Football in ACTion

We have set our goal, and we are almost halfway there already. We are NOT stopping until we get all the way!”

- Nina Hjortlund, Founder and Managing Director, Australia for Cedar Tanzania

The 1st of July Australia for Cedar Tanzania launched ‘Football in ACTion’. Our goal is to be able to take 400 teenagers through a full year of sexual health education taught using football drills.

We are using Tackle Africa’s amazing format that we did a pilot on last year over a 3 month period.

This year we are building and expanding on those experiences training 20 local coaches in the specific methodology and specialised drills utilised in the Tackle Africa programme.

We don’t just teach in between breaks in a football game. We use the specialised football drills as visual aids to exemplify consequences of good versus poor decision making, whilst creating a safe and welcoming environment to discuss and ask about sensitive subjects.

Sex, menstruation and Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) are not often spoken about in families in Tanzania. HIV/AIDS is now the biggest killer of Tanzanian adolescents between 15-24 years old. Young girls get coerced into sex in return for gifts or favours and this has resulted in high teen pregnancies. In Tanzania, a pregnant teenage girl can no longer continue her education.

STIs are not a subject that is widely spoken about and as a consequence most teenagers don’t know the symptoms or how to effectively prevent themselves from getting them.

Many teenagers have no knowledge about menstruation and what it means, and some girls get shocked the first time it happens to them. Oftentimes young girls miss out on school while having their period due to lack of hygienic washrooms and lack of affordable pads.

Football in ACTion changes the level of knowledge and encourages all participants to know their HIV status. Only once your status is known is it possible to seek counselling and treatment, and learn how to prevent passing it on to others.

Changing the lives of these young boys and girls begins with you! Our goal doesn’t come without a price tag. It costs only $30 to take one teenager through this programme for a full year. Our goal is to raise enough money to take 400 children through this programme which amounts to $12,000

With you, and other fantastic supporters, we are nearly halfway there. If you, your neighbour, your work colleagues, your nephew or aunty, your school class or local soccer club would like to help us reach our goal you can do so by supporting us here:

https://chuffed.org/project/football-in-action

Every time you sponsor three children you can choose to get a ticket in the draw of our two amazing prizes: 

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A Juventus 2018/19 team signed t-shirt including Ronaldo and Dybala







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A Manchester United T-shirt signed by Beckham



Handing over the reins

The Cedar Foundation Tanzania will soon be bidding farewell to its Executive Director, Claire Michelotti, as she finishes her time with us.

The Cedar Tanzania team

The Cedar Tanzania team

Hello everyone!

I’m Claire and I have been working as Executive Director of Cedar Tanzania for just over a year and a half (since January 2018).  Prior to that I was the Operations and Funding Manager from when the organisation began in 2014.


What part of the job have you most enjoyed?

That’s easy – the people. It may sound cheesy but working with a team of inspiring, energised and enthusiastic people is infectious and is what has made this job so incredible for five years. The nature of our work as a development organisation can be hard, and there are days where progress does not happen as fast as one would wish.  Working with a team of passionate individuals who persevere in the face of adversity makes all the difference and has been awe inspiring. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from the team, not just professionally but about life in general too.

What part of your job has most flummoxed you?

Kiswahili flummoxes me daily!  Although this doesn’t stop me from trying and subsequently sounding like an idiot on a regular basis! After five years of being here, I had high hopes of being close to fluent by this time, but embarrassingly I am nowhere near. Luckily people here are very understanding and appreciate it if you try. Plus my pigeon Swahili has conveniently broken the ice on a number of occasions so it’s not all bad.

What has been most challenging for you leading a non-profit in Tanzania?

One of hardest parts of the job I think is working out where it is appropriate for Cedar Tanzania to step in and help a person or a situation directly, and where we should step back and instead try to empower a community or an institution to step in.  Oxfam’s campaign based on the saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime” is an approach that runs through Cedar Tanzania. This is the only way that we will reach our goal of helping people help themselves in a sustainable way. However, this approach takes time, and when you’re in a place where life can be brutal and unforgiving and where there is suffering, it can be very hard not to want to help directly. As such, although our overall approach to development is to build capacity, we sometimes do also step in and help directly if we deem it appropriate. The process of establishing this however can be difficult and painful, especially if the outcome is not to reach out directly.

What will you miss most about working at Cedar Tanzania?

Apart from missing the Cedar Tanzania team, I will of course miss the people from the communities we serve. I will never forget the elegance, strength, humour and hospitality of the community members I have met and known since being here, despite some of the heart wrenching challenges they face.

Weirdly enough, I will also miss the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the job – like when a law is introduced overnight and you have to put things in place quickly to comply as an organisation, or when we have to deal with crocodiles on the shores of the lake close to the health centre. Obviously, these things are also challenges, but they make the job exciting and different which I enjoy immensely. 


Can you write a brief introduction of the three managers that will be replacing you?  

Please meet the three formidable individuals who will be replacing me – Paulina, Vivian and Caroline. 

