A major fund raising project of the Rotary Club of Kuching Central

The UK South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band (SNYSB) – (www.snysb.org.uk) – has been associated with the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu for some years. In late 2009, PDG Edward Buronggoh of RC Kota Kinabalu, connected the music director of (SNYSB), Rtn Mike Booty, to the then PP Andre Suharto. Several exchanges of emails took place.

In early 2010, Rtn Mike Booty and his wife visited Kuching for the very first time during Chinese New Year and met PP Andre Suharto together with President (then) Frankie Ong, Service Project Chairman PP Leslie Phuan, PE Nominee (then) Dr Willie Lau and other club officers & members of RC Kuching Central.

During the meeting, Rtn Mike Booty discussed the very successful music workshops & concerts that SNYSB had conducted in association with the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu in recent years. Rtn Mike suggested that he would like to explore the possibility of a similar program for Kuching. He suggested that maybe RC Kuching Central may also like to have similar workshop in Kuching with the goal of SNYSB visiting Kuching in August 2012, during their concert tour of East Malaysia. That being the year when PE Nominee Dr Willie becomes the president of the club the matter was put to him for consideration.

The connection with SM Sains
After a further discussion and a round of emails and now understanding what SNYSB is about, PE Nominee Dr Willie embarked on a mission to look for a local school which has an established Orchestra. The search eventually led then PE Nominee Dr Willie to Sekolah Menengah (SM) Sains Kuching or Sains Secondary School Kuching. The school has a winds orchestra since 1996 known as Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuching Wind Orchestra (SAINSKU WINDS). They have a near complete match of the musical instruments used by SNYSB. Dr Willie was also introduced to the person in charge of the orchestra by the name of Andee Yeo. He was the teacher and one of the persons who was involved in the formation of SAINSKU WINDS.

Rtn Mike Booty was introduced to SAINSKU WINDS during his first visit in 2011. He and his good friend Franz Van Zupten conducted the first music workshops with SAINSKU WINDS then. After conducting a 3 day music workshop at the school auditorium, they held an impromptu performance with a number of Rotarians from Kuching Central present.

Subsequent to this when Rtn Mike Booty returned to Kota Kinabalu in March 2012, he brought his fellow conductor Franz Van Zupthen from the Netherlands. RC Kuching Central invited them both to come to Kuching. They conducted multiple joint workshops with SAINSku Winds. After the end of their visit they had a small preview concert at the Batu Lintang Teachers Training College Auditorium. The members of SAINSKU WINDS, teachers and staff of the school were delighted and pleased with the outcome. In addition, potential sponsors were also delighted.

Franz Van Zupthen is one of the leading band trainers in Holland, and is also a first class musician. Between him and Rtn Mike they gave the benefit of their lifelong experiences to help develop young musicians and in particular the members of SAINSKU WINDS. That workshop formed the ground works for the 2012 concert in Kuching with the objective of having both SAINSKU WINDS and SNYSB performing together.


Objective of The Sound of Music
Around mid of 2011, because of the need for PE Dr Willie to prepare his terms of office as President of the club, he suggested to the committee to appoint Rtn Steve Ng as the organizing chairman for the musical concert to be held in Kuching on 25 August 2012. The committee decided to call the event ‘The Sound of Music’ and the main objective of the event are as follows:

- To provide opportunities for youth, specifically SNYSB and SainsKu Winds members to better understand and appreciate cultural differences with the aim of furthering international understanding and help build goodwill.

- To enable the meeting of young talents in music from the United Kingdom, Germany & Malaysia, united with a common interest in music and Service above self.

- To raise funds for worthy charities in Sarawak.

- To inspire local youtsh to take up music.

- To promote and enhance the image of eminent corporates led by distinguished Philanthropists.

- To create effective awareness of the existence of Rotary Club of Kuching Central in specific and Rotary International in general and highlights its core activities for the betterment of humanity.


