Archive for October, 2008

Light for Children September Update

October 4, 2008

4th of October 2008

Light for Children September Report

Written by Catherine Charles, LIFOC volunteer (cathcharles05@hotmail.com), and prepared by Sebastian Lindstrom (butchieenorsk@msn.com)

Urgent call to Action

We have an urgent need for new sponsors coming into the new sponsorship year in October. Starting off the year we have dropped from 7 sponsors to only 4 with some of the old sponsors not renewing this year and 2 new sponsors being Edmond Leung from Hong Kong and Catherine Charles from Australia. Any past volunteers or people wishing to donate and help out are encouraged to participate. If you are wanting further information or ideas on fundraising activities please contact us ASAP on lightforchildren@yahoo.com

There are many different ways you can support Light for Children.  Please join our facebook cause named ‘ Save the AIDS orphans of Ghana’.  Just click this link (http://apps.new.facebook.com/causes/102026?recruiter_id=16674170) and after joining make sure to invite your friends.

We will have a fundraiser for the HIV positive children of Ghana and at the same time launch the movie ‘Obruni: Where are you going?’ at China Club in Hong Kong on the 26th of November. The movie teaser can be found at http://www.lightforchildren.com/film/obruni.html We plan to organize screening s of the movie at 25-30 different Universities from around the world in the week following the World Aids Day (December 1st). If you are interested in organizing a screening of the movie at your University please contact Sebastian Lindstrom at butchieenorsk@msn.com – only together we can make this happen; the future is now.

Good bye to the old and hello to the new

September saw the arrival of 7 new volunteers and the depature of Christian our German volunteer after his 3 month stay and Nicole from Canada after her 2 month stay.  The new volunteers include Catherine from Australia, Rhi, Craig, Amy, Laura and David from the UK and Chelsey from Canada.  Rhi and Craig are placed at the Missionaries of Charity Orphange in Kumasi, Amy, Laura and David are in Mampong at the baby orphange, Chelsey is sharing her time between LIFOC and Missionaries of Charity Orphange and Catherine is working for the LIFOC project.  Christian assisted in the orientation of the new volunteers before departing himself on the 14th of September and Nicole departed for home on the 24th of September.

VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing)

September has been a big month for the VCT program, where we go to various shops and stores and talk to the employees about HIV/AIDS and its dangers and then take them for testing.  Christian and Catherine finished at the local Hairdressers in Atonsu with 14 girls in total all being tested and thankfully negative.  We then spent the following weeks talking to a local dressmakers school and a local hairdressing school about HIV/AIDS, prevention, stigma and the need for testing.  On the 12th September LIFOC then organized the VCT nurses to come to the office in Atonsu and conduct the counseling and Rapid HIV Test and invited all the girls to come.  We ended up testing 34 girls and gave out over 5 referrals in the following days for those who couldn’t make it.  Again we were delighted not only in the turn out of girls but the fact all presented negative.

On the 19th of September Yaw, Catherine and Chelsey went back to the hairdressers to follow up on the girls after their testing.  This was to reaffirm the importance of using the uneasy feeling they had prior to the testing, to make the right choices from now on.  We took the girls through the Journey of Hope presentation and received positive feedback that following their testing they will use their experience to influence friends to be tested and to make good life choices.

Home Visits

On the 7th of September we conducted 5 home visits between our group of volunteers.  Yaw, Christian and Catherine visited the family of the twins Edwin and Edward Astu.  The twins who are 9 months old also have 2 sisters who are infected with HIV and both parents also have the disease.  They struggle day to day to make ends meet and spoke of issues in obtaining food from the Nutritional support centre and maternal and child health clinic. They then visited Kofi Adu and his mother who spoke of issues whith getting monthly doses of medicine as they were only receiving fortnightly rations.  Mike went with Rhi and Craig to visit Christiana, Yaw and Kwadwo.

