Thursday, November 11, 2010

Innovate: Mentor Mothers Have the Answers

It is amazing what volunteers can accomplish when the right people are mobilized for the right task.  For NACWOLA (National Community of Women Living with Aids in Uganda), the right people to help prevent mother to child transmission of HIV are HIV positive mothers.  In a program called Mother 2 Mother created by NACWOLA, women living with HIV& AIDS across Uganda are mobilized to become 'mentor mothers' to pregnant women who are infected with the virus.

A mentor mother meets with an expectant mother to give guidance on preventing mother to child transmission of HIV

As the only organization in Uganda run by HIV+ women for HIV+ women, NACWOLA is uniquely able to design innovative programs that meet women's actual needs.  In the Mother 2 Mother program, volunteer mentors hold community education campaigns, go door to door to meet with pregnant mothers and place themselves at health facilities to serve as role models and provide peer psychosocial support.

Through programs like Mother 2 Mother NACOWLA members live out their motto: "we are not the problem, but part of the solution."

  Learn more about NACWOLA and Africa Rising.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dream/Innovate: Revolving Fund Connects People to Medical Care

Peter Kariuki, the leader of Shalom City, is working tirelessly to ensure that 3,000 displaced families are resettled on safe land that is good for farming.  He has built trust and a community identity among these 3,000 families that remains strong even when the group is scattered on their new land (Read about how this community formed).  The families are being settled in groups ranging from 50 to 450 families together on land given by the government.

Peter addresses the families gathered at Shalom City
  Because the families are settling on farming land that is unoccupied, it is often quite remote from any town.  This poses a problem for residents who need to access medical care, especially in emergency situations.  To overcome this challenge, Peter is taking the idea of a revolving fund to help each community purchase a vehicle for emergency use. 

Revolving funds are often made up of a group of women who meet weekly and each bring a designated amount to contribute to the common pool.  Each week, one woman is the recipient of the pooled funds.  She might use the funds to purchase a sewing machine, make a home repair, or pay her childrens' school fees.

With the Shalom City revolving fund, each family gives the equivalent of $1.30 each month to the common pool.  Then, from the pooled funds, a car is purchased for one community at a time until each group has an emergency vehicle.  Right now, the idea is still a dream that Peter has and has not been implemented yet.

Africa Rising recognizes and encourages the innovations of African leaders which often come from a dream of meeting a community need.  We look forward to seeing how the Shalom City revolving fund connects people to emergency medical care through grassroots efforts of families that share a common dream.

Example of vehicle that will be purchased through Shalom City revolving fund

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Share: Kilisa Village Demonstrates Sand Dam Technology

The village of Kilisa in Kenya is building sand dams (also called sub-surface dams) in seasonal rivers to secure an adequate supply of water to support life, agriculture, and economic development.  With encouragement and support from the African Economic Foundation, an Africa Rising partner, the village has not only built their own dams, but also serves as a demonstration site for surrounding villages.  In a short time, four neighboring villages also built their own sand dams.  The Kilisa village sand dams are a powerful example of how Africa Rising partners share knowledge to expand the impact of their work.  The impact of sand dams on the environment and community are clear from the images below:
Dry river bed without a sand dam

River bed upstream of a sand dam with grasses growing due to groundwater storage
Here's how sand dams works: "Upstream of the dam sand accumulates, resulting in additional groundwater storage capacity of riverbed and –banks. This reservoir fills during the wet season, preventing quick runoff of valuable rainwater out of the catchment and out of the reach of the community. Water availability during dry seasons is prolonged and generally guaranteed. The quality of the water is protected against evaporation and contamination. Water quality is even improved through natural filtration in the soil." -From "An Introduction to Sand Storage Dams"
Kilisa residents showing Mary from Africa Rising a sub-surface dam

Friday, August 20, 2010

Innovate: Teacher Shortages in Tanzania

Joseph Sekiku staying in touch by phone with his staff while he attends an Africa Rising meeting in June 2010
Joseph Sekiku is a brilliant scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur in Tanzania.  He is the founder of The Family Alliance for Development and Cooperation (FADECO).  He built the radio transmitter that allows his radio station, Radio FADECO, to broadcast educational and human rights information that improves the lives and livelihoods of Tanzanians.  Joseph's work for the past 20 years has been in teaching small scale farmers how markets work and how they can move beyond subsistence by adopting new approaches to postharvest production, marketing, and distribution.  Joseph is always looking toward the future of Tanzania and how to improve the lives of his fellow Tanzanians.  Naturally, this led him to consider the educational opportunities of children in his district. 
An empty school room that Joseph is working to see filled with students learning science and math
Unfortunately, he found that there are not enough teachers available in Tanzania to teach science and math.  One solution Joseph is pursing is advocacy to the government to bring teachers into Tanzania from Kenya where there is a surplus of qualified teachers.  It will likely take years to see results this way, and Joseph is not satisfied to leave current students without learning opportunities.  So, he is using his radio station to broadcast expert teachers giving lessons in science and math.  He then makes sure that schools in the area that lack teachers in these subjects tune in to the radio broadcasts so that students receive instruction.  This innovation allows for learning that otherwise would not occur, and it is much better for students and the country than an empty classroom.   

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Innovate: World Cup and HIV Testing

While terrorists tragically used the World Cup viewing as a target for their deadly attack in Uganda on July 11, 2010, an Africa Rising partner, Beacon of Hope, used the World Cup viewings as a platform to save lives.  Beacon of Hope in Nairobi, Kenya  brings hope to women living with and affected by HIV/AIDS within poor communities by empowering and equipping them to meet their spiritual, physical, emotional, economic and family needs in a sustainable way.

Beacon of Hope Health Clinic provides free Voluntary Counseling and Testing for HIV/AIDS among other services

The clinic at Beacon of Hope serves men and women.  The problem is that not very many men come to receive HIV testing or treatment.  In response, Beacon of Hope staff decided to take the clinic to where men were gathered and a captive audience- World Cup viewings.  The approach was extremely successful and resulted in many men receiving free testing and counseling on HIV/AIDS and their status.

The innovation was possible because Beacon of Hope knew the challenges of their community (lack of men coming for testing), were looking for creative ways to overcome the challenges (taking the testing to where men were gathered), and were ready to respond and take action when a time-sensitive opportunity presented itself (World Cup games).

Africa Rising is proud to partner with grassroots Africa organizations that save lives through their own unique innovations.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Innovate: No Chicken Wire, No Problem

A chicken coop made out of a mosquito net at Shalom City
Aid agencies in Kenya regularly give out mosquito nets. They don't however give out chicken wire. This is not a problem for Anne, who has found an innovative way to use a mosquito net to meet her chicken containment needs.  In addition to being the head teacher in  the cooperative community of Shalom City in Kenya, she is also contributing to the community's agriculture innovations.
Close up of mosquito net chicken coop
The chickens look quite content in their stylish accommodations.  No doubt Anne has started a trend that will spread throughout the community and to many places beyond through the visitors Africa Rising introduces to Shalom City.  We can't wait to see what Anne comes up with next.
Anne in front of her garden and beside her home in Shalom City

You can learn much more about the amazing community of Shalom City on Africa Rising's website.