What a busy first week!

Hi all,

Jessica and I have finished our first week of work! It sure has been a busy start to the summer. We spend every day out in the field learning about our beneficiaries (members of FAOC – the Foundation for AIDS Orphaned Children) and assessing the health status of their goats. While our main focus is the goat pass-on project, it is important that we look at the  big picture to get an overall idea about the struggles that each family faces. During each visit, we are interviewing each member to assess the health status of their family, their access to water (the distance they travel and whether they boil the water), the number of ophans they have, the number of children in school (or reasons for not being in school), their sources of income, their diet etc. so that we can educated them during our visit (ie, the benefits of boiling water) or help to initiate programs to help with their struggles (ex. revolving fund for loans or water tanks for groups that have to travel long distances for water). Some of the common themes across many households are not having the fees to pay for their children to go to school and illness (“flu” and stomach pains). Some women are grandmothers caring for their grandchildren (in many cases, their children have passes away, likely from HIV). Even in their 70’s and 80’s these women are working long days to support their orphans and grandchildren. One older lady was caring for a young child that she found on her doorstep along with 3 other grandchilren and suffered from severe arthritis and intermittent paralysis of her legs. These women are the hardest working people I have ever met and they are trying their best to care for their loved ones. We will do as much as we can to try to help these women in the most sustainable way possible.

The FAOC youth meeting have also been going well. Jess and I have been observing for the past 2 meetings. Children gather at the youth center to practice their craft making. They also perform songs and dances and talk with the leaders (Vivian and Alice who are FAOC directors) about important topics. This weeks topic was on HIV and sex. In our society, it would be strange for children as young as 4 years old to be talking about these topics but it is crucial here to help stop the spread of HIV.

Although the weekend is here, there is still more work to be done. Unfortunately, one of our super-trainers (a beneficiary trained with veterinary skills) Ibrahim has fallen very ill and I will be traveling to his parish tomorrow to take him to the hospital to seek treatment. He is the most valuable member of FAOC and I really hope that he gets better.

That is all for now.

Laura