We have just reviewed the past year in terms of Neighbor Ape's assistance to individuals living in rural Senegal and their healthcare needs. Overall, we were able to provide more than $1,000 US to aid in offsetting medical costs. With the Ebola crisis in West Africa, including neighboring country Guinea, people in Senegal were justifiably concerned with what they might have otherwise considered less severe ailments. We encouraged ill people to go in for medical checks and were able to assist a number of individuals financially in this regard - usually covering all costs of their doctor's visit. Respiratory illnesses were especially prevelant this year, and a number of individuals had to travel to regional facilities for chest x-rays. We are happy to report that no individuals tested positive for Ebola (there has only been one case in Senegal - in 2014 - and that individual was cured and returned to Guinea, where he had originiated), and everyone has recuperated nicely. Part of our goal with this Access to Healthcare project is to aid individuals in obtaining medical care before their illness or injury becomes severe, but this preemptive strategy is often too expensive for people living in the rural areas of Senegal where we work. With the aid of generous donors to this project, we are able to assist people in need under the most dire circumstances, as well as part of a preventative health program. THANK YOU!
Neighbor Ape has continued to assist people living in villages adjacent to the Fongoli chimpanzees' home range as well as to students attending school in Kedougou that live in the OBARAR dormitory that we also helped fund. Most medical needs are fortunately minor, such as providing pain reliever and other typical medicine to people living in this area of rural Senegal. We may take for granted our easy access to such resources, but it is difficult for people living in rural areas to acquire even pain reliever without traveling for hours, and they usually forego medicine except in emergencies, as it is a "luxury" that is not affordable to most.
We are also excited to begin work in conjunction with Djendji village to establish a dispensary in this, the largest village within the Fongoli chimpanzees' home range. In addition to providing medicine and first aid supplies to the several hundred people living in Djendji, surrounding villages such as Fongoli, Petit Oubadji, Wakalare, and Djigibadala would have easier access to these resources. (The photo here is of the leader of Djendji village, accepting school supplies donated by Neighbor Ape).
With the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, including the neighboring country of Guinea, we are keen to be prepared to help as best as we can with any preventative measures. We have been given a sizeable donation of PPE (personal protection equipment), such as surgical masks, gowns, gloves and eye goggles by a generous donor. These will be taken to Senegal early in 2015 and donated to either a dispensary in a rural area, such as one at Thiobo village to the south of the Fongoli chimpanzees' home range, or to a small clinic in the town of Kedougou.
With the generous donations we’ve received for our Healthcare Project, Neighbor Ape has been able to continue to assist those in need. The Neighbor Ape/OBARAR dormitory, for example, is finally finished (look for an update from an upcoming report on our Education Project) save for a few final touches, like a fence. The final building will be a dispensary, and the finishing touches on it will be done in time for the 2014-2015 school year. We hope to be able to provide basic supplies to this dispensary, such as bandages, pain reliever and other such items.
We were also able to recently assist a young man from Fangoli village with his medical expenses after he suffered several severe injuries following a motorcycle accident, in which he was a passenger. He suffered facial lacerations, several missing teeth and broken bones in his lower arm. He is on his way to recovery, with only the arm still needing some healing time. He and his family were especially appreciative of the aid that Neighbor Ape was able to provide, as the cost of his medical bills were more than 2 months salary for the average Senegalese in this area.
We anticipate helping prevent illness through the donation of mosquito nets, which Neighbor Ape does yearly, during the wet season. With the influx of many people from neighboring countries interested in the artisanal gold mining, the frequency of some illnesses, such as yellow fever has increased. Additionally, with an early onset of the rains, we anticipate a particularly tough year in terms of malaria. While the curative is relatively inexpensive compared to what someone in the United States pays for medical care (less than $10), it is cost prohibitive for many Senegalese people, especially those living in rural villages. With the continued support of generous donors, we are able to help a large number of people get access to healthcare in our part of Senegal. A little goes a very long way!
