Rotary Profile – Karen Redman
Since 1997 Karen was an honorary member of Kitchener Rotary. In 2008, she applied to continue as a regular member as a result of the good work locally and the impact of Rotary internationally that she had witnessed during her tenure as a Member of Parliament. Rotary offered the opportunity to be actively engaged in worthwhile projects that were making a difference.
In December 2008, Karen and her husband Warren travelled to Durban South Africa to visit their daughter Laura who was on a leave of absence from Economical Insurance and, worked for six months at HIV/AIDS orphanages. Through the contacts of David Martindale, Laura was placed at two non-residential orphanages supported by Kitchener Rotary Club (amongst other Rotary Clubs) and Mont Mariah where Bill Carter and Dave had set up a brick making enterprise to provide job skills and money for local residents. The transformative opportunities Rotary is facilitating in South Africa is changing lives and allowing these parentless child-led families to have some hope of education.
Consistent with Rotary values, Laura shared two insights she had gained while working in the orphanages. First, she advised, “come with the attitude of a journalist. Come with film in your camera but make no judgments on what you see/experience”. Second, she shared that her insight into dealing with the magnitude of the HIV/AIDs pandemic in Africa was the she would do the good she could, for the people she came in contact with or the length of time that she was there. It was impressive advice containing great wisdom.
Inspired by her daughter’s experience, Karen travelled to Uttra Pradesh, India in 2011 with a group of Rotarians to participate in the Polio Plus programme. The group visited villages and participated in the National Day to Eradicate Polio day throughout India. The distrust between the government and Muslim people was one of the impediments for this groups living in Uttar Pradesh. The female Rotary delegates met with the women of the area at an all female mosque and communicated mother to mother about the vaccination program.
Many dedicated Rotarians acted as hosts in India. None more so than a Russian trained ophthalmologist who returned with his wife and two sons to work in Uttar Pradesh. During the day he operated on wealthy patients. After hours he ran a clinic for street people performing cataract surgery. When I asked him why he made the decision to return to a city of his birth where a population of 4 million lived with no sewer system, water that is not fit for human consumption and where thousands living in abject poverty. He replied, “If people like me don’t return to help the street people, who will?”.
Belonging to Rotary provides a world-wide network of people who share the values of Rotary. The four way test is manifest in all projects. Currently, Karen is involved with the Kitchener Rotary Club initiative to attract more women to the club. Clearly, present day Rotary stands firmly on the foundation built by those Rotarians who came before us, but it is also true that ‘this is not your grandfather’s Rotary Club”.