Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Baobab tree

Adding 'fruit' to the Baobab tree
Rubbing shoulders on a stretch break
In addition to learning helpful new health information, we also had fun during our Nepalese training!  Using the African tradition of gathering under the Baobab tree to discuss issues,  each of us placed a 'fruit' on the tree at the beginning of the training.  In our closing service, each one removed his/her fruit and took it with them signifying they were leaving the Baobab tree and going into the community to spread good news.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ram's story

Soyamsabika Ram
Ram Maya, one of our most engaged Soyamsabika, said that many people die in her village due to lack of health care.  She said the most important lessons to her were the " need to keep our bodies clean to prevent diseases as well as our homes and surroundings." Ram's village builds their homes and animal shelters right next to one another which leaves manure and flies in abundance in their little homes.  She said she was eager to go home to tell people what she had learned.

Here's a list of the main health problems the Soyamsabika identified
 -- in Nepalese and English for those of you who are proficient in both!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Depend on ourselves

Soyamsabak Bishnu
Bishnu, our sole brave Sayambabak (male volunteer) is a local pastor and said he wanted to share in the health training in Nepal because of the many health needs he observes when he goes into homes.  He wanted to be better prepared to help people.  At the end of the training he said "we are like parasites depending on others.  With training like this we can learn to depend on ourselves because we know what we should do and how to make things like oral rehydration solution."
Our Guest House meeting room for the training

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wonders of triple antibiotic ointments


Enjoying the Nepali food served at the guest house during the training
Like many of the Soyamsabika, Sita was eager to tell of the miracles wrought with the triple antibiotic ointment that is not available for purchase in the country.  She said her mother got a large thorn in her finger and the finger became very swollen and infected.  They went to the health post and received an ointment but the finger continued to get worse.  They finally went back and the Dr. said they would need to amputate.  Sita was able to get some of the antibiotic ointment provided by HealthEd Connect.  Within 2 days of applying it the swelling was almost gone and in a few days the finger was well.  She said the finger is a bit smaller now than it was before but they are all thrilled it was saved.  The wonders of a little ointment.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bidding adieu to Kathmandu

Comparing the effects of lack of water on plants and people
Ishwori using a Coca Cola bottle to measure water for Oral
Rehydration Solution
Our "baby" that peed and had diarrhea but
recovered quickly when given water
We finished the training on a real high!  In our closing activity, each Soyamsabika was asked to tell one thing that she had learned that was especially helpful.  Each one wanted to recap the whole training but in the interest of time we finally convinced them to prioritize the most important lesson they would take home.  This is when I learned an important lesson!  Many said they were especially glad to know how to make oral rehydration solution with rice  for the babies with diarrhea.  I almost didn't teach that since it takes so much more time to soak the rice, pound it into a paste and cook it than it does to make an equally good solution from sugar, salt, and water.  I wanted to save them a little time.  They said the reason they were glad to learn about the rice was that they frequently did not have sugar in the village.  How much we take for granted.

[The slow internet prevented me from attaching pictures and sending blogs while in Nepal.  So even though Jac and I are back in the U.S. I will send the blogs I wanted to send from Nepal.]

Friday, March 22, 2013


Textbooks are wonderful -- but take-home story books are super terrific!
How many books do you have in your home? Most likely you have no idea. Such is not the case for our kids in Africa who have NO books in their homes. Imagine their excitement when a few little books were provided for the 4th and 5th grade students to check out and take home. Last term in Kasompe, books were checked out 225 times. The book checked out the most times was Tondo and the Helicopter. Now ALL of the kids want books to take home which means we need to raise money for more little books----what a wonderful problem to have!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

No milk, please.

The guest house workers where we held the training spent every spare minute hanging around the periphery and curiously peeking in on the classes.  We now have proof they were also listening and absorbing the information.  In our nutrition lesson one of the health workers asked if it would be more nutritious to add milk to their tea.  I replied that recent tests indicate that the nutritional value of tea may actually be reduced when milk is added (the milk apparently binds with the antioxidants).  When the little waiters were getting ready to serve us afternoon tea, one of them said, "I assume  you would like to change your order from milk-tea to plain black tea?"  Looks like we are now changing the world one cup of tea at a time....

