Club Newsletter – March 2014

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March 1, 2014 

Program: Abong Fankam, A Place of Hope

Abong Fankam, who has always had a passion for children and caring for them, was trying to find a purpose in life when she decided to take a step of faith and enroll in Christian life coaching classes. Not too long after, an acquaintance shared with her a list of 100 Cameroonian kids in need of tuition assistance. Abong, who is from Cameroon and well aware of the reality of kids raising kids in villages, took this as a sign to get involved in an education-focused mission.

Abong Fankam_WebVerAbong founded a non-profit organization called “A Place of Hope”, whose mission is to support AIDS orphans through education. After partnering with trusted locals that could identify households being sustained by a minor, she led a mission trip to Cameroon with students from Queens University in 2013. Today, “A Place of Hope” sponsors 750 AIDS orphans in 6 villages in Cameroon, pays for teachers’ salaries and have built an elementary school. The school now records a 100% passing rate for 6th grade students who take the state exam to advance to middle school.

Mongai Fankam_WebVerAbong’s daughter, Mungai, who accompanied her on the many trips to Cameroon, was soon touched by the harsh reality. Upon returning to her school in the U.S, she spearheaded a project called “No Backpack” to raise awareness of the 120 million children around the globe who walk to school everyday carrying their books and school supplies in their hands or in a plastic bag. In support, her school helped her organize a “No Backpack Day” where children went to school without backpacks for a day. Mungai also speaks at various schools across Charlotte to further raise awareness on the issue and encourage donations (see her letter).

Mungai’s enterprise was her mother’s affirmation that caring for children was her calling.  In 2012, Abong received Lowes/Pride Global Outreach Award. More information on the organization or on how to become an ambassador for the movement can be found at:


Also for reference:

View 2010 mission trip:

Mungai’s Letter:

Good Morning,

My name is Mongai Fankam and I am 10 years old. I am a student at Blythe Elementary in Huntersville. I am in the 5th grade. Over the past 7 years, I have had the opportunity to travel to Cameroon 6 times.  I have met so many children my age and younger, who are suffering in so many different ways. Some of the kids do not go to school because they do not have mommies and daddies to pay for their school fees. Some of them stay home because they have to care for their sick parents. There were also some who do not go to school; they walk on the streets carrying items on their heads to sell so that they can help support their parents.  I also saw many children who walked miles to school, carrying their books and school supplies in their hands or in plastic bags. I later on came to find out that these groceries bags were not free. They actually had to buy it. I wonder how long a grocery bag will last for a child to carry their books in it.

I remember asking my mom if all children are created equally.  And if so why are these children going to school without a backpack and carrying their books in a plastic bag or in their hands. If it is that carrying your books and school supplies in your hands is wrong for a child in America then why is it normal for a child in Cameroon or any other third world country?

In 2012, I shared these stories with my teacher, principal and school mates. I asked my principal if we could have a no backpack day as a way to let other people know that there are lots of kids in different parts of the world, who do not have a backpack. I also asked my schoolmates to kindly donate backpacks and school supplies for children in Cameroon.  By the end of the school year a total of 8 schools in Charlotte had taken part in a No backpack day movement and donated more than 500 backpacks filled with school supplies. In July 2012, me, my mother and 4 other people travelled to Cameroon where we distributed these backpacks.  Last year, we had a total of 21 schools in Charlotte and 2 in Georgia participate in a No backpack day. From these, we had more than 3000 backpacks filled with school supplies.  In May 2013, my mom, students and staff from Queens University Charlotte travelled to Cameroon and distributed these backpacks. Some of the backpacks were also sent to Sierra Leone Africa. My goal for this academic year is to have 50 schools participate in this movement and collect 5000 backpacks filled. Thursday, February 20th was International day of social justice.  Students from my school and nine other schools in Charlotte went to school without their backpacks to raise awareness about this movement.

On April 11th, which is Global Youth Service Day, 10 more schools have committed to doing a No backpack. Backpacks donated from these two events, will be sent to children in Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Charlotte area.

I have started a movement called “No backpack day” so that no child will go to school carrying their books and school supplies in their hands or in plastic bags.

