Help­ing trans­form kids’ lives

ROTARY HELP­ING INTERPLAST

Comment News (Gosnells) - - News - Ben Smith

ROTARY Club of Kenwick mem­bers have spent the past 11 years chang­ing the lives of chil­dren in need.

Since 2006, the club has raised more than $750,000 for not-for­profit sur­gi­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion Interplast to travel over­seas and op­er­ate on chil­dren who re­quire ur­gent med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Club pres­i­dent Steve Wey­chan ac­com­pa­nied Interplast on a trip to Fiji in 2011 and said it had a pro­found ef­fect on him.

“If I showed you the ‘be­fore’ and ‘af­ter’ pic­tures, you would be drawn. They are un­be­liev­ably mov­ing,” he said.

Mr Wey­chan said he wit­nessed first hand the in­cred­i­ble work the sur­geons did, in­clud­ing re­pair­ing a se­ri­ous cleft palate for a young child.

“Up came the fa­ther, who says to me, ‘In this coun­try, it is our cus­tom to give you a gift or money for what you have done for our fam­ily. I have no money to buy a gift, but all I can give you is my thanks,’” Mr Wey­chan said.

“When some­one says that, what do you do?”

He said the trip was an eye­open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence as he saw sur­geons who gave up their own time to work daily to help those less for­tu­nate.

“I saw chil­dren with their arms burnt, welded to their side and all they (the doc­tors in Fiji) do, they give these kids, who were about 12, an as­pirin and

painkillers and say go home.

“The sur­geon comes along, snip snip snip, wraps them up, takes skin off their leg, puts it on their arm, and they’re done.”

The trip con­sol­i­dated Mr Wey­chan’s pas­sion for the cause and in­vig­o­rated his club, which re­cently held a thank-you evening for donors fea­tur­ing Interplast sur­geon An­drew Miller and nurse Shan­non Muir.

In re­cent times, the club has also fundraised for Interplast to

sup­port the travel ex­penses of doc­tors from other coun­tries to come to Aus­tralia and learn from doc­tors here.

“Last year, we raised enough to bring a sur­geon into Aus­tralia to have a two-week train­ing so he can take his skills back to Samoa/Fiji,” Mr Wey­chan said.

Mr Wey­chan said while the club en­joyed strong back­ing from many lo­cal busi­nesses, they were al­ways on the look­out for new donors.

Interplast anaes­thetist An­drew Miller and nurse Shan­non Muir treat a child in Laos.

Ro­tar­ian and Interplast di­rec­tor Brian Guest, anaes­thetist An­drew Miller and Rotary Club of Kenwick pres­i­dent Steve Wey­chan.

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