Susie Hanner and Jim & Camille Ronzio recently returned from a Rotary Friendship Exchange to South Africa. This is a great Rotary program where 8-12 people from our district go to another part of the world and then they send a team here as well. Trips involve some service, lots of local culture and create friends for a lifetime!
Here are a few highlights of their amazing journey through animal parks, river adventures, wineries and great Rotary Projects! They also spoke about the newest global grant in South Africa that Southtowne helped to fund!
- The Rotary Friendship Exchange was February 3-21, 2017 to South Africa Districts 9350 and 9370
- The South Africans will be coming here soon for their half of the exchange
- 7 team members were from Eugene and 5 were from Roseburg, Corvallis & Bend.
- The team flew in to Port Elizabeth from Johannesburg and traveled all along the southern coast of Africa to Cape Town.
- The team encountered all kinds of creatures including zebra, rhinos, lions, elephants, warthogs, giraffes, etc. at both game preserves and in the “wild.” Camille’s favorite encounter was with the rhinos, who are quite social.
- They also had several dolphin experiences. There were “dolphins all over the place” swimming and mating and they were very vocal.
- There were lots and lots and lots of monkeys and lemurs and tons of horned animals just everywhere.
- The team also experienced multitudes of penguins at sanctuaries.
- Susie loved the elephants. They were also everywhere and they came very close to the cars. At one watering hole, there was a group of elephants on either side and some were in the water. One was trying to get out of the hole and they witnessed other elephants assist him/her.
- Some of the South African Rotary projects included help for children in need, sponsorship of a stitchery project, and helping a teacher training program that is part of a global grant that our District funds.
- Most kids drop out by grade 3 and these projects are aimed at the first 1000 days of a child’s life.
- Another project included help for the township including medical care, food, and education.
- Another project provides creativity, connections and employment for township people through the creation of art.
- The scenery was amazing, particularly along the water.
- Other highlights included riding a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, amazing food at barbecue celebrations, a winery tour, overnight in an elephant park, exploring game sanctuaries via jeep and boat, etc.
During a friendship exchange, you are hosted by Rotarians, you stay with Rotarians, and you get to explore an area through the experience of native people. Life-long friendships are formed as a result.