Rose Charities International Network:
2014 End of Year Review.
2014 for Rose Charities has been marked both by consolidation in which the well established projects have steadily moved forwards with new initiatives, plans and their implementation, and a considerable delivery of emergency relief for the Philippines. The moves towards increased self sustainability have made progress in a number of areas, notably with the Sri Lanka Medicare program including now a specialised Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) Centre, Cambodia, where Drs Vra and Natalia Heng’s Rose Charities Eye Centre now operates also from their newly built clinic and caters for both the paying, to cover costs, and the poor. Projecto San Gerado Costa Rica’s community programs incorporating tourist and local produce are, now as part of Rose Charities Canada an impressive example of what can be achieved.
Sri Lanka was very active in 2014, continuing to lead the way in microcredit initiatives. It has had to reduce its preschool program due to lack of funding but still manages to run the new cut-down program in this hugely essential area. ( www.rosesrilanka.info )
Rose Charities Sri Lanka wonderfully hosted the 2014 Rose VI International Conference which was a huge success allowing international delegates (UK, Canada, USA, NZ, Cambodia, Japan) and Sri Lanka guests to network, discuss and witness the excellent programs in their area. In addition many of the children in the area worked hard to give delegates marvellous entertainment of dancing and singing which was hugely appreciated by all.
2014 was actually the 10th year after the terrible Asian tsunami of 2004 and it is a true tribute to the energy, charity and dedication of Anthony Richard and his team that so much has been achieved in that time. Over these years, programs have included child and adult health care, post traumatic child counselling, sports for peace and education for all ages, from pre-school to higher education. Poverty reduction through micro-credit and vocational training are now noteworthy as well as special development programs for women.
One of the most notable achievements of 2014 was the re-birth of the Rose Cambodia Rehab Centre (RCRC) ( www.roserehab.org ) which was in final stages of closure though lack of funds. This was also one of the major successes of the Sri Lanka Rose VI conference when Ms Sophak Chim (RCRC Cambodia) discussed issues with a very supportive Rose Charities USA team (Rachel Greene, Arnold Sanchez, Dianne Johnston). Ms Sophak showed that despite the difficulties of physiotherapy being well accepted in Cambodia, the demand for the clinic’s services were on the increase. Rose USA agreed to continue and expand support assisted by Canada and the UK. Previously the main support had come from Rose Australia (the main original founder of RCRC) but this organisation has had to go into a reorganisation phase (possibly with a view to disbanding) due to lack of funding and director base. RCRC has now continued to be successful under new Director Ms Chhouen Putheary. (Ms Sophak continues to advise),
Informal linkage of RCRC with Professor Nous Saroms’s Rehabilitation Surgery department in the PPSC medical centre ( www.cambodiasurgery.info ) continues both in cross-referrals and consultations. In addition PPSC takes many elective medical students who often write to Rose Charities asking for placements.
The Hillman Fund of Rose Charities Canada has also continued its support for physiotherapy treatment and training in Cambodia through assistance to the Cambodia Physical Therapy Association (CPTA) , as well as assisting in eye surgeon training at the Rose Eye Clinic. ( www.rose-eye.info ) . The Eye clinic has now treated some two hundred thousand patients which will rise to close to a quarter of a million within the next year and a half. It carries out both treatment and training and runs a peripheral outreach program. It is amazing to see where this project has gone from both its origin in 1997 as well as its disaster of 2003 when it was 99% looted of all equipment and gutted by thieves. A huge amount of success has been due to the input and assistance, material, teaching, and consultative assistance of Rose Charities New Zealand, ( www.rose-charities.org ) notably Mike Webber and John Veale. Also of great assistance in the development of the clinic and earlier outreach program(s) with IRIS Cambodia (founded by same founder(s) of Rose ) has been Dr Basant Raj Sharma. ‘Basant’ has taken the past few years to open now his own surgical eye clinic in South Nepal which will include a charity treatment component. Rose NZ will be assisting with this program.
Rose Charities Malaysia ( www.myrosecharity.org ) and Rose Charities Singapore ( www.rosesingapore.info ) have continued their impressive programs of local assistance with health clinics, assisting seniors and children’s programs and delivering health services (Rose Malaysia ) to the indigenous ‘Orang Asli’ people in rural areas. Both organisations set wonderful examples of organisations very well integrated to directly helping those in need in their own regions and have impressive memberships of many volunteers prepared to give their time and efforts for others. Rose Charities in Vietnam with its outstanding history of aid programs both with community development and blind home assistance in the Hue area and orphanage support through Rose Charities UK ( www.rosecharities.org.uk ). Rose Vietnam is currently undergoing restructuring but has potential to carry on its work into the future.
