A Volunteer in Kenya

September 14, 2012 by  
Filed under News

Excerpts from a letter by SOLID volunteer, Karen Siu after her recent volunteer experience inKenya:

“I feel very privileged to have been allowed to travel toKenyaas a representative of SOLID, and I am proud to be one of the many supporters of the SOLID Exchange, contributing to the tireless work of fundraising for this wonderful cause.

This was my first trip toKenya, and my first volunteer trip.  I was a bit nervous about how things would go, as it was also the first trip for my traveling companion.

It turned out we had nothing to worry about as Lynda Turner, SOLID director had everything very well organized for us.  We were met at the airport by Lynda’s lovely partner in Dormer K learning centre, and taken to the complex that we stayed at for 3 weeks. There we met Marie McKay (love her!) who runs Keef, which gets boys sponsored for school scholarships. Marie was onSaltSpringIslandlast year talking about the goat gifting program.

We were soon busy buying items for the sanitary kits for the girls, and fair trade African giftwear to sell at home to continue to raise funds to support these projects.

Trips to different areas were arranged for us to meet with groups of women with HIV, and present to them the goats that had been generously donated by so many people.  The women were always gathered singing, as it was a very joyous occasion to be receiving a goat!

We also took buckets with the sanitary supplies for the girls to many different schools.  It was a bit like being Santa Clause!  The girls seem a bit shy at first, but were all smiles when they were given buckets containing sanitary pads, soap and underwear, enabling them to attend school every day of the month.

The trips to the schools to donate the uniforms were very special and memorable.  There were so many kids at these schools whose uniforms or clothing was in such disrepair that it was surprising that the items stayed on. The children were so happy to get their new uniforms that they would change into to the new ones right away!

There was also a trip to one of the local hospital maternity wards to hand out layette kits. This was a shocking experience as this was a very crowded and dirty small ward, with 2 moms with new babies crowding each small cot.  Some of the mothers were unable to pay their hospital bills, so they were forced to stay in the overcrowded and unsanitary wards until their bill was paid.  This all seems a bit irrational, but somehow it must work for the hospital, yet is tragic for the new moms.  When they got their layettes with their pads, soap, underwear and baby clothes in them they were all so happy.

It was very obvious that Dormer K is making a profound difference to these people and I was proud to represent SOLID as a volunteer. Kakamega,Kenyais not a place to go for a “holiday”, but the experience helping these people will stay with me forever.  I hope I am able to go again as it was a very rewarding experience! Karen Siu

Ndi Moyo Update

September 14, 2012 by  
Filed under News, SOLID Newsletters

Ndi_MoyoSOLID continues to support the Ndi Moyo Palliative Care Centre in Salima, Malawi, and over the past year your generous donations have allowed SOLID to send $10,000 to the centre, supporting the critical work that Ndi Moyo conducts every day with the sickest of Malawi’s palliative patients. Your donations funded the formal training of the centre’s Clinical Officer as he completed his Bachelor of Palliative Care through Hospice Africa Uganda. This training benefits not only the centre’s immediate clients but also provides the potential for training other local health professionals in the complexities of Palliative Care.

Your donations have provided for transportation of very ill patients to the centre for care, allowing them to receive the required attention to ease their suffering. We have also continued to support the Comfort Fund which supplies basics such as maize, sugar, soap, soy and toothbrushes, contributing to the health and well-being of families, and also lifting some of the social and economic burdens which illness can bring. Your generosity has also enabled Ndi Moyo staff to visit grieving families during their bereavement to offer counselling as well as contributing small sums to cover funeral expenses. This service provides much needed and appreciated comfort and support to the centre’s patients and their families. We will also be able to provide blankets and mosquito nets and maize to alleviate the social, economic and nutritional burdens that accompany chronic and terminal illness.

Life for local Malawians has become increasingly difficult with the devaluation of the local currency by more than 60% and poverty continues to be prevalent. For local people who earn their income in Kwacha this has had a staggering impact as of course people have not seen subsequent salary increases of 60%, nor have their salaries accounted for a 15% inflation rate. The cost of a litre of gas has increased by more than 90%, and the cost of transportation on mini-buses has skyrocketed. In essence the poor of Malawi have become poorer.

Ndi Moyo Palliative Care Centre has also struggled as the global economic downturn has dramatically affected donations received. In order to provide the necessary pain medications and other needs of their patients reaching the end of life $9000 monthly is required. The center currently has 340 active patients, and in addition they have been reaching out to their clients vulnerable children, ensuring that as orphans they still have support and access to school. Mosquito nets and blankets for the cool winter evenings are also a great need.

SOLID will continue to raise awareness and funds for this important project and your generosity is appreciated. Tax receipts are available for donations, and cheques should be made out to VIDEA (SOLID’s fiscal partner) with ADPP Ndi Moyo on the memo line) and can be sent to SOLID at 1206B-115 Fulford-Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island, BC, V8K 2T9.


Anna Callegari

SOLID Director