Rotary Club of Karen is a relatively young and vibrant club currently celebrating twelve years of Rotary Service.
The RCK was chartered on January 30, 2007 with the help of the District Governor special representative Rotarian David White who is an honorary Member. The Charter President was the current PDG. Jeff Bamford.
Twelve years later, they have so much to show for: from various members serving within the District level to their ever coveted annual Golf Tournament to their impactful projects that have caused waves throughout their immediate community and the world over.
Youthful, charisma and charm are the words that best describe Mr. President. We had the privilege of having a sit down the current president Rotarian Mburu Ngugi who offered insight into what goes into making a club like Karen.
How has your Rotary journey been so far?
My Rotary journey has progressed fast. I am a 4-year-old Rotarian who is currently serving as the President of the Rotary Club of Karen. I joined the Club in May of 2015. Before I knew what was happening, in June, I was made speaker secretary then membership secretary the next year, then I became Vice President, and now I am serving as President.
I don’t know why my Rotary journey has gone so fast, but I am happy to serve.I love Rotary, I Love the people. I love the impact it is creating. I love the difference we make in peoples’ lives.
What are the essential lessons that have contributed to the far you have reached?
The first thing Rotary did for me was to enhance my people skills. In Rotary you have to develop good peoples’ skills as you begin to interact and work with many people. From Fellowships, to projects to fundraising, you will learn to work with people. From this, you will learn patience and persistence, and through this succeed together, fail together, hold hands through the tumultuous times and move on.
Secondly, Integrity is an important quality that you must have a Rotarian. It makes life so much easier when you deal with people of integrity -people you can rely on you, and they know you will do what you say will do, that is very important.
Furthermore, it is good to have good projects. At RCK, we have had impactful community focused projects. When members see the difference we have made, it builds on their commitment, and make them feel great and energized to do more projects – which is the essence of Rotary.
What has contributed to your Club’s greatness?
From inception, our vision as a club has been to excel in all our tasks. We have a club culture to be the best; to have the greatest impact on our community; to have the best fundraising golf tournament, we have no space for mediocrity. That is the first reason RCK is great.
Secondly, we have an excellent resource in many seasoned Rotarians many of who serve at the District level, and who are still committed to the Club. They steer the Club and assist President constructively, and his board, and that helps us to grow much further.
Thirdly, our locale, we meet at Karen Country Club – perhaps the finest golf club in the country. Within the Club and within Karen as a whole, there is a good network of high net worth and influential people who are interested in making a difference within the community. Some of them will prefer to join RCK, and together we have been able to raise the bar.
What are your Club’s most significant achievements?
Our annual Golf Fund Raiser definitely stands out. We are able to mobilize many golfers and corporate sponsors from this city, and we get good money which supports our clubs’ activities.
Our choice of community projects also stands out – Equipping Nyumbani Children’s home with HIV testing equipment; WASH, Construction and Agriculture projects at the Kenya Technical Training Institute for the Deaf; our “Love our Police” water and Library project at Karen Police station; School and community borehole project in Ndori just to name a few. Some of these are Global Grant Projects worth hundreds of thousand USD.
Now that you mentioned Global Grants, What are the projects that you have managed to get global grants for and how has the process been?
The process of getting a global grant is very meticulous. There are a lot of requirements and back and forth. If I may give an example: currently, we are working on getting a global grant focused on the fight against the spread of cervical cancer that is ravaging our sisters, mothers & aunties. As we speak, Rotary International has assessed the projects’ sustainability and impact, and when approved will provide USD.156,000 towards this fight.
Another Global Grant project in the pipeline is a USD.200,000 project where we, in partnership with two Rotary clubs from Netherland are equipping the new children’s wing of Sabatia Eye Hospital, in western Kenya.
RI’s have a very stringent process that we must comply with to access these global grants. But they are also very helpful in providing guidance, especially to us incoming presidents and committees that are not very well exposed to the process.
What are the Challenges that you are experiencing, and how are you navigating them?
As a huge club of 74 members, our biggest challenge is to keep members engaged and active. We have a huge portion of our members, approaching 25%, who do not attend our fellowships, yet they pay their subs, and even occasionally contribute to our projects. How to re-ignite their Rotary spirit is our challenge.
As President, these are some of the things I am going to look at. As we speak, we are developing a survey for the RINOs (Rotarian In Name Only) to try and find out why they are not showing up for these activities. This design is specifically custom made for them.
Secondly, we will have a rigid calendar with specific dates for socials and club events, and be intentional about it.
New Projects: for the past few years, we have been working on several recurring projects. We need to conclude these – and get new ones. A new project that is currently piquing our interest is taking care of babies in Prisons. These kids are mostly born in Prisons, and the only life they can identify with the one behind bars. We want to try and provide them with a normal childhood. These we intend to do by buying them gifts and also going to prisons to engage and play with them. Challenge of monitoring gifts offered to these kids.
What are three nuggets of wisdom that you would love to share with clubs struggling with membership or membership engagement?
The leaders need to lead by example. If you are telling people to subs, then be the first to pay your annual sub.
Have a good project that creates an impact within the community. There is nothing as good as seeing the effect that continuous united efforts have produced.
Avoid cliques within the club level, I can proudly say that Karen has none of that politics.
How do you ensure that you are up to tabs with what is happening with your members?
We have a Board of directors, 26 in number, that are in touch with all area of our membership. They should pick up any matter affecting our members. But more particularly, Director for Welfare/Family of Rotary, who is solely responsible for finding out how people are doing. We need to know what is happening.
We need to elevate our game in this area, especial as we grow the numbers. The lives of these members differ significantly and with totally different needs. We need many more socials, doing different things, especially out of town visits.
What is your parting shot as Rotary connects the world?
Rotary is awesome. In Rotary, I have found good people. In Rotary, I have found People who want to hold hands to make a difference. In Rotary, I have met people who are in dire need of help. The government politicians and NGOs won’t help them, and we need to fill that gap. Rotary is a lifestyle. I am likely to remain a Rotarian for the rest of my days.