Volunteering: Difference Makers Part 3 | Defining Purpose

Difference Makers Part 3

My Dad is a Difference Maker

I asked my Dad to write and tell me about his involvement in Rotoplast International.

“Volunteerism is something that has been near and dear to my heart for a long time.  I attribute this to the fact that my life has been so richly blessed, and I feel a duty or obligation to give back to my community both at home and abroad.

After joining Rotary in 1994, and being involved in giving back to the community, I wanted to do something more hands on than just raising funds. While I acknowledge the importance of fundraising, I was looking for a hands on experience. One day I came across a program on CBS in which Connie Chung was doing a story on free surgeries being performed on kids with cleft lip and palate, in third world countries.  This was very intriguing to me although I do not have a medical background.

Many years later a program called Rotoplast International was introduced to my local Rotary Club. Rotoplast International addresses cleft lip and palate cases in third world countries. Immediately following the meeting, I spoke with the presenter to tell him I would be very interested in getting involved.  Several months later I received a call from the former presenter, asking me to stand in for him on a mission to Peru, as he had a scheduling conflict.  I had been looking for an opportunity to serve in this way, so I jumped at the chance.

My first mission was La Roya, Peru. La Roya is located at 12,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains. Being at this altitude presented some interesting challenges as it was often hard to breathe, but despite the challenges, I was hooked. This trip was life changing for me, as it reminded me of how blessed we are in our home country, and how many disadvantaged kids there are, in third world countries, that cannot afford to pay for any sort of health care.  On this trip I decided that I wanted to continue to volunteer for Rotoplast on an ongoing basis.

My Dad Ken Funk on a mission to Peru. He is the handsome guy reaching out to this mom and child.

I was involved with Rotaplast International for 10 years.  I participated in 20 missions as a non-medical volunteer  to 8 countries. I also served for 6 years on the Rotoplast International Board of Directors which operated out of  San Francisco.”

It is interesting to me that my Dad is very squeamish in regard to hospitals and medical procedures. His background is business in the food industry. But it was so fun to watch his excitement and passion for these children who before surgery were often ostracized and shunned in their towns and villages. Having these surgeries really made a difference for all the children, many who were then able to attend school and enter back into society.

For more on Rotoplast International check out their website.

My cousin Suzanne is a difference maker

I asked Suzanne to explain what she is doing to help the people of Uganda.

“Our Maisha Store was birthed out of a heart of love for the precious people of Africa. After living in Uganda for 3 years, working alongside nationals, caring for 62 children, opening a community school and medical clinic, our eyes were open to a much deeper social economic issue. First and foremost, our mission is to help human beings—changing the lives of individuals, families and communities, for good. This change is much more than a quick fix or temporary solution. It means a perpetual altering of the systems and cycles that propagate poverty and economic disparity around the world. And we believe that socially-conscious industry holds the key to that permanent change.

We had an idea to sell jewelry made in Africa here in our North American context. As fun as fashion is, it’s also an industry that’s perfectly positioned to make a powerful impact. What makes us so unique is that we have direct relationship with our African artisans in the cities and rural villages of Uganda and Kenya. We make regular trips to Africa to meet with our artisans and better equip them in their craft and business. Maisha Store helps you make a difference with every purchase. When impact products are purchased the profits flow directly back to our artisans, helping them make the changes they desire.”

Suzanne with an artist in Africa.

Check out Maisha today at www.buymaisha.com

I am thankful to come from a family that has so many difference makers in it. I haven’t even begun to tell all of the stories of difference makers in our family. There are so many people in my family I haven’t written about yet who are making a difference!

How are you making a difference? If you can’t come up with an answer to that question contact me and maybe together we can help you find a way to make this world a better place.

See also “Difference Makers Part 1”, “Difference Makers Part 2”

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