Improve Education for 400 Children on Idjwi Island

by Idjwi Island Education Fund
Improve Education for 400 Children on Idjwi Island
Improve Education for 400 Children on Idjwi Island
Improve Education for 400 Children on Idjwi Island
Improve Education for 400 Children on Idjwi Island
Improve Education for 400 Children on Idjwi Island
Improve Education for 400 Children on Idjwi Island
Just a few of the pairs of shoes collected
Just a few of the pairs of shoes collected

I am sure you know that it's awfully hard to learn when you don't feel well. Kids in developing countries often carry illnesses in their bodies that don't make them outwardly sick, but can zap a kid's energy and upset their momentum. Many of these illnesses come from parasites in the soil, which are especially challenging to prevent because the kids don't have shoes. The illnesses can be treated by medicines - when available - but bare feet are easily re-infected. Part of our effort to keep our kids healthy is to provide the medicine when we can, and to cover kids' feet with shoes.

SHOES!

Each year our Fund holds a shoe drive for sturdy, quick-drying, children's shoes for our kids. Last year we were able to bring more than a hundred pairs of shoes to our kids and this year we aim to send more. We have just initiated our shoe drive for this year.

An important part of our effort with the kids on Idjwi Island is help them to learn by providing a secure environment, which was the construction of the new school building. The other piece is to keep them learning, and to achieve that goal, we must keep them as healthy as we can. 

There is a saying in Swahili that goes "HABA NA HABA HUJAZA KIBABA"  which translated literally means: little by little fills up the measure, but its' real meaning is that a great journey is begun by a single mile.  

Our shoes are just a part.

 

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In August 2017, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai teamed with members of the Idjwi Island Education Fund community to initiate a pilot child health assessment in IIEF’s newly renovated Buhumba primary school. The new facility, equipped with wooden desks and chalkboards, presented an environment to screen, treat, and deworm school children. Our partnership with the school’s head master and teachers was essential to every aspect of this project; from identifying most in-need children, documenting their names, to assuring every child received each screening. Dr. Annie Sparrow, a Global Health physician, and myself, an Anthropologist, worked with a local nutritionist, Jacques, and medical student, Sammy.  The IIEF provided critical logistical and translation support through its representatives on Idjwi, Jandah and Rodrigue.

Over the course of 4 days, a total of 87 students were assessed; 54 students from the Buhumba primary school and 33 students from Iko, a tiny island just south of Idjwi. The team stayed on Iko island, where we also spent the first day training and preparing. Sammy and Jacques learned to use the hemoglobinometer (to look for anemia, a sign of iron deficiency) and glucose tester, as well as the rapid malaria diagnostic test (RDT). The next days were spent at the Buhumba school, where we measured height, weight, arm circumference, glucose and hemoglobin counts, screened for malaria, conducted urine analysis to detect bladder infection and schistosomiasis (a parasitic infection children and adults catch from swimming in Lake Kivu), and concluded with a clinical examination. Distended stomachs, reflecting malnutrition, were visible in nearly every child. 

The team treated all 49 girls and 37 boys, with an average age of 6-years-old, for intestinal worms, a highly common cause of the widespread malnutrition. The number of children with fever, clinical signs of malaria, or other infection, exceeded our expectations- we ran out RDTs. 44 children out of 72 tested positive for malaria falciparum, the most-deadly type, 19 boys and 25 girls. This was just over half of all children, and more than 60% of those tested. All 44 children were subsequently treated with AS-AQ treatment. Several children were also treated for schistosomiasis. A majority of the children’s soles of the feet were in poor condition. Cuts and sores on the soles of feet are a risk factor for developing podoconiosis, a disease appearing similar to elephantiasis, but which is caused by chronic exposure to tiny irritants in soil.

Malaria is a serious public health threat in this community. The teachers and head master confirmed that no one in the Buhumba village sleeps under a bed net, which we know is the single most useful item in preventing death and disease in children from malaria, as well as from other infectious diseases.  Conical long-lasting insecticide treated bed-nets, which can protect several children at a time by easily hanging from the ceiling, along with proper education on why to use them, could be incredibly effective.  While the IIEF has provided shoes for many students, it would be a valuable intervention to provide even more. 

Our aim is to continue child health strategies in partnership with IIEF and the Buhumba primary school. In just four days, our team tightly bonded. Fostering cross-cultural connections is such a special and meaningful aspect of global health work. The warmth and kindness we endlessly experienced on the Island makes this difficult work so incredibly worth-while.

 -Natalie Garland, MSc Social Anthropology

Our Team!
Our Team!
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We have just completed a thrilling year at the Buhumba Village primary school on Idjwi Island.  Nearly 500 kids finished the school year in the brand new classroom building, and we expect an even larger enrollment in the fall.  

This spring, our leadership visited the school for a formal dedication ceremony with the school director, teachers, community and school leaders, and our local representatives.  We saw how thrilled and proud the students are to have this new classroom building. We saw the ongoing construction of the new latrines that will be open in this fall. We learned that the enrollment in the early grades is growing so fast that we will need to build even more new desks.  And we talked to the school community about its responsibility to continue to sustain the school and its programs.  

This visit also helped us to focus our future efforts to provide the school with resources that will allow the children to thrive. We agree with the school leaders' recommendations that essential future programs will include the expansion and implementation of a public health/nutrition program, the construction of the administrative building. potable water, and teacher enrichment and training. 

We are busy at work on these programs.  We are currently planning a lengthy visit by our public health team to conduct thorough health assessments for the children, starting with the youngest kids.  We will have more details to share soon.

We are excited that these kids have a worthy classroom building. We have lots more work to do.  Thank you for joining us on this journey.

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The new classroom building
The new classroom building

The families in Buhumba Village are preparing for a major event at l'Ecole Buhumba!  

Early next month, the Education Minister from South Kivu and the King of Idjwi Sud Roger Ntambuka will be in Buhumba Village for a formal dedication of the new classroom building. They will be welcomed by the 500 primary school students, teachers, and community leaders. This important dedication will be followed by an education summit with directors of dozens of schools from across Idjwi Island.  

A group of our leaders and representatives will attend this very important event. We will take this opportunity to meet with school and community leaders to review our current programs and additional construction that is underway (new latrines) and planned (completion of the administrative building).  

We are thrilled that the children have a new classroom building that provides a better environment for learning and will make them proud - but we are not finished! We are continuing to work on facilities, programs, health care and nutrition at the school in order to provide the kids with real opportunity. We appreciate your interest and support.

The Idjwi Island Education Fund

new desks!
new desks!
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We finished the new classroom building for the kids in Buhumba Village! Our crew, from Goma and from Idjwi, worked through the summer to complete the construction of the new building which houses six classrooms. The entire school community is thrilled and proud of the new building, which is constructed with a stone foundation, brick and mortar walls, a heavy timber supported metal roof, and concrete floors.

The new building is so popular that our enrollment has increased by approximately 150 children. We now have more than 500 children at the school. We are busy building new desks as fast as we can to provide additional work space for the new students.

Our work is not finished. While this new classroom building will provide a better learning environment for the kids, much more is needed to provide the kids with an opportunity to reach their full potential. We are continuing to work on public health, nutrition, sanitation and teacher training programs that will provide better conditions for the children to learn.  

We appreciate your support on this journey. There is more excitement to come.

Interior of a classroom in the new building
Interior of a classroom in the new building
A classroom in the old school building
A classroom in the old school building
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Organization Information

Idjwi Island Education Fund

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
David Folds
Washington, DC United States
$81,771 raised of $90,000 goal
 
547 donations
$8,229 to go
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