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Local fundraising helps to build medical dispensary in Tanzania

Posted 8/25/15 (Tue)

Local fundraising helps to build medical dispensary in Tanzania

By John D. Taylor
“Who knows how many thousands of people this will eventually impact,” said Pastor Dennis Huenefeld, talking about the future influence of the $60,000 raised in Divide County since mid-April for the construction of a dispensary (think hospital) in the African nation of Tanzania.
This Central Bible College Medical Center project is all but complete now, according to photos and Huenefeld’s contacts in Tanzania. 
And Huenefeld is especially proud that North Dakota’s half of the overall $115,000 to build the dispensary came from the open hearts of the people of Divide County. 
“All of the $60,000 that was raised, was sent,” he said. “There were no administration fees, nor overhead.”
In April of this year, Huenefeld and a committee of three – Frank Simmons, Tracy Lownsberry and Marilyn Andrick -- met to decide how to approach raising the $60,000 to build the Dodoma, Tanzania dispensary.
Huenefeld had visited this location in November 2014, to deliver motorcycles to local religious leaders needing to reach churches in the bush. While there, Huenefeld learned of the need for a dispensary.
The facility is designed to bring modern medicine to a place where there is only one doctor for each 30,000 people. By comparison, the U.S. averages one doctor per 400 people.
Only those who live near cities get medical care, Huenefeld explained, and they must often wait very long times to receive it. Pregnant women and special needs people desperately needed the dispensary, and they had no grant money or other means to build it. The average income in the nation is $3 per day.
However, what began as a $70,000 project got bumped up to $115,000 after the Tanzanian government made some suggestions on the floor plan for the dispensary, Huenefeld said.
So the program Huenefeld, Simmons, Lownsberry and Andrick came up with was the Tanzania Fund -- Making a Difference, an effort designed to raise $60,000 to finish the 64- by 31-foot building. Some Assembly of God churches in South Dakota had already kicked in about $60,000 and got the project going, with initial construction beginning in February 2015.
By Palm Sunday the Tanzania Fund had raised $21,000, thanks to a number of people who contributed after Huenefeld’s Palm Sunday service and including farmers who wanted to help, he said.
The remaining amount, in gifts of $20 to thousands of dollars, was raised within the next few months, he said.
Huenefeld was surprised by how much money came from outside his church, some from people who don’t even go to church.
He said the Tanzanians are in the habit of calling the construction project the Crosby Clinic in correspondence with him, in honor of what local people have done.
The dispensary, which now meets government standards, will be staffed by recent graduates of the Central Bible College, and a dedication of the facility will be held during the first week of January.
Huenefeld said it’s possible that Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, could be present. The nation’s Minister of Health, Seif Rashidi, has committed to attend the ceremony.
Huenefeld said the next step in getting the dispensary up and running is getting used hospital equipment to send over.
“My call is making a difference in people’s lives. I believe that one day we’ll all stand before God and we will be held accountable,” he said. “It was very gratifying when we hit $10,000, and then $60,000. This was all bare land. And seeing this happen, it was like a destined thing, doing what God wanted me to do to fulfill myself. When you find that, you’ve got to do it.