Flora, who chaired the committee that focused on the project, said members were able to wow Rotary International with their Tanzanian Rotary counterparts and IMA. “It really was the connection with IMA,” she said. “IMA had folks on the ground, local credibility, worldwide connections, and the experience to pull this off.”
Flora gives a lot of credit to her fellow committee members for making the project happen. “I chaired it, but my fellow Rotarians here and, particularly, in Tanzania, made the project successful.”
The $320,000 grant helped the multi-year project that also delivered malaria nets, treatments for lymphoma, and worked on latrines as well. While in-country, the group and IMA had the approach of working hand and glove with the Ministry of Health. The groups worked with Merck to get drugs to treat River Blindness over the years. But it wasn’t as simple as flying the pills over. “Sustainability was our key goal,” she said, “it was a ground-up project.”
Volunteers worked with community distributors to create a system to keep records in black-and-white composition books. They thought about laptops, but they were heavy and needed to be charged. “(Composition books) are a very basic way of doing it, but extremely effective for the community,” she noted. Two years later, Flora returned to the country to see how things were going. She said it was a wonderful experience.
Years later, the Rotary was looking for another international project and a member saw an idea on the television. The next day, the member pitched the idea to the group — Safe Motherhood Kits™. Each kit costs only $25 and includes clean and sterile birthing supplies, designed to help prevent infection such as gloves, a scalpel, umbilical tie, and more. But they needed a partner, so they teamed up again with IMA. To date, more than 30,000 kits have been sent to women in post-conflict areas, disaster zones, and developing nations including Haiti, South Sudan, DR Congo and others.
“Without IMA, neither project would have happened,” she said. “It’s been fun to watch IMA as it’s evolved and moved with the times and continues to be a highly respected NGO.”