Speaking to end suffering
The first meeting of the Rotary After Hours organization was held Tuesday night at Maid Rite. Webster City native Dr. Maria (Reveiz) Filippone was the featured guest speaker.
Filippone spoke about her recent medical mission to the Gaza Strip. Filippone is a physician and currently resides in Des Moines. In January, Filippone went with a medical delegation to Gaza and the West Bank in Jerusalem with 12 other health professionals from around the United States and Canada. She went through the organization Washington Physicians For Social Responsibility, based out of Washington state. They spent ten days in Gaza and three days in the West Bank.
“We provided services needed in Gaza because it’s a very isolated part of the world and they’re living under this tremendous siege. Life is very difficult for them,” said Filippone.
Due to conflicts and war between the Israelis and Palestinians, there are few viable tunnels and ways to transport people and trade items in and out of Gaza, she said. There’s also a lack of infrastructure.
An extreme shortage of clean drinking water, health care services, and food for Gaza residents exists. According to Filippone, close to two million people reside within the Gaza Strip, which is an eighth of the size of Rhode Island.
Filippone helped provide mental health care to Gazans. She also went to clinics and resource centers for medical education presentations. She and the rest of the team worked closely with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, a non-governmental organization that delivers high-quality mental health services to the people of Gaza.
“There’s a tremendous amount of suffering. I realized the best way to end their suffering is to raise awareness here in the U.S. because once people truly understand what is going on there, they will care and say no more,” said Filippone.
“Anywhere I can go to share my story and talk about these beautiful people, I take up on it,” said Filippone. “The suffering that the Gazans live with daily is unfathomable by our standards and completely avoidable.”
Filippone hopes to return to Gaza in November with Washington Physicians For Social Responsibility. She has been learning Arabic and taking political science courses at Drake University to learn more about the culture.
“All it takes is for the U.S. to say ‘no more’ and it will stop because the United States is basically funding it through our military aid to Israel. Ten million dollars a day.”
Rotary After Hours is Webster City’s newest service club. The service organization is a satellite club of the Noon Rotary Club. Rotary After Hours will meet the third Tuesday of each month. Members will also participate in one service project every month. Members are encouraged to involve their family and friends in service projects.
Gregg Olson is currently serving as the club’s first president.
This club is designed for people who are unable to attend the weekly Monday meetings for the Noon Rotary Club,” said Olson.
Tyler Abens is serving as Sergeant-at-Arms. Mark Dohms and Loween Clayberg are serving as “Rotary Moment” persons.
Noon Rotary Club President Gabe Jorgensen encouraged attendees to think about joining the satellite group. Jorgensen also noted the intention for the Rotary After Hours club to become a self-sufficient club on its own.
“Our goal is to bring a whole new group of people to Rotary,” said Jorgensen. “We hope the framework we’ve laid out will get this group going on a great start. All of us in the noon club are here to support you.”
Anyone interested in becoming a charter member of Rotary After Hours should contact Gregg Olson at P.O. Box 265, Webster City, IA, 50595.
The next meeting is schedule for Tuesday, July 26 at the Webster City Maid Rite.