Rotaplast Canada is again sponsoring a medical mission with Rotaplast International to Ethiopia. This year, we will be in The Cure Hospital in Addis Ababa, starting September 14th.


Cure International was founded in 1996 by Dr. Scott and Mrs. Sally Harrison. Established in 2008, the hospital in Addis Ababa is a state-of-the-art 60 bed complex.

We have 22 on our team, with 8 from Kelowna. Lots of work has already been done behind the scenes to ensure that this mission will be a success. The Blue Nile Rotaract Club in Bahir Dar was of incredible assistance to our mission there in 2009.


Yigermal, a young man from that club, has already arranged for 20 to 30 people to come to Addis Ababa for possible surgery when we are set up.

What a great beginning!

The Team

Non-Medical Volunteers

  • Ken Funk – Mission Director
  • Thomas Paterson – Quartermaster
  • Stephen Schnepf – Patient Transporter
  • Sharon Romank – Medical Records
  • Rita Henderson – Sterilizer
  • Percy-Ann Urquhart – PACU Assistant
  • Jean Bird – Assistant Mission Director
  • Lois Serwa – Ward Coordinator
  • Brian Elliott – Photo Journalist

Medical Volunteers

  • Anne Delaney – Medical Director
  • Kim Capps – Head Nurse
  • Steven Finkleman – Lead Pediatrician
  • Katherine Gross – Pediatrician
  • Stanley Valnicek – Surgeon
  • Angelo Capozzi – Surgeon
  • John Lee – Lead Anesthesiologist
  • Eduard (Eddy) Barnard – Anesthesiologist
  • Stephan Nel – Anesthesiologist
  • Irena Jaspar – Operating Room Nurse
  • Christa Peacock – Operating Room Nurse
  • Jean Petro – Lead PACU Nurse
  • Tshainesh (Si) Mesele – PACU Nurse

The team consists of both Canadians and Americans.  Most of the medical and non-medical participants are from the Okanagan area, with others from the San Francisco area.

On September 14th, the team will meet up in San Francisco to collect the mission supplies, and then fly out together to Abu Dhabi, where we will stay overnight.  We then will continue our journey the next day to Addis Ababa, arriving about 1:30 in the afternoon of the 16th.

September 14 – Friday

Everything is going to plan with the team arriving at the San Francisco Airport and meeting the 30 boxes of supplies for the mission.


The medical missions supplies arrive at the San Francisco Airport.

In order to save shipping costs, each member of the team brought only one piece of their own luggage, so that one of the boxes could then be included into the two-piece maximum that each passenger is allowed.  Rotaplast International then only had to pay freight on the unattached boxes.



Christa and Irena



Si and Solomon

Everything went smoothly, with the 15 hour flight departing on time at 5:45 pm on Friday.  The flight headed north, flying over Cranbrook, over the middle of Greenland, down through Europe, to finally land in Abu Dhabi on Saturday at about 8:00 pm their time.  We spent the night there.

 Sunday – September 16

 Today we leave Abu Dhabi at 10:30 for Addis Ababa.

We arrive in the afternoon and will be staying in the Soramba Hotel for the duration of the mission.   The process of retrieving and processing our supplies through customs now begins.



Monday – September 17

Breakfast is over and our director, Ken Funk and our quartermaster, Tom Paterson have left with Eshetu, the Project Manager with the Addis Ababa East Rotary Club who is assisting us, to return to the airport, hopefully to have our supplies set free!

We arrive at the Cure Hospital after a short ride on a bus and meet the staff.  They are extremely gracious and competent and I receive the impression of a first class facility.  We are taken on a tour of the complex and we are even more impressed.  One of the doctors in our group tells me that it is up to American standards.

I am also told that they have twelve private beds available for people that pay for operations.  One day per week and with money that they receive from the Smile Train contributions, enables the hospital to pay for the other six days of operations that they do.  

Unfortunately, our medical supplies are still being held at customs and this is of great concern to us.  The hospital is fully supplied with everything needed to do surgeries and they have offered to lend us equipment and materials so that the medical team can start  tomorrow.


The team is receiving a briefing from Anne Delaney, our Medical Director

We were able to get started though, and registered about 25 Addis Ababa children for possible cleft palate surgery, after an examination by the surgeons.


Lina is showing me her number


 I am looking forward to tomorrow to see what may happen next.

 Day 1 – Tuesday, September 18

Ken and Tom went to the airport first thing in the morning to see what they could do to obtain our boxes of supplies.  Meanwhile, the directors of our mission had arranged to start the surgeries, using the Cure Hospitals equipment and supplies, which we will replace.  What a relief to be able to start, and what a thanks we owe to the hospital.



The first patient of the day and parents are from the Somali Region Tigiiga 622 kms away.  The mother’s name is Halima Zekeria, the father Mawlid Kalineh and the baby is named Muad.

They were married February, 2011.  Halima has her BSC Degree in Computer Science from Tigiiga University of Ethiopia and Mawlid is a Student of Masters in International Law in the Civil Service University.

Halima is wearing the traditional dress or Hijab for her area.  For special occasions, she applies a beautiful traditional henna design to her skin.  Coming to Addis Ababa, the capital city, is one of those occasions.

Muad has difficulties with breast feeding and will be seen by the rest of our team shortly.


The two operating rooms were kept busy all day with six patients.  

Later, we heard that the boxes were not going to be released, but a letter from the Minister of Health had been delivered to customs and we felt that was a positive sign for us.