Wednesday, April 13, 2011

June 2009 (2 years in 20 days continued)

CHILDREN’S VILLAGE (ORPHANAGE): Our third house is open, and the complex really feels like a village these days, with 31 children living in the houses to date. We've has several talks with the Mothers at the Children’s Village (Orphanage) to get advice on how to proceed from here. It appears a plan for now will likely be to have one full-time Mother in each house of 10-12 children, and to employ one 'helper' for each set of two houses. This 'helper' will only come during the day, and will be evaluated by the existing Mothers for a potential role as a full-time Mother herself as another house is opened in the future. It is the projects that do not have specific funding that take the longest, so we've had to be patient with the plans for running water and electricity since last month. The piping is all in place, as is most of the electric wiring, so we are hoping that in early July we may be able to bring light and water to the Orphanage for the first time! We had a great development with a guest who stopped by who wrote us a check on the spot as a donation for the Orphanage food supply for the month of June. He then pledged to ask his fellow businessmen in Dar es Salaam and across the country to 'sponsor' a month, and so far he has been successful in finding a sponsor already for July! For more information on this 'sponsor a month' idea, please email us at

COMMUNITY OUTREACH: 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. The NGO received a great honor this month as its Orphanage manager/Community Outreach volunteer Jenny Peck was the honored guest at the celebration in Luhunga ward for Children of Africa day (June 16th). Peck gave a speech highlighting our position as servants to the community giving a service that can only be used how the community sees fit. The honor is a great reward to Jenny, but also is a great example of how the NGO’s many projects have been accepted and appreciated by the community. Our Batik project, in which 5 HIV+ Mothers from Igoda and Luhunga village make batiks to be sold at the Mufindi Highland Lodge has had a good month, as we've had many guests purchasing the products. We've also had some developments with some new ideas on what the materials can be made into. Bags or pouches to sell Mufindi Highlands coffee beans are selling really well, and other ideas such as purses, wine bottle carriers, and cell phone pouches are all experiments for the coming months. A helpful guest who was also a batik customer this month has vowed to find a potential outlet for the batiks and our baskets to be sold in Dar es Salaam. This could be a huge breakthrough for the group as extra outlets will be vital for the sustainability of these projects. The looming project is still a work in progress as members of another group are mastering the fine art of making quality rugs out of the materials donated from overseas. If successful, these rugs might also be sold in several locations as they will be quality products that will be desired by locals as well as guests to the country. Finally, our first foray into the realm of micro-loans is underway. 16 HIV+ members of the Luhunga village community have started a group called 'Tumaini,' or 'Hope,' in which each member will build a chicken banda for the purpose of raising chickens, and creating some supplementary income, as well as feeding their families. The Agriculture officer for Mufindi came to Luhunga village to give a two-day seminar explaining the process, and it’s benefits as seen in other areas in Mufindi already. The 16 members were divided into groups of 4 to increase accountability, and each member of the group was asked to contribute 5000Tsh (or about $4 USD) before joining the group. This is a significant amount as it can be for many of these families have a months’ income, and yet each and every member contributed the amount on time, and without complaint. The money has already been used to transport all of the building materials each member of the group will need to Luhunga village. The members of the group will succeed in creating income by selling the meat, eggs, and even the fertilizer to shops in the area, who are currently getting most of these supplies from the closest town (over 50km away) if at all. Our volunteer Pediatrician, Dr. Leena Pasanen, has already commented on the rampant malnutrition in the area, especially with the children, and has pointed to the lack of protein as a leading cause for this problem. 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. 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.

HEALTH CARE: Mdabulo CTC The Mdabulo Counseling and Treatment Center is potentially the most impactful project the NGO is currently undertaking in terms of literally saving lives. Mdabulo ward was recently named to have the highest prevalence rate of HIV+ patients in the Mufindi district. This in the highest rated district in the Iringa region, which is the highest rated region in Tanzania. Seeing Tanzania’s prevalence rating of this AIDS pandemic in relation to the rest of the world, our area in Mufindi is easily one of most devastated areas in the entire world. Which makes this project so important, and literally vital to the community. 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. Construction is well underway, and at the end of June, we have begun the roofing process, as all walls are up, along with door and window frames. At the same time we are placing the first stage of the floor, and beginning the exterior landscaping recommended by local authorities to keep the building in a discreet location. Funds permitting, we hope to finish this project by the end of October as the staff from Mafinga has said the overwhelming amount of patients may not be able to be served beyond this year. Ibwanzi Health Center The Ibwanzi dispensary is now informally a Health center. This is a facility capable of giving in-patient service to up to 30 patients, and is equipped with showers, toilets, and high quality medical equipment donated to us from Canada and the UK. This month we had a kind donation of 400GBP that will pay for the water pump, and the complete finalizing of the water system so the facility has running water! We now await response from the government on when the official ceremony will be held, and when we can expect more staff to be transferred to the facility. We are currently in talks with Solar-Aid, a UK organization with an office in Dar es Salaam, that will hopefully help us with some solar panels to give the facility electricity as well. This project is the result of a lot of hard work, and we are very grateful to the local authorities for their help, and contributions, to make this facility a quality health care service to thousands of villagers that live over 65km from the closest facility of its kind.

EDUCATION: Igoda Primary School Igoda Primary school is where all of our children will go to get their first formal education. So far we have built 6 new classrooms, a new library, and brought countless resources to the school including paying for the salaries of a teaching librarian, and a kindergarten teacher. 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. This month we had some guests who live in Dar es Salaam who are interested in doing some fund-raising to pay for the running costs of one month of the school kitchen services. The school kitchen is a project we have initiated that serves the entire school a local dish called Uji’ which is similar to pouridge. It is an important nutritianal supplement to the day for the students, many of whom have no time to return home during lunch break and thus spend the entire day at school (for many over 12 hours) with out food, or any sustenance to keep them going. This idea of sponsoring the running costs for a month of the program will be very welcome, and for more details on this idea please contact us: Luhunga Secondary School After graduating Igoda primary, the kids from the Orphanage will move on to Luhunga Secondary. There they will also receive an exemplary education as we have already begun projects to improve the quality of this school. Initiated this year is a scholarship program whereby students who’ve graduated form 6 will be able to enter Teacher’s college as long as they decide they will then come back to teach at Luhunga school upon graduating. We are in communication with the Head teacher at the school to find these appropriate students, and he has found the two students receiving scholarships for this year. It was very nice to see the village contributing to the building development of the Luhunga Library. Upon hearing our plans of building a library at the Secondary school, village leaders organized large amounts of people (mostly parents of students at the school) to find, collect, and carry large stones to be used for the foundation of the building. In addition to this, other parents of students at the school cleared and levelled the area where the building will sit, and none of this was at a cost to the NGO.

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