Dr. Dawn Howse stands on a bridge overlooking the river
near the hospital in Tshelanyemba, Zimbabwe, which runs
dry four months of the year. New equipment is needed for
pumps, electrical motors and pipes to gather the water
and bring it to the hospital.
By Sharon Gray
Dr. Max House, professor emeritus and former lieutenant-governor
of Newfoundland and Labrador, is spearheading a project with
John Perlin of the Stokers Group of the Rotary Club of St.
John’s to raise $26,000 to improve health services at
the hospital in Tshelanyemba, Zimbabwe.
The hospital has a special connection to Newfoundland through
its only physician, Dr. Dawn Howse. She is a graduate of Memorial’s
medical class of 1978 and recipient of the 2003 Outstanding
Volunteer Service Award by Memorial's Alumni Association.
She has spent the past 14 years working in Zimbabwe as a doctor
with the Salvation Army.
cart and two donkeys serve as the hospital’s ambulance.
Dr. House’s interest in supporting the
needs of the hospital began when Dr. Dawn Howse spoke at a
Rotary Club luncheon last summer. The club’s Stokers
Group decided to raise money to modernize the water supply
for the 110-bed hospital and upgrade the waste water and sewerage
system. The water source is unusual – a river flows
through the area, but for four months of the year the riverbed
is dry and water is obtained by installing perforated pipes
below the riverbed, pumping the water into a holding tank
and then pumping the water about two kilometres to a holding
tank at the hospital. The water is then chlorinated and piped
to the hospital and other buildings.
Dr. House explained that the whole water system needs to be
replaced and the sewage system also needs to be upgraded.
The total cost is about $26,000 Canadian, and $11,000 has
already been raised through the Stokers Group, the Rotary
Club (International Committee), RBC Dominion Securities and
a private donation from Sharon Pippy.
In his talk to the Rotary Club of St. John’s on Feb.
19, Dr. House gave some background on Zimbabwe, formerly Southern
Rhodesia, which along with Botswana has the highest rate of
HIV/AIDS in the world. Life expectancy is about 36 years and
along with HIV/AIDS there are rampant infectious diseases,
including antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. The local farmers
have no machinery and the source of power is chiefly donkeys.
The hospital at Tshelanyemba has grown from a nursing station
15 years ago to its present status as the central hospital
for three other government nursing stations, which refer patients.
Dr. Howse is assisted by about 12 nurses, a laboratory technician
and some support staff.
Dr. House said he is optimistic that Rotary International
will provide some support for the Zimbabwe project and funds
have also been requested from the Salvation Army. Fundraising
for the project will continue until the total is raised.