Neighbor Ape continues to provide financial assistance for local people living in the villages of Fangoli, Tenkoto, Petit Oubadji, Seekoto, and Djendji. Although it is the dry season in southeastern Senegal, malaria cases still occur, and apparently yellow fever also struck the area. In addition to assisting humans in this rural area where adequate healthcare is relatively expensive, ensuring the health of the local human population also helps contribute to the health of the Fongoli chimpanzee community. Since chimpanzees are so closely related to humans, they can contract illnesses from us but usually do not have the same immunity to diseases that we do, especially ones that are new to them.
The largest healthcare project that Neighbor Ape is currently involved in is the construction and continued support of a dispensary at the Neighbor Ape/OBARAR dormitory for Beudick schoolchildren in Kedougou. This dorm allows rural children, largely of Beudick ancestry but also including other children such as several from the Bassari village of Petit Oubadji, to live in Kedougou so that they can attend the schools in this regional town. While most rural villages have schools, they are poorly funded compared to larger schools in regional towns, and teachers are often absent because of the difficulties in traveling long distances from their homes to these villages.
The dormitory is scheduled to be completed in April, and the dispensary will provide basic medical supplies and care. We also plan to help finance some of the students' costs of such care, especially in cases where parents are unable to help out financially or where parents cannot be contacted immediately because of the distance between the dormitory and the students' home villages where communication is limited. We hope to help train someone to work in the dispensary and will keep you updated on the progress of this goal!
We are happy to be able to report that our project devoted to providing healthcare in southeastern Senegal is going strong! Neighbor Ape is working in conjunction with OBARAR, a Senegalese organization, to build a dormitory for rural Senegalese children (check out our project on ‘Conserving Chimpanzees through Education’ – last installment is almost completed!), and our healthcare project provides much-needed medicine and medical care to students living in the dorm.
This year, 28 children are residing in the OBARAR dormitory, which is specifically for Bedik children but also welcomes other children in difficult circumstances. For example, we were recently able to fund a student from the Bassari village of Petit Oubadji so that she could move into the dormitory, as she was unable to reliably attend the nearest school, which is about two miles (one way!) from her home village. This is a lengthy walk for a young student 10 times a week, especially when parents are unable to walk their children to school every day because of work-related tasks. Petit Oubadji is a village on the edge of the Fongoli chimpanzees’ home range, and a young man of that village also works for the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project.
The Bedik group is a minority in Senegal, comprising only five villages in this country, which is the only place they reside. They are traditionally horticulturalists but remain closely tied to the land where they grew up and emphasize knowledge of the environment. Young people still participate in month-long camping trips that immerse them in the natural environment and teach them valuable lessons about the wildlife and vegetation in this area of Senegal. The Sudano-Guinean habitat is relatively unique in terms of housing wild chimpanzees, and it is the reason Neighbor Ape was established in Senegal. We know very little about savanna chimpanzees, and probably less than 500 live in Senegal. It is vital to work with local stakeholders, such as the Bedik people, in order to conserve this endangered species. Neighbor Ape was incorporated to work with local people and to help provide for their wellbeing as well as the chimpanzees that live alongside them.
Our healthcare project has become specifically geared to providing funds for children in need that are residents of the OBARAR dormitory. Often times these children live far from their home villages, as the dormitory is located in the regional town of Kedougou, where children can have access to better schools. We provide funds for children in immediate need of medical attention, especially in cases where it may take days to contact their parents. We also provide for more than 50% of the healthcare costs of children whose parents are unable to take care of all their healthcare costs. Many people living in rural Senegal have little access to cash, as they are traditionally horticulturalists that grow most of their yearly food supply and plant little in the way of cash crops (to sell). We also plan on funding the building of a small pharmacy on site at the dormitory. The healthcare project is one of the most significant endeavors that Neighbor Ape takes on, as medical care is relatively expensive for people in the Kedougou area, not always reliable and crucial to the health and wellbeing of any person. Without the help of people like you we couldn't provide assistance to those in Senegal less fortunate than ourselves - thank you!
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