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Local boy holds an international vision

Ian Shanks of Fullife Foundation with Tim Costello

10 August 2018
Bouncing along corrugated dirt tracks in Africa in a four-wheel drive vehicle is the stuff of boys’ own adventures and Wilbur Smith novels, knowing that something may well try to eat you if you venture out of your vehicle, or you may get shot if you offend the wrong warlord.

But Ian Shanks dismisses the idea that he’s putting himself in danger as sensationalist; he knows what he’s doing when he travels to Ethiopia, and more importantly, he knows why.

‘Ethiopia is relatively stable, with low levels of corruption,’ Ian tells me, ‘Our partners on the ground have built good relationships with the government, and as a result, our work is supported.

As to the ‘why’ a Victorian grandfather is wandering around Ethiopia, Ian says ‘I do this because I have to’.

‘In September 2011 I was sitting on Coolum Beach in Queensland, on a holiday, when I had a God moment and I knew I had to do more.’

Ian had studied and worked hard in life, establishing a successful business as a pharmacist and CEO. * A lifelong Salvo, he looked at what he had and what others didn’t and felt God wanted him – required him – to do more than his customary philanthropy.

It was in 2012, on an African holiday to climb Tanzania’s dormant volcano, Mount Kilimanjaro with his son, Nathan, that Ian was exposed to deep poverty for the first time in his life; This led him to form his own charity, as, he recalls, ‘I initially got knockbacks from some large charities that I approached’.

‘That led me to do our own thing, and form the Fullife Foundation.**’

With his fellow directors Janelle Murley, a fellow Ringwood Salvo who works for the Salvos as a learning and development consultant, and Ian’s fellow pharmacist, Michelle Bou-Samra, Ian launched the foundation in 2013.

It was a natural progression. Ian says that when Michelle started consulting with Fullife Pharmacies they realised they were both passionate about philanthropy; it was the catalyst for the foundation. 

Significantly, Ian says that a number of the links to partner charities working in Ethiopia, and legal counsel, came about through his local church, the Ringwood Corps of The Salvation Army.

He takes that as evidence that the foundation is a ‘God thing’, as are the many lives that the foundation has enriched.

Ian Shanks and Stephanie Samio
This is a complex story; the Fullife Foundation raises money, primarily in the pharmacy industry here in Australia, which enables the foundation’s work ‘funding charities on the ground,’ Ian explains. ‘We work with World Vision, Birthing Kits Foundation Australia and, most recently, International Needs Australia.’

The Fullife Foundation, Ian says, ‘guarantees that all the money we raise – all the money – goes to our charity partners. A private donor covers all of the foundation’s marketing and admin expenses.’

The foundation’s efforts started with sponsoring African children through World Vision, and grew to include support of expectant women, new mothers and their newborn babies.

World Vision then introduced the Fullife Foundation to Birthing Kits foundation, in 2014. One $3 donation funds a kit; to date, Fullife Foundation has funded close to 60,000 kits, which have been distributed throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and now, Ethiopia.

Last year, Ian says, Fullife Foundation gave $39,000 to Birthing Kits Foundation.   Read More

* Ian is a pharmacist and CEO of Fullife pharmacies; there are two in Victoria and one each in Tasmania and Queensland.  Fullife Pharmacies state they have been ‘helping Australians with their health and medication needs since 1997 https://www.yellowpages.com.au/vic/mill-park/mill-park-fullife-midnight-pharmacy-13976076-listing.html

** See: https://fullifefoundation.com.au/

Fullife Foundation Ethiopia mission work