Thrive Project Zimbabwe is a Toronto-based non-profit initiative committed to reducing infant and maternal mortality in Zimbabwe. This landlocked country in southern Africa is experiencing a multifaceted crisis, including hyperinflation, more than 90% unemployment and a failing health infrastructure.
In addition, food insecurity results in most infants being born prematurely. Compounding the problem was the loss of all the country’s infant incubators in a fire at a Harare hospital.
Two of the founders of Thrive Project Zimbabwe, Kerry Grier and Munesu Munyaka, arranged for the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to donate 32 surplus incubators valued at more than $300,000. They worked with local volunteers such as the Toronto firefighters, who built crates and packed the incubators, but could not source enough funds to ship the containers to Zimbabwe. The Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe contacted John Lark and together with Mrs. Ché Weist, both members of the Ottawa Rotary club, they obtained sufficient funding to ship three containers to Zimbabwe.
Weist is vice president of the Ottawa club and chair of its International Service Committee. Former club president Lark is now head of the Ottawa Rotary Children’s Foundation.
Rotarians working together
Weist met with Rotary clubs from Kingston to Montreal to engage them as partners. Several clubs experienced with international projects provided helpful information and guidance. Lark and Weist also contacted the Harare Dawn Rotary Club to ensure the smooth arrival and installation of the incubators. MSC International, in Montreal, agreed to move the incubators by rail from Toronto and then to Harare by ship. A generous grant from the Ottawa Rotary Children’s Foundation was critical to the completion of this project.
A national solution
Meanwhile, Thrive Project Zimbabwe worked with local health officials in Zimbabwe to identify the incubator shortage in the country’s major hospitals. A committee of physicians allocated nine new incubators to Mbuya Nehanda Maternity Hospital as well as eight each to the Sally Mugabe Central Hospital, and the Mpilo Central Hospital. Gweru Provincial Hospital received four of the 32 incubators, and the Karanda Mission Hospital were given three.
Medical gowns, reusable diapers, masks and gloves, all of which are almost unavailable in Zimbabwe, were also sent.
A final container of medical testing equipment and medical supplies are still awaiting shipment since reduced international shipping has made transporting it difficult.
The Rotary Club of Ottawa thanks both Ché and John for their commitment to helping others in need. This is what Rotary is truly all about.
Watch the videos made by physicians in Zimbabwe thanking the Rotary clubs.
Zimbabwe incubators in the hospital
Zimbabwe incubators – movie