In Gear | Rotary in Southern New Zealand In Gear - Issue 3 - Page 12

Members of The Lucy Foundation and local families from Pluma Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Mexico. COMING FULL CIRCLE FOR GOOD g nectin Recon ry a t o R h t i w When you’re told Robbie Francis’ social enterprise venture, a visionary collaboration with coffee farmers in Mexico, is run under an entity called The Lucy Foundation, the natural rejoinder is: ‘Who’s Lucy?’ Robbie’s middle name, maybe? A beloved aunt? Wrong? Okay, then – some kind of acronym, perhaps? Artificial limb doesn’t immediately jump to mind. Born without a lower left leg and most of the major bones missing in her right due to phocomelia, Robbie learned to walk with the use of a prosthetic she, as a pre-schooler, nicknamed ‘Lucy Leg’. Naming the foundation she hopes will eventually bring many disadvantaged great empowerment after ‘Lucy Leg’, which has been such a crucial support in getting her to where she is today – literally and metaphorically – seemed only fitting. Somewhat paradoxically, though, for one whose passion for broader human rights grew from such a very young age, Hamilton-raised Robbie didn’t make her way into the disability community, as such, until very recent years. It was a fascination with peace building that proved her guiding light, leading her to study world religion and human development at the University of Waikato, where it was inter-faith dialogue as a means of peace building and conflict resolution that piqued her interest. On graduating, she made a decision that would change the course of everything. She applied for a Rotary ambassadorial scholarship. “I applied – and, lo and behold, I got it. I was just amazed,” Robbie recalls. “It was just this incredible scholarship – $US25,000 – and it covered my flights, my accommodation, my study.” Her choice of university, however, raised more than a few eyebrows. Page 12 | In Gear - Rotary in southern New Zealand - District 9980 |