Care and passion are two characteristics ingrained in the ethos of the staff compliment of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) of Stellenbosch University (SU). Many staff members are committed to charitable projects and organisations in the communities served by the faculty.
One of them, Prof Ronald van Toorn, recently received the coveted Paul Harris award from the Blouberg Rotary Club (BRC) in recognition of his exceptional service to both the Rotary Foundation and the Tygerberg Children's Hospital (TCH). This award is bestowed on members to show appreciation for contributions to the Rotary Foundation's charitable work and interventions within communities.
Van Toorn, a specialist in the SU's Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, says the BRC members, many of whom are business leaders, are actively involved in fundraising projects for various charitable projects in the Western Cape. Funds are also raised from international branches of the Rotary Foundation.
Many of these funds are earmarked for initiatives at the TCH and Tygerberg Hospital School, and steered by Van Toorn and his colleague Prof Johan Schoeman, who both are honorary members of the BRC.
The projects include the adoption of the paediatric neurological ward G9 as a long-term project, and the donation of computers and books to the school and renovations to the playground.
Van Toorn has been instrumental in procuring equipment for the TCH through his liaison with the Rotary Club, both locally and internationally. This include the donation of a Transcranial Doppler, with which the risk for strokes are determined in patients with sickle cell disease; a neurosurgical endoscope for delicate procedures and biopsies; and an otoacoustic emissions device to identify hearing impairment in children with bacterial meningitis. The latter was accomplished in cooperation with the SU's Department of Paediatrics and Child Health.
"The key to successful fundraising is to provide sponsors with adequate feedback on what their donations were used for and the positive impact thereof on the lives of people," Van Toorn said.
The BRC has a long-standing relationship with the TCH. Since 2004, they have been running a 'Meals on Wheels' project in the paediatric wards, feeding patients and parents. This project, operated at a cost of R35 000 per year, is co-sponsored by Rotary International.