Thursday, June 2, 2011

February 2011

Pictured: Sila Ng'igwa shares her basket making skills at the Igoda Community Hall with a group of women affected by HIV who are caring for orphaned and vulnerable children.

This month we’ve seen the children’s village role as a nutrition center increase as more and more children in failing health are being brought here to be seen by Dr. Leena Pasanen, so they may ultimately regain full health. The following is an entry from Jenny Peck (Community Outreach coordinator/Orphanage Manager) who describes a moment this month where this aspect of the children’s village was particularly in use:

It's 11pm, and I'm sitting with 2 really sick babies in our makeshift neo natal ICU, and while I wait, I thought I'd document some of this…
One baby is 2.36kg at nearly 2 months, and has severe thrush, the baby’s mom is HIV positive with TB, admitted to the hospitial, the father is nowhere to be found, but the baby has all signs that she is also HIV positive, and she was born a month early. Baby's mom is from a very disfinctional family that don't seem to care enough and don't understand enough on how to take care of premature, sick babies, so Rose is here with us, eating every 2 hours followed by an application of nystatin for the thrush. Unfortunately, we can't get her tested for HIV usuing the infant test until monday, but even then, it takes 1 month to get the results or more. We are hoping to start the baby on ARVs on a clinical basis. I'm with her night nurse making sure she stays awake to feed her and applies the meds correctly this first night.
Baby number two is actually three years and some months, but is in really bad shape-not sure if she's going to see the night through. This baby’s Mother has 6 kids and is pregnant with another (she thinks, but has yet to go to prenatal clinic to find out how far along she is....again, a job for Monday). Baby is so dehydrated that her eyes are rolling into the back of her head and are all sunken, skin was so dry it just stayed in place when you pinched it, she is just skin and bones. The baby’s Mom is here with baby and I'm on first shift of night duty, as all our other helpers are with other kids at other houses. I'm here until 130am, then another volunteer comes in. Lucky we are 4 today, so the responsibility is shared a bit. Baby is sleeping now, with a ng tube, and looking a lot better than when she did this afternoon-her lips look wet!
We have one mama here with her baby that looks like it has fetal alcohol syndrome, and is fairly underweight, but getting better, just here for observation mainly and to teach mom about good child care practices, healthcare, nutrition etc.... Another baby here is malnourished- her mom has 6 kids, and is a widow, so we are doing the same thing for her- good health practices etc. The community is starting to really see the Children’s village as a safe place to bring their child, and a place where there is hope for recovery from some of these illnesses that our local health facilities can’t manage currently. We’re so lucky to have Dr. Leena with us, and it’ll be so great to have that Mdabulo Hospital Project finished!

Dr. Leena brought a guest with her this month from Ilembula Hospital who specializes in working with People living with HIV/AIDS. His name is Bryson and he has started quite a few projects with groups of people from the villages around he was kind enough to offer his services here in Mufindi this month. Bryson has led a group of over 200 HIV positive people in the Ilembula area into starting their own Civil Society Organization (CSO). A CSO, is a locally initiated organization designed to gather a group of people towards a common goal and help develop the community. A registered CSO is also able to get certain benefits from the government as a group. A leading example is food subsidies when inclement weather creates a harsh environment for farming.
This month, Bryson visited Mufindi and a new CSO has been formed- Urafiki (Swahil for friendship, or friends). Dozens of members of our community arrived at the community hall in Igoda village to discuss the formation of this group, and we are pleased that many of our friends- the leaders of the community outreach program, as well as former patients of Dr. Leena’s- have become a major part in the new CSO. We will be excited to see how this progresses, but in the very least this new group of people with a formal bond will create even more unity in the fight against AIDS in our community, and will be a great stride towards bringing the community together at a very important time in the community’s development.

Income Generating Projects
Basket weaving has long since been a tradition in Wahehe culture. In recent years Foxes’ NGO has purchased baskets from disadvantaged women who are supporting their families with the proceeds. Until recently only a portion of the baskets collected have been of great quality. The baskets were purchased as a way of not just giving handouts to families in trouble, but encouraging community members to work for self-sustainability.
This past year, however, baskets have become an artform in our area. Several women have perfected the art, and a new style of incorporating local cloth into the weaving process has made for a beautiful outcome. The baskets seem to be of high enough quality that they may be sold internationally. This month some of the better basket-weavers hosted a seminar at the community hall in Igoda to not only teach the skills, but to start having the basket-making process a shared experience where women may use the time to share stories and experiences.
This month the batik making group had a breakthrough as well, as returned volunteer Kate Ney made some new samples that will be displayed in the UK and US later this month in hopes that there will be orders made for batik so that the batik group may have many contracts and their art finds its way to even more homes.

Home Based Care
From the beginning we have referred to Home Based Care (HBC) as the service that Dr. Leena provides by going house to house and treating patients in their homes. Recently however, our plans to have a community outreach team have led us to use the term in reference to a team of volunteers that will help the community outreach program become a sustainable locally run program that will be ongoing for decades to come. In Tanzania the lack of health facilities leads to a lakc of education on how to properly use medical facilities. Patients are clogging up the existing system with minor problems such as colds and headaches, whereas other patients wait far too long to see a doctor. The home-based care program is designed to provide the community with the proper education about health care to further increase the quality of health care in our area. The plan has been crafted after several meetings with board members of the NGO here in Tanzania, and after consulting with many professionals that have started their own HBC programs already. A couple of these professionals were brought to us through Dr. Leena, and their advice has been priceless. We also drew on lessons learned from a trip to Mbeya where two HBC programs were visited. After meeting with the District Medical Officer, and lots of logistical help from Dr. Maganga who also has experience with HBC, the first trainings will begin next month, and volunteers will become certified HBC volunteers and will work out of the Mdabulo Hospital system.

Dr. Leena Pasanen
This month Dr. Leena was able to bring about a real medical miracle when a 10 year old boy from the village of Ikaning’ombe was brought to her during one of her clinics. The parents brought the boy to her telling her he was blind. The boy had been taken out of school, and was staying inside his home most days. After consulting with her contacts from her own Ilembula Hospital, Dr. Leena arranged for a visit for the boy and a guardian. The optomitrist there, Dr. Eric Msigomba, anssessed the situation, and after a surgery on his cataracts, the boy went home to recover. After just a short period of time the boy was able to regain complete sight, and is now back at school. After this inspiring story, it is exciting to us to know that as we become more able to complete our Hospital project, countless orphaned and vulnerable children like this boy, will be able to be positively affected by health care advances in the area.

Igoda Community Hall
On February 16th, 2011 Foxes’ NGO hosted an all-day event at the Igoda Community Hall, encouraging students from local primary and secondary schools to think of their own future plans in life. The event, titled “Career Fair,” was aimed at Standard 7 primary students, and Form 4 Secondary Students, and was organized by returning volunteer Kate Ney. Leaders from all walks of life were invited to share their stories of how they got involved with their business, or their job, and after an initial shyness wore off, the students in attendance got very involved. Yasinta Lunyali was on of the leaders of the event, and she presented on her life as a care-giver at the Igoda Children’s Village. She was among other professionals from the tea, timber, and tourism industries, as well as local shop keepers, and health professionals. The event was well received, and requests for a repeat of the event have already been made, and we thank Kate Ney for working with Titus Nyunza and Treda Pius on organizing this very educational day in Igoda.

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