All aboard for the Congo container!

Rotaract members help pack on April 11 2015
Rotaract members help pack on April 11 2015

Rotarians support countless worthwhile causes around the world.  It’s not often, however, that we have the opportunity to receive a personal ‘thank you’ from a recipient. In March, many of us met Luc Mulimbalimba Masururu, as the 37-year-old medical doctor and Member of Parliament from the Democratic Republic of Congo visited five Australian states and met with more than 150 Rotary clubs, schools, universities and other organisations to personally thank them for past support of projects in a country that is at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index.

Luc with bicycle recipient
Luc with bicycle recipient

Affectionately called “Dr Luc”, this eloquent champion for so many marginalised people in the Congo shared updates on the Mission in Health Care and Development ( projects that many Rotary clubs and other networks like UNSW’s faculty of social sciences, Sydney Development Circle, SHARE, University of Tasmania Rozelle campus and Boronia Park Uniting Church NSW have supported. He also asked for continued support, outlining his 2015 projects, which range from building an orphanage to fighting malnutrition through MHCD’s nutrition centre and providing bicycles for women accustomed to carrying heavy loads.

Jacky and Bruce Gendre

Another big project Dr Luc flagged with Rotarians was a request to fill a 40 foot container donated by Royal Wolf.  Many responded with both time and supplies, facilitated by HandUp Congo  and Rotary Hunters Hill. On April 11, the container doors closed after we squeezed in such useful items as medical equipment, Wrap with Love blankets, Days for Girls kits, re-purposed Qantas blankets and socks (made possible by Overseas Disaster Resources), sewing materials, clothing and even new shoes.

At the Rotary Donations in Kind Warehouse in Minchinbury NSW, teams of volunteers including Rotaract members from Sydney University and Macquarie University were coordinated by the “king and queen of the container”, Jacky and Bruce Gendre (RC Raymond Terrce).

More kudos
Thanks to Rotary Club Berrima District’s (RCBD) experienced team of John Macpherson, Frank Rodrigues and Barry Barford, along with Brian Wallis of RC South Nowra, for coordinating the container’s shipping logistics, and to RAWCS’ Medical Aid for Oceania (project 48/2012-13) for underwriting the shipping costs. These will be reimbursed from donations, partially from generous Rotarians who attended the March District 9685 and 9670 conferences.

Dr Luc also asks that we extend his appreciation to Miriam Jacka and her team of forklift experts at the DIK Warehouse, and to Ramsay Health Care (RHC) hospitals for providing the major medical items. Hospital staff organised the following: Albury (a blood fridge), Nowra (theatre lights), Bowral (infusion

April 10 container packers
April 10 container packers

sets and chairs), Hunters Hill (suction devices, theatre instruments, lockers and instrument washing unit) and Berkley Vale (anaesthetic machines). “RHC is the major player with RCBD in Project 48,” notes John.

Healthcare veterans like Dr. Peter Arnaudon and Dr Vera Sistenich, along with nursing student Jarrod Wolhuter, also donated essential medical equipment. What a difference it will make!

Thanks to Orana Car and Truck Rentals manager Brad Shorten for donating the wheels! Volunteer driver Keith Sansom (Rotary Hunters Hill) steered the course to collect an amazing array of donated items.  The small but mighty Maureen Burdynski helped collect donations and packed the container too. Maureen will travel with me to Congo in August, to photograph the container goods in their new homes.

Dr Vera Sistenich drops off medical equipment. In August, she will travel with our RAWCS team to  Congo to conduct training in emergency medicine.
Dr Vera Sistenich drops off medical equipment. In August, she will travel with our RAWCS team to Congo to conduct training in emergency medicine.

Track the container!

The container is now on board a ship, scheduled to arrive Dar es Salaam around 27 May. If you would like to track the container’s progress go to, type the vessel name Oocl Houston into the search engine and it will give you the ship’s position, course and ETA next port. After 12 May enter ship’s name Kota Nebula for details of the trans-shipped leg from Singapore to Dar es Salaam. From Tanzania the container will go overland to Burundi, where Dr Luc has arranged for it to be trucked to MHCD just across the border in Congo.

Congo container still needs support

Help cover the remaining container expenses (approx. $10,000) by making an online donation to Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) Project 48/2012-13 Medical Aid for Oceania – designate Congo Container (and be sure to mention your Rotary Club, if you are a member).

Our team of RAWCS volunteers will report back to you after our visit to MHCD in August. Until then, thank you so much  for all you have done to make the Congo container possible!

With appreciation – Lucy

Lucy Hobgood-Brown
International Service Director, Rotary Hunters Hill, District 9685
Director, HandUp Congo
Mobile +61(0)417 272 101