CBR and Kamanga Health Centre update

Neema continues to ride her motorbike into the remotest parts of the Nyamatongo ward. The number of people with disabilities (PWDs) that she and her Community Based Rehabilitation colleague have attended to last month has been 182. They have observed the following types of disabilities in the Nyamatongo ward:

  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Dwarfism
  • Epilepsy, 
  • Hearing impairments
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Intellectual Impairments
  • Mental illness
  • Physical impairments
  • Visual impairments

The most common ailments which Neema and her colleague found within many PWD were:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Malnutrition (especially in children)
  • Pain (due to physical impairments)
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia)
  • Tinea Capitis (ring worms of the scalp)
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Vaginal candidiasis
  • Worm infestation

The variety of treatments that Neema, our  Clinical Officer, gave included prescribing medication, dressing wounds, giving out nutritional advice, and following up people who are recommended a new nutritional regime, including the regular  measurements of their body weight. Her colleague Hemed, as Occupational Therapist, has found that parents of children with disabilities have been so happy to receive advice about how best to exercise their children’s limbs. He has found that all parents have followed the exact physical therapies that he has directed and that the children have shown some improvements in their mobility.

The CBR program has also been able to fund the making of assistive devices for physical therapies, which Hemed has been able to give to parents to use for the support of children with severe physical impairments. 


Donate now and help us continue to offer care to people with disabilities in the Nyamatongo ward.

The Health Centre has also seen an amazing first quarter.

During the period of January 2018 to March 2018  Kamanga Health Centre received  2032 patients,  867 of which have been children under the age of five years old.

Also during this period, 41 antenatal attendees were seen and 31 safe deliveries were conducted in the centre’s delivery rooms.

The number one most tested for ailment was malaria with 588 patients and the second most tested for ailment was  leutocyte esterase, an indicator that the patient has a Urinary Tract Infection.

Kamanga Health Centre and the CBR program are two of Cedar Tanzania’s most successful projects. Although we run the health centre in partnership with the government who contribute towards it, the centre still relies on external funding and is in need of continuous financial support.  Donate now.

 

 






 
 

Caroline Bernard and her journey to Cedar Tanzania

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I first meet Caroline at a Communications and Fundraising meeting. She has a firm hand shake and confident eye-contact that is both business-like and warm. Throughout the meeting, whilst fervently taking notes Caroline sits quietly and observantly.

She later tells me that she was born and grew up in the south of Germany, close to Lake Constance. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese and Romance Studies from the University of Frankfurt  and Beijing and has been working as an Executive Assistant for the last five years. But about two months ago, she and her partner learned the exciting news that he had been offered a position with a local NGO in Mwanza, Tanzania. Caroline agreed to join him and to be part of this new adventure.

Having previously worked in a money-driven environment in Frankfurt and London, Caroline says she was ready for a more “meaningful” job. “I stumbled across The Cedar Foundation Tanzania,” she says, “and I immediately found their work captivating and also differentiated: What sets Cedar apart from other NGOs in the region is an understanding that no single outcome (Health, Education, Entrepreneurship and Women’s Empowerment) can be achieved in isolation, especially in such a fluid environment.”

I ask Caroline what her role at Cedar Tanzania is and she replies, “My job title is ‘Volunteer Project and Office Assistant’. But the role is very diverse and so I’m helping with a variety of projects, including implementing new processes and procedures, reorganizing some office systems, assisting in managing some of the projects, helping with funding applications, communications and events and much more.”

Caroline hopes that her initial three month placement with Cedar Tanzania will be extended, just as it happened to her country fellow and former Cedar volunteer Vivian, who now holds the new position of Project Manager.

I ask Caroline what things have surprised her and what things she has enjoyed since arriving in Mwanza. “Well, I have been surprised to hear how easy Swahili is to learn- at least that’s what most Tanzanians that I’ve met like to tell me,” she begins. “My goal, therefore, is to be able to have a fluent conversation in Swahili, in a couple of months time. I hope this is not too optimistic.” She says.

“I also didn’t expect Mwanza to be such a friendly and relatively safe city,” she continues. “I feel totally comfortable walking around during the day by myself. Even school kids will greet you as they pass by and if you are able to greet them back in Swahili you will be rewarded with a beautiful smile- it’s priceless.

But what I love the most about Tanzania is the good weather- even during the rainy season, since  it doesn't rain the entire day, so you are sure to see some sunshine at least for a couple of hours the day.

Waking up in a warm, sunny environment is life changing for me and puts me in a good mood immediately.”

But not everything has been a field of roses. She confesses that seeing women and children begging on the streets saddens her and reminds her, “why NGOs such as The Cedar Foundation have been established in Mwanza in the first place.”

But in spite of the distressing poverty that she sees around her, she firmly recommends this volunteer program.  “It’s simply an amazing opportunity,” she begins, “and a once in a lifetime experience. You will be challenged, but also rewarded with an enriched life, encouraged to be a more tolerant and respectful person, and at the end of the day you would have contributed immensely to making a difference in someone else’s life.

You know, I was hesitant myself at first as I had never worked in the third sector before, and didn’t have any experience in charity work. But I think that the most important thing, above any qualification that you may have, is that you are motivated and proactive and not afraid to ask questions.”

Caroline ends the interview by saying, “As Dr. Martin. Luther. King says, ‘Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love’ ”

Cedar Tanzania is grateful to have such volunteers like Caroline, who believe in living a life of service that changes lives.

