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Advance, Get Better With SAAF And Rotary As You Read

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!!!

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