The Rotary Club of Port Macquarie West is taking part in an ingenious project that literally gives a hand to those in need.
On Saturday, March 16, members of the club participated in the thrilling project destined to change the lives of landmine victims in a big way.
After a successfully building a number of prosthetic hands and arms for landmine victims two years ago, the club decided to hold another working bee and built 10 more prosthetic hands.
Julie Constable, president of the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie West, said it was overwhelming to know the arms would go to help people work, write and eat by themselves again.
"It is all thanks to Joan and Trevor Gibson that the club is able to participate in such a wonderful project," Ms Constable said.
"Two years ago we were able to participate in the project to build prosthetics under the instructions of an expert but on Saturday they were the ones guiding us all.
"It is so heartwarming to know that we can actually make a real difference in the lives of men, women and children who have experienced so much hardship."
Joan Gibson, international director for the club, said the background to this project focuses on the debilitating effects that landmines have on ordinary people.
"The statistics available tell us an estimated 384,000 people have one or two hands missing from landmine accidents around the world and a large proportion of the victims are children," Mrs Gibson said.
"There are about 120 million landmines still set in the world and on average there are 2000 accidents per month. Landmines are being cleared at a rate of 100,000 per month."
Mrs Gibson said the actual assembly of the hands came down to groups of Rotarians working together.
"The project involves assembling 37 very small pieces into a prosthetic hand that would give a disabled person in a developing country the chance to gain employment and live a productive independent life," she said.
"Each completed hand was encased in a zip-up bag that contained personal messages of good will from us.
"It took the group less than two hours to assemble the prosthetic hands, and all participants agreed that it was one of the most worth-while Rotary projects they had ever been involved in."
The project is part of a Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) project which was made possible by the club securing a grant that covered most of the overall cost.
The completed hands will be quality tested and then delivered to landmine victims in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Laos.
It is expected members of the club will get letters or notification in the next year from the people who receive the arms adding a person touch to the project, Ms Constable said.
"When we did the project last time it really hit home that real people get the arms we made because they sent us photos and a letter when they receive them," she said.
"It was overwhelming to think something we created can have such a big impact on the lives of someone we won't meet but that is what Rotary is all about."
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