When I meet Lagos Rotary members at their meeting house in Lagos, they are quite rightly jubilant. Their astonishing fundraising efforts had just resulted in a vital laparoscopy tower being presented to Portimão Hospital on Friday 27 January.
The donation was the result of the efforts of every single Rotary club in the Algarve, including the 18 members from the Lagos rotary who presented and lead the project. More than a year of fundraising resulted in the 100,000€ needed to purchase the equipment.
The triumphant conclusion of their mission came in a ceremony at the hospital, which was attended by Portimão mayor Isilda Gomes, who said at the event, “This will be an improvement that we cannot even quantify.” The all-in-one unit will allow surgeons to carry out “countless less invasive procedures guided by a video camera”, making the procedures much easier and allowing for a much quicker recovery time for patients.
I met with Lagos Rotary member Marie-Douce Marmouset who was a member of the Rotary in Paris for 15 years before joining the Rotary in Portugal seven years ago. I asked her how they had achieved such an enormous sum of money. She explains that they hosted a Boogie Woogie solidarity concert in Portimão last year with an acclaimed band who came from France donating their time generously for free. They also held a Christmas philharmonic concert in Portimão. Marie-Douce’s husband also topped up the fund by running 175 km with a GoFundMe link.
There are 13 rotary groups in the Algarve with 205 members. The Lagos branch has a meeting room at the residential care home next to the centro do saude as they played such a large part in setting up the home for people with disabilities.
Walter Gerdau is German/Brazilian and was a member of the rotary in Brazil and Mexico before joining the Lagos branch four years ago. I asked him what the appeal is and he confessed that, as a boy, he was a scout. “The rotary is like adult scouts!” he tells me.
The president of each branch changes yearly; this year’s president is Martiniano Fernandes dos Reis. He believes that when you receive something from society, you want to give back. “I like to help people. I feel we can use our leadership to help the community.”
Lagos Rotary meets every Tuesday at 9 pm. Anyone interested is welcome and there is a distinctive international flavour as Portuguese and French members try to translate for English-only-speaking members. The branch also hosts social meetings and dinners as well as raising money for charities. If you are a Rotary member in another country, you can come along as a guest. At this month’s working meetings, they will prepare the Rotary Dinner for the recognition of the Professional of the Year, which will take place on 4 March.
In the Algarve, there are Rotary clubs in Praia da Rocha, Portimão, Lagoa International, Silves, Porches, Albufeira, Estoi Palace International, Almancil International, Faro (Loulé) Olhão and Tavira.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Walter Gardau)