Jan. 9, 2017 Newsletter

Happy New Year, Newberg Noon Rotarians. Hope 2017 is off to a good start for you. Personally, I am ready for Spring. What a winter we are having!

After a couple of weeks off over the holidays, we had a compelling program last week to kick off our new Rotary year. Club Prez Leah was sick, so Todd Engle introduced our speaker, David Gallagher from Open Arms International.


David Gallagher describes Open Arms Village in Kenya.

The vision of this organization is: “Transforming Africa, one life at a time.”

It all started in 2001, when David and his wife decided to go to Kenya to do charitable work. She was in pediatric intensive care and he in Christian ministry. Four months before leaving for Kenya, 17 people had volunteered to go with them to help out. According to David, “We did medical outreach in slum areas during the day and shared about Christ at night. There is such a need for hope there.”

One and half years later back in the U.S., friends asked him what he would really like to do with his life and he answered, ” Take medical and ministry teams to Africa.” These friends were able to provide him with a salary for three years to do this.

Ministering around Kenya, “I soon realized was like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound,” he said. So they decided to establish a base in Eldoret, a town of about a million people in the western part of the country. Eldoret is at 7,000 foot elevation and has an average temperature of 68 degrees year round. According to David, many Olympian distance runners come from this area.

They started Open Arms Village in a country which has been hit hard by HIV/ AIDS. “Orphaned kids are left to live on the streets,” David said. “Culturally, it is not normal to take others’ kids into your home.” They set up a series of foster homes, with a limit of 18 kids in each home. “That sounds like a lot, but many more is the norm,” he said.

In Eldoret, they have 52 acres and have done amazing things:

  • “We started our own school. We tried sending the children to public school, but found the teaching substandard and students persecuted because they were orphans,” he explained.
  • “We have our own garden and raise 60% of our own fruits and veggies.
  • We are now working on sustainability…we have sheep, cows, goats and chickens.” They also started a hydroponic fish farm, which a team from Vernonia helped them build.
  • They started a bakery, funded by a co-op of whiskey distillers from Scotland! This has created jobs for the locals.
  • They feed 300 kids a day in a slum outside of Eldoret called Kambi Teso.

A 17,000-square-foot medical clinic is now under construction. “This will change everything,” he said. “It’s all about community transformation. Health care in Kenya is appalling. They put two people in a twin bed–tops to tails– in the hospital, it’s not sanitary, and there are frequent mis-diagnoses. We will be inundated when word gets out about the western-style care.”

Future plans call for adding a high school, which is different, as local custom is to send kids away to a boarding school.

“Our goal is to transfer leadership to local Kenyans,” David said. “Please come visit. And please don’t forget the other side of the world. At least there are social programs here in the U.S. There is nothing like that there.”

For more information or to donate, check out: www.openarmsinternational.org


You are invited to attend the upcoming free community event for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 16 at the Chehalem Cultural Center. It will feature musical, choral and dance entertainment and a talk by Tiona Cage, a former Peace Corps worker in Botswana who is now with George Fox University. Also, check out the displays at the Newberg library featuring books by and about Dr. King. More event info below:

mlk-fb-bannerMARK YOUR CALENDAR!

The kickoff of the national Peace Hub Tour, which will promote the work of the Rotarian Action Group for Peace (headquartered in Portland) is set for Sunday, Feb. 5 from noon to 3pm at the Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville. More details to come.