Key actors in improving children's health in the villages in Darfur are the first aid workers who, in addition to providing front line treatment for minor ailments, are actively engaged in health education. A very important aspect of this is working with mothers in the care of their children focusing particularly on nutrition as so many of the children are malnourished, and this is at least partly due to mothers' lack of knowledge of the nutritious qualities of foods which are around in the village. So it is good to be able to report that 55 volunteer first aid workers from 31 villages received their training from 1-15 April. This means that all of the 60 villages supported by KIDS FOR KIDS have at least one trained first aid worker and most of them have two first aid workers so that they are able to support each other. On completion of their training the first aid workers were provided with a starter kit containing basic equipment and medicines. Each first aid worker was also provided with a cross bred donkey to enable them to reach people in need quickly.
Malaria is a major cause of death amongst children and so we are pleased to report that 332 mosquito nets were distributed in February 2012 to the poorest households in the villages which we adopted for support in 2011, namely Amar Gadid, Elfaki Ali, Um Layouna, Hillat Kabir and Siwailinga. This means that the children in these families now have protection at night from mosquitos and the likelihood of them catching malaria is significantly reduced. This will bring great peace of mind to many anxious mothers.
The key actors in improving the health of the children are the village first aid workers. The villages above have all selected their volunteers to be trained as village health workers and we have now signed the agreement with the Sudanese Red Crescent Society to undertake the training. This training is expected to take place in March. This training will cover basic first aid techniques, health and hygiene and nutrition. This training equips the first aid workers to be health educators in the village particularly amongst mothers and their children helping them to improve the nutririon of their children and the prevention and management of prevalent diseases particularly respiratory infections and diarrhoea. The training takes the form of specialised video presentations backed up by workbooks, demonstrations and practical applications.
The first aid workers work in close partnership with the village midwives in dealing with infants and young children and their mothers and their focus is very much on preventative medicine. The trainee village midwives from these villages as well as from some of the other villages supported by KIDS FOR KIDS - 40 in total - started their year long training in February 2012.
All these services are so important to the villagers and are very highly valued. We are only able to provide these services because of the support which we receive from our wonderful band of supporters and we, and all the peoole in the communities in Darfur, are extremely grateful for your support. You are making a contribution which truly does make a difference and change lives.
We are pleased to announce that KIDS FOR KIDS has recently selected the 60th village to be supported with our integrated programme of activities. The village is Mugabil which is located 40 kms north of the provincial capital, El Fasher. Our local Project staff will be working closely with the village over the coming weeks to explain our ethos of self-reliance and community responsibility for managing all the activities and helping the community to put the necessary structure of village committees in place to manage the project.
In the meantime we are moving ahead on the activities which help to improve children's health for the 5 villages which were brought into the programme in 2011. We have today received three quotations obtained by our Project Manager for the purchase of mosquito nets for distribution to the poorest families and so will shortly be making our selection of the supplier. These mosquito nets have a huge impact on the health of children significantly reducing their exposure to malaria which is a major killer of young children. We will clearly move as quickly as possible in getting the mosquito nets to the villages to provide protection for the children. The same applies to the blankets which will keep the children warm during the winter and will help to reduce the incidence of respiratory infections. Through reducing sickness amongst the children their school attendance improves significantly which is clearly a very positive outcome from the provision of the blankets.
The other activity which contributes significantly to improving children's health is the training of volunteers as first aid workers as these people also do a lot of health education activities with the mothers specifically covering nutrition for children including encouraging them to grow vegetables for their families and how to cope with common childhood illnesses like diarrhoea through making sure that they know about the importance of preventing dehydration. Our Project staff are in discussion with the Sudanese Red Crescent who undertake the training of the first aid workers for us but we are still awaiting a firm date for the next course - we hope it will be in the very near future. The next training course for the village midwives will start on 15 January 2012 for 40 trainees including 2 volunteers from each of the 5 new villages. The village midwives also have an impact on children's health by ensuring that mothers deliver healthy babies and working in partnership with the first aid workers on health education.
