Category Archives: Medical

Katrina

Just to let you know this is not a ‘happy update’ but unfortunately, it is part of reality and something our team wanted to share with our supporters to give you an insight into health problems within Katanga.

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As you may well have heard, during last week, one of the students in our catch-up classes died of cerebral malaria. ‘Trina’ died after contracting the infectious disease and within 24 hours, from recognition that she was ill, she had passed away.

She joined our catch up classes when I was over in Uganda, in October 2013. Being a young 4 year old, I remember she was easily distracted, often bossing boys of her age around. Even though she had this tough side to her, she would love colouring and singing with the rest of the class, progressing well in her learning over the past 6 months.

People dying in Katanga is not uncommon but it hits further when it is a child you know and have invested your time in.

It seems every few months that Megan and I get informed of someone else we knew of in Katanga dying; the younger sister, to a boy in our classes, died of severe burns, the electrician, who did all the electrics in our school buildings, died on another job, sorting out faulty wires and a couple of months ago we were informed of the sister of a boy we work with, passing away, leaving 2 more children for the Jaja (Grandma) to look after…

…and the list goes on.

There are a number of things that we do at Hope for Life we hope will reduce unnecessary deaths; giving out mosquito nets, delivering trainings and workshops in the area of health and providing free health check-ups and advice, by a trained nurse that we employee once a week.

One of the most important parts of our job is counselling, mourning with the family, helping them when tragic events do happen. Our staff went with the family, to the burial in her families village.

Thanks for your support through the many good times and equally through the tough to comprehend.

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Katanga Video

Below is a short video that gives you a good overview of Katanga, an urban slum in Uganda, and the work we are doing to help the community.

Check it out…

Day 7 – Mosquito nets

Malaria is a huge problem in Uganda, with Mosquitoes all around the country carrying the infectious disease. Mosquitoes particularly inhabit and breed in warm, stagnant water. The drainage and general sanitation in Katanga is very poor and so there is not a shortage of stagnant water, and as a result, mosquitoes in Katanga.

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The best way to protect yourself from the bite of a mosquito is to have a special net over your bed that mosquitoes can’t get through.

Many families in Katanga can not afford to buy a net, despite understanding the importance of protection, despite having friends and family die because of malaria.

Every Ugandan I speak to is very flippant about a new case of malaria, saying things like, ‘I have had it 3 times this year already’. They are flippant, not because malaria is not very serious, but because it happens so frequently to Ugandans all around the country.

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There are different strains of malaria, some that can kill in hours and other strains that providing you get the correct medication you will be able to get better.

The problem with handing out mosquito nets is you can’t just hand them out to everyone. People are well known for taking the mosquito nets and then selling them on to others for a quick financial gain.

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As part of working with the families we get to know their home situation, including things like whether they sleep under a net or not. Our continued relationship with them means we are able to do regular checks on the family to ensure the nets are still up in their house to ensure prevent them from selling them on.

We give nets first to those who are the most vulnerable to being affected by malaria e.g. pregnant women and children. The malaria nets we give out are ‘family nets’, which means you can put 1 over a mattress and that will cover as many as 8 children each night. The nets cost only £5 per month but are worth so much more than that in lives saved and cost in medication each time they get ill.

If you are interested in donating into out Health program, to buy more mosquito nets for families in Katanga then you can give to Hope for Life at £5/net on our donate page.

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You can read our last post on giving out new dresses to children in Katanga… Day 6 – Dresses

Day 5 – Dr Katanga (Part 2)

Following on from the check-ups the Doctor did yesterday with our children, we then invited the parents we work with to come in to our classes, to talk about all things relating to Health.IMG_2115 We let the parents ask whatever questions they had, which ranged from sex, ‘safe days’ and HIV/AIDS, to Malaria, the importance of boiling water and worming.

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It was handy to not only have Doctor Trevor with us but also have Chris, who was just visiting, join us as a Nurse from the UK to help in answering some of the questions.

