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Poverty Alleviation Projects

July 31, 2008

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your July 2008 report for The $10 Club.

Micaela Micaela (left) saw her village of Mbatwe in Mozambique transformed over time from a rural cluster of huts to a packed village with more than 1,000 families. With the AIDS epidemic reaching Africa in the mid-1980s, Micaela’s family, friends, neighbors, teachers and religious leaders began to die mysteriously. Today, Mbatwe’s residents also suffer from malnutrition, tuberculosis, malaria, and cholera. Orphans abound and many households are led by children.

Micaela wanted to save her village. She went to work with an organization called Esperança as a community health worker three years ago and began training in prevention and treatment of the three leading causes of death in Mozambique: malaria, cholera and HIV/AIDS. She learned how mosquitoes transmit malaria, and began hanging mosquito nets in her own hut to protect her family and encouraged friends and neighbors to do the same. She learned how cleaning her well water bucket with bleach would prevent diarrhea. Once she did, she and her family began gaining weight and were able to better absorb nutrients in their food. Clean drinking water revolutionized her family’s health. And she learned about the biological causes of HIV/AIDS, how to prevent transmission, and how to coordinate village-wide testing programs.

This month, 360 of us joined together to donate $3,600 to Esperança to fund training for two new health care workers in different villages in Mozambique. Each of these community health advisors will remain in the village for three years until the community has graduated from the “Family Preservation Program.” The two community health workers will lead classes on HIV, malaria, and cholera prevention; they will work with families to track progress, ensure tools (nets and chlorine) are being used properly, and watch for emergency situations where children or adults must be transferred to the central hospital. Thousands of people will have improved health and a better chance of survival as a result of our grant. Thank you! The southeast African nation of Mozambique is one of the poorest countries on the planet, ranked 172 out of 177 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. Life expectancy is about 45 years, and only half of births are attended by skilled professionals.

HIV/AIDS remains a problem in the country. Writing in the 2007 Mozambique National Human Development Report: Challenges and Opportunities, the Response to HIV and AIDS, Ndolamb Ngokwey, UNDP Resident Representative in Maputo, contends, “that HIV and AIDS are exacerbating the problems of poverty, malnutrition, low educational levels and gender disparities, thus threatening the attainment of the [Millennium Development Goals] as well as slowing growth and development.”

The report adds, “according to information from the Ministry of Health, the National Health Service offers care to between 40-50% of the population. Which means that the other 50%, even when they are able to identify a health problem, cannot go to any health unit, because one does not exist near them.”

The malaria situation is grim as well. The World Health Organization reports that malaria is endemic throughout Mozambique and is “the leading cause of death in hospitals, accounting for almost 30% of deaths recorded.” Children – especially those between ages one and three – are particularly vulnerable to malaria.

Cholera, an intestinal infection caused by eating foods or drinking liquids containing the bacterium Vibrio cholerae can cause severe diarrhea leading to dehydration and even death if left untreated. Mozambique, throughout the years, has recorded extremely high cases of cholera, and in some years since the early 1990s, has accounted for anywhere between 1/3 and 1/5 of all cholera cases in Africa.

With Esperança’s dedicated community health workers, there is a fighting chance! Kelli M. Donley, MPH, Esperança Program Director, tells me that their team “reaches out to their neighbors and friends. They are the first ones in their village to hang mosquito nets to keep their families safe from malaria, to buy soap and keep a bucket of fresh water for hand-washing near the latrine, to be tested for HIV. They lead by example and encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Improved health is the reward.”

Yet again we’ve found a way to save thousands of lives with our small $10 donation this month and for that we should all be proud. When I’m working in the yard tomorrow and I’m bothered by mosquitoes I’ll take a minute to think of the community health education project we’ve just funded and the fact that in some village in Mozambique a child will not die from a mosquito bite…because of you.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,

Adam


The $10 Club is a nonprofit corporation registered in the District of Columbia.
Contributions are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


The $10 Club 2040 Tunlaw Rd., NW Washington, DC 20007 (202) 337-3123 adam@thetendollarclub.org