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home : features : features May 24, 2016

6/12/2013 10:58:00 AM
Local organization with global reach
Jessica Evans
News Manager

Giving and generosity come second nature to the residents of northern Michigan. In a place where having a strong sense of community and caring for those within in it means so much, one local organization is extending this attitude--even over thousands of miles away.

SAME (South African Medical Expeditions) is a local, non-profit organization that provides orphans and families in South Africa with food, clean water, medical assistance, day care, and numerous other resources. SAME focuses on assisting impoverished or HIV/AIDS infected children, in particular and helps those in the communities of Timbavati and Sigagula, east of the South African city of Acornhoek in Mpumalanga Province.

The all-volunteer organization was established in 2007 after a group of concerned northern Michigan residents made a trip to South Africa in 2004 to assist the people there. Since then, groups of local residents have continued to travel to the region to aid in providing South African children and families with food, water and medicine.

SAME board member Patty Peek noted that working with the organization and traveling overseas to help in the situation has been a life changing experience.

"The country is beautiful, the wildlife majestic," Peek said in a recent email interview. "Though the situation for orphans and vulnerable children is often desperate and heartbreaking. Teams work hard, but it is truly a labor of love."

The organization is making a sizable difference in the lives of these South African communities. It currently provides over 2,000 meals per month to children, provides five fully equipped medical clinics to those in the area, along with medicine and weekly HIV/TB treatments to those who need it, transportation for local residents to the clinics, day care services, clothing and prevention, testing, treatment, and counseling options for those with HIV/AIDS. All of these services are provided to the local residents free of charge.

"Perhaps the most important impact is acknowledgement of the child's value as a person," Peek explained. "SAME makes sure these children have an advocate--someone to come alongside the child to access resources that otherwise would not be available."

Peek noted the communities of northern Michigan have been incredibly generous and have brought hope to other communities thousands of miles away.

"The northern Michigan community is a very giving and involved one," she said. "We have had many volunteers from ages 10 to 80 who have participated as member of teams, worked at our fundraisers, gathered donations of clothings and medical supplies and offered their services."

"For those who have been able to travel there repeatedly, we see the impact of the labor," Peek continued. "We see children growing, playing and progressing in school, just as it should be. We see infants born free of HIV. We see hope."

Local residents will have the opportunity to contribute to the SAME organization in the very near future. SAME is hosting its second Charitable Celebration of Life on Saturday, June 29 at Black Forest Farm in Harbor Springs. A cocktail reception will begin at 5 p.m., with dinner served by chef Bob Vala at 7 p.m., with a live auction, as well. Tickets are $150 and proceeds of the event will go to the SAME organization so they can continue their work in South Africa. Please RSVP by June 14. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, contact Dawn Hansen at dawn.m.hansen@att.net or at 231-838-9233.

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