SERVICE ABOVE SELF
MEET THORSTEN QUAKERNACK, PRESIDENT, PAPHOS APHRODITE ROTARY CLUB
ROTARY CYPRUS – Most of us will have heard of Rotary, but do we fully understand exactly what it is, and the good work that they do? There are over 19 Rotary clubs across Cyprus, which are part of a global network of over 35,000 clubs in over 200 countries. Worldwide, they have over 1.2 million members, who are all united in the same aims – promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene for all, saving mothers and children, supporting education and growing local economies.
Their mission statement says, “We provide services to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through fellowship of business, professionals and community leaders. Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and ourselves”.
Essentially, whilst they do a lot of good work, Rotary is a friendship group that brings like-minded individuals together to support, not just each other, but also those who need it across the world. It unites members, who share a genuine ethos to help others.
We recently met with Thorsten Quakernack, President of the Paphos Aphrodite Rotary Club, to find out more about him and his life as a Rotarian. The Paphos Aphrodite Rotary Club is for local and international residents, as meetings take place in English, so that language is not a barrier.
Thorsten was born in Germany but has lived all over the world, including New York, Helsinki, London and Edinburgh. He has settled in Paphos for the last nine years, where he works as a Financial Adviser, following a career that was predominantly spent in the City of London. After his degree in Economics and Business, he has gained further professional qualifications in insurance and investment services from the UK and the Cyprus Ministry of Finance. He is also a member of both the Chartered Insurance Institute and Personal Finance Society. Today, he works for the financial group, 3D Global, which advises clients all over the world.
WE ASKED HIM…
WHEN DID YOU JOIN THE PAPHOS APHRODITE ROTARY CLUB IN CYPRUS?
I joined the Paphos Aphrodite Rotary Club in 2013. I became President of the club in July 2020. During regular times, we meet every Thursday at 8 pm in the Anemi Hotel in Paphos. Currently, we meet via Zoom, which, whilst not the same, enables us to keep doing our work and communicate with each other. Visitors are always very welcome. If they come along to a meeting and like what they see, they might be interested in joining us.
WHY DID YOU JOIN?
My primary motive in joining was that I had reached a stage in my life whereby I wanted to give back to society. This mainly applied to my adopted home country, Cyprus. As a country, Cyprus has always made me feel very welcome. Our English-speaking club has many nationalities and exciting projects, which also attracted me to join.
I like the ethical environment and the ‘service above self’, which is the motto of all Rotarians. We should all think more about how we can help others. The fact that Rotary is a non-political, non-religious humanitarian organisation made it even more attractive to me.
Rotary has no secret handshake, no secret policy, no official creed, no secret meeting, or rituals, despite the rumours. It is an open society of men and women who simply believe in helping others. It is as simple as that.
WHAT IS THE BEST ASPECT OF BEING A ROTARIAN?
Rotary is an international service club of more than 1.2 million business and professional men and women who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world. We take action, build international understanding, and make new friends around the world.
TELL US ABOUT THE CHARITIES YOU ARE SUPPORTING IN 2021
Although this year is particularly challenging, we have been very active in supporting several projects:
- Help for Beirut
- Covid Project
- Food Project for those in Need in Paphos
- Trees for Paphos
- Rotary Square
Now, we would like to focus on one Cypriot project and an international project. These include the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in Nicosia and ShelterBox.
The Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in Nicosia, at Makarios Hospital, is the only unit of its kind in Cyprus, covering severe cases sent from all districts and private hospitals across the Island. No private hospital in Cyprus has such a facility. The Unit, at times before Covid-19, treated Turkish Cypriot children, as well as refugees. It is a huge project that needs a lot of money, so Rotary Clubs from all over Cyprus support it.
ShelterBox began in 2000 in Cornwall in the UK, as a Rotary Club’s Millennium Project. With the support of Rotary members and clubs worldwide, ShelterBox grew to be an internationally recognised, independent disaster relief organisation. Since 2012, ShelterBox and Rotary have been official Project Partners in disaster relief. Each year, Rotary helps Shelterbox go further and further, by supporting more people and to access areas that would otherwise be impossible to reach.
They work with disaster-hit families around the world, offering emergency shelter and other essential items, to support them in rebuilding their lives. Having somewhere dry and warm to sleep, preparing meals, and being with your family, is vital for starting the long process of rebuilding a new life, after being displaced.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR PLANS FOR 2021?
One of our main projects this year is Trees for Paphos. We have been working with the action group 100,000 Trees for Paphos. We started planting trees in Choletria and will soon be planting in Letymbou, and many other villages will follow.
We have been working hard on the new Rotary Square in the Old Town of Paphos, where we have just installed a new Rotary Mosaic in collaboration with the leading mosaic artist in Paphos, Sharen Taylor. This is a significant project for our local community, as it will make the old town more attractive, support local businesses, and become a place to meet each other in Paphos.
We are currently organising our annual Rock Concert in the Tala Amphitheatre, which will be held on the 19th of June, 2021. All the money raised will go to the Margarita Liasidou Foundation.
We have also recently launched a new and inspiring art project. The project is by a fellow Rotarian’s wife, Elham Razani, who is a professional artist and is holding an online art exhibition. The exhibition consists of a selection of artworks, which are available for sale. The exhibition will be shown to a worldwide audience and a percentage of the sales will be donated to our two nominated charities mentioned above.
WHY DO ROTARIANS GIVE SO MUCH OF THEIR TIME TO HELP OTHERS?
Rotary is a service club. Its business is humankind. Its product is service. Rotarians provide community service to both local and international communities. The chance to do something for somebody else and to feel the sense of self-fulfilment, that comes as part of that process, is richly rewarding.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING IN CYPRUS?
The best things about living in Cyprus are the people, culture. food and fantastic weather. We are never far from the sea and the fabulous beaches. A laidback lifestyle and pace of life makes Cyprus perfect for me. Finally, I can live and work in a warm country, which is a dream come true.
If you are interested in further information, volunteering, becoming a member of Rotary or sponsoring any of their projects, please click here. To make a donation to the causes they support, click here.
Published by Cyprus in Style Magazine April 2021 | #InStyleBusinessNetwork | Rotary Cyprus
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