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Celebrating a glorious past.

Bahrain: A leading international service organisation is celebrating 50 years of reaching out to the local community in Bahrain.

Members of the Rotary clubs of Manama, Salmaniya and Adliya gather tonight to celebrate five decades of outstanding achievements - from raising a quarter of a million dinars over just four years, to combating diabetes in Bahrain to joining global efforts to eradicate polio, supporting the disabled and helping dozens of Sri Lanka civil war victims get artificial limbs.

The Rotary Club of Manama, which was the first to be formed in Bahrain and the GCC in 1965 under the initiative of Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, currently has 64 members.

President Raj Damani, who joined the organisation in 1975, described his experience with the club as a life-changer.

"I arrived in Bahrain 30 years ago as an industrialist and back then it was all about achieving my own success. All that changed when my late friend Ester Bamji encouraged me to join the club, allowing me to see the world from a different perspective," Mr Damani told the GDN.

"It is a beautiful feeling to be able to put a smile on people's faces. It is very uplifting."

The club is part of Rotary International that was established in 1905 and currently has 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries working to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and training and promote peace.

Along with joining efforts under its international umbrella, the Rotary Club of Manama has worked to reduce diabetes rates among children in Bahrain.

Following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed with the Bahrain Diabetes Society, the club raised hundreds of thousands of dinars to combat the disease and has over the past four years screened 35,000 children and provided those who were diagnosed with diabetes with a blood glucose metre.

The screenings were done inside a specially-designed van for children that visited a number of Bahrain schools.

The club is also set to hold its 18th Annual Six-a-Side Football on February 12, during which funds will be raised to buy diagnostic equipment for cancer-hit children following a MoU with the Bahrain Cancer Society.

"There is a tremendous need in the society for social contributions from people and not just the government," Mr Damani said.

"Our role was never to just collect money and distribute them but we look for a suitable, non-governmental organisation and work together to come up with a project that can best benefit the society."

Following the club's lead was the Rotary Club of Salmaniya, formed in 1971, which last year (2015) raised around BD35,000 to build two leisure areas for the disabled.

One of them is planned to be a playing area in the new public park in Hamad Town that is yet to be built, while an organic garden will be built at Al Dana Centre for Special Education.

A member for 12 years, club president Viren Bhatia said the organisation has made him more aware of the God's blessings.

"I have grown more compassionate towards others and understand the value of the things I have," he said.

The club has 64 members.

The last to be formed was the Rotary Club of Adliya in 1994 which currently runs a road safety campaign that includes donating baby car seats.

The club, which has 26 members, also financially supports Al Wafa Centre of Autism. It also introduced to Bahrain the first model United Nations in 1995 which is now being held by several schools and organisations across the country.

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President Julian Clarke-Jervoise, who arrived in Bahrain in 2009, said the club allowed him to explore the warm hearts of Bahrain's people.

"I learnt that Bahrain is full of generous and warm-hearted people. It has always amazed me how people want to help here," he said.

A book commemorating Rotarians' achievements will also be issued next month, it was revealed.

The 120-page coffee-table book has been put together by DSC Solutions Bahrain director Dr Sarah Clarke who will take readers through a journey that reflects the three clubs' impact on the country, while also helping them understand the development stages Bahrain has gone through over the years.

"The idea behind the book is not to show how the clubs developed but how Bahrain has developed and how the people have changed over the same period. This is what, I think, makes the book interesting to read," she told the GDN.

"It also shows the phenomenal impact the clubs have had from a vocational and initiative aspects.

"The book will cover achievements of Rotarians over the years and will have pictures dating back to when the first Rotary club was just established."

shahlaa@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Jan 21, 2016
Words:808
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