Rotary Club of Koh Samui, ROCKS, has long had a close relationship with a Sister Club in the Philippines, based in Makati South district of Manila. The clubs share one of their members, Othmar Ober, who has a home in Makati South and another in Koh Samui, and who divides his time between these locations and his native country of Austria. Over the years, members of each club have supported each other’s Installation Nights. In the summer of 2006, a contingent of ROCKS members, led by Immediate Past President Paul Watson and Past President Paul Hawkins, attended the Installation Night at Makati South, where they were hosted in grand style.
During their visit, they were escorted to Makati South’s lead Project, the clearance and rebuilding of a slum area on the outskirts of the city of Manila. They were initially shocked by the existing slums, where children played in streets which ran with raw sewage, and lived in shelters constructed of waste corrugated iron and little else. But then they were heartened by the reconstruction process going on, whereby occupants of the slum were offered the chance to help build their own new house and decorate it as they wished. Funding for this was provided by Makati South Rotary Club, who in turn raised the money from willing sponsors, including their own list of Sister Clubs. Each house cost $2,000 dollars.
Past Presidents Paul Watson and Paul Hawkins returned to Koh Samui, and at the very next meeting, gave a photo slide show of their trip, including their visit to the slum area. Paul Watson made an eloquent appeal to the club to offer sponsorship for one house which would house a slum family, and would proudly carry the name of the family and that of their sponsor, Rotary Club of Koh Samui. The club voted enthusiastically for the project.The following December, President Elect Adèle Smith and Rotarian Wally Smith were visiting Manila, and handed over $2,000 to Othmar, who ensured the safe handover of the funds to his club.The following summer, the now President Adèle and Rotarian Wally visited Makati South to attend the Installation Night, and were again escorted to the slum clearance project. They met the team who were responsible for the building programme on behalf of Makati South, and more importantly, saw the house that ROCKS funds had enabled to be built. The only thing needed was the final decoration to be done by the family who would be the proud owners of the brand new house they would then call ‘home’.