Sunday, February 3, 2013

Wairagaza Village says thanks

How even the smallest donation can help save lives in the fight against malaria:

Bed Nets 4 Life - MaNdate in Wairagaza, Uganda

Thanks to all that contributed to this successful distribution of bed nets in Wairagaza Village in western Uganda.

Friday, January 18, 2013 

One thousand bed nets were stacked in the back of the Think Humanity Health Centre in Kyangwali. Luckily the Catholic Parish, where we were staying, just got a new lorry truck. They offered to transport the large bundles from our clinic to Wairagaza Village in Hoima District, not too far from the Kyangwali Refugee Camp.

About the People
Many of the people living in Wairagaza had migrated from Kisoro District, which is located in the southwest corner of Uganda bordering the Congo and Rwanda. Some fled from war in the Congo, others came looking for resources and  better land. In Hoima District, known also as the Bunyoro Kingdom, there is a controversy about the Bakiga (Highlanders) settling in this area. One of the issues is that people are grabbing up land due to oil exploration in nearby Lake Albert. This has been causing some unrest in the region, but on January 18th, we brought these different people together and gave them bed nets. The local police were there, but it was a very peaceful day.

The Process
Instead of our usual way of separating us off from the crowds, which was using tape or the twine off the bundles of bed nets, the people of Wairagaza were so helpful. We met at the primary school behind the marketplace. School desks and benches were removed from the building to place a border around us and the bed nets.
The previous three days we had held a workshop in Kyangwali sub-county near the Rwemisanga  Parish. Some people from Wairagaza attended our workshop. Some were appointed as representatives for TH, to go out into the deep parts of the village to train others on what they learned; Day 1: Family Planning, Day 2:  STIs and HIV/AIDS and Day 3: Malaria. We were impressed that these representatives jumped right in to help organize this MaNdate (bed net distribution).
First, as we always do, we each introduced ourselves to the community. I was surprised that most of the people spoke Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda and the Congo. That's when I found out that many of these people had migrated from the southwest corner of Uganda, many fleeing the guns of war in the Congo.
Volunteers opened the large bundles and split open the top corners of the net packaging. Our Think Humanity staff trained the crowd on how to use a bed net properly and how to prevent malaria. Also during this training, there was a demonstration on how to use the bed net, the importance of tying it up during the day and how to repair it. (see videos below) 
The crowd divided into about six different groups, all led by the local chairperson from their villages. Each group had a handwritten list of names showing how many nets go to each family. One person in each group would call off the name and the person on the list would come forward to get their net(s). The local chairman was there in each group to see that the right people got the nets before that name was marked off the list. -videos below with list of donors:

In the end, to avoid littering, we collected all packaging and destroyed it by burning it behind the primary school distribution location.

The Success
The event went very smoothly. The only thing that happened is that some pregnant women whose names were not on the list, came requesting bed nets. Emmanuel, the TH healthcare director, had somebody go and get more bed nets from the clinic and personally handed those nets to the women. 

The Solution
We thank all the people who contributed to this MaNdate. There's a long list of names - you know who you are. Be proud. You have potentially saved the lives of 4,000 people. 

The Challenge
Although we had a very successful day and many lives will be saved, we unfortunately had many cases of malaria at our clinic. Young children and babies were coming in testing positive with malaria. Babies were unable to even drink their mother's breast milk because they were so weak. Some needed to be sent to a government hospital for transfusions, yet there was no blood available. We still need funding for treatment, but according to past surveys, providing bed nets has been proven to reduce cases of malaria up to 90 percent. A survey on this location will be provided in six months. I am confident in saying, that your donation has already made a difference in reducing incidences of malaria. 

Final comment 
“The best ways to save lives is getting prevention method. If someone gets malaria, it is more expensive to treat than buying a net.” – Nsabimana Emmanuel
How you can help: I want to help in the fight against malaria in Uganda: I want to help in the fight against malaria in Uganda
Uganda is representative of the immense problem that malaria poses for African countries.
Malaria is endemic in more than 95 percent of the country, with the highest malaria transmission intensities reported in the world. 
According to a report from the World Health Organization, Uganda has the world’s highest malaria incidence, with a rate of 478 cases per 1000 population per year. 
Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Uganda.

The photo above was taken January 18, 2013 in Wairagaza, Uganda. We gave out 1,000 long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets. 
"To help save lives and provide hope for refugees and underdeveloped communities in Africa by improving provisions for healthcare, clean water, education and socio-economic development."
Beth Heckel, Executive Director
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