Local Rotary volunteers make a global difference - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Photos: Supplied.

Off a quiet backroad in Alexandra Hills there are three large storage sheds settled in quiet native bushland. They’re thoroughly unprepossessing but they’re home to a buzzing hive of volunteer activity that services medical and educational needs throughout many of Australia’s Pacific neighbours and even further afield – and also offers assistance to local individuals.

Rotary Australia Repurposing Equipment involves a team of volunteers who accept, sort, label and package reusable used goods from schools, hospitals, hotels, retailers and private donors and ship them off to countries in need, including PNG, Fiji, Vanuatu, Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands and Bougainville. Some African countries are also recipients of the goods, which range from school desks and chairs to crutches and walking frames.

Librarian Shirley Mahon has been a Rotarian since 2000 (“Ever since I retired from full-time work – I’m a practical person and I like to contribute,”) and has been involved in the repurposing project for nearly 20 years. Shirley says that while some donations cannot be re-used in Australia because of regulations they’re gratefully received by the recipient countries.

“Most of the medical appliances come from various health services when they’re superseded or deemed surplus to requirements,” she says. “Linen comes from hospitals or hotels. We can’t take medicines – though packaged topical ointments and bandages are alright.

“We’re saving mountains of useable items from going to landfill and discarded paper and cardboard is collected by volunteers and taken for recycling,” she says.

“As well, since we have an ongoing store of such aids as crutches, walking frames, moon boots – and the occasional knee scooter! – we occasionally offer free loans to members of our community who may need a mobility aid. Most loans are temporary and the appliance usually comes back to us – with thanks.”

Shirley says that Rotary is seeking volunteers, donations of suitable goods and donations of money to help with freight costs for donations intended for overseas recipients.

Your local Redlands branch of Rotary Australia Repurposing Equipment can be contacted through manager John Paskin at [email protected] or Phil Saxby at [email protected].

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