Club Meeting Club Meeting May 8th 2019 Janet Hay, Rotary Action Group for Microfinance


The inimitable Chairperson was Tony R who welcomed us in his deep attention-getting voice. He invited Geoff Gledhill to give us Invocation and Paul to present us with the Loyal, Royal toast. He included the birth of the Royal “Sussex” baby who has since been named Archie Harrison Mountbatten Windsor. Grant took us to the Republic of Albania. Albania is a western Balkans country with its borders of Montenegro, Kosovo, Greece, and Northern Macedonia and coasts on the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Thee area is 29,000square km and a population of 2,900,000. Humans arrived in 50-30k YA. It was inhabited by Illyrian and Greek tribes during the Bronze age. In 167BCthe land was conquered by the Romans. The first mention of Albanians dates from 1079 and in 1272 Charles of Anjou established the Kingdom of Albania. The Republic of Venice took over in 1368 and the Ottoman invasion began in 1415 and held the country until 1912. The declaration of Independence occurred on 28/11/ 1912 during the First Balkans War and the was occupied by Italy from 1939 until 1943. The Germany occupation began in September 1943 and was then recognized as independent and neutral. The German occupation ended on 29/11/1944. After the WWll a Communist Government took control. Communism collapsed in 1990. The country is member of Nato but of the European Union. It is interesting to note that 50% of government ministers are women. The Capital is Tirana with a population of 884k. Grant asked us to be upstanding to toast President Florjan Salaj and the Members of the Rotary Club of Tirana International, Republic of Albania, District 2090. This is a very new club having been chartered 5th July 2018 with 20 members. Thank you Grant. As always you find clubs in interesting countries and we in toasting the club we wish them well in their adventure in the wonderful service organization of Rotary. Before introducing us to our Guest Speaker Janet Hay, he welcomed her together with Heather Johnson, “Your Future Options” (Friend of Julie Reid), Jade our Exchange Student and our newest member Vishal. We wish Ron A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY and a great and healthy year ahead.
Tony introduced Janet who is a very vibrant energetic person with a huge personality. She is a member of the Rotary club of Canterbury and has worked in theatre, film and special events manager. She has also worked on Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus Island looking after Asylum Seekers who arrived by boat. Janet is a member of RAGM (Rotary Action Group for Microfinance and Community Development) of which will talk. Janet began her address by showing us a series of slides one of which depicted Past Rotary International Director Ian Riseley with Dr. Muhammad Yunus at the Rotary Peace building Conference held in Sydney 2018. Dr. Yunus launched his latest book “A World of Three Zeros. The new economics of zero poverty zero employment and zero carbon emissions” Janet met Dr. Yunus at a Social Conference in Adelaide Business. Dr. Yunus created Micro finance as a way for the ultra-poor to find a dignified pathway out of poverty. The ultra-poor eat less than 80% of their energy requirements despite spending at least 80% of their income on food. This is why the ultra-poor are always hungry. Microcredit is the extension of very small loans to these people who typically lack collateral, steady employment to enable to start new business in the developing world. “Social Business” is a self-sustaining business generating revenues through the sale of goods and services, where all profits are used to serve human problems. She gave an example of how Dr. Yunus, who was born in Bangladesh, started his microcredit program and Grameen Bank, with a $27 loan to help some villagers escape the extortionist money lenders who were charging 90% interest. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Dr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank for their “Efforts to create economic and Social Development from below”. Janet further explained what the difference is between Humanitarian Aid and Long Term Development Aid. Humanitarian aid is charity dispensed because of an emergency or natural disaster, while long term Development aid is dispensed after a disaster or conflict is over. Janet gave us some food for thought. Poverty is not a lack of character it is a lack of cash. When we want to help the poor we usually offer charity and most often we use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and the solution. Charitable giving becomes a way to shrug off our responsibility abut not the solution. Many think that the more money that is given the better but often gifts and too much money and charity can make poverty more lucrative than honest toil.  Therefore, the crucial question is should money be given to relieve distress and all circumstances. Tyrants love aid as it helps them stay in power and contributes underdevelopment. Foreign aid facilitates corruption because it is easily stolen, redirected or extracted. Poor people have enormous untapped potential and by providing them financial services they can break the cycle of poverty. We have heard before on numerous occasions offering women loans or finance, they will feed and support their families and make sure children go to school. It is empowering to women to be offered credit. Giving a woman a loan, based on our trust in her ability, dignity ambition and hard work it becomes much more than just money, Dr. Yunus says “once the poor can unleash their energy and creativity, poverty will disappear very quickly”. Janet gave an example of “Ten for Tamils” which was established to help war widows and female headed households in the north of Sri Lanka to set up a small business to earn an income. The women apply to set up a new business. When the business is successful the money is paid back and is agin used to help another community.  Once the $ is donated, it is gone but if lent it gets used over and over! The moral is DON’T JUST GIVE MONEY BUT LEND MONEY! There were many examples given of women who have succeeded such as an 87year old woman who changed her life free of extortionists and now has enough money to feed clothe and house herself. Small business offers local employment and exchange with other business instead of having charity which could be of the wrong nature and put local business out of trading!  Thank you Janet for coming to us so early in the morning and being able to help us understand more about Microfinance. You said that Rotary in the future could loan the money to a local who will then buy the piece of equipment locally and start a local business. It is really an innovative conception. Thank you for sharing. As Janet needed to travel for another engagement across the other side of town in peak-traffic, we had needed to have her talk before the business of the day. Helen joyfully told us that Jade is doing extraordinarily well at school at Bentleigh Secondary College and considering she is doing her subjects in a second language her teachers were very proud to tell Helen at Parent-teacher interviews how much effort she was making. Jade also reminded us of the film afternoon to help raise money for the sleeping back packs for people who were doing it hard.  Pres. Ian acknowledged Margaret, John and Grant for participating in the working bee at Karkarook Park and advised us there will be tree-planting shortly. He also advised us that he and his partner Helen will be away visiting France and Scotland where Helen is attending a medical training conference in Edinburgh. We wish you good travel and fun and safe return. Sergeant Tim began his session by praising the best dinner ever at our evening meeting and fined Greg! Of course the rest of us got fines for whatever came to mind.  A very cheerful end to a very interesting meeting. Pres. Ian wished us a happy next few weeks and that we BE THE INSPIRATION

 Zilla (Bulletin Reporter)



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