Earlier this year, we ran pipes from a clean water source about two miles away from the Kebeneti SDA Dispensary in Kericho, Kenya so it would no longer have to rely on rainwater collected in storage tanks and now have access to all the water they need for patients, staff, and to keep the facility clean.
However, what remained lacking was hot water, meaning that they had to boil water for sterilization, washing, and bathing.
The good news for the clinic, located in the highlands west of Rift Valley about 25 miles from the equator, is that sunshine is abundant throughout the year.
To remedy that situation, this fall, with the continued generosity of our supporters, we took the next step by installing a solar water heating system on the roofs of buildings on the clinic compound to provide hot water for doctors and staff to use when showering and washing their hands, and also to aid in keeping the dispensary more sanitary.
And, as noted by dispensary manager Titus Korir, “Solar power is a cheap source of energy which can be sustained for a long time.”
In Cameroon, there is a shocking dearth of clinics and health care facilities for the country’s most vulnerable – impoverished infants, children and new mothers, particularly girls under 15 years old.
It’s a dearth that leads to death.
For more 20 years, Hope Services has been providing health care for those with little or no money to pay for routine medical services that has saved the lives of thousands in the city of Duala.
Prenatal care we take for granted in the United States, is an unaffordable luxury for poor pregnant girls and women – a “luxury” which not only saves the lives of children, but mothers as well.
Basic medical care, such as antibiotics for an infection, and medicines for the treatment of malaria, Typhoid fever and many other tropical diseases, makes a difference between being sick in bed for a week or two, or ending up dead.
With the success of its long-established clinic in Youande, Hope Services has discovered there is a great need for such a clinic in the city of Douala, about 120 miles away where the poor in the city are not underserved – they are not served whatsoever.
Hope Services is asking Bread and Water for Africa® for our help in constructing this clinic which is projected to provide medical services to 60,000 children and adults in the first year alone.
And we are asking for your help.
On Giving Tuesday, December 1 we will launch “Clinic4Cameroon” when people around the country are asked to remember those most in need. And on that day, we know our supporters, both long-time and brand-new, will think of the thousands of children and adults who are literally struggling to survive in one of the poorest countries in the world.
#Clinic4Cameroon. It’s about the numbers — tens of thousands in the first year, hundreds of thousands in the years to come.
#Clinic4Cameroon. It’s about the 60,000.
At Bread and Water for Africa® among our most generous and loyal partners is the Medical Equipment Recovery of Clean Inventory (MERCI) program operated by the University of Virginia.
Through this partnership, we are able to ship millions of dollars’ worth of medical equipment and hospital supplies to our partners in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, who operate free and low-cost hospitals and clinics for the most needy in the poorest countries on Earth.
In July alone, we shipped a 40-foot container full of equipment and supplies to our partner, Hope Services in Cameroon, and have since traveled to MERCI in Charlottesville, Virginia and filled up a truck with dozens of boxes of equipment and supplies in preparation for our next shipment to Sierra Leone in the fall.
When we arrive at MERCI, we never know exactly what we’re going to get. This time around, as always there were dozens of boxes of bandages, gauze, surgical packs, catheters, scrubs, prep trays, x-ray viewers and even a LTV 1150 ventilator allowing patients the freedom of portable advanced care ventilation in the home or at a post-acute care facility.
We are proud to play a role in having these brand-new, still-in-the-original packaging supplies and gently used equipment, being repurposed to help save lives in Africa, rather than being wasted and ending up in a landfill.
After months of literally rejoicing upon reports that the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone was waning, and even a prediction by the United Nations’ Ebola chief that “it’s only a matter of weeks” before the outbreak in the country ends, we were shocked and saddened to learn that in early June there has been a resurgence.
According to a World Health Organization report for the week ending June 7, there were 15 confirmed cases in Sierra Leone, the highest weekly total reported since late March.
For our partner there Rev. Francis Mambu, Executive Director of Faith Healing Development Organization and the millions of residents of the county, the news is surely devastating.
Just as it seemed that the deadly Ebola virus, which killed nearly 4,000 residents of the Sierra Leone alone in the past year and sickened thousands more, was eradicated, it has come back, just as the country was beginning to recover economically.
If the recurrence worsens, Bread and Water for Africa® will be there, just as we were last year, providing aid to the sick and supplies for the valiant health care workers risking their own lives to treat them.
We only hope and pray that we won’t have to.
Right now in Sierra Leone, one in eight women risk dying during pregnancy or childbirth – one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
Less than half of the infant deliveries in the country are attended by a skilled birth attendant and less than one in five are carried out in health facilities.
Bread and Water for Africa® and our partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization, are working to reverse those shocking statistics.
In May, Bread and Water for Africa® will conduct a month-long campaign to provide more education about the unsafe and unsanitary conditions under which so many births take place – too often with tragic results – and what we are doing in places such as FHDO’s clinic in Rokel to improve the chances of life for thousands of mothers and infants.
Be sure to check out our website www.africanrelief.org to read about success stories including Hawa, Mattu, Satta, and Mbalu next month, and learn what you can do to save lives in Sierra Leone.
We at Bread and Water for Africa® are thankful that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa appears to waning. We are hopeful that remains the case.
But, we also are saddened by the deaths of more than 9,000 children, women and men in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, who have perished during the past year due to the deadly virus, and the tens of thousands more whose lives have been devastated by the loss of loved ones – even entire families.
Despite the good news that the number of newly-contracted cases is on the decline, that doesn’t mean it’s over. In fact, dozens of West Africans are still being infected with Ebola in those three countries every week.
Tragically, even those not affected by the disease are suffering the consequences as food production and importation has dropped off significantly in Sierra Leone, where our partner organization Faith Healing Development Organization is located, leaving otherwise healthy residents of the country on the verge of starvation.
Hundreds of thousands of people are going hungry because of Ebola’s effects on farming, and relief agencies working there predict that the number will double in a few short months.
We are asking that you will continue your generous support to Bread and Water for Africa® as we continue our fight alongside FHDO, which operates numerous life-saving clinics in the desperately poor country, to ease the suffering of those for whom each day is a struggle to survive.
We are proud of role in helping to win the battle, but we need your help to defeat the Ebola virus and win the war.