Guest of Honour & Categories of Sponsorships
Rtn Steve and his able organizing committee members decided to invite the Right Honourable Chief Minister of Sarawak as the guest of honour so as to create the ‘pull’ factor for members of the public to purchase the tickets and for corporations to come forward as sponsors. The committee also created FIVE categories of sponsorships namely: Diamond (for donation of RM50,000), Platinum (for donation of RM20,000), Gold (for donation of RM15,000), Silver (for donation of RM10,000) and individual sponsor (for donation of RM500). All donations were to be made to the Sarawak Welfare Council where a tax-exempt receipt entitled the donors.
The community project
The project organizing committee felt the need to identify a single major project that is worthwhile to be associated with this fund raising event so that donors will be aware of the purpose for raising money. Through some contacts and a series of discussions with the Director of Sarawak General Hospital, it was finally agreed for the Rotarians to carry out renovation works of a building block, named Dahlia, within the compound of the Sarawak General Hospital and have it converted to a hostel for the under privileged people from outside of Kuching city to stay while attending to their loved ones who are admitted at the Sarawak General Hospital for treatment. The committee was confident that this project will ‘move’ the hearts of many people.

Promotions & association with Kuching city councils
Many buntings and banners were put up along major road intersections and protocol roads to create awareness of The Sound of Music. Other promotions were published through printed media, the club’s FaceBook, club’s website, District 3310 eGroups and club’s eGroups. The committee also made strategic move to invite Kuching City North and Kuching City South Councils to be partners in this project by allowing the Rotary Club of Kuching Central to put up buntings and banners free of charge. The two councils graciously obliged.

Fund raising
The organizing committee also roped a local supporter (who is not a Rotarian) who is well connected to help approach corporations and prominent individuals for sponsorships and sales of tickets together with members of the club. This proved to be a good strategy.

The venue
Venue for a concert like this is rather limited in Kuching. After having evaluated various locations, the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) was finally selected as the venue for the event. This is the best venue available in Sarawak with great facilities and is professionally managed. Although the cost was more expensive, BCCK provided substantial discount which was properly noted as sponsorship in kind.

The committee also felt the need to add a variety to the program and was fortunate to be able to secure the services of Junior World Violinist Champion, Nisa Addina to perform.

Arrival of SNYSB in Kuching

On 22 August 2012, the SNYSB members arrived safely in Kuching after performing in Kota Kinabalu. They were welcomed by President Dr Willie Lau, Organising Chairman Rtn Steve Ng, members of the organizing committee as well as members of the club.

Everyone stayed at the 360Hotel Kuching fully sponsored by the hotel. SAINS Secondary School provided them with two units of buses for local transport. On the same evening of their arrival date, the group gave a public performance at a local shopping mall that was met with great success. This performance was purposely organized by the committee so as to give a preview and ‘taste’ of The Sound of Music that was to be held three days later.
SNYSB also had practice sessions with SAINSKU WINDS and Nisa Addina (She performed ttwo solo numbers and one joint number with SYNSB).

The night of the performance
Finally the big day arrived and everyone was jittery. The question looming in everyone’s head was, ‘Will there be enough people to fill out the hall of 1,200 seats?’

Although the show was to start only at 7.45pm, the response was very positive and BCCK’s car park was almost filled up by 7.00pm. Smiling faces began to show amongst members of the club especially that of President Dr Willie Lau, Rtn Steve and his organizing committee.

Several ministers turned up as well as the Mayor for Kuching City North. The Guests of Honour was represented by YB Tan Sri William Mawan (Minister for Social Development). The date coinciding with Raya week meant a heavy schedule for the Chief Minister and therefore his inability to attend.

Many members of the press turned up including Radio Television Malaysia (RTM).

When all dignitaries had seated, the program commenced with a 4-minute video on “This Is Rotary – Rotary International. This video was downloaded from YouTube and converted into MP4 format. It made a great impact on the audience and served to inform the guests about the activities of Rotary International. The MC was also supplied with key points about the Rotary Club of Kuching Central which he announced throughout the event especially on the club’s signature project in Preventive Blindness with particular focus in cataract operations and the close partnership with CIMB Foundation.

