The Stouffville Igoma Project is looking for other communities to twin with an African village to support residents there.
The Stouffville organization would act as a mentor.
Two weeks after returning from a fact-finding trip to Igoma in Tanzania, Pastor Lou Geense told the Stouffville Sun-Tribune, “We want to find other communities that would do the same thing that Stouffville is doing.”
The pastor of EastRidge Evangelical Missionary Church was among people from 13 churches who built Igoma’s first medical clinic in 1998.
In the summer of 2003, the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville adopted Igoma as a partnership town. A doctor was hired for the clinic shortly after. Medicines and equipment have been sent, along with volunteers from Stouffville on subsequent trips. It is the only medical clinic for Igoma’s 40,000 inhabitants.
The clinic has now developed to the point where it is run by people in the village.
That means Markham nurse Glenna Cummins-Peterson, who went to Igoma in 2003, will be able to devote time to giving basic health instruction to people in neighbouring villages. She returned to Markham in June 2006 to marry fellow missionary John Peterson, whom she met in Africa. The couple is planning to return to Tanzania sometime in February.
During the most recent fact-finding trip earlier this month, committee chairperson Peter Neufeld and Pastor Geense were assessing how best to bring clean water to the village. They were accompanied on the trip by nine others, eight from Stouffville and one from Winnipeg. Pastor Geense was accompanied by wife Naomi and son Chad, who is 26.
Municipal water will eventually reach the village with water piped in from Lake Victoria, but that may be several years away and would cost three times as much as water does now, Pastor Geense said. The lake water, however, harbours parasites and water-borne diseases.
The alternative is to drill a deep well for the village.
Renovations are also required at the clinic to improve the ventilation system in the laboratory area.
The partnership purchased 500 mosquito nets for the villagers and put up 100 wile the team was in Igoma. The rest will be distributed by the locals.
Another 1,500 nets were to be distributed early in the new year.
The funds for the nets, which drastically reduce malaria, were raised through this year’s Stouffville Igoma Project banquet. Malaria is the No. 1 killer in Tanzania, with AIDS/HIV close behind.
The project also supports a tuition aid program for nurses and vocational students.
The Stouffville Igoma Project is looking for support from residents, since it needs to raise more funds for the clinic renovation and to support the clean water initiative.
To donate or for more information, call the Whitchurch-Stouffville Chamber of Commerce at 905-642-4227 or EastRidge Evangelical Missionary Church at 905-640-3911, ext 42.
By Hannelore Volpe
Staff Writer, Stouffville Sun-Tribune