"It's a dream come true," said Oneonta Rotary past president and past district governor Marie Lusins about a recently received grant.
She told the local Rotary Club about a $37,740 matching grant from Rotary International during its Thursday meeting.
The funds, half of which will come from Rotary District 7170, which includes Oneonta, will be used to outfit a pediatric cardiac surgical unit at Komofo-Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana, Lusins said. She is working on the project with another Oneonta Rotary past president, Gary Herzig, and other members.
The equipment is being purchased from International Medical Equipment Collaborative of North Andover, Mass., a nonprofit organization that refurbishes equipment or has it donated, shipping it to impoverished areas, according to its website.
Because of this, the medical equipment has a value of about $385,000, Lusins said.
A vocational exchange trip that District Rotary members made to West Africa in 2002 helped develop an awareness of the needs of the seven countries in the area, Herzig said. Neither Lusins nor Herzig were on that trip.
This is the third project Rotary has taken on since that event, Herzig said.
Previously, grants were received to purchase treated mosquito netting for a community in Ghana. While Herzig, Lusins and others were on that trip, they visited Korle Bu Hospital in Accra, Ghana, which led to a project that helped to supply a pediatric and maternity unit at that hospital in 2006. While Herzig and Lusins were helping to deliver that equipment, also from International Medical, they discussed area health needs with a team from Children's Hospital Boston, and that led to the current effort.
The supplies should be delivered in March, Lusins said. Another fundraiser will be needed to purchase additional equipment for the unit after the first step is completed, she said.
"Rotary projects always make a difference," Lusins said.
But, this one is special, she said, "What more can you try to do than save children's lives."