David Wald, TecNica Volunteer and Supporter

David Wald, engineer and TecNica Volunteer

Dave Wald

February 19, 1928-May 18, 2008

Dave Wald was one of the very earliest TecNica volunteers and supporters! During a lifetime of service to the cause of peace and justice, Dave contributed his time and expertise to many organizations.  David passed away on May 18, 2008 after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.

Whether opposing the Vietnam War, running for Congress, sending computers to Cuba and Bolivia, challenging the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba, or promoting single-payer healthcare in California, David Wald was always busy working for peace and social justice.

Dave had a B.S. in mechanical engineering and an M.S. in aeronautical engineering, so his skills were a godsend for TecNica at the very beginning of the TecNica organization.  Dave traveled to Managua with TecNica Director Michael Urmann to identify important engineering projects for future TecNica Volunteers that would assist the new Nicaraguan nation.  These projects gained the trust and confidence of people in Nicaragua and opened the doors for future TecNica Volunteers in banking, industry, farming, academia, and many technical fields.

The Nicaragua Hospital Emergency Generator Project

One of the important things that Dave Wald identified was a lack of back-up power in hospitals in Nicaragua that caused operations to be thwarted and critical, life-saving medical equipment to go offline when the power went down (as it did frequently in the 1980’s and 90’s).  Working with others, Dave set about raising money and locating suitable generators to purchase for Nicaraguan  hospitals. They eventually found affordable generators in China and raised enough money to purchase and ship them to Nicaragua.  Dave returned to Nicaragua many times over the next few years, with generators to install in 14 hospitals, gifts of the Bay Area’s Nicaragua Hospital Emergency Generator Project.

The USA/Cuba InfoMed Project

The story of USA/Cuba InfoMed, from May 1995 to the present, is one of a successful humanitarian aid project initiated and operated by a 100% volunteer force based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dave was instrumental in the InfoMed project.

In 1994, on a Global Exchange trip challenging the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba, Dave met Contra Costa County epidemiologist Dr. Juan Reardon, and the two of them, returning to Cuba the following year. They visited the National Center for Medical Sciences Information in Cuba, where they met with Dr. Oramas Ojito and Professor Pedro Urra González.   They learned of a new project underway on the island, the creation of the national telemedicine network, InfoMed, to give doctors Internet access to the latest scientific information. But there was a shortage of terminals for the hospitals and medical schools, the Cubans said.

They learned that the UN Development Programme had provided file servers but that they were on their own to obtain terminals for thousands of users in the medical system. Reardon and Wald undertook the task of supplying InfoMed with PCs for use as terminals. The volunteer group founded by the pair, USA/Cuba InfoMed, has shipped off 1,400 computer systems plus peripheral equipment (network cards, printers, etc.).   A shipment of 500 systems arrived by ship in Havana on September 2, 1999.

USA/Cuba InfoMed continues to support Cuba’s public health system with material aid, but they also work to help end the embargo on the island nation.

Click here to read more about Dave’s efforts on the InfoMed-Cuba project and more at TASC InfoMedCuba.

Dave was an active member of the San Jose Peace and Justice Center.  Click here to see this group’s memorial page for Dave.  Most recently, he worked with South Bay peace and justice groups, especially Healthcare for All–California (promoting the bill for universal, single-payer health care to cover all residents of California).

We welcome any further contributions about Dave Wald’s work for Peace and Justice via the Comments section below!

Additions to the Memorial from Volunteers

From Greg Nelson

Mike Hebert and I drove an old FedEx van from San Jose to Managua in 1989 for Dave as part of the generator project. The van was filled with tools and we turned it over to a TecNica engineer in Managua. The van was to be used to move the generators from the docks to the hospitals. Dave and I spent many hours preparing the van for the trip, which was made with two other vehicles, a Toyota mini-pickup and a Ford F-150. The Toyota was driven by the former mayor of Santa Cruz and the Ford was stolen south of Juarez on our first day in Mexico. It took us 17 days to make the journey. Dave recruited me when I told him that I had been asked to volunteer to rebuild the gearbox on the Goss printing press for El Nuevo Diario, a pro-Sandinista daily paper edited by Javier Chamorro. We did that job and then flew back to San Jose on tickets paid for by the generator project. What a wonderful person to know and work with. I will never forget him.