The typhoon Haiyan disaster, although in Nov 2013, carried on its effects into 2014 as did Rose Charities efforts to provide assistance. This was achieved on a considerable scale for Rose Charities with direct assistance (medical team lead by Dr Collin Yong in Negros), and indirect though support to partners such as AMDA medical team(s). All phases of the disaster were assisted from immediate health issues through provision of emergency water purification and solar lighting. The work also included rebuilding the health clinic, the walkway access and a number of fishing boats. The island of Negros, Cebu and Leyete were assisted and this has continued to the present time now with support for a newly designed, typhoon-proof home building program with the ‘Movement for Liveable Cebu’ organisation. These homes have now proved their worth by withstanding the much more recent typhoon Haguput. To support this work considerable funds were raised in Vancouver and Richmond working in conjunction with several groups and charitable individuals, one of the most noteworthy being Mr Alan Yong, cousin of Dr Collin Yong.
While Rose Charities is not primarily an emergency relief organisation we have nevertheless been able to provide considerable assistance over the years during major catastrophes, invariably working on advice and in conjunction with local groups on the ground who have requested assistance. With no budget for advertising and promotion it is probable that well over a million dollars has been raised for the disasters we have been involved with, but more importantly, programs continue to this day in Haiti (sports and community assistance) Tohoku (Japan) (AMDA Health Clinic) and, Sri Lanka (see above) and (as mentioned above) the Philippines. What is more, these assistance programs have been invariably without large, expensive infrastructure and working at grassroots level with virtually all donated funds being spent on crucial basic needs.
One area which illustrates this approach is Rose’s assistance to the current ‘Ebola’ crisis. While the current epidemic is in West Africa the disease is endemic in other parts of Africa and has the potential to spread seriously. Early diagnosis, case handling and treatment is essential to increase survival chances and Rose Charities through the Hillman Fund is now supporting a Ebola health training program in Uganda together with Makere University, both in rural and urban Ugandan areas. Dr Andrew Macnab (Brighter Smiles) and the Hillman Fund, with the HEADA Organisation has also initiated a schoolchild early malaria diagnosis program run by the schools themselves. Early results indicate a considerable reduction in school absentee time generated traditionally by the disease.
The problem of safe birthing and motherhood world-wide is a huge one. The want of education, hygiene, medications and trained helpers claims a heavy toll in mortality. In some countries, such as Afghanistan, a maternal and/or neonatal child death occurs every few minutes. Rose Charities Canada is focusing on this challenge with the formation of its Safe Motherhood and Birthing committee which is partly supported by the Hillman Fund and linking with Rose Charities UK ( www.rosecharities.org.uk ) . Programs now include the impressive Guatemala Safe Motherhood ( www.safemotherhoodproject.org ) training project for local Comadronas (birth attendants) founded by Annette Borkent and Dr Ruth Brighouse. There is also a joint initiative in Pakistan with the Frontier Primary Health Organization and a linked program in Afghanistan with Tabish Health and Community Organisation. In this last case recent progress has now resulted in the first two trained community nurses working in one of the main refugee and displaced persons camps near Kabul. One possible future linkage of this committee is to assist with a new RCRC (Cambodia) incipient birth assistance program.
It would be impossible to end this brief review of the Rose Charities International Network programs, without mention of one of its largest areas: education. World Rose groups support primary schools in Madagascar (Rose Madagascar), Zambia (Malambo Grassroots), Uganda (4 schools – Stand Tall Education ( www.standtalleducation.org ) , Volset, and Brighter Smiles (2), ( www.brightersmilesafrica.ca ), Guatemala (Mayan Project of Dr Ellen Coburn www.mayanproject.org ) and Sri Lanka. In addition there are child education support programs in Uganda (Smiles Uganda founded by Mr Galib Kara), Cambodia and Sri Lanka, and a pre-school program in Sri Lanka also. There is higher education support in Uganda, Zambia and Sri Lanka. In the case of Sri Lanka, these programs have produced many graduates including those in medicine, engineering and law. Advanced training programs are sponsored by the Hillman Fund in Uganda and have included ETATS (Emergency Medicine Training program) as well as advanced GP training. In Cambodia students were assisted in accountancy training and now at the Rose Charities Eye clinic there is training of eye surgeons (assisted by Rose NZ and the Hillman Fund). The full title of the Hillman Fund is the ‘Hillman Medical Education Fund’ and this indicates the importance which is put on training by this Rose group. Many special ‘Hillman scholars’ have been supported over the years for advanced and/or postgraduate training. Earlier mentioned too has been the training of midwives and birth attendants. Vocational training programs in Sri Lanka and Uganda (Brighter Smiles) have helped many to find employment in all areas and there is in-house training in the Rose Sri Lanka head office in the management of programs including micro-credit and business planning. A novel peer-to-peer training program is also supported in Uganda.
