Sainab Sheikh becomes new Rotary Club president

Sainab Sheikh becomes new Rotary Club president
Spencer Fowler Steen

If you thought you were busy, you haven’t met Sainab Sheikh.

An inspiration to the local community and beyond, in addition to her existing roles as chairperson of the Somali Women Development Association (SWDA), a business owner, a postgraduate student, and a mum – Ms Sheikh was recently elected president of the Rotary Club of North Melbourne (RCNM).

She left her home-country of Somalia in 2001, which was in the grips of a horrific civil war.

“Many young people like me were killed or suffered in so many ways,” Ms Sheikh said.

“Luckily for me, I got an opportunity to leave and used that in a wise way to contribute to the wider community in a positive way using my time to help others in need.”

Since arriving in Australia, where she now lives in Kensington, Ms Sheikh has quickly become a towering community figure.

Her list of tertiary qualifications is extensive. It includes a Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of International Community Development, Certificates in Aged Care and Training and Assessment, and now, a Master of International Relations and National Security.

Since 2015, Ms Sheikh has been an active member of the RCNM, juggling her many responsibilities at the SWDA with study and family life.

Last year, the previous president, Neville Page, asked Ms Sheikh if she wanted to take the reins. She quickly agreed.

“It’s a lot of responsibility and I’m very glad that my colleagues trust in me,” she said.

“One of the things I want to do is to attract more young people and also more members of the community.”

“Rotary is seen for older people; we want to see more young people join up.”

At the SWDA, an organisation she founded, Ms Sheikh helps African-Australian job-seekers secure long-term employment, and provides COVID-19 health advice to the community.

The SWDA also offers support to people experiencing homelessness, family violence or mental health troubles.

Now, as RCNM’s new president, Ms Sheikh will oversee the many roles at Rotary including supporting local schools, opportunity shops, support for the Moomba Festival and even a partnership with a hospital in Somalia.

“I’m also starting a business for cleaning, and I already run another for catering called MK Catering,” she said.

“The other thing I’m involved in is taking the lead with the COVID-19 restrictions, educating the community to get tested. We just want the community to be protected by getting the vaccine, and it’s free and available. Some people may have wrong information and we want to educate them.”

Ms Sheikh said the SWDA offered homework tutoring for primary and high school kids •

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