Posted by Bob Martin

Gathered at the Gateway Community Center, President John Curran welcomed 36 members and 2 guests to our Friday Rotary meeting; PP Tom Talbott (photo at left) led our invocation, invoking memories of his high school yearbook quotation from a long-forgotten rock band. (Sic tempus transit.) We sang 'America The Beautiful" and enjoyed our lunch, catered by the Long Creek Youth Center culminary team. 

Jan Chapman (photo at right) encouraged volunteers to join our reading program at Lyseth Elementary School in partnership with Maine Law.


Charlie Frair reminded us of the Veterans Appreciation Lunch on November 9 at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. Pre-registration is required (call 899-6342, or sign-up on the website, with no charge for Veterans, $25 for non-veterans. 

David Small (In photo at left with Patty Erickson) won the opportunity to search for the elusive Queen of Hearts to secure the week’s pot of $1,085, but was only able to find the 9 of Hearts. The pot dost increase in size.

Roger and Liz Fagan, along with President John Curran, presented a report on their fascinating trip to Kosovo earlier this year. This Rotary-sponsored effort focused on the areas of hearing loss, speech pathology, and prosthetic devices for limb loss in a country still suffering from the traumas of war. Roger reported that seven students from Heimerer College, which has the only speech pathology program in Kosovo, shadowed and participated in the hearing clinic at the public hospital. Roger said that he asked for no more than 30 patients, but they brought him 65. “Luckily, I brought 100 hearing aids,” he said. Roger related that many people with hearing loss also suffer with PTSD, brought on by the extended conflict in the country. He also said that they discovered one difference in medical practice there: “We learned that Doctors are not paid much,” he said. “As a consequence, they take money under the table.” Roger said that they were sensitive to the fact that the hearing aids they brought with them had apparently violated some customs restrictions. When Roger and Liz met with the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, Roger apologized for violating any rules. The Prime Minister asked to see the devices, and upon looking at them, he pounded his fist into his hand and said: “This has my blessing!”

President John reported that the staff at the Kosovo hospital was well trained and capable in prosthetics and orthotics, but they had no budget, which limits their impact. John reported that Rotaract students acted as translators for the team, and they also had the opportunity to meet with five different Rotary clubs, enlisting their participation in the project for future programs. He said that the Yarmouth, ME club will be responsible for going forward with the project in Kosovo. He shared pictures of patients who suffered limb loss both from congenital disorders and the effect of land mines. “The kids are great to work with,” he said. “They are very inquisitive.” He reported that the project was able to provide new hand models for patients to experiment with, as well as to measure patients for later fitting with a device. “We saw a lot more loss of limbs above the elbow,” he said. “Something our 3D printing device is not able to handle.” As a result of meeting with Kosovo Rotary Clubs, they were able to identify other sources of 3D printers in the country which will help in addressing this need.

Liz Fagan shared the travails of traveling in countries where one doesn’t know the language, relying on Google Translator to book flights. Google wasn’t much help, she reported, since her effort to buy a plane ticket ended up with the purchase of a tractor. Liz commented on her surprise at the number of NATO forces still in the country, their numbers as large as the local police presence. She said that when the team arrives in the Dominican Republic, they have a plan, and can immediately execute it. In Kosovo, however, their plans for clinics were interrupted to accommodate the passion of Dr. Gani Abazi, a Kosovan doctor now studying at Harvard. Dr. Gani arranged for Liz and Roger to meet with the Prime Minister, and they appeared on Kosovo national television. The resulting publicity not only highlighted the work of Rotary, but also moved Roger and Liz to Kosovan Rock Star status where they were recognized on the street, offered meals, ice cream, and other refreshment, but also thanked for their efforts. 

Even though Liz and Roger are now home, Liz is engaged in extensive follow-up to help the students at Heimerer College in Pristina, Kosovo. “They offered me a job teaching at the college,” Liz said. “But I told them it was a long commute.” Liz related that most people in Kosovo speak English, but it’s difficult to fund tuition for Kosovans to come to the U.S. for school. Consequently, she is helping to provide them with ways to improve their education in speech pathology. Liz put out a call to her speech pathology colleagues, and twelve responded that they would do guest lectures in Pristina. She is also receiving boxes of text books, earlier versions of diagnostic tests, and other materials to help build a resource library at Heimerer. “Our house is a mess,” Roger reported, but it was pretty clear listening to them tell their story that they don’t mind a bit.


(Photo L-R: President John Curran, Drs. Liz  and Roger Fagan.)