Rotary Club of Essendon’s International Projects

As well as numerous local projects, the Rotary Club of Essendon has a number of impressive international projects that are accredited by Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS). All donations to these projects are fully tax deductible.

The club has organised projects in the Philippines, Kenya and Bangladeshi, however, it is the support they have given to Myanmar over the past 21 years that is quite remarkable.

Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in the world, with one quarter of its population living in poverty. The club’s association with Myanmar began in 2001 and since then annual delegations have travelled to the country, providing vital medical and educational aid and equipment.

PICTURED: The Rotary Paduak Kids Program provides vocational training for 15- to 17-year olds in Myanmar’s poorest regions to help address the horrifying child trafficking for organ theft statistics.

The Yangon Children’s Hospital is the country’s major children’s medical facility and was the first hospital to receive the club’s support. Equipment donations have included oxygen concentrators, a defibrillator, a chemical analyser, syringe pumps, hearing testers, surgical theatre equipment and the fit out of a pathology department, to a total value of well over $500,000.

A major contribution was also made to assist in the establishment of a dedicated cancer ward. It is estimated by the grateful hospital management that these contributions have saved the lives of over 50,000 children. 

“As with all health establishments in Myanmar, ‘premier’ is a relative term as all these facilities are chronically under resourced, poor and in desperate need of the most basic items.”

The Tin Roof Project in Insein saw many thatched dwellings in the Insein slum fitted with galvanised iron roofs, which markedly improved their ability to provide shelter in the wet season. Two orphanages in Yangon have also been supported over a number of years with food, clothing, toys, balls, sporting items and books, and a generator was supplied to an outlying orphanage with no access to mains electricity.

Additional projects have included the Monks Hospital – a dedicated facility for ageing and ill monks, which is also Yangon’s premier facility for eye surgery. As with all health establishments in Myanmar, ‘premier’ is a relative term as all these facilities are chronically under-resourced, poor, and in desperate need of the most basic items.

Cyclone Nargis struck the southern part of Myanmar in June 2008, killing more than 150,000 people. The Rotary Club of Essendon was one of the first groups on the ground supplying much needed medical aid, food, water and shelter valued at over $70,000. This included paying for the re-build of 30 homes in the delta area for some of those who were left homeless.

PICTURED: In February, members of the Rotary Club of Essendon visited the Hope for Myanmar Children’s Home in Yangon to deliver donated goods from both the Rotary Club of Essendon and benefactors. An important part of the visit were the training sessions with the girls on puberty, reproductive health, hormones and hygiene, as well as how to use the Days for Girls packs.

In April 2013, a delegation was on hand in Yangon to witness the dedication ceremony of a $355,000 CT scanner to Yangon Women’s Hospital.

In more recent years, between 2019 and 2021, the club has supported the Yangon General Hospital Anaesthesiology Department with 70 oximeters, which doctors believe have saved more than 5,000 lives over two years.

The Hope for Myanmar Children’s Home, which looks after both orphans and children from very poor families, was supported by the Rotary Club of Essendon with food supplies and the donation of a small truck/bus, as well as $6,500 to build a new road to the new premises to allow access during the wet season.

One of Myanmar’s worst ‘unspoken problems’ in very poor areas is child trafficking for organ theft, whereby the child is murdered. This horrific tragedy affects over 20,000 families annually. The Rotary Club of Essendon supports a vocational training group, Step In Step Up, to reduce this occurrence. Now called the Rotary Padauk Kids Program, $33,000 was spent in 2022 to train 15- to 17-year-olds in child care, sewing, hospitality, retail, basic English, office work, aged care, and kitchen help, to ensure they have a job at the end of the program.

To assist during COVID-19, the club supplied 12 battery back-up oxygen concentrators to four hospitals in the Yangon area throughout 2021. Doctors have reported that these 12 machines saved over 250,000 lives during the peak of the pandemic – all available oxygen had been taken from hospitals and the electricity was being turned off between 4pm and 9am each evening, so the only oxygen available were these 12 battery back-up oxygen concentrators.

Much is still to be done in Myanmar as the need continues to grow, but the Rotary Club of Essendon will be on hand to help where ever it can.