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Every Child is Precious

Stories of Change

Congo

- Every Child is Precious -

In Kapanga, in the Congolese savannah, giving birth to a baby may present unexpected complications. There are no proper roads, there is no electricity, there are no means of transport and the women are often forced to give birth at home, without the possibility of having medical treatment rapidly available to them, thus risking their own lives and those of their children.

In this context the Salvatorian Sisters, along with SOFIA, have opened and run a maternity ward in which mothers expecting a child are cared for by a prenatal visit, a safe environment for the birth, and a place where their children are looked after, vaccinated and checked regularly until they are five years old.

The clinic offers affordable access to good maternal and pediatric health care for the women of Ntita and surroundings, reduces incidence of infant mortality, thanks to early vaccinations, reduces the number of still-born babies, prevention of delivery complications and maternal deaths, improves awareness about pre-delivery screening, safe pregnancy and child birth among the local population. Per month on average 80 births take place in the clinic, which benefits about 1000 women per year. The guidance offered also includes basic hygiene instruction.

Nothing more beautiful than the life of a child

Stories of Change

India

- Nothing more beautiful than the life of a child -

Cherrapunji, located in Meghalaya (North-East India), is the wettest land on earth. Tourists from across the world come to Cherrapunji to enjoy its mesmerizing natural beauty. The nature may be beautiful but not the life of the inhabitants. Most inhabitants live in the high mountains and deep valleys, where they can be reached only by foot. They survive on farming, but the incessant rain makes the land barren and unproductive during the monsoon. The inhabitants of the plateaus generally belong to the Khasi communities, while those living along the Indo-Bangladesh border belong to the Garo communities. The area is home to different languages, customs, and traditions.

A baseline survey was conducted in the villages under the Sts. Peter and Paul Mission, Laitkynsew to assess the social condition of the people living under its territory in order to address it effectively and comprehensively. The findings highlighted the “urgent need of setting up a qualitative and better education system in the area.” The survey also highlighted the necessity to set up a school with boarding facility, so that the children coming to this school from far away villages could be accommodated in the boarding. Finally, the need for a community center including workshops and income-generating activities was highlighted.

SOFIA with the help of our generous donors supported the construction of an English medium primary school. The school was inaugurated in 2015. Divine Savior school is now growing in number of students and impact on the region.

Let There Be Light: rural electrification

Stories of change

Congo

- Let There Be Light: rural electrification -

Can you imagine living without electricity for a whole day? Well, people living in the Kapanga territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo never had access to electricity until the inauguration of ELKAP.

SOFIA wants to fight poverty in an environmentally sustainable way. These two elements come together in our project ELKAP – Electricity for Kapanga. Kapanga is a territory of more than 50,000 inhabitants in a remote and landlocked part of the southern province of Katanga in D. R. Congo. Through ELKAP, we are building a hydroelectric plant and a distribution network in partnership with the European Commission. The plant uses the Rushish waterfalls, 12 km away from Musumba, the main centre of the region.

Through the project, 400 social and commercial entities are now connected to the grid, among them schools, clinics, the municipality, small businesses, and private households. Thanks to ELKAP, a population of 50,000 beneficiaries who previously had no access to any form of regular energy supply can now avail themselves of stable and reliable electrical power, generated by renewable resources – the amount of CO2 emissions saved is around 1,000 tons per year.

Access to electricity led to lots of change. Hospitals and dispensaries can carry out their health services in an orderly and professional manner. As public health in the territory develops, maternal and infant mortality decreases. The availability of electricity in schools strengthens education by enabling the use of machinery and computers. The electricity provides additional income opportunities to the local population. Women and men benefit from the possibility of setting up small businesses.

Single Mothers Struggle for Self-Reliance and Dignity

Stories of Change

Colombia

- Single Mothers Struggle for Self-Reliance and Dignity -

Gloria (name changed) is a single mother with two children. She is a school dropout and has no job and neither an income.

