Wayne Jenkins: Harvesting joy for generations to come

By Jack Campbell
Journalism Student

Wayne Jenkins is the key man behind the “harvesting” of old playgrounds for District 9820’s Rotary Overseas Relocated Playgrounds (RORP) project. Wayne has been involved with Rotary since 1992 when he attended his first meeting as a guest at the Rotary Club of Karratha, WA. Working abroad from 1998 – 2017 meant he didn’t belong to a Rotary club but in 2017, upon returning to Australia, joined the Rotary Club of Mount Martha, Vic, where he has been at the forefront of the RORP project.

Wayne describes the project as a win, win, win.

“It’s a cost neutral project that is great for the environment, whilst giving kids who would never experience this type of playground the opportunity to play like we in Australia take for granted.”

PICTURED: RORP Coordinators Wayne Jenkins and Bob Allardice.

Wayne started a fitting and turning apprenticeship after Technical School, followed by a year toolmaking, before undertaking a successful career as a pilot. His mechanical experience has been a great help with the manufacturing and repairing aspects of the RORP project.

His dream is to see all playgrounds in Australia that would otherwise be destined for landfill relocated to less fortunate communities around the world.

“It’s a cost neutral project that is great for the environment, whilst giving kids who would never experience this type of playground the opportunity to play like we in Australia take for granted.”

“It’s something I can do to actively assist a large group of people for generations to come, considering any playground could have a bunch of kids playing on it for the next 20 plus years.”

The duties of Wayne and his team include dismantling the playgrounds, cleaning and inspecting the equipment, repairing any damages and marking each item to allow for easy assembly once shipped overseas. Often, Wayne and his team complete the process without assistance or equipment, which makes for physically intensive work.

PICTURED: Sri Lankan Consul General (Melbourne) Kapilka Fonseka, left, D9820 RORP Coordinator Wayne Jenkins, Roger Annear, Sam Nichols, Phyllis Scales, Greater Dandenong RORP Cluster Coordinator Melinda Bell and D9810 RORP Coordinator Bob Allardice loading a container of playground equipment bound for Sri Lanka.

“International Rotary clubs then make contact with RORP, with the knowledge that we can deposit a shipping container full of playgrounds free of charge to that club, to a nominated overseas port,” Wayne explains.

The next shipment departs Melbourne in May 2022, heading to the Rotary Club of Bellville in Cape Town, South Africa. Once it arrives in Cape Town, the club selects which playground goes where, and then arranges its re-installation. Once installed, the Rotary club donates it to a school, park, group etc., and it ceases to be a Rotary asset.

Wayne says he plans to start looking at RORP retirement after he has personally processed 50 playgrounds.

“That’s a lot of kids that will have smiles on their faces for generations to come.”

Rotary Overseas Relocated Playgrounds (RORP) 

Rotary Overseas Relocated Playgrounds (RORP) is a project of the Mornington Peninsula cluster and involves removing playgrounds within the district and shipping them to Rotary clubs in countries such as Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Tanzania and soon Nepal and the Philippines. The playgrounds are then re-assembled and used by children who would never have had the opportunity to use such equipment.

The program was started in 2017 by the Rotary Club of Kensington/Flemington and was adapted by Wayne Jenkins, from the Rotary Club of Mount Martha, who has been appointed RORP Champion and is leading the program for the Peninsula cluster. Using donations in kind, they have so far repaired and transported six of the 30 playgrounds that have been donated by various councils 
and schools. 

Wayne and his team have developed great systems, techniques, structure and equipment needed for rolling the program out for the whole district. This is a ready-made international project for clubs. Wayne is available to speak at club Zoom meetings and to share the processes of the program. He can be contacted by email via rorp.9820@gmail.com.