Sep 1, 2015

Missionvale Nutrition Project Report August 2015

Dear friends

It is with profound gratitude that we are able to write to you with another update on our life giving nutrition programme, made possible because of your kind and generous contributions!

The Nutrition Unit is only one part of our Care Centre, yet it integrates into everything else we do:  from the Primary School with its 288 learners, to our skills development programmes (vegetable gardens and craft making) and most importantly our clinic where state of the art healthcare is provided by volunteer doctors.  We’ve said it so many times before:  without Nutrition, no one would really benefit from any of these programmes.  It never ceases to amaze us to see the difference a little bit of food on a constant basis can make.  We are especially happy to see a child that was once so weak he could barely walk, now being able to play soccer with his friends!  We see mothers getting stronger and being able to live longer, despite the horrific reality of HIV and Aids in Missionvale. 

While there have been many successes, there have been many tragic losses too.  Our school principal reported that twelve children lost their parents or close family members in 2014, and up to now, a further five have suffered this incredible loss, leaving them orphaned and vulnerable.  It is for this reason that we have increased our fundraising target on Global Giving to $90 000, so that we can ensure our Nutrition Programme can continue to reach these families.  (Truth be told though, while the need is this big, the project will never be fully funded!)  The list of people waiting for assistance is three times as long as the people we are helping at the moment.  An overwhelming thought.  It is the ones that are not on the list that keep us awake at night, that prompt us to try harder, to do more, to seek more help.  And it is people like you who respond to that desperate plea that make it possible for us to continue another day. 

Normally we would add a few photographs to our report, but this time I thought we’d add a bit of life to them!  Last week I took a walk through the Centre with my cell phone handy and I took a short video showing the work that happens here on a daily basis.  To view the video, follow this link:  https://youtu.be/50DmQ1EY3js I hope you enjoy it!

Thank you again!  You are remembered every morning in thankful prayer by the children and families of this dusty township in South Africa!

Links:

Jun 2, 2015

Missionvale Nutrition Project Report June 2015

Receiving a food parcel and sharing a laugh!
Receiving a food parcel and sharing a laugh!

Dear friends

We are once again in awe of your constant generosity to our project, and we are also deeply grateful to those of you who donated for the first time during this quarter.  Your interest in our mission and your concern for the people of this community is sincerely appreciated.

During March and April this year, we did 518 one-to-one interviews with our beneficiaries to obtain up-to-date demographic information of our beneficiaries, and to gain a snapshot of their opinions of their own health improvement, as well as of the importance to their health of the weekly food parcels in our Nutrition and Wellness Programme.  This data was captured and collated with the assistance of our good friends at the College of St John’s / St Ben’s University who volunteered with us for four months.  Connie Nelson - partner emeritus of The Public Strategies Group, USA - wrote the report.  Connie has over 25 years’ experience in results measurement of public purpose organizations.

I thought it would be nice to share a few excerpts from the report with you as it illustrates both the criticality of the programme, and also the impact of the food parcel on our beneficiaries’ lives so you can see your contributions at work!

Excerpts fromMissionvale Care Center Beneficiaries: 

Demographic Profile & Ratings of Services Provided

The overall picture of Missionvale beneficiary’ perception of health progress is as follows:  26 percent report their health is improving, 42 percent report their health is maintaining, and 36 percent report their health is declining

Other Factors Affecting Beneficiary Health – In addition to the food parcels received and support groups services received from Missionvale Care Center, the big factors they reported as affecting their health improvement (or lack thereof) included:

  1. Unemployment, No Jobs, Financial Stress.  Far and away, the most frequently mentioned factor said to be affecting their health was stress about finances.  Many beneficiaries reported constant worry over no work, no income, intermittent work, stretching their money far enough, repaying loans with high interest, paying bills, paying for items their kids or grandkids need to go to school, etc.   
  2. Shelter.   Several mentioned the lack of stable housing as a factor affecting their health.  “I am still waiting for a house (since 2003).  The smells in the air from burning by my shack are terrible. I have no privacy or safety.”
  3. Abuse, Violence.  Several beneficiaries mentioned abuse from, or conflicts with, family members or neighbors – especially when drugs or alcohol were involved.  Some reported violence from people to whom they or other family members owe debts.  A very few mentioned feeling unsafe due to “criminals” whom they didn’t know.
  4. On the Positive Side, the factors mentioned most often were: their own positive belief and faith, access to the health clinic and community caregivers, and access to the Missionvale Care Center as a safe place to go during the day.