We then visited different families to talk more personally about the health problems they faced and have problems with. We at Hope for Life want to help and support the families in Katanga as much as possible, ensuring we do so in a sustainable way.

IMG_2013We spoke of more specific health issues that people had within their families e.g. HIV/AIDS, liver problems, asthma, malaria.

We have found that the best way to deal with matters of health within Katanga is not always to go out and buy medication and resources to do it all for them, but instead educate the families in areas where they currently are not sure, so they know the importance of different practices, precautions and medication, encouraging families to pay for medication for their own family.

There are instances where specific medical attention is required and it’s not through ignorance, or wanting to do harm but that the parents can simply not afford to do anything about these situations.

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This is a situation where one of the boys, who is apart of the Hope for Life program, and now is sponsored to go to school, not only had a hugely inflamed finger, which was proving painful but he also, just this week, had a dodgy circumcision job done on him, which has left him in more pain than normally comes with a circumcision.

We know the parent of this boy well and we understand that she can not afford to do anything about these 2 problems. So instead they were leaving the problems, hoping the finger didn’t get any worse and would be back to normal (providing no further infection was received) in 3 weeks and that the circumcision didn’t get infected and would be painful for the boy over the next month.

It is in situations like these that we are able to provide financial support, to provide for medical attention. Our Social Worker took this specific child over the next 3 days, to the clinic to be treated with antibiotics.

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If you want to find out about the check-ups & more we did whilst we had the doctor with us then follow the link Day 4 – Dr Katanga (Part 1)

Day 4 – Dr Katanga (Part 1)

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Some of you may know that Megan and I went to Uganda, originally for 3 months, in September 2011 and it was from those few months that Hope for Life Katanga was birthed.

However, we didn’t go to Uganda to start a charity, we went to help a team of doctors & nurses we knew in running a couple of medical camps, one in Kampala and another down near Kisoro, Uganda. This is not to say Megan and I are medically trained, not in the slightest, but we came to assist where needed in the work these medical professionals were doing.

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We were so pleased to hear that the couple that led the group of Dr’s and Nurses, Trevor and Carol, were coming back to Uganda; we definitely saw this as an opportunity to get them to help us in the charity that we had set up in Katanga.

There is huge amount of illness within Katanga, with our children often getting Malaria. So we thought it would be a good idea to use the skills of Trevor and Carol to do a ‘check-up’ of the children and families that we work with.

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Despite the local hospitals being ‘free’ for appointments, the families often tell us that they don’t go because they get charged for seeing a doctor. They were appreciative of the time that both Trevor and Carol spent with the families to help, where possible, in the area of Health.

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While the children took it in turn to see the doctor, the others were drawing pictures and writing notes of thanks. We talked about drawing something related to doctors and hospitals and it was quite disconcerting, but not surprising, to see many drawing huge syringe and needles.

The children breathed a huge sigh of relief when they found out that syringes and needles were not going to be used.

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The above picture is one of our students Christine, showing her picture to the doctor.

Read about our previous day in Katanga from our previous blog… Day 3 – Painting

Testing water in Katanga

Working with the University to test various samples of water in Katanga Slum. We are having lots of meetings with the local council, various water charities and water engineers to find out if we can improve the water and sanitation issue in Katanga. Find out more about our water program by clicking here.

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A Fresh way of giving…

Perhaps you can relate: When I was younger I felt quite hesitant to give to charity because I was never really sure where my donation would go, whether it would get lost in increasing admin or wages in the 1st world, or simply to a project, the charity ran, that I didn’t feel passionate about.

So, assuming there are more people like me, we have created 4 individual ‘giving pages’, one for each of the projects that we run; Education, Livelihoods, Health & Water, so that you can choose which area of cause you feel most passionate about and would like to donate to. 

