Posted by PDG Bronwyn Stephens on Dec 14, 2022

Some time ago, Dr Neil Browning learned of the plight of 200,000 displaced persons in a refugee camp on the border of Uganda and South Sudan. Staggeringly, this is the same population as Geelong. The closest town with a hospital is Moyo, which has a population of 4,000. The hospital had decent midwifery services but not a lot else.    Neil and his wife decided to relocate from their cosy home in England to Moyo and help.   

Citizens fleeing conflict are in a desperate situation, and it is difficult for us to imagine the reality of lack of infrastructure, amenities, and basic requirements that all add up to awful suffering. Rotary for me, allows one person to help another person, a community, a country or even the whole world; and for like-minded people to join together and make it happen.   

This is a story of the everyday miracle of that statement and the plus of having a DIK store that brings it all together. It is a story of value for money, the best of collaboration, of tenacity and DIK’s team getting on as they do every day to assist folk they haven’t met and never will, through Rotary Clubs they probably will not meet either. 

Before leaving England, Neil prepared by spending 6 months undertaking orthopaedic training. When he arrived, he found an operating theatre and wards without the basic equipment he required - no sterilisers, no anaesthetic machines, no orthopaedic operating tables, and no operating X ray machines.  He contacted everyone he could think of with an urgent SOS.  This call reached me at Rotary Donations in Kind (DIK).    
I put a call out to Rotarians.  2 Rotary Clubs assisted with funding and The Rotary Foundation provided a District International Grant.  Shipping a 40-foot container was provisioned.   
Neil’s wish list included specialized orthopaedic X ray machines, equipment and instruments.   This list was shared with nurses, surgeons, anaesthetics and hospital contacts of DIK.  Within 3 months the items were procured.   Retired biomedical engineer Ed Hingley and his apprentice John Francis liaised with Philips and GE to ensure that radiation safety and X ray testing protocols were correct.  All equipment was tested and operational. 
The written down value of the goods donated is a staggering $300,000.  The experienced DIK management team advised purchasing a shipping container and securing it for its trip from DIK to Moyo Hospital to minimise the chance of theft.  This was great advice. 
Shipping delays were hugely impacted during COVID.   The container was packed at DIK and sat ready at the store for 12 months.  DIK management continually worked with shipping lines over that time, trying for passage.  The X ray equipment needed to be unpacked at one point and recharged to avoid the batteries discharging fully. Without complaint volunteers in the warehouse, spent a full day unloading the container and packing it – yet again! 
This huge community need on the other side of the world seemed insurmountable, However, sharing the challenge and drawing on the many resources available has delivered a wonderful outcome.
The equipment and goods have now arrived safely at Moyo Hospital and Dr Browning is thrilled.  
DIK can be a resource for all Rotary Clubs and for many projects.  It is an incredible asset to be supported and valued.   Our Rotary Foundation is Rotary’s charity and provides our project support.