Thursday, January 12, 2012
Pictured: Peace Corps/Foxes' NGO Volunteer Meredith Pinto has her picture taken with the older boys at the Children's Village. Meredith was with us for a year, and her service was a great success!
The following was a story Children’s Village manager, Jenny Peck, wanted to share:
As the children get older, the challenges we face become different- previously, it was ‘do we have enough nappies for the babies? ‘ ‘Are there enough caregivers for the amount of young children’ to now, where the challenges are more about behaviour, and what to do about teenage children discovering who they are and who they want to be, and acting out. As our young children grow into young adults, we have seen a trend as they ‘test the waters’ to see just how much they can get away with! The rule here at the Children’s Village is that all children need to be in their homes at 6pm, just to make sure everyone is safe and sound, but also if someone is missing, we have time to find out where they might be or if something is wrong. One evening, as the boys were coming home from school, they stayed out past their 6pm curfew, and arrived home at 730pm, causing worry with all the guardians. Motorcyles with search parties went to find them, and phones were being called in all corners of our village. The boys had just been at the bicycle shop, fixing up their bikes, and didn’t communicate with home to tell the guardians they were late. It was decided from the guardians that the boys should have some sort of ‘penalty’ to pay for breaking the house rules, so it was decided that the next day (Saturday), they would perform community service work. What resulted was better than anticipated! The boys were sent to the village of Mlevelwa, where we have two home based care volunteers. There is a very sick man with cancerous sores on his legs, Seti, who is being looked after by these 2 HBCV and his mother, but to take care of him is very difficult. His wounds are smelly, and as he is unable to walk, getting to the bathroom is difficult-causing further smell in his house. His mother can’t afford soap to wash his clothes, and is elderly herself, so keeping his room tidy, his clothes clean, his wounds sterile and well tended, just doesn’t happen. Because of the smell, people don’t visit, and it was harming Seti’s mental health. We sent our boys, armed with bandages, brooms, buckets, food and soap to Seti’s house where they cleaned his house, aired out his bedding, washed all his laundry, fetched water for his mother, found a week’s worth of firewood for the family, and cleaned the flesh eating maggots our of Seti’s wounds without any complaints. In fact, while they were busy helping Seti, the Village Executive Officer (VEO) and other village leaders just happened to be nearby. They asked the boys who they were and were shocked to hear that they were ORPHANS! How could it be that orphans, that need help themselves, were giving back to the community?! They were shocked, and humbled by this, and as the boys left, said to the guardian that went with them “ You have all taught us something today. Thank you!’. This warms our hearts, and gave us more ideas. Now, our children in secondary school are going into the communities once a weekend to help serve the less fortunate: the grandmothers who need help fetching water or firewood, blind people that might need assistance farming, and other people who need a temporary helping hand. The children are enjoying the lessons learned through this service learning, and they have said that they are happy they are able to help those the way they have been helped.
One major HIV prevention method that has received a lot of international attention recently is male circumcision. It has been said by major AID agencies that this intervention can prevent the spread of HIV by up to 60%. There has been a major campaign in Mufindi and across Tanzania, encouraging men to be circumcised, and in fact there was a two-week seminar at the Mdabulo CTC just as it was beginning to be used in October 2010. Five of our boys decided- on their own- to have this procedure earlier this month. They were given all proper education about the procedure and its effects before –hand, and were not encouraged or discouraged by our organization to go-ahead with the procedure. At the very least, it is encouraging to see the boys thinking about their future, and about HIV.
Construction work on the Igoda Children’s Village Social Center has continued well this month. The kindergarten classroom/social hall has been built up enough that it is already in use! A ceiling is in place, electricity has been installed, and all mason work is complete. Only plumbing and carpentry such as window shutters, doors, and furnishings remain. The space has already been used by some kindergarten students during the December school break. Cornelia, the Igoda primary school teacher, is teaching during the day, and all of the kindergarten-aged children at the children’s village (and some children coming from the nearby area) are all getting some valued tutoring during their holiday break. The room was also utilized for Christmas celebrations. The children of the children’s village sang songs, opened presents, ate food, had candy, and put on a performance of the nativity scene for themselves and guests visiting the Lodge for Christmas. We are excited to see this facility already in use, and it looks as though it will be a very valuable resource.
