Thursday, August 23, 2012

February 2012

A bit of an unorthodox monthly report this month, as we look at one family/neighborhood, and how they have been effected by each part of our organization. CHILDREN’S VILLAGE: The house guardians at Igoda Children's village have a very familial job title. They are called Mothers. To the children living here, whether for a temporary time, or permanently, that's what they are. These mothers have been witness to quite the spectrum of human existence in respects to living in poverty. Each of these Mothers is from one of the villages that our NGO works with, and each has seen a lot of suffering, and a lot of successful perseverance that has come out of hope and hard work. On Feb 8th, 2012, two children from the village of Mlevelwa joined the family here at the children's village. Their names are Kastory and Kaizer. On this day, our Mothers were stunned to see what poor condition the children were in, and some could not find the words for their thoughts. Those who could were humbled. Mama Ene thanked God that we were all here and able to help these children. Ada said she never knew children lived like this. The Mothers fed them and took the children in, and within moments the two kids were part of the family- playing with the other children, and enjoying life as kids. This is what the children's village is all about. There may not be every convenience available to these children, but they are able to be children here. Underprivileged children in this area don't get to be kids. By giving children their basic rights, food, shelter, and a right to school, the children's village allows these kids from the roughest of backgrounds to enjoy life, and to take back their childhood. COMMUNITY OUTREACH Home Based Care These two kids were found through our Home Based Care program. In Mlevelwa village there are two volunteers: Maria Mtunge, and Ibrahim Chunga. On the first of February, they organized a meeting at the village office to talk about these children and another family who lived next door. Present at the meeting was the chairman of Mlevelwa village, the village executive officer, the para-social worker from Mlevelwa, the Mdabulo Ward health officer, the head of the orphans and vulnerable children committee, and the head of the people living with HIV/AIDS committee. Each one present was member of the community, and each a concerned adult truly caring about the well-being of these kids. Each of these leaders from the community pleaded with the family to let the children stay at the children's village until they reached a more stable point in their lives more appropriate for child-rearing. Each family agreed and allowed for the children to move to the children's village and join the family here. With the intervention of these Home Based Care volunteers, we are certain these children's lives were saved. HEALTH CARE Mdabulo CTC Each month the Home Based Care volunteers meet at the Mdabulo Care and Treatment Clinic (CTC) to discuss the issues that have come up in the previous month, and the goals of the upcoming month. The CTC gives them a platform to discuss their common issues, and the volunteers are able to share their ideas, and hear from their colleagues who have similar problems. One issue that comes up is the refusal to be tested by HIV. Kastroy and Kaizer’s family and neighbors have been a very big problem on this front. There is a lack of knowledge about the issues, and unfortunately, for some, alcohol seems to increase ignorance and stubbornness. A breakthrough happened this month, where through support from her fellow home based care volunteers, Maria Mtunge was able to get Aloyse (Father of Kastory and Kaiser) to agree to be tested, and on a CTC day he tested positive for HIV, and started treatment straight away. Without the readily available treatment supplied by the CTC, this effort would have proven much more difficult. To be able to tell someone that you will walk with them to the clinic to get treatment, that you are together with them, is worlds different than asking them to get on a bus for half a day, only to have to do the same each month for your treatment. We’ve come a long way in the past few years with treatment, and with the increased accessibility, there has become less stigma, and more education about the disease. We hope Aloyse will set a great example, and be an agent for change for the family of Kastory and Kaizer, and the entire neighborhood in the village of Mlevelwa may have a chance to start there own positive development. EDUCATION Igoda Community Hall It is also possible that this agent of change may come from the community as a whole. The Igoda Community Hall so far has served as a fantastic educational resource for education for the surrounding area, and has enabled the community to educate itself about the issues that it finds important. This month the community hall hosted two seminars. The first was a women’s conference, and the other a conference centered on girls’ rights. These conferences are designed by Tanzanians to give their women and girls to stand up for the rights of women everywhere. It is from conferences like these that women learn to get the confidence that Mama Toni, mentioned in last month’s report, showed this month. She comes from the same neighborhood as Aloyse, Kastory and Kaizer’s family, and she appears to be more confident as she has since confronted her family about the lack of caring for their small children, and has tried to educate her family about the dangers of ignorance towards HIV. With events such as these educating the community about vital topics, the problem of this knowledge void is slowly evaporating. People are feeling comfortable enough to talk about issues that for far too long were kept in secret, which prevented new knowledge about the topics to come to light. This mass-education happening in Igoda village, and affecting the surrounding 15 villages or more, must be the only way in a long-term sense that issues as big as stigma and the spread of HIV can be beaten once and for all. There is still a ways to go for treatment accessibility in greatly forgotten rural areas such as ours, but the Community Hall in Igoda village gives the community a powerful weapon for the fight against HIV. These two children, Kaizer and Kastory, come from one group of households from a corner of a village that has been reversing the trend of positive development in our area. Due to bad choices, and ignorance, this small group of people are setting themselves in the opposite direction of positive development. This must be as bad as it gets in this world. As harrowing a thought that might be however, it's what keeps us all going. We know a difference is being made by all of the work being done here. The people who are benefitting from the services are the absolute most in need. When a community comes together to help it's most in need, it highlights what is needed for everyone in that community, and slowly from the very bottom up, an impoverished community is lifting itself up, creating it's own positive development.

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