In Gear | Rotary in Southern New Zealand In Gear - Issue 3 - Page 28

Changing lives, one mission at a time A series of Rotary-sponsored missions to the Philippines has brought profound, life-changing – and, in one case, career-deciding – moments for the young North Otago people involved, according to trip organiser and Rotary Club of Oamaru president-elect Robert Gonzales. Robert and a 15-strong team, including 11 17-to-21 year olds from Impact Youth, which runs as part of Weston Community Church’s outreach programme, returned early in February from the latest three-week humanitarian trip to the Philippines’ Cavite province. While team members from the joint Rotary-Impact Youth initiative covered all of their own travel, accommodation and food costs, District 9980 provided $3000 under the dollar-for-dollar district-matching grant scheme to equal funds donated by the Rotary clubs of Oamaru and Waimate. 300 youngsters and a children’s feeding programme to another 340. As important as the team’s contributions were, Robert, who is Oamaru Hospital’s chief executive, says the trip was as much about receiving: life lessons. “What we are trying to teach the kids in the Impact Youth group is to think outside of themselves and help where they can – be that other people in the community or other people in the world. “We all had a great time and forged wonderful relationships with the orphans and other locals.” Robert Gonzales The Rotary donations paved the At the children’s home, Impact Youth way for three key projects at the Valley leaders Nicki and Paul Botting, church member Susan Cathedral Children’s Home in Cavite’s Naic municipality, Moore, of Waimate, and their young Kiwi teammates together with initiatives in the surrounding communities that delivered medical and dental care to worked side-by-side with the orphans repainting Page 28 | In Gear - Rotary in southern New Zealand - District 9980 | www.rotarydistrict9980.org