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The Chance Remark That Made a Difference

Swaziland's HIV/AIDS Task Force signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program of Swaziland wherein they have agreed to work hand in hand at fighting the scourge of TB. Currently Swaziland has the highest rate of TB in the world with at least 12% (WHO Global Report, 2008) of the nation's people being infected.  This is complicated by the high incidence of HIV/AIDS.  It is currently estimated that one in four adults is diagnosed HIV positive (UNGASS).

A Member of the Swaziland Parliament attended a regular monthly meeting held for the caregivers of the AIDS Task Force and the Department of Health.

Later, during a conversation, one of the caregivers expressed her concern to him at the overwhelming needs of patients in a certain area of the country, which she has to deal with every day.  These needs include hopelessness, the heartache and pain of the extremely ill and dying, all exacerbated by the basis need for food.  As a result, he tried to address these needs by soliciting money from donors after doing a mini-survey to find out exactly what the people needed.

He then organised food parcels for these patients, consisting of maize meal, beans, cooking oil, soups, e-pap (a nutritious food for those with diarrhea) and other supplies, which he delivered himself.

This generous gesture has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the patients in this area.  They are extremely grateful for what was done for them, especially as it came as a result of one of their own countrymen reaching out to them in their time of need.

by Betty van den Berg

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Children in the Community

In 2007, Rev Samantha Chambo, member of Eldorado Park Church of the Nazarene and wife of Regional Director, Dr. Chambo, saw a need for the children in the community around the Church.  She says, “we have a big informal settlement just down the road from the Church”.  When a resident of the settlement began attending the prayer group at the Church, Rev. Chambo saw the perfect opportunity to reach out to these disadvantaged children through this prayer group member.  The children’s outreach programme then began in her backyard.  Over three years later, Samantha and four other volunteers from the Church continue to offer Adventure Bible Club to  between 60 and 100 children.

A typical attendance each week is about 70 children. Singing, Bible stories, memorizing Bible verses, a hot meal and social and physical activities are how they spend each Friday afternoon.  Some special projects have been offering a weekend or weeklong summer camp, distribution of blankets with Turn the Tide for Children and other outreach projects.  Children who attend the club that is funded completely by the local church are orphans; children affected by HIV/AIDS, immigrant children who are not able to attend school and children living in poverty.  Chambo says, “we thank God because He has blessed this ministry”.  What a wonderful example of the Church being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. (James 1:27, NLT).

By Denise Anderson

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A Helping Hand In Namibia

As the flood waters subside, the need for assistance in northern Namibia hasn’t.  NCM Africa, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (Africa) and humedica international have arrived in May to assess how they could assist people in putting their lives back together.  This joint collaboration is financed by the German Government.  

Whether living in one of the 78 informal and formal relocation centres, in need of medical assistance, rebuilding their damaged homes or working out how they will regain their livelihood, a helping hand is just around the corner for the flood affected people of Namibia.

“The mission in the flood affected regions is currently recovery, this process will over time transform into rehabilitation,” said Andrew Johnson from NCM Africa.  He went onto say “the immediate concerns were over potable water, sanitation in the relocation centres and loss of livelihoods.”  Other current priorities include providing access to food items, mosquito nets and blankets, as the winter sets in.  

Caprivi region has the largest concentration of displaced persons with over 15,598 people now living in relocation centres.  These centres are mostly in schools, where full families can be found residing.  Many of the areas and villages in the Caprivi region are still flooded.  All people can do is sit back and watch as their lives remain buried underwater.  Beds, cupboards, lounge chairs all wait, submerged, for the time when people can inspect the damage the floods have caused to their lives.  The World Bank has estimated the damage bill due to the floods at $620 million.  To date only N$7 million has been received in donations.

Through this joint intervention, up to 6,000 Namibians are to receive medical assistance.  A four person medical team, consisting of two doctors and two nurses, arrived on the 16th May armed with over 200 kg of medicines.  They are currently assisting outreach efforts into the affected areas through the Oshakati State Hospital.  

The health status in the relocation centres remains good, as diarrhea and malaria cases are the main health complications noted.  Over 17,000 cases of diarrhea have been reported between January and April this year.  Therefore, the prevention of disease outbreaks has been prioritized.  This includes a strong focus on hygiene promotion within the centres in a bid to prevent a cholera outbreak.  The Chairperson of the Disaster Risk Management Committee, Frans Kapofi, said the “centres are not struggling with food issues, but with hygiene problems.”

Other interventions that will be brought about through this collaboration include addressing health concerns and current shortages in cooking oil, tinned fish and mosquito nets.  Health prevention initiatives that will provide the ability to purify water for drinking have been prioritized.

By Michelle Fadelli

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How lack of water has led to the spread of HIV

Mashonaland East Province, about 60km South East of Harare, Zimbabwe, constantly experiences perennial droughts and water shortages.  The need for water is great.  Villagers walk for long distances to fetch unclean water in silted rivers or shallow open wells, exposing themselves to water borne diseases.

Most people in this region depend on farming and small scale gardening for food production.  The lack of water has seen villagers in past years depending on food hand-outs from relief organizations, including Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) through its partnership with Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB).  

Declining agriculture has had a knock on effect on employment opportunities and forced many men to look for work elsewhere, leaving behind mothers to care for children.  In turn, some women, have turned to prostitution or, some children, to child labour to raise money to feed themselves and those dependant upon them.  This has resulted in HIV/AIDS becoming a huge problem as women give in to prostitution and men, who are now working in other places, return with HIV.

HIV can lead to death, which can lead to a worrying number of child-headed households, as is the case in this Province.  Alternatively, many orphans are being cared for by grandparents as parents have died of AIDS-related complications.  All of this and these effects, and water is still scarce.  

Monera Church of the Nazarene is located in the communal area of this Province.  Last year the Church moved one step closer towards helping to address some of these problems.  In a collaborative effort NCM and the Monera Church began laying the groundwork for a community well, as the Westside Church of the Nazarene in the United States began raising funds.  

Fast forward and it is now a success story of how compassion helped transform many lives.  

The well was dug in one of the most drought affected areas, and a hand pump installed.  The clean water now provides a source of life to the surrounding villages, including the children who come to the local Church supported Child Development Centre and feeding program.

The local Church and surrounding communities use the water to grow vegetables for consumption and sale.  This has brought new hope to the communities as people now have activities that generate not only income but also food for consumption.  The clinic, near the Church, and the community school, have unprecedented access to clean water.  

There is less prostitution as women spend their valuable time working in their small gardens and less men travelling long distances to look for work.  Children who were forced to leave school to take care of younger siblings, while their mothers looked for food or unsafe water, are being encouraged to go back to school now.

Rev. Bernard Mukome, the pastor of Monera Church of the Nazarene, is a witness to the transformations this well has made to the surrounding communities.  He said, “there is hope now in the faces of the villagers who now can access water for consumption and for small gardens.”  The words of Jesus come alive in Mashonaland East Province, when He said, “I was thirsty and you gave me water to drink.”  Mat. 25:35

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