Charmaine Wheatley is a Rotary member who spends part of the year in Kiama and the remainder of her time at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She shared her Rotary story with the Rotary Club of Kiama last week.
Charmaine started her Rotary journey with Kiama Rotary 11 years ago and has since been an active Member of Rotary Clubs in 4 states in Australia and South Africa. Charmaine was born in South Africa but calls Australia home.
Through Rotary she has been able to provide assistance to many children and adults living in poverty and deprivation in the town of her birth. A family tragedy in South Africa was the catalyst that changed the course of her life forever and led her back to serve in Welkom. A simple invitation by the school principal to visit a school spurred Charmaine into action.
Charmaine has since taken 50 self-funded volunteers to work at an AIDS orphanage in South Africa. She has held numerous fun-filled fundraising events and organised two forty foot MAERSK containers to be donated and transported from Australia to South Africa. On this last trip Charmaine and her volunteer team filled the containers with 150 wheelchairs made from recycled bicycles by the Surfers Paradise Men’s Shed, 12 000 pairs of donated recycled LIONS spectacles, 10 tonnes of medical supplies, 400 reusable sanitary kits made by the DAYS FOR GIRLS Team, 1000 bars of re-cycled soap from SOAPAID, toys, clothing and medical supplies which she collected and sorted at her little house in Queensland. Charmaine, husband Hugh and her team of self-funded volunteers has also orchestrated the building of 6 classrooms, 4 playgrounds and 10 toilets in a small school in South Africa.
Charmaine is very grateful for the support from other Rotarians from across the globe and members of Lions International and the opportunity to ‘be the inspiration’ which is Rotary’s theme for this year. Charmaine attends meetings and assists at Rotary events when she is in Kiama. She is currently registered as a member of the Rotary E Club of South Africa One and is looking forward to helping at the first Kiama Rotary Paddle Against Plastic early next year.