Updates From Africa: September 15th
Dr. Sherry Teefey, along with sonographers Stacy Reime and Rachel Conrad, have spent two profitable days in Masaka, Uganda, training new midwives to do scanning of pregnant women. Many midwives who were already trained during previous visits have returned for advanced instruction. During the remaining days of their stay, Dr. Sherry, Stacy, and Rachel will spend their time visiting the clinics where the midwives work.
MPA is working with 11 clinics that have the ultrasound machines. The ultrasound teams have been doing an outstanding job. The midwives are responding with enthusiasm to the new and advanced training they are receiving. Sister Toni herself has attended several presentations, but alas! She has not passed on the scanning procedure, and all attempts to get her certified have come to naught!
So Sister Toni has been spending her time reviewing the post-fistula projects. Piglets continue to be given to women who need a source of income after the fistula, which occurred during childbirth, has been repaired. The women raise the piglets and return some to the program so that other women can benefit from this project.
Because not all women can raise pigs, the team from the Masaka diocese has developed alternative projects. Much progress has been made over the last several months. Now there are five active alternative groups comprised of both post-fistula women and others from their villages. Their members feel blessed to have each other because they are being introduced to MPA as they develop their microfinancing projects. Ten new groups are preparing project proposals and waiting to begin.
Sr. Toni has also met with the staff of the Living Loan Project. To date 1,026 original pregnant cows have been donated through MPA. The staff now records 501 first pass-ons, 36 second-generation pass-ons and 3 third-generation pass-ons. The staff is focusing on increasing the number of pass-ons in all generations so that the program becomes totally self-sustaining. Eighty-one farmers are ready and waiting to receive their first pregnant cow. If all goes according to plan, they will receive their cows by the end of December. Of special note is that one farmer is in a national competition for “Best Farmer of the Year” in Uganda.
The cow project promotes gender equality because it empowers women to become leaders in their communities. In recent national and local elections, thirteen women have been elected as council chairpersons, positions similar to alderwomen in St. Louis.
Sr. Toni is also introducing the use of water filters, doing so for the post-fistula team, the Living Loan team, the staff at the Social Center, and the staffs at the 11 clinics that now have the ultrasound machines. All are dreaming about ways they can distribute the filters to people in the villages. The challenge is to design creative projects using microfinancing practices for distribution of the filters.
Notice the photo of Bishop Kaggwa drinking clean filtered water. Again he sets a precedent for the people whom he and MPA care about. If he does it, they will do it.
For the remainder of their stay, the Ultrasound Team will continue to work in Masaka and the village clinics. Sr. Toni will travel back to Entebbe, Uganda, to meet with more groups with whom MPA is working.