The idea of setting up a Rotary Club in Macau was raised for the first time in 1938. However, due to the Pacific War, the idea did not become a reality at that time. In 1946 when Macao and Hong Kong began to recover from the effects of World War II, the idea of forming a club in Macao was resurrected. Henrique Nolasco Jr., a resident of Macao, was invited to attend the weekly meeting of the Hong Kong Rotary Club. He was very impressed by the fellowship and the ideals of Rotary. On his return to Macao, urged on by his enthusiasm, meetings were held with the then President of Rotary Club of Hong Kong, Dr Arthur W. Woo (胡惠德醫生), O.B.E., J.P. and others who gave their assistance and advice for setting up a club. On 11 January 1947, a dinner was held at the Fat Siu Lau Restaurant at which the 36 founding members appointed their first Board of Directors. The Rotary Club of Macau was thus formed and began functioning as a provisional club.
Though still lacking official recognition by Rotary International, the provisional club set its course to fulfil the ideals of Rotary by creating ‘The Welfare Fund of the Rotary Club of Macau’ which was to help many worthy causes in our community such as Homes for the Destitute and Aged, the Portuguese Red Cross, the inhabitants of Taipa and Coloane, the Canossian Institute, the Salesian Orphanage, Pang Man School, Kiang Wu Hospital, the Tong Sin Tong Association, primary and commercial schools and the S. Rafeal Hospital Maternity Wing. The Rotary Children’s Library was also set up for primary school children.
On 16 June 1947, the Rotary Club of Macau received official recognition from the Rotary International and was chartered as Club No. 6662 with the then-District 96 which was changed to District 57 on 1 July 1949.
During the 1950-51 Rotary year, the Rotary Club of Macau had the privilege of having its Past President Pedro G. Lobato elected District Governor, being the first DG from Macao. In this capacity, he attended the Rotary International Convention in Detroit, USA.
In March 1951, Macao had the honour of being the venue of a District Conference which was attended by hundreds of Rotarians from the 12 member clubs from the District, i.e. South China, Taipei, Hong Kong and Macao.
In 1951, as a result of the concerted efforts of all Rotarians united in the ideal of service, the Rotary Club of Macau opened the Lara Reis Anti-Cancer Clinic. It was located at Sol Poente, Avenida Da Republica, Macao, the residence of our late Rotarian Fernando Lara Reis. He bequeathed it in his will to the Portuguese welfare organization Santa Casa da Misericordia, which subsequently administered the Clinic and now the Holy House of Charity, Santa Casa. From 1988 to 2016 it became the Macau Red Cross Headquarters, and currently in 2022 is being renovated into a kindergarten for 60 children.
In mid-1951, political changes in China affected all the Rotary Clubs in District 57. Only four clubs from District 57 remained – Hong Kong, Kowloon, Macau and Taipei. Being too few in number to form a district, they composed an area under an Administrative Advisor nominated by Rotary International. The situation was brought back to normal when District 345, to which Macau belonged, was created several years later. In 1988, District 3450 was formed, with Hong Kong and Macao forming a separate district from Taiwan. Now District 3450 includes Hong Kong, Macao, Mongolia and the People’s Republic of China – Guangdong Province.
The Rotary Club of Macau has been the meeting place for a wide cross-section of Macao society, encompassing people of various professions and nationalities. A survey of members indicates that the Club’s members once were made up of 11 nationalities, who could speak a total of 16 languages. English is the working language for the Club meetings and proceedings as registered in the original club charter with Rotary International.
In the ’70s, the development of Macao led to growth in the Rotary movement here. New clubs were chartered, the Rotary Club of Hou Kuong in 1978, the Rotary Club of Macau Central in 1984, the Rotary Club of Amagao in 1986, the Rotary Club of Guia in 1993, the Rotary Club of Macau Islands in 1997, Rotary Club of Taipa in 2007, the Rotary Club of Amizade Macau in 2013, the Rotary Club of Penha Macao in 2016 and the Rotary Club of Oriental Pearl Macau in 2020.
