As you can see from the picture above, work continues for the construction of our new Medical Center. We have completed the security fence, which completely surrounds the Medical Center property, allowing for materials to be properly secured during construction. Brick production will continue as fast as possible during the rainy season with completion of the facility expected late next year. All bricks are being made onsite - only about 55,000 to go.
Architects from our construction partner, Building Goodness Foundation (BGF), are planning to visit Liberia in July to review progress and discuss building details with our Liberian contractor, LUCE. One goal is to transfer key building skills to as many local young men as possible during this construction project. BGF is planning to bring construction teams during critical phases - foundation, roof, plumbing, electical/solar, finishing.
A Community Garden Workshop was held in May to teach basic skills. Portions of the garden are beginning to produce crops regularly, helping to feed our workers. Many plots are available. The local community is being encouraged to participate.
Partnering in TeleHealth
Earlier this year Dr. Chris began working with the University of VA (UVA) Center for Telehealth to explore potential applications in Liberia. The UVA Center for Telehealth draws from its broad experience in providing access to healthcare in rural communities to foster global relationships to treat illness and to advance healthcare education in a growing number of places around the world. In addition to the link between Kakata, Liberia and Charlottesville, VA a link has also been set up with Mbarara University Science and Technology (MUST) in Uganda.
For the past year UVA has been working with colleagues in Uganda to create a Global Classroom for collaborative research and training. This collaboration takes many forms, which include Resident Case Conferences, guest lectures, and undergraduate research exchanges. Providing these resources to our clinic in Kakata offers huge potential to provide local continuing education courses over the Internet, to provide access to medical information from digital medical libraries, and to facilitate exchanges between doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals and other centers of medical expertise.
Last month several patients benefited directly from consultations on "difficult to treat" wounds. Many wounds seen in Liberia are severe, healing poorly or not at all. Not only is Dr. Chris able to consult with colleagues remotely in order to resolve these difficult cases, but her ever-expanding team of Community Health Workers also have been able to share local treatment methods used in Liberia with the staff in VA. These intereactions are providing new insights to the challenges and solutions for treatments where resources are limited to local sources. Meetings and live presentations are currently scheduled twice a month.
Our accountant, James, has been invited to VA to participate in technology training in October, all expenses paid. He is currently working to computerize all of our records and teach the Community Health Workers how to enter patient data.
It's rainy season, so the focus moves closer to Kakata as roads flood and transportation becomes diffcult. There is more time for hiring and training. Mission teams are now visiting two or three times a month bringing critical medical skills and dental resources. Operating funds are short. We need your help to keep growing - for staff, medicine, supplies, and fuel.
It is the dry season and we are so busy. Active outreach through the community watch forum programs on Liberian radio continues to increase awareness.
Over the past 3 months a regular rotation schedule through the communities has been established - providing one day of community education, health checks and specific patient visits in the community, followed by one day of patient visits at the clinic. Although the clinic target is 35 patients per day, typically 40-45 are showing up on the days the clinic is open. Support by Community Leaders continues to grow with improvements in the community meeting places to support Health Education and new benches for the patient waiting area at the clinic.
In January 280 patients were served in the clinic, including 12 pregnant women, 5 diabetics, 2 patients with epilepsy, and many more with high blood pressure and challenging wounds. In February we saw 265. During 2013 a total of 2,267 patients were treated in the clinic, 755 of which were children. Another 11,680 community members participated in Heath Education Programs in their communities and 8,538 patients, 4,288 of which were children, participated in our deworming program.
Partnering activity has continued to expand shifting focus from just receiving and distributing donated materials to hosting medical team members. The Hands of Hope Foundation, visiting Kakata offered valuable continuing education for Dr. Chris and the nurses. Dr. Duane Spaulding, Medical Director at Heart to Heart Haiti and a HWHL Board Member, made his first visit to Liberia. Other visitors came from Virginia, Canada and China.
A team of architects from our Construction Partner, Building Goodness Foundation in Virginia, spent a week with Dr. Chris in January assessing our building site and evaluating available construction methods and materials. Almost $300,000 had been committed to the facility construction project. We expect the site plan and drawings to be completed in the next few weeks as final details and budgets are worked out with the local construction contractor, potential materials providers in Liberia and the US, and solar experts from Washington state.
