Monday, April 18, 2011
October and November 2009 (2 years in 20 days continued)
Pictured: Akida Mdalingwa explaining the role of the Mufindi Highlands Orphans Project in the community. This picture is from a visit to a local tea field cooperative. Akida is has been a Community Outreach Volunteer with the project for over two years now.
We currently have three houses in operation, each at a capacity of 11-12 children per house. We also have a fourth house that will be opened as soon as furniture is completed. The House Mothers have come up with a plan for our 4th house, as it will be used as a house for the older boys. The house will be run by a husband and wife team. The father, Issah, is employed already in the village, and the Mother, Vicky, has been with us at the Children's Village since it's inception in July 2007. Some children have never had a chance to go to school, and so are starting their schooling at an older age. The Mothers at the houses feel it will be best to have the older boys living with a married couple in a separate house from the girls as the children grow older
Our Community Outreach program is a project designed to address our first goal for care for Orphans- that 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. We are currently embarked on a very extensive research project where we will end up getting a full comprehensive picture of the orphans and vulnerable children in our area. A volunteer representative from the NGO, Akida Mdalingwa, is meeting with each of the village leaders in each of the villages in our project area and meeting with every family that is caring for an orphan. By doing this we will be able to foresee the full scope of the resources needed to start continue with our projects in the village as we progress into the next decade. The numbers, and totals that this project produces will also make us a more viable option for Grant giving foundations, as so often these organizations are needing these facts to know if their grants will help them meet their goals and status quos. Akida will also be working with the Orphan's and Vulnerable Children committees in the village, which is helping our NGO to get further entrenched in the community as an important staple of the area.
This facility may eventually house single Mothers living with HIV who are caring for orphans, and it will be of great use for the village. The idea is to have three homes in one compound with two outhouses. The complex will be built on village government land, and therefore the committees in the village government will be able to decide which families will move into the homes. The NGO community outreach program will work in concert with the committee deciding which families are most in need of this service. At this stage, we were able to get the roofing done before the rains, and the communal kitchen is in progress. The Village Executive Officer for Igoda has already told us that the facility will be of great use for those families who may need temporary housing while they re-build their own home.
The Mdabulo Care and Treatment Clinic is potentially the NGO project with the most impact 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. At the end of November, painting had begun on the interior of the building, and we were in full communications with an organization called Tunajali (we care) on how we continue our partnership and finish this project. All wiring has been completed. The ceiling is in place, and all doors and windows are installed. Once this project is complete, it seems we will have the last step in a grass roots movement that this NGO has seen from its infancy. We have seen a surge in HIV awareness, and an attack on the stigma surrounding the pandemic in our area, starting with providing transport from the village to the town (Mafinga) for patients, to the initiation of Mdabulo as a 'field site' for the Mafinga CTC, and now with this facility. We feel this facility will spread the word to even more patients needing this service, and will in fact most importantly, start a push for prevention education.
Chogo Health Dispensary:
Chogo Dispensary is located in a village over 100km from the closest town (Mafinga) in the Ward of Mapanda. It is a completely isolated area, and has a health dispensary similar to Ibwanzi’s facility before FCWCT made the additions. Even further away from any form of quality health care than Ibwanzi, Chogo’s isolation makes it impossible for people to get the health care they deserve. If Chogo upgrades to a health center, it would be a welcomed community development project that thousands of people would benefit from. As of the end of November, we had completed construction of the foundations, and were even nearing a stage where we could begin roofing. After this we will be ready for interior wall plastering and then cementing the floors.
Igoda Primary School (Luhunga) Community Hall:
Another project currently under construction at the school is a large Community Hall that will stage shows and educational events for the village and surrounding area to enable HIV+ members from the community 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 for many events that will give family oriented entertainment. We were able to complete all construction on this project by the end of November. This is great news, as it not only means that another project has been successfully completed, but that we were able to host the World AIDS Day events at the facility to mark it's opening on December 1st! We'll have a full report on this event in the next report, but the entire Iringa Region did in fact come to our remote village of Igoda for the official World AIDS Day event! This is another great step towards awareness and prevention education.
Since February of this year, Community Outreach/Orphanage Manager volunteer Jenny Peck has been teaching an adult English class in the Ward offices of Luhunga. There are about 20-25 students attending regularly (4 times a week for 2 hours a day). These students have helped Jenny become more involved with villages, and some have become directly involved with the NGO. Because many of the students must resume farming in the months of November through February, the last class for the year took place on mid October. Each student had a written and oral exam, and upon graduation were given a certificate, and an english to swahili dictionary. A graduation ceremony was held, and all of the students were very gracious, and were excited about learning English the following year as well.