It was in 2000 that Dinesh Kapila and his family introduced their ‘Award for Excellence’, on the completion of his year as President of the Rotary Club of Nairobi. ‘It was because we as a family believe only in excellence, and wished to encourage this in others,’ he told the large crowd of Rotarians from all over Nairobi, accompanied by their families and friends, who were gathered at the Emerald Garden Thai Restaurant for the induction of incoming President Kamal Sanghani.
It isn’t an annual award, and like the Mo Ibrahim one for retiring African presidents, it is only awarded when Dinesh identifies a suitable recipient… which turns out to be only a few times in the last fourteen years, to among others Yusuf Kodwavala, Kundan Doshi, Jeff Bamford, Eric Kimani and Sudesh Walia.
It is to be given to any Rotarian in Nairobi, not necessarily from our club, who has, ‘through pro-active action shown that he or she not only believes in giving selfless service to those in need but also gives in a way that can be termed as “service of excellence” which is worthy of making Kenyans proud of the Rotary movement and what it is doing for our country and is also an inspiration to new and upcoming Rotarians’.
After Dinesh provided this background to the award he moved to reveal the new recipient, ‘a lady Rotarian who became a member some 22 years ago and soon became a champion in tackling every kind of cause that Rotary cares for. This earned her respect and admiration and, in 2001, a unanimous vote as the first lady president of the Rotary Club of Nairobi and indeed the first in this part of the world.’
He then talked about how she went on to occupy various other positions in Rotary, including as an Assistant Governor. ‘But to crown it all,’ he adds, ‘exactly ten years ago she adopted, cultivated and nurtured to maturity a unique grass-root project in Cura village, where she continues to give her selfless time and effort by providing care and education to 50 AIDS orphans and also assistance in various ways to the local community where she helped build a classroom, and then a library and then a computer lab and then a clinic and now a full high school.’
Next, Dinesh turned to some of Evelyn’s other accomplishments: ‘Quite apart from that, this lady of substance continues to help empower Kenyans, especially women, to achieve higher social and economic status through initiating and participating in various local continental and global associations. And so as not to be left out of the fight against corruption she has also even chaired the Kenyan chapter of Transparency International,’ he says before declaring, ‘You will agree with me that this is an absolutely unique person, whose contributions and selfless service can only be characterised as the highest form of Service of Excellence. The Kapila award for excellence this time therefore goes to none other than Past President Rotarian Evelyn Mungai.’
Upon which Dinesh and his wife Surinder presented Evelyn with a giant trophy… on the same day as a rather well-known tennis player lifted a not dissimilar one at Wimbledon.
Our sources further reveal that upon receiving her trophy Evelyn was asked to remove the top, and to hand over to her husband what she found within: a gilt-wrapped Ferrerro Rocher chocolate ball with a toothpick stuck in it, in which was pierced a small sheet of paper on which is written: ‘Award for “Best supporting husband” to PP Rotarian Mike Eldon from Surinder Kapila.’
See also this article: “The sky is the limit: How Rotary’s women of action help to close the gender gap around the world” by Sandra Prufer.