“Rotary is where neighbours, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and take action to create lasting change.” This declaration resonated with us when we re-established contact with the Rotary Club of Queenstown last September. Rotary Club members come from all over the world and as they exchange ideas, form friendships and professional connections, they make a difference around the world and in their own backyards. We are in the club’s backyard and about 20 years ago, they outfitted our football team who called themselves the Ho Swee Knights. It meant a lot to our boys to play in a co-ordinated team kit and I believe this bolstered them to win the inter-social work agency tournament.
Last Saturday, the club rallied students from Pioneer Junior College and the Singapore Polytechnic as well their members and friends to put together an Amazing Race that pitted 9 teams of youths from different neighbourhoods. The race with 6 checkpoints ended at the Whampoa Community Club where Rotarians mingled with the youths and families over dinner. More than 100 people made new friends.
Walliq and Rafiq, two brothers aged 11 and 12 respectively, rushed to the wash room after they crossed the finishing line. They were determined to win the race and were convinced that they will lose their pole position if they took a toilet break. No one was aware of their decision and thankfully, they were no embarrassing moments during the race. They had not realised that the race would require them to leave their neighbourhood but doing so was a most pleasant surprise. Otherwise Saturday afternoons were usually spent walking around their neighbourhood or “rounding,” as in their own words. They were also grateful that the volunteers accompanying them were familiar with places outside their neighbourhood because they had felt quite lost.
Shi Zhen, a volunteer from Pioneer Junior College found the boisterous spontaneity of her new younger friends energising. “They speak loudly and laugh easily, and it is difficult not to have any fun.” Mid-way through the race, it began raining heavily but instead of slowing down, the wet weather spurred the youths on, observed two other volunteers Xing Kun and Zhi Hong. “They loved the rain, had no use for the ponchos we provided and just ‘splashed’ ahead happily.” However, Elliana a volunteer who was nursing a slight cold shared that the youths in her team ensured that she had her poncho on and took to covered walkways when it started raining. They told her quite firmly that she was ill and had no business walking in the rain. Elliana added that she had prepared herself for a long day when a youth bluntly told her at the beginning of the race that he had regretted showing up. But at the end of the race, he said to her “Cher, actually, I don’t regret coming.” Despite missing out on much needed rest, Elliana did not regret coming too.
Enjoy your weekend.
The foundation upon which Rotary is built is friendship; on no less firm foundation could it have stood. – Paul Harris, Founder Rotary International