“Chris was a volunteer right from his earliest years,” said his mother, Karen Marshall. “After he came back from his 2005-6 tour in Afghanistan with the Canadian Armed Forces, and joined the Edmonton Police Department, he remained determined to find ways to help others, to make the world a better place.”
Chris and his partner Shayna Campbell, a pharmacist, agreed to take a year away from their respective jobs in Canada and pay their way to Africa: ultimately, they decided to volunteer at St. Francis Health Care Services, established in 1998, in a congested Ugandan slum area near Mbiko.
Shayna and Chris have seen children playing happily with a soccer ball made out of plastic bags. They have become friends with kids like Hakim, a proud member of the Shadow Idols Club, run by St. Francis, one way for boys to avoid roving, violent youth gangs. They have fallen “in love with the omoanas, Lugandan for children, who are everywhere since Uganda’s population pyramid looks like an upside down T.” They have jogged with boys who have no shoes, but dream of “running for Uganda in the Olympics.”
On Christmas Day they joined the St. Francis staff for African food and dancing: Chris reported his lack of rhythm and Shayna won Ms Saint Francis!
“There are a million reasons to stay in Uganda,” Shayna Campbell said. “The people are polite, welcoming, warm-hearted and sincere. ”
A deep desire to help their adopted African community over the long term has led Chris and Shayna to try and turn the ‘empty shell’ of a maternity ward at St. Francis Health Care Services into a finished hospital able to save mothers and children.
St. Francis Health Care Services is (Chris and Shayna emphasize this) a grass roots organization, built and run “by Ugandans for Ugandans,” with little government funding, in the heart of Njeru.
It also lies at the heart of the highest HIV prevalence rates in all of Uganda.
Right now, under the leadership of Faustine Ngarambe, the centre serves 20,000 Ugandans, some treated with HIV medications, some orphaned by the AIDs pandemic, some hoping for education, some simply needing care in their last days.
“At St. Francis, they have realized that fighting HIV means more than medically treating the disease. The staff has initiated income generating groups, youth groups and other projects to reach out to the community.”
Keeping St. Francis a vital force in this poor community is a daunting task for its Ugandan founders. The needed maternity hospital was only partially completed before money ran out in 2010. Yet this hospital is the one project the director and his dedicated St. Francis staff most want to see completed: it will take at least $33,500 to do it.
Finishing the St. Francis maternity hospital has become Chris and Shayna’s goal.
“Women’s health, especially their reproductive health, is a major concern,” Shayna Campbell explained. “(Chris and I) are passionate about the subject since it is not just maternal health we are talking about. It is the livelihood of a people.”
To their great delight the young couple has recently received the news that, following their direct, personal appeal, the Stephen Lewis Foundation has agreed to be the physical sponsor of their efforts to finish the St. Francis maternity hospital. The Stephen Lewis Foundation is world renowned for its dedicated work in Africa, especially in the fight against AIDS.
With the Foundation’s support, every dollar raised in Canada will go directly to the maternity ward project. The Lewis Foundation will also issue charitable receipts in Canada.
Karen Marshall (543-4360), who is equally passionate about seeing the Ugandan hospital become a reality, is holding a special fund raiser/silent auction luncheon on Saturday, February 18, at noon, at St. James Anglican Church Hall in Morrisburg. Using a power point program and notes created by Chris and Shayna, she will talk about the project and discuss how people can help.
Shayna and Chris report that as of February 13, 2012, they have reached 47 percent of their $33,500 goal.
They invite people to log on to http://stephenlewisfoundation.akaraisin.com/fundraisingpages/maternityward to pledge and to see how the campaign is going.
“Uganda’s hopes and dreams are similar to the hopes and dreams of Canadians,” Shayna and Chris said. “It is important to invest in the mothers’ health to improve the lives of their children.”
South Dundas’ financial position is better than last year, a year in which South Dundas already had a very strong financial position, this according to Jamie Pollock of the accounting firm Craig, Keen, Dispatie and Markell, which handles the yearly audit of South Dundas’ finances.
He presented the audit findings to South Dundas council at the May 21 meeting.
South Dundas’ net worth increased by 12 percent, its net financial assets increased by 11 percent and municipal debt decreased by one percent.
The result: an operating surplus of almost $624,000.
“You had a very good year and that’s why you are in better financial position than last year,” Pollock told council. He credits South Dundas staff with “good management of budget items. They were very close to budget on most line items.”
In terms of reserves and reserve funds Pollock also reported that South Dundas had a “very good year.”
For a township of this size, the auditors expect to see reserves of between $2.3 and $4.6 million.
“You’re at the high end of that range,” said Pollock who reported in the audit of the 2012 finances they found little change from last year with $4.1 million in reserve funds.
Looking at the big picture, Pollock remained positive reporting that South Dundas’ long term debt is decreasing and that South Dundas is managing the tax rate very well, as shown by little change in taxation revenue.
Taxation revenue is a little lower than it was five years ago and expenses are up about 10 percent, but still South Dundas has been able to maintain its strong financial position. “This shows good budget management,” commented Pollock.
“All financial indicators show that administration and council are doing a good job,” he said.
Regarding the surplus, South Dundas council will receive a report from their treasurer in the near future with recommendations about what should be done with the surplus funds left over from last year’s budget.
Looking to visit the local British Home Child exhibit? Take British Home Child Lane just off County Road 2 east of Morrisburg at Crysler Marina. Formerly known as Heritage Highway, the road is being officially […]