Hawaii volunteers join humanitarian mission across the sea in Bali

Hawaii Rotarians join humanitarian mission to help people in Bali

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last month Rotary Club members from Hawaii made the 6,366-mile journey to Bali, Indonesia, for an international service project.

The Hawaii rotarians from District 5000 joined other rotarians to donate $160,000 worth of equipment to the Bali Blood Bank.

"What we can do with our global grants is enormous," rotarian Kathleen Rhoads Merriam said.

The Hawaii contingent also helped refurbish an orphanage. It was especially touching for Alison Kanamu, a mother, step-mom and grandmother.

"The minute I got there I already was tearing up. Wow! We're going to help these children. They just run up to you and give you a hug because they don't get that every day," she said.

Hawaii rotarians learned to make prosthetics for patients in need of artificial limbs.

Merriam got to see the man she was helping try on his new prosthetic leg.

"I helped him walk. He showed me how he could walk. That was an experience I'll never forget," she said.

The estimated Rotary Club contribution to Bali organizations was $250,000 along with two vehicles.

The payoff is priceless.

"We got to work with our clients hands on," Kanamu said.

"If you're involved with the beneficiary, that's the best way to give," Merriam said.

Hawaii rotary clubs do a lot of local projects we never hear about, like the makeover of the waiting room at the Windward Mental Health Center where Merriam works.

"They came in on a Friday night, Saturday and Sunday and just turned it upside down," she said.

Every few years some rotarians serve on a humanitarian mission like the one to Bali. This was Kanamu’s first international project.

"It was very moving. I'm so glad that I did it," she said.

There are 53 Rotary Clubs in Hawaii and about 1,660 rotarians. Twenty-five went on the Bali mission, paying their own way to touch the lives of total strangers.

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