A barn-raising project, coordinated by a Stouffville humanitarian group, has generated $15,000 for a medical centre in east Africa.
About 25 volunteers associated with Stouffville Igoma Partnership have spent six weekends building a barn in rural Uxbridge.
The owner of the barn, a hobby farmer, paid $15,000 to have the structure built for implement storage. The building will be completed the end of June, partnership committee member Rev. Lou Geense said.
All of the money from the barn raising is being turned over to the partnership to help fund a recently opened medical centre in the village of Igoma.
About 30 patients a day are visiting the centre, Mr. Geense said. “The clinic is running at full capacity.”
Following a request from Stouffville Missionary Church, Whitchurch-Stouffville council agreed last fall to enter into a partnership with Igoma. An eight-member committee, made up of people from across the town, was struck. Committee members hold meetings at the municipal office.
Immediately after the union was struck, the partnership was endorsed by the provincial and federal governments. It is the first of its kind in Canada.
After the partnership was launched, fundraising projects began. The most recent has been the barn raising. When the opportunity to build the barn presented itself, an appeal went out for volunteers.
“People with skills and tools came forward,” Mr. Geense said. “The job is getting done. The barn is going up. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers (from Whitchurch-Stouffville, Markham and Uxbridge), the project is very successful.”
Meanwhile, the partnership committee will, once again, draw attention to the Tanzanian village of 40,000 by operating a fundraising dunk tank during Strawberry Festival July 3.
“It will be a fun day and, of course, it will draw attention to Igoma,” Mr. Geense said.
Life in the village is a struggle, he said. The average annual income is $300. For every 1,000 babies born, 100 die in their first year. Homes are shacks, all cooking is done outside and life is especially hard for children. Illness, especially malaria, is prevalent.
During the past nine months, however, Whitchurch-Stouffville has extended a helping hand.
A $3,000 malaria detection device was purchased for the medical centre. Other medical equipment has been shipped, too.
• Negotiations are under way to send unused medical equipment from York Region hospitals to the centre.
• Markham resident and nurse Glenna Cummins will go to Igoma in September to work full-time at the centre.
• An all-faith church service during the Christmas season generated $3,000 for the project and Stouffville’s Robin Steckley raised $12,000 for the partnership by running in the Boston Marathon in April.
Local children have also come forward to show they care. The St. James Presbyterian Church youth service donated $450 to the partnership last month. As well, the partnership has received individual, service club and church donations.
“Community response has been wonderful,” Mr. Geense said. “The need is great. The people in Igoma appreciate having the medical clinic.”
By Joan Ransberry
Staff Writer, Stouffville Sun-Tribune