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Market lady

Michelle made a persuasive market lady today as the health workers put their new nutrition knowledge to work by selecting foods "at the market" .  Each of the groups worked as a team to develop a menu that represented the 3 food groups of body building (protein), energy (grains), and protective (fruits and veggies).  Not surprisingly they ALL chose rice as the energy food!

20 hour bus ride

We had another interesting and fun day of health worker training.  What a great group!  Five of the health workers are from the very rural area of Terai and traveled up to 20 hours to reach Kathmandu. Big problems they identified were pneumonia and respiratory infections among the children.  Further discussion revealed that they cook all of their food using cow dung  fuel---inside the house.  The result is thick smoke that irritates eyes and causes respiratory problems.  They also said they have no latrines in their area.  People use an isolated field area.  They were very open to exploring new options.  There are countless future opportunities for helping empower these communities.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I have been sending blogs with pictures but they don't seem to be coming through.  We will try a new method today.  We have 18 women and 1 man in the training.  It took three of the women almost 20 hours and many different little buses to get here.  Great group!  Hopefully pictures will be coming soon.....

Friday, March 15, 2013

Danica in Action!

Danica teaching the wonders of water colors
 Danica, one of our two-time travelers to Zambia, a great artist, an education major, and a huge HealthEd Connect supporter has initiated a terrific program to obtain art supplies for the children in Zambia.   You will be super impressed with her site!  She created a page for HealthEd Connect on a website sponsored by Blick Art Supplies where you can add programs and create shopping lists for projects. Danica created a donation page for the Young Peacemakers Art Program and is encouraging everyone to share this link with friends:

The best part of all -- all donations in the month of March will be matched!!  Danica is going to be the most popular person ever at the HealthEd Connect schools when these amazing art supplies arrive!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Off to Nepal!

Nepalese woman in the market
Next stop Nepal! Jac and I haven't been to Nepal for several years and are eagerly looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones as we conduct health worker training in Kathmandu. We are especially grateful to have Michelle Mahlik, a HealthEd Connect board member, joining us to help with the training. Our long-time leader, Muna Malla, recently moved after providing outstanding leadership and bringing health care to innumerable people for over 13 years. Before she left, however, she organized an excellent leadership team. Martha, who just completed a degree in nursing with the assistance of a HealthEd Connect nursing scholarship, along with Pinkey, a favorite we watched grow up, have done an awesome job of preparing for the training.

Our project in Nepal is registered with the Nepalese government as Hope for the Himalaya.  New stories are about to be written....

Very sad news

We just received the very sad news that our good friend, and colleague, Dismas Mulenga, from Chipulukusu, passed away this morning.  Dismas was a primary mover in getting our first school established in Zambia.  A gentle, soft-spoken man that always had a smile, Dismas was an exemplary leader in the community.  Our heart goes out to his family and the entire community. He will be missed deeply.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Teacher Training

Lisa (left) with teachers at Kasompe
We were pleased to find that one of the enterprising colleges in Zambia is now offering distance learning teacher education programs. We were even more excited to learn that our Head Teacher in Kasompe, Loveness, was eager to enroll in the program with HealthEd Connect's financial support. The government recently adopted a new policy giving head teachers two years to obtain a teaching certificate. She attends a group class near her home a couple of times a month and then goes to class two weeks full-time three times during the year. In between she completes assignments via a computer rented from the college. This is an excellent program for teachers who are working full time.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Orphan graduates!

Happy Kids at Zamtan
The Kafwa in Zamtan are having excellent turnouts for the CSS (Child Support Specialist) programs for the grieving orphans. Their big problem is terminating one group when the 13 sessions are over so they can start a new group for additional kids. The Kafwa's suggestion? Give the kids a certificate and have a graduation! What a great idea! No wonder the kids want the groups to go on forever...they have the undivided attention of compassionate Kafwa, fun activities, biscuits to eat and an occasional new used t-shirt. They also have a powerful advocate.

One little boy confided to Kafwa Angela that he was being beaten by his stepfather. Angela was very concerned and did some investigating on her own. The stepfather claimed the boy always came home late. Angela believed the boy was telling her the truth so she contacted the boy's uncle who immediately came and took the boy home with him. Thanks to Angela a happy ending to the story