April is Maternal and Child Health Month when Rotarians all over the world concentrate on this important Rotary Foundation Area of Focus.
I believe that this is one area in that Rotary can really make a difference by ensuring mothers and children have access to quality care to ensure that they have a healthy future.
 
Rotary International President-Elect Shekhar Mehta is leading by example. Over the coming Rotary year, he will focus on empowering girls. He will inspire and motivate us to create projects that focus on educating girls, providing toilet and hygiene facilities. He says that girls are vulnerable and it is crucial that we protect them, particularly against sexual trafficking.
 
The protection of women and children is crucial even here in New Zealand. Our Rotary Clubs are significant supporters of Women’s Refuge, the country’s largest organisation supporting women and children against domestic violence. For many years Women’s Refuge has guaranteed accommodation during times of desperate need.
 
More recently a new organisation has emerged called Pet Refuge, providing temporary shelter for pets affected by domestic violence, keeping them safe while their owners escape. Pets are abused as part of domestic violence and women in this situation have found it easier to leave if there was a shelter offering temporary accommodation for their pets.
District Governor Grant and Wendy
 
On Friday 16th April, Cambridge Rotary will join with Pet Refuge to host a Charity Dinner at the Don Rowland Centre, Karapiro, to raise funds for their cause. I urge you to consider attending this wonderful event.
 
Tickets are available online at   https://rotarycambridgedinner.eventbrite.co.nz
 
For several years our Rotary Clubs have supported the Days for Girls programme. This is a non-profit organization that prepares and distributes reusable menstrual health products to girls who would otherwise miss school during their monthly periods. While attending the Rotary District 9980 conference in Waimate last month, Wendy and I sat in on the Days for Girls workshop run by the Waimate Inner Wheel Club. While sewing the colourful liners, we learned about how the kits educate and break down many of the barriers that girls face. Past District Governor Leonie Tisch promoted Days for Girls as the theme of her Governor year. As a result, many Clubs in District 9930 continue to produce and distribute the Days for Girls kits.
 
As Rotarians, we can do so much to empower ourselves and our communities to support vulnerable women and children.