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‘Rotary and the baby incubator at Lagos hospital’

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By Bilesanmi Olalekan

Mrs Omotunde Lawson is the new president of Rotary Lagos West. In this interview, she dismisses the notion that Rotary Club is only for the rich.She also speaks on the Rotary incubator project at a Lagos hospital.

How valid  is the notion that if you are not rich  you cannot be a Rotarian.

That is not true. The club is for people who are gainfully employed, you must  be a professional and have a means of livelihood because you must be able to afford your annual dues;  after your dues, whatever you then put down is voluntary. The older you became in the club to club. The more you are in a club, the less the dues. There are some paying N25,000 annually, while some pay as much  as between  N50,000 and  N100,000.

How did you become a Rotarian?

It all started where I used to work. I was the  principal of a  senior school which  compound also housed a junior school. I discovered that many good things were happening in the junior school like refurbishment of the library, the sick bay and when I go to other schools, it is also the same.

So I began to wonder that  Rotary could also help to do something in  my  school and,  at the same time, I too could join them in rendering the kind of services they are rendering to the society. That was how I joined five years ago. So I would say I was motivated to join them because of the services they render to the society.

*Mrs Omotunde Lawson

So within five you rose to become its president?

Everything depends on what you put into your  club. As soon I joined the club, because I happen to be somebody that where ever I find myself, I make sure I do whatever I am giving satisfactorily. Within one year,  I became  the director of one of the most sensitive departments – administration.

I did it effectively. After that, every year, I had one particular department that I was heading. By the time I was four years in the club, I was elected as president-nominee, because in  Rotary, there are procedures, so I became president-nominee first before becoming the president now.

What programmes are you executing during this period of your tenure?

There is actually six main areas of focus of the Rotary  International. The areas of focus address humanity in general: Peace, conflict prevention and resolution, maternal and child health education and economic empowerment, water sanitation, disease prevention and treatment.

Under the disease prevention and treatment, there is going to be vision advocacy and intervention in children.We have  requests about having water  boreholes  in  schools. And as far as sanitation is concerned, we intend to put two big branded waste bins at strategic places within our locality so that people  can  dump their refuse instead of dumping it on the road.  We intend to put bill boards in four selected schools. We want to demonstrate the importance of hand washing.

In basic education and literacy , we are in the process of awarding scholarship to identified indegent students in primary schools in Amuwo Odofin Education District. We are providing an incubator to Ajeromi-Ifelodun General Hospital to surmount the challenges faced on premature babies.

How do you fund the projects?

Before the commencement of any Rotary year, the club membership comes  together and prepares a  budget to set goals. Again it is not about how much  you spent or raised, so it is not the sum of money you need for the project that matters but addressing it.

In education literacy for example,we are not going to buy the books, all we need do is write the publishers to donate books to us. Like the incubator, we were able to get one through the district, though we paid some money. An incubator presently costs about  N2 million  but the district in partnership with another district got new incubators and we quickly acquired one for N100,000.

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