A small but enthusiastic team headed over to the Claudelands Event Centre, Hamilton for this year conference, and although marked by the tragic events in Christchurch on Friday the line up of speakers and entertainment did not disappoint.
Paul and Tups Wright, Ron Finn, Richard Evans and Janine Branson represented Rotorua North at District Conference.
Of particular, personal interest the line up of speakers included:
  • Gemma Sisia, founder of  St Jude’s, a private school in Tanzania, which provides free, high-quality education to children who — due to poverty and social pressures — would otherwise be unlikely to complete their schooling. With the help of friends, family and Rotary groups the school opening in 2002 with 3 pupils.  Today it houses and educates over 1500 pupils from all ages.
  • Dr Robbie Francis, co-founder of the Lucy Foundation.  Robbie has dedicated her personal, professional and academic life to advocating for the rights of marginalised populations.  Her story today was adapted to  reflect on the tragedy in Christchurch - based on the "Story of the Hummingbird" she left the audience with the question - which animal are you? Are you the one who is too afraid to help, or the one or believes you are not well enough equipped to be of any use or are you the little hummingbird who demonstrated that doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
  • Pisey Leng a survivor of the infamous killing fields of Cambodia that in the late 70's claimed the lives of almost two million innocent people. Eventually landing in New Zealand with her life possessions in a cardboard box Pisey made a conscious decision to stand tall and move forward with courage and determination. She is deeply committed to helping others learn how to find the seed of advantage in any adversity.
As usual a highlight of the conference was the presentation by the international students and we were very proud of Laura, our student from Brazil and Fan who is hosted by Rotorua Sunrise.