The Rotary movement that has spread all over the world saw its first club created in Asia in 1919 in Manila, Philippines. Some years later, in February 1931, The Rotary Club of Hong Kong was formed and due to the close proximity, the movement of Rotary became known in Macau. The idea of setting up a Rotary Club in Macau was raised for the first time in 1938 and 1939 by a small group of friends, among them Dr. Pedro Guimarães Lobato and Hermann Machado Monteiro. However due to insufficient knowledge of the basic fundamentals of Rotary and limited support the idea did not become a reality at the time.
The idea slept due to the Pacific War that for four years affected all the Far East area. Other matters took precedence and everyone had to fight for survival in those difficult times.
Only in 1946 when Macau and Hong Kong began to recover from the effects of the war did the idea of a club in Macau get resurrected.
DELE Henrique Nolasco Jr., then a resident of Macau, during one of his frequent visits to Hong Kong was invited by Mr. Robert Choa, a later Governor of District 345 and a great Rotarian, to attend the weekly meeting of the Hong Kong Rotary Club. At the meeting, he was very impressed by the fellowship and what he heard about the ideals of Rotary. He spoke with the then District Governor, Dr. Arthur W. Woo who was one of the founders of Rotary in Hong Kong and it was suggested that a club be formed in Macau in the expectation that many people would support it.
Henrique Nolasco Jr. returned to Macau and, urged on by his enthusiasm, spread the idea to his friends. Meetings were held and Dr. Woo and others were consulted for their advice and assistance.
Dr. Woo came to Macau and hosted a lunch at the Fat Siu Lau restaurant where he gathered 16 people from various professions and activities and explained the objectives and ideals of Rotary to them.
So well did Dr. Woo speak that immediately following the lunch the first steps were taken towards the implementation of a Rotary Club in Macau.
On 11th January 1947, a dinner was held at the Fat Siu Lau restaurant at which the 36 founding members appointed their first Board of directors. With members and guests totaling 60 people the evening was a great success.
There was some uncertainty at first as to where regular meetings could be held and it was not initial period of its life the contribution made by many Hong Kong Rotarians including Dr. Woo and P.D.G. John Yuen was invaluable in helping to get the club organised.
There was some uncertainty at first as to where regular meetings could be held and it was not until the 8th February that the first one was called at the Hotel Central. Following this, regular dinner meetings were held at the hotel on Friday evenings during the first and third week of each month. Tea time meetings were held at the Macau Club during the second and fourth weeks of each month. In June of that first year the venue for dinner meetings was changed to the Hotel Kwok Tchai.
Though still lacking official recognition by Rotary International, the provisional club set its course to fulfil the ideals of Rotary by setting up ‘The Welfare Fund of the Rotary Club of Macau’ which was used to help many worthy causes in our community. Many organisations have benefited from the fund amongst which were the Homes for the Destitute and Aged, the Portuguese Red Cross, the inhabitants of Taipa and Coloane, the Canossian Institute, the Salesian Orphanage, Peng Man school, Kiang Wu hospital, the Tong Sin Tong Association, primary and commercial schools and the S. Rafael hospital maternity wing.
Concerned with the education of children in Macau the Club set up the ‘Rotary Children’s Library which was available to primary school children. The Club subsidized the library for several years.
Whilst continuing with its activities in the community, the club did not ignore cultural matters and promoted talks and meetings on a wide variety of topics.
On 16th June 1947, the Rotary Club of Macau received official recognition from Rotary International and was chartered as Club No. 6662 within the them District 57, District 57 which existed until 1951 was made up of 12 clubs in the area, namely Amoy, Canton, Foochow, Guelin, Hong Kong, Kowloon, Kunming, Lichow, Macau, Ngchou, Swatow and Taipei.
The telegram announcing the charter was sent to Macau by the Governor of District 57, C. T. Wang from Swatow, and was read out at the Meeting of 19th June 1947, much to the joy of the members present. Another telegram was received from Ernesto Bastos, a director of Rotary International, which conveyed the organisation’s pleasure in welcoming the new club and its members.
From 12th to 13th March 1949, Macau had the honour of being the venue of a District Conference which was attended by hundreds of Rotarians from the 12 clubs in the Far East.
In 1950 during lunch at the residence of the then President, Frederick Johnson Gellion, Rotarian Arthur Woo suggested the setting up of an anti-cancer clinic in Macau. The suggestion was taken up by all the Rotarians present and it was decided that the radium and necessary equipment would be purchased with donations from Macau Rotarians. The clinic, fully equipped, would then be handed over to Santa Casa da Misericordia to be installed at the S. Rafael hospital.
Whilst the plan was being progressed news broke that the late Rotarian, Fernando Lara Reis had bequeathed, in his will, his residence ‘Sol Poente’ to Santa Casa da Misericordia and this gave rise to the idea of installing the clinic in that property. The proposal was accepted by the board of Santa Casa da Misericordia.
On 15th April 1951, as of 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 which was handed over to be administered by Santa Casa da Misericórdia.