Last month for the first time Community Leaders, representing all 33 of the communities we serve in the Kakata District, took time to meet together and discuss community healthcare programs and needs. Detailed statistics of patient visits and education programs over the past year were shared for each community and a summarized assessment of the overall health situation across the district was presented. Work is now underway to prioritize the health needs in each community and to develop specific action plans for the coming year. New education programs and clinic services are already being implemented by Dr. Chris and her team.
The outstanding generosity of our donors over the summer has enabled us to extend and accelerate plans in many areas.
It is with deep gratitude that I send this report.
Thank you all for your continuting support for our work in Liberia.
Days in Kakata start early for Dr. Chris, usually with a walk and quiet time about 5:30, followed by breakfast and devotions with the clinic team, then a training session for community volunteers and staff. As the team gets ready for the day inside, people are congregating in the yard, waiting for the clinic to open. Depending on how many people have gathered, the staff is flexible with some heading out to organize the crowd and others heading off to the communities scheduled for daily visits. Once Dr. Chris has seen every patient, she joins the teams in the field. Evenings are spent charting, supervising projects, documenting needs, planning projects, and participating in community activities. Days are long. Patients show up at all hours.
Since mid-July, Dr. Chris has been traveling in the U.S. visiting churches and other groups in 9 regions around the country, sharing the story of HWHL, identifying future mission teams, and raising support for the next year. Now that the clinical operations are running smoothly in Kakata, Dr. Chris has been able to focus attention on the expansion of non-medical “community support projects”.
With your fantastic support this year, we’ve been able to meet or exceed all of our operational objectives. We’d like to thank each and every one of your for your continuing generosity and your contributions through Global Giving.
Beginning in September you can become a project fundraiser for HWHL by creating your own fundraiser page and managing your own projects. Just let us know how you want to help, there is certainly plenty to do!
GlobalGiving Open Challenge Success
The GlobalGiving Open Challenge in April was our first attempt at online fundraising. Our goal was to just be successful - meet the challenge objectives. Through the support of 66 donors we raised $6165, exceeding the $5000 target. In fact in this one campaign we exceeded our total number of individual donors for the year 2012.
As you know one of our donors from St. Louis matched the first $5000, doubling what you contributed, bringing the total to $11,165. While we have promoted and advocated for our work in Liberia in the past, many board members and other volunteers had never used social media or asked friends and family directly for financial support for our work. It was a learning experience for all of us in many, many ways. Thank you for making our first campaign such a tremendous success.
Rainy Season Challenges
It’s rainy season now in Liberia, lasting from May until October. The unpaved roads turn into rivers of thick, sticky red mud. The car Dr. Chris drives can’t get to many of the villages where we work. Some villages are totally cut off. We are working with several churches and other groups in the US to raise money to purchase a high clearance 4X4 truck with a lockable shell. We are opening a new project at GlobalGiving to raise the funds needed to ship this new vehicle to Liberia in August.
In June a second project will be opened to fund the expansion of our program for health education. Last month information on how to identify and treat diabetes and high blood pressure was provided to 953 people. We also teach on nutrition and sanitation. In addition during April Dr. Chris treated 496 people in the villages, 112 in the clinic, and distributed worm medication to 2339. She also was invited to serve as one of 3 physicians in a clinic at the Healing Jesus Crusade held May 1st and 2nd in Kakata.
Update on Construction
After a meeting last month with Margibi County Senator Scott Cooper, agreement was reached for the construction of a new road to the land where we will construct the Kakata Acute Care Clinic and Health Education Center. We thought we might have to fund and manage the road construction project ourselves. Funding and project management by the county will be a blessing - one less thing for Dr. Chris to do. The road contractor has already been hired and project planning is underway. One of Dr. Chris’ long time supporters in Texas donated $20,000 last month and we have officially opened the capital project fund for construction of the new permanent clinic facility. We don’t have the final construction estimates yet, but the land has been purchased and we are well on our way to start work when the rainy season ends in October
A representative from New Life Church in Colorado Springs is traveling to Liberia in June to meet Dr Chris, to see the land and local operations, and to discuss possible future projects for church mission teams. Dr. Chris will be traveling in the US speaking at over 35 churches in 10 states later this summer. We expect several mission teams during the next dry season beginning in November. .
Thank you again for your continuing support.
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