The city of Harbu in rural Ethiopia is home to nearly 190,000 residents who survive by growing what they can — such as rice beans, peas and lentils — on their half hectare (about 1.2 acres) tract of land. Many also raise livestock including cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses and mules.
Some 100,000 of these residents in the area rely on the Harbu Clinic, established by the Ethiopian government in 2001, each year for all their healthcare needs, which includes treatment for many easily preventable waterborne diseases.
The clinic itself lacks the basic and essential infrastructure to treat its patients — and that includes access to safe, clean water in the arid and drought-prone region of the country.
“The limited availability of a clean water supply is a major problem facing the clinic,” we were informed by the clinic administrator.
“Currently, the clinic is supplied water from the municipal water supply system. This water source does not provide reliable water to the clinic staff and patients.”
The quality of the water is also a major concern with most samples tested showed contamination due to intermittent operation and inadequate protection of the source of the water.
“Given the present COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of access to water and hygiene puts the clinic and the larger community at risk if the deadly coronavirus reaches the community,” he said.
This month, Bread and Water for Africa® is undertaking a campaign to raise the $11,000 necessary to construct a well to serve the clinic and members of the community in its immediate vicinity. Our goal is to improve the severe shortage of clean water while also minimizing the risk of the spreading of the deadly virus.
Already, we have been working with the clinic administrator and a contractor who is able to drill a 114-foot-deep well on the clinic grounds. It is estimated to produce nearly a gallon per second, which would be more than sufficient to meet the clinic’s and the community’s needs.
Once the well is completed it will be transferred to the clinic administration to ensure its safety, sustainability and maintenance including periodic servicing of the pumping system and the undertaking of any repairs that may be necessary.
At Bread and Water for Africa® we have seen firsthand many times how much a well for a community improves not just the quality of the water for residents, but their overall quality of life, and we are counting on our supporters to enable us to achieve our goal of a well for Harbu this summer.
Among our newest partners is the Rural Youth Development Organization Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL) which has been serving impoverished communities in the Bumpe Ngao Chiefdom of the Bo District in the country, including operating a health clinic and pharmacy in the village of Mokoba where medical care is drastically needed.
This spring, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, RYDO-SL program manager Joseph Ngoniyela Kobba contacted us with a request for face masks to protect staff and patients at the clinic, as well as for those in the local communities RYDO-SL serves.
However, instead of simply providing RYDO-SL with thousands of single-use face masks which would be discarded, we decided to go one better.
Thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide grant funding to RYDO-SL to purchase enough fabric and sewing machines to enable local tailors to generate income for themselves by making the 3,000 face masks to be distributed to RYDO-SL medical staff and vulnerable members of the community.
Nurse Koroma is pictured second from left in the pink and white dress.
Elizabeth Koroma is among those selfless and dedicated healthcare workers around the world fighting the coronavirus who surely deserve the title of “hero.”
Elizabeth was not only a nurse providing care to patients at the Rokel Clinic in Sierra Leone operated by our longtime partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), for many years but the head of the maternal and child aid nurses at the clinic.
She survived the deadly Ebola virus outbreak which struck the country in 2014 killing thousands while risking her life treating her fellow citizens, but tragically she did not survive the COVID-19 pandemic, FHDO Executive Director Rev. Francis Mambu sadly reported recently.
“She was a very hardworking woman at the clinic and up to the time of her death was working directly under the clinic supervisor preparing monthly reports of the clinic activities,” Rev. Mambu told us.
She fell ill after she contacted coronavirus from a patient and her symptoms became more severe in a matter of a few days.
When she began having trouble breathing, she was transferred to a hospital for more intensive care than she could receive at the rural clinic, succumbing to the illness within a week of first exhibiting symptoms at age 59 leaving behind her husband and a child.
Her swab results confirmed that she was among the 1,427 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 60 deaths reported in the country as of June 29.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, thanks to our supporters, we have long been able to provide financial resources and medicines and medical equipment and supplies to the clinic, along with several other clinics and hospitals in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Kenya.
And it is with our heartfelt sadness that we report the death of Nurse Elizabeth who we, Rev. Mambu, her patients and community regard as a true hero who gave her life working every day to save the lives of many of her fellow Sierra Leoneans.
Nurse Korma is pictured second from left in the pink and white dress
Kady is a 75-year-old widow living in the small village of Tenithun in rural Sierra Leone who since the passing of her husband six years ago has been surviving as a substance farmer, depending on the food she grows for herself and her son on her small tract of land.
It was a spartan life, but a happy one. That is until a small cut on her foot became infected, and then septic which quickly, and painfully, began to eat away at the flesh on her foot leaving her unable to put any weight on it at all.
With no money for medical treatment, Kady did not know where to turn for help, but she knew she could not let the infection, which could even prove fatal if left untreated, continue to spread.
However, her situation changed drastically the day a friend stopped by, and seeing the condition of Kady’s foot, told her of a clinic in the town of Bunumbu about 10 miles away operated by our longtime partner, Faith Healing Development Organization, where she could receive free medical treatment.
Accompanied by her son, Kady was transported to the clinic where received the necessary treatment for her ailing foot, and within three weeks it had healed completely and she was back on her feet and able to walk properly without pain again for the first time in months.
Kady had nothing but grateful praise for the dedicated clinic medical staff for their caring treatment of her foot and the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who made it all possible.
“I now feel great after months of going through this terrible pain. I can now return to my farming again and take care of myself and my child.”
For us at Bread and Water for Africa®, we are very grateful to our donors and supports who continuously support our healthcare program for more than 20 years.
Nearly 10 years ago, the World Health Organization estimated that there were 15 million people in Ethiopia with disabilities, representing close to 20 percent of the population.
And according to the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, 95 percent of those lived in poverty — the vast majority in rural areas, where basic services are limited and the chances of accessing rehabilitative or support services are remote.
In the past decade, sadly the situation has only gotten worse, not better.
That’s why at Bread and Water for Africa, we are partnering with a non-profit organization, joni&friends, to ship 240 wheelchairs, along with pairs of crutches, canes, walkers, and more, to our longtime partner in Ethiopia, Woldia University, in the Amhara region of the country.
As reported by university, which operates a College of Health which consists of a medical laboratory, and courses in public health and nursing, for the recipients of the wheelchairs and other items, will enrich their lives by making everyday activities simpler, “and eventually a lot more fun,” while also easing the burden of their family members assisting them as they embark on an independent life.
The primary beneficiaries will be disabled children, young and older disabled people. These individuals will be trained how to use the items by a physiotherapist.
As of May 26, there have been 754 confirmed coronavirus cases and 44 deaths due to COVID-19 in Sierra Leone, but the impact of the global pandemic in the country has been far worse than the numbers suggest.
Businesses have been forced to close, and as during the tragic Ebola outbreak in 2014, untold thousands are out of work and families are going hungry.
For FHDO, and the thousands of children, families and seniors they provide critical food support to, particularly now, our sustainable solution approach, such as providing financial assistance two years ago for its poultry project which provides hard-to-get fresh chicken to low-income Sierra Leoneans, while generating revenue to support FHDO programs.
In addition, for the past several years, thanks to our supporters, we have provided grant assistance to FHDO to enable it to help rural farmers, primarily women, get the most out of their small tracks of land using best gardening practices and distributing seeds and gardening tools.
In these times we pray that the outbreak in that country, and all the other African countries where the coronavirus is making inroads, does not spread more widely causing the tens of thousands deaths we have seen in our very own country and elsewhere around the world in recent weeks.