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Paulina will be Director of Health Programmes, leading on all aspects related to healthcare including the significant task of overseeing Kamanga Health Centre.





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Vivian will be Director of Projects assuming responsibility for our broad portfolio of field projects.





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Caroline will preside over central office functions including finance, HR, communications and fundraising as Director of Central Operations.


We are very fortunate to have these three inspiring women on board and I am excited about Cedar Tanzania’s future with them leading the way!

Why three?

Well, three is the magic number no?

Jokes aside, when I started working at Cedar Tanzania, we were just starting out. As is common in many start-ups, people’s roles were typically broad and covered a number of aspects – including mine. The size of the organisation meant I was able to work across multiple areas, from project work to fundraising, from finance to operational delivery. However, as the organisation has grown, the workload has equally grown and I think we have now reached a point where my role can easily be split between three clearly defined roles.

The other reason is because we had three very talented people whose strengths were in different areas and who complemented each other beautifully. It made sense to give all three more responsibility so they could work as a team and support each other.   


And what of Mark O’Sullivan? Is he still around?

Oh yes, he is definitely still around! As our intrepid founder and Country Director, he is key in ensuring that we continue to deliver our work with vigour and flair! I have no doubt that Mark and the three new directors will take Cedar Tanzania to new and exciting places!


What legacy do you think you will leave behind?

Wow that’s a hard one. Hopefully a tidy desk although I haven’t got there yet!

None of what will remain when I leave Cedar Tanzania has been as a result of just my work – it’s all been because of team-work so it’s not strictly ‘my’ legacy. However, I’ll admit I feel happy at the thought of leaving an organisation that is growing and thriving, much like the communities we work in. I suppose I also feel a certain sense of achievement when I think that now, there is a health centre providing key healthcare services to people in a place that badly needed one five years ago.   


What are your hopes for Cedar Tanzania?

Strategically, I hope that Cedar Tanzania and its projects will continue for decades to come, lead by Tanzanians with the full support of the Government of Tanzania.

My ambition hopes are that once The Cedar Foundation is well established in Tanzania, it will go on to achieve the same somewhere else. With Cedar Bulgaria shining bright as the very first ‘Cedar Foundation’, and now with Cedar Tanzania as the second, I see no reason why the organisation could not continue to grow globally.

From a more emotive perspective, I hope the spirit of Cedar Tanzania lives on throughout its future, whatever form this may take. ‘Changing Lives’ is not a motto that was chosen lightly. Cedar has certainly changed mine.

Jackie and Neema's adventures

Jackie is a Community Based Rehabilitation Field Officer. Together with Neema, the clinical officer, they travel from Kamanga Health Centre to the neighbouring villages of Kamanga on their trusted motor bikes. Watch the latest episode of their adventures!
Watch Jackie and Neema as they do their rounds in the village of Kamanga as part of Cedar Tanzania's Community Based Rehabilitation program, to bring care to people with disabilities.

Girl Power

Cedar Tanzania’s volunteer from US Peace Corps, Dylan Parkin, has been hard at work these last few months, investigating potential educational and entrepreneurial projects that could be implemented in the village of Kamanga. This May has seen Dylan venture out on his very first pilot entrepreneurial project called “Nguvu ya Binti” (Girl Power)!  This has resulted in him putting into use, for the very first time, the Community Centre that Sengerema District Council kindly donated to Cedar Tanzania to support us in our community projects. In mid May Dylan together with Cedar Tanzania’s field officer Jackie held their first entrepreneurial meetings with seven young women between the ages of 18 -24 years old.

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Dylan writes, “The aim of the project is to facilitate the setting up and running of a women-owned social enterprise that manufacture reusable cloth sanitary pads to help girls and women of Nyamatongo handle their periods safely, hygienically and inexpensively. The approach entails to train a group of girls on entrepreneurial skills, menstrual health and hygiene, and sewing classes to equip them with what is needed to be able to produce and sell the pads economically."

The pilot phase started on May 13th and is planned to be reviewed after 10 weeks. It is hoped however that the project will be able to continue until mid-September. The training has been divided into 3 parts: Training on entrepreneurship, sewing classes, education on menstrual hygiene. 

After the topic of generating business ideas, we started on the topic of analyzing the idea's potential. Upon finishing this, the girls were sent into the village to do market research. Through this, they have found that the women of Kamanga are indeed interested in reusable cloth sanitary pads.

Now the only research which remains is the cost analysis. We have recently covered the topic of costs and pricing. The girls will soon be going to shops in Mwanza to price the needed materials. This means that within the next week we should know if we will continue with the reusable cloth pads business idea, or if we need to go back to the drawing board and find a new business idea.
We felt it was important to do things this way so the girls could get first-hand experience of doing the research and of taking ownership of the business they are developing.
 

ACT is excited to find out how these amazing young women will fare and we wish them, Dylan and Jackie the best of luck.

