Outside the small Dera Health Clinic, volunteers led by Jaskson Sellers handed out toothbrushes and taught basic hygiene, including the importance of washing your hands. Jackson Sellers (17) of Crew 9645 in Gilbert, Arizona, led the volunteers using supplies he gathered and assembled during his Eagle Scout project. In October during fall break from school, Jackson traveled to Ethiopia, where he delivered the kits, taught the people methods to improve their health, and came to love the people of Ethiopia.
Inside the clinic, dentists distributed an additional 150 hygiene kits donated by Dallin Short (14) of Varsity Team 6398. Dallin’s efforts to collect donations, assemble the kits, and donate them to Hope Arising, allowed the dentists to teach the patients proper hygiene and prevent the maladies that led them to the clinic in the first place.
Elsewhere, Declan Carr (12) of Troop 465, visited the Tesfa Hiwot HIV/AIDS after school club, where he personally delivered over 120 soccer uniforms and organized a soccer game among the youth club members. The uniforms will allow the after school club to organize additional activities and then educate youth regarding HIV prevention. Declan’s Eagle Project attracted soccer players from throughout the village, but more importantly the game created an opportunity to educate the youth and teach them health practices that will save their lives.
Andrew Dennis of Troop 381 spent hours organizing a school supply drive and preparing back packs to donate to Dera schools. Because the ability to secure school supplies like notebooks and pencils is an enrollment requirement, Dallin’s Eagle Project effort literally enabled hundreds of children to enroll in and attend school.
Hope Arising, on behalf of the people of Dera, thanks these four boy scouts and congratulates them on completing their Eagle Projects by blessing the lives of so many.
In October, Dr Chet Jenkins made his annual fall trek to Ethiopia. Along with dental services, he introduced Dera to Drs Jon Wilson and Scott Kowallis, optometrists and his childhood friends. In turn, Dr Wilson brought his son, Turner, and Kowallis brought his wife, Sue, to be assistants to their first-of-many-to-come eye clinics. As with any pioneering adventure, their experiences were both unexpected and rewarding. Two grueling days spent by our country director, Betty, in negotiations with customs over equipment and medication added a little stress but could not thwart the determination of these fine folks from offering their services. The response to the much-needed eye services was overwhelming. Word travels fast in rural communities about the opportunity to see a doctor and people came in droves. Our garden expert, Bob Johnson, when not planting, spent his time managing the crowd and keeping order. Problems concerning the eyes are prevalent in this area due to several contributing factors; malnourishment, contaminated water, poor ventilation with cooking fires, and disease.
Drs Wilson and Kowallis knew they would be faced with surprises on their adventure to Ethiopia, however they were unprepared for the shocking occurrence of an eye disease called “trachoma”. Never heard of it? Because it was eradicated in the industrialized world by the 1950’s. Trachoma is an infectious disease, resulting in blindness if neglected. Ironically, it can easily be treated with antibiotics or simple surgery. Ethiopia has one of the highest occurrences of trachoma in the developing world, with women being three times more likely to be affected. A few of the root causes of trachoma are poor hygiene, poverty and inadequate sanitation; all of which exist in Dera. It is no mystery why villagers were clamoring to get in to see the eye doctors. Along with assessing sight and giving out prescription glasses, Wilson and Kowallis treated trachoma patients with antibiotics. You cannot put a price tag on the gift of sight. It is “clear to see” that Wilson and Kowallis have already made a huge difference in Dera. And this is only the beginning.
Located 2 hours to the southeast of Addis Ababa in the Great Rift Valley, Dera is hot, dry and dusty flat. Children are not able to attend school because they wait in line for water. Parents spend more time in search of water than working at their jobs. Mothers can not bathe their children who become filthy and often sick. At the local health clinic the top 10 diseases reported are all direct results of inadequate sanitary conditions and lack of potable water. The government is trucking in water for these people to survive. Long lines of yellow water cans sit at the remaining water points for 3-15 days. People walk for as many as 5 miles for water, taking most of their waking hours.