The Guatemalan Safe Motherhood Project continues to make progress, in spite of the pandemic. We in Canada have been in bimonthly contact via Zoom with our Guatemalan teammates. Because of travel restrictions, teaching in other communities has been replaced with a new clinic, providing prenatal care to local pregnant women and holding prenatal discussion groups, as well as addressing topics beyond pregnancy and birth, including breastfeeding, alcohol and other substance use disorders, domestic violence, nutrition, and supporting teen mothers.
Here in Canada we’ve been having a meeting every 5-6 weeks with a primary focus on trying to find corporate sponsors as well as granting foundations. Our long-term goal is to expand our training courses with more teams. We hope to be able to travel to Guatemala once again in the fall of 2022. Our team will be able to train a number of further trainers to bring our hands-on course to many more remote areas, so as to make a larger impact in fewer years. The need remains huge and more trained teams are needed in order to impact the lives of so many marginalized, poverty-stricken families (primarily indigenous) in Guatemala. With persistence, further funding will allow this.
Rose Charities Canada has sent funds for the Rose Nepal Programs Group under Ms Sarala Adhikari to urgently supply around 3000 medical masks, primarily for people in the Pharping area with a focus on kids. While the protective benefits of mask wearing have become well appreciated in the area, simple lack of having them has been impeding their usage. Great work Nepal Group !
Since 2916 Dr Andrew Macnab’s (Rose Charities Canada / Rose Uganda Support Group) amazing schools based malaria abatement program in Uganda has been delivering outstanding results. The highly endemic disease accounts for thousands of missing days of education in a young population desperate to attain the maximum benefit from school attendance. Teachers are trained to recognize early symptoms and then confirm them with a simple and relatively cheap kit test. Artemsia based drugs (as approved by the WHO ) can be then started immediately in situ, and, being quick acting, take effect early to reduce the childs convalescent absence period from days to possibly only hours. (https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/45/6/1759/2670325 )
Children, teachers, parents all love the program and its success has been attested to now for the last 5 years. A huge success for Uganda, Rose teams but above everything the kids and their families !
With the start of summer and mid 2021 approaching, as always we hope that all is well with you and yours.
We have not written for several months because, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the past several months have been fairly quiet for the Haiti Children & Youth Project.
COVID-19 & PROJECT ACTIVITIES
Last year when the COVID-19 pandemic started, our team of volunteer leaders followed the Haitian health authority’s COVID prevention guidelines and temporarily stopped project activities involving group gatherings except for project committee meetings. Miraculously the number of COVID-19 cases were low in Haiti so last summer the Haitian government allowed groups of people to start meeting again with masks on at markets, schools, churches, etc. Even so, our Haitian leaders chose to wait until this past January 2021 to resume group project activities.
Last month, in May, several cases of the COVID-19 variant from Brazil were reported in Haiti with some associated deaths. Consequently, near the end of May the Haitian government requested the population again limit social / group gatherings and wear masks in public. Then on June 1st the government announced a 15 day “lock down” to hopefully stop the virus from continuing to spread. Online news reports that the Astrazenica vaccine may eventually be offered in Haiti.
Providing financial assistance to support the education of elementary and secondary school students is the only project activity which has continued throughout the pandemic. Haitian schools reopened last July 2020 and students were able to finish the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year from July to October then start the 2020-2021 school year last November. We are extremely thankful that the project was able to help pay the 2020-2021 school fees for 159 students with significant need, orphans and others from single parent or very low income families.
The positive impact this education support has for each student hits home with a recent story from an orphan who received her first education bursary from the project. When talking to one of the project leaders this student mentioned that this year she does not have to worry when the school administration starts following up on unpaid school fees and begins to send students home who are unable to pay the remaining balance. She expressed relief and gratitude that, with her school fees fully paid, she is one of the “privileged” children in the school who will be able to complete the whole academic year.
NEW JACMEL PROGRAM (see photos below)
Last fall the Haitian committee leaders became aware of several orphans in the city of Jacmel which is a half hour drive southwest of the project office and work in Lavalee. Orphans in the city are often originally from a smaller community in the nearby countryside. When a child’s parents die a friend, family member, or another individual in the city offers to take in the orphan even if they themselves have their own children to care for and/or have limited resources. Many of the people who help care for the orphans are motivated to do so by their faith in God.
Our Haitian leaders proposed expanding the project to support orphans in Jacmel as well as other vulnerable children and youth in the city. This past January they started a program with two small groups: one of nine children age 10-15 years old (4 boys and 5 girls) and another of sixteen youth age 16-21 years old (10 boys and 6 girls). Every few weeks the children and youth meet together for social and educational activities. A nutritious snack is always served. The project has had the funds to also provide a full meal on four occasions. Each of the 25 participants in this new Jacmel program received a school bursary for their 2020-2021 school year fees.
A close friend of Jean’s in Jacmel offered a place to hold this new program. The meeting place is a great resource for the program attendees as they are free to visit two project leaders there outside program hours. We are still in the process of raising funds to rent this location but so far two local Haitian citizens have each made a financial contribution towards the rent.
