By Marie Pfeifer
More than $4,000 was raised for Africa Surgery Inc. last week by a benefit concert at Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Morristown.
The music was courtesy of the Randolph High School String Orchestra and Arietta String Ensemble, the Dicey Riley Irish Band and Celtic harpist Linda O’Connell.
Morristown-based Africa Surgery Inc. brings healing and hope to the suffering people in West Africa. Donated funds help provide much-needed surgeries for children and adults with spinal and other deformities in Sierra Leone. During a 10-year civil war that lasted until 2002, all of the country’s hospitals and medical facilities were looted and destroyed.
Dicey Riley member Tom Johnson, a former Peace Corps volunteer, founded Africa Surgery Inc.
“I am leaving for Sierra Leone on October 18th for four months,” Tom said in an emotional voice, “to go find some kids that need help with their medical problems.
“The hospital cost for each patient is about $10,000. The evening was made possible through the support of Assumption’s Msgr. John Hart.”
Eric Schaberg conducts the Randolph ensembles.
“I ask the students to volunteer to play at benefits because it gives them an opportunity to give back,” he said. “When my wife had breast cancer last year they did some fund raisers and earned about $3,000. We have insurance and didn’t need the money, so, with their concurrence I donated the money to the Susan G. Komen fund and breast cancer research.”
Eric also joined the Dicey Riley band, playing the electric violin at the Oct. 5 show. The Irish band includes John McGoldrick, Kevin Johnson, Lou Timney, guest penny whistler John Martin, fiddler Marie Quinn, and African drummer Sheik Falls playing the djembe drum. The band played a lively variety of Irish music with special renditions of Danny Boy, Lord of the Dance and When Irish Eyes are Smiling, among other tunes.
Linda O’Connell played a selection of traditional Irish melodies and also blended her talents with the Dicey Riley band. The multi-talented musician is primarily self-taught. She began taking piano lessons at age four but didn’t take to the rigors of a tough teacher. Yet that experience did not dampen her love of music.
Africa Surgery Inc. is a nonprofit. If you are able to join in this effort, checks can be made out to Africa Surgery Inc. or to ASI, c/o Tom Johnson, 70 Macculloch Ave., Morristown, NJ. 07960.