Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Week of Fond Farewells

Vicky Ndengela (right) leads the farewell party for Amani, 14, who is moving back to the village to live with his grandmother. Vicky was his house Mother while he was here, and although he will be missed, we are excited that he is headed back home.

A lot happened in the final week of June, and we said farewell to a few guests, as well as a fond farewell to a member of our family here in the Children’s Village.
The week began with Dr. Will Metcalfe, and Dr. Vikki Milne visiting with patients in the remote village of Ihanu. There they met our two Home Based Care volunteers from that village who showed them patients in the most need of attention. These locally trained volunteers have done a great job of connecting community members with medical volunteers, and have also increased overall education about the health system which improves health for all by keeping the few health facilities either less crowded, or getting patients with more serious ailments to the facilities sooner, giving them a more likely chance for survival.
More Baskets were purchased in Ikaning’ombe village on Monday the 24th as well. A new product (a round floor mat) was all the rage, as the impoverished women in the groups continue to improve their product to create more income that supports them and their families.

A round woven mat completed.
The new product will hopefully breath new income
into the already successful basket program
"Mama Nadrick" with her
round mat in progress

In the afternoon, at the guardians’ weekly meeting, plans were discussed about the departure of a child to occur later in the week. Amani, a 14 year old boy from Ludilo village arrived at our Igoda Children’s Village in January this year, as his very caring grandmother was seeking treatment for him. Amani had fallen into a fire as small child after as epileptic seizure, and his hand had become very deformed. He had no fingers, and no grasping capability with his thumb. His grandmother brought him to us so he could receive treatment for epilepsy, and a plan could be made to get him a surgery, and appropriate rehabilitation before returning home. After a few months of finding the right time for Amani to see a specialist, Amani traveled to Dar es Salaam to be operated on in April this year, and since his return he has had proper care from medical volunteers, as well as staff at Mdabulo health facility. One of those medical volunteers that helped Amani recovery was Dr. Will, who’s own Mother donated the costs of Amani’s procedure. Plans were made at the meeting to have a going away party for Amani to occur later in the week, and everyone agreed that Amani’s story was very indicative of the ideal use of the Children’s Village. Amani has been a kind, polite, and strong young man during all of this, and even though he had only been with us a relatively shorter time, there was no question that the tradition of a going away party was going to be extended to Amani’s departure.

Tuesday Dr. Will and Dr. Vikki went to Mdabulo to help at the Mdabulo health facility during ‘CTC day,’ or the day in which HIV treatment takes place, and over 100 patients arrive for refilling of medication, a progress evaluation, and potentially a test of their CD4 count. Having extra medical professionals on these days helps alleviate the stress on the serverly understaffed facility. Later that day the 'Mama Koli,' or Anna Mhapa, brought her 2 year old son Koli to see Will and Vikki as he had become slightly jaundiced. Will and Vikki have been very busy, and the community has been very grateful to have extra health professionals to go to for various ailments, and illnesses.
This day was spent organizing the logistics of a new program that has started for the older children of having them visit ‘home,’ during their school break. The goal of the Children’s Village is to have each of the children eventually return to the surrounding villages and build the community as future leaders. This extended visit is intended to allow the children to grow even more accustomed to life in the village, or life in the community where they will someday soon live. Life in the Children’s Village is by design not entirely different than from that in the village, but the older children have grown more and more ready to return to the village to start their own lives. The older boys and girls are visiting extended relatives, and helping them during holiday, or if a boy or girl comes from a neglectful or abusive background, he or she has been teamed up with a trusted ‘foster family,’ during this time. We will meet with all of the children when they return in mid-July, and assess their readiness to move-on. We suspect some will be excited to start the new challenge in their lives immediately while other will require more time. Each case is different, and we are fortunate to have a loving environment here at the Children’s Village to help each of the children reach their potential as they re-patriate back to the village.
Later in the evening one of the Children heading to the village during the school break came to visit with Children’s Village/Outreach Manager Jenny Peck to discuss his troubles in school. He was very depressed, and told us he felt he was not smart enough to continue in school, and he knew that money was being spent on him to go to school, and he suggested that it be spent on another project. We have had trouble with the teenagers at the Children’s Village the past year or two, but things have started to turn around, and we were glad that he was able to trust us to help him with his plan. He was advised to meet with a tutor regularly, and he was offered full-support to get him through Secondary school. If things don’t continue well this year, efforts may be made to seek vocational training of some sort, but in the meantime he will be surrounded by caring role models, and supported during his time of doubt.
Wednesday the 26th featured a meeting between Foxes’ NGO/Peace Crops Volunteer Stacey Droll and management to discuss having another third-year volunteer come to help the projects in Mufindi. The partnership with Peace Corps has been extremely positive for both sides, and Stacey has left an indelible mark on the Home Based Care program, and the NGO as a whole. She plans to leave and start a career in international service at the beginning of August.
In May two infant children from the Children’s Village were tested for HIV (both of their Mothers were positive) and the results arrived today and thankfully both were Negative. Infant testing is a very important resource for extending the life-expectancy of infants infected with HIV, but unfortunately the tests are very sparse. The infants were tested at the district capitol in Mafinga, and then the tests were sent to a regional center several hundred miles away, and then returned to Mafinga all before we know the result. The wait-time for these particular tests was over 6 weeks- a critical time period if these children had tested positive. There have been great strides in access to treatment for HIV in Tanzania in just the past few years, but there is still lots to be done.

Wednesday evening was Amani’s going-away party, and everyone was glad to see his story have a happy ending. His surgery was successful, and he now has grasping capability and more movement. His Grandmother is a tremendous role-model for other guardians and was commended at the party for her compassion for Amani.
Dr. Will Metcalfe with Amani and his grandmother
on June 26th, the day Amani returned home

The 26th of June is also a day to remember a child who touched all of our hearts three years ago as she battled valiantly against HIV, but unfortunately passed away on June 26th, 2010. Felista Mpangile from Ibwanzi village was alienated, and stigmatized by her classmates, and she came to the Children’s Village in 2010. She passed away due to an overwhelmed system of treatment that failed her, but she is remembered not only by a life-saving CD4 Machine that was acquired in her name but also by a playground dedicated to her that opened this year at the Children’s Village. The playground provides a safe, stigma-free place for children from around the community to play, and is enjoyed everyday by the Kindergarten and nursery students.
The Felista Mpangile Playground

We had a final visit this week from Sigi Steiner, who has been visiting monthly giving her service of physical therapy to countless patients in the villages around, and also at the Children’s Village. Sigi worked particularly well with our staff on adding exercises that would help with the development of Hezron, a 17 or 18 year old boy with HIV and cerebral palsy. Sigi is moving back to Austria soon, and she will be missed.
Physiotherapist Sigi Steiner working with
a child in Ilasa Village

Over the weekend, Will and Vikki left Tanzania to finish their latest ‘African Adventure’ before heading back to Swansea, Wales. They have visited numerous times already, and have graciously committed to become regular visitors here in Mufindi. Their visits are always anticipated with great excitement, and there is always a bit of sadness when they leave. They have made an incredible difference in so many lives in this community, and we can’t wait for their return!
Dr. Will Metcalfe and Dr. Vikki Milne enjoying some
sugar cane on a village visit!


  1. I have enjoyed reading your latest blog on the progress happening in the Mufindi projects and ongoing care. Just love the mats! Nouri sana!