Meet the golden Rotarian

Stella Dongo holds executive management positions in a number of publicly listed companies, but she’s remarkable for being the Rotary International district governor for 2013/2014 year, and is the only female Rotarian in Africa to hold the post. Her district, which incorporates Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, boasts 1,500 Rotarians and 62 clubs.

Stella Dongo
Stella Dongo

“I feel humbled and honoured to have been the first one to break new ground in our Rotary district and pave the way for many capable women in the future. Women should feel encouraged and confident that they can indeed do this,” said Dongo.

She said that, during her term of office, she would fight hard for the empowerment of women through various projects

“One of our big projects is in Bulawayo, where our members are assisting a group of women involved in a basketry project by connecting them to an institution in Denmark. The institution improves the quality of the product, increases productivity and does the marketing of the product,” she said.

Dongo said the project would see some of the women going to Denmark on a staff development programme.

In Harare, Dongo said, the Rotarians had trained women from high-density suburbs in business, spending more than $30,000 to equip around 5,000 women and young people with skills and creating solidarity.

“In Malawi, Rotarians have started training traditional midwifes in safe delivery methods to reduce child mortality and make home deliveries safer for women. We are also intending to implement this programme here in Zimbabwe,” she said.

Dongo started her Rotary work with the Highlands club on June 1996. She served the club for several years in various capacities before she was appointed assistant governor. She became the district administrator and then country coordinator for Zimbabwe.

“When I learnt about how much good Rotarians do worldwide, I felt compelled that it was a great way for me to contribute to my community and towards a better world,” she said.

Dongo has since been recognised for her work, picking up a number of awards, including ones for ‘most able president’, ‘most able assistant governor’ and a Paul Harris fellowship.

Apart from her charity work, Dongo is the chief executive of TN Furniture, a retail company in Harare, and is also a board member of World Vision Zimbabwe.

She urged other women to join the Rotary movement.

“Women, in particular, are very sensitive to the plight of others and have so much to offer in the making of a better world for all. We cannot do everything, but we can certainly do something to bring a smile to a face and hope to those without. Women should consider joining Rotary today and become part of the largest humanitarian service organisation in the world,” she said. Zimbabwe has 31 Rotary clubs, which are actively involved in water and sanitation, health, literacy and education programmes.

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