South African Dawn Leppan looked around her area in 1989, looked at all the remote villages, the dire need developing from the burden HIV/AIDS was placing on the community, and the lack of food and medical care there in the villages, and she decided to do something about it. With the help of a friend, she began a feeding program under a tree. Quickly, the program grew and moved to the basement of a local church. In 1990, Dawn opened a small medical clinic at the same church.
By 2005, Dawn saw that the need was growing beyond her meager situation. She began to seek partners to help her build a full-fledged clinic. Enter CompassioNow. CompassioNow provided the funding for the medical supplies, some basic equipment and medicines that Dawn would need to start a larger, brand-new clinic, which broke ground in 2008.
Over the years, CompassioNow has continued to support Dawn and her clinic with quarterly payments for supporting staff and training, and by carrying over duffel bags of medical supplies and medicines which are difficult to find and expensive to buy. Board members Stina Bjurstrom and Chris Faherty have spent time in the clinic offering their medical expertise and training the volunteer network, which travels into the surrounding villages to check on patients, to make sure the shut-ins are following their medical protocols, to offer basic first aid, and to transport potential patients to the clinic when necessary. CompassioNow believes firmly in Dawn’s mission to train her community about sanitation, healthy eating, basic first aid, and dealing with chronic conditions. In 2016, Sister Nurse Karen Harte, Dawn Leppan’s daughter and one of the lead medical staff at the clinic, traveled to California to speak at the 10th Anniversary celebration of CompassioNow. Those attending the event donated and filled medical care bags stuffed with bandages, first aid creams, tweezers, thermometers, surgical scissors, and antibacterial wipes, which Sister Harte then carried back to South Africa. Each time a new shipment of medicines and supplies makes it way to South Africa, there is also a pouch or two of Compassion Tea tucked inside!
Today, 1000 Hills offers a school for elementary aged children as well as a preschool, vocational training for adults, disease-specific support groups, pre and post-natal clinics for the moms and well-baby checks for the infants, as well as the community health volunteer network. Within a three-month period, it is common for the clinic staff to treat over 20,000 patients, several hundred a day.
In 2017, CompassioNow board member Lee Kennedy passed away. In memory of him, CompassioNow made an extra donation to 1000 Hills. Within the year, Dawn and her staff had used this money to purchase a van which could be used as a food truck. The Lee Kennedy Meals on Wheels program travels around the villages handing out meals to the remote, the sickly, the compromised, the elderly and the young, anyone who is hungry. 100s of meals are served daily.
This long-lasting relationship between CompassioNow and 1000 Hills continues to flourish and we expect to see a continued growth in the Inchanga area of South Africa -- growth in healthcare, in community morale, and in God’s grace and love reaching more and more people.