Ripon’s Rotary joined a dozen other service clubs up and down the valley and in the Bay Area to provide a $223,000 oxygen generator to save children in Ethiopia who are dying when they are unable to breathe.
Harrison Gibbs — past president of Ripon Rotary — and a group of other Ripon Rotarians were inspired by a registered nurse from Stanford who provided a program on her native village in Ethiopia. She made a plea for oxygen at a March Rotary meeting at Spring Creek Country Golf & Country Club to help Ethopians plagued with poor maternal health and high death rates.
Nurse Obse Lubo provided a photo series showing Ripon Rotarians how many newborns in need of oxygen are dying, saying the hospital staff had to make the decision on who would get oxygen and who they would have to let die. On breaks from her Bay Area hospital job, she has been going back and forth to Ethiopia offering care at the Regional Hospital of Nejo Oromia -- an area made up of subsistence farmers.
The local Rotary Club in the area is the Rotary Club of Finot that has attempted to fill the medical needs in their region but could not do it alone and was in need of international help. It is a place where most patients have to travel six to eight hours on foot to reach medical care.
Gibbs took fellow Rotarians to the nurse’s home club in Castro Valley that meets at the Redwood Canyon Country Club. With Gibbs were Sharon Butler and her husband Mike, Brett Nixon, Danielle Pierce, Tim Reeves and Don Moyer. They presented the nurse from Ethiopia with their check for $1,100, adding to funds already being collected for the relief project where the hospital’s nearest supply source is 300 to 400 miles away. The oxygen generator is expected to be able to supply other small hospitals in the region and beyond.
Most of the contributing clubs had additional funds coming from their districts along with some international matching funds going toward the oxygen generator purchase.
The population suffers from TB, malaria, water borne diseases, upper respiratory infections, asthma, pneumonia and goiters are said to be common and deadly. Respirator issues are the key factors in recovery and survivability of many patients and particularly pregnant women, Gibbs noted.
Clubs like Modesto gave $5,000 with district and international matching funds of another $2,500. Amaden, Gilroy Morning and Morgan Hill clubs provided a combined $10,500, and Cupertino, $2,000, and a Castro Valley Rotary Club fundraiser added $25,000. Other contributing Rotary clubs included San Juan Baptista, Hollister, Sunnyvale and others.
In addition to Rotary the East African Medical Relief Foundation has also provided monies to the medical oxygen needs of the region of nearly $15,000.
To reach Nurse Obse Lubo, email firstname.lastname@example.org.