Saturday, January 7, 2012
Pictured: Sekela Mwamdemele, who returned to her family this month after a successful stay at the Children's Village.
Two and half years ago three woman, all carrying babies, arrived at the children’s village to talk to us about a problem they had. With them that day was a 9-month old child named Sekela Mwamdemele whose mother had just passed away. The three women were all sisters of Sekela’s mother and they all had small children of their own under the age of one. They had said they needed assistance in carrying for Sekela as none of the women had the ability to care for her at the time. The plan was made for Sekela to live at the children’s village for a temporary time period until the aunts could care for her again in their homes. This month Sekela returned home. One of her aunts found employment in Mbeya region, and Sekela will live with her and be raised in her own family at home. About the time of Sekela’s arrival two and half years ago the children’s village welcomed several cases like hers of children needing a temporary shelter while their families get their lives in better shape to care for them. Over the next year we expect several children to be re-united with their families in the village, and we are excited to see how this stage of the children’s village project will progress.
The children’s village has a new house constructed and in operation this month! House number 2 (the fifth house constructed) will be home to children right away as the children’s village was over capacity with 54 children and only 4 homes. Now the children are more appropriately spaced out in each of the homes. The newest home will have boys and girls of younger ages, and the lead housemother will be Rehema who has been registered through a college for child-care, and has been with the children’s village from February this year. The new house is the second last house remaining for children’s housing at the children’s village, with the final house to be constructed with a donation from a Dutch foundation.
Home Based Care
The Home Based Care program is continuing nicely with each of the 10 volunteers visiting over 50 homes. This month some volunteers that came in a group divided themselves up and all visited volunteers in their village and made some home visits to observe the program in action. The villages of Kidete, Ludilo, and Mlevelwa were all visited, and all were working to prepare patients with serious health problems for Dr. Leena Pasanen’s upcoming visit. The home based care volunteers are promoting good quality care for the sick in the community, and will inevitably encourage others to care for their neighbours, as is the cultural tradition in this area.
Milk Powder Program
Each month the milk powder program seems to be running more consistently and successfully than the last. 28 families are enrolled in the program, and each child involved is showing improvements in health and overall weight. The child we are reporting on monthly, Shamira, has gained weight again this month. Up to nearly 3 kilos after joining the program only a short time ago weighing less than two kilos. Shamira is now a healthy looking child with chubby cheeks, and is gaining strength by the week. She is in the good care of her 20-year-old aunt who is planning to go to school to become a professional child-care giver at the children’s village.
Dr Leena Pasanen
This month saw the much-awaited return of Dr. Leena! She was kept very busy on her two-week visit to Mufindi and had a filled itinerary this time around. She held clinics at Mdabulo and Luhunga health dispensaries, as well as helped at Mdabulo during one of the busy Care and Treatment days now occurring twice a week. She also held a clinic in Ilasa village where over 80 people were waiting for her services. She made home visits to the patients that the home based care volunteers had found, and her work has become exceedingly more important as a component to bringing quality health care to the community.
We have received some very generous donations recently that will enable us to continue construction at the Mdabulo Hospital. This month we started construction on the first three rooms of our L-shaped functioning wing of the hospital. We plan to finish these three rooms completely first, and then continue working on other rooms going forward. The rooms will be two doctor’s consultancy rooms, and one x-ray room. If construction continues without any unexpected delays we expect to be done with these three rooms by the end of January. These three rooms will be constructed with funds from a Rotary club from Hong Kong. Then we will be using funds collected this year from a fundraiser completed from March-August when four friends of ours hiked the Appalachian Trail to raise funds for the hospital. Their funds will hopefully be enough to complete the next three rooms of the facility- a medical equipment store, a dental operations room, and pre-surgery waiting/preparation room. Finally, this month we received a donation from a fundraiser hosted by Gord Bredyk in Canada that will give us enough funds to build and hopefully complete at least one of our surgical theaters, and surgical prep rooms for the surgeons and hospital staff. This project will leave a lasting mark on the community giving the community the quality health care it needs to stay healthy and care for all of its children.
Luhunga Primary School graduation
The NGO was honoured this month with an invitation for Geoff Knight and Jenny Peck to be the honoured guests at the primary school graduation ceremony for Luhunga primary school! As guests we gave a speech in Kiswahili expressing our gratitude about the honour, and we congratulated the graduates, and the parents for getting to this level of education. We took the opportunity to mention the importance of good health for the parents and guardians, and encouraged all to educate themselves about the harms of HIV. We concluded saying this is just the beginning of education for these students, and we encouraged all to come together to help the children of this community to get educated.
Igoda Community Hall
There were two conferences held this month at the Igoda Community Hall. At the beginning of the month, Peace Corps volunteer Meredith Pinto hosted a girl’s conference where girls from the secondary schools learned about women’s rights, were educated about HIV, and participated in activities that encouraged gender equality. On the 20th and 21st, Anthony Kipangula, the district Lutheran pastor, together with his wife and a team of professional facilitators gave a marriage seminar at the community hall. The seminar taught over 30 couples from the surrounding villages about the importance of communication, and poignantly discussed the different cultural customs that may be harming marriages here based on negative interpretations. The team brought HIV tests, and each couple was invited to test for HIV, and a variety of other items were discussed, by Tanzanians for Tanzanians, about improving the quality of marriage in this culture. These conferences mark the continuation of the community hall being used for educational purposes. We are excited that the community hall is being used by the community as an educational resource for the community to teach itself about issues important to the area.
This month we saw the return of our favourite Canadian ladies, Anne Pearson and Ruth James from African Book Box Society. They are with us until the end of next month, and have brought a bevy of books and educational resources with them again, as well as their time and efforts volunteering at our village schools. They were honoured at the Igoda primary school graduation on the 25th, as the school wanted to give special thanks for all of their contributions to the community.
October was a busy month with visitors, as a group from an organization called Carpe Diem sent 13 short-term volunteers who took part in some ‘service-learning’ and had an indelible impact made upon them. One volunteer has made a personal financial contribution to the community outreach program already, and others are planning fundraisers for when they return home. We are pleased with our first experience with groups of volunteers even if we had some initial reservations.
Annie Gibbs visited us for the third year in a row again this year as her visit coincided with Dr. Leena’s visit to Mufindi. Annie brought her physiotherapy skills again, and worked as well with Hezron, a 13-year old boy with cerebral palsy at the children’s village who has received treatment from Annie upon her visits each year for the past three years now. An exciting advance in Hezron’s treatment occurred as we discovered a rehabilitation center nearby that Hezron would be able to attend to get intensive treatment. Annie has helped teach the staff here some exercises and proper management of Hezron, and her contributions these past three years in the villages as well have been tremendous.
submitted by Geoff Knight