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Peter Sotheran “Battling Aids in Kenya”

Peter has been a member of Rotarians for many years. He is also a Director of Charity

Foundation to support Music in Education in deprived countries & a Magistrate in Guisborough besides founding the Sotheran Printing business.

Peter was asked by a friend to plan and co-ordinate a world-wide group of professionals for a two week project outside Nairobi in 2008 which was the largest mission ever funded by Rotary. Previously

Rotary work helped to reduce Polio cases from 350,000 per year to 300. The mission was to sexually active young females needing advice and support. They were offered free optical, dental and health treatment in order to get them in for Aids checks. The mission involved 21 flights for 70 experts from 14 countries who arrived for the Nairobi Conference, this included Dentists, Opticians & Doctors with a subsidy of ú1,000,000. All paid their own expenses, approx ú1500 each. Hotels were arranged by the local Rotary. Peter organized the 200 local volunteers who comprised the mission teams. Nurses and translators formed an essential part of these teams who treated some 11,000 patients. The mission was supported by 5 Rotary Clubs and 3 world-wide charities. 8,5million US dollars were raised for this 5 year project.

Peter worked in Mukura slum which was about the size of the Wilton Site with 750,000 people inhabitants. Mukura was formerly a plantation, but the owner allowed the erection of 100,000 tin sheds, charging ú5 per month for each one. Crime was rife & many photographs were taken of medical supplies to prevent theft and corruption, photographs of people were only taken with permission. One-third of the Nairobi population live in slums.

There are 33,000,000 people with Aids world-wide, of whom 22,000,000 are in Africa. 15,000,000 African children have been orphaned & many teenagers are the “head of the family”. Faith, of any kind, was very important to local people. Many adult males believe that sex with a child prevents


General health and oral hygiene lectures were given as people waited in the long queues. Opticians carried out basic acuity screening & identified 20% for treatment, for whom prescription glasses and a lens grinding service was provided. Albino patients were rare & so were examined by all the

professionals. They were victims in their own society because they were different. Dentists worked off fixed dining tables, covered in cling film, to prevent movement. Each dentist had two patients at a time with extraction the only treatment, toothbrushes and paste were issued free. The queue waited 40 yards away so they didn’t hear the pain! Medical and Pharmacy teams were integral to the mission & up to

1,000 prescriptions were issued per day. The mission provided 50% of the finances required, fulfilling the

Rotary Motto – Make Dreams Real.

A vote of thanks was proposed by Dick Hawkins.