As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, most of the headlines on the deadly pandemic have focused on China, the United States and Europe, but as the World Health Organization reported on March 12, there are more than 100 cases recorded in 11 countries in Africa.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, we are deeply concerned that virus will spread throughout the continent causing many more cases, and eventually deaths.
It is particularly worrying in light of the fact that, unlike in the U.S., Europe and China, tens of millions of Africans do not have the ability to take the most basic measure to prevent transmission of the virus – washing their hands with clean water.
Thanks to our supporters, for the past several years, Bread and Water for Africa® has been able to fund the digging of clean water wells in African countries including Cameroon, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, and this year we are working on a major clean water development project with our partner in Uganda to provide clean water to thousands.
Among the countries with reported cases is Cameroon, where last year we were able to dig a well for the village of Abomvomba serving thousands in the remote rural village.
Today, those children, men and women have the ability to drink water without the risk of getting sick from drinking from a contaminated source, as well as being able to wash their hands, which will go a long way towards keeping them from getting the virus.
In Kenya and Uganda, countries served by Bread and Water for Africa®, thankfully there have been no reported cases, so far, and the governments are taking steps to be prepared when the day likely comes.
At Bread and Water for Africa®, we have been taking steps for years to prevent illness through contaminated water sources by providing rural African communities with wells saving tens of thousands from risking their lives every time they take a drink.
With the urgency of the virus on their doorsteps, the time is now to help Bread and Water for Africa® continue our mission to provide clean water to thousands more for drinking, cooking, bathing – and washing their hands.
Abomvomba is a small village of about 650 residents about 22 miles from the much larger city of Ebolowa in Cameroon, places it’s likely very few Americans have ever heard of.
Recently at Bread and Water for Africa® we first heard of Abomvomba from our partner in the country, Hope Services, about the great need for water for the people there.
“So, it is essentially a poor population,” says Esther Ndichafah, CEO of Hope Services. “That is why Hope Services has been involved with this community through medical missions, community education and development programs since 2017.”
Today, thanks to our supporters, we are pleased to report that the 60-meter deep borehole has been drilled saving the roughly 650 children, youth, women and men of the village from the drudgery of fetching water from an unsafe source.
As Esther reported upon its completion, “It is an absolute necessity. The community had no clean source of water to rely on except having to travel 2 kilometers (1.6 miles).
“Basic drinking water was a luxury for them.”
That former “luxury” is now a daily way of life, but it is in no way being taken for granted because it will be a long time before the residents of Abomvomba forget the “bad old days” without water in their village.
In addition, Esther pointed out that the new borehole has been a boon for the residents of the nearby village where Abomvomba residents previously had to go to get water.
“The neighboring community has more use and ease over their own borehole which was formerly crowded at times by villagers from Abomvomba.
An obstetric ultrasound is a critical tool in ensuring a fetus is healthy and developing normally – and thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® one is on the way to a newly-opened hospital in Cameroon.
Recently we were proud to announce – again thanks to our generous supporters – that our partner there, Hope Services Ministry International, had just opened a new hospital in Douala with significant financial resources from Bread and Water for Africa® in order to serve tens of thousands of the most needy in the country.
But once that task was completed, the next step was to equip it with the most modern medical equipment possible.
In partnership with New Orleans Medical Mission Services, whose mission is to bring medical equipment and supplies to needy people in foreign countries, we are working to ship a 40-foot container filled with 21,100 pounds of medical supplies.
Among the items are thousands of various types of needles, syringes, tubing, bandages, dressing, gauze, clamps…the list goes on and on.
However, the single most important item in the shipment is a Sequoia ultrasound system, refurbished to be good as new.
With the ultrasound machine, doctors will be able to determine the actual gestational age of the fetus, determine its location, check for the number of fetuses, check for major physical abnormalities, assess fetal growth, detect fetal movements and heartbeat, determine the sex of the baby – and most importantly, confirm fetal viability.
Hope Services’ Bonendale Hospital is able to provide general consultation and emergency services, minor surgeries, laboratory services, deliveries, antenatal care and post-natal counseling, and coming soon will be pediatric services, vaccinations, and major surgical services – all of which are desperately needed in the country.
Hope Services has been providing free and extremely-low cost medical care to the most needy and vulnerable in Cameroon for 25 years through makeshift clinics and outreach programs and now, thanks to people like you is in sight of reaching its true potential.
“Our long term goal has been the extension of medical services in Douala for the benefit of the poor,” says Hope Services founder and director Esther Ndichafah. “This project is a giant step into our long-term goal.”
With assistance from Bread and Water for Africa®, our partner organization in Cameroon, Hope Services, was able to construct a clinic in the city of Douala.
And with that project completed we are now on to our task of filling it with the medicines, medical supplies and equipment needed to serve the community.
“The prospective beneficiary community is highly expectant of its start-up and there is a high need for medical equipment,” reported Hope Services director Esther Ndichafah earlier this year.
We are working right now to raise the funds necessary to ship a 40-foot container full of these items in order to enable the people in the surrounding area who are in desperate need of health care services, and we need your help.
Health care, particularly for children and the impoverished, is practically non-existent and Esther reports that the main health challenges facing the country include endemic diseases including malaria, meningitis, cholera, Typhoid fever, and many others most Americans have never even heard of.
“HIV/AIDS also have a high prevalence rate with Douala among the top cities affected,” said Esther. “These diseases require health analysis that require good equipment.”
According to a recent report by the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, few of the poorest women in Cameroon have access to a doctor, nurse or midwife at their side when they need them most, and hundreds of women die every week due complications, while many more live with “debilitating” outcomes.
In addition, the lack of medical attention results in thousands of stillbirths each week, half of them being babies who were alive when labor began, and thousands more die before they are even just one-month-old.
“For far too many families, the sheer cost of childbirth can be catastrophic,” says UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “If a family cannot afford these costs, the consequences can even be fatal.
“When families cut corners to reduce maternal health care costs, both mothers and their babies suffer.”
The situation is particularly dire for girls who married before even turning 15 years old. In Cameroon today, more than 60 percent of girls between 20 and 24 have three or more children.
Working with Hope Services, as well as our partners in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and elsewhere, we are doing what we can to help save infants and their young mothers from premature and preventable deaths.
The cost to gather the medicines and supplies, sort and ship them to Cameroon is not inexpensive. However, it is much cheaper than attempting to acquire them in Cameroon, a daunting task on its own. Using our status as a non-profit organization, the items are allowed into the country duty-free at a substantial cost savings.
Your gift of $25, $50 or even $100 will go a long way towards seeing that the future patients at Hope Services’ Douala clinic get the medicines and supplies they need to treat their illnesses, prevent them from getting sick in the first place, and undoubtedly save lives.
Hope Services has been providing free and extremely-low cost medical care to the most needy and vulnerable in Cameroon for 25 years through makeshift clinics and outreach programs. Now, thanks to people like you, the clinic is in sight of reaching its true potential.
“Our long term goal has been the extension of medical services in Douala for the benefit of the poor,” says Esther. “This project is a giant step into our long-term goal.”