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In East Africa, last year was a very rewarding period for Toastmasters in the region as World Headquarters included the Territorial council of East Africa in its district reformation plan, we were graced by a visit from the President of Toastmasters International and, thanks to the unwavering support of Toastmasters across East Africa, we registered a growth of 100% in the number of clubs – from 17 active clubs in June 2017 to the current 34 clubs.

The new Toastmasters year begun on 1st July and I extend my heartiest congratulations to all the incoming officers of clubs across the world. There is no better way to start the year than by setting a vision for your club. In doing this, always remember to keep ‘value to the member’ at the forefront of your mind.

Humbled yet honored to have been elected your Chair, my vision for our Territorial council is to expand even further and achieve the status of President’s Distinguished District.  Is this target ambitious? Yes! Is it impossible?  Certainly not! With continued and passionate support from our members, we can make it happen!

We need to attain 3 goals to realize this:

  1. The first is to double the number of current clubs – You may be thinking this is a crazy goal. After all, it has taken us 36 years to form 34 clubs. The rational thinkers may be correct but to quote Steve Jobs, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” And consider this– if members of each club pool together and sponsor just one new club, we will be home and dry! So I invite you to become crazy. And here’s a bonus. When you sponsor a club, you earn credits towards the highest recognition a member can get – the Distinguished Toastmaster, or DTM. So, it would be a double whammy for you –A district goal as well as huge leap in your personal journey. Read more from our Club Growth Director, Gladys Muhunyo
  1. Ensure that at least 50% of the clubs attain distinguished club status. Picture yourself participating in a club with enjoyable and vibrant meetings. Trained and committed officers recognizing you for your achievements. Guests enthralled and falling over themselves in their bid to join your club. When this happens, you will not need to do anything else because the requirements of the distinguished program will already be in place. My request to you, therefore, is that when you become crazy enough to charter a new club, please stay on and support the club until it attains distinguished club status. You will be the envy of many for your achievement. Read more from the Program Quality Director, Harry Karanja DTM
  1. Beyond the numbers, we must create impact. According to Victor Frankl, a renowned psychologist who authored the famous book, ‘Mans Search For Meaning’, human beings inherently need to feel what they are doing is meaningful and making a difference.  Ours is a very noble and inspiring mission as fundamentally, Toastmasters exists to deliver growth to members. As a PhD student, I have attended many schools, colleges and universities, yet I know no other organization that comes even close to Toastmasters in delivering personal and professional growth. But we cannot be complacent or revel in the comfort zone. The only thing that can grow in the comfort zone is your waist line! My advice to the incoming officers is to carry out the “Moments of Truth” survey early in your term. It will help you excel in delivering value to members.   All members have opportunities. Have you ever volunteered to be a mentor? I have experienced a surge of energy when my mentee has aced her speech. I have felt inexplicable gratification watching Joshua and Harry transform from inexperienced youth to formidable leaders of East Africa. Paradoxically, you gain when you contribute to the success of others. I suggest you try it. Go beyond your club. Did you know that the combined population of our 5 countries, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia is over a quarter of a billion – precisely 256 million – and yet the number of active Toastmasters is only 877?  If this is not a drop in the ocean, what is??  We should share the extraordinary benefits of our wonderful organization with our fellow human beings. Do this and becoming a District will automatically follow.

Toastmasters in East Africa, the Territorial Council asks for your support in this incredible journey to realizing our vision. Delaying district status means delaying benefits to our members. One amazing opportunity district membership will bring to us is the ability to compete on the world stage in speech contests.  There have been at least 10 members from clubs in Kenya alone who have emerged in the top 3 positions in the International taped speech contests.  Imagine one day our very own member getting crowned the World Champion of Public Speaking.  District membership will also give us new experiences, new friends, wider networks, more training opportunities and will significantly extend the platform for us to grow as leaders. You could even get elected to the board of Toastmasters International! I predict that the day is not far when one of our very own gets crowned the President of Toastmasters International! Finally, in my experience, volunteering makes you happier and keeps you younger!

Let us will not settle for any less than we can have; let us produce many responsible leaders our nation needs; let us go crazy and get crowned ‘President’s Distinguished District Number ONE ONE FOUR!’

I wish you all an incredible year!

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A Message from the Program Quality Director, Harry Karanja DTM

A Message from the Club Growth Director, Gladys Muhunyo