I hope that one day; this program will spread to schools all over the country. I stand here today to ask for your support. Will you please join me in this movement so that no child goes to school without a backpack? I need your help. I need your support. But most importantly, these children need you.  Please join me. Thank you very much.

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March 8, 2014 

Program: Tom Harman, Past International Services Chair, Ballantyne Rotary Club

Tom Harman, a Rotarian from the Ballantyne Rotary Club, gave an update on the Clean Water System and Sanitation Project in Bayonnais, Haiti that started in 2012. The project, which was funded through almost $60,000 worth of contributions from five Charlotte Area Clubs, including our Club, and a matching grant from the Rotary Foundation, consists of two water systems that provide clean water to the mountain community of Bayonnais: one at the OFCB School and one at the medical clinic.

Tom Harman_WebVerThe infrastructure consists of pipes which channel water collected atop the mountains, down the valley and into a cistern for storage. That water is then treated for panoply of contaminants (such as E Coli. bacteria, as determined by tests conducted by Water Mission International) for safe consumption by the community. The local population was totally vested in all stages of the efforts, leading the installation of this system – every student of the school helped carry a block towards construction.

No public works exist in Bayonnais so this project is a way for the people of Bayonnais not to feel forgotten.  With constant training of the people on how to use the system, as well as the availability of chlorine and solar-powered pump, this project has a lifetime expectancy of survivability.

Click here for pictures from the project.

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March 15, 2014 

Program: Mike Gilewicz, Water 4 Life Ministry

Mark Gilewicz is a Motivational/Business Training and Health & Wellness Speaker, who has a passion for business, life and bettering the world. Mark brought awareness about unsafe water and presented empowering methods that can be used for safer water consumption.

Mike Gilewicz_WebVerThe #1 cause of death in children in the world is contaminated water. One bottle of water contains nearly 24,000 chemicals, many of which should not be ingested. Fluoride for example, a derivative of unpurified industrial waste that contains elevated levels of carcinogenic chemicals, still persists in our drinking water. As a proponent of better lifestyle practices, Mark helped start Water 4 Life Ministry, an organization that helps bring clean/ safe drinking water to over a dozen countries throughout the world. He demonstrated the mechanics of a simple water system that was developed and implemented in a Kenyan locality, which helped reduced water contamination-related children mortality from 10 a month to none.

Based on these positives results, Mark stressed the importance of using an effective filtration system. While wells are a great natural source of clean water, they are not available to all and the cost of their upkeep can be challenging. An alternative would be to consume alkaline water (water that has a higher pH than tap water, which is ph-neutral) as all sickness/ disease has basis in acidity (pH below 7).

More information about Mark’s Better Body and Life Corporation as well as the success stories of Water 4 life Ministries can be found at Better Body for Life and Water4Life. Click here for more pictures from the meeting.

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Club Fundraiser – Belk Charity Sale Tickets

 Help us reach our goal of $1000!!

  • Club Members are selling tickets for $5, now through May 2nd.
  • Dates to sell add’l tickets at a Belk Store will be announced.
  • Club keeps 100% of the proceeds to support our local & international projects & The Rotary Foundation.

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2014 District Conference

April 25 – 27, 2014

Grandover Resort, Greensboro, NC

FUN          FELLOWSHIP          EDUCATION          PURPOSE

  • The conference theme is Best Practices.  It will be very educational for both Rotarians and Clubs.  We guarantee you will leave with a significant list of good ideas that your club can use.
  • Register online on the District Database (DACdb).
  • Early Bird Registration – Ends April 4th ($125); $145 after April 4th.
  • 5 Meals included in the above fees (Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Breakfast)
  • Hotel Registration is separate. Log onto or call (800) 472-6301.  District online code:  rot414
  • More details are available on the District WebSite.
  • Friday Night Keynote Speaker – Ramesh Ferris, Polio Survivor

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Seminar for Tomorrow’s Leaders (SFTL)

July 10 – 13, 2014

Wingate University, Wingate, NC

sftl_logo“When clubs choose to sponsor a student(s) for SFTL, they are choosing to invest in our youth through the development of leadership so students may learn to expand their leadership potential and make an impact in their own lives, schools, and communities.”

