Volunteers honoured for inclusive service

From left are Rotary International president Jennifer Jones, watching the honourees – André Hadley Marria from America; Rosemary Nambooze from Uganda; Sarita Shukla from India; Anderson Zerwes from Brazil; Cam Stewart from Canada and İclal Kardıçalı from Turkey

Rotary International, in partnership with the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, hosted a gala to honour six men and women who were working to create a more inclusive world through service in their communities.

The gala, called Rotary People of Action: Champions of Inclusion, was held at the Homecoming Centre on Tuesday April 4.

The honourees, from all over the world, were presented with trophy awards for their services after presentations about their community service.

They were İclal Kardıçalı, who teaches visually impaired and displaced children to express themselves through music in Turkey; Rosemary Nambooze, who runs a centre which educates and nurtures children with intellectual disabilities in Uganda; Sarita Shukla, who empowers transgender communities in India by providing access to healthcare, employment, and advocacy; Anderson Zerwes, who facilitates open discussions on social barriers faced by LGBTQ, disabled and other underrepresented communities in Brazil; Cam Stewart, Mikostahpinukum (Red Morning) supports and cultivates relationships with Indigenous communities in Canada; and André Hadley Marria, who mentors and advocates for women and people of colour in Georgia, America, by building a culture of inclusion.

The panelists from left are Rotary International president Jennifer Jones; narrative development manager of Nelson Mandela Foundation Kneo Mokgopa; Desmond & Leah Tutu Foundation CEO Janet Jobson; Rotary International CEO John Hewko and the host Siv Ngezi.

Rotary International president Jennifer Jones said the actions taken by these Rotary members exemplify the organisation’s approach to bringing people together to cultivate a more just, open and inclusive world.

“We are an organization that finds common ground in our humanity and in our desire to create lasting change in our communities, the world, and in ourselves.

Desmond Tutu’s daughter and ambassador for the foundation, Theresa Thandeka Tutu.

“Every day, we leverage our members’ diverse perspectives to fight inequalities, foster peace, and address humanitarian challenges across the globe.”

Speaking to the partnership with the Desmond & Leah Tutu Foundation and South Africa, CEO of Rotary International John Hewko said the transformation of South Africa began when Mandela was released in 1990, which was a joyous occasion in the world, and remains inspirational. He said South Africa showed the world what inclusion meant, and Rotary had learnt so much from Nelson Mandela and Arch Bishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Isibane se Afrika choir from Khayelitsha opened the gala with a performance.

“We recognize forward-thinking individuals to make sure we have inclusion top of mind in everything we do. We will use this to transform the way Rotary operates in the world.”

He said achieving inclusivity in it’s fullest form was the ultimate test. “We look forward to our efforts of inspiring a new generation of people to join our cause and bring lasting change to the world.”

The CEO of the Desmand & Leah Tutu Foundation, Janet Jobson, said the organisation was “delighted to be partnering with Rotary International to honour these incredible people from around the world”.

“Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a champion of the power of our collective humanity, and the importance of affirming the dignity and value of all human beings. These honourees have demonstrated that same commitment in their work.”

The clowns from Zip Zap circus entertained the crowd.

The event also included a panel discussion on inclusion, diversity, equity, inclusion, and humanitarian service. The speakers were Ms Jobson, Mr Hewko, Ms Jones and narrative development manager of Nelson Mandela Foundation Kneo Mokgopa.

Entertainment was provided by violinist Kirsty Bows and the Waterfront Theatre School; Zip Zap Circus; and the Tygerberg Children’s choir.

Violinist Kirsty Bows with dancers from the Waterfront Theatre School