On Friday, Oct. 19, Whitchurch-Stouffville Town Council and Chamber of Commerce will host the third annual Fundraising Dinner and Auction for the Stouffville Igoma Partnership (SIP).
The partnership was established in 2003 to raise funds for the town of Igoma in Tanzania, where lack of access to health care, education and clean water has resulted in grinding poverty and high sickness and mortality rates. Thanks to many generous contributors, the SIP project is making an amazing difference to the health and welfare in the community.
“Although most residents speak only Swahili, the name of SIP and Stouffville are well known throughout the town,” said SIP chair Peter Neufeld. The Urafiki Health Centre, which was built with the help of Whitchurch-Stouffville volunteers, is the first medical facility to provide healthcare to the more than 40,000 Igoma residents.
The clinic is fully operational 24 hours a day; seven days a week, and serves 40 to 50 patients daily. “In addition to supplying medicines and essential medical equipment, SIP provides the operating salaries for the staff of 20 nationals,” said Mr. Neufeld.
SIP has also purchased and distributed 2,000 mosquito nets to combat malaria, which kills an estimated 3,000 children every day in Africa. The partnership plans to distribute a minimum of 1,000 nets in 2008 and to do that, it needs continuing financial support from our town.
A tuition aid program includes funding for tuition, room and board for 10 students to attend a vocational school. A doctor is now enrolled in medical school and three medical staff members are taking nursing, technical equipment usage, and laboratory training courses. In 2008, SIP will initiate a secondary school tuition aid program which will enable elementary graduates to further their education.
“We are pleased to advise that the construction of a mother/child infant care facility has begun,” said Mr. Neufeld. This building, which is expected to be operational next year, will include a laboratory and a skills training centre with computers and a reading room. Sewing skills and basic hygiene will also be taught at the centre.
“Since healthy births in Tanzania are prone to problems, and in many cases the death of either the mother or child, we are especially proud that, to the end of July 2007, 63 babies were born in our clinic without a single death; in fact we delivered our first set of triplets on July 24.”
The total needs for the community in 2008 could reach $75,000, funds which some entirely through donations. The majority of the money is raised at the annual dinner and auction, which last year brought in $45,000. This year’s target is $50,000.
“We have come a long way in four short years, but there is still much more that needs to be done,” said Mr. Neufeld. A major project in 2008 will be to raise funds to equip the new infant care centre.
“SIP is unique to most other charities in that we have no paid staff, and all participants are volunteers who pay their own way if they join a work team. Administration costs are kept to a bare minimum and donors can be assured that their donations will be used as they are intended.”
The Stouffville Igoma Partnership has changed the lives of Igoma residents dramatically. The Oct. 19 dinner and auction is a wonderful event which brings the community together and raises not only desperately needed funds, but also genuine hope for the future of the people of Igoma.
For donations of items for the auction or to buy tickets for the event, contact Brenda Lobraico at 905-642-2739, Justin Kerswill at 905-640-3513, Peter Neufeld at 905-640-1771 or Larry Simpson at 905-640-2657.
By Kate Gilderdale
Stouffville Free Press