The Palisadian-Post presents an homage to Will Rogers’ column, “Will Rogers Says,” with a column by Palisadian Jimmy Dunne—on life in the “greatest town in America.”
After raising four incredible kids in the Palisades, she was on a St. Monica’s Parish trip to a sister parish in the belly of Africa—in a terribly poor community of Dandora, Kenya.
We live on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, spritzing the air with a fresh breeze. The most stunning mountains frame our other border.
Dandora is framed by the largest garbage dump in East Africa, with a stinging, harsh stench that permeates everything. It’s a breeding ground for disease and bugs you never want to meet.
In Dandora, families walk to get buckets of water from a town well. Saying electricity is spotty is being generous. The most primitive sewerage. And hot. Real hot. No such thing as air conditioning.
She saw the last thing she expected to see: Joy. Love. Community. Generosity.
In mothers. In the kids’ faces. In dads trying to figure it out.
She asked the pastor of the town church what they needed the most. He told her horror stories of so many moms and babies that were needlessly dying at birth because the closest hospital was two hours away on a good day. Every day, moms were delivering their babies in their homes. No pre-natal care, no such thing as a C-section, nothing.
She vowed to herself to hold that stench, to hold that thick heat and that image of those mothers in her mind until she made something happen.
And make something happen she did.
She got together the smartest people she knew. She went to her parish and to her friends—and made them see and feel and imagine those women in that town. Donations started coming in. More and more and more trips to Dandora.
She raised enough to put shovels in the ground for a hospital. A hospital staffed by many of the local women. Enough money to start hiring doctors and nurses. She found a company in Minnesota to provide fantastic almost-new hospital equipment.
Ten years later, in spite of the dry soil, her garden has blossomed. Lives are being saved every day in Dandora in her new Brother Andre Hospital in town, with 64 employees, 50 beds, and everything from a maternity center to cervical cancer screening, a pediatric ward and gynecology services. Next up in her plans: dental and optical care.
Whether you can afford to pay or not, no one is turned away. The woman that didn’t turn away—that looked right in the face of the problem and dug in …
The Palisades’ Jill Tabit.
This year, NASA’s fabulous Perseverance Rover searching for life on Mars. Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos opening the possibilities of private space travel. All reminding us that anything, if we put our minds and hearts to it, is possible. They connect us all. We felt, in a small way, like we all went to Mars.
Right in our own backyard, Jill, you connect us. You remind us we’re all in this journey together.
Thank you for inspiring us. For challenging us. And in a small way, for taking us with you.
On your beautiful, selfless, extraordinary flight.
Jimmy Dunne is modern-day Renaissance Man; a hit songwriter (28 million hit records), screenwriter/producer of hit television series, award-winning author, an entrepreneur—and a Palisadian “Citizen of the Year.”
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