Contact us and find out more about how you can change lives here in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Hello, my name is Neema.

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"I can ride the motorbike perfectly well now!" She says proudly. Neema is softly spoken and gentle spirited. But there is a strength about her that you can feel as soon as you get near her. 

Neema is a 24year old, Clinical Officer, who works at Kamanga Health Centre, as part of Cedar Tanzania’s Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program, that offers medical care to people with disabilities (PWD) in remote areas, in and around the Nyamatongo Ward.

“At first when they told me I will be riding a motorbike, I was a bit scared,” Neema confesses, “but later on, after I attended the training of how to ride a motorbike, I thought it was a lot of fun. And of course now I am able to reach people with disabilities even in remote areas.’

Having two brothers and five sisters wasn’t easy for Neema’s parents to support her through school, but they persevered and Neema found herself qualifying in 2017 with a Clinical Officer Diploma from The Sengerema Clinical Officer Training Centre.

Her studies were very practical in nature and saw her gaining experience in a number of medical facilities including Mkoani hospital in Dar Es Salaam and Huruma Hospital in Moshi.

But she left these big hospitals behind and came to Kamaga to join the medical staff at Kamanga Health Centre. “I was attracted to the CBR Project in Kamanga because its main goal is to assist people with disabilities, who have been denied access to health services for so long.”

Some of the reasons that were stated to the research team conducting a feasibility study for the CBR project, identified social stigma and prejudice as some of the barriers that PWD face, in accessing health services. Lack of money and lack of transportation were the other factors.

Cedar Tanzania’s CBR project, in partnership with Interteam, aims to remove these barriers. Neema and her colleague Hemed, an Occupational Therapist, travel to the remotest part of Nyamatongo ward, to the patients themselves and offer free medical care.

“In my trips to the rural areas, I have seen many cases that have made me sad, but one of the worst cases was of a 14 year old boy with cerebral palsy. He had severe kwashiorkor (severe energy-protein malnutrition). His parents were very old. They would hide him indoors all the time because they didn’t know how to care for him properly. My colleague, who is an Occupational Therapist and I plan to do intensive follow up with this boy and his family; this will include educating his parents about what kinds of nutritious foods they should give him. We shall be recording his body weight every week too. I would really like to see this boy put on weight and thrive, despite his disability.”

The challenges of the cases that Neema faces on a daily basis do not discourage her, instead she says, “I enjoy being part of this CBR project, because I feel like I have added more experience to my medical field. The things I learned from the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania course, (held at Kamaga Health Centre), trained us about how to best help people with disabilities, but now I am actually experiencing what we spoke about, in the real world.”

“I just feel passionate about providing people with disabilities with good, quality health services that they have been denied before now.”

Cedar Tanzania and Interteam share Neema’s passion.

Watch Neema as she travels to the rural areas of Nyamatongo Ward, Tanzania, to bring medical care to people with disabilities.

If you would like to support the Community Based Rehabilitation Project then click here to Donate or here to get in touch.

 

SASA! Empowering the community

 

UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Mr. Wu Hongbo pointed out the following when talking about the successful adoption of the 17 sustainable development goals by nations, “…ownership is very important,” Mr. Wu said. “Because the Member States got involved in the negotiations, right from the beginning, it’s their agenda.” 

Raising Voices and Cedar Tanzania encourage Kamanga village to take ownership of the implementation of the SASA! program, in the hope that it has more success in reshaping the social norms that violate one of UN's sustainable development goals, Gender Equality.

Engaging a critical mass of people across all levels of society, is one way that Raising Voices tries to ensure that the SASA! ideology is “owned” by the communities that they work alongside. One such “critical mass of people” that Raising Voices encourages to get involved, are the community members that are chosen and trained in the SASA! methodology to become SASA! ambassadors or Community Activists, (CAs). They are men and women, both young and old, who are chosen to reflect the community that they come from, in order to engage with their own demographic more effectively. 

CAs initiate discussions about imbalances of power, where ever they are and with whomever they are with. Cedar Tanzania sees a few of its SASA! Community Activists initiating discussions with villagers under trees during their break times from work, or at Kamanga village market, or near the make shift cafés near the ferry ports.  These bold CAs often hold up laminated SASA! posters to prompt the discussions with the small crowds that often gather. Cedar Tanzania encourages them to not make judgments about the audiences’ differing views, but instead encourage the CAs to let every one’s view be heard.

As part of the ‘Start’ phase of SASA! the community members were asked to think about how violence against women and HIV/AIDS are interconnected issues and how fostering the power within themselves can help to address these issues. Now as part of the ‘Awareness’ phase the community Activists are raising awareness about how their communities often accept men’s use of power over women, fueling the dual pandemics of violence against women and HIV/AIDS.

No such public discussion was more vibrant than the community event that was held in February in Kamanga village.  With the encouragement of the Cedar Tanzania SASA! leadership team, the Community Activists ‘owned’  the event. They were the ones on the microphones announcing the order of events, they were the ones who led the small discussion groups around the field, they were the ones who participated in the drama sketches, which showed some of the injustices that women and girls suffer under men who use their power over them and how this can often have devastating consequences for the women and girls themselves and for their families.

The ownership of the event by the Community Activists, the involvement of the village leadership and the Chairman, the presence of such a diversity of age groups amongst the men and women in the audience, speak loudly of the progress that SASA! is making in the village of of Kamanga. 

Join us and help us continue to make a difference, in the lives of women and girls, in Kamanga.