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President's Message - Peter May
The worst of the worst were rounded up and sent to Guantanamo Bay. After the horrendous acts of 9/11 these prisoners deserved everything they got and weren't entitled to any of the protections afforded to civilized human beings. Defend them, Major Mori? From what? "Condemn them all!", we Australians say.
Then we read Dan Mori’s book, "In the Company of Cowards". We got to know a typical American boy growing up in New England, a boy scout, with football coaches who taught him about fair play. He went to boarding school, then went a bit wild when he got to Uni. He was just like me and lots of my Aussie mates. Only Dan decided, on an impulse, to join the US Marine Corp. Here he matured, went back to Uni and completed a degree in communications, became an officer, played Rugby in Australia and almost by accident, completed his law degree. Just like Harm and Mac, he joined JAG. Postings to Parris Island, Japan, then Hawaii, led to him being selected as defense counsel for the Military Commissions at the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. Here he represented David Hicks.
In his presentation to our Rotary Club, Dan used photographs to share with us his experiences during the four years it took to bring Hicks back to Australia. He took us inside the Guantanamo facilities and into Afghanistan, introducing us to many of the characters involved. Rather than being an evil terrorist, Hicks was just a dill from Salisbury in South Australia, who had got himself into the wrong place on a stupid adventure. Many of these prisoners in Cuba had been rounded up by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and shipped there without much evaluation.
Many of us in that audience last Monday came to the profound realization that even in the war on terror, we need a system of fair justice. It might not be perfect and most of us take it for granted, but our system of justice has evolved over hundreds of years to protect us all. We should never let anyone take that away from us.
Over fifty people enjoyed a lovely meal and one of the highlight meetings of our Rotary year. Dan Mori, you would make a fine Rotarian! Along with all our guests from that night, we want you to know you are always welcome at our Club. Thank you.
Our Club has been offered a kidney dialysis machine by the Austin Hospital. This is badly needed by the new hospital in Masbate City in the Philippines. On our visit to Ticao Island last month, we were given a list of hospital equipment, much of which can be supplied from the DIK warehouse, that is urgently needed by the San Fernando hospital on this very poor island. The rescue team in Masbate City asked us for stretchers for use in situations where they suspect neck and back injuries. Gerry has requested additional funds to send a container to Masbate with all this equipment next month. It will make a wonderful Christmas present. Unfortunately, our DIK budget for this year has already been spent. Our Club needs to run some special fundraising events to try to raise the $3,600 that will be needed to pay for the freight.
Friday, 5th December is the day of the Maling Road Kristkindl. Our Club supports the traders association by setting up, manning the ticket booths and the Santa stall, then packing up in the evening. If you are reading this bulletin and would like to come down and put on a Rotary Volunteer jacket to help us out, we need more helpers. It's lots of fun and a wonderful night for the local kids, as well as being fantastic PR for Rotary.
The Rotary Club of Camberwell have purchased a defibrillator for the venue where our Club meets. A joint training session for the Basscare staff and Rotary Club members will be held at 2 Rochester Road at 4:30pm Tuesday, 9th December. You never know when we might need this device. It would be terrible if we needed it and none of us knew how to use it. Come to the free training.
Through Bob Falconer's efforts, Josh Frydenberg has agreed to provide an Aussie Pride Badge to every member of our Federal Parliament. Val Cunniffe is posting a sample badge to the principals of 70 Melbourne schools to encourage them to award these to students in recognition of their service. Brett Riley has the district youth exchange committee considering awarding badges to both the outgoing and incoming exchange students each year. Last Tuesday, I witnessed the induction of 129 new Australians who were awarded Aussie Pride badges as part of their Citizenship ceremony by the City of Boroondara. We may yet have the additional funds to be able to expand our service projects to meet our members passions for 2015 and beyond. Well done to our Fund Raising Committee.
Next April 25th is the centenary for Anzac Day. Those who volunteered as marshals this year had a truly rewarding experience, with most keen to be involved again next year. If you would like to join this group to be a marshal for the centenary march, please contact Michael Chong or Kyle Wightman for further details on how to register.
One of the most worthwhile things we can do is to make a positive change to the life of someone in need. Each year, we take ourselves to an island in the Philippines where the monthly income is A$150, or less for some. We restore hearing to young children and sight to hundreds of people. Our visit is a catalyst for changes to the lives of so many people - to the health workers who receive special training before we arrive; to the political leaders who can't afford to run these programs on their own; to the members of the local Rotary Clubs who learn the true meaning of 'Service Above Self'; and of course to the people we serve.
At our Club meeting on Monday, 8th December join us to learn more about where we went, what we did and about the other projects that have grown out of the needs we discover when we visit these beautiful, happy people. Two of our Orthoptics students will share their story from 2014 and may inspire you to join us next October. Faren and Miranda will bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your face, but you'll have to get in fast to be able to join us in October 2015. This is an experience of a lifetime!!