On the 28th September the whole group visited  children Hilda and Kwaku Mensah and their mother Catherine in Adiembra, Monica Hene and her parents in Ohwin and twins Phillip and Phillipa Mensah and mother Teresa in Ohwin also.  All children are doing well however we need to ensure that there is enough food and medicine being distributed and will take up with the clinics to ensure this is being done.

Meetings

This month has seen many meetings.  Yaw and Mike attended a week long conference on Malaria at Anita Hotel in Egisu.  They discussed the need to roll out programs within the community educating children and their parents through the use of volunteers and organizations such as LIFOC.  Malaria is a huge problem in Ghana and claims 45 children under 5 years of age, everyday.  Many families have problems identifying the disease, often it is not until the child has reached critical stage until they are diagnosed and by then it is too late.   LIFOC has been selected to implement this program starting October through to Christmas this year.

Catherine and Chelsea attended a meeting on Violence Against Children (VAC) in Adum on 23rd September on behalf of LIFOC.  They found the meeting very beneficial and the committee spoke of a need to curb corporal punishment at school as well as physical punishments and violence in the home.  The department of Children’s Services plans on implementing a 5 year plan (2008-2012) in order to monitor and identify acts of violence against children.

Monthly socialization meeting

The monthly meeting of the HIV positive care and support group took place at the Center for National Cultural Centre of Kumasi on the 20th of September, 2008 at 9:30a.m.  Most of the children and their caregivers were present and participated actively.  After updating the photos of the children, recording all their weights and distributing biscuits and Koala toys from Australia, the volunteers took the children to play football in the park while Mike and Yaw spoke to the parents about any current issues, health care and distributed medicines and school fees.

Last month new introduced child Memuna Abu was also present again with her mother and spoke of the hardship of having no one to confide in or be her guarantor in order to get medicine for her and her child.  Unfortunately this is a common scenario as the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS stops people confiding in loved ones or family.  The meeting ended after the traditional joint lunch of Jolloff rice and water at around 12.30pm.

Trip to Mole

After the socialization meeting Mike took volunteers, Catherine, Rhi, Craig, Chelsey, Amy, Laura, David and 2 other Canadian Volunteers from Volunteers Abroad Taylor and Julie to Mole for the weekend.  Hiring our own Tro Tro we travelled up the 8 hour trip to Mole stopping on the way for fresh fruit from the street stalls and Jollof rice dinner at Black House restaurant before arriving at the park at 11pm that night.  Sunday started with a 7am walking safari with an armed guard where we saw animals such as Deer, Wart Hogs, Elephants and Monkeys.  It was then off for breakfast of eggs, toast and tea and a swim and bake by the pool for a couple of hours.  At 2pm we headed off again to go canoeing just outside the National Park.  We picked up paddlers on the way and split into 2 groups (the British and the Canadians and lone Aussie) and paddled around a calm swamp looking for crocodiles.  Although we didn’t find any crocodiles it was very Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in “African Queen”.

Back on the Tro Tro we headed back to a small town half way back to Kumasi to spend the night in order to get to the Monkey Sanctuary and Waterfalls the next day.  After breakfast of omelets and bread and tea we headed to the beautiful waterfalls where we took photos and had a lovely morning walk.  Next stop, Monkey Sanctuary where the volunteers had a guided tour of many species of Monkeys before heading back home to Kumasi.  Although exhausted in the end, everyone had a great trip and saw a lot of wildlife and beautiful scenery of Northern Ghana.

In Progress

There is a lot of work in progress at the moment at LIFOC.  We are in the process of starting to write a new program for schools built around Soccer and involving children in sports to provide a new forum for learning about HIV/AIDS, it’s effects and preventions.  We are also updating all the children’s profiles in order to pass them onto volunteers wishing to present back in their home countries in order to get more sponsors for the children and more volunteers from their home country.  We have made alliances with a community group called Mother Bear Projects (http://www.motherbearproject.org) who have sent us 2 boxes of hand knitted bears for the children and are going to place LIFOC on their website.  All this is part of building awareness of LIFOC and our organization.  We are also excited that school is now back in full swing and we are to start school presentations 1st week of October.

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