Monday, March 20, 2023
What exactly do the Llanelli Rotarians do?

What exactly do the Llanelli Rotarians do?

Coming up to their centenary year the Llanelli Roatry Club has been delving through their archives in order to share some of the photos and press clippings, which document the rich and varied aspects of their work. The Rotarians raise money for local causes such as the Meals on Wheels service, tea parties for the elderly and numerous other activities, which can be seen on their website. They also get involved in international projects and one such activity, which has not been publicly celebrated until now has been the extraordinary contribution of £56,000 towards the international project of the Llanelli Rotary Club, the Ghana ‘Hark Project’. Llanelli Online interviewed Dr. Ken Abban about an extraordinary gesture by the Llanelli Rotarians to the people of Ghana.

A HARK is an acronym: Hearing Assessment and Research Klinic, where the ‘C’ in clinic is substituted for a ’K’. The HARK vehicle is a bespoke mobile clinic, built to Sound Seekers’ own specifications, mostly based on a Land Rover Defender 130 ambulance. Each vehicle carries its own generator, to enable the electronic audiology screening equipment to be operated in areas without a stable electricity supply. It also carries its own water supply, fridge for pharmaceuticals, and air conditioning. It has external awnings to provide shade for waiting patients. Each HARK clinic carries the audiology equipment necessary to assess a patient’s hearing and the health of the ear.

The Llanelli Rotary Club’s Ghana HARK Project began in the year 2007 upon the retirement of Rotarian Dr Ken Abban. He was contacted regarding some hearing equipment which had become obsolete and was being destroyed. On making several enquiries he came across a teaching Institution, University of Winneba, Ghana whose facilities were extremely basic and he thought some of these redundant equipment would be of benefit to the teaching university. The head of the department of Hearing and Speech is Dr Yaw N. Offei, whose aim is to early identify the hearing impaired so that early help could be offered to improve language and communication skills for the full maximisation of potential in the life of the hearing impaired.

By now Rotarian Dr Ken Abban had accumulated more redundant equipment from various hospitals across the UK which he knew would make a significant difference to Dr Yaw and his team in Ghana. The equipment was fully calibrated to the manufacturer’s specifications. However, the cost of transportation to Ghana was very expensive. It was then that he approached Llanelli Rotary Club, in the presidency of Rotarian Past President Carl Lucas and explained the position he was in and the club offered to pay for the transportation.

Following this, Rotarian Ken Abban and his wife visited the university of Winneba, and upon their arrival they were shown the equipment which had only just arrived. They were even invited to help open the boxes. To say that Dr Yaw Offei and his team were overwhelmed was an understatement and they impressed upon them what a significant difference this was going to make. He continued to show them round the department and were able to see at firsthand how poorly equipped the Hearing and Speech department was.

In July 2008, Dr Offei was in the UK for a conference and he took the opportunity to visit Rotarian Ken Abban, when he was able to address Llanelli Rotary Club to thank them for financing the transportation of the equipment. He emphasised the benefits that the equipment had already provided to the people of Ghana.

Llanelli Rotary Club then asked him if there was anything more they could do to help. He explained how difficult it was for people in rural areas to access the clinic. Dr Yaw had heard of the HARK mobile ambulance clinic being used by Sound Seekers in developing countries, to good effect and it was decided that the club would help to provide one for Ghana. So the HARK fundraising began in earnest. People of all walks of life in Llanelli took it to their hearts and generously contributed to it.

The cost of building and shipping the vehicle from the UK to Ghana was just over £58,000.00 and it was decided to proceed by means of Rotary matching Grants. The Rotary Club of Llanelli teamed up with Accra Labone Rotary Club in Ghana to facilitate the approval of the matching grants from the Rotary International.

Llanelli Rotary needed to raise approximately £17,000.00 which was matched by our Rotary District 1150. The rest was funded by the Rotary Foundation.

The Hark was built by MMB Motors of Macclesfield and shipped by Team Leyland International Limited, in Chorley, Lancashire where the Rotary club went to take the delivery before shipment to Ghana.

The vehicle is in now in full use in Ghana. The Rotary Club of Llanelli would like to thank all those who generously contributed towards the HARK programme for it to become a reality.

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