Africa holds a special place in the hearts of Hinghamites Dr. Lori Lerner and her daughter, Emma Fanuele. Last summer, the pair visited Pothawira, a village in Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries. On the service trip, Dr. Lerner, Chief of Urology at the Boston VA Health System, provided medical and surgical care. Fanuele, a sophomore at Hingham High, performed testing for malaria and helped children in the village orphanage. Upon their return, mother and daughter vowed to work to improve conditions in the community that had touched their hearts.
It didn’t take long for their passion to spread throughout Hingham. When classes started at Hingham High this fall, Emma founded the Construction Club for Africa and rallied her fellow students to design and build solar-powered units to store medical supplies in shipping containers. Power outages are frequent in the village, and these new storage units help doctors and surgeons organize supplies and ensure equipment stays powered for procedures.
At Hingham Middle School, students in Mrs. Farris’ 6th grade class, students are making their own connections to penpals in Pothawira.
Dr. Lerner is working to obtain grants for medical equipment to be donated to the village clinic, which sees 200-300 patients daily. Many of these patients travel great distances to be seen by medical professionals. The clinic is long on love but short on basic medical supplies we take for granted. In the hospital last summer, Dr. Lerner watched pregnant women labor on the floor before moving to shared beds as they were about to give birth.
In Malawi, mother and daughter fell in love with the people and the sense of community. On February 9th, they are bringing the culture to the Hingham Community Center with “A Night of Africa.” The event will showcase performances of African dancing and music alongside delicious Ethiopian food and African wine and beer. To raise funds for medical supplies and the Construction Club for Africa, “A Night of Africa” will also feature an African art silent auction and raffles. The duo will return to Malawi in June.
“A Night of Africa” will be held on Saturday, Feb 9 from 6:30-10:00 PM at the Hingham Community Center. Tickets are $125 ($100 is tax deductible) and can be purchased online by visiting https://www.pothawira.org/events-1/a-night-of-africa.