By Frederic Nullathemby, 2018-19 president of the Rotary Club of Rose-Belle, Mauritius
If you want to be a leader, you have to read. If you want to develop leaders, you have to provide a place for young people to read. When we took on our project to develop the Leadership Library, we very much had the words of Margaret Fuller, a 19th century American journalist and women’s rights advocate, at heart: “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
We knew of a building in Mare Tabac that had fallen into a deplorable state. The building had once been a pre-primary school where many villagers in Mare Tabac began their education. Due to management issues the school closed and was converted into a village hall. But it was later abandoned when no stakeholders were making use of the building. It became an eyesore until more than a decade later; The Rotary Club of Rose-Belle stepped forward to do something with this building.
Taking our cue from Rotary’s vision statement, we set out to unite the local authorities and join together to create the Leadership Library. We were confident our project would create positive and lasting change in our community. We made several site visits and held numerous meetings with local leaders before we were able to secure the approval of the Mare Tabac village council and Rose Belle district council.
It took six months of renovation work to bring the building alive again. Members gave the outside and inside a thorough cleaning, applied fresh coats of paint, and lined up local electricians and workers to wire the building back to life.
We launched the brand new Leadership Library on 18 May with our 2018-19 District Governor Shelly Oukabay. This is easily the largest education project we have ever undertaken, and we are proud to bring it to completion in just under a year. We began to work on the project in July of 2018. We had the collaboration and support of all the members of our club and the various stakeholders including the Mare Tabac UNESCO Club, a local nongovernmental organization that is managing the library for free.
Our aim is to promote young leaders and encourage people to discover Rotary by visiting a special corner inside the building. There are books and materials about Rotary, photos and images on display, and words painted on the walls that capture Rotary truths including our new vision statement.
The Leadership Library’s goal is to motivate young leaders to take initiative and share their newly-gained knowledge with the public and local leaders. Eventually the library will be equipped with computers, which will be used for free courses and literacy programs run by the UNESCO Club.
Through Rotary, we were able to unite community leaders to make a difference in our community. We invite you to witness the full transformation by watching our YouTube video of the project.