On Valentine’s Day, a team of 10 people representing the Stouffville Igoma Partnership (SIP) returned from a two-and-a-half week working visit to Igoma, Tanzania. It was the first trip to the community for eight members of the group, including Dale Jackson, who was impressed and amazed at what a difference SIP volunteers and donors have made in the impoverished community.
“I support the program here, but I didn’t realize the impact that our support has, and what a worthwhile cause it is,” she said. “I had no idea how much difference your $30 a month makes.” She cited the case of a young child with a club foot who went to the clinic and was referred to the big hospital for assessment.
“They found that he didn’t need surgery but (his treatment) was going to require 10 trips with casts and splits. We wanted to pay for that, so we pooled our money to cover the cost. It was a wonderful feeling, yet it cost next to nothing in our terms.”
Susan Kerswill, a nurse from Stouffville who first went to Igoma in 2007, told Dale she had noticed some big improvements since her last visit. “People were working more, there were a lot of retail stores on the main street,” said Dale. “It was more advanced than I thought it would be and I was very impressed with the health clinic that SIP sponsors.”
While Susan worked at the clinic, Dale helped to distribute more than 300 mosquito nets to area homes. She was also part of a group that painted, cleaned and repaired a residence near the clinic, which houses a nurse and a lab technician.
“We visited some of the schools where the students are supported by the people back here through SIP. The people we met were so welcoming to Canadians and very appreciative of everything we do from here and what we did there,” she said.
When asked if she would like to return, Dale didn’t hesitate. “I would go back in a heartbeat.”
Meanwhile, SIP recently adopted a child sponsorship program called I-Care. “This program, which began with a couple who visited Igoma several years ago, supports children through the purchase of uniforms and supplies which allows them to attend school,” said Justin Kerswill, who is on the SIP board of directors. Sponsorships are $30 a month and cover the cost of a mosquito net for protection against malaria, as well as a mattress and food.
The partnership is currently participating in an initiative called One SIP At A Time in collaboration with Stouffville’s Velvet Sunrise Coffee Roasters. Two dollars per lb of the company’s SIP-labelled coffee purchased by residents will be donated to the charity, while five per cent of gross purchases through commercial workplaces will go to SIP.
On April 4, SIP is hosting Food for Thought at Sleepy Hollow Golf and Country Club on Tenth Line. Food and drinks will be provided by area restaurants, wineries and breweries and the evening will also feature a silent auction, live entertainment and free draws.
Tickets are $50 and are available by calling 905-640-6134 or 416-346-5133. Net proceeds will be used for educational and medical projects in Igoma.
By Kate Gilderdale,
Stouffville Free Press