state collapse in Somalia, and rebellions and armed militias that continue to
terrorize eastern Congo, the area that accounts for the majority of Nakivale’s current residents.
Many have been here
for a year or two, others for decades, but most consider Nakivale
governments in the region, Ugandan authorities grant new arrivals plots of land
for farming, as well as materials to erect a basic house, so they can move
toward self-reliance. Refugees also have access to free primary education for
their children and permission to work so they can contribute to the economy.
Uganda hosts more
than 1.5 million refugees within its borders and allows all registered refugees
to move about at will. If they can do business in cities or towns, the logic
goes, there’s no reason they should be trapped elsewhere.
“They’re going about
their lives just like you and me,” says Bernad Ojwang, Uganda country director for the American Refugee Committee (ARC), which works closely with the Rotaract
club in Nakivale.
abundance of arable land allows for the nation’s liberal refugee policy, he
explains, the system also reflects a high-level belief that refugees can be
assets rather than liabilities.
“Uganda has realized
that the sooner a country looks at refugees not as a burden but as an
opportunity, it changes a lot of things,” he says.
A change maker’s
This mindset — of
refugees as catalysts for change — ultimately led to the Rotaract club’s
Mushaho learned about Rotaract after entering a competition in
2016 organized by the American Refugee Committee (ARC) for the young people of Nakivale.
co-sponsored by Uganda’s office of the prime minister, challenged young residents in the settlement to propose
business plans or innovations that could improve lives.
Out of nearly 850
entries, Mushaho’s proposal – a beekeeping business
that would sell honey – was among 13 winners. They each would receive a small
amount of seed money and present their ideas to a wider audience in Kampala,
the nation’s capital.
More than 60
Rotarians attended the Kampala event in October 2016, including Angela Eifert,
a member of the Rotary Club of Roseville, Minnesota, USA, and an ARC engagement
officer, and then Rotary president-elect Sam F. Owori.
Eifert, who first
visited Nakivale in 2014, had previously proposed
creating an Interact club for 12- to 18-year-olds to help engage its large
population of young people. After the event, she mentioned her idea to Owori, who embraced it with one modification: He believed
the 13 winners could become leaders in their community, so he proposed a
“He told me, ‘I was
once a Rotaractor,’” Eifert says. “When he saw these
young people on stage, he felt they were ideal Rotaractors.
He loved their ideas. He saw they had talent and potential, and thought we
should be getting behind them.”
Leaders from the
Rotary Club of Kiwatule in Kampala and Eifert’s
Minnesota club agreed to work together to get the club started and support its
The duo then
approached Mushaho about serving as the new club’s
president. Of the 13 winners, he’d stood out to them. Humble and charismatic,
he also spoke fluent English, had helped the other winners communicate their
ideas, and appeared eager to assist the wider Nakivale
community. Mushaho and another winner, Jean de Dieu Uwizeye, hosted the Nakivale
Rotaract club’s first official meeting in late 2016.
“He was really into
it,” says Eifert, who began texting regularly with Mushaho.
“He was learning everything he could about Rotary. I think it gave him a great
deal of reward and purpose.”
Rotaractors and Rotary members help new arrivals by giving out
clothes, sugar, and soap.
For all of Nakivale’s advantages over more traditional refugee camps,
daily life remains a struggle for many.
encouraged to farm the land they’re given, but many rely for months, or even
years, on UN food assistance. Rations have decreased recently because of a
shortage of global funding.
Barious Babu, a 27-year-old Rotaractor from eastern Congo helps young people navigate
the daily struggles of refugee life and provides entertainment and dancing with
performances by his All Refugees Can Band.
Children in the
settlement have access to free primary education, but few families can afford
the fees for secondary school – a situation that contributes to high levels of
youth idleness, early marriage, alcohol abuse, and domestic and gender-based
violence. Even simple boredom, particularly among a population that’s lived
through conflict, can be crippling.
Mushaho says he often sees young people loitering around his
shop. “They sit for hours, just thinking, and many of them are traumatized.
Others just sleep from morning until night.”
The Rotaract club’s
first project, launched in 2017, was designed to help Nakivale’s
new arrivals, many of whom had endured harrowing journeys to escape
About 30 new
families arrive every day. They sleep in rows of tents, which are periodically
overrun with bedbugs and cockroaches. After hearing reports of an infestation,
the Rotaractors pooled their modest savings and, with
assistance from ARC, purchased chemicals and sprayers to fumigate the area.
Additional projects quickly followed.
