Dr. Ruth Mathieson took the opportunity to share how some of the Rotary money is spent and the good we are doing in the world through International Service.  One of the people our Club supports is Dr. Paul Thistle, who lives and works in Zimbabwe.  He is an obstetrician/gynaecologist who married a local midwife, Pedrinah, learned to speak Shona and have three boys, two of them are now studying at Toronto University.  Dr. Thistle first came on Rotary's radar in 2004 when Dr. Bill Beattie sent over a hockey bag full of medications.  Then in 2007, vital hospital equipment was sent from BGH in a 40 foot sea container which included 30 beds, 28 mattresses, 3 cribs and lots of medical supplies.  The Rotary Club of Belleville gave $2,400 towards the freight charges.  We have continued to support him over the years.  The latest was a contribution to the rehabilitation ward and pocket money for him, as he now volunteers at Karanda hospital.  Four times a year he writes an email letter, called the Thistle Epistle.  Here are some excerpts from his latest letter.
"The work at Karanda continues in the midst of armed conflicts and humanitarian crises around the globe.  Zimbabwe faces its own specific challenges, including the recent rapid devaluation of the local currency, a national cholera epidemic and an active polio outbreak.  In addition, we are facing a drought year.  The once promising crops are withering on the vine.  According to the 2023 Zimbabwean Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report, 49% of people lack basic sanitation at home, 45% are affected by drought and 17% walk more than one kilometer to their water source daily, 26% of children are stunted and 17% are classified as having severe hunger.  We have noted that the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' has widened, more so in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic".  In spite of these challenges "we are eager to turn the sod on 2024 projects:  maternity extension, laboratory expansion, chapel renovations, dormitory and solarization of the hospital compound.  The needs seem endless, our five year strategic plan ambitious.  However, in contrast to the Beatles' song, we get by with a big help from our friends at home and abroad.  Thank you everyone."