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Sniffer Dogs, Giraffes and the importance of being earnest

Sniffer Dogs, Giraffes and the importance of being earnest

Sniffer dogs are not an everyday sight at Rotary Club meetings, however, last weekend was not an ordinary day.

The Rotary Clubs in Windhoek held their annual interact conference and this year the event was opened by the First lady, Monica Geingos. As security teams conducted their last sweeps of the Aula, more than 130 learners gathered at the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule in Windhoek, representing the leadership of Namibia’s Interact Clubs. The clubs came together to listen to motivational speakers and share best practices.

In her opening address the First Lady spoke about self-leadership and the importance of being honest about one’s weak and strong points. She advised learners to walk away from toxic people and situations, but also to look at their own behaviour. ‘A conflict is never 100% the fault of the other party, also look at what you could have done differently,’ she said.

Interactors offered themselves to serve as ambassadors for the First Lady’s Be Free campaign which aims to educate teens about issues around GBV, sex, relationships with adults and managing emotions in a healthy way.

The interactors also listened to FNB’s Erica Mulondo who spoke about looking after your ‘personal brand’. Dr Julian Fennessy from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation gave an amazing lecture on giraffe conservation and highlighted opportunities to get involved in saving Namibia for future generations. Elise Shinedima, a young Namibian motivational speaker and author of the book ‘What You Seek is within You’, inspired the interactors to focus on their goals and make their dreams come true.

Interactors were also briefed on various Rotary initiatives such as an Early Childhood Development programme that is rolled out with UNICEF. Through this project, Rotary provides Interactors with toys and books to stimulate young children. The Interactors were also introduced to Rotaract, a programme for youth between 18-30 and received an update on Rotary’s youth exchange programme, STEP, that runs in more than 100 countries.

They actively participated in break-out groups discussing matters like running a club, starting projects or communicating with the public.

“Youth development is an important focus for the Rotary Clubs in Windhoek,” said Rotary Youth Chair Taffy Chirunda. “We spend significant amounts of our yearly budget on youth programmes, Early Childhood Development and training. Through the Interact clubs the youth in turn helps us carrying out our mission of helping the needy and being actively involved in their communities.”

Interact, an abbreviation of ‘International’ and ‘Action’, is one of Rotary’s fastest growing programmes with 340 000 Interactors aged 12-18 spread over 33 000 clubs in 200 countries. The interactors practice the Rotary motto ‘Service Above Self’ by engaging in community projects and develop leadership skills.

Namibia has 12 interact clubs with several hundred active members in Otjiwarongo, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Windhoek. Namibia’s Interactors serve the community through running soup kitchens, cleaning the neighbourhood, collecting clothing or visiting the sick. They hold their own fundraisers through talent shows, car washes, or fun days.

The Interact Conference was generously sponsored by Vulkan Ruine, SPAR Namibia, Pupkewitz, Westcare Dental, Total Namibia, Air Namibia, Deloitte Namibia and Flower Love.

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