Category: Africa

May 20 2008

Visit to Tanzania – entry 2

This is the second entry in a series of three. In March, Rachel Scherzer, who works in Child Services at the CFCA Kansas City office, traveled to Tanzania to visit her sponsored child, Bariki. She spent more than a week living and volunteering at the CFCA Dar es Salaam project.

I did home visits yesterday, visiting two families who are new to the sponsorship program. These kids live really, really far out. I’m a bad judge of distance, but I know it took us at least 45 minutes to get to the first kid’s house, most of it walking under the scorching African sun. I have some pretty wicked burn/tan lines. It got to the point that I was thanking God for every breeze and patch of shade.

The second girl’s house wasn’t as far but it was all downhill getting there, which means it was all uphill getting back. And, of course, during all of this I’m wearing flip-flops, which was a disaster! My feet were so filthy by the time we got to the first house that the mama insisted I wash my feet. Not only did she insist, she “helped” me, using water that I know she probably couldn’t spare. And then she thanked me profusely for visiting her home!

The kid’s house was so remote that I was probably the only white person the villagers had seen. All the kids rushed out of their houses to stare at the “mzungu” (white person). We also rode the daladala, which is basically their bus, but really it’s just a big van. It was like a clown car in there. Every cubic inch was filled with bodies. I had some woman practically sitting on me at one point. But after all that walking I was grateful to be in a car.

Today I went into town with one of the seminarians. I basically followed him around while he did errands, so I got to see a lot of the city. And we went to the national museum, which shows all the traditional homes that people still live in. They were literally mud huts. The coast is pretty westernized but the further inland you get, the more primitive the conditions. I bought some beautiful postcards and paintings, too, but you may never see them because I will have trouble parting with them.

More to come tomorrow…

May 19 2008

A visit to Tanzania – Entry 1

In March, Rachel Scherzer, who works in Child Services at the CFCA Kansas City office, traveled to Tanzania to visit her sponsored child, Bariki. She spent more than a week living and volunteering at the CFCA Dar es Salaam project. This week we will post a series of reflections from her trip that she e-mailed home. Rachel hopes to return to Tanzania soon!

Today was my first day at the project and I got to see it in full force. I don’t know if I will ever really be able to describe it but it was incredible. They have an intensive day program for about 12 kids who are HIV positive (including my sponsored child, Bariki). They spend the whole day at the project and get all their medicine and meals here. I watched the staff put out all their medications for them, and it was staggering what these kids have to take every single day, twice a day.

A new little girl was admitted to Intensive Day Therapy today, so we had our first day together. Her name is Neema. Her AIDS is full blown, which basically means she has no immune system. She had sores from shingles all down her right arm. But the odd (and very cool) thing is that all the kids are really energetic and happy.

I am also getting stared at like you would not believe. I am one of two white people in the entire city. There are about 2,000 kids at the school here, and I think I was gawked at by every single one. In the nursery school the kids followed me around. Just stopped what they were doing to come over and look at/touch/hug the white girl.

More to come tomorrow…

Apr 25 2008

World Malaria Day

Today is World Malaria Day. Malaria isn’t something we think about much in the U.S., but its devastating effects are still felt around the world.

Malaria afflicts 350 to 500 million people a year; 40 percent of the world’s population.

Malaria is preventable and curable. If not treated, though, it can be deadly. It kills more than a million people a year; mostly young children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest hit area, but malaria also afflicts Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and even parts of Europe.

CFCA projects in malaria-affected areas are working to help families deal with this threat. The easiest way to prevent malaria is by sleeping under treated bed nets, because the mosquitoes that carry malaria most often bite at night. Unfortunately, although bed nets are not expensive by U.S. standards, most families in malaria-affected areas can’t afford them.

Project Coordinator Mary Dawn Reavey, based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, wrote to us this week about malaria prevention in her community:

Medicated bed nets have been a sponsorship benefit at the CFCA Dar es Salaam project that families can choose from the personalized portion of their sponsorship plan since January 2005. Starting in 2008, every sponsored child receives a medicated bed net as part of his/her health benefit. Also part of the health benefit is malaria testing and treatment. Beginning in February of this year (which is the start of the long rainy season in Dar es Salaam), the project began providing education to sponsored families on the treatment of malaria to coincide with the distribution of mosquito nets to all currently sponsored children. We also have some children with chronic illnesses (e.g. sickle cell anemia, AIDS and severe cerebral palsy) on antimalarial prophylaxis.

