In 2007 I visited Rwanda with the Conservative Party social action team. Each year since then they have returned to continue their work. Dr Sharon Mitchell has been back each year to work for two weeks in a Rwandan Health Centre. I've seen the work she does there for myself and it is humbling. Sharon is the wife of International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, whose idea these visits were. I hope you will read her post and donate a feew points to a very good cause.
Dr Sharon Mitchell writes...
As you may know, over the last 3 years as part of my sabbatical I have spent some months working as a doctor in Rwanda and Uganda. In fact I have just returned from my fourth visit to the Kirambi Health Centre in Rwanda where I now have very strong ties with the people.
During my time at Kirambi I have seen almost a thousand patients, who previously had never had access to a doctor as the health centre is staffed solely by nurses. I have used these consultations as a way of helping the nurses to improve their care of patients. We have helped the nurses develop professionally in other ways as well, such as weekly in-house teaching sessions and provision of a reference library.
My visit this year has been very exciting. The focus this year was on setting up Family Planning services. With a view to this we organised training for the Government funded nurses on how to deliver modern contraceptive methods. We ran workshops in collaboration with the community social workers with post-natal and ante-natal women. We have also furnished and decorated the new family planning clinic. This is the first time many of the women of Kirambi have had access to any contraception methods.
Kirambi Health Centre is run by the Medical Missionaries of Mary and cares for a population of 10,000 people. Many of whom are very poor, often surviving on less than 25p a day. Average life expectancy in Rwanda is only 46 years. Malaria is rife and 45 % of children are malnourished. Contraception is available to only 27% of women. Locally there is no electricity, no running water and no public transport, whilst the nearest hospital is a four hour walk away.
The centre has twenty staff (12 nurses, 8 community workers). Despite the limited number of staff they run primary care, HIV, TB, antenatal and malnutrition clinics. There are in-patient beds for very sick patients and a maternity ward, which plays a vital role in providing safer deliveries for women. Many of whom would otherwise be forced to deliver at home far away from help. The centre also runs farming, public health and water sanitation projects for the community.
I have been so inspired by all the hard work that is done at Kirambi. The team there never fail to amaze me. What they achieve from day to day with minimal resources is quite astonishing. With so few doctors in Rwanda, these nurses provide essential medical care to their communities.
The centre would like to expand their services and set up a Health Outpost Satellite, three hours walk away in Cyahafi. This will allow them to reach more people through outreach immunisation, HIV, TB and antenatal clinics. They will combine this with health education and promotion for the local population on issues such as nutrition, disease prevention and hygiene. There will also be classes on community building skills in order to help local communities become more empowered and self-sufficient.
The MMM have put together a business plan and have enough funding to cover staffing and transportation costs for the proposed Health Outpost. They already own a suitable plot of land but they do not have a building! The building will cost £8728. It will have a class room, two consultation rooms and two pit latrines. So with quite modest additional funds this project, which will make a huge difference to local people, can be put into action very quickly.
Now this is where you come in - I and two other friends are going to do the Coast to Coast walk in September. We hope you might consider sponsoring us? This is a 190 mile walk over 12 days from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay.
I know how generous you are and understand if you have to donate to your hard earned money elsewhere. However I know if you can make a contribution that 100% of your money will be spent on the project and if we are lucky enough to rise more than our target we have many other worthwhile projects at the Centre.
If you feel you can help in this project please go to the just giving website and search on c2c4kirambi or you can send me a cheque made out to the Medical Missionaries of Mary c/o Andrew Mitchell MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Thank you for taking the time to read about our small but life transforming project.
You can donate HERE.