Blog

Safe Motherhood Burkina Faso

Connecting Deou’s 28,000 Inhabitants to Medical Care

AMURT’s activities are spread within a radius of about 50 kilometers of the Sahel region, comprising more than 35 villages and a population of over 28,000 inhabitants. The Sahel is a particularly poor and environmentally damaged region of Africa south of the Sahara that became infamous in the 1970’s when almost 200,000 people died as a result of drought and famine.

The more remote villages have nothing resembling a medical center. Most people either have to walk or ride donkey carts up to 20 hours just to reach the nearest center. These clinics are around 50 kilometers away and are poorly equipped, often lacking doctors to care for patients. This distance is especially hard on pregnant women. In addition to the normal difficulties encountered during childbirth, they rarely receive medical checkups and are exposed to heightened risk of anemia and malaria.

Deou Birth Attendants

Traditional Birth AttendantsTraditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) are women selected in each village within AMURT’s area of coverage in Deou. Their main duties are to bring the mothers to the nearest clinic for delivery, and to lead talks and encourage discussions about issues such as hygiene, family planning, the importance of prenatal care, HIV protection and screening, and the refusal of female genital mutilation. When needed, pregnant women receive iron pills, malaria medicine and general checkups. The TBAs were also trained to help women deliver when there is no possibility to access a government clinic, have become the link between the health authorities and the villages.AMURT’s coordinator in Deou visits the TBAs on a monthly basis to supervise their work, provide them with medicine and sanitation supplies, and fill out a report about their activities. One hundred kilograms of millet are given to each TBA per year as an incentive for the important role they play in their community.

One of our trainers, Madame Oubda, takes time to answer questions after her class on breastfeeding.Fanta, from Boulekessi Soum, was trained in 2005 and has established herself well in her communityComponents of the Program

  • Basic and specialized training, equipment and supplies for TBAs.
  • Literacy training TBA network
  • Food assistance for TBAs: one 100 kg sack of millet annually at the time of grain shortages.
  • Monthly follow-up and supervision for TBAs. Monitoring of instruments and refill of supplies. Data collection.
  • S.M.I. Mobile Sante Maternel Infantil: weighing and check-ups of infants and pregnant and nursing mothers, health education for women in the villages, including audio/video.
  • Mobile out-reach to the communities by health department team.
  • Donkey cart ambulance to transport emergency cases to nearest clinic.
  • Training and supervision of village health promoters.

Before the program started, virtually no women of the Bella tribe would come for pre-natal consultation or deliveries at the medical centers. With the efforts of the TBAs, these attitudes have started to change, and the Bella tribe no longer remain aloof from the health infrastructure of the country.Fostering LeadershipThe TBAs are earning much respect within their communities. Overcoming rigid cultural norms, they are now assuming positions of leadership; ones that have historically been unavailable to women in the past. The TBAs are also becoming respected advocates of maternal health. Their training has brought them to the frontline in raising awareness about concerns crucial to the welfare of women.

The Peuhl AV at Ndiawe village gets help from visiting UK midwife Suniiti Crowther to understand how to better use the instruments in her midwife kit

The AV from Bungelday gets read to practice oral resuscitation. The use of teaching aids (visuals and dolls to demonstrate/practice on) are particularly important when teaching the illiterate, who find it difficult to follow theoretical classes.

Bissiri Clinic

Located near a large lake in Bissiri Village, Bazega Province, AMURT runs a primary health clinic. It serves an area with 5,000 inhabitants, who live between 15 and 25 km from the nearest health facility. The clinic employs two nurses and offers a low cost alternative to the community. It is especially busy during the rainy season, seeing up to 250 patients per day. Most people come to receive treatment for malaria, diarrhea, and infections. As many of the diseases are preventable, the clinic also offers patients guidance on best practices related to hygiene and sanitation.

 

Mafi-Seva clinic Ghana

Community Health Clinic

In 2002, the communities of the Mafi-Zongo Water Project Area requested AMURT’s assistance in meeting the healthcare needs of the communities. Strengthened by the confidence gained from the water project, they felt ready to address the lack of health care in the area. In May 2003 the Mafi-Seva Community Clinic opened as a community based project, initiated by, owned by and managed solely by locals.  AMURT role is that of a partner to bring technical assistance and training and help expand and improve the services available at the clinic.  All the staffs hail from the project area. The clinic provides 24 hours primary health services and a maternity ward. In 2005 AMURT and the clinic staff started health education outreach programs in the project area. In early 2009, the clinic installed a laboratory that can test for all the most common complaints in the area, including malaria, typhoid, STD’s, anaemia, HIV, etc.   In the fall of 2009, the clinic opened a family planning clinic, giving the local population many new choices for contraception.

