For­ward think­ing of less for­tu­nate


Melville Times - - Front Page - Josh Zim­mer­man

OVER the past decade, Robert For­ward has col­lected and packed close to 50 sea con­tain­ers full of med­i­cal sup­plies des­tined for some of the poor­est coun­tries in Africa. He is one of two West Aus­tralians re­cently hon­oured with Paul Har­ris Fel­low awards by the Ro­tary Club of Boor­a­goon.

LAST week, Robert For­ward helped pack the 47th sea con­tainer that Aus­tralia Doc­tors for Africa has sent to the im­pov­er­ished con­ti­nent in the past decade.

Each con­tainer is packed with med­i­cal sup­plies des­tined for So­ma­liland, Ethiopia, Mada­gas­car or the Co­moro Is­lands.

Founded by Robert’s son Gra­ham, an or­thopaedic spe­cial­ist, Aus­tralian Doc­tors for Africa is a char­ity sup­ply­ing vi­tal med­i­cal as­sis­tance to some of the poor­est peo­ple on the planet.

Now in his mid-80s, Mr For­ward has vol­un­teered just over 11 years over­see­ing the lo­gis­tics and ad­min­is­tra­tion of the busy or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“We col­lect things like dis­con­tin­ued hos­pi­tal beds, mat­tresses and walk­ing frames and store them, sort them and then ul­ti­mately pack them into sea con­tain­ers to be shipped away,” he said.

“We had a builder that went to Antsir­abe in Mada­gas­car to see what needed do­ing and he no­ticed a stench as soon as he ap­proached the hos­pi­tal.

“There was no sew­er­age sys­tem – all the sewage was out on the grounds and there were 108 pa­tients in­side but not a sin­gle bed.

“Each bed that we wheel on to a con­tainer in Perth, in six weeks a pa­tient is go­ing to be ly­ing on it with a pil­low and clean sheets.

“When you know what you are do­ing is help­ing peo­ple, it’s not a job and you don’t need mo­ti­va­tion, it just comes nat­u­rally.”

Mr For­ward is one of two West Aus­tralians re­cently hon­oured with Paul Har­ris Fel­low awards by the Ro­tary Club of Boor­a­goon.

The other is Jac­que­line Gil­mour, founder of Hope for Chil­dren, a non-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion that for 20 years has worked to pro­vide med­i­cal and so­cial sup­port to fam­i­lies and or­phaned chil­dren in the Ethiopian cap­i­tal Ad­dis Ababa.

Hope for Chil­dren es­tab­lished the free School of St Yared, which has re­ceived fi­nan­cial sup­port from both the At­tadale and Boor­a­goon Ro­tary Clubs and pro­vides ed­u­ca­tion to sev­eral hun­dred tal­ented chil­dren who oth­er­wise would be un­able to at­tend.

The Paul Har­ris Fel­low, named in hon­our of the founder of Ro­tary, is the club’s high­est award for mem­bers or non-mem­bers who have demon­strated their com­mit­ment to Ro­tary’s ob­jec­tives of eas­ing suf­fer­ing and build­ing world un­der­stand­ing and peace.

Robert For­ward has been a vol­un­teer for more than a decade. Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek­mu­ni­ d466174


Robert For­ward has spent more than a decade col­lect­ing and ship­ping med­i­cal sup­plies to Africa.

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