Finally, construction at house site number one got a chance to progress as well this month! There had been some delays with transport, but mason workers were able to complete the foundations of this house, and things should really take off in the new year. We feel our final house will be ready for use by the end of June of the coming year. With that, all children’s housing will be complete!
Milk Formula Project
Our Milk Powder Program continues to show encouraging results, as we now have 32 families enrolled, and each and every child enrolled has had overall health improvements. The general weight of the children has risen steadily under the program, and there have been no problems of diareah or dehydration as of yet with any of the children. Our case study- Shamira- had a December 7th weight of 3.66kg and has been a very healthy baby. In the new year we plan to collate all of the data we’ve collected for this program and have a presentation ready explaining the successes, challenges, and processes of this program. It appears as though more and more this is an example program that could be replicated elsewhere where HIV prevalence is dangerously high.
Dr. Leena Pasanen
Dr. Leena brought some more guest volunteers with her this month. Andreas Harmsen and Johannes Edström were here in Mufindi during Dr. Leena’s latest visit. They are each medical students, and expressed interest in returning to Mufindi one day as doctors. They only stayed a short time with us, but were very impressed with the projects here, and have since kept in contact about how to help the organization from their homes in Sweden. Dr. Leena’s positive impact on the community and the projects doesn’t just include her own services, but she has continually brought professionals to Mufindi, thus improving the overall health care of the area.
Igoda Community Hall
For the third year in a row, the Igoda Community hall was host to a World AIDS Day event on December 1st. This year’s World AIDS Day global message was a focus on zero stigmatization, zero new infections, and zero deaths from HIV. This message accompanied an ambitious goal of a generation without HIV by the year 2015! The message in Kiswahili was posted in colourful banners around the Community Hall, and was written on t-shirts that were given to all performers and volunteers. The event featured dozens of performances, speeches, and messages all highlighting the importance of prevention and protection from this disease. HIV testing was again available for all throughout the day, and the event had an extra air of importance as the District Commissioner arrived – on time- and took part in the festivities, including sharing her own story of how HIV has affected her family this past year with the passing of her brother who died from AIDS. This now annual event is something the community seems to really get behind and support, and it seems like each year people are even more comfortable talking about their status, and talking about preventing others from contracting the disease. Once again the community hall is being used by the community as an educational resource that the surrounding area uses to educate itself about the issues most important to its people.
Meredith Pinto was a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years teaching at Mdabulo Secondary School from 2008-2010. She decided to extend a third year through Peace Corps, but with our NGO here in Mufindi. Our connection with U.S. Peace Corps went really well, and Meredith’s service to the projects in Mufindi made an indelible impact. During Meredith’s time with Foxes’ NGO she helped organize several girl’s conferences at our Community Hal, she held several seminars at the Hall for women’s rights, and women’s health, and she contributed in many other ways to the overall management of the Children’s Village, and the NGO as a whole. Perhaps her biggest achievement during the year spent with us was starting a Home Based Care program that gave us a big step in the ever-evolving community outreach program. Meredith hosted a 21 day training for ten volunteers who were taught how to be proper volunteers under the government of Tanzania guidelines. The volunteers were taught basic first-aid, how to give proper HIV education, and how to educate people in this rural area on how to use the existing health facilities. Meredith coordinated monthly meetings to initiate and manage the program, and she made frequent visits to the five villages currently involved to see the work first-hand. The Home Based Care program has given us a further insight to the problems of our area, and it has improved Dr. Leena Pasanen’s work as patients are shown to us by the program’s volunteers. We were fortunate to have Meredith with us for 2011, and we wish her luck as she has gone to the United States to seek a graduate degree in public health. She will be missed, and we all hope to see her back in Mufindi before too long!
submitted by Jenny Peck and Geoff Knight