In the fall of 2015, I had an opportunity to sit down with Paula and Denny Lofstrom, longstanding Unity members from Unity of Overland Park, Kansas, and Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., as they shared with me the powerful changes they are making in Tanzania. In 2005 they were founders of International Health Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, raising funds for the sister organization by the same name in Tanzania which is an official NGO (non-governmental organization).
They shared how diverse groups have come to support the construction of the children’s hospital and how Unity Church of Lynnwood, Wash., created a team of volunteers this past summer to go to Tanzania and be of service to the hospital construction. This team provided their sweat and determination to install over a mile of fence around the 62-acre property, paint, clean and provide hard work in service to this cause. Denny shared, “They worked through the heat of the African sun and/or the sudden heavy rain showers from early morning to late afternoon.”
While Paula and Denny travel for four to six months of the year raising funds to support the construction of the hospital, Paula shared why International Health Partners is so needed. She began with the simple facts that 25% of children die before reaching the age of five, and one out of three of these deaths occur in the first month. That comes out to 140 newborn children dying each day while at the same time one woman per hour dies during childbirth. This is what makes it the sixth most dangerous country for childbirth. During this discussion she shared photos of people being cared for and volunteers offering themselves in service to International Health Partners.
They shared how the first medical building for the hospital, an outpatient care facility, is close to opening as the staff works through the final documentation to gain official status and approval by Tanzania. What struck me deeply was the simple, genuine love for the health of the children and the enormous vision and determination they have to make this happen.
They have drawings and plans for a total of 29 buildings as a part of this hospital when complete. This is not an overnight plan but a well-designed process of building the infrastructure to support the need. The time and effort needed to complete the whole hospital will take years. Yet I can feel from the passion and determination of Paula and Denny and the will of the people in Tanzania, as well as volunteers, donors and prayers for it’s completion, that this will be a success for the children.
Charles W Powell, MD, FAAP, shared in the IHP’s newsletter, “We cannot provide these services until we have a place to provide them, and equipment in place to fulfill the needs…. Our goal is to change those statistics, one patient at a time…. Of course, we need both financial support and volunteers to accomplish this.”
If you would like to know more about this amazing organization or how to support their work, go to unityconnect.org/listing/international-health-partners/ and www.ihptz.org.
UnityConnect is a compassionate social action program of Unity Worldwide Ministries.
[author: Martin Dowman]