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March 15th 2021

David Booth

Our speaker today is Mark Redmond – CEO of American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland

Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Mar 16th Joint meeting with RC Sacramento – St Patricks Day
Mar 22nd Tony Fox, Fish Ireland - A review
Mar 29th President Alan: Socialising with his Team.
Apr 5th Easter Monday. No meeting.
Apr 12th TBA.
Apr 19th Gerry P Cahill, Presenter 103.2 Dublin City FM.
Apr 26th James Innes - Bitten by the Black Dog
May 17th Rotary Foundation: Transforming the World.
June 28th Club Assembly
Jul 5th Presidential Handover

Visitors and Apologies
Apologies for absence were received from Rana Al Damin, Alan Harrison, PP Tony Keegan, David Horkan and Mary O'Rafferty.There were 21 Members in attendance.
In celebration of International Women’s Day we were honoured to have 6 women visitors: Ann Bagongon, Sally El Banna, Dalia Farid, Forzana Abedin, Poonam Sood and our speaker Ola El Garawany. Mr. Ahmed El Banna was also a visitor.

Rotary Rangers Schedule
Rotary Rangers outings are cancelled until further notice.

Thought for the Day
The thought for the day was given by President Alan. He knows as well as the rest of us that women are under-represented in the world’s corridors of power but on International Women’s Day he reflected, in contrast, on how many women dominated his early life. He was baptised by a woman, his doctor was a woman and nearly all his teachers were women. Women make up 52% of most populations and he is an admirer, and to all women out there he hopes that they enjoy their day.

Presidents Announcements:
President Alan was in the Chair at this meeting and said that progress was still being made with the Bikes for Africa scheme and more news would follow shortly.
The forthcoming joint St Patrick's Day meeting with RC Sacramento will be on ZOOM on the Tuesday 16th March at 7 pm. He looked forward to a rousing rendition of ‘Molly Malone’ from our club members
3. The President's Auction which will be on the 26th March at 7.30 pm. Word of this is being sent out to other Rotary Clubs. Professor Luke O’Neill will be our guest speaker and will have something to say about ‘What keeps him awake at night,’ and if David Booth can find the right chords we might end the event to the strains of everyone singing something like ‘Hey Jude’. Funds will be collected for St. Vincent’s De Paul to make up some of the shortfall from not being able to hold the Remembrance Tree project at the Dundrum Shopping Centre at Christmas.
4. Congratulations to our District Governor Conny Ovesen and her sidekick Dr. Kieran O’Connor, President of Youghal Rotary Club for hosting this year’s District Conference so magnificently last Saturday. He, and many of our members, were impressed, enlightened and entertained by the quality and variety of speakers they assembled for this virtual event.

