Thursday, April 19, 2018

Proactive Sinkhani

Sixty baby trees finding a new home

While a decision is being made regarding the type of building material (mud-brick or cement block) to be used for the new Sinkhani community center in Malawi, the women are moving ahead.  Being environmentally conscious and wanting to beautify the plot of land given to them by the Chiefs, the Sinkhani are not content to sit still and wait for things to happen.

Instead, they are rolling up their sleeves and planting trees.  The trees may be little seedlings at this point, but some day they will be an aesthetic delight and provide welcome shade as they mark the perimeters of the property surrounding the Sinkhani community center.

With 97% of the country using charcoal (a wood product) for cooking and heating, deforestation has been occurring so rapidly that flooding, soil erosion and ultimately water shortages have became common place.  In 2017, the government began deploying soldiers to protect the forests and also implemented a plan for long-term reforestation.  The Sinkhani share the government's concern and are stepping up to do their part.  They're doers! 

Why wait for decisions to be made on high when something tangible can be done today?   Because of their concern,  60 baby trees are now enjoying the loving care and nurturing of the Sinkhani health workers.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ethical Dilemma

African chief pondering the trade offs
Making the "right" decision is not always easy.  As HealthEd Connect prepares to replace the unsafe little community building in Malawi where the Sinkhani weigh babies, we've run into a major ethical dilemma.  The original intent was to build the new structure with hand-made mud bricks that the villagers themselves would make for their building.  The African chiefs involved in the project are excited and have enthusiastically pledged several thousand bricks from each of their areas.  Ecologically sound, right?  Use locally available mud averting the need to import cement and other non-friendly ecological materials.

The government is now saying, "Not so fast."  The mud bricks may be creating a bigger environmental problem than the purchased cement blocks.  The reason?  The bricks are stacked with a hollow center for a wood fire to "fire" the bricks.  So far, so good.  Unfortunately, it takes a LOT of firewood and, as a result, the country is rapidly becoming deforested and the government is rightfully concerned.

The trade off?  Use natural materials and fully involve the local community promoting ownership. Or purchase cement blocks in an attempt to save the forests but potentially create non-friendly ecological materials for the future.  Stay tuned for the ultimate decision.  It's still under discussion.

What's your advice and opinion?  We'd love to hear from you.

Monday, April 2, 2018

A Circle of Women: An Update from Nepal

​Our volunteers join hands with local women to play and learn.

In our HealthEd Connect travels to the ancient Kingdom of Nepal we have encountered innumerable beautiful and meaningful traditions. However, as in every society, some ancient traditions can cause harm. An archaic tradition that affects the lives of many women in Nepal considers menstruation to be an unholy and unclean time in a woman's life. In many areas of Nepal, it is still required that women isolate themselves for several days. 

For the past two weeks, our loving volunteers have used a gentle educational platform to help local women from the poorest parts of Kathmandu to understand how proper care and concern during menstruation can help women remain healthy and productive. Using fun activities, dramas, and health information, they covered topics such as menstruation hygiene, pre- and post-natal health, nutrition, and community sanitation. 


Our HealthEd Connect Representative, Pinkey Malla, explains:

"In our society, when girl first have menstruation then there is culture to keep them away from house for four days, not to touch boys, can't go to kitchen, they have to stay at one separate room. People say that girl is now unholy. Also, every menstruation time she keep at separate place, not have proper food, not good place to sleep and rest. This culture happening since many years. Some educated family's concepts are changing but still in city or village this activity is happening. So by making two types of drama, we are educating women what to do with girl when she have 1st menstruation and how to keep hygiene during menstruation period."

​Women listen attentively to lessons on hygiene, sanitation, and health.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Knot

Maureen wrapping her baby

It shall forever remain a mystery as to how babies are secured with a simple knot holding a cloth wrapper across the mom's back and shoulders.  What keeps the knot in place when the babies wiggle?  How can the mom be sure it's tied securely? The answer isn't obvious but the outcome certainly is.  Babies the world over are safely carried for hours on end with a simple granny knot we all learned in grade school.  It's obvious looking at the picture of Maureen, neither she nor the baby are worrying about this long-trusted system failing them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Well deserved recognition!

Four of our Kasompe Kafwa are proudly wearing the official government name tags they were recently awarded.  This is a prestigious milestone and makes the Kafwa eligible to attend government training and collaborate in community health services for mothers and babies.

Ireen Matete (second from left) said they wanted to send a message to HealthEd Connect supporters that the only reason they were officially recognized was because of the training and support they'd received from Healthed Connect.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

High Tech treatments

A brave volunteer demonstrating
a warm moist pack to treat
dry eyes.
No she's not crying!  Instead she'd demonstrating one of the new "nshima water" treatments discussed during the recent training at Chipulukusu.  We called it "nshima water" treatments because we could conserve on time, cost, and work-load by capitalizing on the water heated over the little charcoal fires that were prepared to cook the maize (cornmeal) nshima.  In actuality only the water was used -- no nshima was added😊

The 5 treatments demonstrated included:

1.  Warm moist packs for stinging or dry eyes.
2.  Warm soaks for infected fingers or hands that could be submerged.
3.  Hot moist packs (covered with plastic and a towel) to treat large infected wounds or sore muscles.
4.  Steam from the hot water to treat respiratory congestion 
5.  Warm water to prepare a salt gargle for sore throats.

They loved this lesson which was practical, easy to demonstrate, and applicable to problems commonly encountered.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Kitchen to be proud of!

The Zamtan Kafwa finally have their long dreamed of kitchen!  They have made-do for years with a little make-shift shelter that resembled a sieve when it rained.  That shelter was torn down last month to erect the new cookshack and the discarded boards are now temporarily piled in front.  The blue pipe structure to the left is the conveniently located water tower which brings water right to the door making it readily available to cook the porridge for the 300 appreciative students.

 Jackson Manjai, our Zamtan treasurer, is proudly posing in front of the newly completed cookshack.  As the on-site overseer for construction of the cookshack, he found this project even more challenging than the classroom blocks.  Workmen skilled in making thatched roofs do not live in the immediate area nor do the special thatch grasses grow nearby.  But Jackson found both the workmen and the grasses and was able to bring the cookshack to reality.