Reporter: Peter Duras
Tuesday’s busy face to face meeting opened with President Michelle’s acknowledgement of country and a toast to Rotary International led by Chairman Frank O’Brien. Michelle welcomed our guest speaker Brian Ashworth and our guests Ben Lee (with us prior to his induction), Bob Glindeman and Laurie from DIK. She also led the farewell to the popular Tomoya Ilzuka who has just graduated and will return home to Tokyo in the next few days.
Frank then introduced Brian, who emerged from a career in water engineering in the UK and Australia to join Disaster Aid Australia, a project of the Rotary Club of Greater Dandenong and Endeavor Hills. Initially he was involved with technical support on the water issues inevitably involved in international disasters. In 2019 he accepted the honorary role of Chief Executive. Under his guidance DAA has broadened their program from pure disaster relief to “Safe Water for Every Child”, the topic of his address.
Brian began by thanking the Club for their support of the DAA program. Wherever there are disasters there is a need for shelter and for clean water. SkyHydrants provided by DAA provided extremely effective removal of bacteria and other contaminants. It was soon realised that they could play long term role in reducing the 1,000 deaths occurring every day from contaminated water. SkyHydrants are now provided for schools, communities and medical facilities. There is a moderate initial cost ( $6000 installed ) to serve 700 – 1000 people. There is no power cost or chemicals involved. The membranes last about ten years and cost $50.  Australian developed and manufactured they are simple and reliable. Installation requires some expertise, involving a header and a filtrate tank.
DAA became involved because 80% of illness in developing countries is linked to unsafe water. In one Indian school with 7762 students, installation of a SkyHydrant reduced incidents of sickness from 643 to 74 per year, an 88% improvement. Such installations can increase school attendance, fight poverty, help women and girls, reduce plastic waste and the use of fuel to boil water. However to maximise the benefits DAA needs to engage the community, assign responsibility and provide ongoing education, monitoring and support. DAA’s work also involves partnering with local Rotary Clubs and NGOs. Brian role involves on the spot problem solving in Myanmar, Phillipines,Timor Leste, Iran and Bhutan where 120 schools are included. Costs are minimised by the extensive involvement of volunteers.
Chairman Frank thanked Brian for his clear and inspirational presentation and then covered members anniversaries. Highlights in December include Ann and Tom Callander’s 54th wedding anniversary and Roger Thornton achieving 25 years in Rotary.
Neville John noted that, despite appalling weather at Collingwood Bunnings the Club raised just over $1000. Many thanks to those who volunteered their time and energy. $10500 has been raised at Collingwood since July.
Rebecca John announced that the Christmas hamper appeal is going well with 99 bags being filled. Presentation to Lentara and Steps Outreach will take place next week’
Ignacio Inchausti stated that home hosting is urgently needed for Mia Forsonaro who will be staying with the Club in Feb / March next year. Mia is a recently graduated physio from Italy. Please contact Ignacio you can host her for a week or so.
Congratulations to Daniel Lim and Angela who have a new son.
Michelle was delighted to officiate in the induction of Ben Lee, a first for the Year. Ben has had an amazing career, moving from pharmacy to policing and finally to internal investigation within the Department of Defence. His Classification is Investigation. Ben’s parents are from Vietnam. He and his wife Cynthia have a 3 year old son Damon. Ben’s hobbies include Psychology. He has already shown his passion for giving back to others. He will be mentored by Rohan and has joined the Youth Services Committee.
Before welcoming Bob and Laurie to centre stage Frank O’Brien thanked Herb and Leone, Yanpu, Rob Hines, Peter and Sue Duras, Roy Garrett and Pauline (+ Frank) for their work at DIK last Thursday. It was our last working bee under the guidance of Bob and Laurie. It is the end of an extraordinary era at DIK with Bob and Laurie stepping away from their leadership role. Frank O’Brien thanked them for their incredible dedication and expertise supervising over 2 million volunteer hours, the loading of 679 containers and the dispersal of goods valued at $785 million. And so many of  these valuable items would have ended up in landfill. Peter Duras added that under the leadership of thius unique and irreplaceable duo DIK has become the most effective Rotary activity in District 9800. To warm applause Frank presented Laurie and Bob with Certificates of Appreciation from our Club.