Suva Children's Hospital Multi-Purpose Room

by Edei Ledet

The call to action was brought to us by Dr Sue Woofenden of the Sydney Children's Hospital one Friday in 2016. Dr Sue shared her experiences volunteering at the Children's Hospital in Suva, Fiji. Highlighting a few needs, Dr Sue told us that the hospital had received donated audiology testing equipment but couldn't use if for lack of a sound-proof room. Her team estimated the cost to renovate a room was $10,000. To maximise use, refurbishing it as a "Multi-Purpose Room" would meet another need, a room for doctors to assess children suspected of abuse (something that at that time was often being done in the hospital's crowded hallways). Why is this Multi-Purpose Room important? Because children with undiagnosed hearing impairments suffer life-long disabilities. Abused children who fall through the social justice cracks may never overcome the despair of their childhood and are more likely to be abusive adults.
The International Service Committee met that Fri and Dr Sue's talk inspired them to take action. This project was perfect for a Global Grant, though it proved difficult to line up a Global Grant partner. Ultimately, the Club decided to apply for, and received, a $5,000 District Grant to match a $5k Club contribution. There were many snafus and "learnings" along the way. RC-Suva East (Fiji) agreed to manage the project and account for the funds. Initially, RC-Suva East contributed no funds because they were actively raising funds for Cyclone Winston Disaster Relief, the 2016 storm that devastated many Fijian island communities. However, when cost estimates increased on the Multi-Purpose Room project, without being asked, RC-Suva East stepped up and contributed the shortfall.
There are many heroes in the Suva Children's Hospital Multi-Purpose Room Rotary Story. Many Rotarians took part. Rotarians throughout District 9675 whose donations to The Rotary Foundation resulted in District Grant funds being available. Coves who fundraised through our annual Regatta which generates Club Funds each year that later became the Club's matching $5k contribution. Coves who organised the project and ensured that Club and District funds were well-spent and accounted. The Rotarians in RC-Suva East, including Vineeta Nand, who took ownership and guided the project through many meetings with hospital administrators and contractors, threaded the bureaucratic red-tape, kept our Club up-to-date on the progress and ensured that the completion of the Multi-Purpose Room in Aug 2016 represented the Rotary ethos. The Suva Children's Hospital Rotary Story is but one example of Rotarians around the world joining forces to make a significant and sustainable difference at the coal-face in a community. Pictures of the very blue Multi-Purpose Room are below. In a thank you note the Club received in December, lead physician, Dr I. Vereti Tuibeqa acknowledged the lasting benefit of our work:
Many thanks for considering us for the future wellbeing of Fiji children. By the way, the new soundproof, aircon room is being requested by all medical groups- local and visiting. We are the controllers still. Much loved by all.