IMG_0979

The staff at Mafi-Seva Community Clinic – December 2009

Community Health Education – The Kekeli Women – Village Health Promoters

Participatory video made by the Kekkeli women themselves

Since 2005,  AMURT and Mafi-Seva Community Clinic has been collaborating on health education out reach program. More than 30 communities, with the population of over 10,000 people benefit from regular health education and out reach services. The long list of issues addressed includes hygiene and sanitation, malaria prevention, child nutrition, high blood pressure, sexual health, HIV awareness, maternal health, alcohol and drug abuse, etc.  The strategy has been to train local women village as health promoters, called Kekeli Women (Kekeli means brightness). The candidates, elected by the women in their community,  join a one month training course, and work as front line health workers, concentrating on health education and consciousness raising. The Kekeli Women work in groups, often choosing to teach through drama and role play.

Kekeli Batch 2
The 2nd batch of Kekeli Women village health promoters

SAFE MOTHERHOOD – TRAINING TRADITIONAL BIRTH ATTENDANTS In rural Ghana the majority of women still prefer to give birth at home, thus the importance of the TBA’s,  Traditional Birth Attendants.  AMURT and Mafi-Seva Community Clinic provide ongoing training for more than 30 TBA’s. They are also given equipment and supplies to enable them do more hygienic deliveries.  The cooperation between the TBA’s the community clinics and the district hospital is now greatly improved to ensure greater safety for mothers and children. Since the summer of 2009, we have started an antenatal anaemia program, providing iron supplements to all pregnant women in the project area through the network of the TBA’s.

TBA meeting August 2009
AMURT has trained Traditional Birth Attendats for more than 30 communities in the Mafi-Seva Project area

 

Mukuna school Uganda

School and Children´s Home

Wasswa village, Mukona District, Uganda

The AMURT-sponsored school is located in a picturesque setting in Wasswa village in the rolling hills of Mukona District, about 60 miles from Kampala. The school draws from a population of 30,000 people living in seven villages within a ten mile radius.

The school was first started in 1988 on twenty acres of land donated to AMURT. It was a simple project in the beginning, with twenty village children being taught under a tree! The first building was constructed in 1991, and now the school has 333 children from Nursery to Primary 7. Twenty-one children are boarders and eight children are orphans in our care.

The AMURT school provides a comprehensive education to 333 village children.

Gardening is one of the classes the children take. Each class has its own piece of land to care for.

The school is popular as it achieves a high academic standard. In 2003 the school stood second in academic performance out of thirty-eight primary schools in Nagajji County. This was a surprisingly good result for a rural school. The reason for the school´s success is discipline (the teachers come to work every day!) and the extra classes that are taught in the afternoon.

The school follows the government syllabus, teaching Luganda, English, Math, Science, Geography and Agriculture. In addition we offer classes in Story-telling, Art and Physical Exercise.

We are caring for eight orphans, who were screened for eligibility by the local council before we received them. Five live with us, and three are accommodated in the nearby village.

The children receive a nutritious meal every day

Service is done with a smile

 

New dawn school Congo

The Ananda Marga school in Congo is now entering into its third year. Republic of Congo is a small country in Central Africa; it has the size of Germany but only three million inhabitants, neighbouring Democratic

Republic of Congo (former Zaire ). Like its neighbour it is a country rich in oil and gold and diamonds, but unfortunately all its wealth does not benefit the citizens, rather it is the oil and the diamonds that is the cause for so many wars and destruction in that area.

Even 20 years ago, Congo had a high literacy rate and a good public schooling system. Then in the end of the nineties the country suffered two wars, which the media call civil wars, but actually these were imported wars fighting for the control of oil and gold resources. Now the country is in ruins, roads and houses are broken, the whole infrastructure is damaged and very little reconstruction work is happening. The country seems forgotten by the world and abandoned by its own government. Even the agriculture is down, because there are almost no roads to transport the products to the cities. There are almost no industries. Just now the Chinese are repairing the local cement factory. How can you rebuild the houses when each sack of cement has to be imported, not to talk about other industries? And even though the country relies completely on imports, the road from the main harbour town of Pointe Noire to the capital of Brazzaville is not repaired and everything has to be brought by local plane or sometimes on a train which is getting assaulted so many times by rebels, who actually supported or constituted the former elected government.

