Australian Rotarians send aid to Chile
District 9750 (Australia) Rotarians load relief supplies for Chile. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Bondi Junction
Australian Rotarians have been pitching in to help communities in Chile devastated by the February earthquake that killed hundreds and caused an estimated US$30 billion in damages.
A 40-foot cargo container arrived in the country last week at a port in San Antonio, filled with medical and school supplies, including 63 hospital beds, two humidifier cribs for premature infants, dozens of boxes of clothes and school uniforms, and student desks. The Rotary Club of Bondi Junction, New South Wales, loaded and shipped the container.
"We used every inch to pack as many supplies as we could," says Russell Paine, club president-elect and project coordinator. "Good things were going into that container -- lifesaving equipment."
The club paid $5,000 to secure the shipping container from Maersk Line. The supplies were contributed by Australian Rotarians through the Donations in Kind program , a project of Rotary Australia World Community Service Eastern Region. Clubs in District 9750 helped load the container.
Paine reached out to Blas Martino, past governor of District 4320 (Chile), shortly after the earthquake to ask what Australian clubs could do to help.
"They contacted me immediately to offer their assistance," says Martino, whose district has worked with Bondi Junction Rotarians and other Australian clubs on past projects. "The truth is, we need all the help we can get to assist all the people who are now homeless because of the earthquake."
Cristina Gutierrez, a native of Chile and a member of the Rotary Club of Maroubra, New South Wales, worked on projects with Martino in 2006 and says it was important for her to get involved in helping quake victims.
"It has been heart wrenching to see my fellow Chileans enduring such devastation," she says. "As a result of our previous projects in Chile, we have developed a good working relationship between Rotarians in Chile and ourselves."
Martino, who is coordinating the distribution of the supplies, says his district has allocated an initial $10,000 to recovery efforts. Bondi Junction club members aims to raise another $10,000 to help in the end-to-end delivery of this shipment.
"I felt very emotional after seeing the magnitude of the devastation," says Paine. "We needed to help them as our brothers and sisters, not as people who are begging for our help."
The Rotary Foundation has established a Chile Disaster Recovery Fund to help those affected by the quake.
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