Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The oldest Rotarian in the World

I met the oldest Rotarian in the world yesterday.  His name is Amin Abdel nour and he is 98 years old.  He has been a Rotary member at the Rotary Club of Cairo (founded in 1929) since 1934:  a Rotarian for 76 years!  Below is a picture of him.  He's very lucid and proudly proclaimed that his attendance is 100%!  I asked him if I could use his photo on my blog and he said, "I would be honored."  He carries himself with a real sense of honor and poise.
I attended the Rotary Club of Cairo meeting for the second time yesterday and really enjoyed the gathering.  Below is the banner that hangs behind the Officer's table during the Rotary Meeting.

They were giving an award to the president of the chapter and as part of the award ceremony, they showed a film about this history of that Rotary Club.  It was very informative, discussing many of the Rotary projects done by this club over the years:  water projects, providing schooling for children who would otherwise have none, and providing medical care.  This is one of the things I like best about Rotary.  The main value is service.  The slogan for Rotary is "service over self".
The President of this chapter spoke yesterday about how Rotary sponsored a class for teaching literacy to children who could not afford to go to school otherwise.  He noted that the class went from 30 to 50 and was now at 120 students, all in one classroom and with one teacher.  

I've been told that this Rotary District is sponsoring a number of service projects associated with 4 particular communities that are some of the neediest.  When they focus on a community, they will work on bringing clean water, medical facilities, school facilities, etc., in a wholistic approach.  I've asked to come along to visit one or more of the communities they are working on so once that is arranged, I'll tell you about it.
The club has also been the start up club for at least 15 other Rotary Clubs in Cairo and elsewhere.  It's my understanding that an existing Rotary Club has to sponsor a new club to have it become part of Rotary International.  

Unlike Rotary Districts in the U.S. which may span a couple states, the district Cairo is in, district 2450, spans multiple continents.  Here's a list of what countries have chapters that are part of District 2450.  There are 112 different chapters total within these countries.  There are 48 chapters in the Cairo areas alone!
I sat next to a very nice woman during the Rotary Club meeting yesterday, Lila.  She spoke English well so we chatted for a while.  When she heard I was at the American University in Cairo (AUC), she said that her children had gone there and her grandchildren were there now.  I remember reading in some of the AUC literature that the majority of students there (perhaps in the 60-80% range) are Egyptians.  From the way Lila spoke about it, it seems AUC is viewed as one of the best universities available here.  Here is a picture of me and Lila.
Lila doesn't attend Rotary meetings all the time because she's not a Rotarian; she's a spouse of a Rotarian.  But I think I will see her again at the Rotary Peace Conference coming up in February that Jeff, Cameron and I hope to attend.   It is in an area called Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea.  

I took a lot of photos on the way back from the Rotary Club of Cairo as I walked across the Nile.  I'll show those in another posting.  Here's a picture though of where this Rotary Club meets on a lovely boat on the Nile.

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