Saturday, January 7, 2012
Pictured: Ruth James and Anne Pearson from african Book Box, with Mufindi District's Executive Director, Shimwela L.E.S., who came from Mafinga to help celebrate the opening of Luhunga Secondary School's new Library.
Enida Mkolefu came to the children’s village in September when her older sister passed away leaving a newborn child orphaned and in need of a guardian. Enida has since been the primary caregiver to Shamira (now three months old, getting healthier, and gaining weight rapidly). This month Enida went to Songea to take an entrance exam to enroll into a child-care college. She passed with flying colours and will join the school in January. This is another step towards getting more certified caregivers at the children’s village, and we are glad to find a caregiver from the area that will give the whole facility more expertise and professionalism.
This month, we had a visitor from another organization come by to see the condition of Hezron, a 13-year-old boy staying at the children’s village who has cerebral palsy. Stefano runs a Community Based Rehabilitation program in the village of Waning’ombe near Dr. Leena’s Ilembula Hospital. Stefano gave us lots of advice and ideas on how to improve Hezron’s quality of life here at the children’s village, and we have also arranged to have Hezron visit Stefano’s site in the New Year to receive a week of intensive physiotherapy. Once again we were blessed this year to have Annie Gibbs give her services, and work on new exercises that can help in Hezron’s physical development. These exercises, and this added experience for Hezron will all help to improve his quality of life.
Near the end of this month all of the older boys from the children’s village traveled to Mafinga to take part in a 3-day boy’s conference as hosted by some U.S. Peace Corps volunteers from around the Mufindi district. The boys learned about trust and communication, as well as life skills, and health lessons such as learning more about the dangers of contracting HIV. We feel that the conference, and the experience will benefit the boys as they reach an age of self-discovery and expression.
Finally, construction of the Children’s Village kindergarten/social hall is continuing nicely with floor and ceiling frame already in place. We hope to have our Christmas celebration in this space, and we’re hoping sometime in January or early February this room will be complete and ready for regular use.
Home Based Care
A memorable visit was made this month to see the home-based care program in the village of Ludilo. The two home based care volunteers in Ludilo, Shida and Michael, had arranged for Dr. Leena to see many patients who were either too sick to reach a health facility, or were in need of special assistance that was otherwise not available in the area. The HBC program in this village, and indeed in all involved villages, is really doing a wonderful job in spreading health education and basic health services. We were slightly disheartened this month however, as two patients were sent to the regional Hospital in Iringa (over 125km away) only to get insufficient or no service at all! This further exemplifies the need for a rural Hospital in our area that can serve the community’s health care needs. Without proper health care, the community is struggling to care for all of its orphaned and vulnerable children. People living with HIV/AIDS are in specific need of such health services, and without such advances, progress will be a growing challenge for this area’s people.
The need for a proper health facility has never been more evident than it has in recent months with the Home Based Care program giving us a full-picture of the health problems in the area. With such a high prevalence of HIV in our area, there is an even greater need for health services as opportunistic infections afflict more people due to the HIV pandemic. Improving health care in this area is a vital development goal in enabling the community to get back on its feet and ultimately care for all of the orphans in our surrounding villages.
This month we have completed all mason work for three rooms at the Mdabulo site- two for doctor’s consulting, and one x-ray room. Once these rooms are complete, we will continue on with construction of the functioning part of the Hospital. In the coming year, the facility will be ready to host professional health volunteers, thus bolstering the site and getting quality health care to this rural population.
Igoda Community Hall
This was a busy month for Canadian volunteers Anne Pearson and Ruth James. The pair worked predominantly at Luhunga Secondary School on this five-week visit, but they also worked on some learning exercises at other local primary schools, as well as the production of a play. On the road to Market was performed on November 17th to an audience of excited and enthusiastic secondary school students. Luhunga Secondary school students performed the play, and it was very well received by their peers. The entire performance really showed what the community hall is all about- an entertaining, educational, resource that can be used to bring the community together.
The following day, November 18th, was the official opening of the Luhunga Library. An honoured guest from the district offices- the District Executive Director – was on hand for the festivities, and the students and teachers really showed appreciation for the project. The Secondary school library will house computers for the school to use for IT classes, and to furnish the library, there have already been several substantial purchases of books from African Book Box, to go with books sent from Orphans in the Wild. The library will be a tremendous educational tool for the school, and it is already being used every day.
Ikaning’ombe Primary School
The NGO received another honour this month as Geoff Knight and Jenny Peck were invited as the honoured guests at Ikaning’ombe primary school graduation. As part of an address to the school, Geoff and Jenny congratulated the school and the community for helping themselves with a few recent developments. African Book Box Society contributed some cement, and new school desks to the school, and the community has since come together to build-up and refurbish a classroom that will be used for a kindergarten, and school library. The village of Ikaning’ombe has shown some strong initiative taking control of its own projects and contributing as a community for the betterment of its children. We are hoping this type of self-reliance will reverberate throughout the entire area as the devastating effects of the HIV pandemic subside with better treatment options, and healthier people.