April 2020
These are challenging times. The pandemic caused by CoVid-19 has required just about everyone, regardless of country, to make changes in their daily lives. Social distancing, a phrase no one heard of until four months ago, is now the norm. Public gatherings and even small group meetings are discouraged, and in some places, prohibited, which has prompted most of our Optimist Clubs to cancel projects, meetings and fundraising events. Our Optimists in Nigeria face lockdown as do Optimists in Ghana, and Uganda. There is a dusk-to-dawn curfew in Kenya, and lockdowns in India and Nepal, while self-quarantine is the rule in Uruguay. The nations of the Caribbean face similar circumstances depending on the severity of the outbreak.

Despite the challenges of these days there are still instances of “Hope and a Positive Vision,” as a portion of the Optimist International mission statement reads. Students at an engineering college in Kathmandu, Nepal met via video conference call late in March to organize the Kathmandu Engineering College Optimist Club. Students joined the conference from their homes across the country because their campus was closed. A handful of students from the other side of the world joined them. They sit on the executive board for the University of Iowa Hawkeye Optimist Club, which is co-sponsoring this newest group of Nepalese Optimists. Optimist International can also report that when the lockdown in Nepal ends in the middle of April, a new Club in Nawalpur, north of Kathmandu will organize.

Staying Engaged

It could be difficult for many of our Clubs to remain engaged in April, in terms of both membership perspective and staying attached to communities they serve. It is critical to keep the lines of communication open. We suggest frequent contact via social media, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or via WhatsApp. This pandemic could actually serve to unite us, even though we are forced to be physically apart.

Social media can also help with community engagement by providing regular updates to your social media platforms. Clubs are welcome to share posts to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter produced by Optimist International on their platforms. Clubs can also organize online Optimist Coffee conversations which allows Members to gather just to see other faces and to talk about how everyone is handling this new way of life.

Global Spotlight: Ugandans set up KAMP

Before CoVid-19 began its march across the globe, Optimists continued to do what they do best: projects aimed at helping others. This month’s Global Spotlight focuses on work in Uganda.

The Nyabugando Health Center III serves a district of 30,000 Ugandans. The KAMP Optimist Club is working to construct a new neonatal unit to serve the community. The KAMP Neonatal Unit will have its own water-capturing system, bathrooms and sanitary system. Every member of The KAMP Optimist Club has made a donation to support the budget for construction of a facility. It focuses on the highest mortality bracket in the nation, children from newborn to 2 years old.