DANVILLE -- Transforming the village of Sintaro, Ethiopia, more than 7,000 miles from Danville, and helping the people and children transform their lives is a daunting task that has been taken on by members of Community Presbyterian Church.
To help fund this long-term project, CPC is hosting an Art Benefit Bash from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Danville Veterans Hall. Several Bay Area artists have donated items for the event, including Lin Teichman, whose work is displayed at Blackhawk Gallery. Notable artist James Gayles, an Emmy award-winner from Oakland, will paint live. Other artists who have donated to the event's auction live and work in the greater Bay Area, Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo.
Inspired by an impactful sermon series based on the "The Hole in Our Gospel" book written by Richard Stearns, it led Dr. Steven Wells, a CPC member and longtime Danville resident to Cap Haitien, Haiti, in 2013.
Performing surgeries from dawn until dusk with several other medical professionals, Wells acted on his desire to serve another country's underprivileged. "This was an amazing trip and led to a strong desire to do more with my time and my occupational talent," he said.
About that same time, the CPC congregation embarked on a seven-year sustained commitment to the small village of Sintaro, located six hours south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Partners with Hope Enterprises, an Ethiopian voluntary organization founded in 1971, CPC's goals are auspicious: to improve the physical, educational, economic, relational and spiritual life of the village.
The project includes the building of a well, a school serving K-4 (of the poorest children), sanitation and hygiene education, medical clinics and eventually extra classes serving fifth through eighth grades (see http://sintarovillage2020.com). Having been an educator for more than 35 years, Jan Brunkel, administrator and teacher at San Ramon Valley Christian Academy and also a CPC member, made her first trip to Sintaro in October.
"Spending time with these beautiful people, who have so little, touched my heart," Brunkel said.
Also inspired by the CPC sermon series, Brunkel put her words into action. "I had the great privilege of teaching a lesson to the children, hearing them sing and recite their ABCs."
Brunkel's team spent several days in the village visiting the huts, talking and sharing with the children and families and searching for a site to dig a well.
Dr. Wells and his youngest daughter, Katie, traveled to Sintaro this past February with several Danville physicians, nurses and fellow CPC members. After setting up a medical clinic, they were able to treat about 700 patients, seeing illnesses rarely, if ever, seen in the United States.
"My personal goals were to provide immediate medical treatment for acute, 'solvable' problems, gain the trust of the villagers and seek out how we can help the people improve access to their government's limited medical care," Wells said.
Considering the challenges Sintaro people face in their own lives and the future of their children, CPC members want to help these people help themselves.
"Their understanding of disease, nutrition and general health is minimal at best," Wells said.
"They do understand the importance of education and look at it as a way for future generations to escape poverty." Wells cannot wait to go again, "The people are so gracious and filled with hope. We want them to be successful Ethiopians."
WHAT: Community Presbyterian Church's Art Benefit Bash. Proceeds will help fund a well, community center and the ongoing school project serving the Sintaro village in Ethiopia
WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Danville Veterans Hall.
TICKETS: $75 apiece or $125 for a couple. Donations and an art preview can be found at http://www.sintaroartbash.com.