NEXT MEETING: February 6, 2015
The Kumpi Mayu Foundation
Dean and Marty Rutherford visited Peru in 2006, where they saw a desperate need for clean and potable water for the communities they visited, and they started the Kumpi Mayu Foundation once they returned. Safe drinking water, good hygiene and basic sanitation are of crucial importance for life, health and prosperity, and water is vital to all forms of life. However, only 7% of the earth’s water can be consumed without harm by human beings, and approximately 1 in 9 people worldwide do not have access to a clean water source. Water-related diseases are the most common cause of illness and death among the poor of developing countries. The mission of the Kumpi Mayu Foundation is to be part of the worldwide effort to bring affordable and sustainable clean water to all in need, and the Foundation provides clean water for poor and rural communities in Peru. The Foundation has created a rigorous process for developing sustainable solutions for providing clean water systems, which Dean and Marty will discuss, along with stories of their experience and their work. Visit this web site for more information.
- We’ll learn at this Friday’s regular meeting how the first Richmond Rotary Winter Party turned out on Saturday, January 31.
- Don’t forget to pay David Brown for tickets to the 8th Annual Richmond Rotary Crab Feed on Saturday, February 7, at Salesian High School (same room as always). Cocktails at 6pm and dinner at 7pm. Tickets are $40 per person, payable in advance.
- Heather Kulp announced that she is leaving Richmond on March 5 to take a new position with Chevron in Washington DC. She’ll be working on policy issues for Chevron’s energy operations in Nigeria while traveling back and forth to Africa, where she had worked once before (Angola) and found her South African husband. We wish you all the best, Heather!
- David Brown made an announcement on behalf of Henry Moe, who could not be at the meeting. It seems that two Salesian High School students want to go to a Rotary Interact conference but there are funds available to cover only one student (per-person cost of $130). Many thanks to Jon Lawlis for stepping up to cover attendance cost for the second student.
MEETING OF January 30, 2015
President Stoney Stonework called the meeting to order at the Richmond Country Club and Alan Baer led the pledge of allegiance. Stoney asked for a moment of silence for freedom, peace, and justice on earth. The thought for the day was provided by Sid Chauvin: as Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Recognitions and Happy and Sad Dollars
- Joe Bagley offered some happy dollars for having spoken with Jim Beaver, who’s living in the desert area of So-Cal after leaving the Bay Area. Jim’s doing better now that his mom is in an assisted living facility. He says he still feels like the youngest dude down that way and he’s looking forward to playing some golf again after a hiatus of more than 18 months.
- Erle Brown, now happily in Puerto Vallarta since the day after this last meeting, is most assuredly lifting his glass to the sun and joy of another several weeks in his favorite home away from home. With tongue firmly in cheek, Erle shared that he’ll probably be spending the rest of accumulated set-asides from his days as Rotary Foundation Chair. After celebrating his 80th birthday down there on the beach, he returns back here on March 17. Erle looks forward to seeing David Brown and his bride in PV on Feb 20th. (Seems like Jon Lawlis and Darlene will be vacationing down there soon, too, but not sure of the overlap with the Browns.)
- Jan Brown had some happy dollars for her grandson’s 2nd birthday and her daughter’s 34th birthday. Jan was also happy about attending a recent, very informative presentation and tour of Richmond High School (how the career academies work, etc.).
- Herb Cole was happy about attending his father-in-law’s 95th birthday party, which was apparently quite a bash.
The Real Country of Madagascar
Stoney introduced Liliane Koziol, Richmond Rotary Immediate Past President, who shared interesting information about her homeland, the island of Madagascar off the southeast coast of Africa.
Liliane pointed out false stereotypes about her native island. The animated Madagascar movies depict animal types that aren’t even found on the island. Even National Geographic and PBS at one time echoed a silly refrain, “You mean people really live there?!”
The real Madagascar is authentic and unique. Among notable examples, as one web site says, “Madagascar lacks the dominant form of primate distributed worldwide (monkeys, chimps, and gorillas) and, instead, is world-famous for its lemurs – an older group of primates that look something like a cat crossed with a squirrel and a dog.” Madagascar is also famous for its many rare medicinal plants.
Here are some factoids Liliane shared about Madagascar.
- Fourth largest island in the world.
- About the size of California and Oregon combined.
- 3,000 miles of coastline with some mountain peaks above 9,000 feet elevation.
- Human habitation began long before European colonization with the westward migration of Malayo-Polynesian people from the Pacific Ocean area.
- British explorers were the first Europeans to land, bringing Protestantism and a close interaction with local royalty. French rivals followed afterward (Catholicism, etc.). European countries met at a conference in Berlin in 1885 and carved up Africa’s lands. France got Madagascar, which formally became a colony in 1895.
- Became independent nation in 1960.
- Malagasy is the local language and main food descriptor.
- Population of 22 million people.
- 80% literacy rate for those over age 15. Universities throughout the island.
- Major industry is agriculture (coffee, spices, vanilla, cacao beans, etc.) but there are also plentiful natural resources (graphite, chromite, and coal).
- Per-capita GDP of $1,000 (about the same as Afghanistan).
- Religions: 52% indigenous (nature, etc.), 41% Christian (half Protestant, half Catholic), 7% Muslim.
Most of Madagascar’s indigenous past was as a matriarchal society with royalty being primarily queens. One prominent King, Radama (1810-1828), was interested in modernizing along Western lines. He tried to combine various societal elements from both the English (more tolerant of local autonomy) and the French (wanted adoption of French culture).
With all its fascinating history, it seems that Madagascar’s near-past, present, and future are especially intriguing – the stuff of a Hollywood movie drama.
As Liliane recounted the tale, it seems that Madagascar’s elected President in 2002 (who served until 2009) started shifting the country’s priorities so as to be more than just a “French” place, to become more global in terms of adopting broader use of English as the language of commerce, to promote economic growth, and to broaden trade with the rest of the world.
Then, in March 2009, a local DJ (yep, a radio disc jockey) upset the apple cart and somehow engineered what Liliane describes as an “unresolved coup” that lasted until 2013. During this time (as the DJ cozied up to supporters in the military), there was essentially no government, no rule of law. The economy nose-dived even as previously protected rosewood forests were devastated for sale to China.
In January, 2014, there was a new election and a fellow named “Hery R” won. This guy was the right-hand man of the local DJ and there were great concerns about that. One year later (just a couple of weeks ago), after increasingly widespread discontent, President Hery R appointed a new Prime Minister – and it wasn’t the DJ!
So, at this writing, the “saga continues”, as Liliane put it. The outlook for political stability? Whatever unfolds, Liliane assured us that the people of Madagascar are resilient. (And we think we’ve got problems with polarized Red and Blue states!)
Tom Waller, Rotating Scribe