Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Life is tough in Nepal

Street lady in Kathmandu
In addition to the ongoing political strife and the always challenging terrain, Nepal is now facing escalating prices.

Muna Malla, supervisor for the Hope for the Himalaya health program reports that gasoline is now over $5.00 a gallon and basic food costs have increased by nearly 30%.  In spite of the challenges the health workers are still bringing good health ministry to those around them.

Kathmandu is a reminder of centuries of enduring civilization.  The people struggle on in spite of the everyday challenges.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thank you from Malawi

Ireen at training in Malawi
 Ireen, the Sinkhani health worker supervisor in Malawi, sent her quarterly report this week.  She provided records documenting the monitoring of 6552 babies in the last 3 or 4 months.  That's a lot of squirming little bodies being weighed and measured to keep them on the road to health!

Ireen also sent a big thank you for the training session held in Nkhata Bay, Malawi, for 29 Sinkhani in June.  She said, "To us we enjoyed it [the training]very much.  Some of us have never been to the lake so it was their first time to see Lake Malawi, they enjoyed it very much and they thank you very much also with the lessons we have learnt many ways of how we can be good and caring volunteers to people in communities and villages."

She then added,  " We wish as if we can go again."  I'm sure they do!  For many this will be the one and only 'big' trip in their lives.  Transport is expensive and makes leisure travel prohibitive for most villagers.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blind for the want of $250

Banza wa Banza, Wasaidizi Supervisor in 90s
We were so happy to see our long-time friend Banza wa Banza when we visited Congo in June.  He was a young man just out of high school when we met him in 1992.  Now he has 7 children (the oldest named Sherri) and a wife who is totally blind from cataracts.  They had cataract surgery scheduled for her several years ago but she is also diabetic and her blood sugar was so high they cancelled the surgery. 

Banza runs a small dispensary but his income is so low he sometimes has to choose between feeding his children and paying fees for them to attend school.  With choices like that there is no option  for paying for surgery.  While we were in Lubumbashi we were able to help make arrangements for the needed cataract surgery.  Now we're anxiously waiting to hear of a small little miracle that allows a mother to again see her children.  Blind for years for the want of $250.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SIFE Team in Action

SIFE students selling special-label Stone Creek Coffee at Graceland Homecoming.
Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) sponsored a HealthEd Connect booth at Graceland Homecoming October 14 & 15.  Who could resist an enthusiastic college student selling gourmet Stone Creek Coffee for such a good cause?   Not many it turns out.  Sales were brisk! The students were also successful at selling a number of packets of note cards featuring the work of 15-year-old Eddison, the 'resident artist' in the Kasompe, Zambia school supported by HealthEd Connect in partnership with the local community. Six students traveled to Zambia with Jac and Sherri in 2010 and another six in 2011.  Applications are now being submitted by SIFE students who want to be part of the 2012 team.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Board Members at Work

Sherri & Michelle making Nshima
Paul Thomson illustrating a point at BOD meeting
Ron Mathews and Kristi Kirkpatrick pondering a proposal
Polly Brown Mehlisch reviewing Capital Campaign
Lively discussions, thoughtful planning, and excellent program reports were highlights of the HealthEd Connect board meeting in Independence, MO October 13-14.  Plans to launch a Capital Campaign, approval of the first external audit and preparation for publishing the first Annual Report were all agenda items.  We even had a Zambian dinner together featuring Sherri's version of Nshima, the corn-based staple of Zambia.  For you African travel veterans, yes, everyone gamely ate with their fingers! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

More good news from Congo!

Children playing in the Luapula River in DR Congo
Nearly 15 years ago we developed a major program in the Kasenga District of the Congo to combat schistosomiasis, a water-born blood fluke disease that first manifests itself in the urinary system but can migrate in the body and even cause death.   The good news is that one treatment with the proper medication cures the disease.  The bad news is it comes right back if the person is again exposed.   WHO had surveyed the area for interventions 30 years ago and thought success was such a long shot that they left.  At the villagers urging, however, we decided to try.  With the assistance of educational dramas in the villages, classes in the schools, the building of latrines throughout the villages, the clearing of the water plants where the snails lived, and screening and treatment, the disease was brought under control.  When we started the project we were very dubious about the long-term benefits of the program.  BUT the doctors in that area now tell us the program was actually very successful.  Very few people have been reinfected.  The gamble paid off big time!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Changes in Congo

Wasaidizi Health Worker in Congo
We are so impressed with the life-changing interventions the volunteer Wasaidizi health workers in Congo have made over the years.  They recently reported the following changes they helped bring about since they started working in their villages 20 years ago.
  • Mothers are now unafraid to take their children to the clinic when they are sick.
  • Mothers come to little clinics to give birth
  • Mothers obtain immunizations for their children
  • The community is planting more groundnuts and soya, tomatoes and vegetables
  • Most people now draw water from the boreholes rather than obtain it from the river
  • Few children have leg ulcers which were once epidemic
  • Many people in the community use guava leaves as an antiseptic

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Peacemakers Summit

Jac and I were privileged to attend the 2011 Peacemakers Summit at The Temple in Independence, MO September 26.  The purpose of the Summit was to bring affiliate and church leaders together to discuss justice and peacemaking.   Invigorating energy and stimulating ideas permeated the event. 
One of the themes that reoccurred throughout the day was the need to involve young adults in internships that allow them to develop academic and practical skills of how to create peace and justice. 
We felt HealthEd Connect was on the cutting edge.  We are in the midst of arranging two internships for young adults to go to Zambia next year.  One will be a teacher mentor to help the schools move forward in continuous progress toward higher academic standards and the other will be a mentor for the emotional support groups organized to help orphans work through their grief. 
The idea is to match specific skill sets of young adults with needs in the field.   We are excited to be a part of this vital endeavor!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book signing at UNICEF

Exciting news!  There's going to be a book signing for the book, The Humanitarian Leader in Each of Us,  that Sherri Kirkpatrick was interviewed for. It is such an honor to have HealthEd Connect included with so many other great humanitarian organizations.

World of Children is sponsoring a book event at UNICEF on Tuesday, November 1, from 5pm to 6pm EST, including a live-streamed conversation with some of the remarkable social change-makers featured in it.

We won't be there in person but we'll be watching the live-stream!