Rotary World Help
In 1997, a group of dedicated Rotarians from the Province of British Columbia, Canada established Rotary World Help (RWH), a non-profit, registered charitable organization that coordinates the shipment of used and donated educational, humanitarian and medical supplies to countries in need throughout the world.
The RWHN is operated by a board of directors made up of Rotarians from 40 (and counting) clubs and two districts in British Columbia. Membership in this society costs Rotary Clubs $10. per club member per year. These fees are used to cover costs such as local transportation, telephone, truck rentals and subsidies of shipments when required.
The concept for the RWH started in 1992 when a group of Vancouver Club Rotarians were in Kiev, Ukraine helping to set up a club charter. This group from Vancouver saw the poor state of the medical facilities in Kiev and decided they had to find a way to help.
In 1993, Bill Richwa, Ralph Towsley and Ted Segodnia organized the first shipment of medical supplies and equipment to Kiev. By 1997, the project was so successful it became too large and complex for one club to handle. From this beginning, the RWH was born under the leadership of its founding President, Bill Richwa, a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Vancouver. It was established as a registered society in September 1997.
One of the key features of this organization is that it acts as one central clearing-house for the province wide collection of usable materials and medical supplies. All donating hospitals and organizations are able to deal with one organization rather than numerous clubs. This makes the collection and distribution of supplies very efficient.
Since its incorporation, the RWH has sent 288 container shipments to 52 different countries throughout the world - a market value of over $100 million.
To make certain the shipments are properly distributed, the RWH only ships to countries where there is a Rotary Club willing to act as receiver and distributor. This ensures that the goods get into the right hands and helps build a worldwide supporting network. This security is very important since the replacement cost of these shipments range from $250,000 to $1,000,000. The value of the average container is approximately $350,000.
Rotary World Help is a wonderful example of the power of Rotary and how individual Rotarians can make a difference. During 1999, one such individual, Bill Richwa was honoured by being awarded the “Service Above Self Award” from Rotary International. This is Rotary International’s highest honor for individual Rotarians. The RWH offers an ideal opportunity to help people in need throughout the world. It does not get any better than that!