President heads overseas

Dr John Philip, of the Rotary Club of Mirfield, with the Nancio district commissioner.

Dr John Philip, of the Rotary Club of Mirfield, with the Nancio district commissioner.

The president of the Rotary Club of Birstall Luddites took part in “a life changing experience” as he travelled to Africa to help with a humanitarian project.

Bill Hildred spent three weeks in the remote Tanzanian island of Ukerewe to refurbish a hospital ward in the island’s biggest settlement, Nansio.

He was one of 19 volunteers who travelled to Africa on a trip led by members of Mirfield Rotary Club.

Mr Hildred said: “It was a culture shock and took around five days to get used to the conditions.”

“It was my first time out there and although I have been to Kenya before, I had seen nothing like that before.”

Mr Hildred’s main task was to refurbish a hospital ward built by the British in 1945.

The ward, known as ward six, was built to treat patients diagnosed with HIV, but more recently used to care for locals suffering from diarrhoea.

When asked about the conditions of the hospital, Mr Hildred said: “Shall we say Dewsbury and District Hospital it was not.

“The hospitals over there have not quite caught up with the rest of the world on the idea of hygiene.

“When working around the hospital you could not begin to imagine how dirty it was.”

Mr Hildred said it was common for people to turn up unannounced and sleep rough for days waiting for treatment.

The Rotarians, led by Mirfield Rotary Club member Dr John Philip, installed electrical fixtures at the ward, but faced many difficulties in getting the materials.

Mr Hildred said: “The materials were hard to work with as most were coming in from China and it was just junk.

“Most of the bulbs did not work and it was only when we got our hands on some branded bulbs could we use them.

“The local supplier, Dixit Patel, was known as the local B&Q but it was difficult to get the materials we needed. But we got there in the end.”

The Rotarians also repaired a pump at a water station, supplied educational materials and set up irrigation systems to help improve conditions for farmers.

Mr Hildred returned home last Sunday and said the locals were grateful for their help.

He said: “The trip was absolutely fantastic and it would have been nice to spend more time there.

“Quite a few expressed their gratitude and the district commissioner Mary Teshma Onesmo accepted the handover, which was great for us.”




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