The Students:

  • Rising Juniors and Seniors in High School
  • Apply online at Deadline April 15th.
  • No cost to students selected to receive scholarships.

Our Club:

  • Plan on providing scholarship for 1 Student ($495)
  • Provide information to Guidance Counselors @ High Schools
  • Encourage students to apply. It could be a student you know.
  • In April, conduct interviews to select scholarship recipient. Must make selection by April 15th.


  • Club Members are encouraged to volunteer as Mentors.
  • Complete volunteer application at
  • This is an all day commitment from July 10 – 13th.

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Let’s Make our Rotary Club Bigger & Better in 2014!

Our Club is launching a new initiative to help boost our membership – Community Networking Event of the Month.

Once a month, a group of at least 3 of us will attend a local networking event together. The key word here is “together”. If we approach this as a group (instead of individually) and actively and consistently get out into the community to spread the word about our club, it could be an effective way to attract new members into our club and, thus, make it more interesting.

These events will primarily be held on Weekday evenings.

The goal will be to network with as many people as possible, get the word out about our club, pass out and collect business cards and invite people to our meetings.

Please create your Rotary business cards. This is easy and very inexpensive through Your cards should include our website and information on our meeting location, day and time. (See Farah’s email for an example).

Be on the lookout for the Invitation to the next Community Networking Event of the Month!

Unfortunately, our 1st event was cancelled due to the huge snow storm that affected the Charlotte-Metro area.

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Club Administration

4th Quarter Club Dues are due on April 1st. Timely payment is essential for Club Operations. Please submit payment to our Club Treasurer or mail to our Club Address. Make checks payable to: Rotary Club of Charlotte End-of-the-Week.

Rotary Pin: Show your Rotary pride by wearing your Rotary Pin to EVERY Club meeting/event. ($1 fine)

Bring a Guest: Every Member bring at least 1 Guest each month to a Club Meeting. ($5 fine)

Club Fund: All fines collected go towards our Club Fund which will be used to purchase a Club Banner and other needed Club Supplies. Additional donations to the Club Fund are also welcomed.

Attendance: 100% Attendance per Quarter qualifies you for an entry into our Club Raffle. Prizes to be determined.

Member News: If you have news to share that you would like included in this e-Bulletin, please send the information to

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Upcoming Events

Our Club
April 5, 2014 – Club Board Meeting – 9:00am

April 5, 2014 – Club Meeting – Speaker – Anna Magnusson, Director of Development, Council for Children’s Rights – 10:00am

April 12, 2014 – Club Meeting – Speaker – Allen K. Anderson, Young Black Men (YBM) Leadership Alliance – 10:00am

April 19, 2014 – Club Meeting – Club Assembly – 10:00am

April 26, 2014 – No Club Meeting – Attend District Conference


District 7680
April 2, 2014
Charlotte Rotary Clubs Leadership Meeting
Socializing & Ordering Food – 6:00pm – 6:30pm; Meeting – 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Icehouse South End
2100 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC

April 25 – 27, 2014
District Conference
Grandover Resort, Greensboro, NC
See District Website for more information.

May 6, 2014 – 4:30pm – 6:00pm Open Batting Practice; 7:00pm Opening Pitch
Rotary Family Night with the Charlotte Knights (Baseball Team)
The New BB&T Ballpark, Uptown Charlotte
Charlotte Rotary has secured the Piedmont Natural Gas Picnic Area as well as a block of seats for Rotarians to enjoy a ballgame together with family and friends. Wells Van Pelt (866-906-9829 or 704-554-6039) is coordinating the event and will have more information regarding this great event.

Ticket price $30 with all you can eat food and non-alcoholic drinks
Optional additional ticket price of $10 (includes $2 concession ticket) 

Tickets available to Rotarians through April 6th

Rotary International
June 1 – 4, 2014
Rotary International Convention,
Sydney, Australia

Visit our Club Calendar for a more comprehensive list of events.

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