When visiting the public schools we saw with our own eyes what you would not believe: 200 children in one class with one teacher, no tables, no chairs, the roof is leaking and the toilets are broken. But still when we would ask the director what help would you like to receive for your children they would request us to do a feeding programme, because many children are undernourished. This is the situation of about 20 public primary schools with about 2000 children in each school in the capital of Brazzaville .

School Feeding Program

The teachers are working with much idealism and sincerity, but they are overwhelmed by the situation and have nobody to turn to. It is a whole generation of the country which is getting neglected and pushed into a chaotic future. But still how much hope and joy of life was pouring on us, when we entered the overfilled and dark class rooms, which have the beauty of a prison camp. It is very touching and gives us hope and the responsibility to do something for these forgotten children in a forgotten country. (In 2004 the USDA was feeding around 160,000 children in the whole country regularly, but due to the election in the USA the shipments in 2004 were delayed, on top the transport problems inside the country which I mentioned above, so as a result this year they started their programme six months late and could feed only less than half.)

Our Ananda Marga school started in September 2003 with 65 children the first year. In the last moment before opening we had to change our sign board from School of Rising Sun to New Dawn School , because the rising sun is the symbol of the political opposition and it could get us into real trouble…
The parents were hesitant in the beginning because in the same building a year before a school had opened and closed in the middle of the term, but finally we gained their confidence and we hope that this year the attendance will increase. It is very hard for the parents to pay the school fee of $5 per month (which is much cheaper than any other school with comparable quality would charge), but we are living in the city and we cannot do the school for free; then we will have 300 children in one class. We are not very strict in collecting the school fee, which means we are not throwing the children out if their parents are not paying and we are suffering for that. But the parents are very much appreciative of our service and they understand that the spirit is very different in our school. In the parents’ meeting they do express their thankfulness.

We have a long way to go for improving the quality of education. All our teachers are practising yoga and meditation, so at least we can be sure they have a loving mind and a balanced behaviour. You know that singing and dancing is very popular in Congo and our children love kiirtan and learn also many songs in school and you can be sure that the spirit of neohumanism is vibrating in the classrooms.

It may seem only like a drop in the ocean, but we are giving our best and hope to improve and increase our service work, as you know one drop may be the beginning of a big rain and flooding the whole earth with love.

School Children with Dada Dayashiilananda and Dada Sarvajitananda
For more information please contact Dada Sarvajiitananda at <>

congo
congo3
School Children with Dada Dayashiilananda and Dada Sarvajitananda
School Children with Dada Dayashiilananda and Dada Sarvajitananda
School Feeding Program
School Feeding Program

Earthquake 2011 Japan

An 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a 10 meter high tsunami wave hit northeastern Japan at 2.46pm on Friday March 11. Thousands of people have have died and hundreds of thousands are affected.Members of AMURT & AMURTEL are in the coastal towns of Sendai, Tamajo, Shichigahama and Tagajo serving the most vulnerable elderly in clearing their houses and providing psycho-social programs for the internally displaced people in the camps managed by the local authorities.

AMURT & AMURTEL continue to work with local city officials in Shichigahama and Utsunomia to assist the elderly get back to normalcy by helping clearing debris from their homes. Giampiero Iuvara, The AMURT disaster coordinator in Japan, reports “The Japanese are an amazing people, culturally trained to the virtue of patience and collective harmony, and their composure and wisdom gave us a taste of their mature humanity. This is a community prepared to the tsunamis. Imagine that one pensioner told me he had experienced three of them in his life but even he couldn’t imagine one of such power, capable of sweep away in few minutes the 25% of the his town”. The team recounts the story of one hero who acted in time to warn his neighbors and, in so doing, saved 65 lives.

Volunteers clearing debris from the houses of elderly family in Shichigahama

The team makes daily visits to the refugee centers in the area to provide counseling to help people cope with mental trauma. They also organize physical activity such as stretching and yoga exercises . Lastly, the team leads children’s activities, such as playing games, singing songs and organizing soccer games. The city officials have been very impressed and have provided an office for the team within one of the refugee centers.

Sabin Thompson, an American volunteer, writes – “The survivors of the tsunami have blankets, but they need people to warm up their gloomy outlook to the future and give them hope. They have food, but they need people to nurture their hearts. They are surrounded with other human beings, but they need someone willing to stop and hear their story.”

Children in a government shelter enjoy a yoga and relaxation session in Shichigahama