By Amn Tebogo Kekana, AD ASTRA Magazine.
We all love to read. It liberates us, makes us feel good and
heightens our natural intelligence so we can see the beauty
of the world around us.
When the Succulent and Cacti collector, Leonie Gagiano, wife
to the Chief of the Air Force met Rotary International
former president and his wife, Aubrey and Dawn van der Bijl
at the SAAF Association Congress in George, they immediately
clicked. Little did they know that their meeting had a
purpose beyond belief?
During the beginning of this year, Mrs Gagiano got
introduced to Rotary Humanitarian Centre Bedfordview
(Germiston). “Whenever I have a chance to come here, I
select books and distribute them according to the different
Unit’s needs. I have selected plus minus 10 000 books to
date of which all have been taken to the SA Air Force
College where they are boxed and distributed to relevant
units and bases. This is a chance in a lifetime because our
libraries, schools and play schools cannot afford to buy
books out of their own funds.
The Rotary Centre in Bedfordview, was established in 1999
when the instigator, Mr Ted Pope was in the USA and that’s
where his prayers where answered. “They complained that they
had too many books as their schools changed books every
three years. I on the other hand complained that our schools
have very limited access to books. Ever since, they send us
all sorts of books, computers, wheel chairs, medical and
sports equipments even toys. This project comes full circle
because we don’t throw anything away. The containers are
usually used as libraries, feeding scheme kitchens and
storages.” said Pope.
That was the start of things when Mike Gillham, the
coordinator together with the Rotary Anns (ladies who work
at Rotary) folded sleeves and got to work. Every month, four
full containers arrive from the USA and are a distribution
point to libraries, schools, play schools colleges etc. “I
am proud to announce that we already got appreciation
letters from many organisations we have worked with, eg
Langebaan Primary, Silverstraaltjies Play School as well as
Makado Air Force Base. We give out these books for free so
that South Africa becomes a reading nation”, stated Gillham.
Mrs Gagiano shared with AD ASTRA that as a bookworm herself,
she is proud to be part of such an eye-opening initiative
together with her good friend Mrs Gretchen Thackwray, wife
of retired Maj Gen Thackwray (previous SAAF Chief of Air
Staff Operations) who helps her in the selection on a
regular basis of books for different needs in the Air Force.
So come on people let Mrs Gagiano know what your needs are
and perhaps she will also be able to help you.
AD ASTRA editorial staff and SAAF personnel applaud Rotary
International for their help and commitment towards our Air
Force. We say - thank you very much!!!