Boost for African clinic: Stouffville team helps build addition to its latest Igoma partnership project
With the help of volunteers from the Stouffville Igoma Project, a medical clinic in Africa will soon have an addition for an infant care facility and a laboratory.
Work on the addition was started by the project team and about 20 workers from the Tanzanian village of Igoma during the team’s three-week stay there.
By the time the team returned to Canada in mid-June, the clinic’s foundation was complete and project members had handed out more mosquito nets and helped build a church in another village.
About 20 Igoman residents worked on the foundation, which was built from the rocks on the property.
To break the rocks, they were heated in pots and split once the first cracking sounds were heard.
Men and women carry rocks and concrete in small slings, resembling stretchers.
Igoma residents have continued construction on the clinic and the walls are almost up.
The clinic was originally built in 1988 by volunteers from 13 churches in this area. It can now serve residents 24 hours a day.
The project pays salaries of the doctor and clinic officers, who are much like doctors in training.
One staff member is having his two-year study program as a laboratory technician paid for by project.
Funds from the project also enable another Igoman resident to be trained as an ultrasound technician.
The project team brought along about $15,000 worth of medicine to the village, which has a population of about 40,000.
To make sure there will be more tradespeople in the village, the project is funding the education of 10 people at the nearby vocational school.
Education is a focus for the project in a country where only about 10 per cent of young people attend high school.
“Education is a huge problem,” project chairperson Peter Neufeld said.
The project’s latest endeavour is to send at least five students to high school this year.
“We want to expand that program,” Mr. Neufeld added.
In addition, project volunteers want to have 1,000 mosquito nets hung in the village this year.
Volunteers who want to join a team going to Igoma pay their own fare and accommodation. The cost is around $3,500.
The major fundraiser for the project is an annual dinner and dance, which is planned for Oct. 19 at EastRidge Evangelical Missionary Church.
By Hannelore Volpe
Staff Writer, Stouffville Sun-Tribune
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