Monday, February 28, 2011

Academy Award - Not!

It seems to be the season for recognition of great acting and productions.  We are definitely not competing in Hollywood style but we are working hard to develop a video that tells HealthEd Connect's story.  We've been working with Bryce Veazey to identify video clips, still pictures, and story lines for a new video this week.  We are scheduled to film a small connecting segment with 10 seconds of me this Friday.  At least I don't have to worry about what I will wear on the Red Carpet!  Somehow that seems so unrelated to the scarcity of food and education issues we're dealing with.  But the pressure of producing something that people relate to is definitely there.   The plan is to have a finished product we can premiere at our Denver events starting April 1.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Maggie leading songs at her church
We are so inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment one of our sharp new health workers, Maggie, brings to her role as Kafwa.  Shortly after going through the training last June, Maggie started working with Mr. Chabinga, a man in her community, who had a huge open ulcer on the top of his foot that extended up the side of his ankle.  He had sought help at the clinic to no avail.  Maggie began cleaning and dressing his foot (wearing gloves of course!) and after 2 months of diligent work, they both declared victory with a healed wound.  She even brought us 'before' and 'after' pictures last month so we could see for ourselves.  That's the good news!  Then last week we received an update email from Maggie saying she was sad to say that Mr. Chabinga passed away February 9 after being ill for two days with malaria.  Another needless death!  We're trying to find out if he went to the clinic, obtained medicine, etc.  We're hoping to find a way to empower the health workers to prevent at least some of these deaths from malaria.

Good news, Bad news

Maggie leading songs at her church
One of our most energetic committed community health workers trained in June, 2010, Maggie, has been providing us with updates on her work.  Her first report was super exciting!  She had been working with a patient, Mr. Chabinga, in the community who had a huge open ulcer that covered the top of his foot as well as side of his ankle.  He had visited the clinic and sought treatment to no avail.  Maggie began working with him, cleaning the wound (wearing gloves of course!) and applying small amounts of triple antibiotic ointment on a regular basis.  After a long 2 months of treatment, they both declared victory with a healed foot!  She even brought us before and after pictures in January so we could see the miraculous healing.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that the last email we received from Maggie said that Mr. Chabinga passed away on February 9 after being ill with malaria for two days.   Another death that didn't need to be.  We've asked Maggie to provide us with information regarding his treatment (if any) for malaria, the type of medication he took, how soon he took it, etc.  Hopefully we can find a way to empower the health workers to intervene and prevent some of these needless deaths.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Other end of the Age spectrum

I had the privilege of sharing good news about HealthEd Connect with older adults at the Gather-In weekly activity at the Stone Church in Independence last week.  They weren't as exuberant as the children we shared with at the Diversity Fair but they were, nevertheless, very interested in the stories about the children in Zambia, the activities of the healthworkers, etc.  Many of them had traveled widely in the past and had great stories of their own to share.  In addition they invited me to join them for lunch -- a nice treat!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Young and the Old ...

We had a great time meeting with 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students in the Lee's Summit School District last week.  The school sponsored a Diversity Fair and invited us to share stories about children in Africa.  We had 30 minutes with each of the 3 classrooms we visited.  We were impressed!  Not only were the kids attentive and asked great questions, they also knew a lot about Africa.  Several knew about the great migration of animals across the Masai Mara/Serengeti and correctly identified the most famous of those animals -- the wildebeest.  It was a treat to share with the kids!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Hello, HealthEd Connect friends!

I love the bunny that Kali sent me.

It was a treat to have a visit from Little Boss Mirriam while we were in Zambia.  She sent her greetings to all of you via the magic of a cell phone!  She looked healthy and energetic and flashed her little trademark smile frequently.  Her good friend and mentor, Evans, who has also chaired our Steering Committee, provided 'new' clothes for Mirriam and her Mom for their trip to see us.  Also note Mirriam's new hair-do!

This ice cream is even better than caterpillars!

Can you hear me now?

 Mama Ethel says Mirriam's favorite foods are nshima (cornmeal) and greens.  But she also enjoys the delicacy of fried caterpillars when they are available.  And it was obvious she loved the ice cream we bought for her when we drove her to the bus to go home!  Mama Ethel raises the caterpillars along with a small garden to try to keep food on the table for her little family.  It is almost incomprehensible that the daily struggle for food is the driving force for so many people.  Homes with little or no food confronted us throughout our visit.  We have high hopes that the Bicycle income generating project will be a small beginning toward a better life for at least a few families.  HealthEd Connect can't change the world but we firmly believe we can make a world of difference for some.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sobering News

We just received word that one of the first grade students at the Kasompe Community School of Peace died last week from malaria.   We keep looking at the little faces in the pictures we took last month and asking "Is it this lively little girl?"  "Or maybe that one?"  They all looked so full of life when we were there.  And now we have this sad news.  One little girl became quite ill with malaria while we were at the school and a Kafwa, Leontina, took money from our emergency fund to take her to the Dr. to be treated.  Fortunately, that case ended well.  We don't have any details about the child that died but it is possible she became ill at home and wasn't taken for treatment. 

Treatment is so inexpensive by U.S. standards.  It is our understanding that in many cases, the clinic visit and the medication are free.  The stumbling block frequently is the lack of money (less than $1) for transportation to the clinic.  According to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, "There are at least 300 million acute cases of malaria each year globally, resulting in more than a million deaths. Around 90% of these deaths occur in Africa, mostly in young children. Malaria is Africa's leading cause of under-five mortality (20%) and constitutes 10% of the continent's overall disease burden. It accounts for 40% of public health expenditure, 30-50% of inpatient admissions, and up to 50% of outpatient visits in areas with high malaria transmission."  Unfortunately, malaria treatment gets more complicated each year as resistant strains crop up making medication ineffective.

But those are all statistics.  We are mourning the loss of a specific, bright eyed child who had her educational  and life journey end before it hardly got started.

Friday, February 4, 2011


It was with dismay and shock that we pulled up our Flickr account on the HealthEd Connect web page to add pictures of our recent trip -- and found the old ones gone!  Apparently, our annual fee came due while we were in Africa (we received no notice) and since it didn't get paid, they wiped out our pictures.  Fortunately, we have back-ups but the hours of organizing and labeling are gone.  We could relate to a CNN banner that ran across the bottom of the TV screen yesterday saying something like "customer loses 4000 pictures that were accidentally wiped out by Flickr."  Hmmm...maybe it wasn't the annual fee thing after all.

We are onto another site now that looks more secure.  We'll be posting pictures as soon as possible.