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work of the mission become first in your lives, but to find
that balance of spending time with each other beyond the
task you’re both called to.
Mercy Ships has provided hope and healing to underserved
communities around the globe for many years. What do
you consider the greatest stride the organization has
made recently in continuing its mission?
Our greatest joy continues to be the thousands of individual
lives transformed in each field of service, but the greatest
stride is in building capacity in the nations we serve. Using
our hospital ship as a platform, we train African surgeons and
health care professionals. These professionals learn techniques
and procedures that will serve the nation long after the ship
sails to its next port of call.
Our emphasis on building health care capacity through
training is intentional and ever-present. Surgeons are trained
in ophthalmic, general, and maxillofacial surgical specialties.
Other health care professionals are trained in dental hygiene,
dental assisting, and palliative care. Through our strategic
partnership with Rotary, we’re providing training in hygiene
and infection control, and in cataract surgeries. Continuing
education conferences focus on mental health, anesthesiology,
midwifery, and leadership principles.
You focus on improving health in the developing world.
How does good health care influence countries’ stability?
Healthy people are more productive people. We serve
the world’s least-developed nations. In some of these
VOCATION TO SERVE: JOIN
THE ROTARY CADRE
Francis “Tusu” Tusubira understands
construction. He understands pricing.
He understands procurement. But most important,
Tusubira understands how things can go wrong. He
shares his expertise with Rotary clubs and districts
when he visits project sites as a member of The Rotary
Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers, a group of
Rotarian volunteers who evaluate grant-funded projects
around the world. “You learn from your own mistakes,”
says Tusubira, vice chair of the cadre and a member of
the Rotary Club of Kampala-North, Uganda. “So what
you’re passing on is not just a technical perspective – it’s
that you’ve seen what can go wrong in real practice.”
Cadre members volunteer in each of the Foundation’s
six areas of focus, and in grant management and finances.
So, for example, a lawyer, mediator, or social worker
might advise Rotarians who are implementing a project
in the peace and conflict prevention/resolution area of
focus, while a doctor, nurse, or epidemiologist could
provide technical expertise on an effort that’s addressing
maternal and child health. Cadre members review the
feasibility of a project, conduct site visits to monitor
implementation, and evaluate impact. Their audits
ensure that grant money is used responsibly. “You get a
chance to help shape projects and point out where things
have gone wrong and where there can be improvements
for the future,” Tusubira says. You also get to meet
Rotarians who are giving everything they have to improve
their communities, he adds. “You learn something new
every visit. You get inspired.”
The cadre is recruiting volunteers in the following
areas. Write to email@example.com for details.
• Maternal and child health professionals (such as nurses
and obstetricians) in Africa and Asia
• Water and sanitation professionals (such as civil and
mechanical engineers) in Africa and Asia
• Spanish-speaking auditors in North and Central America
• Portuguese speakers in Europe and Africa, in all areas
• Rotarians living in Africa, in all areas of focus
• Rotarians with professional expertise in monitoring
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countries, health care is often nonexistent or expensive. The
arrival of “the big white ship” is often the single most tangible
sign of hope for many. By providing care to address immediate
medical needs and offering training to meet future medical
needs, we improve delivery of health care.
When did you know that Mercy Ships was succeeding?
After the first surgery. Just one changed life brings everything
How can Rotarians best leverage the partnership between
Rotary and Mercy Ships to meet their humanitarian goals?
Mercy is a group effort. The Rotary partnership is vital in helping
to deliver health care and build capacity in the countries we
serve. Rotarians can build teams of medical professionals to
train local health care professionals. Together we meet both the
immediate health needs of individuals and the longer-term need
of strengthening a country’s health infrastructure. Each act of
mercy is the result of those who volunteer and those who share
How will Mercy Ships decide when to expand its fleet?
We’ve already made the decision to expand our fleet, although
the timetable is still in development. Our international board of
directors has developed a comprehensive plan to build a second
ship that will more than double the number of people we can
serve. While significant capital is required to begin this project,
a new purpose-designed ship would allow us to offer urgent
medical care and medical training to even more people. n
TIPS FOR A
Vocational training teams (VTTs) build on The
Rotary Foundation’s longstanding commitment
to vocational training. They take the concept
of Group Study Exchange (GSE) − providing young
professionals with a chance to observe their profession
in another country − a step further by offering
participants the opportunity to use their skills to
help others. Teams can be funded through a district,
global, or packaged grant, and requirements vary by
grant type. “I loved the GSE program. But I’m now
convinced that VTT is the way to go, ” says Janet Kelly,
a Rotarian who has headed up GSE programs and
three VTTs for District 6400 (parts of Ontario, Canada,
and Michigan, USA). VTTs are “a brilliant strategy to
provide on-the-ground service, ” she explains. Here’s
her advice on how to ensure a successful VTT:
(1) Identify projects based on connections you
already have. VTT projects should increase
the host community’s ability to solve problems and
improve quality of life. When developing ideas, rely
on district governors and club members who already
have extensive international contacts, Kelly suggests.
“Every year, district governors meet for training with
their counterparts. Some approach others with ideas
about projects they can do together. ”
(2) Take advantage of the new rules. GSE teams
were required to include one Rotarian leader
and four to six non-Rotarians between ages 25 and 40.
VTTs are more flexible in that you can send as many
team members as you want, and some can be Rotarians.
For GSEs, each district had to send a team to the other
district. For VTTs, there is no reciprocity requirement.
(3) Remember that the pre-trip process isn’t
just one person’s responsibility. Kelly and
her VTT cochair, Armando Sardanopoli, shared
many of the preparation duties and recruited other
Rotarians to help them. To find team members, one
committee reached out to medical professionals,
developed fliers, distributed them to Rotary clubs,
and contacted local media. Kelly and a few others
reviewed applications from candidates, and another
committee conducted interviews.
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