One day, in my first few weeks as a Toastmaster I had been struggling with the commitment of my fellow members in my club. I approached my Club President at the time Priscilla Chinhengo, DTM and I asked her “What reference(s) in Toastmasters could we use to solve our commitment problems.” Without much thought and hesitation she said “The Toastmasters Promise.” I was grateful for this prompt response but, I wondered if this one reference would solve the bulk of our commitment challenges? Have you read the Toastmasters Promise? If you haven’t, I would like to encourage you to read through the entire Promise to find out the answer to my question.
On the 14th of July, your District Team which comprises of your Area Director, your Division Director and your cabinet made a couple of commitments to you which I would like to share with you today:
- To support your club in delivering exceptional service to you. We are aware of the challenges that are affecting you which include but are not limited to membership conversion & retention in your club, participation, mentorship, etc. In addition to your Area Director who committed to diligently serve your leadership team, there will be a Club Coach Team led by Adolph Kaestner, DTM PDG which will be available to support your club if you have less than 12 members. Keith Bowen, DTM, our Immediate Past District Director will be available to support all clubs with a membership between 13-19 members under the banner of “No Club left behind” which he started as District Director. Nancy Matshe, our Club Quality Chairman will be available as an extra resource to your Area Director to drive quality practises in your club. The Club Emissary Team led by Baleseng “Bobo” Thobane will also be available to bring energy and education to your meetings. We trust these wings of support will enable your leadership team to deliver extra value to your members.
- To extend the privilege of Toastmasters to your loved ones and fellow country men in communities that are at present unable to enjoy Toastmasters meetings particularly outside of Johannesburg and Pretoria where more than 50% of our clubs are. For a Southern African district, this doesn’t reflect an ideal distribution of clubs across the region. We have earmarked the Eastern Cape Province, Freestate Province, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Mpumalanga Province, Swaziland and Zambia as the priority areas for growth to close the gaps on our club map.
- To your Leadership Development and Participation. As a condition of appointment for your Area Director, they are required to hold Area Council meetings. This is a fantastic platform to collaborate and share ideas on how to grow your clubs by leveraging on your unique strengths as clubs in your area. Your Area Director is also your main representative to district, so in this platform, you can share challenges plaguing you as an area. I invite you to raise your hand and participate in these platforms – the harvest is plenty, we need more hands.For those of your who aspire to be district leaders one day, I encourage you to join an Area Council if you aspire to be an Area Director, join a Division Council if you aspire to be a Division Director and take up a coordinator role under one of the cabinet portfolios should you want to be on cabinet. While this won’t guarantee you the role, it gives you the knowledge and visibility that will serve you well in the role you aspire for.
Our Past Region Advisor Aletta Rochat, DTM has been appointed Leadership Mentoring Coordinator to ensure your leaders at district level get the support they require and is in the process of setting up a system of accountability to ensure that we deliver on our promise to you. Her mandate will also be to promote the various leadership opportunities available to ensure we have a better representation on our leadership of all ages, nationalities and race.
We will also be investing in promoting the adoption and understanding of Pathways, promoting brand awareness and other ways of making Toastmasters and its leadership opportunities are more accessible to many across the SADC region. We can’t do this alone – we need you. I invite you to observe the Promise you made as a member Toastmasters, that way, it will be easier for us to achieve our goals for this year.