The district governor of the Rotary
Club, Diana White, recently paid a visit to the Cayman Islands.
Although Cayman may not be the
biggest of the member countries in the district, it plays a very important role
according to Ms White.
“Cayman is one of our stars because
Cayman Rotarians, and indeed the Cayman community, are extremely generous, so
they are a great contributor not only to the Rotary International Foundation,
which has humanitarian aid going throughout the world, but a certain amount of
that comes back to our district,” she said.
The work of the Cayman Islands’
Rotary clubs has a big impact in the region as well.
“A large portion of it goes to
Haiti and Jamaica, which obviously are the two less well off countries, and so,
really, without the support of Cayman we would be in a much weaker position,”
said Ms White.
Unlike most other districts in the
world, Ms White’s district, 7020, includes 10 countries: Anguilla, Bahamas,
British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Barthelemy &
Saint Martin, Saint Maarten, Turks and Caicos Islands and the US Virgin
“There are many district governors
who can sit in their office building and see the entire district, so ours is a
little different in that respect,” said Ms White.
The function of the district
governor is to support the Rotary Clubs within the district in the work they do
and provide them with resources, encouragement and inspiration. The district
governor also visits the clubs in the district to see what they need at what
the district can provide to help them further their work in the community.
Although the community focus of
Rotary remains constant over the years, every year the Rotary International
president selects a theme. This year the theme is Building Communities and
“Our current Rotary International
president considered that he wanted this year the theme to be something that
called Rotarians to action, but also something that told the rest of the world
what it is that Rotarians do,” said Ms White.
During her stay in Cayman, Ms White
visited a number of Rotary projects and was very impressed by those the local
Rotary clubs have been involved in. These include the construction of the
Bonaventure Boys Home in West Bay, the Frances Bodden Girls Home in Lower
Valley and the T.E. McField Centre in George Town. The local Rotary clubs also
started the Meals on Wheels programme and is currently involved in a literacy
programme as well.
Literacy takes centre stage
According to Rosie Jamieson,
assistant district governor for Cayman, literacy is a very important focus for
“We’ve taken a huge interest in
literacy, because as employers we’re finding that we’re just not getting the
calibre of starter employees that we should be out of our high school situation,”
According to Ms Jamieson, all the
Rotary clubs in Cayman have embraced the literacy project, which is being
promoted through a computer-assisted learning system.
“We’ve managed to unveil that in
some of the libraries in the outer districts and also in some of the schools in
George Town, and it’s had wonderful uptake because it also addresses adult
literacy concerns here in Cayman and it does it in a very dignified and
discreet fashion,” she said.
Kudos for Cayman Brac
Ms White also lauded the Rotarians
of Cayman Brac for what they have achieved with very limited resources.
“Cayman Brac has much more of a
challenge when raising funds as they have a much smaller community over there,
but nonetheless they have built and filled a library, which is very
commendable. They are a small club with a small community but still they’ve
managed to do that,” she said.
According to Ms White, there are
many challenges facing the district, from practical hurdles to much more
serious social challenges.
“One challenge is language, because
we have Haiti in our district, we have St. Martin and St. Barts, and all of
them of course are French-speaking. We also have St. Maarten, but although they
are Dutch speakers they all speak English. It does mean that we need an
interpreter for our conferences,” said Ms White.
The different countries,
governments and economies within the district also present numerous challenges.
“We do have Haiti in our district
who need a lot of help, particularly recently, of course. We have been putting
much of our energy into helping them try to get their clubs back,” she said.
However, in spite of the challenges
posed by the numerous countries, Ms White says the district has a lot of
“We’re actually very fortunate
because, for the most part, the Caribbean people are very friendly, very open
to each other’s ideas, and when we do get together we enjoy ourselves,” she
The cultural diversity of the
region also makes the composition of the district unique.
“We aim to fully represent the
community so we have no barriers of race, religion, gender. I would say that we
probably are a lot more cosmopolitan district than average,” said Ms White.