This has been an exciting year for the ROW Foundation. That makes it difficult deciding what should be the focus of this year-end letter. I’ve settled on three chapters from our 2018 story that make me especially proud and grateful to be part of the ROW Foundation.
FIRST, the tremendous growth in medication grants was exceptionally exciting. Through generous donations of Roweepra from our partner OWP Pharmaceuticals, ROW granted about $4 million in life-saving medication to treat epilepsy. It’s not the dollar amount that’s so thrilling but the thousands of stories behind this number, most of which we will never get to hear. One story that did get back to us was about Fatima, a woman from Sierra Leone who had suffered from seizures for three decades. Through a ROW medication grant she received Roweepra, which successfully controlled her seizures and changed her life overnight.
A SECOND highlight was providing an EEG machine for diagnosing epilepsy in the pediatric intensive care unit of the Santokba Durlabhjii Memorial Hospital in Jaipur, India. This busy unit has 25-30 neurologically-affected children admitted each month and had no EEG machine to test for epilepsy. Instead, they borrowed an EEG from the adult neurology department. Through a ROW grant, the pediatric unit now has its own EEG machine. Children having seizures no longer need to wait a week or more or even forego critical testing altogether.
The THIRD highlight is our partnership with Lisa and Mitch, a wonderful couple from Minnesota. They provided a donation that bought EEG machines for two hospitals serving low income communities in India. Lisa found ROW while searching for ways to help people suffering from untreated epilepsy in under-resourced countries. Tragically, Lisa’s daughter had passed away from seizures at a young age. She understands the helplessness of seeing a child with uncontrolled seizures and wanted to give fresh hope to those suffering with epilepsy. Their donation will result in many lives being saved.
Lisa’s and Mitch’s generosity inspires us to actively seek other partners in getting life-saving diagnosis, treatment and training to under-resourced communities. Because OWP covers our operating expenses as well as the cost of medication, 100% of all outside donations go directly to our projects. If you’re Interested in getting involved, contact Lori Hairrell at email@example.com for more information.
ROW has some ambitious plans for 2019 and beyond. In addition to growing our medication grants, we will seek ways of reaching the most isolated families through networks of rural “community health workers.” We also want to expand our support to include individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders, many of which coexist with epilepsy.
I’ve spent the past 25 years working for organizations that address poverty-related problems. I know that helping someone with epilepsy get their seizures under control is one of the most effective ways to transform lives. In fact, I was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 12. I’ve been fortunate to have my seizures 100% controlled by medication. I shudder at the thought of what my life would be like without access to trained doctors, diagnostic equipment and effective medication. And I get excited by the prospect of making these resources available to thousands of people like me around the world.
Thanks again for your support and encouragement. It makes all of this possible. We look forward with anticipation and excitement to what’s ahead!
Director of Global Programs / Acting President ROW Foundation