EastRidge Missionary Church pastor Lou Geense and Stouffville Igoma Partnership committee chair Peter Neufeld were among a team of 11 volunteers who visited Igoma in Tanzania at the end of last year.
“It was a good trip, but it was the rainy season and there’s been drought for the last three years,” said Pastor Geense. “There was so much rain and flooding, it was horrific.” The team assisted one particularly needy family by plastering the rapidly deteriorating walls of their home and constructing a new roof.
“It was good for the young guys who went out there; a bit of reality on the other side of the world,” he noted. “I think we hung 100 mosquito nets while we were there.” The medical clinic, which was built in 1998 by volunteers from 13 churches, including Pastor Geense, is making a big difference in the community and will likely be expanding to include an onsite laboratory.
“Plans are very sketchy at the moment, but there’s a possibility of a team going in June this year, primarily to build the expansion and to hang mosquito nets. We have 1,500 to hang. Because SIP volunteers raise their own funds to visit Igoma, the partnership is able to buy the nets for just $4 each.
There is also a desperate need to invest in clean water. The current supply is pumped directly out of Lake Victoria and carried into the community. “It’s treated with chlorine but it still carries a lot of diseases. One possibility is to drill a deep well on the property, but drilling is expensive and there’s no guarantee you’ll get water.”
The local municipality is projecting that safe, potable water will arrive in that area within about two years, but in the meantime, the risk of disease from water-borne bacteria is a major concern. Pastor Geense hopes that more residents from Whitchurch-Stouffville will join volunteers for future projects. “You don’t have to be a member of the church to help out,” he said.
To learn more about SIP and how you can help, call EastRidge Evangelical Missionary Church at 905-640-3911 or visit www.sipartnership.org.
By Kate Gilderdale
Stouffville Free Press