In the last fiscal year Hesperian has sent 609 free books (plus several hundred shorter booklets) to health workers and community leaders in Ghana and neighboring countries who have requested them.
From non-profit development workers to remote village health promoters, school teachers, and clergy, countless people worldwide rely on Hesperian books as essential tools for healing, health education, and organizing for change. Hesperian’s Gratis Fund acknowledges and responds to the reality that often, those who most need our materials are the least able to pay for them. The following excerpts from letters we receive from Gratis Fund recipients prove the success of the program in strengthening the capacity of grassroots healthcare workers to improve the health of marginalized people around the world:
Reverend Thomas Abukari, Ghana
With great joy in my heart I write to acknowledge that I have received three books from your outfit. I requested for where there is dentist some time ago and you wrote to inform me how you couldn't help me due to the numerious request that comes to your office. I got a letter from your office three days ago which contained; where there is no Dentist, one book on sanitation and another on water. I must tell you the fact, the sanitation book seems to me like a book sent from God. This is the time that the community is asking me to lead them to programme for the sanitation needs of our community, I have started shearing the information with them and we are preparing to go into household toilets constraction in the dry season. I'm so grateful for your gift not to alone but the entire community. Thank you
District Pastor, Bimbilla Northern Region, Ghana
I wish to register my profound gratitude to you for approving my request for your book “Where There is No Doctor.” This kind gesture has come as a big relief to me, my congregations and the community at large. We are all grateful to you and say, May the Lord richly bless you. The book has become a companion, in addition to my Bible. I am a District Pastor with twenty-six churches in twenty-six towns and villages. I have therefore started using the book during my treks and visitations to these communities. By the help of the book, ailments such as headaches, diarrhea and dysentery, skin diseases, convulsion, toothaches, constipation, dehydration, etc. have been treated with less or no cost at all. The book has really been a blessing! I have realised that my people also need health education to enable them to reduce their health problems.
Medical attendant, Tamale, Northern Region, Ghana
I am pleased to write and inform you about how useful the books you gave us have been to us. The two books, Where There Is No Doctor and Helping Health Workers Learn, have been very useful to us and we are really grateful. Most of the people who visit our outfit are poor and as such cannot afford expensive medical services in the hospitals. So we take this as an opportunity by using the knowledge acquired from the books, to educate them and assist them to take care of minor ailments and adopt preventive medicine. The majority of our clients are women and children, who usually complain of diarrheal diseases, malnutrition, cuts and wounds, abdominal pains, headaches and colds. Below are two illustrations on how the books have been useful to us:
• By using the information on nutrition and with the help of the picture illustration in Chapter 11 of Where There Is No Doctor, we are able to help mothers choose cheap but rich nutritious foods from the local market to feed their children. This helps prevent malnutrition and other related diseases.
• A lady came to us with a one-month old baby and asked for grip water. I asked her what she wanted to do with it. She said she wanted to give it to the baby to drink to cure his stomach pains. I educated her on exclusive breast feeding and advised her not to use the grip water. Three months later she brought the baby who grew fat and looked healthy. She was happy and introduced her colleagues to us. I used the pictures on page 11-15 of Helping Health Workers Learn to illustrate to them the advantages of exclusive breast-feeding.
We are very happy with this and we intend to even improve our work. We are glad that you are associated with the good works we have been doing and we would be very appreciative if you were able to give us more useful books and literature.
Where There is No Doctor, continues to be the most in demand, followed by HIV, Health and Your Community, Where Women Have No Doctor, Where There is No Dentist, and A Book for Midwives. In addition, materials on sanitation and water, Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment and Water for Life, stand-alone booklets developed as part of our environmental health book project, also received strong distribution through the Gratis Fund.
The activities of the Gratis Fund have continued to be fueled by the dedication of volunteers—from its coordinator, Lee Gallery, to our volunteer book packers—with a minimal amount of staff support and oversight. Lee has been volunteering as the program coordinator every week for 7 years. Using her extensive experience as a community volunteer and former Peace Corps volunteer, she carefully evaluates each request to make sure that the people asking for the manuals will use them to benefit a larger community of people in need, tracks the books we send, and reads every letter of thanks before passing it on to other Hesperian staff to appreciate. The commitment of Lee and the other Hesperian volunteers assisting the Gratis Fund are a true inspiration and ensure that funds received for this program have significant impact.
We are extremely grateful for the support from our donors which has enabled Hesperian to provide health education resources to these health workers and grassroots leaders to better serve their communities.