Northern Region

Donations in ‘Distributing Hope’

Kind -

In February 1998 Donations in Kind Northern Region celebrated the dispatch of the 100th shipping container full of health and educational material to Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific Islands since first sending containers in 1992. We were proud of what we were achieving in those days. In December 2002 DIK dispatched container number 300 and were too busy to make a fuss, but in October 2004 with 400 containers behind us it was time to stand up and shout about the biggest ‘hands on’ project our Districts have carried out. Then in October 2006 we celebrated 500 containers, what more can we say. In June 2007 the time has come when we must leave the premises we have enjoyed at The Park for the past seven years, again making way for redevelopment. This introduction has been brought up to date prior to our moving to new premises where the project operation will take the same pattern. In summary, shipping costs by Northern Region Rotary Clubs over the past 16 years has been in excess of $1million and the value of goods dispatched is in excess of $33 million, we see that as a good investment while ‘Distributing Hope’ to the people of our neighbouring developing countries.

The impressive service of Donations in Kind had its beginnings some time ago. Over the years many clubs in Districts of what is now RAWCS Northern Region (Rotary Australia World Community Service) made their own arrangements to ship overseas much needed health and education goods. These goods were sent, whether by casual free passage in commercial shipping space, with help from the RAAF and the RAN or as accompanied baggage. For special supplies clubs sent goods by the occasional container. However, 1990 saw the start of a phenomenal growth from this initial ad-hoc activity to the current situation, when subject to adequate funds being received to cover transport, more than fifty containers are sent from Brisbane annually to Papua New Guinea, and the South Pacific Islands.

Each Thursday morning a team of more than twenty people, Rotarians, partners and friends of Rotary gather to unpack cartons of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, sort into acceptable date and categories then repack and label for despatch. Medical supplies would include ward disposables, dressings, instruments, sutures and sterilisation equipment. On a normal Thursday at least four pharmacists are involved.

to ‘coordinate and despatch’ to expand this World Community Service activity.

The project is not finished when the container is loaded, It must be recognised that once the container reaches it’s destination the work begins for the receiving Rotary Club to unload, store and distribute to selected hospitals, clinics, schools and missions which can be remote from the point of delivery. Manpower at the receiving end is often limited drawing from one club as opposed to the manpower available when the container was loaded. Rotarians in the Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island Clubs carry out a tremendous amount of work when receiving a container and our thanks go to them all, the project would not run smoothly without these Rotarians. Tools donated through a Matching Grant

It was initially necessary to check the legalities of what Rotarians were doing with donated medical supplies and to verify with Government Health Departments at both sending and receiving areas. Rotarian pharmacists organised visits to the warehouse by both local and PNG Government Health representatives who gave their support to the acceptability and legality of the operation. RAWCS (Northern Region) is currently licensed to store pharmaceuticals. Medical supplies for dispatch are selected by qualified pharmacists (a part of the Thursday team) to ensure they are suitable to send to medically trained people at the receiving end.

The book section also joins the team of volunteers on Thursday mornings and most Saturdays, stressing the importance of literacy and general education needs and involving many voluntary ‘hands on’ hours. There is an endless demand for text and library books, paper, pencils, etc. by schools and libraries in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

District 9600 interest in DIK is strongly influenced by the fact that the District has twelve Clubs in Papua New Guinea and two in the Solomon Islands which puts the District on the receiving end as well as on the dispatch end of the project. This was recognised in the early days of DIK, so much so that following a visit to PNG DG Ian Wilson’s Governor’s Newsletter of January 1989 contained an article on ‘Aid to PNG and Solomon Islands’ asking for volunteers in the overseas clubs to act as coordinators for the ‘receipt and distribution of donated goods’. He also called for Rotarians amongst Brisbane clubs

Wheelchairs and walking frames

From the time the DIK project started sending donated goods in shipping containers an update to 30 June 2007 shows 562 containers have been dispatched. Some idea of the goods dispatched in this time is as follows. 5,000 hospital beds, 2,200 wheel chairs, 60,500 boxes of medical supplies 63,250 boxes of books, 12,500 school desks, 13 motor-vehicles (fire engines, ambulances)


Add to this, 4 kit homes, numerous sewing machines, typewriters, computers, hospital equipment, dentists’ chairs, and so many other items of goods and materials which are surplus to our needs in this country and are in great demand overseas. It is not possible to put a value on the goods despatched but when pressed to make an estimate a figure in excess of $33 million dollars for the 6,000 tonnes of goods in the 562 containers is not far from reality.
This brief history of the Donations in Kind project was updated June 2007 by Bill Waterfield, D 9600, Tel: 61 7 3201 0741 Fax: 61 7 3201 0741 E :