Thursday, June 2, 2011

December 2010 (2 year recap)

Pictured: One of the many performances from the World AIDS Day event at the Igoda Community Hall. It was a great month and a productive year for the villages in Mufindi.

At year’s end we now have 54 children at the children’s village- 37 boys, and 17 girls. In 2011 41 of the children will be going to school ,with 4 in Secondary School. 7 children are HIV positive, and are all registered at the Mdabulo Care and Treatment Clinic. There are now 4 houses in operation, and two more yet to be completed. A Social Center is being built which will include a social hall of sorts to house a kindergarten so children who are 5 and 6 years old won’t have to walk the 5km to school each day. The social hall will also of course bring the children’s village together as a focal center to the place. The hall will host ceremonies, parties, and possibly even a movie night with children from the surrounding area invited to come as well. In the coming year we hope to expand the social center to include a day-care and playground, a small NGO office, a clinic for Dr. Leena Pasanen and other health volunteers who may come with the NGO, and a computer lab room that may also host other vocational training facilities.
Our newest addition to the family includes a family that has joined us this month from the very poor village of Mlevelwa. Evalina, Eva, and Anderson are with us for a short-term period of time while their mother re-builds their home with village assistance.
This month the children from the children’s village took part in their first community service project. All children over the age of 9, helped build a new house for two men in a far away remote area of Mlevelwa village. These men are mentally disabled, and the community has greatly appreciated the help for this family.
The fruit orchard project progressed nicely this month with all field preparations complete, and whole digging and tree planting slated for the new year. This project will bring down the weekly cost of 100,000/= spent each month on meat and fruit, and eventually may even bring an income to the projects if ideas like canned fruit or jarred fruit come together.
Orphan’s house number 2 construction is well underway with building of the walls up to the tops of the window frames. With four houses in operation now, a new house is needed as we are currently over-capacity. Talks with the village leaders of the whole of Luhunga Ward have started as well to initiate ideas about how communities can expand their own capabilities to care for children in the village. As the capacity for caring for children at the children’s village is not much higher than 70, and then development projects in health and education start take its positive toll on community development, it is the hope and ambition of the NGO to have the surrounding community enabled and ready to care for all of its children in their own village setting.

Up until now the NGO has been using the term ‘Home Based Care’ to describe the work that Dr. Leena has done in the villages whereby she visits patients in their homes to give health services to those who are too weak to go to health dispensaries or clinics. We have been recently doing some research into the term and have learned it better describes our community outreach program, and how we connect with the local community and get our services out to the people most in need.
We have had a system that connects with the local village committees such as orphans and vulnerable children committees, to get a full picture of the families most in need in the village. This has been greatly successful, but has required a lot of effort and time. We have gotten to a very comfortable level of development for the program where steps can be taken to turn this program over to the village. Starting slowly the plan is to train local home based care volunteers in each village to streamline all of the work and further get a picture of how the NGO could work with orphan care in our 16 villages. The volunteers would go through a training, get an official certification, and would be the ongoing eyes and ears of the NGO in the villages where an automated system would be in place to deliver needs or make connections within the villages to further bring community involvement into play so that more and more orphaned and vulnerable children may be cared for within the villages. This program is currently at the conceptualizing stage, but could mean big things for orphan care in Mufindi.

Dr. Leena Pasanen:
While her efforts in Mufindi are the most valuable asset to the NGO that Dr. Leena possesses, she enjoyed the role as ambassador this month as she spoke at an international gathering in her home country of Finland for World AIDS Day ceremonies. Dr. Leena spoke at a conference, and she told the story of Felista’s passing earlier this year- the 11 year old who died due to complications from HIV/AIDS. It was a death that was completely preventable, but highlighted the steps we still need to take to get HIV treatment to this area. Dr. Leena also had numerous media engagements including quite a few interviews on TV and on radio for countries from around the world.
Dr. Abdallah Maganga
Dr. Maganga has been the District HIV/AIDS Coordinator for Mufindi District for the last two years, a responsibility that is certainly hightened by the fact that the district is one of the most HIV prevalent districts in all of Tanzania. He approached the NGO this month asking for a position at Mdabulo as he was scheduled for a promotion, but in a more remote and distant district of Ludewa. Dr. Maganga’s home is Mufindi, and he asked if he could stay and be of use at what will no doubt be its most important Care and Treatment Clinic for HIV/AIDS. By a stroke of amazing luck and timing a fundraiser in Canada produced the funds for an entire year of sponsorship for Dr. Maganga to work at the Mdabulo Care and Treatment Clinic, and be a General Practitioner at the Mdabulo Health Facility, thus giving the staff a much needed qualified boost. Almost simultaneously, a donor from the UK came up with a donation for the referbishment of a nearly abdanoned building that has been refurbished into a beautiful modest home on the compound of Mdabulo which has enabled us to allow Dr. Maganga to start in January! His skills and experience will be immeasurable as the area is so badly hit by HIV, and so many other opportunistic diseases affect the population in a manner that is overwhelming to a very small group of health professionals at Mdabulo.

Igoda Community Hall
World AIDS Day was a smashing success again at the Igoda Community Hall was once again more than full with people attending the event. This year’s event marked the one-year anniversary (December 1st) of the opening of the Community Hall last year by the Iringa Regional government, and since it’s opening the hall has been a host to a bevy of events both educational and entertaining for the surrounding community.
This year’s commemoration of World AIDS Day had a very local feel and a jam-packed timetable of performances, plays, songs, speeches, and emotional moments. There were somber moments of rememberance of those who we have lost to AIDS, and there were sobering moments as well, such as the stories told by local men and women of how they became aware of their HIV positive status and how it has changed their own lives, but not ended them. There were comical moments, as which was provided by the Mdabulo comedy/drama group who enacted the story of a couple being affected by HIV. Testing was made available again at the kindergarten, and overall the event was a great success. It will be great to see what next year brings at the Community Hall!

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