Beneficiaries were asked to rate the importance to their health of two of Missionvale Care Center’s service offerings.  The two services are:

  • Weekly food parcels.  Missionvale Care Center offers a food parcel once a week to registered individuals.  They are able to take the parcel with them and use to prepare food at home.  The food parcel contains maize meal, sugar, tea, a can of fish, a can of beans, and two soap bars.
  • Weekly support groups.  Missionvale Care Center offers support groups for persons who are HIV-positive. 

 The vast majority of beneficiaries rated both the food parcels and support groups as extremely important to their health.  

Reasons Why.   When asked for the reasons why they gave the rating they did, beneficiary comments conveyed thankfulness for having food to eat at all, the nutrition provided by the food parcel, and – as medically directed – that they had some food to eat at the same time as taking certain meds.  They singled out individual food items as extra important to them: the fish and beans, the bread, the sugar.  But, food wasn’t the only thing mentioned.  The soap was mentioned often – “to help keep clean.”  Last, a few people said that knowing they would get a food parcel weekly has helped prevent them from having to beg – or even steal – when they are desperate for food.   In essence, the weekly food parcels act as a “stress reliever” for many beneficiaries experiencing high financial distress.

 Some representative verbatim comments –

  • “I appreciate the food parcels.  Otherwise, I would have nothing to eat.”
  • “To have something to eat with my medicines. How should I cope otherwise?”
  • “Too little, but it helps a lot.  It is finished in one day.”
  • “To eat healthy.  I am gaining weight, feeling stronger.”
  • The food parcel is extremely important because when I get it, I know that day I can eat.”

Your contributions are doing so much more than just providing basic nutrition.  You make it possible for people to have a safe place to escape from reality, to meet a basic need that also acts as a stress reliever, and most importantly, to offer some glimmer of hope amidst incomprehensible daily struggles for survival.

And for that, we can never thank you enough.

 

Links:

Mar 4, 2015

Nutrition Project Report February 2015

Dear Friends

With your help and generosity, our project has reached the poorest of the poor and has assisted families in their area of greatest need.  Even though the project has reached its financial goal, the truth is that it’s far from being complete.  The need here in Missionvale is overwhelming.  What keeps us going is seeing the many successes that are made possible because of basic needs being met.  With your support, our beneficiary families have had something to eat which enabled them to take their medication, to go to school and learn, and in some cases, just being able to survive another day.  Therefore, instead of closing the project, we are going to increase our funding goal so that we can continue this vital service!  We have also identified some other areas of great need, and thanks to Global Giving, we are able to communicate such needs by listing additional projects so watch this space for more information! 

We always battle to fully express our gratitude to those who support us so generously.  To think that we are separated by so many miles, but that your hearts are close enough to make a real difference in the world is extremely humbling. 

Perhaps the best way to say thank you is to share with you the impact your contributions are making on the lives of the people in this community!  One of our most recent success stories, is the story of Morné Smith*, aged 40. Morné was in a horrible accident a year and a half ago. He was walking on the side of the road when a vehicle crashed into him and pinned him to a building. He was badly injured and, after surgery, declared paralised. He lost his job as a cabinet maker and became bedridden and depressed. He was the only provider for his wife and two children and now his life had changed forever.

When our community health practitioners found him, he had terrible bed sores. He was very depressed and did not want visitors, but they persisted and cared for him every day, taking care of the bedsores, taking food parcels and bread for the children for school and offering counseling. They referred him to Physiotherapy and ensured he kept his appointments. He was told he would never have feeling in his legs again.

One warm day, he was sitting in the sun and felt a burning sensation on his legs! He mentioned it to the Physiotherapist who started intensive therapy, and for the first time in almost two years, Morné stood up! He now gratefully accepts visits and help from our careworkers and continues his treatment – perhaps he will be able to walk again!

Nutrition was only a small part of his story, but here at the Care Centre we believe in holistic care. His first need was medical. Encompassed in that was a need for nutrition, spiritual care and most importantly, love.  Websites like Global Giving enable us to give it. Every contribution you have made, travels all the way across the waters, and into the homes of those who need it most.  Every time you have clicked the “yes” button to donate, someone was nourished because of it.  And every time you feel it in your heart to give, ten thousand hearts in South Africa give thanks because of you.

Thank you for continuing to believe in us.  

 

* Name has been changed to protect the privacy of our beneficiaries.

 
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