Wednesday, April 13, 2011
July 2009 (2 years in 20 days continued)
Pictured: Mdabulo Care and Treatment Clinic construction progress July 2009
CHILDREN'S VILLAGE (ORPHANAGE): We have light! For the first time at the Children’s Village (Orphanage) we have electricity and running water in place. This has lead to the alleviation of expensive regular costs we had previously incurred of hired workers to carry the water daily, and nightly use of Kerosene lamps. Now, the children are able to study at night, and we have the reduction of these costs to be happy about. The next step will be solar, or alternative/renewable energy, as we currently run periodically on a generator, but for now we are happy to have these two impractical practices done with. The Income Generation Project involving chicken coops has come to the Orphanage. A chicken coop, similar to those still being built in the village for income generation, has been built on the orphanage complex. This will hopefully be a successful project in which each child at the orphanage will have a chicken to care for, and as the child becomes old enough to join Secondary School, the income from such a project can help pay for his or her school fees, and school needs which are a new burden to a child at this level of education. School fees for one year cost a child 20,000Tsh, and one chicken may be sold for 10,000Tsh, as one tray of eggs can be sold for 6000Tsh, so the potential is there to have each child started on a self-sufficient project as they enter Secondary School. As the rains had completely stopped by the beginning of this month, the Orphanage farm project is well underway. This project will give the Orphanage a much needed spacious bit of cultivated land on which the Orphanage may plant and grow food to alleviate the growing costs of food. If successful, the project will be one of our first steps in making the children's center a more sustainable entity. Currently working on the garden are orphaned Secondary School students in Form 4, who come on Saturdays to make money to pay for the costs of this expensive year in school.
Our Community Outreach program is a project designed to address our first goal for care for Orphans, of caring for children as they live in the village, by supporting them and their families. This has included the dispensing of basic needs such as blankets, clothes, soap, and school supplies to those families in most need, and especially those caring for Orphans in the villages in our area. In addition to this, we are starting some income generating projects for these families so they can have some self-sustainable income in order to provide for their families. Our Batik project, in which 5 HIV+ Mothers from Igoda and Luhunga village make batiks to be sold at the Mufindi Highland Lodge is continuing strongly as the Mufindi Highlands Lodge coffee beans placed in a batik bag have been a regular purchase of guests wanting to go home with good gifts for their family and friends. There is exciting progress in our 'Chicken banda' project where 16 HIV+ members of the Tumaini (Hope) group are well into the construction phase of their chicken coops. This is the first stage of our micro loans, as upon completion of construction the members will get further loans as needed for inoculations, food and purchase of the chickens. This project is modeled after a similar endeavor that took place in the Ilembula area where volunteer Dr. Leena Pasanen spends her time when she is not with us. In the project from Ilembula, there were 152 members that borrowed from a pot of 10Million Tsh to be paid back after 7 months. This was a hugely successful project as ALL members but one (a 50,000Tsh loan) returned their loans on time. We learned a great deal from this project and have used these lessons to help insure success in our area. If successful, this project will not only bring much needed income to some of the poorest families in the area, it will also improve the overall quality of health in the area and surrounding villages, as eggs and meat will be more readily available to the population than every before. Contact has been made this month with an organization headed by graduate students from MIT in Boston, now living in Tanzania in the Arusha area called Global Cycle Solutions. The organization (GCS) has several innovative technologically novel ideas that may be of some use in our area. This includes attachments to bicycles that first take the maize off the cobs 40 times faster than by hand, and another that grinds the maize into flour. We've tentatively ordered two of these machines, and have asked people in our area if they think this may be a successful endeavor for some in the area, and have had some positive feedback. Income generation projects are designed to give the poorest families in our communities the ability to support themselves through their own work, ultimately instilling pride in their hard work and likely starting a self-sustaining business for these would-be entrepreneurs.
