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Poverty Alleviation Projects

June 3, 2009

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your June 2009 report for The $10 Club.

In February, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported, “Botswana's government has warned that it may have to cut or completely withdraw its HIV/AIDS funding, despite the rising number of people needing treatment, as the global economic crisis takes a toll on the vitally important diamond-mining sector.”

Government revenues have declined, in part because of falling diamond sales, reducing the amount of money available for government programs – including those to support the one in four adults in the country with HIV. “Diamond revenues have created a heavily subsidized education system from pre-school to university, about 95 percent of the population of 1.8 million reside 15km or less from a clinic providing free health care, and all HIV-positive citizens have access to antiretroviral therapy.”

Targeted aid on the ground is vital when government institutions break down or reduce services. You may recall our March 2008 project to provide homeopathic medicines for HIV / AIDS patients through Botswana’s Maun Homeopathic Project. Maun has established a permanent and free homeopathic service for people living with HIV and AIDS and/or traumatized by rape in Maun, Botswana. In particular, the project provides homeopathy as a complementary medicine: to relieve suffering from the effects of trauma, shock and grief; to improve physical and emotional health and wellbeing; to reduce distressing symptoms and the side-effects of other treatments.

Since October 2005, the Maun Homeopathic Project has been running outreach clinics in and around Maun, Botswana. However, they have never had a place of their own, choosing instead to build up trust and partnership by running outreach clinics for the clients of their partner agencies: the Maun Counselling Centre, The Lutheran Church, Women Against Rape, and various HIV Support Groups. Together they have established a homeopathic service with an outstanding reputation for helping people living with HIV and AIDS.

As demand grew they came to realize that they needed to replace these outreach clinics with one central clinic – their own place.

Fortunately they found a large room in the YWCA, which they converted into a clinic with two consultation rooms, a pharmacy room and a waiting area. This is a central location in town close to the bus station where all current clients can gain easy access and new clients know where to find them.

They opened the clinic in January this year and treat everyone who is HIV positive for free, as well as other people who need help – all those in the community who are suffering from a range of health conditions. By treating everyone under the same roof the stigma that still exists for people living with HIV and AIDS is counteracted. The Mowana Clinic also provides an ideal base for the Project’s trainees, Alex and Wasanapi, to build their own practices once qualified.

One of the outreach clinic support group coordinators said this about the importance of their work: People here are very happy with the homeopathy.... I’ve noticed that the homeopathy has helped with people’s sores, pains, palpitations, appetite and headaches. After the treatments people feel able to look after their families and they feel less alone. I’ve noticed that people start to talk to each other about their HIV status. Before they would keep it secret. Homeopathy is something good for our community.

Since opening, the Mowana Clinic has become the heart of operations – they are so busy that a local person has been employed as a receptionist, a young woman named Lebogang. She greets clients as they arrive, makes them feel welcome, and describes to them what their homeopathy treatment will involve. She has a warm and gentle manner and takes time with each client before they see the homeopath. Lebogang manages the queue of clients and takes care of all the administration and paperwork. Her salary is vital in supporting her family and she is learning important work skills to ensure she has employment in the future.

The clinic is open four days a week from 8 until 5 and lines of people form daily and wait to be seen. On the fifth day clinic staff set off to run mobile clinics in isolated villages. Within the last 4 months they have provided over 500 consultations and treatments for people in dire need, both at the Mowana Clinic and outreach clinics.

Hilary Fairclough, Director of the Maun Homeopathy Project, tells me that they are able to raise money for volunteer and trainee expenses but have difficulty raising enough money to pay the clinic rent and receptionist salary. This month, 350 of us joined together to donate $3,500 to the Maun Homeopathy Project to pay for one year of rent at their clinic in Botswana and six months worth of the receptionist’s salary.

Over the course of the next year the clinic might see a thousand people or more. Treat them. Comfort them. Empower them. Relieve their suffering. All because of the small but vital sacrifice you made this month. Your $10 keeps the clinic doors open another year.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,

PS. Are you “in” for July? We need your help now more than ever to make a difference!

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.

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