Peter Boudewyn and his wife, Yvonne, visited Igoma, Tanzania for the third time this spring as part of the Stouffville Igoma Parternship program.
When the couple first joined an SIP team in 2003, “it sounded like a very interesting opportunity to broaden our scope,” said Peter. The couple were intensely affected, not only by the poverty they encountered, but by the warmth of those they came into contact with. “They are so welcoming. They become a part of your family.”
Peter was also struck by how uncomplaining people were. “At the clinic there would be people coming first thing in the morning and perhaps they might not even be seen that day. Yet here, if we’re kept waiting 20 minutes, we get really frustrated.”
The initial phase of the Urafiki Health Centre was completed in May 2003 and opened that September with a staff of eight. “It was open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; now it’s open hours a day, seven days a wekk.” Peter said. Each time he and Yvonne returned, “we found that we were seeing hope in people’s eyes and our function was to try and encourage that hope.”
On their first day back that spring, “we noticed immediately that there seemed to be a new sense of entrepreneurship, and a lot of the children looked healthier,” he noted. As well as helping out with building and training projects, and hanging hundreds of mosquito nets to provide protection from malaria, SIP also funds educational programs for young people, which enable them to find jobs and support their families.
“There are opportunities at very little cost to help someone establish a business and it’s fun to see some of the things that come to fruition. We found that one of the cooks at the place where we were staying came directly from the SIP education program.”
With a number of different groups involved in Igoma projects, he was impressed at how well everyone worked together. “One of the neat things that happened involved a lady who had lost her husband. He had been a carpenter over the years, during the missions.” When he died, his wife and five children were destitute, said Peter.
“She was going to lose everything and had very little hope of a good future.” Volunteers got together and finished building a home for her and her family. “As she was taken to the house you could see the expression on her face changing from sorrow to joy.”
“I think it’s important for people in Stouffville to know that SIP has a huge impact on the community, making it a healthier and better place to live for children and their families.”
Every cent donated to SIP goes directly to the work in Igoma, since all volunteers raise money to cover airfare and accommodation. And it’s not just the people who go to Igoma who make a difference, Peter stressed. “There’s a lot of hard work done by many, many people, not just the team that went.”
This year’s team was involved in building a new extension to the clinic, which will house a mother and child facility where patients can receive inoculations, as well as serving as a new laboratory, freeing up much needed space for patient care. The addition will also include areas for computer skills training and basic hygiene training to combat disease.
With building costs of $25,000, additional funds are urgently needed to continue SIP’s vial work in Igoma and put into place the programs planned for the new extension. The goal for this year’s gala dinner at EastRidge Missionary Church, which takes place Oct. 19, is $50,000, and organizers are looking to the community for donations of money, goods and services that can be auctioned off at the event.
Whether large or small, every donation makes a difference to the continuing success of SIP, said Peter. “Every mosquito net we supply means one life saved.”
To offer support, or learn more about SIP, call 905-640-3911 ext 42 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the website at www.sipartnership.org.
By Kate Gilderdale
Stouffville Free Press