By Cheryl Pitchford; Edited by World Vision Canada
In September 2016, Markham, Ont. resident, Cheryl Pitchford, traveled to Tanzania as a World Vision Child Sponsorship Ambassador. Here she met children and families whose lives were transformed with help from Canadian sponsors.
In the community of Isagehe, Tanzania, the Sangilwa dispensary provides a "Safe Haven" for the mothers. It services two communities and five villages where mothers can go for instruction, monitoring and treatment for their health concerns and the needs of their children.
The dispensary exists under the capable leadership of Dr. Heri Bonnyinyiga and five staff members who assist him. Currently, their focus is on preventing the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies.
Since 2014, there have been 108 deliveries at the clinic, with 17 newborns testing positive for HIV. However, after affected mothers and babies received drug treatments post-delivery, Dr. Beri was happy that after 18 months, every child’s tests came back negative—100 per cent success!
Mothers who test positive for HIV are given free treatments for life and are monitored to ensure that they do not develop AIDS. New mothers who come to the clinic are given instructions on breastfeeding and their children receive vaccinations for polio, tuberculosis and other childhood diseases.
This shining light in Isagehe was supported by World Vision Canada, who constructed the building, supplied the electricity for the staff quarters and trained 10 community workers to service the five villages.
Let me introduce you to Kulwa Pius, a 30-year-old mother of four and her 2-year-old son, Neema. Kulwa comes to the dispensary once a month with her son to monitor his health and meet with other mothers. She’s thankful that she can now walk to the dispensary in just a few minutes, as she previously had to take an hour-long bus ride into Kahama when dealing with a sick child. Apart from a bout of pneumonia which the dispensary treated, her son Neema is in good health.
Kulwa feels joy and contentment knowing that she has a place to learn about how to care for her family's health. She wants Neema to be healthy and happy as he grows up. Kulwa also likes the friendships and support she has found at the dispensary. The place is buzzing with laughter, conversation and excitement and there is a very "homey" feeling in the atmosphere!
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