Rotary Praised In Parliament

Rotary Praised In Parliament

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams has praised the work of local Rotary volunteers helping cyclone devastated Vanuatu.

In a speech to Parliament last night, Mrs Williams said volunteers like Rotarians make a wonderful contribution to our local community.

“This evening I’d like to pay tribute to a group of volunteers who not only do some outstanding work in the Port Macquarie and Camden Haven areas, but also in the South Pacific paradise of Vanuatu.

“In 2004 Members of Rotary Club of Port Macquarie came to the rescue of the people of Tanna which was devastated by cyclone Ivy,” Mrs Williams said.

“The local Rotary District 9650 has been involved in what is known as Project TAFEA – the name is derived from the first letter of the 5 southernmost islands of Vanuatu.

“Initially, the focus of the Rotarians was on the repairs to Lenakel Hospital on Tanna which was significantly damaged by the cyclone. As well as the hospital, a large amount of work was carried out on the cottages used by hospital staff and on a number of outlying aid stations.

“Once the main repairs to the hospital were carried out, work concentrated on schools which were equally badly damaged. Amazingly work has continued over the past 11 years.

“A number of schools have been extensively reconstructed and several new schools have been built. In a number of cases water tanks have been provided which increases the benefit to the community,” Mrs Williams said.

“These efforts have been carried out by Rotarians and their families, who each pay an amount of about $2,700 to go to Tanna for two weeks of work. This fee covers their transport, lodging and meals.

“To date some 240 people, mostly from the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie, but some members of my local Rotary Club of Laurieton have also been involved in more than 40 teams – a very considerable effort and a vast contribution to the wellbeing of the residents of Tanna.

“In addition to the supply of labour, more than $500,000 of material has been provided. The principle adopted is that materials are sourced locally if at all possible.

“Tragically in March this year, cyclone Pam did more damage to the island of Tanna than other parts of Vanuatu.

“A team of three Rotarian under the leadership of Port Macquarie’s Ray White along with Russell Holland and Gareth Owen recently returned from Tanna surveying the damage to hospital and schools and prepared a very detailed analysis of materials required and costs involved.

“Project TAFEA is an outstanding example of the work of Rotary, which does this work with no contribution from Government,” Mrs Williams said.

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