The Mdabulo Counseling and Treatment Center is potentially the most impactful project the NGO is currently undertaking in terms of literally saving lives. The building has the sole specific purpose for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. To give an idea of the need for this building- two times each month the staff from the closest facility of its kind (over 50km away in the town of Mafinga) comes to give partial CTC services. Each visit, which lasts from 6 to 10 hours, is met with over 300 patients arriving to be treated. When completed, the building will give full-time services, and the desperately needed full-time prevention methods of education and testing that have the potential to completely alter the devastating toll this disease is taking on the people of this area. As construction continues at a pleasingly quick pace, the most important advancements this months with this project have been made from the preparatory/bureaucratic end. As we now can see the possibility of achieving our goal of completing this project by year’s end, we have started on the process preparing for it opening. The visits made by the staff from Mafinga have prepared our local staff to a sufficient amount that the District Medical Officer (DMO) has already written a formal request to make Mdabulo a static site. This is important as it confirms that in fact the staff are currently able and qualified to run the CTC. Communications have also continued with a regional organization called Tunajali (‘we care‘) referred to us by the United States Aid and International Development (USAID). Tunajali has already supplied Mdabulo with a white blood cell counter machine, a TV and DVD player- including educational videos regarding HIV/AIDS- and has pledged to continue support of Mdabulo as it becomes a CTC site on its own. Things promised by Tunajali include a small refrigerator, contributions towards construction- to assure uniformity with CTC’s built elsewhere in the country- and other pharmaceutical equipment that will be useful once the CTC construction is complete. Finally, one of the biggest breakthroughs with the CTC occurred this month, as Tunajali has promised that upon completion of construction of the CTC building, they will furnish the building with a CD4 machine! This is an enormous development, as this machine costs more than $50,000USD, and finding the funds for this purchase has been a worry of ours since the conception of the project. All that remains to open this project is completion of construction of the building. We will need to focus on a bit more fund-raising for this to happen. Upon completion, it is expected that testing and awareness will raise in the community and the slow moving grassroots movement addressing this disease will get a serious boost, helping to continue to wear down the stigma and taboo surrounding this pandemic.
Igoda Primary School This month we welcomed a new librarian, Yusto Chumi, who was born and raised in Igoda village, has a wife and 2 kids, and has committed to teaching at the library for years to come. He has been continuing well as he is introducing all of the students to speaking and learning English through use of the books and resources from the library‘s resources. This is especially important as the students at the primary school level (aged 7-14 years) in government schools in Tanzania are taught in Kiswahili, and then suddenly are taught all lessons in English at the Secondary level (Aged 15-20). So, this extra exposure to English is vitally important to the education of the students as the go through the education system in Tanzania. We have started are refurbishments of the kindergarten this month which has given some encouragement to our Kindergarten teacher (an NGO sponsored teacher). She has had over 60 and 90 students respectively the last two years, and this is the beginning of making the kindergarten a more child-friendly learning environment. We are hoping to eventually (funds provided) give the kindergarten a much needed modest playground to help with productivity and involvement with the students on a daily basis.
The school is located in the heart of Igoda village, and the NGO has initiated another project at this location that will hopefully address the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in the community. Currently under construction is a large Community Hall that will stage shows, and educational events for the village and surrounding area, to enable HIV+ members of the to educate everyone about the prevention of this fatal disease. The building is designed to host events for hundreds of people at a time, and the local authorities have informed us that the building will be a focal point in the area. At the end of July, construction of this building is also continuing at a nice speedy pace. Virtually all of the masonry work has been finished, and even the floor has been completed. The biggest development with this project has been word recently from government authorities at the district level that the Hall may host the official District level event for World Aids Day this year- December 1st. The Chairman of the Mufindi district, Naused Nyaganilwa (on the FCWCT board of trustees), Susan Chak (HIV/AIDS Programmes director for Mufindi District), and Evarista Kalalo, the District Commissioner in Mufindi, have all shown interest in having the official district event for the day in our community hall in Igoda village. As plans progress we will continue to welcome the idea as it would be a great driving force to show everyone the building’s main purpose. This is of a family friendly host of events that enrich the community not only with cultural events, including oral traditions being passed on, traditional dances, drams, and choirs; but also educational events as well, that will include among other things, information about HIV testing and awareness and prevention ideas.