Rotary to me is about going into the trenches with communities and working with them. I like my feet and hands community muddy.
So I had serious reservations at first about packaged grants. It sounded like The Rotary Foundation would do all the work and it would be handed to Rotarians as a done deal. Then I received an email from the Foundation that Aga Khan University had been identified as a potential strategic partner to train nurses within their university system in Eastern Africa. They were asking if District 9200 would be interested.
They shared the preliminary ideas and requested that we propose changes and improvements. This meant it was not a done deal at all, but that the Foundation wanted to work with us, using our experience and local knowledge to shape and improve the proposal.
Bits and pieces started falling in place. The local clubs would identify and mentor the students. Each student would be attached to a club for nurturing professionally and as a future Rotarian. The incoming vocational training teams, composed of expert nursing trainers, would develop the capacity of trainers at Aga Khan University. They would also be involved in a medical outreach during their stay. Medical camps are especially popular in our district. These camps give many people their first opportunity of seeing a doctor in years, sometimes ever.
What really made the packaged grant special to me was the very first team to arrive from Nigeria. The team was not shocked by the traffic jams in Kampala. They joked that Lagos is a lot worse. The team was fully familiar with the lack of basic medical facilities and resources common in developing countries, which enabled them to be real doctors, relying on their wits, training, and creativity to save lives. Who better to train the trainers of nurses? The two districts would have faced a real problem funding this vocational training team were it not for the packaged grant.
So, what do I think about packaged grants now?
Learn more about packaged grants, and find out how to apply for a packaged grant with Aga Khan University