Indonesian Rotarians prepare to celebrate 20th anniversary of the life-saving Bali Blood Bank, built with support of District 5370 clubs

BBB_BTU_BUILDINGThe claim that Rotary-supported programs and projects save lives can be difficult to prove at times, but in the case of a 1999 project in Indonesia, the evidence is indisputable.

The Bali Blood Bank, the building of which was supported in part by 18 clubs from our District, saved lives.

“When in 2002 a terrorist bombing rocked Bali, the Rotary-funded Bali Blood Bank was instrumental in saving many victims’ lives,” writes Karl-Heinz Schmelzer (RC of Bali Nusa Dua) in an email to our District.

The attack killed 190 and injured hundreds more.

“If it was not for the blood bank, things would have been very much worse,” Freddy Subiyanto (RC of Bali Denpasar) is quoted as saying in an article in the December 2002 issue of The Rotarian.

Freddy, along with Marilyn Fitzgerald (RC of Traverse City, Michigan), are credited with leading the initiative to replace an inadequate blood bank that existed previously.

Marilyn, author of the book If I Had a Water Buffalo, spoke at the 2018 District 5370 Conference.

“Building and equipping of the Bali Blood Bank was only possible through the co-operation of several Districts and many Rotary clubs from around the world, including many clubs from Alberta and District 5370, which contributed substantially in this fundraising effort,” Karl-Heinz writes.

With the support of these Districts and clubs, the project organizers were able to secure a Health, Hunger and Humanity grant from The Rotary Foundation. TRF replaced 3-H grants with Global Grants a few years ago.

The Bali Nusa Dua club and others in District 3400 (Indonesia) and 5000 (Hawaii) plan to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the facility opening during the week of October 13-18.

“The focal point of the celebration will be the presentation of new equipment to upgrade the mobile collection apparatus,” Karl-Heinz writes. 

To date, US$125,000 has been raised to purchase this equipment, which has a price tag of US$185,000. 

“In keeping with RI’s 2019-2020 theme, Rotary Connects the World, we are reaching out to the original clubs and Districts that contributed to building the Blood Bank 20 years ago, to secure the remaining funds needed to submit a Global Grant application and to be part of the continuing of this magnificent collaboration,” writes Karl-Heinz.

In 1998, Marilyn led a Group Study Exchange* from District 6290 (Michigan and Ontario) to Bali, during which the team visited the local blood centre, which served 7.5 million people on three islands from a 600 square-foot building.

In an article in August 1999, The Rotarian describes her reaction to what she saw. “I was horrified,” she recalls. “There was no air conditioning, so the windows were open and insects were flying in. The refrigerator door was broken and held closed with thin tape. Blood could only be stores for 48 hours. They had just two cots for donors. 

“Most of the equipment dated back to the early 1970s. Staff, who lacked rubber gloves, were forced to re-use transfusion needles several times. Crowded, unsanitary conditions prevailed, with staff cooking facilities located next to blood-sorting areas.”

Victims of accidents and diseases, who could have been saved with transfusions, were dying.

When the Group Study Exchange team from District 3400, led by Freddy, paid a return visit to clubs in District 6290, he described the situation during presentations to clubs in Michigan and Ontario.

“So we stood in front of one Rotary Club after another and told our story,” The Rotarian quotes Marilyn as saying. “When Freddy said that people were literally bleeding to death every day—indeed, that very day—because there wasn’t enough blood, they pulled out their chequebooks.”

Additional funds came from the Rotary Club of Hiroshima East and, of course, from clubs in District 5370.

The District 5370 clubs that stepped up to support this project are listed on a plaque displayed in the Bali Blood Bank entrance hall: Sherwood Park, Athabasca, Fort St. John, Edson, Edmonton Glenora, Yellowknife, Dawson Creek, Edmonton Gateway, Westlock, Grande Prairie, Spruce Grove, North Battleford, Morinville, Edmonton Riverview, St. Albert, Edmonton Strathcona, Jasper and Fort McMurray Oilsands. 

To learn more and about how your club can support this 20th anniversary celebration, you can contact Wes Nieman, email: mahout@islandstorm.com. Wes was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Bali Nusa Dua and well acquainted with the history of the Bali Blood Bank.

* The now-discontinued Group Study Exchange program provided four-member teams of young professionals and business people (non-Rotarians), each accompanied by a Rotarian team leader, with opportunities to observe how their professions were practised in another country, and to experience the culture of the host country over a period of four to six weeks. The program was supported by TRF.

South African, Canadian Rotary clubs partner to improve the future for students with disabilities

NHS Mary6

Canadian visitors make a donation to New Hope School, Pretoria, South Africa

Through its fundraising efforts, including obtaining a Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation, the Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona raised more than $60,000 to support vocational training for students with disabilities in South Africa, whose future can be dire.

“Learning a vocational skill to be able to function in society becomes a case of life or death for these students, in many cases,” says Rotarian Carin Jansen van Vuuren. “There is a very limited social safety net for young adults with disabilities in South Africa.”

After raising more that $20,000, including donations from other Rotary clubs in Northern Alberta, the Edmonton Strathcona club partnered with the Rotary Club of Pretoria, South Africa, to obtain a grant of US$32,400 (C$42,000) from The Rotary Foundation.

Other clubs that supported this project include Drayton Valley, Edmonton South, Nisku Leduc, Sherwood Park, St. Albert and Stony Plain. Additional money came from a GoFundMe campaign and a contribution from the Rotary Club of Pretoria.

The money is going to New Hope School in Pretoria, one of the largest schools for students with special needs in South Africa. Its enrolment of 410 includes students from preschool to high school with cerebral palsy, permanent physical disabilities, metabolic disorders or syndromes, traumatic brain injuries and other conditions that cause learning difficulties.

Carin grew up in Pretoria, where her father was president of the Rotary Club of Pretoria and later, District Governor for Rotary District 9400. She moved to Canada 28 years ago, but makes regular visits back to South Africa.

For the past five years, Rotarians and others from the Edmonton area have accompanied Carin and her husband Stephan, a past president of the Edmonton Strathcona club, on these visits.

IMG_4499

A group of Rotarians and others from Edmonton area visit New Hope School

While in South Africa and Zambia, they have had opportunities to meet local Rotarians and to visit New Hope School. During previous school visits, donations from the Rotary Club of Edmonton Strathcona were presented.

“Last year, Patrick Gibson, who is the Foundation chair for our club, was with us. When he came back, he said we needed to apply for a Rotary grant,” Carin says. “That started the process to raise funds for New Hope School.”

Carin say that the main objective of the project is to ensure that the students, especially young women, have a way to support themselves as adults. “These programs will be implemented through a new sewing room and a hair salon room.”

Both programs will be self-sustaining. Students in the beauty salon will provide services such as manicures and pedicures. The sewing machines will be used to make tablecloths and placemats to sell.

Funds raised will also allow New Hope School to install a safe playground for children with disabilities, expand the physical education program and help accommodate students in the school’s hostel. 

“Some of these students come from other cities and even other countries in Africa, so they are away from their families,” Carin says.

“At this stage, they are only housed Monday to Friday and these kids need to be shipped out somewhere else on the weekend. This will allow the school to have these kids full time.”

To learn more, visit the Global Grants website or contact Wayne McCutcheon (RC of St. Albert), who is the chair of our District’s Grants Sub-Committee.

 

District conference Main