SACO (WGME-TV) -- A local group has been collecting crutches, canes and wheel chairs over the last year. On Saturday in Saco, volunteers worked to ship what they’ve gathered to people in Africa who are in desperate need. Rotary Club members have collected the supplies for the non-profit organization, Crutches 4 Africa. David Talbot and his wife founded the non-profit about 8 years ago in Denver. They were with the Rotarians who helped load the assistive devices in Saco on November 8, 2014.
District Newsletter
Special International Edition
One of the things that sets Rotary apart from many other public service organizations is our involvement with international projects and grants. Over the years, many clubs in our district have funded or been active in a variety of ways assisting people in need in some of the poorest and least developed parts of the world. As I’ve talked with Rotarians around the district, it seems that many of us are not aware of all the great international projects our clubs are involved in. District International Service chair, Mary Tennant of the Brunswick Coastal RC, and her committee are trying to do something about that. This is the first of what we hope will be several District Newsletters devoted entirely to international service. All of you can help by being sure that Mary and her committee know about any international grants, projects, or activities your club is involved in. Read about all the ways District 7780 Rotarians are helping to build a better world.

A Message from the District International Service Committee Chair 

Perhaps your Rotary club has been very involved in large international service projects for many years, or you might belong to a club that would like to become more involved in international service but don’t know where to start. In any case, the District International Service Committee would like to help. In an effort to do that, this is the first in a series of special edition District newsletters focused entirely on international service projects.

In September, the committee met for the first time, with members sharing their interest in international service and the projects of each of their respective Rotary clubs. We were surprised to hear of the many projects that are underway, just by listing our own clubs’ projects! It was then that we realized that there are life transforming international projects being sponsored by clubs from every corner of District 7780, many of which we have no knowledge. We are currently gathering information from each Rotary club through a Survey Monkey sent out to club presidents.

How many times have you sat in at a Rotary meeting or District event and been mesmerized to hear about the impact Rotarians are making in distant lands?  Perhaps you have noticed that this impact has been felt not only by those whose children are being inoculated from Polio or receiving potable drinking water for the first time but also by those Rotarians who have traveled to distant lands to make this happen. Rotarians recognize that an international service trip is truly life changing and is something we all have on our bucket lists, but finding the opportunity to work abroad can often seem daunting- particularly if our own Club is not directly involved in an international project.
Yet opportunities abound in District #7780 for Rotarians to take part in international service. Rarely a month goes by when local Rotarians are not trundling off to Logan to change lives in various parts of the globe and most, if not all, clubs with overseas service projects welcome Rotarians from other Clubs (as well as non-Rotarians) to participate on these projects. Additionally, Rotary International-led or affiliated projects such as Polio National Immunization Days, Rotoplast or Pure Water for the World offer the opportunity to do great work while forming friendships with like-minded Rotarians from around the globe.
Save a Life for $6

This child is one of 260 residents of the Mbabaali School for Orphans in Uganda, where malaria nets have been in desperately short supply. Thanks to a fundraiser along with a silent auction supported generously by a capacity crowd in September, the Brunswick Coastal Rotary Club was able to send enough nets to the orphanage so that each child will now sleep under one. Malaria claims the lives of 483,000 children every year -- 90 percent of them in Africa -- while accounting for half of preventable absenteeism in African schools as well as learning disabilities. 
PDG Carolyn Johnson and Foundation Chair Peter Johnson visited the Mbabaali School during their recent trip to Uganda and assisted the Kajjansi Rotary Club with distribution of the nets.
At about $6 apiece, the nets are the most cost-effective way to prevent malaria among African youth, many of whom have compromised health due to other conditions, such as HIV infection. The disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. This bite introduces the parasites from the mosquito's saliva into a person's blood. The parasites then travel to the liver where they mature and reproduce. Medicine to treat the disease isn't always available in areas where poverty is rampant, and in some cases malaria is proving resistant to drugs.
Crutches Collection Transforms Lives 
Dave Talbot, founder of Crutches 4 Africa, loads the last crutch into a cargo container.
District #7780 was fortunate to welcome back Dave Talbot, founder of the hugely successful Crutches 4 Africa program, in November. Dave is a member of the Evergreen Colorado Rotary as well as a polio survivor. Crutches 4 Africa has been a tremendously successful program and one in which our District can take substantial pride.  Talbot and his wife Candice were here in Maine to assist in the packing of their 13th shipping container (four of which have come from #7780!) which will be the first headed to the southern African nation of Zambia.
Crutches 4 Africa was started in 2005 after the Talbots traveled to Uganda on a photography trip and returned home aghast at the rudimentary mobility devices used by many African Polio victims. Dave and Candice began to collect discarded crutches locally in Colorado. “Our initial collection brought in 235 pairs of crutches” says Talbot “and we found space in a container already destined for Uganda”. Since that first shipment in 2006 this endeavor to help those hindered with mobility issues has grown with collections going forward in a dozen states and more than 58,000 pieces of mobility devices being delivered into the hands of mobility challenged people, and all without cost to the recipient, in 15 countries in Africa and 9 other destinations.
Today, Crutches 4 Africa hosts collection sites in the US, Europe and Australia including many in our District thanks to the great efforts of Dennis Robillard of the Saco Bay Club (a C4A Advisory Board member) and Tom Wilbur of the Freeport Club.  Organizing a collection site is a simple and inexpensive way to start an international service project for a Rotary or Interact Club either by placing a collection bin or signage in a suitable location (a school, church or place of business.
Please contact Dennis or Tom for more information.
Dennis Robillard
Tom Wibur
National Awards Services Inc.
Russell Hampton