Dignitas President and CEO Marilyn McHarg delivered the keynote speech at a recent Rotary luncheon in Toronto. It was an opportunity for Marilyn to thank Rotarians for their longstanding support.
“When Dignitas first started working in Malawi in 2004, HIV/AIDS was a humanitarian crisis throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. In partnership with the Malawi Ministry of Health, we’ve saved nearly 200,000 lives over the last 10 years. This achievement has been made possible because of generous supporters like Rotary,” said Marilyn.
In her speech Marilyn thanked Rotarians for giving their time and energy to raise funds for the organization’s medical and research programs. Rotary’s support totals over half a million dollars, as well as three vehicles that enable Dignitas’s health care workers to reach patients in remote rural communities every day. Thirteen Rotary clubs recently came together to support Dignitas with a Global Grant, raising over $125,000 to fund our Expert Patient Program.
Chuck Taylor, a Rotarian and longstanding Dignitas supporter, has been a key part of these fundraising efforts.
“I first got involved with Dignitas after attending an event at University of Toronto event entitled ‘Africa: Hope in the Balance’. The speakers at the event included Dignitas co-founder James Orbinski and MSF Canada’s then-Executive Director Marilyn McHarg,” said Chuck.
Chuck was inspired by the organization’s innovative approach to tackling the AIDS epidemic so he reached out to his fellow Rotarians to join him. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that they already knew about Dignitas.
“It turned out that my club, the Rotary Club of Uxbridge, had made a donation towards Dignitas International co-founder James Fraser’s first trip to Malawi.”
Chuck subsequently met Chris Snyder, another Rotarian who was raising funds to purchase an ambulance for Dignitas. His club contributed to the effort.
Over the years, Chuck has spoken to Rotary Clubs across the country and made presentations about our work. He and fellow club members also participate in the annual Rotary Trump AIDS Poker Walk. For Chuck, it’s all about impact:
“Dignitas is engaged in leading-edge work to find breakthroughs for HIV/AIDS and other health care challenges. As we witness the end of an epidemic, Dignitas is one of many organizations making significant impact,” affirmed Chuck.
Dignitas’s operational model seems to resonate with Rotarians like Chuck, and others like Robbi Howlett and Maureen Bird who have directly participated in Dignitas’s work.
According to Chuck, the organization’s work can be summed up in four words: “deliver, strengthen, innovate, advocate. In addition to delivering medical care, Dignitas is finding better answers so that others around the world can effectively roll out health care solutions. Innovation and health system strengthening are just as important as the delivery of care.”
As Dignitas celebrates 10 years of Living Results, we sincerely thank all of our Rotary partners for their committed support. To learn more, check out the video below.