By Wayne Kauffman, Rotary Club of Edmonton Riverview, Alberta, Canada
Esperanza is the Spanish word for “hope.” When I think about what motivates me to serve as a Rotary Foundation chair for my district, I am drawn to this word, which is the name of one of our recent projects. To me, hope is really at the core of our Rotary Foundation.
Our Esperanza project is in its 20th year, and sends Canadian medical and dental teams to provide vocational training and medical care to the people of Cuenca, Ecuador. It is led by Dr. Tom Greidanus, a member of the Rotary Club of Edmonton Riverview.
The teams train and mentor orthopedic surgeons, physiotherapists, nurses, dentists and dental students. They:
- Educate parents and family members on proper care of infants and children to avoid preventable hip problems
- Provide hip and knee replacements to approximately 40 impoverished adults from the region
- Give pediatric orthopedic surgeries to about 15 children to correct hip and leg deformities
- Provide patients with dental screening and care, if needed, and follow-up care for patients from previous years
- Provide dental care and education to approximately 200 children attending schools in remote villages in the area.
Notwithstanding the success and impact of this project, there are still other acts of humanity that arise during the course of the mission. For example, during the project I learned of a little girl named Natalie who was diagnosed, in rough medical terms, with a hole in her heart. Her situation was determined by a pediatric cardiologist who happened to accompany her husband (a pediatric orthopedic surgeon) on the mission one year. Her prognosis was not good.
A two-year effort was made to find a surgeon in Cuenca to perform the surgery and restore Natalie back to health. There were many setbacks and disappointments, but through perseverance and determination and the hard work of Rotarians and doctors, this child now has “Esperanza.”
You see, it’s more than the success of our global grants and related projects. It’s the connections that happen. And all of that happens when people choose to do good in the world through The Rotary Foundation.
Editor’s Note: In November, Rotary clubs celebrate Rotary Foundation month. Learn what your gift to the Foundation supports.