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We also want to tell you that 100%* of your donation will go straight to the project you donate to and will not be used for… paying for my new Mac computer, Air travel or even something as little as printing costs. This is the same if you want to simply donate to the charity as a whole too.

Oh, and when we say 100% we mean 100%; for example, if you donate £10 to the Health project then that full £10 could be used on buying 2 mosquito nets for 2 families in Katanga Slum.

Simple really. Giving that changes lives.

So you can click on one of our projects below, where you will be able to securely, donate to the project you wish to donate to.

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* Yes 100% and we are able to do this by partnering with a charity called Golden Giving who do not take a percentage of money from each donation and do not charge the charity, unlike other giving websites e.g. Justgiving or Virgin money giving, Instead they, like us, find other ways to pay for admin, marketing and wages.

World Water Day

Today is world water day, a day of raising awareness of the importance of safe, clean drinking water for the people in this world.

Katanga Slum is home to 20 thousand people who live daily without clean water, not only that but they live with streams of dirty sewage water, running past the front doors of their homes. These streams inhabit various waterborne diseases e.g. Malaria and Cholera that can cause serious ill health to people who even live near these waters.

We at Hope for Life Katanga are doing all we can, fighting against thousands of people drinking, bathing or cooking with dirty water.

1 Billion people live without clean drinking water.

See how clean water can change lives throughout the world..

Education Livelihoods Health Water

Hope for Life started in Katanga Slum giving Education to 15 children. We wanted to invest in these children’s future, helping them to attain more in their lives. Our goal is to provide a basic level of education in our school, to get them to a level where they are able to attend school themselves. We would then find people to sponsor this children to attend a local school for them to get their accredited education.

We then decided that it was great to invest in the child’s future but the parent needs to earn money to feed the family today, not just in the future. So we started up the Livelihoods project looking at ways we can support and encourage the families in earning money and supporting their families.

The Livelihoods project still has a time frame attached to each family; time to learn the theory of how to run a business and money management skills, time to then actually run a successful business to be self sustainable and earn enough money to provide for their families.

Whilst we were working with these families we has instances where a boy in our school broke his leg (a collision with a motorbike), another boy in our school and his younger sister got very serious 3rd degree burns (the boy is still alive but the 1 year old girl died whilst Megan and I were in Uganda in August 2012), various children and members of their families were still getting ill with Malaria and other diseases.

We then started thinking about the project Health to help with these situations. With the aim to produce malaria nets, medical help from trained nurses and doctors, an emergency medical fund, which means we can pay for life saving treatment when there are serious illnesses and injuries with the families we work with. Education also plays a huge role in the health of the Katanga residents, so we look to address these issues in our school and Livelihoods program.

Our whole ethos at Hope for Life Katanga is to be a support to the families, helping them to earn money for themselves to be able to provide for their own families. The last thing we want to do is to give money to the families as we know this is a short term fix to a long term problem. The only exception is when a family we work with has a life threatening, or serious, illness or injury.

A huge part of bad health is dirty, stagnant Water being the main problem for diarrhoea, malaria, cholera, E.coli, typhoid, salmonella to name a few. For as long as people are forced to drink, bathe and live around dirty water then they continue to get ill. We are currently doing some research into the cleanliness of the water, before we know what to filter/safe guard against.

Day 13 – Playing

As well as all the things we got up to whilst in Uganda e.g. trustee meetings, painting, livelihoods workshops, sleeping, taking the families to the zoo, handing out clothes and other donations, water research, reading; we we made sure we left a huge chunk of time aside to just to hang out with the kids and ‘play’.

It was so much fun really spending time with the children, making each other laugh, building closer friendships.

Click here to see more fun-times pictures from our time in Katanga.

Uganda August 2012

We are continually updating the website about the visit to Uganda Megan and I went on in August. To find a day by day write up and pictures of our trip then click on the following link https://hopeforlifekatanga.com/uganda-august-2012/.

Be sure to share these pages with those who you think will be interested.