‘Always going to be a need’

South Surrey fundraising helps Rotary projects in Cambodia and Thailand, but there is still more to be done.

Rotary Club of South Surrey's Brian O’Ruairc (left)

Rotary Club of South Surrey's Brian O’Ruairc (left)

Brian O’Ruairc has seen his share of shoddy living conditions, but the AIDS hospice he visited in Bangkok last year took him aback.

There were patients dying on beds with no linen, sewage running through the middle of the room and minimal equipment – conditions the average person likely couldn’t imagine being subjected to.

“Never (seen anything like it),” the longtime Rotarian said of the Ban Bang Boon facility, “and I’ve been in all the slums in London.

“The pictures kind of sanitize it,” he added. “You have to add 38-degree heat and 85- to 90-degree humidity. One of the (patients) I saw was just on the rusted steel.”

O’Ruairc visited the hospice with honorary club member Chip Bowness, after looking in on Rotary-funded improvements underway at an orphanage in Cambodia. Without hesitating, O’Ruairc committed his Rotary Club of South Surrey to raising $15,000 for a new roof, floor and more at the hospice.

“He couldn’t walk away and not say, ‘We’ll find it somewhere,’” said Deirdre O’Ruairc, his wife and past-president of the Rotary club.

On return to his White Rock home, and after sharing the plan to help with Peace Arch News, the funds were found within two months, through individual donations and help from two other Peninsula Rotary clubs (Semiahmoo and White Rock). One donor who wants to remain anonymous gave $10,000.

The opening of a new hospice – the facility had to be relocated –  was celebrated last May.

But while the conditions are much improved, there is still more to be done.

The hospice was started 22 years ago by a Thai woman who, now 61, continues to handle its daily operations – from laundry and patient care to removing the bodies of those who have died. With no government aid, she relies solely on donations, largely from her own family and the Rotary Club of Bangkok South.

“There is always going to be a need there,” said Deirdre O’Ruairc. “Just because the actual construction is done doesn’t mean the need is gone.”

Exactly how the Rotary club will continue its involvement has yet to be determined, but “it’s hard to get that far and walk away,” she said.

Brian O’Ruairc noted a donation that may seem small to some can make a world of difference.

“Five thousand dollars is nothing, but look what it can do,” he said.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

An officer collects forensic evidence from a police SUV following the July 18, 2015 incident that ended in the police-shooting death of Hudson Brooks in South Surrey. (File photo)
Experts discuss toxicology, use-of-force at inquest into fatal 2015 police shooting in South Surrey

Proceedings could lead to recommendations for preventing similar deaths

TEASER - SAGAís Gift Shop Manager Barbie Warwick wearing The Summons while sketching in Facing Time exhibit. Photo by Pardeep Singh.jpg
‘The Summons’ face masks created as fundraiser for Surrey Art Gallery Association

Image of magnolia flower and poetry printed on specially designed mask

Whalley Chiefs general manager Paul Hargreaves in the stands at the club's diamond at Whalley Athletic Park. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey baseball clubs prep for spring games as COVID threatens another season

‘I’m really excited about this year, because we have the troops in place,’ Whalley Chiefs GM says

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Delta’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb

Total number of cases in Fraser Health increased by 206 from Feb. 21-27

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP members responded to calls of a man-down at Landsdowne mall in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. The 40-year-old was suffering from stab wounds. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man in critical condition following afternoon attack outside Richmond mall: RCMP

The Vancouver resident was found lying injured outside Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

A bus rider uses a support bar with an anti-microbial copper coating, newly implemented as part of a TransLink pilot program. (TransLink)
‘Self-disinfecting’ copper coming to more of TransLink’s fleet to fight against COVID-19

The transit authority says tests showed the surface was 99.9% effective in killing pathogens

Most Read