Our Story

The NGO of the Twins

When Marinus “Dick” Koning, MD FACS, retired from his surgical practice in Bend, Oregon in 2008, he traveled around the world with his wife as she taught during the Semester at Sea program. While aboard the ship, Dr. Koning developed a friendship with a professor from Ethiopia, who ignited an interest in Ethiopian history and culture. After returning from his travels and following a lifelong dream, Dr. Koning decided to embark on a humanitarian mission to Ethiopia through Medical Teams International.

For his assignment, Dr. Koning worked as a volunteer consultant and surgeon at the Myungsung Christian Medical Center in Addis Ababa, where he found himself working side-by-side with Ethiopia’s surgeons. Shortly after his arrival, Dr. Koning noticed the common occurrence of mothers seeking care for their babies born with neural tube birth defects, primarily hydrocephalus (known as “water on the brain”) and spina bifida (known as “open back”). With only one neurosurgeon to serve the entire population of Ethiopia, most babies were put on a waiting list or sent away. Without surgery, many of these children died. There was a clear need to help these forgotten children and their families.

In collaboration with the newly formed Neurosurgery Department of Addis Ababa University, ReachAnother Foundation US was founded in 2009 by Dr. Marinus Koning, followed by the founding of ReachAnother Foundation Nederland in 2013 by his twin brother, Dr. Jan Koning, a vascular surgeon in Delft, The Netherlands. These organizations work to create a multi-national collaborative approach, which expands ReachAnother’s capacity to activate change and support Ethiopian partners.

ReachAnother’s first project included the Hydrocephalus Campaign, which funded surgeries at Zewditu Hospital in Addis Ababa and the opening of three autism schools, Ethiopia’s first schools dedicated to teaching indigent autistic children. In 2017, ReachAnother transitioned to focus solely on expanding the Hydrocephalus Campaign model to other hospitals through the creation of Centers of Excellence in Pediatric Neurosurgery. The autism schools now operate independently without the support of ReachAnother. Known in Ethiopia as the “NGO of the Twins,” ReachAnother Foundation in the United States and The Netherlands work closely with Ethiopian partners to achieve their vision and are committed to giving children born with hydrocephalus or spina bifida the opportunity to grow up to live happy, healthy lives.

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“We believe that steadfast advocacy and education, perseverance and a huge dose of compassion will inspire those around us to make a difference”

Dr. Marinus Koning

Founder & President

What are spina bifida and hydrocephalus?

Spina bifida and hydrocephalus are neural tube defects (NTDs), which are birth defects that affect a baby’s spine, spinal cord, or brain.

Normally, a fetus’ neural tube develops into their brain, spinal cord, and spinal column, but if a mother does not have sufficient folic acid in her diet during pregnancy the neural tube does not fully form or close completely.

Spina bifida, “open back,” occurs when the spine has failed to close properly during the first month of pregnancy. Surgery is needed to close the defect immediately after birth to prevent infection and preserve the existing function in the spinal nerves. Approximately 90% of babies born with spina bifida are also impacted by hydrocephalus, “water on the brain.”

Babies born with hydrocephalus suffer a fluid build up in their brain, which causes an enlarged head and, if untreated, will cause brain damage and death. Treatment of hydrocephalus consists of implanting a shunt to drain the excess fluid. When treated in a timely fashion, the overwhelming majority of these babies can go on to lead healthy lives.

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“It was incredible to be able to volunteer in the hospital as a medical student and watch as the life of a child with hydrocephalus was forever changed. But it also gave me the chance to realize that giving a life to one child also means helping that child's mother, father, family and loved ones. It provides the community with hope to know that someone cares and is willing to help.”

Lacey Menkin MD

Orlando, Florida Medical Student

We are committed to

Expanding pediatric neurosurgery capacity to save more lives

Expanding pediatric neurosurgery capacity to save more lives

Expanding pediatric neurosurgery capacity to save more lives

John Moseley, PHD

Board Member

John received his BS, MS and PhD degrees in Physics from Georgia Institute of Technology, and has received multiple awards for his research there, at SRI, and at UO. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the AAAs, is listed in Who's Who in Frontier Science and Technology, in America, and in the World. He has participated at the National and International level in numerous scientific and educational committees and activities. At the local level, he has participated in a number of research, economic development, and arts related initiatives.

Dr. Moseley retired in 2006. He and his wife, Susan, live in Eugene, OR.
John has participated in visits to Ethiopia as a volunteer member of the ReachAnother Foundation team 2015 and 2017.

"My wife Susan and I first became interested in the work in Ethiopia through our friendship with Dick and Patricia. After attending a fund-raising dinner in Bend in 2012, my wife we hosted one in Eugene, and became increasingly involved, so when I was asked to join the Board in 2014 I was more than happy to do so. Participating with the team in Ethiopia in 2015 helped me to realize the effectiveness and potential of this effort, and I have appreciated the opportunity to help ever since."

We’re in it for the babies. For the families.
For Ethiopia. For the world.
We are dedicated to this work, our human family and to one another.
We are united to transform.
We are a catalyst for change.