What's happening, how we're helping
There is bad news - natural disasters, countless stories of communities trapped in poverty, but there is also good news - of Rotarians and the public of New Zealand giving and some volunteering their time to make a difference.
Project: Water for Life in Fiji
Clean water and sanitation are vital to health. In Fiji we’ve been targeting 22 communities that are experiencing severe hardship mainly because they don’t have access to clean water for their drinking, cleaning and cooking needs.
For the past decade, Rotary New Zealand has partnered with Rotary Pacific Water for Life to provide clean and reliable water sources to 8 villages, 9 settlements and 5 primary schools. With support from the New Zealand government, further financial support has now been guaranteed until March 2017.
The water and sanitation projects make a huge difference to the villagers’ health. Having safe water close at hand means that the women and children no longer have to walk long distances to fetch water from creeks and streams that may be contaminated. Clean water and sanitation reduce the risk of people becoming ill and possibly dying from water-borne diseases and diarrhoea.
Children really benefit when water and sanitation in schools are improved. Where schools used to have to close when water ran out or sewage systems failed, now they can remain open all the time.
These projects are just three of those undertaken by New Zealand Rotarians, volunteers and partners.
Do contact us if you have stories and photos you would like to share via this website. Please include your name, email and/or physical address, Rotary club (if applicable) and daytime phone number.
DAVE WILSON: A GOOD SORT
Dave Wilson and his wife Margaret have spent years making sure that families caught in disasters have the essentials they need. Years of selfless service saw him profiled as a Good Sort on television. Dave - you've well and truly earned the title and a long overdue holiday.
Volunteer: About more than milk
When Christchurch Rotarian, Rod Finch, heard ‘Mama Kuku’ (Faye Cran, Arusha Rotary Club in Tanzania) speak at a New Zealand Conference about 200 women in Tanzania who needed help to make their small diary venture more productive, he decided he must volunteer. With experience in tropical dairying and milk processing, he was equipped to advise them on everything from animal husbandry to the pasteurisation of milk.
Mama Kuku set up Meru Dairy some years previously to enable the women to better their standard of living by selling the milk for processing into yoghurt. However, some cows only supplied a litre of milk a day, a return of only NZ$0.36.
Meru Dairy with its 15 cows and a bull was designed to give the women confidence and experience tending the animals. Rod and his three Rotary colleagues visited the women farmers to assess their suitability as cow owners. To be gifted a cow, they had to show they could provide shelter and a yard for two animals, and could water and feed them.
To make the venture a success, there were hurdles to overcome. Animal husbandry skills were lacking - an armful of banana leaf would not sustain a pregnant milking cow. Water for the Dairy came from 8kms away but the supply was frequently interrupted by villagers tapping into it. Electricity could be disrupted for days causing problems with refrigeration. Drawing on their experience and Kiwi ingenuity, the volunteers gave guidance on animal care, plus the maintenance of equipment and services. They also talked with community leaders to resolve supply issues.
The livestock, many of the materials and water storage tanks were funded by Rotary New Zealand.
While the Dairy has since had some setbacks, such as outbreaks of disease amongst the herd, the women continue to work hard to make it viable.
Rod encourages all Rotarians "to volunteer their knowledge and experience to help the more needy of the world."
Changing Lives: Restoring sight
Over time cataracts cloud vision and if left untreated, a person can lose their sight altogether.
Unable to pay for the surgery, hundreds of people on the island of Taveuni in Fiji were struggling with failing sight until the Rotary Club of Taveuni established a cataract program nine years ago. They decided to focus on helping those living in remote villages who could not afford the surgery or the travel to have their cataracts treated.
The Taveuni Eye Program organises and raises funds for 300-350 surgeries each year at no cost to the patients.
It’s a major logistical exercise. Rotary’s experienced and committed logistics and support team call on the services of volunteer ophthalmologists and ophthalmic nurses. There are two surgeries operating 12 hours a day for 10 days. And it’s about more than surgery. Patients are transported to and from their villages, they're provided with meals and somewhere to stay, and their laundry is done.
A mammoth effort is required to raise the annual NZ$80,000 (that’s about NZ$230 per operation) to ensure the Taveuni Eye Program continues. The real cost would be far higher if it weren’t for the surgeons and nurses who gift their expertise, and the support of the local community.
For the medical teams and support people, restoring a person’s sight after perhaps years of near blindness, is reward enough.
Please help us support this vision-saving work.
Please donate to Partner Projects on the Home page indicating your wish to gift to the Taveuni Eye Program or use one of the other payment options on that screen. Thank you for your donation.
(Thank you to the Fiji Times for the use of the photo)