During the 1950-1951 Rotary year, the Rotary Club of Macau had the privilege of having its Past President Pedro G. Lobato elected District Governor. In this capacity, he attended the Rotary International Convention in Detroit, U.S.A.
In the beginning of the 1951-1952 Rotary year political changes in China affected all the Rotary clubs in the area with Districts 57, 58 and 59 being disbanded. Only four clubs from District 57
Hong Kong, Kowloon, Macau and Taipei. Being too few in number to form a district they formed an area under an Administrative Advisor nominated by Rotary International. The situation was brought back to normal when years later District 345, to which Macau belongs, was created.
In the present District 345, the Rotary Club of Macau is the second oldest club being formed less than one year after the Rotary Club of Hong Kong had been reborn from the ashes of World War II in late 1946.
During its 43 years, the Rotary Club of Macau has been the meeting place for a wide cross-section of Macau society encompassing people of various professional back-grounds and nationalities. A few years ago a survey of members indicated that the club’s members were made up of 12 nationalities who could speak a total of 16 languages. This is one reason why, for many years now, English has been adopted as the ‘Lingua Franca’ for club meetings and proceedings.
In recent years the development of Macau has given rise to growth in the Rotary movement here creating a demand for Chinese and Portuguese speaking clubs. In the 1977-1978 Rotary year, with; advice from Rotary clubs in Hong Kong and strong support from District Governor Ira Kaye, the Rotary Club of Macau set in motion the formation of a Chinese speaking club. The idea received full support
from the joint presidents meeting of Hong Kong and Macau clubs held on 5th July 1977. On 18th February 1978 the Board of Directors formally approved a proposal to set up the new club and on 28th November in the same year received Rotary International’s support. The new club, Rotary Club of Hou Kuong, received its charter on 2nd February 1979.
– Two other clubs, the Rotary Club of Macau-Central and The Rotary Club of Amagao, have been formed since to bring the Macau family of clubs to four. Macau-Central received its charter on 26th May 1984 and Amagao in 1986.
Over the years since its formation, the Rotary Club of Macau has had surprisingly few meeting places. In 1949 the club changed its venue to the old Riviera Hotel where from 27th January 1949 meetings were held every Thursday. In 1964 club meetings were transferred to the Hotel Estoril and in 1973 to Hotel Lisboa where they remain today.
As mentioned earlier the Rotary Club of Macau has always shown a strong awareness of the needs of Macau and has contributed, to the extent of its capabilities, to meet those needs through community projects. During the 43 years of the Club’s life these projects have taken many forms and typical examples of the larger ones have been the assistance given in building the water reservoir at the Ka Ho Leper Colony and in the building and setting up of fully equipped vocational training workshops at the Boy’s Home which at the time was being run by the Macau Police Force.
More recently the club was very involved in the construction of new shower rooms for the orphan s dormitories at the Escola San Jose in Ka Ho. Many smaller projects have also been carried out over the years and include the provision of bus shelters, donations and scholarships to students in need and subsidies to school canteens, old peoples homes and refugee centres.
The Rotary Club of Macau does not confine its activities to those in need in Macau but 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 and for the Colombian Disaster. We have been fully engaged in building up a significant contribution to the Polio Plus Program, a concerted campaign of Rotarians all over the world which aims to eradicate polio and other damaging illnesses by the year 2005.
In the field of world understanding the Rotary Club of Macau has always endeavoured to maintain friendly ties with clubs in other geographical regions. Naturally particularly close relationships have been formed with clubs in Portugal and Hong Kong. Our relationship with Hong Kong has given us the opportunity to share in the creation of the Rotary Information Centre there.
In view of the strong historical ties between Macau and Nagasaki in Japan a very strong sister Club agreement has been made between the Rotary Club of Macau and the Rotary Club of Nagasaki South with regular visits taking place every year. The
- Through the Rotary International Foundation, the Rotary Club of Macau has sponsored promising young men to further their studies abroad in order to better serve Macau on their return. In 1978 Dr. Alfredo Ritchie was awarded a scholarship to take up endoscopy in the U.S.A. and has been successfully practicing his new skills in Macau for many years. Another scholarship was awarded to Dr. Tito Lopes who has gone to Australia to specialise in geriatrics, a field of medicine in which there is a lack of practitioners in Macau.
DIE In 1989 the Club sent Nurse Lau Sio Sun to Australia to visit several community nursing services under the supervision of the Australian Council of Community Nursing Services
Lately and planning this Rotary year our Club supported the Concordia School for Special Education with educational toys, overhead projectors, boxes of transparency sheets and one compatible computer. We had begun an outside Christmas Party from and for the Community and opened a Scholarship Account in the amount of more than two hundred thousand patacas to help students to go through their Secondary Studies.
This then is a short history of the Rotary Club of Macau. We cannot rest on our laurels looking back at what has been achieved already. The important thing is to look to the future and try, as men of goodwill and good Rotarians, to build a better world.