New club sponsorship enriches communities
Joseph Wirba, of the Rotary Club of Kumbo, Cameroun, and Brian Fulp, 2008-09 president of the Rotary Club of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, USA, deliver tuberculosis test kits donated by a U.S. hospital. Photo courtesy of Brian Fulp
Kumbo, Cameroun, and Honesdale, Pennsylvania, USA, may be worlds apart, but through Rotary, the two communities are forming a long-term, mutually enriching partnership.
It began in 2008 when Brian Fulp, then president-elect of the Rotary Club of Honesdale, traveled to Kumbo on assignment with his employer, the nonprofit Himalayan Institute. Fulp quickly saw an interest in Rotary and Service Above Self in the community.
He soon met Roland Mbenkum, a local high court district judge who would become the first president of the Rotary Club of Kumbo, chartered in January and sponsored by the Honesdale club.
An early collaboration between the Honesdale club and future Rotarians in Kumbo involved a hospital that desperately needed equipment. "One of the doctors told me he was fed up with holding a flashlight in his mouth to perform surgeries," Fulp recalls. "With only US$250 from our club, we were able to purchase a generator for the hospital. Suddenly, they had electricity when they needed it."
That doctor, Joseph Wirba, later became one of the Kumbo club's charter members. Today, the club has about 20 members.
To help guide the Kumbo club through the chartering process, Fulp turned to the RI Web site where, he says, "I got everything I needed about sponsoring a club."
The Honesdale club also inspired its own community to get involved in Cameroun. Club members organized a local fundraiser to help construct a public library for Kumbo and asked a hospital for assistance in containing a tuberculosis outbreak there. The hospital, Wayne Memorial, donated 300 tuberculosis test kits.
When sponsoring a club, Fulp recommends working with local nonprofits to understand the community and connect with local leaders. "You have to really work in the community to find out what their needs are and who can help," he says.
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This article appears in the October Rotary World