Deputy District Governor Mazen Alumran gives the low-down on the group’s activities
Time Out Bahrain staff
The Rotary Club of Manama was established in 1965 making it one of the oldest in the region with a veritable who’s who of the country’s business and commerce leaders involved and Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Mubarak Al Khalifa at its head.
Sister clubs were set up in Salmaniya in 1971 and Adliya in 1994 with membership today numbering more than 175 – all dedicated to the international organisation’s motto of ‘service above self’.
In Bahrain, as well as weekly meetings, that means projects for the elderly, disabled and young people and the distribution of up to 1,000 food boxes during Ramadan.
April 6 will see the 36th Charity Raft Race at Al Bander run by the Salmaniya group. Last year’s event, in which teams pay to take part, raised BD20,000 and this year organisers are hoping for upwards of 30 entries to take that total above BD30,000 which will go towards fighting sickle cell disease, a common cause of death among the Bahraini population.
Over the years the raft race has become a highlight of the social calendar and raised more than BD2 million which has been donated to projects such as the Isa Town Rehabilitation Centre, Al Noor Institute, Uco Parents Care Centre and Bahraini Society for Mental Retardation Later in the month it’s the turn of the Manama club which is hosting a six-a-side football tournament at Bahrain Rugby Club. The 2011 event brought in BD26,000 which was spent on a mobile diabetes unit to serve as a counselling ward for children suffering from diabetes.
Managed by Bahrain Diabetes Society in conjunction with Al Kindi Hospital it’s visiting schools and community centres to educate children and their families on diabetes, how to prevent it, how to deal with it etc. And the club has also donated BD7,000 for diabetes testing in children.
The youngest and smallest of the clubs, Adliya, is also one of the most active. With, currently, only 24 members it recently organised a full-day cricket tournament and held a walkathon in memory of former member Paul Birch with proceeds going to the Bahrain Cancer Society.
Adliya also organises the Model United Nations which is part of an international Rotary initiative comprising an academic simulation of the United Nations for young people aiming to educate them about current events, topics in international relations, diplomacy and the United Nations agenda – very fitting since Rotary was instrumental in setting up the real United Nations.
Mazen, who joined Rotary in 1983 having been impressed by his mother’s philanthropic works, explained: “I was brought up to believe that if you are better off then you should give something back, some time, effort, money.
“We’re a non-profit organisation and the money we raise goes to good use, we don’t have large amounts sitting in the bank. Whether it be on a large project, like the mobile diabetes unit, or smaller initiatives, such as those run by the other clubs, we put the money to work.”
And he added that the requirements for a Rotarian are pretty specific saying: “We want to have diverse levels of participation across a range of professionals so we seek out people who have something to add, from time to sponsorship to expertise, and who also appreciate the ethos of service above self which is what we’re all about.
“We need people who are able to attend meetings, participate and serve the community.”
Those who meet the criteria find themselves in good company. Bahrain is part of the world’s biggest Rotary district which covers 11 countries from Armenia and Georgia to Sudan, which is, of course, now two countries.
Worldwide there are 34,000 Rotary clubs with more than 1.2million members working together both at home and abroad to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation and eradicate polio - so far Rotary clubs around the world have raised $250million to combat the disease which was matched by honorary Rotarian and Microsoft supremo Bill Gates. Find out more at www.rotary.org.