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Rotary Volunteers project update

By Webmaster - Posted on 12 January 2011

Rotary volunteers at work

Due to extreme economic pressures, the Rotary Foundation was forced to cut the Volunteer Service Grant funds, March 2009 bringing many volunteer programmes to a grinding halt. We were desperate that the Kilimambogo Dental Clinic, Kenya, would not become one of these programmes doomed to fail because volunteers could not afford to travel and give a month’s service to this successful project. 

Since the clinic was started in 1994, it had been run by Rotary volunteer dentists from 27 different countries who replaced one another every 5 weeks - many returning again and again. This was costly to administer so our “wake up” call had come; we realised that the clinic had to stand on its own two feet and become locally self sustainable – instead of being dependent on foreign money.

It has been a hard journey, but WE ARE STILL ALIVE AND WELL! A limited number of volunteers are still going - those who are able to pay their own travel costs or find assistance from their local clubs, districts and friends. The hugely valued support that District 1060 has always provided has enabled dentists to give their time and professional skills, often in their post-retirement years. Rotarians, Ken Scivyer (Monkspath); Rob and Christine Evans (Stratford upon Avon) and Pat and Jan Denning (Edgbaston Convention) have all regularly served at Kilimambogo – we have strong affection for this clinic in rural Kenya which keeps drawing us back.

We have now employed a salaried ‘Community Oral Health Officer’ -Rachel Wanjiku, who is paid 33% of the daily takings – patients pay for their low cost treatment. The rest of the team are Bernard and James - who hold this clinic together. Rachel started in June; until then, volunteers had kept the clinic continuously staffed. This year, Ken Scivyer went in April; Pat and I followed in May to implement the new business plan before Rachel started and Rob and Chris went to Kilimambogo in August/September – to monitor standards and accountability since so much Rotary money has been ploughed into the project.

For the next year we hope to send a volunteer every 4 months to visit for 2-3 weeks to support Rachel and keep a financial overview. Six months on, the clinic is flourishing and we feel it is in safe hands. The clinic is in profit and appears to be soundly managed with the help of the convent Sisters from the Immaculate Heart of Mary order who have always been involved with the clinic organisation and administration. We believe we will be able to withdraw volunteer support by the end of 2011.