With sincere appreciation for your interest and support,
Rose Charities Canada is supporting the Rose Charities Nepal Program Group in assisting an urgent local initiative, along with other groups and individuals to provide an oxygen unit for the Manmohan Hospital. The program to date has already raised around 50% of the required NPR 60 lakh (appx CAD65,000) allowing equipment already to be ordered (oxygen production, cylinders, beds etc, as well as ambulance refurbishment).
The Government is doing what it can but itself has limited resources to spare amid the numerous other national demands from the pandemic.
Dakshinkali, in the Pharping community lies on the southern edge of the Kathmandu Valley, an area containing apprximately 2.5 million people or some 8% of the entire population of Nepal The Manmohan Memorial Community Hospital in Dakshinkali town provides a vital role in serving the people both of the local areas and its surrounds. Its services however have been overwhelmed by the current pandemic.
2020 marks the 18th year of the Safe Motherhood Project in Guatemala, a four to five day hands-on education program for Mayan midwives who are called comadronas, Guatemalan volunteer firemen/paramedics who are called bomberos, and other healthcare workers involved in maternity care. We have now taught over 1280 students, skills helpful in managing obstetrical emergencies. We have always intended that these skills complement the traditional birthing practices of Mayan comadronas. The goal is to help reduce maternal and newborn mortality.
Fifty percent of the Guatemalan population identifies as indigenous, Maya. The majority of the Mayan population in Guatemala lives rurally and does not have easy access to health care services. While giving birth has become safer in the urban areas of Guatemala over the past twenty years due to proximity to a system of National Hospitals, giving birth rurally is still fraught with risk; hospital care is often a distance away, and maternal mortality and newborn mortality rates are much higher among the rural population in the country. Our course targets comadronas and bomberos in the rural highlands of Guatemala.
The global pandemic caused by the SARS CoV2 virus has had a huge impact on our project this year. Just before global cases of COVID 19 surged, from January 9 to January 26, Annette Borkent, RN, Ruth Brighouse, MD, and Birte Pachen, RM, travelled to Guatemala to join our Guatemalan teammates, Cenaida Juarez, project coordinator and instructor; Gloria Cotuj, comadrona and instructor; and Gaby Castellanos, nutritionist and instructor. Together we taught 15 experienced comadronas in Santiago Atitlan on Lake Atitlan in the department of Solola. All of our students were very satisfied with the course remarking how practical it was and how useful it would be to apply the skills learned in a rural home birth. We had a wonderful closing ceremony where each student received their course diploma, manual, and birthing kit of supplies. We were fortunate to use the facilities at the POWHER School, run by Salvando Madres. POWHER is an NGO that also offers courses and assistance to the comadronas of the municipality of Santiago Atitlan. We required translation assistance from Chonita one of POWHER’s instructors, as most students spoke the Mayan dialect of Tzutuil. During this time we met American and Mexican midwives volunteering at the school and also at a Casa Materna (birth house) in San Juan La Laguna, a community across the lake from Santiago. Check our facebook page, “The Safe Motherhood Project” to see videos of us in action this year.
For the second week of our sojourn we planned to teach in San Juan La Laguna, but the group requesting our course cancelled the course just days before our arrival. Always adaptable, we seized the opportunity to teach 57 school girls aged 10 to 13 years. We taught the girls about female anatomy, menstruation, teen pregnancy, and the right to say “NO” to sexual advances. Teen pregnancy is a huge problem in Guatemala. Each student was allowed to ask questions anonymously by writing her question on a piece of paper that was placed in our basket. We jumbled the pieces of paper and drew questions and provided answers. This was very successful. This type of educational project would tie in nicely with the Days for Girls project where re-usable menstrual pads and panties are provided in a kit to each adolescent girl. Unfortunately we had not budgeted for these supplies which we could have obtained for a cost from the local branch of Days for Girls.
We also took time to provide practice updates to our Guatemalan teammates and re-certify them on the various topics we teach. We often do not have time during our trips to provide continuing education to our instructors. This was a timely opportunity. We also spent time updating our manual to be more commensurate with the Guatemalan Department of Public Health health promotion materials.
Finally, we were invited by three bomberos that we had taught three years prior, to Chichicastenango, Quiche, population, 75,000. They shared stories of how valuable our course had been for them. They had been called to a number of birthing emergencies and were able to save the lives of both mothers and babies using the techniques we had taught. They wanted us to come to their city to offer a course to their bombero colleagues, which was planned for April 2020.
And then the virus struck globally and a pandemic was declared which halted our team’s activites abruptly in March…..
It is unfortunate that so many worthwhile projects have been placed “on hold” during this pandemic. We have also suspended our fundraising activites given the current uncertainty.
We have been convinced by the students we’ve taught of the value of our “hands on” teaching model. We believe this course is truly valuable and deserves to continue. This hiatus will allow us to solicit funds from larger funding agencies in addition to our usual individual donors.
We have a positive balance in the bank. While Guatemala is under curfew, there may still be useful activities our Guatemalan teammates can undertake in the next few months. It is our hope to have a broader reach with our birthing emergencies course throughout Guatemala. To do that we will need to train a larger and more geographically diverse group of instructors. We hope to have some success with larger funding agencies who share our vision.
