Giving hope to a girl with a hole in her heart

Wayne Kaufman and his wife, middle, with Natalie and her parents.

Wayne Kauffman and his wife, middle, with Natalie and her parents. Rotary connections helped Natalie get surgery to repair a problem with her heart.

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.

5 thoughts on “Giving hope to a girl with a hole in her heart

  1. Hello! I just found your blog while searching dental related blogs and I’m so glad I did. I have always been so involved with Rotary. I was present of Interact in high school and then president of Rotaract in undergrad and hope to join rotary in the future. Right now I’m a first year dental student and hope to join rotary on these mission trips in the future! Thanks for posting.


  2. Hello team ,
    My name is Eriasa from uganda,i have just landed on this story but also ,my two months daughter Rautha, was diagonised and doctors recommended for asurgery before march 2017 after finding ahole on her heart.How can my girl access this help.
    Hope for afeedback


  3. If ever you run into a similar situation, you can contact They are a Rotary based organization whose main focus is heart surgery for kids all over the world. Since the mid 80’s they have helped facilitate over 26,000 heart surgeries thoughout the world with the help of Rotarians and The Rotary Foundation. My club has been involved in many such surgeries for years.


  4. Pingback: Giving hope to a girl with a hole in her heart | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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