Gloria is an example of many single women in the slum districts of Medellín, Colombia. They have to cope with a wide range of difficulties pertaining to human rights, which, in turn, are all related to underlying economic issues. Lack of basic education, poor health, discrimination and subordination resulting in neglect from their partner as well as domestic violence, forced displacement, and lack of respect by the community – all of which are factors that impact negatively on single women’s self-esteem. Medellín is one of the Colombian cities with the highest level of inequality, as well as of domestic and community violence. In all of the poor suburbs of Medellín, unofficial landlords fight each other to stake their claim over the territory. Teenagers in the poorest suburbs are at high risk to be drawn into criminal gangs, drug cartels or criminal political groups. Hundreds of people displaced by force or for economic reasons arrive every day in the city, mainly women with small children.

With the help of SOFIA, an NGO called Fundación Opción Futuro commits to address these problems, empowering local women by means of income-generating activities. The project targets young displaced single mothers who have come from the countryside to the urban slums of Medellín. The project offers them training in the production and sale of handicrafts – mainly costume jewelry and patchwork items – and in acquiring essential business skills for their economic advancement. Furthermore, they are supported in their personal development by solidarity groups and are empowered through the Social Cooperative “Solidarité”, which carries out the merchandising of their products.

With this venture SOFIA collaborates with our donors, helping 300 persons in many families to live a dignified life. The success of this venture leads to open many more such cooperative societies to help single women live an uncompromised life.

Better Health for Better Life: Mother & Child Care in Namiungo/Tanzania

Mother & Child Care

Namiungo/Tanzania

- Better Health for Better Life -

Akida (name changed) is a young girl living in a remote village in the southern part of Tanzania. She was expecting her first child with her husband. Few days before the actual date of delivery, labor pains started in the middle of the night. She had to be rushed to St. Joseph Mother and Child Clinic in Namiungo, where she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. This was not the scenario prior to 2014, when the Mother and Child Clinic did not exist. Women had to deliver at home without medical help, because in the vicinity medical facilities simply were not available.

The southern part of Tanzania is far less developed than the North, in terms of infrastructure as well as of income level of the population. Children and women are the most vulnerable among the general population. In order to address the issues of health, Salvatorians initiated the St. Joseph Dispensary in Namiungo in 1998. And to address the health situation of women and children, Salvatorians upgraded the dispensary and added a Mother and Child Clinic in 2014. Br. Fulmence Waseme SDS, the clinician of the health centre, is responsible for the management.

The project consisted of:

  • the establishment of a Mother & Child Hospital with dedicated staff, equipment and supplies for prenatal, delivery and post-natal services
  • technical improvement of the facilities through the purchase of modern technical equipment and supplies for the present dispensary
  • better organization of the logistics, spaces, and services
  • improved care for emergency patients (women with delivery complications and other critically ill pediatric and adult patients), including the purchase of an ambulance
  • the provision of bicycles for the Community Health Workers in the surrounding villages

As a result, the present health structure has a greater capacity in the management of the most common diseases and in the referral of emergency patients. With over 6,000 examinations of under 5 year-olds each year, the centre proves it delivers quality and answers the need. In addition, the dispensary is implementing a nutritional program for children under five. This is a very important awareness initiative, which is appreciated also by the local health authorities.

Better late than never: how a mother pursued her dream to graduate

Stories of Change

PHILIPPINES

- BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: HOW A MOTHER PURSUED HER DREAM TO GRADUATE -

Jain (name changed) is 25 years old and lives in the Parola slum in Manila. She is the mother of a five-year-old girl. As a young mom, she is often discriminated against by people who judge others easily without even knowing her story. Jain wants to go to college not just for herself, but also for her daughter’s future. She believes that through education, she can rebut prejudice and someday have a successful career. When she was in the fourth year of high school, her father was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Thus, he had to stop working on account of his poor health. Her mother, in consequence, decided to work to provide at least some income. At that time, Jain decided to stop schooling and look for a job as well, to help her family. At first her father disagreed, because she was expected to graduate that very year. However, at the end of the day he had no choice but to respect her decision: it became clear that without her contribution the family would not be able to afford his medicine. Luckily, a friend offered Jain a job as a saleslady. Although her salary was low, it made up an important part of her family’s income.

