By Giovanni Cappa, member of the Rotaract Club of Pavia, Italy
Two Rotaract districts on two continents, Italy and Africa, joined forces to help defend the oceans. Over several months, Rotaract members from District 2050, Italy and District 9150, Africa worked with pharmaceuticals and industry professionals to collect medications and medical instruments to be brought onboard the Sea Shepherd ship, MY Bob Barker.
Sea Shepherd is an international, non-profit marine conservation organization that engages in direct action campaigns to defend wildlife, and conserve and protect the world’s oceans from illegal exploitation and environmental destruction. One of Sea Shepherd’s ships, the MY Bob Barker, has been protecting Africa marine reserves and defending them from poaching and illegal fishing, collaborating with the local governments and naval authorities.
Sea Shepherd vessels sail at open sea for months and are completely autonomous. In every mission, there’s always a medic among the volunteers in the crew. Since Sea Shepherd relies entirely on donations, sometimes the availability of medications and medical tools onboard is limited. As a medical doctor myself and a volunteer with Sea Shepherd, I wanted to provide advanced healthcare to all volunteers and navy personnel working on the ship over long periods of time.
With the help of my fellow Rotaractors from District 2050, a massive project was planned in collaboration with the Rotaractors members in District 9150, Western Africa. Prior to this project, we didn’t know any member from District 9150 but we contacted them through their public page on Facebook to discuss the potential partnership. Our goal for this service project was to bring lifesaving medications and high tech medical devices onboard the Sea Shepherd ship in Gabon.
Several months prior to the start of the mission, we connected with Sea Shepherd’s headquarters to understand which medications and medical instruments were most needed onboard. We then started to gather the materials, both in Italy and Gabon. We contacted major pharmaceutical companies in Europe and we also had a big donation from Flamor S.R.L., an Italian company that provides medical tactical gear to the Italian Army and Special Forces.
In August, I flew to Gabon and met Rotaract members from Gabon’s Rotaract clubs. During this time, all the material collected over the past months was brought onboard and the two districts signed a certificate of partnership.
All of us, thanks to Rotary, were able to meet each other and organize a service project even while miles apart. Technology and social media helped us communicate and organize the whole process. It is through projects like this, that we learn the potential of Rotary and how it connects beautiful minds across the world.
Please note, if you would like to take on similar initiatives to donate medicine as part of a project, it’s important to work with pharmaceutical professionals to ensure the correct items are being donated.