Media Releases | October 26, 2010

Nov. 27 African Gala targets funds for Ghana and Zambia


Members of the African Gala organizing team are, from left, Daniela Fast, Louise VanderHoek, Hannah Viejou, and Jessica Witzaney.

Members of the African Gala organizing team are, from left, Daniela Fast, Louise VanderHoek, Hannah Viejou, and Jessica Witzaney.

Nursing students from UBC's Okanagan campus are heading to Africa to deliver medical supplies and work with rural health clinics in Ghana and Zambia next February. To do that, they're holding an African Gala fund-raiser on Nov. 27 and hope to raise $20,000.

"We have never managed to raise this much, but this is the first year that we are giving to two countries and we are dreaming big," says Daniela Fast, a fourth- year nursing student and Vice President of the Global Nursing Citizens.

Fast is unable to join the 33 Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students and two faculty members who will travel to Africa, but she's enthusiastic about helping make the trip possible. "I feel that by being part of this gala, helping to organize it, I can still directly have a part in building a better health care system in Africa," she says.

Funds from the gala are used for medical supplies and will support other health initiatives in the two African nations. This trip is made possible by the faculty that accompany the students, and as such these funds also help support their airfare. Last year, a shipping container full of supplies for basic blood testing, wound-care supplies, stretchers, as well as a transport van were sent to Ghana and more supplies were purchased there.

While in Ghana and Zambia, students will participate in community development projects in collaboration with local health care professionals who know the needs of their community and identify needs for funding. Students are expected to pay for their own trips and accommodations while overseas, so the fundraising is for the communities they're visiting, not the students, Fast points out.

The African Gala features a live band and dancing, three-course dinner, silent auction, and a safe ride home service. The event will be held at the Immaculate Conception Parish, 839 Sutherland Ave. in Kelowna. Doors open at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 -- purchase a table of eight and the eighth ticket is free. Students in the group are from across the valley, including Vernon and Penticton, and will be canvassing for donations in these cities as well.

One of the needs identified last year was teaching about infant resuscitation and pain management. This year, the students plan to take along numerous ambu-bags (self-reinflating bags used during resuscitation), oxygen masks and tubing. In addition to the shipping container, each student packs extra bags with medical supplies.

"I feel incredibly blessed to have grown up in Canada, and I feel it’s our responsibility to share our resources with those that have little," says BSN student Hannah Viejou. "I know I will learn so much in Africa. Not just about diseases and treatments that we don’t encounter in Kelowna, but also about resilience, hope, and joy."

For tickets or further information about how you can help, email the students at

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Bud Mortenson
University Relations
The University of British Columbia
Okanagan campus

Tel: 250-807-9255


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