McMinnville Breakfast Rotary Club members have made a grueling 112-hour journey to Namibia, South Africa and back.
Making the trip across the world were Pat Bigbee, Neal Cox, Rayah Kirby, Emily Phillips, Katherine Denton, Dave Messina and Rachel Killebrew.
“It was wonderful,” said Killebrew. “I love animals and animals rule there. I took plenty of pictures of us tending to the baboon cages, feeding the carnivores and other animals, and sawing logs for ladders for the baboons.”
Killebrew completed a bucket list item.
“I got to kiss a cheetah,” she said. “That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. There were three cheetahs that had been rescued when they were small. They are the only ones you can actually pet. I kissed one.”
While in Namibia, the Breakfast Rotary members were among 75 volunteers helping with a school, wildlife preserve, and healthcare clinic.
Namibia is the country with the least rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa. With limited rain, sparse transportation, and poor accessibility, it is imperative every rain drop be saved.
The local team’s trip was centered around a grant that provided a water filtration system at Na’ankuse Medical Clinic, which offers free healthcare and schooling for the San Bushmen people in Namibia.
The grant, written by Killebrew, provided the clinic with additional water by putting gutters on the roof of the clinic to collect water in barrels. The water passes through a filtration system as it enters the clinic.
Dr. Rudie van Vuuren, his wife Marlice, and pharmacist friend Chris Heunis started Lifeline Clinic in 2003. Along with medical care, they focus on education of the children with outreach programs at local schools. Rudie is the brother of McMinnville resident Pieter van Vuuren, president of First National Bank.
The clinic, based in Epukiro in the east part of Namibia, began as a monthly outreach service provided by the doctors and pharmacists who traveled from the capital city of Windhoek to provide free healthcare to the San community, which lives in extreme poverty.
The San community is considered to be the oldest culture in the world and its residents are traditionally hunter-gatherers. They have been forced from their original lands, leaving the San unable to survive in their traditional lifestyle. Many San children suffer from malnutrition, disease, discrimination and abuse. Adult-onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are sharply increasing and alcoholism has become prevalent.
In 2012, over 500 international volunteers aged 18 and over came from all over the world to be a part of the working projects which support the wildlife and people of Namibia. The local team volunteered for three weeks.
For more information, visit www.naankuse.com.