Guest speaker Dr. Paul Thistle and his wife Pedrinah and sons James, 11, and Alexander, 7, look at a Springstone stone sculpture on display from artist Letwin Mugavazi at the silent auction table during the Howard Hospital fundraiser on Thursday, June 21, 2012 at The Venue on George St. in Peterborough, Ontario in Canada. Over 100 people were in attendance. CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER/QMI AG

The Canadian-born Zimbabwe-based doctor  Paul Thistle, who runs the Salvation Army’s Howard Hospital (one of the biggest hospital in Mashonaland Central), was in Peterborough, Ontario (Canada) with his family to take part in a fundraiser for the facility.

More than 100 people enjoyed a dinner from the Shish Kabob Hut, live music and an auction, with proceeds going to the hospital.

Larry Gillman, a local resident who travels to Zimbabwe regularly to help the hospital, said every cent raised goes to the cause, as the entire evening was donation-fuelled — from the meal to the Venue to the items donated for auction, which included artwork, services and more from local companies and individuals.

As part of the fundraiser, bricks were being sold, figuratively, in the Venue lobby. For $2, donors could help contribute to a new wall for the hospital, which suffers from chronic ill repair and a lack of funds.

The Examiner profiled the care workers and the hospital last year in an eight-part series by reporter Galen Eagle, who was the MC at Thursday night’s event. The series, which ran in a special section after Eagle returned from a trip to Zimbabwe with the group, highlighted the struggles Howard Hospital has in an impoverished AIDS-ravaged community where government support is negligible.

A nurse walks down a hallway connecting wards at the Howard Hospital. (Courtesy of Doug MacLellan)

Thistle, who visited Peterborough last year for a fundraiser at Market Hall, said trips to Canada are always fun for him and his Zimbabwean wife, Pedrinah. They had their sons, James and Alex, along, and plan to spend time at a family cottage near Buckhorn before heading home to Zimbabwe this month.

“It’s good to see that what was started last year (with the fundraiser) still has momentum and that momentum is sustained,” he said.

Last year’s event raised more than $40,000. Gillman said organizers aren’t sure if that target will be reached this year, as it included two “significantly large” donations, but every cent counts, he said.

Thistle studied medicine at the University of Toronto and moved to Zimbabwe in 1999, where he met Pedrinah, a nurse and midwife who now works with him at the hospital. He was awarded the Teasdale-Corti Humanitarian Award from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

The Salvation Army operates four social service institutions in Zimbabwe: the Bumhudzo Home for the Elderly; the Athol Evans Home for the elderly; the Braeside Social Complex offering housing for women pensioners and a men’s shelter; Enterprise House and the Ralstein Centre providing accommodation for elderly and single men. And the Howard Hospital near Mazowe.

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