Friday, April 22, 2011

April 2010 (2 years in 20 days continues)

Pictured: Titus Nyunza (Left) and Mama Ivan - Treda Pius (Right), the Events Coordinators for the Igoda Community Hall. The Community Hall is seen in the background.

A new house has opened! We now have four homes in our Children’s village each with children and care givers. The opening of this latest home brings a new much needed element to the children’s village, that of a care-giving Husband and Wife team. Isaya and Vicki will be living in House number 3, and they will be caring for the older boys in the Children’s Village. As some of the boys had never been to school before entering the children’s village, many are starting their primary education quite late, and will therefore be relatively older than their friends at the Primary School when they finish this compulsory schooling. The need for an ‘older boys’ house has been seen for a while now, and it seems to be perfect timing as this new house opens and we are able to welcome a parental guardian team to give motherly and Fatherly advice. Vicky has been with us since the very beginning, and her husband Isaya (or Baba, as he is affectionately called now) is a great fit in the village. Already he has shared his opinions in the guardian meetings, in a respectfully humble manner, and has valued the opinions of those who have lived here before him. He will also be the gardener, and new care-taker of the chicken banda project at the Children’s Village. The children will learn from him the valuable skills of chicken keeping and farming. This should be a perfect resource for the children to be learning these skills from a Fatherly figure in their lives, and it appears as though Isaya and Vicky are a great addition to the Children’s Village.
This month we also welcome Fraida, 20, who is working as our night nurse. She is responsible for caring for the children at night so that the Mothers who live in the homes can have some rest. Fraida has also fit in perfectly, and as she plans to study to be a nurse, she has been a great help in diagnosing problems with children who are HIV+ and otherwise. We are gathering quite a big family now with 43 children, and 9 guardians including Fraida, and more and more strives have been taken towards sustainability. We may be quite a ways away, but the beginning steps of the ultimate goal of having the Children’s Village become completely self-sufficient, is starting to take shape.

Igoda Community Hall
The Community Hall (a project fully-funded by donations from Canadian organization African Book Box Society) will have two events coordinators, Titus Nyunza and Treda Mvinge, that will formally begin next month. Titus graduated from Jenny Peck’s Adult English class last year, and was instrumental in organizing last year’s World AIDS Day festivities that opened the building on December 1st, 2010. Treda Mvinge (better known as Mama Ivan) has been with the NGO since 2006, first as a founding member of the batik making women’s group, then as a cook for the Igoda School Kitchen. She has been a leader in the community in regards to advocating for HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, as she has been a great ambassador/educator about the disease, as she has encouraged countless others to know their status and seek treatment.
This month the Adult Education classes and Life Skills classes have continued, and we have added a very special event to the proceedings at the Community Hall: Bibi Chai day. On April 28th, 2010 the first Grandmother’s tea day took place at the community Hall, and although we had terrible weather conditions (pouring rain for 3 days in a row, and all morning long in Igoda village that morning) 20 rain-drenched Grandmothers all arrived at the community hall to enjoy some tea and maandazi, and to share their experiences of living in the village and caring for children. The event was a great success and it seems as though the Bibi’s day will get better and better as the village grows more aware of the usage of this facility.

Mdabulo CTC
On April 27th the NGO met with staff members from the oft-mentioned organization Tunajali (We Care). A laboratory consultant, grants-officer, programs director, and VCT specialist, all came to Mdabulo to evaluate what was needed at the facility to have it operating. Although the previous promise of a CD4 machine still seems to have been rescinded, we do have some good news this week: the site is getting closer and closer to having the patient files at site full time. To appreciate the importance of this step, first, we must take another look at some of the recent accounts of Care and Treatment at Mdabulo.
The Clinical officer explained to us this month that a ‘beautiful problem’ has arisen at Mdabulo. There are too many people arriving for treatment for HIV/AIDS and so the staff is becoming more and more overwhelmed. Just over two years ago it was beyond the means of most people here to receive treatment. The closest treatment was a 4-8 hour bus ride, and at a cost of nearly $10 for a return trip, many people refused to even be tested. Now, with over 1000 people registered at Mdabulo for HIV/AIDS treatment, it has been great to see the accessibility of treatment meaning more people are comfortable with their status and are living again! This amazing number of patients at Mdabulo however, is becoming overwhelming. Often times the staff from the CTC in the town of Mafinga either forgets, or doesn’t bring all of the patient files on the CTC day when they arrive at Mdabulo. This means that a re-diagnosis (if necessary) is not possible, and so patients stay on the treatment they are receiving. This can be a potentially disastrous problem, as patients need their medications adjusted to keep up with the virus so that the virus does not become immune to treatment. The good news brought to us this month signals the first steps for the CTC to become a fully self-operated facility hopefully beginning in July. The building will be in use, and most importantly the files for all patients at Mdabulo will remain there at the village facility. Overall we are encouraged that steps towards bringing full treatment and more access to quality health care are being made, especially with this most deadly disease that is affecting so many in our area.

Dr. Leena Pasanen
Dr. Leena’s incredible service continued this month with her monthly clinics for children with difficult problems at the health facilities in Ibwanzi, Mdabulo, and Luhunga. She also held a clinic in the villages of Ludilo and Kilosa where she made her office at the village government offices. She made home visits in the remote villages of Nandala and Kilosa, and also helped to see patients during the busy ‘CTC’ day at Mdabulo, seeing those patients who arrived while all other staff were kept busy by the 100s of HIV+ patients that arrived that day. We are very proud that Dr. Leena is with us and gives her time to the 16 villages in the three wards that surround us.

Luhunga Library
Construction is starting on the roof of the library at Luhunga Secondary School. We’re excited about this African Book box funded project as students from Igoda Primary and other primary schools in the Luhunga ward will attend this school and the standard of good quality education will continue on into Secondary School. Luhunga is a relatively new school, and we hope to replicate the success of our projects at Igoda primary school so that Luhunga may become one of the better government schools in the Region as well! This library will again be furnished with books and resources provided by African Book Box Society, and the tireless efforts of Ruth James and Anne Pearson are greatly appreciated again!
Igoda School Kitchen project
The Igoda School Kitchen Project (Another project fully funded by African Book Box) has made an immediate noticeable impact on the quality of Education at Igoda Primary School. Withing days of it’s inception last year, teachers were already commenting on how the changes in behaviour and change have improved in the classroom. This year we were especially pleased with it’s impact on the measurable results of the school. Igoda Primary school tested number 7th overall in the District of Mufindi, and was the 25th best school in Iringa region- out of 843 schools! This month Mama Ivan was replaced by Christina who’s children go to Igoda Primary school. Christina has been with the program since the beginning as she carried wated for the cooks before the water-catchment system was put in place. We are all excited to see what further impact this project will have on the school, the children, and the community

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