Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dr. Jane Aronson at Yale Global Innovations Conference
What fun would this be!! A toy library for our OVC in Africa.  At the Yale Conference we had an opportunity to attend a workshop by Dr. Jane Aronson who founded Worldwide Orphans Foundation.  As a pediatrician she is keenly aware of the need for children to learn developmental skills through play.  She has established Toy Libraries in Haiti for the children in great need.  At this point her children can only check out the toys within a confined room but her vision (and ours) would be to allow children to take toys home.  She is using all top quality wood crafted toys -- no plastic. 

Wooden toys for teaching
We see possibilities for establishing a vocational training program to make wooden toys for the children graduating from our schools in Zambia.  A training program, an income generating venture, and TOYS for kids all with the same project.  How cool would that be???

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dr. Jeffrey Sachs showing picture of child with malaria.
Yale students at last!  Well, maybe not in a technical way, but Yale 'learners' as a minimum.  Jac and I attended a Global Innovation in Health Care Conference at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut April 20-22.  The keynote speakers were Dr. Jeffrey Sachs and his wife Dr. Sonia Sachs.  Talk about a dynamite duo!  They co-founded and run the Earth Institute which works closely with the Gates and Clinton Foundations as well as the U.S. government aid institutes. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs has long been one of my favorites and has shaped my thinking regarding global change.  He is a noted economist that appears frequently on CNN and other channels.  If you're not familiar with his book, The End of Poverty, I would strongly suggest you read it.  It made me do a 180 in my way of thinking.   In addition to their stimulating contributions, we had an opportunity to attend a number of workshops and presentations that sent our minds into hyper-speed with possibilities for HealthEd Connect.  The adrenalin is really flowing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back to my alma mater!  I was extremely honored to be the keynote speaker at the Kansas University Medical Center Global Health Week April 17.  I was reminded once again of the extremely significant role the University played in my life.  As a member of the first class of the KU PhD nursing program, I sometimes felt we were feeling our way together in the new curriculum.  But without a doubt, my doctoral work laid the foundation for my passion in life -- working in the developing world with village women.  I had the best of the best advising me, demanding excellence, and guiding me through the process.  So many women throughout the world have benefited from the life-changing educational experience  KU provided for me.  Go Jayhawks!!

Sherri with conference organizer, Dr. Judith Reagan
Later in the week I participated in a panel on Sustainability of programs with Dr.Nicholas Comninellis, MD, President and CEO of the Institute for International Medicine in Kansas City,  Dr. Stan Shaffer, MD, co-founder of Maison de Naissance, a birthing home inHaiti,  and Lisa VanHoose, PhD, who trains rehabilitation therapists in St. Lucia and Peru.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Irene’s eyes sparkle when asked about how Health Ed Connect has changed her life: “My compassion has doubled!” she laughs.  “Health Ed Connect has helped me learn how to teach children.  Now I have a way to help them stay healthy—even my own children I’ve taught about HIV and about sickness to avoid with better hygiene.”  The training Irene received as a Child Support Specialist was so empowering she volunteered to be the chairperson for the group.  “I’d like the CSS groups to continue for a long time.  It is close to my heart because I have experience—I have one orphaned niece in my home—Mapasho. Through the group sessions, games, and lessons, we are learning together how to handle the emotions that come with this struggle for both of us.” 
- reported by Lisa Ash

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Monica is greeted joyfully when she walks through the school yard—all the children are excited she is there as the head cook!  Three days a week, Monica walks to school to cook meals of porridge or nshima for over 150 pupils at KCSOP.  “When we want to cook vegetable, I bring my own pot from home.  I feel so proud and strong to be able to help this way.”  Not only is Monica the head cook, she is also involved in changing the lives of the children as a Child Support Specialist, mentoring the emotional development of orphans at this school.  “Health Ed Connect encouraged me to be with the children here, and be humble with them.  I like what Health Ed Connect has taught me about how to help the children and how to help my community,” Monica says. 
-reported by Lisa Ash

