Monday, April 18, 2011
September 2009 (2 years in 20 days continued...)
Pictured: District Commissioner Evarista Kalula opens the new 30-bed in-patient wing of Ibwanzi Dispensary on september 14, 2009
We now have three houses in operation, each at a capacity of 11-12 children per house. We also have a fourth house almost ready to be opened. After welcoming a child from Kilosa village this month (Tosha Kalinga), there are now 10 girls and 25 boys. We are happy to report that the family from Luhunga village (mentioned in last month’s report) has been continuing to work very hard at building a new home since 4 of their children joined us in August. The Father has burned over 2000 bricks, and everything appears to be on schedule for the children to return home by the end of the year. This is a very encouraging story, as the neighborhood this family is from is one of the poorest in the area, and they are hoping to become a great example to the rest of the village as two HIV positive members pull themselves out of poverty!
Our Community Outreach program is a project designed to address our first goal of 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 had a visiting guest politely ask recently: What does building chicken bandas have to do with people living with HIV? He was referring to our Income Generating Project whereby 16 HIV+ members of Luhunga and Igoda village have been given loans to build chicken coops where they will start a small business of selling eggs, fertilizer, and occasionally meat, in order to get some income for themselves. Also, this could pay for school fees or needs for their families. As an added bonus, the fertilizer from the chickens can be used in gardens to produce better yields, and vegetables can then be sold for further profit. The most important benefit for families with HIV+ members however, is addressing the need for protein that is severely lacking in this area, as noticed by our volunteer Dr. Leena Pasanen. We had a great visit from our first set of short-term volunteers, Will Metcalfe and Vikki Milne, who gave a donation prior to coming that covered all of their projected costs, so there was no financial burden on the NGO. They are final year medical students this year, each with a prior university degree in medicine. They compiled all numbers from HIV testing at Mdabulo Dispensary dating back to 2005 so that we may have actual figures prior to opening our CTC there. They also had a first-hand experience in saving one child’s life! A baby with a double cleft palate and lip, 4 days old, and unable to feed since birth, was brought to the NGO by its concerned parents. Will and Vikki engineered a way to feed the baby by using a syringe dropper into the baby’s cheek. Luckily the baby was able to swallow without a problem. After a day and a half of receiving rehydration fluids and milk powder, the baby was in perfect health! Since then, we have arranged transport to Illembula, and Dr. Pasanen has since referred the baby to surgical specialists in Iringa. The baby was later named “Bahati” which means ‘luck’ in Kiswahili. Will and Vikki have already said they will make plans to come back and volunteer next year, and maybe every year subsequently.
Ibwanzi Health Care Facility:
September 14th, 2009 marked the official opening day of our new 30 bed in-patient extension wing to Ibwanzi Dispensary. This also marks the official “hand-over” of the building to the government. The District Commissioner, Chairman of Mufindi District, and District Medical Officer have all expressed their agreement to change this facility into an official “Health Center.” This will mean the facility will be given some much needed staff as there has never been more than one or two nurses working there in the past. This also means that the facility will have HIV testing for the first time. Up until now the three surrounding wards of Ihanu, Luhunga, and Mdabulo (over 15 villages, and approximately 30,000 people), have only had one place for HIV testing- Mdabulo. This should greatly increase the awareness of HIV in the area as well as give a good boost to the grassroots movement that is happening now. People are becoming more open about talking about their illness and increasing awareness and prevention education on a door-to-door basis. The facility now has room to have up to 30 overnight patients, and there was also a substantial amount of medical equipment donated to the facility that Foxes' NGO received through containers from Orphans in the Wild, and African Book Box Society. The facility is completely stocked with materials including chairs, bandages, and an entire store full of resources. A special thanks goes out to Marion Gough for her diligence and hard work as she has been responsible for 4 containers now, and is on to another!
The Mdabulo Care and Treatment Clinic (CTC) 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. This part of Mufindi is one of the most affected areas in the world. 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. All masonry work is complete. We have found a carpenter to continue with putting up the ceiling, after which there will only be painting and some furniture that remains to complete construction. We had an encouraging talk with an organization in Iringa called Tunajali (“We Care”) that is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). They are working with the current staff at Mdabulo on what is needed/required for the CTC to function at a high quality. They have told us that it is within their budget for next quarter (October-December 2009) to send Mdabulo a CD4 machine. This was previously promised without a time schedule, but since they have visited Mdabulo and seen the progress, they seem confident that this facility will be ready this year.
In 2007, the Tanzanian government stated a goal of having each village equipped with a Dispensary, and each Ward a health center. On September 14, 2009, Ibwanzi Dispensary was handed over to the government, and will be officially upgraded to a Health Center, giving Ihanu ward its Health Center. The NGO would like to help Chogo village attain the same status. 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 Foxes' NGO 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. This month Foxes' NGO purchased most of the building materials needed to complete a 6 bed wing to be added to the Dispensary. Also purchased were the materials to construct a water catchment system similar to that of Ibwanzi.
Igoda Primary School 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. New developments have come forward with plans to make World AIDS day 2009 (December 1st) the opening day of this huge facility. This will be a great chance to really set the tone for how the building should be used, as far as who uses it, and what events will take place. The village has already taken on the responsibility of hosting this event and taking on all logistics leading up to the event, so Foxes' NGO just needs to have construction completed. This will be a great chance for the village to see that although it will be an NGO building, it will be used for and by the village and its people. It will be great to have the first event be a family-oriented, alcohol free event that has a focus on talking about, and educating people on HIV/AIDS. It is also great that the day has the potential to be celebrated on quite a grand scale! Foxes' NGO visited the district offices this month in Mafinga, and had a meeting with the Chairman of Mufindi District (Naused Nyaganilwa), and the District Commissioner (Evarista Kalalu), in which it was discussed that this year the Iringa Regional event for World AIDS day will be in Mufindi District, and so if plans in fact fall in place to have the Mufindi District event to be in Igoda village, the entire Region of Iringa (population about 1,700,000) will have a chance to be fully aware of our projects and their importance of in regards to HIV/AIDS.
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. Two examples are:
1)Yusto Chumi who is the new Igoda Primary School Librarian, and has given new life to this project!
2)Yasinta Lunyali, is now a house helper at the Orphanage, and has been immeasurably helpful with our current volunteer Annie Gibbs with daily translating for her as she does therapy with Hezroni, a 10 year old boy at our center who is HIV+, and has cerebral palsy.