Libertyville Sunrise’s Project in Rural Nigeria Draws Plaudits
By Teri Dreher
For the third consecutive year, members of our Libertyville Sunrise RC traveled to rural Umuagwo, Nigeria, to present a two-week medical/dental clinic at Ohaji Medical Center. We partnered with the Altadena, CA. Rotary Club, whose members joined us the second week, presenting a four-day entrepreneurial education program to local college youth. Both projects were a huge success and received much praise from those impacted as well as from local and national leaders.
From January 4th -14th, the Rotarians joined members of Hands & Hearts International to provide life-saving medicines and medical treatment to over 4700 people, in addition to dental care to over 700. We also delivered over 800 pairs of eyeglasses and performed 18 cataract surgeries; restoring sight to nearly-blind rural farmers. Thousands of women and children were treated for malaria and infections, as well as serious burns. Additionally, wounds were cleaned and dressed, and canes or crutches were provided to arthritic elderly patients. The patients were overwhelmed with gratitude; some believing we were sent by their Maker himself to perform these “miracles” on their behalf. Those patients who we had seen during previous years embraced us as long lost family members.
Several years ago, Hands & Hearts provided a fresh water borehole, making clean water available to the hospital and neighboring community. Last year, building upon their success, Libertyville Sunrise RC, assisted by the West Chicago RC, provided a full shipping container of modern medical equipment for Ohaji. This effort led to us contact, and partner with, the Rotary Club of Owerri, Nigeria (District 9140), in order to improve rural health care delivery in the area. As a result, this year we jointly applied for, and received, a Humanitarian Matching Grant, which supplied a new 40 KVA generator for the Ohaji Medical Center. The grant also provided refrigerators for medicines and patients’ food storage, and provided air conditioning units for the surgical suite. The new generator will also be used to supply power to many pieces of US medical equipment shipped to Ohaji in 2009. Huge operating room lights now occupy the operating theater that was once lit by candlelight during late night surgical emergencies such as appendectomies and C-sections. Because of the generous support of Rotary Districts 6440 and 9140, along with Rotary International, health care delivery in this very impoverished community has greatly improved.
On the last day of our medical mission, District 9140 Governor Gabriel George Toby traveled many hours and flew in from Abuja to personally congratulate the team at the closing day awards ceremony, and to take a tour of the recently renovated medical center. We were greatly honored to meet him and he told us that our efforts epitomized the best cooperative efforts of this year’s Rotary International Theme: Building Communities, Bridging Continents. He hopes to use pictures from the Ohaji project in his district’s booth in New Orleans to highlight Nigeria’s successful international partnerships.
We were very impressed with the joy, enthusiasm and gracious hospitality our team enjoyed this year from our Nigerian friends and look forward to renewing friendships again in 2012.