June 22, 2013
Today I met a grown man and a young boy. The images of these two will stay with me for a long time and will constantly remind me of the importance of the work PWRDF does. It dramatically changes people’s lives”¦
Since receiving our latest CIDA contract, the Diocese of Masasi has been able to expand it’s preventative health and food security program. It has recently started to work in the Mkumba village. Mkumba is a small but spread out community that has many vulnerable people. I met with the village leaders and heard about the work that PWRDF and the Diocese of Masasi have done in the community. I heard about the distribution of chickens, dairy goats, oxen, maize, and ground nuts. They have also supplied wheel barrows, watering cans, and eleven types of seeds for planting. I also hear about the plans to distribute dairy cattle this August and the plans to drill a bore hole for a well in the centre of the village (currently women need to walk about 3kms to get water from a very unclean source) within the next few months.
This project hasn’t been without struggle. One of the pregnant goats died while giving birth and the cassava plants haven’t germinated. But many good things have been happening. Out of twenty six goats delivered last December, six kids have been born this year. Goat’s milk is particularly nutritious for those living with HIV/AIDS.
I was able to be present in the community when we distributed mosquito nets to the vulnerable in the village and a special nourishing food (porridge that is very high in vitamins and minerals) to those people living with HIV/AIDS.
The first on the list is Dionesi, he is about three years old. He comes up to get his bags of food that are probably about three times his weight. He is helped by his grandmother who also struggles with the weight of the bags.
I heard the words of Ibrahim, the Clinical Officer (doctor) at the Dispensary (clinic) in the neighbouring community. Among the supplies sent to the clinic were test kits for HIV/AIDS. He talked about the importance for counseling regarding the virus prior to testing. He said, “AIDS isn’t a life sentence”.
I watched this little boy gather his food and felt grateful that AIDS is no longer a life sentence.
After leaving the community meeting, we went to meet Kizito. He is a middle aged man living with HIV/AIDS. He was given a goat last December and the goat had recently had a kid. I could hear the goat family as we approached Kizito’s house.
Kizito let the mother goat out of the small house he has constructed for the goat family (the Diocese promotes a zero grazing system for the goats, so that disease is more easily contained and that crops can be preserved). The mother ran about, eating whatever she could, while the kid was clearly upset at having been left by its mother. I laughed at how goats are such vocal creatures!
Eventually, Kizito caved and let the kid out of the house. He very sweetly played with it on the small ladder leading from the house to the courtyard. I asked him about the goats. He said his health has improved greatly. Currently the mother is giving about 2 litres of milk a day, but when the kid is weaned, it is expected to increase to 4 litres per day.
Dionesi and Kizito”¦ two men that will live productive lives because of the support of PWRDF and the Diocese of Masasi. Such simple food is able to bring such incredible results.