Drug-resistant malaria is a huge problem because to most Tanzanian families every illness is “malaria” (any cold, flu, virus, ear infection, abdominal pain, headache, etc. is thought to be “malaria”). The cost of testing is much higher than the medication (40 to 80 cents to test versus 4 cents per tablet—dosage is based on weight so most kids only need 9 to 10 tablets). Family members are able to go into any pharmacy and buy malaria treatment medication without a prescription, so they typically don’t test and instead treat for malaria with any symptom.

CFCA’s BON subproject is located in western Kenya, near Lake Victoria, one of Kenya’s malaria corridors. They wrote to tell us about how they’re fighting this threat, too:

Malaria is prevalent during the rainy season because the mosquitoes tend to multiply during these cold periods. It is transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito, and can be prevented by spraying insecticides, sleeping under treated mosquito nets and draining away stagnant water. It can also be prevented by keeping our home environments clean by clearing all the bushes around our houses and destroying or burning waste containers around our homes since these are breeding places for mosquitoes.

In the fight against malaria, Nairobi-BON subproject always does the following for our beneficiaries:
1. Provide treated mosquito nets at least once a year and ensure that sponsored children and aging sleep under their nets.
2. Create awareness of the dangers of malaria and employ preventive measures like the ones mentioned above.
3. Emphasize the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation.

It is good that these efforts have helped prevent malaria in our beneficiaries since we do not experience many cases of malaria.

On behalf of the CFCA beneficiaries, BON subproject is grateful to CFCA for joining in the fight against this killer disease.

Sponsorship in malaria-affected areas not only allows children to receive bed nets for prevention and quality medical care for treatment if they contract malaria, it also allows families to eat a more nutritious diet. This strengthens their immune system and improves their reaction to medicines. Sponsored children are also able to go to school and learn about the causes and effects of malaria.

This is a great example of how holistic child development, through sponsorship, improves a child’s life in so many ways. Every aspect of their life and sponsorship—food, shelter, education, medical treatment—works together to give them hope and an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

Apr 16 2008

Letter from Kenya

We received this letter recently written by a sponsored child who lives near Nairobi, Kenya, to her sponsor in the U.S. We were touched by her first-hand descriptions of how the recent violence in Kenya has affected her. We’re withholding her name to protect her security in the still-volatile nation. If you’d like to read more about the unrest in Kenya and how it affected sponsored members, we’ve written several news stories here.

17 March, 2008

Dear Joe,

How have you been? Well, I hope it has been well with you. How was your Christmas and more how is your new year going? For me I am happy now that the violence has ceased and that am in my last year in high school.

I spent my Christmas very well since the election hadn’t taken place but ever since 28th (of December) it was very bad. You know we live in a place like 80 kilometers from the capital city Nairobi … where when people learned that President Kibaki had won they celebrated because the majority are the tribe of Kikuyus, so all my Luo friends were evacuated back to their ancestral home.

We had lived with them all my life only to be separated like long-time enemies. As the violence continued we were even told not to wear specific clothes like trousers. Although I am Kikuyu, I used to go to the police station where almost like 5,000 people had camped since they neither had a home nor money to take them back to their rural homes.

I remember I didn’t celebrate the new year as I am used to but I had to stay indoors. If you were to be seen straying after 7 p.m. (that was the curfew time), you could have been killed by either the police or a vigilante group called Mungikis.

Properties were looted and burned in various places and at night a person could hear gunshots next to your house. Things got out of hand and the Mungikis claimed that my mother was a supporter of the opposition that is the party of Raila Odinga so she was brought home by policemen.

Thank you very much for the lunch you sponsored for us last year. It was very nice. Our photos were taken and we were given clothes. It was really thrilling because we didn’t expect it.

All in all, even after the post-election violence, we came back to school, though a little bit late, but it doesn’t matter so long as we finish school. I really am in a dilemma between doing telecommunications engineering and doing designing (graphic or Web).

I hope your daughter is progressing on well. I really wish that the people of U.S.A. will choose a president fairly and hence no violence will take place.

Since I am one of the biggest supporters of Manchester United, I really felt bad when they were defeated by Arsenal in the FA cup. (It’s rather odd for a girl to like football in Kenya but nothing is ever odd to me).

I pray and hope that your job is progressing well.

In school this year there was a celebration due to the good performance of last year’s candidates, and so our hopes are hoisted high that we as the current candidates will pass come the examinations.

Right now Kenya is going back to her usual doings but for me life will never be the same. The wound will take long to heal. Thank you for your support and everything you have done for me. I wish you a happy Easter holiday.

Your sponsored child,

(Name withheld)