This week at Fantsuam Foundation is expected to be even busier than usual as it incorporates the celebrations for both World AIDS day and World Disabilities Day.
Volunteers Day also falls this week, with the culmination being an end-of-year party and a volunteers’ award night on December 5th.
Quite understandably, some of the Fantsuam staff were busy organising these celebrations and apologies to the UK-Nigeria online team meeting even arrived via Twitter. One attendee arrived late because invitations needed to be delivered! However, despite this hectic workload the meeting went ahead as scheduled.
The first news the team were keen to hear about concerned the plight of a local boy, thought to be aged nine, and about whom John had emailed us earlier in the week. This unfortunate youngster had been accused of witchcraft and forced to live in isolation. John and his staff had revealed plans to rescue him from his ordeal at first light.
It turned out that the lad concerned is in fact a 15-year-old orphan, very traumatised and rejected by his extended family. He lives in daily fear for his life after two attempts to kill him. One of the challenges for John is to find a safe house for the children he rescues and initially we were told during the meeting that a temporary safe house (for 3 days) had been found for him in another village. An email since the meeting from John informs us that:
“We've found a safe house near FF [snip] , we'll go and bring him home on Saturday. Have also made contacts so he can start school on Monday. He'll have trauma counselling at FF to help him stabilise psychologically”
John explained some of the issues surrounding witchcraft. He told us that: “The bottom line about witchcraft is poverty. Fears of witchcraft are more likely to flourish in communities which are poor in every way [snip]. We have observed that as soon as our interventions eases economic pressure on the family, their attitudes towards the accused person changes for the better.”
Community Health Committees
All the communities that took part in the Sickle Cell screening have been invited to set up Community Health Committees (CHC) to drive the health and rehabilitation agendas for their own communities. FF will look at how to build their capacities to set the community's health agenda and priorities. As John said “We think these CHC’s can be great entry points and advocates for improved health and monitoring the Millennium Development Goals at local levels”
Members of each CHC’s must comprise of at least 50% women, and youths must also be represented. Each household must make an annual contribution of 100Naira (50P) towards the running costs of their CHC.
VSO is already interested and has provided a small seeding fund for the initial mobilization efforts.
In FF’s typical holistic approach it will integrate the CHCs into its other programs: microfinance, GAIYA, HIV/AIDS, Sickle Cell, Academy, and Attachab.
News from the Knowledge Resource Centre included the fact that the cataloguing of all the resources on the KRC continues and the next solar course in January will be hosted in the KRC.
News about the Sickle Cell Laboratory
John explained that part of the discussions and plans for the laboratory is that it will have enough bandwidth to provide video streaming to the Michigan State University to assist in diagnosis and access to their database. ZittNet will be expanding its bandwidth to provide dedicated support to the site, and that way, KRC will also get enough bandwidth.
The aim is that this new community based lab will have facilities for both hematology and bacteriology studies.