I can hear the questions now – what is ROMAC? What does it do?
ROMAC stands for Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children and is a Rotary charitable organisation run entirely by volunteers in Australia and New Zealand.
Nobody working for ROMAC is paid a cent and we have no large buildings, paid staff or offices so that every dollar raised goes straight to providing flights accommodation and medical treatment. This is for children in the Pacific who have no other access to the treatment they need. Children who come from as far afield as E. Timor, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Is. It is always lifesaving or providing dignity and self- respect for the children concerned. To that effect, 22 children were successfully operated on in NZ last year. This year there will undoubtedly be more.
Two of my fellow club members Leigh Kelly, Bill Horne and myself are very proud to be part of the NZ ROMAC team along with the rest of the committee , also Rotarians, in New Zealand , who make this happen. We all have roles to suit our capabilities. Mine is to get these children into hospital and co-ordinate the hospital care in Auckland . Leigh’s is to arrange the training and medical education of nurses and young doctors in Vanuatu . Bill’s job is to take the beautiful photos of the children before, after and in hospital that are used in both countries to show what can be done to help the less fortunate, if we put our minds to it.
The other members of the committee have other very important roles in respect to fundraising, involving the local Rotary clubs in helping by sponsoring and looking after a child during their stay , or arranging their food , travel and accommodation. Our medical director Dr Eric Horne, is a New Lynn Rotarian who is overall medical director ROMAC in both countries.
The types of conditions treated vary and we try to spread the treatment around the various hospital and districts if possible . However the severity and degree of difficulty means that most have to be treated in the major centres such as Waikato for orthopaedics and at Starship in particular for the heart and neurosurgery conditions. The vast majority of need is for heart surgery which is expensive averaging $40,000.00 per operation. There is always a juggling act between what we can do and what we cannot.
One of my greatest pleasures is seeing the wee girl who arrived with blue lips and unable to stand for more than a few minutes, racing down the hospital corridor two or three days after surgery, eyes shining. Then, there are the parents from an outer island where there is no electricity or running water , sitting in paediatric intensive care ,(PICU) just after surgery, with their child attached to numerous scary machines and wires, their face alight because t heir child has had an operation that will ensure that he or she will have a normal life expectancy.
Did you know, that if every Rotarian in New Zealand gave $20.00 to ROMAC every year, that would be a small thing for each Rotarian but a huge help to ROMAC and to these children. Would that be so hard to do? Please think about it.
ROMAC committee member and Henderson Rotarian
For more information on ROMAC click here
If you like what you read here, why not consider attending a Henderson Rotary meeting to find out more about what Rotary does? Click here for contact details.