The Rotary Club of Macau has always shown a strong awareness of the needs of Macao and has contributed much of its capabilities to meet those needs through community projects. In the ’60s, assistance was given in building a reservoir at the Ka Ho Leper Colony and in building and setting up fully equipped vocational training workshops at the Boy’s Home which at the time was being run by the Macau Police Force. In the ‘70s and ’80s, the Club was involved in the construction of new shower rooms for the orphan’s dormitories at the Sao Jose School in Ka Ho.
Many smaller projects have also been carried out including the provision of bus shelters, children’s playgrounds, donations and scholarships to students in need, subsidies to school canteens, old people’s homes and refugee centres, and dental health programmes for students and elderly people. ‘Preserve Planet Earth’, which has become Rotary International’s motto since 1990, has been implemented in Macao, with a ‘keep the city clean’ educational campaign and tree planting activities.
Other community services included the ‘Meals on Wheels’ project with the International Ladies Club for vans donated to Caritas for the distribution of meals to elderly people living alone. Vegetarian meals were offered to the blind and elderly people at Chinese New Year when ‘Lai See’ were also offered. Special equipment was sent to the Concordia School for the hearing impaired.
Since 2000, the Rotary Club of Macau has organized yearly Christmas Parties, in cooperation with the Macau Association for the Mentally Handicapped, the Macau Association of Parents of the Mentally Handicapped, Macau Special Olympics and Fu Hong Society, for special children and their families.
All Rotary Clubs in Macao, with the cooperation of the Blood Transfusion Center, have held yearly blood drives since 2002. 88 persons donated blood on the first Rotary Blood Donation Day on 13 January 2002; a remarkable achievement for Macao. In addition to seeking blood donors, the event sought to raise community awareness of the need to identify potential Rh D negative blood donors who are in need in Macao.
The Rotary Club of Macau does not only confine its activities to those in need in Macao, but it also plays its part in helping the world at large in the true spirit of Rotary International. The Club has taken an active part in the campaign against famine in Ethiopia, in disaster relief in Columbia, Bangladesh and China as well as making contributions to the Polio Plus Program, a concerted campaign of Rotarians all over the world aimed at eradicating polio.
Our club is an EREY club in that each member contributes US$10 or more to Rotary Foundation. In January 2022 our club had 1 Major Donor Level 2, 4 Major Donors, 31 Paul Harris Fellows, 4 Benefactors, 6 Rotary Direct and 11 Paul Harris Society Members.
The Foundation is one of the main methods for clubs to collaborate internationally on joint projects. Clubs can receive funding globally as well as contribute to global programs such as the Polio Plus Program for the eradication of Polio. Area events such as the Macau Cup horse racing in 2009 and club events such as the annual “World’s Greatest Meals” where we host a Halloween themed meal are all geared towards raising funds for the Rotary Foundation.
Through the Rotary Foundation, the Rotary Club of Macau has sponsored promising young men and women to further their studies abroad in order to better serve Macao on their return. In 1978, Dr Alfredo Ritchie was awarded an Ambassadorial Scholarship to study endoscopy in the USA. On his return, he was a pioneer of this technique in Macao and later became the head of the Endoscopy Department in the Macao Government Hospital. Dr Ritchie became a Rotarian in 1983 and was President for the years 1987-88 and 2001-02. Three more scholars were sent to Australia and the UK in subsequent years.
With the increase of females in the professional world, our Club inducted our first female member in 1992. In 2022, our Club has 12 active female members. Of these, five have been Presidents of the Club. Stella Kan became our first female President for the Rotary Year 1996-97, and Florence Hui became our first Rotaractor to become a Rotary President in 2008. We will have another female member Li Ying as President in the Rotary Year 2022-23.
The Rotary Club of Macau maintains a strong relationship with our Rotaract Clubs and our Interact Club of St. Paul School, Macau. Our official sister clubs are Rotary Club of Taipei, Rotary Club of Makati North, Rotary Club of Bangkok South. Friendship Clubs are Rotary Club of Kyoto Evening, Rotary Club of Taipei Diamond, and Rotary e-Club One. With 75 years of proud history and strong relationships with other clubs, our club will continue to serve Macao and reach out to the world in need.