Members wishing to speak.
Delma Sweeney was delighted to see that our Ethna Fitzgerald was recognised as a founder member of Youghal Rotary Club in several of the speeches at Conference.
Our Speaker for the Day - Ola El Garawany ‘From the land of the Pharaohs to the Emerald Isle’
IPP Mariandy introduced a good friend of hers to speak to us today, Ola El Garawany, who comes from Egypt. She qualified in Pharmacy in Alexandria and is a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. She has her own pharmacy, Lilly’s Pharmacy and Healthstore in Rathoath.
Ola thanked us for giving her the opportunity to speak to us on International Women’s Day and to tell us what it feels like to be an Egyptian pharmacist in Ireland. Her home was the sunny city of Alexandria, a much more beautiful city than Cairo and one which the residents there think would have made a better capital city.
Many people ask me why I came to Ireland and I always tell them it was for the weather and they are never sure whether or not I’m joking. I moved to Ireland almost 30 years ago, straight after qualifying as a pharmacist and feel eternally grateful that Ireland welcomed me from day one. The kindness of Irish hearts overwhelmed me so that now I can say I have two homes, one here and the second in Egypt. Of course there are differences in nearly everything, especially in the culture, the language, religion and weather. Many of the values, however, are the same between our two countries and now I am a blend of both worlds.
I feel lucky to have got the education I did back home in Egypt and the chance to learn many languages. I attended a Catholic school and classes were in English rather than in Arabic. I thought when I came to Ireland that I would be able to practise straight away but I actually needed an Irish qualification and so when my children started school I went back to study at Trinity College to study pharmacy again. This enabled me to open what I consider to be a beautiful family pharmacy business in 2007 which I’m very proud of. My daughter is also a qualified pharmacist and she joined me in the family business in 2010.
After years of practising as a community pharmacist I started to wonder why some people don't get better, despite taking their medicines and following their doctor's instructions.
I decided to study Nutrition as Diet can play a big role for our well-being and health. As Hippocrates said "Let food by thy medicine." As plants are the main source of medicines, it was no brainer for me that diet can be a great intervention for good health.
Then I came across ‘functional medicine’. Functional medicine is the science of treating the root cause of diseases. I started my education in this with the Institute for Functional Medicine in 2017 and since finishing my studies I have enjoyed giving my patients this extra support.
My belief as a community pharmacist is that I have a golden role to play to promote health, beyond just sticking a label on a box of a medicine. My job is so rewarding and it gives me a sense of achievement every single day.
Egypt has given me my great foundation to pursue the dream of a great career and Ireland gave me the chance to achieve this and my dream came true. I always say that Ireland is the most beautiful place in the world ...if you have a roof over your head!. :)
President Alan asked how she would compare the Irish with the Egyptian healthcare system. Ola only did her internship in Egypt before moving to Ireland so she’s not really in a position to answer this. In some areas and in some hospitals the care is world class and they have very good protocols in place. In others they do their best but not all the medicines we have here are licensed in Egypt. Some of her family members have had Covid and have fully recovered and the vaccination programme is being rolled out.
Veronica, as a pharmacist herself, asked what Ola’s thoughts were on the importance of nutrition when you notice that some patients don’t seem to be getting any better. This is an area of great interest to Ola. She said you worry when you see patients with repeat prescriptions who are not making progress and you wonder if they are taking their meds correctly. She herself started looking into nutrition in depth when she wasn’t feeling as well as she usually did and discovered that she had an over-active thyroid. This led to her changing her diet completely which solved the problem.
Derek Griffith reminded the club that we had enjoyed having a former Egyptian ambassador in our club some time ago and he had brought the renowned Zaki Hawa to give a lecture at Trinity which he had attended. He recalled visiting the Great Pyramid at Chufu with his wife Bernie some years ago. She had found going into it too claustrophobic but Derek pressed on and wondered how many of us could claim to have actually lain down in a sarcophagus as he did. Something that’s now not permitted. A really fabulous place for a holiday.
Tom O’Neill asked if she would be giving Covid vaccinations any time soon. Ola said she had just finished training for the vaccine programme and was on standby to start giving vaccines from April, supply permitting, along with dentists and even vets. They currently offer the normal flu vaccine. Tom asked why pharmacists are not allowed to do blood tests or take blood pressure. Ola said they are. She has a nurse in her pharmacy for those things and most of her fellow pharmacists offer that service. (Not in Inistioge apparently.)
Frank Bannister also attended the Egyptian talk at Trinity and was equally impressed by the pyramids, although surprised to find them cheek by jowl with the city while he had expected them to be away in the desert. Could Ola explain why common drugs like Panadol, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen differ so widely in price from country to country. Newry, for example, is much cheaper than Dublin. Ola has often heard this complaint and has clients who say they can get their drugs for half the price in Spain or Portugal. Buy them there if you can, she recommends. The problem in Ireland is that we are a small market with pharmacies all over the place which make supply lines more difficult than with big European cities. Pharmacists don’t control the prices as much as the middlemen and the wholesalers. They are just the end of the line.
Dalia Farid, the wife of the Egyptian Ambassador, was happy to join us today and hear her good friend Ola. She would like to repeat Ola’s comment about how welcome she had been made to feel in Ireland She said that the ban on flights to and from Sharm El Sheikh had been removed so hopefully flights will soon restart. (Mariandy is all set to go). There is also talk of a new direct flight between Cairo and Dublin. She told Alan that her husband would be happy to accept his invitation to speak to our club.
John Costello gave the vote of thanks. He praised Ola for sharing the story of an Egyptian in Ireland. He had been fascinated to learn that there seemed to be an influence of the Egyptian Coptic monks on our own monks on the Skelligs and if any of us hadn’t yet been out to these rocks we should make a beeline to them as soon as we can. They really are a Wonder of the World. Egypt had been no stranger to powerful women and was one of the first countries to have a woman leader. He talked about ‘unlocking your true strength’, taking risks and not worrying about the downside. Robert Kennedy said ‘Fail greatly, achieve greatly’. Ola came to our shores at the age of 25, faced challenges with a big smile and loved helping others. She physically changed lives and has the compassion and the empathy to help people further. Our thanks to her.

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