Jason Thomson is acting president of Round Table International, a non-political and non-religious charity organisation. Thomson was in Nepal recently to attend Round Table, Nepal’s 16th AGM and to make the necessary arrangements for a World Meet of their organization being held in the country next year. More than 400 Tablers from different Round Tables are expected to attend the conference.
How has the journey been for Round Table since its establishment in 1927 in England?
We started in 1927 in Norwich, England. There was a man named Louis Marchesi, who was a member of the Rotary Club, but he did not like what it was doing, and wanted to do something different.
From that point, we have been expanding in the field of community service and fellowship programmes throughout the country, and many places around the world. We are mainly focused on three regions: Africa, Europe and America.
Currently, we are operating in 52 countries. Round Table, in each country, encompasses an association under which there are numerous clubs. There are around to 450-500 clubs in each country. Each club has 10 to 30 members; so we have a huge number of people as members, all around the world. Round Table International governs and makes sure the associations are effective and helps them grow and develop.
What is your role as president?
My role as president is to travel around the world, meet the association’s people and keep developing them. We have around 400,000 members all around the world in 3,000 clubs.
What are the major objectives of Round Table? How does Round Table help businesses?
Well, every association has its aims and objectives. Some of the major objectives of Round Table are to create a platform for like-minded people aged 18-40, help them learn and develop skills by exchanging ideas, participate in fellowship programmes around the world and sharpen their skills.
Our meetings are unique--the members get to attend meetings and learn skill sets that people may not normally share. The members are also given opportunities to work as project officers and prepare and execute projects in their home town, and also to support the needy through charity.
In order to participate in talk programmes organised by Round Table, does one need to be a member? Who can become a member of Round Table?
No! It’s open to everyone; you don’t need to be a banker or a businessperson to be our member. However, participation in our talk programmes is for our members only. We are a nonpolitical and non-religious organization, so we are open to all. People do not need to own a business to be a member of Round Table.
Round Table has been actively participating in post-earthquake reconstruction projects by rebuilding schools. How were you able to do this?
We have been doing community services by constructing schools and a few houses. We have many relief items coming from India, and other parts of the world. We have been providing medical supplies and tents. We have also visited the areas near the epicentre of the earthquake, and provided necessary items. We mainly focused on the remotest parts. We even organised a global campaign for Nepal. We got other members of the Round Table family to help in whatever we could. We also called in our alumni.
Before distributing the items we conducted a survey and assessed the need in earthquake affected areas. Our associations from India are highly experienced in building schools and houses. Thus, by coordinating with them we were able to manage homes for homeless people.
What do you think about the future of Round Table in Nepal? What role can Round Table play to promote entrepreneurship?
Currently, there are 23 clubs under Round Table Nepal. They are building schools, training teachers and creating awareness among students regarding sanitation and health. Basically, we are working on improving the quality of education in the schools. Nine of the clubs are in Kathmandu and the rest are located outside. Round Table Nepal has organised fund-raising programmes to build schools in many parts of Nepal, especially Birgunj.