Left to the end, but perhaps the most important element of all is fund-raising. None of the spectrum of great Rose projects mentioned could exist without the funding. Once again Rose persons continue to show themselves to be stars holding a panoply of the most varied, enjoyable and energetic fund-raising initiatives. New Zealand to New York, Cambodia to Costa Rica, Uganda to Guatemala, Zambia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines -all have, and continue to hold, events and occasions to raise funds. Rose’s very close partner organisation AMDA, in conjunction with Rose, has for the last 3 years held emergency relief fundraisers in Christ Church Cathedral Vancouver bringing in incredible virtuosos from Japan to play alongside local experts. Athletes ride for funds in the international Vancouver-Whistler Granfondo bicycle race. Events have included sponsored walks in Malaysia, musical evenings in New Zealand, ‘bling’ sales in Vancouver, street hockey tournaments in New York city, a ‘Bollywood dance training and performance evening in Vancouver and sponsored scrabble evenings. Rose Charities Australia even at one stage held a paper aeroplane- making and distance flying competition (one of the events I had a great personal enjoyment in attending) . For all these initiatives and also to our accounting teams who year after year assist with the so important baseline work to keep the organizations going – Bravo !… and a huge thank you.
It is very difficult in a limited ‘thumbnail’ report to present anywhere near enough information of the scale, achievements and diversity of the full Rose network. The above is really only a glimpse over its surface. The bottom line however is that all the programs and achievement are due to one overriding factor. That is the amazing people that Rose Charities is fortunate to be associated with. The network is not a centralised unit; it is, in fact simply a vehicle to help move forward the amazing work of individuals and their own groups of project supporters. The ‘Charity Rose’ award is, every year, awarded to one recipient only. There is no mandate for the awardees to be kept within Rose Charities, yet every year to date, this happens. The reason for this is that when it comes to assessment and vote for the recipient, the achievement and dedication of Rose persons invariably are simply the most outstanding proposed within and without the organisation !
No doubt 2015 will have its ups and downs. In an increasingly wealth-polarised world, however, the need for aid and assistance will not be diminishing. Rose programs will be needed more than ever. In addition the environmental changes of global warming may sadly mean increased natural disaster frequency and severity. Rose Charities now has a track record and experience level generated over its 15 years in formal existence. We are an organisation focused on the most direct assistance we can possibly give with the absolute minimum spent on admin costs. Every time disaster strikes we see many big charity organisations taking up large tracts of expensive media coverage, and most carry out excellent (though often very expensive) programs. Yet time and again, such as in Sri Lanka, Haiti and Tohoku, a year or more after the event, the smaller, grassroots Rose supported programs remain and continue to tend to those who have been affected by the event.
The 7th Rose Charities International Meeting 2015 will be held in the Proyecto San Gerado Costa Rica program site. (March 8 – 10 2015) – see ( www.rosecharities.info/events/rose7-info-pack.zip ) As with all meetings it is a huge opportunity to witness the projects and initiatives and speak to those who run them. In addition there are often amazing presentations of local culture that the average person will simply never witness. No donor money is ever spent on these meetings (unless specifically requested for that use) and delegates all pay their own transport and accommodation. They are informal and always prove a superb forum for networking and exchange of ideas. The meetings are not restricted to Rose personnel and anyone genuinely interested is invited to attend.
Rose Charities People and Programs span many ‘New Years’ – Lunar, Khmer, Hindu, Gregorian etc. The last of these however is now. So for this Gregorian New Year 2014/2015 let me take the opportunity to say ‘Bravo’ to all and everyone, givers, receivers (invariably the same thing), whatever involvement level. Its you that makes everything happen. You are magnificent and have my unparalleled praise and unreserved thanks.
Will Grut MD
31 December 2014