In rural Senegal, healthcare is difficult to access as well as expensive for people who may survive on a subsistence economy, growing the food they need but usually having little access to cash. The OBRAR organization in Senegal is composed mainly of people of the Beudick ethnic group, a minority in this country, with only about 5 Beudick villages remaining. Given the problems of obtaining good healthcare in a timely manner for villagers without access to health insurance, this Senegalese organization moved to organize a lending system. This system provides loans for those in need in medical emergency situations and functions as a result of individuals putting small amounts of money into the larger fund on a monthly basis. OBRAR plans on making the loan system available to other villages and ethnic groups in the area, including Fangoli village (see photo).
Neighbor Ape began working with OBRAR previously on education projects but also initiated a healthcare project in late 2012. This project began as a tribute to Dorothy Pruetz, mother of Neighbor Ape’s Director and frequent donor to our non-profit. Dorothy passed away in November of 2012 after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. Even while she was ill, she spoke frequently of those who were not as fortunate as she. She worried about people, especially those she knew of in rural Senegal, who did not have the same access to healthcare she had in the United States. She also worried about those who did not have relatives or friends around to help them in emergency situations. In memory of Dorothy’s kindness, Neighbor Ape joined OBRAR in seeking to bring healthcare to those who need it in southeastern Senegal.
The first step we have taken is to provide seed money in the form of approximately $200 so that the OBRAR healthcare project loans can immediately become available for those in need. Additionally, we are working on a program that will contribute, without the expectation of repayment, from 50 to 75% of the costs of healthcare in situations in which healthcare costs are most prohibitive during the initial year of the OBRAR healthcare project. We plan to work with local healthcare workers that travel in between villages to understand their needs in terms of medicines that might be purchased by Neighbor Ape. Finally, we plan to purchase between 30 and 100 mosquito nets to distribute throughout the area before the rainy season begins in May. Malaria is one of the most serious diseases people face in this region, and it is endemic in southeastern Senegal.
This project is an especially fulfilling one for Neighbor Ape, as well as participants in the OBRAR healthcare project. We look forward to continuing our support and to expanding our aid in innovative ways.
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