Nakivale Rotaractors fund most of their projects with their own
money. Martin Rubondo, left, and Jean Lwaboshi spend their mornings making bricks, which
they sell to raise money to fund music lessons for refugees. Jean and Patrick Sabag, below, practice.
Over the past year,
club members have visited the elderly, orphans, and people living with
albinism, who face cultural stigmas in the region. Often the Rotaractors bring highly coveted items, such as sugar and
To promote girls’
empowerment, the club also has co-sponsored a jump-rope contest for girls that
featured cash prizes. To promote interaction among refugees of different
nationalities, they organized a soccer tournament with eight teams from across
The Roseville club
provided support to both projects, donating soccer balls and hygiene products
for the Rotaractors to distribute.
Much of the Nakivale club’s community outreach, however, is
self-funded. Members have earned money by raising and selling chickens, and
even participated in a 5K race, held in conjunction with World Refugee Day in
June 2017, which brought in online donations.
“We don’t want to
have to call someone every time, asking for support,” says Uwizeye,
a computer scientist who fled his native Burundi in 2015 to avoid being forced
into a youth militia. “It’s better to show someone I’ve raised some money on my
own – and then maybe ask them, ‘Can you top up?’”
members have been mentoring other young people in the camp. Alex Ishingwa trains fellow refugees in masonry and helps them bid
for local contracts. Byamana Bahati,
a dressmaker, trains apprentices at her shop, a short walk from Mushaho’s.
One club member,
Jean Lwaboshi, a musician with several love ballads
posted on YouTube, spends his mornings making bricks with fellow Rotaractor Martin Rubondo. From
their earnings, the two have bought guitars and now give performances and
lessons to other young people. “It’s a rewarding feeling to support others
through music,” Lwaboshi says.
Mushaho keeps an eye out for refugees who could benefit from the
club’s assistance. Recently, when one of his customers approached him about
starting a farming project, he helped the woman and a group of friends find a
plot of land and connected them to ARC, which provided seeds, fertilizers, and
“We appreciate so
much that others are thinking of us,” says Ange Tutu, one of the project’s
beneficiaries, while tending to her new rows of tomato plants.
Forging a Rotary
Members of the Rotaract Club of Nakivale
have become like family.
In addition to its
own projects, the Nakivale club has galvanized
Uganda’s Rotarians to help refugees.
The Rotary clubs of Kiwatule and Mbarara, the closest large town to the
settlement, advise and assist with projects. The Kiwatule
club has sponsored individual Rotaractors to attend
training events and other leadership activities across Uganda. Members of both
clubs have donated clothes and other necessities that the Rotaractors
deliver to Nakivale residents.
Rotary clubs in
Uganda are planning to do more, says a member of the Kiwatule
club. In October, local Rotary leaders signed a memorandum of understanding
with the office of the prime minister to help refugees in other settlements and
possibly form additional Rotaract clubs.
Several of Uganda’s
Rotary clubs are planning to improve refugees’ access to water, sanitation,
hygiene, and basic education.
support their own projects by raising chickens to fund projects. Byamana Bahati, a dressmaker,
trains apprentices at her shop.
For Xavier Sentamu,
the desire to help refugees comes in part from his own experience with
conflict. Aside from pockets of the north, most of Uganda has been at peace for
the last three decades. Yet the country experienced multiple violent upheavals
during the 1970s and 1980s. As a child, Sentamu spent several nights hiding in
the bush during the guerrilla war that ultimately brought the current
president, Yoweri Museveni, to power.
“I have a bit of a
feeling for what they’ve gone through,” says the Kiwatule
club member. “Though when you have a person who’s outside their country, who
has no idea if or when they’ll go back home, it’s much tougher. The fact that
they have gone through that hardship and are willing to offer a little bit
of their resources to make others more comfortable is so encouraging.”
After an initial
surge in the Nakivale club’s membership, which peaked
at more than 40 people, the number of active members has fallen to roughly 20
over the last year. Uwizeye attributes the drop to a
misunderstanding: Some thought the Rotaract club was a job opportunity rather
than a service group.
The departure of
less dedicated members, however, has left the core group of Rotaractors
more unified. Many lost relatives to violence or had to leave family behind,
and the relationships they have formed in the club are helping them cope.
“All these people
are like family,” Mushaho says. “The people in the
club become replacements for those people they have lost.”
International web site is:
District 5160 is:
The Durham Rotary
Club site is:
The Rowel Editor may be contacted at:
The deadline for the Rowel 6:30 am
The Editor’s photographs published in the Rowel
are available, upon request, in their original file size. Those published were substantially reduced
in file size.