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This way but once

Carolyn Rouse
Monday, March 04, 2013

This was the welcome speech at a Valentine's Day charity ball.

"IWA (Fiji) is a charity organisation first established in Fiji in 1995. With an annual membership of about 100 ladies, from more than 27 nationalities, we are truly multi-cultural. We have a proud history of charitable service to the community, focused on our objective to 'promote and assist the physical, educational and social welfare of needy women and children in Fiji'.

"This year we are very excited about our decision to make our charity focus women's health, by improving and developing the capacity of the existing Oxfam Women's Clinic, to become the wellness centre for women.

"We are daring to 'dream big' with our vision to create a modern, accessible, well-equipped centre, offering a wide range of holistic health services available to every woman in the community. We are totally committed to this project, and by supporting us at this function, you are all making a significant contribution to this worthy project. In fact you can all say that you were present at the 'birth' of this charity initiative.

"In my role of Mrs Dean of the medical school, I hear many sad stories of women coming to seek medical care too late ... with advanced breast cancer, or cervical cancer, two of the leading causes of death for women in our community.

"I applaud the Ministry of Health for its immunisation program to protect our young girls from cervical cancer, as prevention is so critically important.

"This is why we believe that this project is so important for the women in our community.

"The existing clinic has been for many years the first stop for those seeking advice and care on all aspects associated with women's and reproductive health.

"The hardworking and dedicated staff at the clinic are doing their best to cope with a significant increase in demand for even basic services. For example, the demand for pap-smear at the moment is more than double the current capacity. Space and resources at the clinic are currently stretched to the limit, putting staff under significant pressure.

"Our vision is of a high quality wellness centre for women that will be able to meet this growing demand, now and in the future.

"A centre which meets the needs of the community in providing services such as health promotion information, raising awareness of the importance of breast self examination and of the need for regular papsmear. We will support the clinic's focus on comprehensive family planning services, information about pregnancy, counselling and so much more. We hope that the rejuvenated clinic will have a positive impact on women's health in our community.

"We would like to thank LHM Architects for donating their time and expertise in preparing the plans that show what needs to be done to develop and improve the clinic in a professional and sustainable way. These plans have been formulated in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and current clinic staff.

"Please take some time tonight to have a look at the proposed plans. IWA has made a commitment to raise funds on an ongoing basis to ensure that this clinic will be a lasting legacy for the women in our community. An ambitious project like this is always so much more successful if there is collaboration and support from all sectors of the community, so if you think of any way you can contribute to our plans, please let us know.

"I would like to leave you with one of my favourite thoughts, written by William Penn: 'I expect to pass through this life but once. If, therefore, there can be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, for I shall not return this way again'."

* Carolyn Rouse is the president of the International Women's Association.

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