Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How's your Tumbuka?

We have 28 (plus a few extra) notebooks printed and tabulated and ready to go to Malawi for the health worker training.  It has been quite a trick keeping the various subjects identified since my Tumbuka is nonexistent.  I finally resorted to writing the heading in English at the top of each new section.  We're going prepared with Lessons translated into Tumbuka in the following subject areas:  Growth Monitoring, Immunizations, Pre-natal care, Family Planning, First Aid, Oral Rehydration Therapy and Nutrition.  We also have a few short specific areas of need they asked to discuss such as malaria, AIDS, TB, and women's health.  We will cram as much teaching into our short time as possible.  At the end, everyone will receive the coveted certificate of completion!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sad News

Visit with Enala (left) and Enest in Chipulukusu
We received an email today saying that Enest, one of our new friends in Chipulukusu, passed away last week.  Enest was always dressed in a crisp clean shirt and the first to arrive at the Income Generating Classes held in January.  Recognizing his capability and passion, the community elected him to serve on the Bicycle IGA committee. One of the highlights of our January trip was being invited to visit Enest and his wife in their home.  They were obviously pleased to have us in their home and requested we take a picture of them (see above) before we left.  We did not realize until we hugged him goodbye at the end of the visit that his loose shirts hid the fact that he was incredibly thin.  The health workers were encouraging his wife to be tested for HIV and if found to be positive, to go to the clinic to receive medication which prevents transmission of HIV from mother to child during the birth process.  We're hoping against hope she followed their advice and obtained the needed medicine.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Talk about Panic!

We dropped our passports in the FedEx box over a week ago headed for NY and the Democratic Republic of Congo for visas.  Then we anxiously began checking the tracking number to follow their travels but found nothing.  We contacted the local dispatcher and after several days they sent someone out to see if it had gotten hung up in the drop box.  Nothing was found.  FedEx finally contacted the delivery person in NY but no new insights.  We even called the DRC Embassy -- no luck.  By the time we had talked repeadedly to FedEx supervisors in Texas, Kansas, and NY, we were on a first name basis with half the FedEx employees!  Finally at last the Embassy said they did have a package delivered but couldn't read the label and didn't know what to do with it.  So it was just sitting on a desk.  With our urging they finally opened the package and -- viola!---the missing passports!  There were some tense moments in tracking them coming back as well but we now have them safely in our possession.  Whew!  That was a close one!!   You can punt or replace most everything else needed for travel but there's no substitute for the passport.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guess this one!

What's shaped like a bowl, feels like a tire, and will bring countless hours of joy to the kids in Africa?  You cheated and looked at the picture I can tell!!  It's the red, white, and blue soccer balls donated to HealthEd Connect by Uniroyal.  We'll transport them 'shaped like a bowl' and pump them up when we arrive.  They sent a huge box this year with nearly 2 dozen balls!  Thank you Uniroyal!!!  This will be the first time we've taken balls to Malawi -- the village kids will be thrilled beyond belief.  Their balls made of wound rags can be replaced with the real thing!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Oh, the decisions!  With airline limits on weight and number of pieces of luggage that can be shipped, hard decisions have to be made on what can be taken to Africa.  So far we have about 4 times more than we are allowed to take!  By the time we make notebooks with handouts for all 28 healthworkers for the training, add supplies they will need such as baby scales, baby seats for weighing, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, apron uniforms for each one, HealthEd Connect shirts, Oral rehydration spoons, crafts made by women in California to take to the women in Malawi, etc. etc. we are way beyond capacity.  Oh, yes, I almost forgot.  I think Jena Wight is taking 5 trumpets which we will also help carry.  And that doesn't even start on the list of things we hope to take to Zambia to the schools.  Ah, to have a private jet....but since we don't we'll just have to see how much can be stuffed into the corners of our trunks and suitcases.  Every little thing is duly appreciated!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Parlez-vous français?

Wasaidizi health worker in DR Congo
Speaking French would be a definite asset!  Unfortunately, I have to rely on google translations.  We received the following email this morning from the young doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo that we're hoping to visit in June:

je vous remercie pour le soutien à ma Zone de Santé et je compte sur votre appui
car il ya encore des problemes


At least I get the Bonjour and Merci!  With Google translator I can also read the rest.  We are looking forward to meeting with the doctor as we plan next steps with the Wasaidizi health workers in the Congo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

They Made Us Proud!

