INTERVIEW: Rotary’s Maud thinks big

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The Rotary Club of Maluti made history when it officially unveiled Maud Boikanyo as the very first Mosotho woman to be elected District Governor (DG).

DG Maud was sworn in at a ceremony that was held at the Royal Palace on the June 20 2020. She officially assumed office as DG on July 1 2020, which is the start of the new Rotary year worldwide.

Rotary is a worldwide organisation whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It is a none-political that is open to all. There are estimated of 1.2million individuals known as Rotarians worldwide.

In this exclusive interview with theReporter’s Kefiloe Kajane this week, Boikanyo gives us a glimpse into her Rotarian life and her plans for Rotary Club of Maluti as new DG.

KK: Please tell us about yourself. Who exactly is Maud Boikanyo and when and how did you join Rotary Club of Maluti?

MB: My name is Maud Basiame Boikanyo, born and bred in the village of Ha Hoohlo, Maseru, I am the second of four children to my parents. I now reside in the village of Thabong, Mohlakaneng in Maseru.  I was invited to join the Rotary Club of Maluti –Maseru by assistant Governor Matsobane Putsoa, and was inducted in February 2001.The process of joining requires one to attend some meetings of the club to get an insight into what Rotary is, after which you are invited to a more in-depth information session that then prepares you to make an informed decision whether or not you wish to join, I did, and have not had any reason to regret.

KK: What does Rotary Club stand for and what does it do?

MB: Rotary is a worldwide organization of like-minded people grouped in Clubs, such as the two clubs we have in Lesotho. The primary purpose of the organization is to engage in activities and projects that address humanitarian problems of our communities; engage in peace and conflict prevention activities and promote a worldwide fellowship to best galvanize our impact.

KK: What suggestions would you make to clubs with older members or poor diversity to encourage them to add new members who better reflect their communities?

MB: The 34,000 Rotary clubs are grouped together into 500 Districts throughout the world, under the umbrella of the big body, Rotary International. Each District is headed by a District Governor for a period not to exceed 12 months, starting July 1 each year. I am fortunate to have been elected the DG for my district 9370 this year, and am fortunately the first Mosotho Lady to hold such an office, and a second person after the late Past District Governor Frank Baffoe, may his soul rest in peace. District 9370 spans over four provinces of Republic of South Africa and Lesotho, with 88 clubs and around 1,400 Rotarians. This signifies a great achievement on behalf of the people and especially women of my country, we are hard workers, and the size of our country should not prejudice our worth.

KK: Please tell us about your vision for Rotary Club and the targets you have set yourself at the helm.

MB: My vision is to start the wheels turning to grow Rotary in the district and in Lesotho, not just in numbers, but in bringing relevance, visibility and life changing projects that Rotarians do to the knowledge of our communities. It is when you know and appreciate the worth of an organization that you can join it. Secondly our communities are burdened with poverty, lack of service provision and facilities. On the other hand, there is a lot of fiscal and other resources in Rotary clubs in more affluent countries waiting to be sourced to alleviate our problems.

It is with more hands on the ground that we can request and apply these resources to uplift our society.  My main focus will therefore be in the growth of Rotary in our country and District; as well as mobilize for sizeable Service Projects that make a difference in lives of the less privileged in areas of water and sanitation in schools, provision of library services to schools, roll out the project of early childhood development project started in the Eastern Cape part of the district.

What changes can we expect to see you spearheading in Rotary International structure’s and governance, and why?

The type of changes I envisage, in the local structure of Rotary is for Lesotho to bring in more youth into Rotary, in groupings (Clubs) that speak to their way of life, away from traditional old school, for example as E-clubs, work based and/or interest based clubs, there needs to be more fellowship and fun, as we help others. While this would be useful for RSA areas too, but the immediate need there is to address the demographic imbalances that hinder the growth of Rotary, plans are there to break the barriers.

KK: What change do you think, as a woman, you will bring to Maluti Rotary club to ensure it continues to be relevant and to touch people’s lives?

MB: The idea is not to push anyone out of Rotary, but to improve the inclusivity to guarantee sustainability and survival of Rotary, it is not a cult, therefore should be diverse and inclusive. The old Rotarians hold a lot of the institutional capacity that needs to be shared and transferred to younger generations, so they are needed as well.

Other parts of the continent of Africa have far higher numbers of Rotarians in clubs and in the districts, there is absolutely no reason why we cannot emulate what they do to grow Rotary.

It is only a pity that we going through this pandemic and movement limitations, one would invite colleagues from out there to show us how they made the breakthrough. But social media will assist us to connect and get the guidance and learn from their success.

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