Thursday, June 2, 2011
October 2010 (2 year recap)
Pictured: Chogo Dispensary, a completed project from Foxes' NGO
October was our most devastatingly sad month here with the NGO. In a mere couple of weeks, three children passed away at the children’s village. Unfortunately, this is a morbid reality that may occur uncomfortably often in the coming months and years, as we extend our Children’s village practices to include children whose health has declined severely due to malnutrition. With Dr. Leena Pasanen here, we feel this will be a great service to our community as, and will literally save the lives of children in the villages around.
We feel that this more temporary use of the children’s village for those families most in need may be an important lasting and sustainable approach to orphan care in our area. There may still be cases where very little if any family remains to care after orphaned children, but it is encouraging to see this new development.
A big project in medical treatment occurred this month through the Community Outreach program. 10 patients with various ailments needing surgical attention were sent on a bus to Dar es Salaam to receive treatment. The ordeal was a great success in terms of community outreach at its purest form. The expenses however further exemplified the need for local Health facilities to be improved. The Mdabulo Hospital project is needed so that this community can get the health care services they deserve, and so that everyone may have access to health care with their own means.
The ten patients had various ailments such as Fistula, clubfeet, cleft palates, and others, and were all taken to a Hospital in Dar es Salaam called Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation Tanzania (CCBRT). By a great stroke of luck, Dr. Leena Pasanen had retuned to Tanzania just as these patients were recovering and she was able to check in on all of the patients before she left for Illembula. Dr. Leena will be joining us again for a visit in November.
On one of Dr. Leena’s village visits she met an amazing woman named Blantina. Blantina is a woman with an unfortunate infliction where her bones are very weak, and she has had corrective surgery a few times and she now stands just over three feet tall. She is doing all that she can to raise her children and send them to school, and in fact she is one of most important leaders in HIV prevention education as she visits homes of neighbors and friends on her own time to discuss testing and treatment options in the area. Unfortunately her home is slowly falling apart as the thatch roof is fading completely away. A Canadian donor has responded to this story and has donated the $2000 needed to build Blantina her own “Bibi’s home.” Construction was completed this month all the way to roof level, and the house should be ready by the end of October. Blantina helped make the bricks, and clear the land and carry the water for building during the whole process and she is very grateful for the helping hand that has reached out to her and her family.
*See this incredible story here: www.youtube.com/foxesngo#p/u/6/ABpoFKzjk0M
Construction has finished at the Chogo dispensary, and so for the first time the facility has in-patient service and running water! Chogo is likely the most isolated village in Mufindi District. It is over 100KM away from the closest Hospital, and has for now only had a small health dispensary for its health care needs. The NGO has contributed a water catchment system, similar to that which was installed at Ibwanzi health facility, and a modest 6-bed in-patient ward so that the village can have a place for sick patients to get rest, or to be monitored over night. To give an idea of the magnitude of the importance this service will bring to the village, before this in-patient service was provided, a patient would need to be transported most likely by bicycle to the nearest village on the bus route (Mapanda) which is 17 km away. Then in the middle of the night around 3 or 4 in the morning the patient would be put on a bus for a grueling 100km+ bus ride to the district capital of Mufindi, MAFINGA, to seek treatment there. This dispensary will
Igoda Community Hall
On 27th of October the Community Hall hosted a very important seminar that will no doubt be a big step towards HIV prevention in the area. All of the natural healers in the surrounding 16 villages were called to the Community Hall to discuss proper health practices, and how it relates to HIV. The message of the seminar was one of togetherness. Rather than having the NGO, and health dispensaries debase or insult the natural healers in the area, the idea of this seminar was to collect knowledge from each other and help the community, as is the goal of everyone involved. Issues that came up included advice to be given to HIV+ mothers who are breast feeding, how to keep a supply of gloves to be used by the natural healers, where and how HIV testing and treatment is available, and overall awareness of HIV when treating patients in any capacity. One of the main points of the Community Hall is to help the community educate itself about issues that are important to the area. This seminar struck a very important cord in the fight against HIV/AIDS, which is the overwhelming health and social issue here in this part of Mufindi.
Since the opening of our volunteer house this May, the NGO has seen a number of volunteers with various skills, and we’d like to thank them for their time and efforts here.
Noelle Kurth came to us from the University of Kansas in the United States, and stayed here for about 6 weeks. Noelle has been a researcher at the University of Kansas for over 15 years, and has been focused on people living with disabilities. Noelle tutored our secondary school aged children, and worked with Hezron, an HIV+ child at the children’s villages who suffers from cerebral palsy. Hezron’s dexterity greatly improved during and after Noelle left, who had encouraged him to draw and write.
Antti is a Finish student who stayed for just over a month and while here he helped build up a fallen home for a blind HIV+ woman, put a new roof on the chicken banda, and taught at three different schools in the area. Before his departure some children in the village were heard chanting his name as we drove past.
Jenny and Esa, a married couple from Finland came for a short time, but both made their time worthwhile during their stay. Esa led the chicken banda refurbishment, and helped with some maintenance jobs at the Children’s village. Esa’s wife Dr. Jenny saw an impressive amount of patients during her village visits and clinic days that she held in each day. Often she would return well after dark having seen many patients and working hard to treat, or refer patients to the proper health facilities. We calculated that over 200 patients were seen in her short time her, and she visited 8 villages while she was here.
Lucy Turner plans to start a teaching career in September, and looked at her volunteer stint with us as a learning experience. She taught at three schools in the area, and very importantly, tutored some secondary school aged children at the children’s village.
We’d like to give a special thanks to all of our volunteers this year who have helped make a real connection with the community in Mufindi. Your services will not be forgotten, and all are welcome again anytime!