Graceland SIFE team at Nationals in Minneapolis
We couldn't have been prouder!!  The huge accomplishments and humanitarian programs initiated and championed by the Graceland SIFE team were presented to a standing-room only crowd at the SIFE National Competition held at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Tuesday.  Starting with a field of over 500 teams in the U.S. it is a distinct honor to advance to National level competition where the Graceland team took home the 2nd runner up trophy in their league.  It would be very hard, however, to convince the school children and communities in Zambia where the team introduced the bicycle income generating programs in January that they didn't deserve the Grand Prize trophy!  HealthEd Connect is so fortunate to be partnering with such an outstanding team of skilled, compassionate, and creative young people.  The real winners are the many people in Africa, Lamoni, and other places who are benefiting from the efforts of the Graceland team.  A huge congratulations and sincere thank you to the students for making such a big impact on the part of the world they touched this year.

Music for Malawi

The two World Service Corps volunteers headed for Malawi, Tara Shupe and Jena Wight, had a lively and entertaining fund raiser for their trip last week.  Jena, a music major, entertained the crowd while a tempting array of goodies were served.  Tara concurrently demonstrated craft making amidst the impressive display of her senior-project recycled crafts.  She branded her items "Old Socks" and had everything from tables made of old doors to necklaces made of spoons and hassocks covered with gunny sacks.  Jena is planning to take trumpets with her to Malawi and introduce a little brass band ensemble.  She's had several trumpets donated so the instruments will be left when she leaves.  The villages will never be or sound the same!

For continuing details see our website www.healthedconnect.org


Monday, May 9, 2011

It's in the....email!

Thanks to Brenda Williams and Michelle Mahlik, another grant proposal is on it's way.  This time we submitted a proposal  to BE FREE GLOBAL (BFG).  They support educational projects for displaced and needy children world-wide.  We made a plea for textbooks which are desperately needed in our schools.  Our teachers currently laboriously copy small assignments in each child's small exercise book or on the chalk board every day.  The teachers have the only set of text books.  Once the children have books they can read the lessons themselves and master content much more quickly.  Each book costs approximately $6 with six different content areas for each grade making a complete set of texts $36.  Compare that to a cost of $150 or more for one textbook in the U.S. !    Here's hoping BFG will look upon our proposal with favor!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A 'home' at last

CHW in Zambia weighing baby
The news was emailed to Zambia that the HealthEd Connect board enthusiastically endorsed the addition of a multi-purpose health worker room to the school site plan.  A flurry of emails shot back from Africa with the speed of cyberspace.  To say the least, the idea was enthusiastically endorsed by the health workers in Zambia who have volunteered their services for over 20 years.  It is envisioned that the new multi-purpose room will provide a space where health classes can be held for community mothers, babies can be weighed and monitored, teams can meet to organize for weekly home-based care, income generating activities such as paper-bead making and sewing can be pursued, supplies for the school lunches can be organized, and various school activities held.  A small addition to the health worker facility will be added to store the new Zambikes and carts which are being rented to provide funds to support the schools.  Now we need the help of our friends to raise the funds to make this dream come true. 
If you can help, go to our website www.healthedconnect.org and donate today.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day - corrected website

The website was incomplete in my last Blog so here is the corrected version.

If you haven't signed onto our website to honor one of the incredible women who has influenced your life, there's still time.  There has been a heartwarming response to HealthEd Connect's Mother's Day tribute.  Go to http://www.healthedconnect.org/
 to see the scrolling list of honorees.  And donate today to add your special person to the list.  Join us in honoring the women that make the world go round!

No lunch ... really??

The best laid plans...  The HealthEd Connect Board met April 30 on the Graceland Independence Campus for an invigorating day of discussion, planning, and envisioning.  Super good vibs all day!  Except for a momentary moment of panic when we recessed for lunch.  The kitchen where all of the food was awaiting us had been emptied of furniture, the floors stripped of wax, and there was no food in sight!  After a gasping "Oh, no!" we realized the floor was still wet from stripping the wax and had not yet been rewaxed so we tip toed in, located the missing food, and laughingly went to Plan B.
HealthEd Connect BOD meeting April 30
The most exciting new proposal supported by the board was to include multi-purpose rooms in the Zambian Community school site plans for the health workers and Income Generating Activities.  Wait till we share this news with the folks in Zambia!