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Oregon | Clackamas

— Rotary Club of Clackamas

Clackamas service club donates $53K to African hospital

The Rotary Club of Clackamas has received a matching grant from the Rotary Foundation to provide $53,000 toward safe and clean birthing quarters at a hospital in The Gambia, one of the smallest countries in Africa.

Local Rotarians are supporting the donation to the Brikama Health Centre’s renovation project after hearing about how generations of pregnant women in The Gambia have had to suffer through the pain of childbirth in a hospital without windowpanes, sanitary bathrooms or enough power to complete surgical procedures safely. Many women have instead opted to deliver their babies at home, some with devastating results.

Originally, the idea for the project came from Ed Gronke’s conversations with Lamin Jallow, who works as a caregiver and nurse at Avamere Rehabilitation Center in Oregon City. Jallow, was born and raised in The Gambia and shared stories of his homeland with Gronke while assisting him through physical therapy after a medical procedure a few years ago. Gronke is a local Rotary Club member and past governor for Rotary District 5100.

“We all think it’s a great project, a first for our club and something that will make a huge difference in the small country of The Gambia,” Gronke said.

Brikama Health Centre is one of the few hospitals in The Gambia providing free medical care. As such, it delivers nearly 7,000 babies per year. The hospital is staffed by three doctors, 10 nurses and 23 midwives who are dedicated to the well-being of their patients. One of the doctors at the center mentioned that electricity is intermittent and at night his staff uses the light on their cell phones to help illuminate the operating room for C-sections when electricity fails.

Rotary clubs in Clackamas, Lake Oswego and Edmonds, Washington, teamed up with the Brikama Society of Seattle to provide funds for this hospital renovation project. The contractor for the renovation estimates project completion by early summer.

“It’s taken four years to get to this point, including visits by two of the club’s members to meet with the hospital staff, see conditions for themselves, and determine both the feasibility and sustainability of the project,” Gronke said.

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