Sunday, October 18, 2009

Moringa Study

As a supplement to the CHIPS program, we are growing a new food supplement, called Moringa. It is a tree that grows green leaves that are full of vitamins and minerals that act as a wonderful food supplement, especially to the HIV positive population. We have a crop that was planted in Pastor La'Salettes garden in February. We just harvested our first crop last week. The leaves are dried and pounded into a powder to be used as a food supplement. We are planning to distribute this powder to the surrounding communities through La'Salette's church. Once people start using it and see the benefits, we would like to teach them to plant a crop and take care of it and possibly be able to harvest for their own use, as well as be able to sell it as an income generating project for their families. Assistant Pastor Jabulani at Christian Family Church in Swaziland has been tasked with taking care of the plants, harvesting and drying the leaves, and pounding them into powder.
Ed Lin, with Impala Development Services has helped spearhead introduction of Moringa in Swaziland. He would like to do a research study with the children in our communities comparing the differences in body weight, arm circumference, disease assessment, etc. He would like to compare children taking Moringa on a regular basis with those who are not. This should be an interesting study. We will do monthly assessments for 6 months, hopefully utilizing a student nurse to assist us.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Kudvumisa Glass - Life Skills Training

These are some of the primary challenges youth face in Swaziland today:
  • A culture that stifles innovation and creative thinking.
  • An education system that does not have the infrastructure or capital to educate the children through primary or secondary grades.
  • Rampant under and unemployment.
  • Children growing up lacking the moral and social knowledge and life skills normally passed on to children by parents because of the loss of all or nearly all family members to AIDS.
In answer to this, a program whose goal is to help break the cycle of poverty is essential. Our approach is three-fold: 1. teaching personal and fiscal responsibility through a course entitled Money Matters , a second course we have developed which picks up with the practical implementation of the Money Matters course, 2. Participation in a working business model under Kudvumisa Glass, and 3. using Kudvumisa Glass to help develop the creativity and stimulate the imagination of the youth in the program.
We want to impart and establish lasting Godly principles in these youth that will change their lives by teaching sustainable business and personal skills; for these youth to move from a position of poverty and dependency to self reliance and confidence.

So I'm putting this out for prayer. I believe that art (art therapy?) can play an important role in reaching the goal of #3 above. If you have that skill and the desire to use it in a completely different arena than where you are right now, would you consider praying how God may be able to use you here in Swaziland? The youth in this program (and pretty much country wide) have experienced deep trauma due to loss of parents, siblings, exploitation, and drug and alcohol abuse. I'm an engineer with an engineer's approach. It would benefit the youth in the program to have art taught by someone who can use it to help heal the wounds of everyday life here.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

CHIPS program

The Children’s HIV Intervention Program Swaziland is growing! We have approximately 150 to 200 patients on the program now. This includes children and caregivers. There are also many challenges with this program. Many of the adult patients that we have enrolled on the program have advanced disease, and many times it is too late for the ARV’s to be effective. We need to start doing more education in the communities to promote early diagnosis. Another challenge is to decide when a patient is dying, is it better to leave them at home with their family, or admit them to the hospital, where the care is sub-standard to die alone? Also, how much responsibility should we take, as far as paying for hospital admits, expenses surrounding death, such as casket, morgue fees, funeral, transport for family members, etc. This gets very expensive, and we need to manage what God has given us for this program appropriately.
We are now beginning year 2 of the CHIPS program, and we are ready to hire a second person so we can further expand. Jabulani has done an excellent job running the program. He is a patient advocate in many ways. When there is an issue with a patient or with the system, he isn’t afraid to go to the top to get the issue resolved. He contacted the TB Coordinator for the region, when he didn’t get the solution needed for the care of our patients. He helps at the hospital with counseling in the HIV clinic, which helps move our patients through faster, and also builds alliances in the system. The staff know they can count on Jabulani to pitch in and help them, so they are willing to help with our patients as well.
We have begun interviewing for the second position. Please pray for wisdom for us as we interview and choose our 2nd counselor for CHIPS. We want the person that God wants for us.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Two Steps Forward; Ten Steps Backwards

I found out last week that the mastectomy specimens at the government hospital, which have for the past year been sent to the private lab and been paid for by Breast Cancer Network, are now being sent to the government lab again. The reason we send them to the private lab is that the government lab takes months to get results back, and we get results back from the private lab in 7-10 days. For Zodwa, it took the government lab 11 months before her pathology report was available. This is just not acceptable for cancer specimens. Evidently, the pathologist has convinced the powers that be, in the government system that he is able to get reports back in 15 days. I spoke to the surgeon and told him, this just isn’t true. The last one that was sent on the 30th of July still wasn’t ready on the 8th of September. This is extremely frustrating to me, especially since it causes our patients treatments to be delayed. Please pray for wisdom for us in this situation! We are planning to keep track of the data, when specimens are sent and when reports are available and report this to the Principle Secretary of the Ministry of Health. I am just concerned about how many patients treatment will be delayed and outcomes affected!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ethical & Moral Dilemma

We are doing two weekly breast cancer clinics in Mbabane and Manzini each week. This is an opportunity for women to have examinations free of charge . A lady in her mid-to late thirties that has just been diagnosed with breast cancer, just informed us that she is 3 or 4 months pregnant. She has small children at home to take are of as well. This is a very difficult situation, because the same hormones that sustain the baby, also cause the breast cancer to grow and spread. So if she continues with the pregnancy without treatment, the cancer grows and spreads. However, if we give her treatment during the pregnancy, the baby is compromised. I am very much against abortion, however, in this case, I don’t know what the right answer is. I have discussed my feelings with the doctor, but ultimately, the decision is not mine. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors and the lady in this situation, and for God’s perfect will to be done!

Late addition: we had a special meeting on Saturday with the doctors to discuss her case. It looks like we will be able to give chemo in the third trimester that may not affect the baby!