More than 1,000 people turned up for the concert. It was inspiring and emotional to see that the Club’s vision and commitment had paid off.

SAINSKU WINDS performed 8 songs in Part1 followed by a 25-minute intermission where all VVIP and sponsors are provided with complimentary cocktails and finger food. The rest of the audiences were also provided with refreshments (for purchase) in the holding lounge outside the main hall. Following the intermission, Nisa Addina performed two solo pieces of music and a joint piece with SYNSB. Her performance was perfect and bordered on the magical.

SYNSB followed her performance with 8 songs culminating in a Finale where SNYSB and SAINSKU WINDS collaborated together to perform ‘Hari Raya Medley’, ‘Rock & Roll House of Fame’, Concerto d’Amore’ and ‘Les Miserables’.

At the end of each part of the program, the performers received a standing ovation with several encores. The program was an unprecedented success and that received accolades from the press, the media and the audience.

Total amount of money raised was slightly over RM 1 million.

For info on:
About the Dahlia Block

About SainsKU Winds

About South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band

About Nisa Addina

Vision, something most people take for granted. This gift of sight is one of the most valuable gifts. The Rotary club of Kuching Central in partnership with CIMB Bank, the Sarawak Health Department and the Sarawak Social Welfare department has since 2008 embarked on a preventive blindness campaign.

The first project was a Cataract operation in Kapit followed by another held in the Sarawak General Hospital Kuching in 2010. In the 2010 event, patients were brought in from as far away as Sri Aman, Betong, Serian & Lundu. In June 2011, the most ambitious project was carried out at Daro benefiting the underprivileged residents of Pulau Bruit.

Today’s project represents the continuation of this effort to prevent blindness. With the assistance of Sibu Hospital Director Dr. Wong See Chan, Deputy Director Dr. Nolan Teo and Dr. Thomas Law the Rotary club of Kuching Central sponsored by CIMB Bank will be providing for up to 100 cataract operations free of charge. As well the Rotary Club of Sibu will be providing assistance to ensure the projects smooth implementation.

Selection of the patients is done with the assistance of the Sarawak Social Welfare Department based on the following criteria of each patient:

-      Household income below RM800 per month

-      Number of dependents to support

-      No financial support from family member

-      No side income

-      Those who receive monthly financial assistance under Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat & OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya)

There were a total of over 40 patients who immediately required cataract operations. Six operations have been completed to date and another 34 will be carried out in the coming months. The patients will be operated on weekends by ophthalmologists and supporting staff who will work overtime to accommodate them.

The patients are from Dalat, Kapit, Sibu, other nearby villages and are expected to make their own travel arrangements. If they cannot afford the transport costs, the nearest hospital will provide them with assistance. After the operations have been done successfully, they will be referred to the Sarawak Social Welfare Department to assist them to return home where free tickets will normally be provided for the patients to take either buses or boats.

The remaining 60 IOL (intra ocular lens) will be handed over to Sibu Hospital as and when required. The Sibu hospital undertakes around 1,000 cataract operations annually. It is estimated that approximately ten percent of total patients are from the low income group.

Present to witness the event is District Governor Lee Kong Hwee, members from both the Rotary Club of Sibu and the Rotary Club of Kuching Central.

RC Kuching Central & CIMB Foundation: The club has worked in close association with the CIMB Foundation since 2008 (about the same time when CIMB Foundation embarked in a big way to undertake CSR projects). The first project was in Kapit in 2008. Thereafter another project involved the areas of Sri Aman, Betong, Serian & Lundu (2010), the Pulau Bruit (Daro) (2011) presently in Sibu. Total funding from CIMB to date including this project is RM230,000.00.

This Preventive Blindness initiative is a signature project of the Rotary Club of Kuching Central.