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Burdens Women Carry

The reality for women in many parts of the world is heartwrenching.  Muna Malla, the HealthEd Connect supervisor in Nepal, reports that horrific cultural beliefs are still being practiced in rural areas of Nepal.  During a girl's menstrual cycle and sometimes during childbirth, she is forced to live in the shed with the cows and sleep on the straw.  She is not allowed to see anyone from her family, touch anyone or go outside and see the sunshine in the daytime.  The young girls are so frightened that many times they do not sleep during the ordeal.  Muna further reports "many innocent girls and women are dying by snake bite, cold, etc."  This practice called "Chaupadi Pratha" was outlawed by the government in 2004 but is still widely practiced.  Our health workers are actively working to change beliefs but progress is slow.  In the meantime innocent young girls are suffering from the beliefs of their own culture.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blind No More

Thumbs up indeed!
I  reported a few weeks ago that Banza's wife had successful cataract surgery ($250) after being completely blind for 3 years.  Banza reported this week that many things have changed for her.

She has started to become fat (a BIG compliment and sign of prosperity in Congo) , and she has joy and love in  her life again. He said before the surgery she was very depressed and sometimes did not want to continue to live. She is now able to cook for herself and her family, to participate in the chldren's school meetings,and is even planning to start a small busness to support the family. The thing she most enjoyed about seeing again was to actually see how much her seven children had grown in three years.  How wonderful that such joy and prosperity can be purchased for $250!!

That's my version.  Here are Banza's actual words:

she start to become fat , in joy and to love again her life. Sometime before she was not like to continu to live ;
The tasks she is now able to do : To kook herself for family , to participate to chldren school meeting, she is planning to start some busness to support my effort for family life ; and to provide  good house works herself ;
She injoyed about seeing again ,especialy she wasn't able to know how children are grow after three years .

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lisa doing her magic!

Lisa admirer and wanna-be-student!
 Lisa has now completed 3 months mentoring the teachers at the 3 schools in Zambia.  What a transformation!  The children have learned to line up and orderly file into the classroom, maintain a studious atmosphere while in classes, really learn phonics, play games that make learning fun, tidy up the classrooms and school grounds every day, and MUCH more. 

Lisa reviewing lesson with teachers in Zamtan
  April will be devoted to Professional Development workshops for the teachers since the kids will be on school break.  We had originally suggested to the teachers that Lisa might leave in April since the children would not be in school.  Their immediate panicked response was, "Oh, NO!  That's when we have time to really learn from her!!"

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A roof over their heads

Kelsey with Child Support Specialist volunteers
 Most of the volunteers leading the groups are caregivers of orphans themselves.  Kelsey was touched during one of the church services by an appeal to the congregation to help one of the widows in the congregation whose roof had caved in and was causing havoc for the family.  The congregation rose to the occasion and quickly helped out.  It turned out that the person being helped was actually the supervisor of the CSS groups in Chipulukusu and who cares for orphans in addition to her own children.  She definitely has her hands full just trying to survive with her little brood and still finds time to reach out and try to help a wider circle of kids.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Okay at last!

Children in Orphan Support Group
 Kelsey Welch had amazing success while she was in Zambia this month mentoring the Child Support Specialists (CSS) who are facilitating support groups for the orphans.  Even after one session with the children the teachers and Kafwa volunteers said they could see a difference in the orphans who attended the program.  There were more smiles and an over-all happier countenance.  One of the children said to her teacher, "For the first time I finally feel okay."  Traditionally children have NOT been told their parents died.  They are just plucked up from their home and transported to an extended family member (frequently a grandmother) without knowing why.  Sometimes it is years before they are told.  The volunteers leading the groups can relate to the problems this later creates since some of them personally experienced the 'silence' of the truth.  They are very supportive of finding ways to gently be truthful with the children.