“Being a Rotarian gives me a sense of purpose. I have a reason to get up every morning and feel the same passion to work for the community and feel that we are all working towards a bigger change,” says Lucie Kasanga, Past District Governor, RI District 9210.
She believes in the power of doing good. Her day starts as early as 4 am and some days, she can be busy right up to 9pm. A civil engineer by profession, Lucie is also the Program Manager for RFHDs in Zambia and the success of the 2022 Zambia Health Day program is proof of the drive and passion Lucie and her team have to serve the communities.
“Because of the Covid lockdown, most people in our communities had no access to medical services as a majority of the clinics and hospitals were being used as COVID-19 wards. So, this was a challenge and at the same time, a great opportunity for us to help these people get access to free community healthcare services. And we are really grateful to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, USA who sponsored our program and lent support for the launch,” shares Lucie.
Zambia Family Health Day 2022
Launched on World Malaria Day on April 25, the Zambia Health Day was a big hit among the community members. Set up at 15 different site locations, the Rotary Family Health Days offered 15 different health services including testing, screening, immunizations and medication. “Apart from HIV/AIDS and Malaria, various water-borne diseases are very common in Zambia. Moreover, these days we are also seeing a spike in lifestyle diseases. Diabetes and hypertension have become common and most people aren’t aware that they have it. RFHA provided us a platform to address these health issues and make people aware about improving their lifestyle,” she said.
The recent detection of a polio case in Malawi was also point of focus in Zambia this year. “We added the polio immunization service on our list this year because there is a scare. Although it is just one case which is a sigh of relief, we cannot ignore that. Polio was eradicated from Zambia in 1995. With eight open borders around the country and people moving freely, we have to take every precaution to ensure no new cases erupt. But I am glad that the government and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative members are working round the clock to ensure immunizations are provided to 4.2 million children in Malawi and also to the kids in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia.”
Joining the Club
“I have known about Rotary since the 80s when I used to work with the church. Those were the times when one would not see many female Rotarians in the clubs, so there was not much hope for me to join. But I remember once we needed help with a pump and tank installation and some kitchen equipment for an old people’s home that I was looking after, and we received that help from Rotary. And this is how I found a connection with the organization,” reminisces Lucie.
She was officially invited to join the Rotary Club of Lusaka in 2004 and was the second African female president to be appointed in the club. “After years of working with other NGOs and linking them up with Rotary Clubs and Rotarians for support, I was extremely happy when they invited me to join the club. I found the best place to do what I love doing – serve the communities. It is a part of my life and a part of my faith,” says Lucie.
That ‘Aha’ Moment
Lucie’s Rotary journey is packed with some heart-warming anecdotes that have a special place in her heart. “There have been quite a few moments when I felt that being a Rotarian was the best thing I have ever done. I remember when I was a Rotary Club member of Lusaka, we went to Mawenzi and helped in building a separate ward for new-born babies and expectant mothers. The clinic had no separate ward for them. They were using the same room with just curtains being used to give some privacy.”
“Imagine how uncomfortable it was for the expectant mothers to be in the same room with men and children. Our club helped building a separate maternity wing and a ward for the new born babies. With the help of the local partners and Rotary contacts, we also donated new cots for the babies. This whole experience was so joyful and I was so overwhelmed looking at what we have achieved,” says Lucie with a wide smile on her face.
Success of the Zambian program
“Our first program of scale in Zambia funded by Rotary International and other partners like World Vision, Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, was to eliminate Malaria in the country. RFHA coming in and offering 3-days of free health services in the country, gave us an added advantage.”
Talking about the reach of the program, Lucie highlights the need of more such health days in Zambia. “The doctors at the sites who thought Tuberculosis was eliminated were taken by surprise when they detected 10 cases of TB just on Day 1 of the program. And this was just from one community. This was an eye-opener.”
She stresses on the need to organize one more health day in Zambia before the end of this year. “The communities were absolutely ecstatic as for the first time they were able to receive so many health services free of charge and get further diagnostics. Our communities want these health days, including the health practioners,” adds Lucie.
Lucie’s passion and motivation comes from one core understanding - our efforts hold the power to impact the lives and wellbeing of so many others. The success of the Zambia Health Day proves that.
Watch the video interview here: