Commit to Rotaract and learn
Rotaractor Abdallah Mehelba speaks at the 2010 Rotaract Preconvention Meeting on 19 June, in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Photo by Monika Lonzinska- Lee/Rotary Images
Starting a Rotaract club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was not easy for Abdallah Mehelba.
A longtime Rotaractor who had served as president of the Rotaract Club of Alexandria-Pharos, Egypt, Mehelba worked for two years before a core group came together, with the help of the single Rotary club in Dubai. But eventually, the club received its charter in 2008, with Mehelba as its president.
That experience taught him about perseverance and the importance of remaining dedicated to Rotaract, a message he shared 19 June during the Rotaract Preconvention Meeting on the campus of McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada.
"Commit to Rotaract. Learn from everyone around you. Share with them. [Help] them to work and develop their skills," Mehelba urged. "If you do this, you will learn a lot from Rotaract, and you will experience things that you will never experience in any other organization in the world."
Mehelba became a Rotaractor in 1998, shortly after his father joined a Rotary club in Alexandria and asked him to start a Rotaract club. He recalls the challenge of that experience as well, with a handful of Rotaractors meeting with three or four Rotarians from the sponsor club, "discussing things we didn’t understand a single thing about. We had to move on from month to month, learning."
The club did learn and grow. After serving as its president, Mehelba became a district Rotaract representative in 2003-04, making 12 trips to five countries and meeting thousands of Rotaractors. In 2007-08, he served on Rotary International’s Rotaract Committee.
He began his second year as president of the Dubai club just before he turned 30, the upper age limit for Rotaractors, but was able to serve out the year as a past president.
"Rotaract never ends, except when the age comes," Mehelba said. "I don’t think anyone should leave Rotaract except to join Rotary. I have served for 12 years, which is the maximum. But it’s not an ending. A new beginning will [come] soon with Rotary.”
From his experience with launching two clubs, he said he would advise anyone trying to start a Rotaract club to focus initially on fellowship.
"Don’t worry about projects at first," Mehelba said. "Develop those strong bonds between members and with your Rotary club, which can offer a lot of assistance, including member referrals and financial support. That will give you the momentum to move on."