Annette Borkent. Founder Safe Motherhood Program Guatemala
We are sad to announce the passing on of Dr. Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Hillman, pivotal figure in the Rose Charities Canada and the whole Rose Charities Family. Liz both contributed in expertise and/or initiated multiple Rose Charities programs (under her special ‘Hillman Fund’ division) both in Africa and Asia. She was always one of Rose Charities topmost mentors and advisors.
Dr Elizabeth Hillman grew up in Northern Ontario with no roads, schools, or healthcare. She and her family lived in a retired railway car that was converted into a schoolhouse; the schoolhouse traveled to a different town each week, where her parents would teach the children of local workers. Dr Hillman went on to graduate from medical school at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in 1951. She then completed postgraduate training in pediatrics from five different schools in three countries.
For 20 years, Dr Hillman was Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics including Emergency, Management of Child Abuse, and the Poison Control Centre at Montreal Children’s Hospital. For four years, she served in Kenya with a McGill-Kenya CIDA-funded project to develop a pediatric program at the University of Nairobi, alongside her husband, Dr Donald Hillman, and their five children. She and her husband worked as global medical consultants in several Asian and African countries.
Dr Hillman was the first female president of the Medical Council of Canada and both she and her husband led active roles in the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics. They were both awarded the Order of Canada (C.M.) in 1994 for their commitment to international child health. She was also chair of the Board of the Elisabeth Bruyère Research Institute at the University of Ottawa from 2005 to 2008. In honour of her late husband, Dr Hillman established the Hillman Medical Education Fund which ran as a special division of Rose Charities Canada (and International) to support health education and to foster future leaders in medicine, particularly in East Africa. It did however extend considerably further contributing to Rose Charities initiatives both in Asia as well as Africa.
Liz’s passing on is a great loss to the world. Her life was however full, vibrant and focused, contributing hugely to diffusing education and health care to many who have benefited from it and have themselves then spread it on to others. In this way her influence, and charity have brought wonderful lives to many who otherwise would have remained within the poverty trap.
To Rose Charities, Liz was one of the finest sources of expertise and advice possible and the organization was truly lucky to count her has a mentor. While Africa was her main focus, her experience and advice extended also to S.E. Asia, particularly Indo China which has been one of the main foci of Rose Charities activities for its 22 year existence.
Dr Elizabeth Hillman. The whole of Rose Charities salutes you, lauds and acclaims you, and now, mourns you. We will not forget you and extend all condolences to your family.
As with so man organisations, individuals and groups, members of the Rose Charities network have striven to help where they can. Initiatives include both those in very developing countries which, on top of existing poverty are being very hard hit as well as within problem areas in ‘the west’
Zambia (Malambo-Rose Charities Canada). Food distribution as well as a soap distribution, education and local soap making program. Recently also a protective mask making program has been inaugurated. For Malambo programs see ..Uganda Stand Tall education (Rose Charities Canada) has assisted with food distribution . This has also been implemented in the rural Voset School (Rose Charities Canada supported) . A generator has been supplied and installed in its own hut and this will assist hugely with the increased level of power cuts. Ethopia(PIHA-Rose Charities Canada ) Fund have been sent for food and material assistance.
United Kingdom. Rose Charities UK has carried out the following assistances a) medial mask manufacture by 3D printing. A private initiative was supported to establish and expand a manufacturing facility for medical protective masks to supply at material cost price. The support assisted the organization (along with others) to set up full production and now around a thousand masks a week are being produced and distributed. The program has proven so successful that further support has now been attracted by a large company which will boost production still further b) Reading program support to a school in South London with a high proportion of children from poor families. The corvid-19 crisis has left many unable to socialize normally and this is particularly harmful in in adolescent children in difficult areas where there is a danger of turning to crime, drug trafficking etc. The school initiative is combating this with a Kindle reading program. Kindles are purchased and lent to the children along with eBooks of their choice and all encouragement to read. The very fact that the reading is from a Kindle gives a lot of encouragement in the current age (surprising as this may seem to older generations)
Other programs will be reported on as they occur. Assistances in Haiti, Guatemala and NZ are under consideration
Last week, a team of 3 Canadian health professionals from Rose Haiti Healthcare Education conducted a training on #neonatal resuscitation with 31 members of our staff. They did an initial training with 3 senior nurses and 3 pediatricians, who then assisted with training through the week. These 6 HAS employees will train the remainder of the staff
and run practice scenarios every 1-2 months to maintain their competency. We are grateful for the knowledge and skills Rose Haiti Healthcare Education shared with our team! Our nurses and physicians are better equipped to save the lives of our tiniest patients.
The Malambo Programs are supported through Rose Charities Canada and carry out amazing and hugely needed work in child education, including music education, income generation, womens groups, and health. One of their main organizers is Heidi Krutzen, Canada’s leading harpist currently living and working with the London Philharmonia.
For over 20 years Rose Charities has been developing essential ground level programs to many parts of the world, with no administration fees.
6pm Sat 15th September. Admission 10pounds, St Augustines Church, Honour Oak Park SE23