Dublin fireworks bring clean water to Ethiopia | July 13, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Column - July 13, 2012

Dublin fireworks bring clean water to Ethiopia

by Jeb Bing

Makeshift plywood booths filled parking lots in central Dublin last week in that city's annual allowance for "safe and sane" fireworks such as sparklers and small "low rise" cones that service clubs and nonprofits sell to raise funds for their activities. Among the sellers were a number of school-related groups, athletic boosters, swim clubs, Dublin Lions and Rotary clubs, Dublin Partners in Education, Tri-Valley YMCA and at least one church. What caught my eye was the lone booth at Dublin Boulevard and Amador Plaza Road where Yvonne King and other volunteers were selling fireworks to raise money for Doctors Giving Back, a Dublin-based organization that is serving the health needs of thousands in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. It was the only organization taking advantage of Dublin's open policy on selling fireworks that seemed to be looking beyond the city's borders over the Independence Day fund-raising effort.

King said she hoped to raise more than $10,000 after expenses to support the nonprofit, which was founded by physician's assistant Jane Turns and her husband Dr. John Turns of San Ramon. Every box of sparklers and other fireworks packages sold brought in needed dollars to add more water filtration systems and mosquito netting in the small, often remote villages where Doctors Giving Back goes each year, sparing many the agonies of debilitating diseases. Many in these villages don't live past 40 because of polluted water, poor living conditions and the lack of available health care.

The Turns' mission began with a trip to provide medical care to a small region in Ethiopia, and now, six years later, has grown to include ongoing projects such as building two orphanages, supporting education programs and, most important, clean water solutions. DGB worked with a company called Sawyer to provide small kits using kidney dialysis filters that are hooked up to 5-gallon buckets. When the water is run through the bucket and the filter, 99.9% of the bacteria, viruses and diseases are eradicated, the Turns found. This clean water is then used in these villages for everything, including drinking, bathing and clothes washing. The kits are affordable with a single kit costing $150 that will filter 1 million gallons over the lifetime of the filter. The filters are easy to clean and DGB volunteers work with individuals in each village they're serving to teach them how to manage the clean water system.

Doctors Giving Back also provides hospitals and clinics in the small villages it serves with needed equipment and medical supplies so that relief work can continue even after the group leaves. Education is an important part of the group's mission since most of these villagers have never seen a doctor. Instructors work with chosen individuals in these communities to make sure the water filtration system is regularly cleaned and continues to function. The DGB team literally carries hockey bags full of supplies, including shoes and eyeglasses collected through the year. Its children's feeding program teaches youths how to raise chickens that provide healthy meals. Funds from DGB also have enabled children to get the books and uniforms needed to attend school for the first time.

Yvonne King said that although the organization has its headquarters at 7172 Regional St. in Dublin, its outreach efforts go to all Tri-Valley cities and beyond. Besides the Turns, other doctors, nurses, even carpenters, teachers and interpreters make the trip to Ethiopia each year, coming from throughout the Bay Area. Next year, helped by funds from the Dublin fireworks stand, a crab feed that has outgrown its space at the Shannon Community Center in Dublin, and other fundraisers, King hopes Doctors Giving Back can make two trips and reach more villages with its aid.

More information on Doctors Giving Back can be found on the organization's Web page, www.doctorsgivingback.org, or by email at doctorsgivingback@yahoo.com.