Having been working there for a year and a half, another friend asked her if she was interested to study again. Of course she was! She asked for more details and the friend accompanied her to an ALSA BUHAY learning centre run by Puso sa Puso Edukasyon Inc., the Filipino organization set up in Manila by the Salvatorians of the East Asia Vicariate. Jain enrolled in the secondary school program and studied there from June throughout November 2013. She appreciated the pleasant and peaceful environment in the learning centre and was very happy with the friendly, patient and professional teachers: “They always gave their best to teach us even though sometimes we were stubborn and naughty…. I’m so grateful to them because they worked very hard to teach and review us. I’ve learned so many things from them and I really love them so much.”

After five months of studying there, Jain and her classmates spent two weeks preparing themselves for the upcoming A&E Exam, the so-called public Accreditation and Equivalency Examination. She studied hard, and focused in particular on mathematics. Now, math is her favorite subject! She had to wait three months for the results: she passed! Jain’s education does not stop here. SOFIA managed to organize an individual sponsorship for her so that she could go to college, the next step towards the realization of her dream: “I am so blessed and thankful that a sponsor supports me through college. I promise that I will do everything not to disappoint my sponsor and I will never waste the time and money that he is going to spend for my studies.”

Transforming Education means Transforming the Nation

Stories of Change

tanzania

- TRANSFORMING EDUCATION MEANS TRANSFORMING THE NATION -

Affordable and quality education is a dream of many, especially in a country like Tanzania whose education index is 159/180 according to a UN report of 2013. Jordan University College (JUCO) is a dream come true for many students in Tanzania. Started in 2010, JUCO has rapidly become the central hub for teacher training, the humanities, and social studies in the region, boasting almost 3,500 students and staff. The college is especially strong in education with more than half of its students being trained to become the future teachers of Tanzania, and thus create better chances for the following generations.

JUCO’s vision is one of being efficient, transparent and academically excellent whilst instilling Christian virtues and integrity in its students as well as contributing to a research-active scientific community in Tanzania. It is with such a holistic approach that the Salvatorians hope to empower the young generations of Tanzanians into becoming drivers of socio-economic transformation.

JUCO is not only an important employer in the region, faculty and students reach out to the surrounding community in various ways: by offering catechetical instruction on Saturdays, by offering the health services of the institution’s dispensary to the local population, by giving the community access to its clean water, by propagating children’s rights and organising a series of community workshops on the theme of child abuse, and by offering computer courses to the public of Morogoro. SOFIA supports JUCO in fundraising, strategic planning, management, organizational development, and internationalization.

Great efforts are being put into creating possibilities for the advancement of staff and students by international academic networking and exchange. These include hoisting JUCO into the 21st century in terms of ICT (cooperation with Italian Bishops Conference and their funding program). It offers 6 full MA scholarships including six months of study in Germany (German Academic Exchange Service DAAD and University of Münster’s Education Faculty). Other partnerships include: Partnership and Mentorship Scheme in Development – Internships (University of Leiden, Netherlands); Partnership in the Applied Sciences (University of Heilbronn in Germany); and, Teaching Skills (University of Louvain, Belgium).

The college is planning the following programs:

Establishment of an “On Campus One-Stop-Centre for the Protection and Safeguarding of Children” (Psychology/Counseling and Law Department)
Safeguarding Course for every Graduate from JUCO (in cooperation with the Psychology/Counseling and Law Department and a Dutch private Foundation)
MOU for science teaching (US Fulbright Specialist Program with Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee WI and St Louis University)