Once again I wish to emphasise that we are only able to bring about these changes in the lives of the poorest children in the villages in Darfur through the support of all our donors and we, and the families and communities in Darfur, are eternally grateful for your support.
Good progress has been made in launching the programme of activities in the five new villages adopted in 2011-12 - Um Layouna, Amar Jaded, Hilat Kabir, Elfaki Ali and Siwailinga. All the villages have formed their Village Development Committees and Animal Loans Committees who will be responsible for managing the project activities. These committees are the key to the sustainability of the development in the villages and hence Kids for Kids places great emphasis on training these committees in management, decision making, record keeping, accountancy, committee procedures and monitoring and evaluation techniques. In addition the members of the Animal Loans Committee are trained in the loaning procedures. With the completion of this essential capacity building phase we are now able to move on to the development activities. These are launched in a sequential manner focusing initially on enhancing livelihoods with the initial emphasis on the provision of goat and donkey loans. In preparation for the distribution of the livestock 2 volunteers from each village have been trained as paravets and a revolving veterinary drugs fund has been established in each village - this ensures that the beneficiaries of the livestock loans have access to basic veterinary care in the village. In addition all the beneficiary families have received thorough training in animal husbandry to ensure that they are able to look after their animals properly. The animals are now being sourced for the families who can look forward to being able to provide better nutrition for their children through having ready access to the goats' milk. This will contribute to improving the health of the children.
Other activities to improve the children's health are in hand. The volunteers from the villages to be trained as first aid workers have been selected by the communities and the arrangements are being made with the Sudanese Red Crescent to provide the necessary training. In addition, a new training course for the volunteers who have been selected to be trained as village midwives is expected to commence in November. Project staff are also in the process of procuring blankets and mosquito nets to be distributed to the beneficiary families. The mosquito nets will help to significantly reduce the incidence of malaria which is a killer disease for children whilst the blankets help to reduce respiratory infections amongst children through providing warmth without the need to keep the fire alight at night which has meant children are sleeping in a smoky atmosphere which is very damaging to their health.
Last week has seen celebrations for the 10th anniversary of Kids for Kids. A key part of the celebrations was a workshop attended by representatives from the 59 Kids for Kids' villages. This has provided an opportunity for the communities to provide valuable feedback on the usefulness of the project activities and to provide guidance on the way ahead.
We are most grateful to all our loyal supporters who make all this possible and make such a difference to the lives of these families and communities.
The most important news since the last report is that Kids for Kids has extended its activities to a further 5 villages - Um Layouna, Amar Jaded, Hilat Kabir, Elfaki Ali and Siwailinga. These villages have a total population of 9,455 people in 1,661 households. This means that some 5,000 additional children will benefit from the services which help to improve their health. Our Project staff have begun the preliminary visits to the villages to explain the overriding philosophy of Kids for Kids of self-help and focus on ensuring that the needs of the poorest families are met first and contents of the programme. In some villages the follow-up meetings have already taken place at which the communities confirm their commitment to the principles and begin to select the community members who will be responsible for providing leadership for the various project activities. This includes the selection of volunteers to be trained as first aid workers. These people play a crucial role in improving children's health as they provide education to mothers on nutrition and general child care and the management of such illnesses as diarrhea which can take their toll on young lives. Our Project staff are in the process of arranging a new training course for the first aid workers and the volunteers from the new villages will be able to participate in this training course.
Once the management committees are fully established and working well in the villages, plans will be made for providing blankets and mosquito nets to the poorest families. These again will have a significant impact on children's health. The mosquito nets significantly reduce the incidence of malaria whilst the availability of blankets means that it is no longer necessary to keep the fire alight at night to provide warmth for the children which meant that children were suffering from smoke inhalation. Ensuring that the children are warm also significantly reduces the incidence of respiratory infections and this increases school attendance. So children benefit hugely all round. And all this is only possible because of the generous donations from our loyal supporters. You really do make a difference to the lives and life opportunities of these children - thank you so much.
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CEO & Chairman of Trustees