Monday, 24 March 2014

Streams of Living Water!

We now have running water in Cibitoke Homes of Hope!

This has been a process that has taken several years, and we are overjoyed that water now flows freely from the taps in all of the homes and the Future Hope School.

The House Mothers are greatly enjoying ease of access to water which makes their days so much easier now they don’t have to carefully ration out one bucket to last all of their chores. No more carrying top-up water long distances back to the houses.

Having running water will greatly reduce other costs, such as petrol, as we will no longer have to drive the truck back and forth to the nearest water supply to fetch everyone’s needs. It also makes it easier to obtain water to boil to create drinking water when the supplies run out.

The children now all have showers in their homes and have enjoyed offering to do extra cleaning around as an excuse to use the magic running water! Although we’re sure this enthusiasm to help will wear off once the running water becomes more normal and less exciting!

The water came on Friday night. Everyone gathered around the outdoor spicket as we turned the water on for the first time. The children laughed, played and danced in the cool running water and then we all gathered around to pray and thank God for the blessing of running water.

We need to say a special thank you to Modeste, the YFC engineer, who returned to Cibitoke to help get this project completed. His hard work, dedication and extra hours he plugged in to make sure all the plumbing was correct and ready, have really paid off. He loves the kids here and even stuck around late into the night to be sure everything was working and to share in the joy with the children.

A huge thank you to everyone who has prayed and supported us to get to this stage.
The joy on the kids faces as they splashed around in the running water is partly down to you!
Thank You!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Day One at Shammah Health Center

Today we have a Guest Post written by Josh, one of our volunteers and Executive Director of Shammah Health Center 

Teddy - first ever patient at Shammah Health Center
Meet Teddy, the first patient ever treated at the Shammah Health Center. He’s 3 1/2 years old.

He had a bug in his ear. Literally, we flushed a dead ant out of his ear. He was a trooper!

He also had worms in his belly, and we took care of those too.

So one day I’ll sit down and write the book “How to Open a Health Center in Rural Burundi in 492,000 Simple Steps.” Or does that sound more like a screenplay to you? For now this post will have to do.

Nadine and I felt like throwing up we were so nervous this morning. Could you imagine? We had no idea what this day would look like…. would we get 3 patients? Would we get 300?

Turns out we got 17, and it was amazing.

Staff outside the center
In a bit of a funny turn, we had over 50 people show up for our first education session on malaria, but then we found out that everyone showed up expecting free healthcare. That would be just amazing, but that doesn’t jive with the word “sustainable,” so off they went. Hopefully everyone that attended the session was a little more educated than they were yesterday. Out of the 50 people, none of the attendees, nor any of their family members had mosquito nets. Hopefully we can get our net distribution program off and running soon!

Turns out though, there’s a good number of people looking for quality healthcare at an affordable price, so we were kept busy for rest of the day!

Trying to prevent the loss of this man's
hand by cleaning out infection
We treated several cases of malaria, one severe case in a young little girl, I did an incision and drainage procedure, we treated others for intestinal infections, etc.

It’s hard to describe the feeling we had throughout the day. An uncontrollable joy, just the thrill of having patients walking through our doors. Hearing babies cry, hearing people talking. The Shammah Health Center is ALIVE, people! Glory and thanks be to God!

This day belongs to each and every one of you, for all of the support, kindness and love you’ve shown us. It also belongs to all of the incredible and amazing Burundi Youth for Christ staff that have worked alongside us, who have been working long before we ever got here, and will continue to work long after we leave. Our center also have the best staff ever! A team full of life, who treat our patients with respect and dignity.

We had three patients who could only afford to pay a portion of their bills, each one a situation where treatment was desperately needed. So, we agreed to provide the care in the hope that the patients will eventually return to pay their debt. We’ll see how that goes as time moves on.

First ever blood smear for a malaria
test. It was positive!
It was incredible to see the systems, planning and training we’ve been working so hard on the past year pay off. We had great patient flow, the pharmacy my incredible wife organized worked like a charm, and we didn’t have a single hiccup the entire day.

I just need to say that I love my wife. She worked so hard, and what I view as a ridiculous obsession with organization and tidiness in our home, is exactly what I love about her work in the center. So much of what worked today was a result of her diligence, planning and thoughtfulness.

So, what does day two look like? Who knows!!!!! The one thing that comforts me so much in a time like this, is the fact that God knows. I’ve been wondering about, and praying for the first patient we’d ever treat at the health center for over three years now, since February 2011. Turns out it was little Teddy, but God has known that forever. He knows who we’ll see tomorrow, and the day after that as well. He’s planned it all for the ultimate good. He’s opened these doors, and He made Day One a story of success and encouragement.

He saved lives today. Pretty cool stuff.

You can read the original article and more of Josh and Nadine's writing on their Blog

Thursday, 6 March 2014

New Shammah Staff!

After two rounds of interviews, we can now introduce you to the new staff at Shammah Health Center!

There were a few frustrations and delays in the process, which means that the clinic still isn’t quite open, as we’d hoped by now. But we believe that the extra time has allowed God to put together an incredible team of people, representing five different nations, all passionate about reaching out to the Burundian community with God’s love and quality healthcare.

We have Joshua and Nadine Guenther, (Executive Director and Medical Director of Shammah Health Center.) Josh and Nadine are both nurses from Canada, and have been in Burundi for just over a year, doing an amazing job to get the centre open. They will be working as nurses whilst managing the centre, and their plan is to slowly hand over responsibility to local staff over the next couple of years.
We are incredibly lucky to have them!

We have Zenon, our physician. A Burundian, he has extensive experience working with NGO health organizations, and Josh and Nadine actually first met him last summer in Uganda at the health workshop they attended there. Zenon has the personal experience working with the Ministry of Health that we desperately need, and he’s got a community health background and has a huge passion for growth and development.

We have Matabishi, our lab-technician. He is Congolese, married to a Burundian, and we were extremely happy to reunite him with his pregnant wife here in Gitega. Matabishi previously had a job working in the south of Burundi, work that separated him from his child and expectant wife. He has a great sense of humour, and is probably one of the most experienced and well-educated medical lab techs in the country! We are incredibly blessed to have him on board.

We have Vumilia, our chief cleaner. She was previously unemployed, trying to get together anything she could to support her three children. She is Tanzanian, married to a Burundian that she met working several years at a Burundian refugee camp across the Tanzanian border. A nursing assistant, she is experienced with healthcare and education, and has an extensive background in maternity. Her primary role will be cleanliness and hygiene supervision, health teaching and assisting with births.

We have Grace, a YFC volunteer from Uganda. Grace was trained in Public Health, but has spent the last year and a half working in different departments within Burundi YFC. Her language skills make her incredibly useful as a translator, and she’ll be helping with patient care and education programmes.

The current plan is to open Shammah Health Center’s doors to the public on Monday 10th March 2014.
This will be followed by an official opening ceremony on Saturday 5th April.

A huge thank you to everyone who has travelled with us on this journey to get the centre open. Please keep us in your prayers over the next few weeks:
  • Please pray for all the staff as they learn to work together as a team, and get used to how things will be run in this new clinic.
  • Please pray with us that there will be no more delays, and we can open as planned.
  • Please pray with us as we continue to look for funding to supply the clinic with a sustainable and self-contained solar power system