SASA! What it means to be aware

The Awareness Phase, the second of four phases in the SASA! methodology, was implemented from April 2017 until April 2019.

Before we start the third phase " Support" we would like to share with you some of the amazing results we have had during the Awareness phase.

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Impact on the Community

For the majority of the community we have seen a change in knowledge and attitudes with regards to balance of power and Violence Against Women. More people break the silence and speak up about these important and pressing issues. This is due to the effort the Community Activists have been putting into their facilitations by encouraging the community to think critically about their own actions. The Community Activists are well respected members of the community and are directing victims of violence to the suited support provider. The establishment of a functioning referral system is to date the greatest challenge we face: partly, because the needed support providers are simply non-existent, partly because the local government authorities with which we always aim to cooperate are somewhat unreliable. We believe the Community Activists' role is to be a facilitator and to spark critical thinking within the community by asking questions without judging and telling what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’.

Knowledge

The community knows the different types of Violence Against Women and the negative consequences that come with it. They can link Violence Against Women to HIV/AIDS and understand that Violence Against Women is a cause as well as a consequence of HIV.

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Attitudes
Women and men in the community agree that Violence Against Women is never acceptable and that balanced power between men and women is healthy, safe and beneficial for both. The community agrees that everyone has power and that women are not to be blamed for the violence that is directed towards them. Moreover, it is understood that Violence Against Women is an issue affecting the whole community and not merely a private matter.

It is such a great success to see that the community is much more outspoken when it comes to Violence Against Women than it was before the implementation of SASA!. This shows that the community understands the urgent need to act and speak out about the abuse of power which leads to Violence Against Women and girls.

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The increase of almost 30%  from the baseline to Awareness Assessment for this questions shows that Violence Against Women is increasingly seen as an issue that affects the whole community and is not just a private matter. This decreases the stigma surrounding Violence Against Women and reduces the shame women often feel when reporting abuses.

The SASA! project is slowly but surely changing attitudes in Kamanga about how violence against women and girls is an unacceptable act.

What Jackie and Neema saw...

When Jackie and Neema, Field Officer and Clinical Officer from our Community Based Rehabilitation outreach programme, first reached Sara and her father in the village, they didn’t know what to expect. One of the Community Health Workers who work closely with Kamanga Health Centre and the outreach team suggested they visit the girl who was newly arrived in the ward as he had heard that the girl had physical impairments. When Jackie and Neema arrived on their motorbikes at a tiny bricked house they encountered an 18-year old girl with feathers on her leg and suspiciously looking mashed green leaves on her head. Sara didn’t speak or smile and her father chased Jackie and Neema away as soon as they had introduced themselves. Seeing the girl in such a bad condition however was really hard on Jackie and Neema who always put all their effort into improving a patient’s condition. They were not willing to give up just like that and returned the next day. Gently, they tried to speak to Mr Raja to find out what happened to his daughter. Though still reluctant, he explained that he was separated from Sara’s mother, who was located in a different ward, and said that as soon as he learned that his daughter was not well, he took her to live with him. Mr Raja assured the outreach team that Sara was bewitched. He explained that she was under treatment from a traditional healer and that there was nothing they could do for her.

Typical housing in Kamanga - the largest village in Nyamatongo Ward

Typical housing in Kamanga - the largest village in Nyamatongo Ward

All over Tanzania a widespread belief prevails that people with a disability are bewitched or suffer from an act of God’s will. It is not the first time that our outreach team have encountered resistance to or disbelief in conventional medicine. It took quite some time and several more visits until Mr Raja had built enough trust towards our Clinical Officer and Field Officer to allow them to examine Sara. After being examined by Neema it became apparent that Sara had mental as well as physical disabilities but there was no way of telling what caused her condition. She suffered from spasms on one side, and had severe anxiety and speech impairments. Furthermore, she had a huge burn wound on one leg. This stemmed from a particularly cruel traditional practice whereby the person who is believed to be possessed by a spirit is covered with large cloths and a fire is made at their feet to expel the spirit with the flames.

The outreach team saw an urgent need for treatment and asked Mr Raja for permission, which he finally granted, under the condition that they would not give any injection as this would mess up the traditional medicine. Although the outreach team pointed out that the traditional medicine is not suitable to heal the wound or improve Sara’s overall condition, Mr Raja insisted. Jackie and Neema were not discouraged but kept visiting Sara and her father on a daily basis, continued to dress the wound and started occupational therapy exercises. To support their efforts, a weighted bag which functions as an assistive device was built. This helps Sara to sit more comfortably and independently, reduces the spasms, straightens the spinal cord and improves joint mobility. On top of the medical treatment, the outreach team persistently educated Mr Raja on the benefits of their medical approach, rights and needs of people with disabilities and causes of disabilities.

When Mr Raja saw the rapid improvement of the wound on the leg of his daughter and positive development of her overall condition he finally believed Jackie and Neema. Jackie says: “Baba Sara (Mr Raja) is now very supportive and if we miss going to their house even once he seems to be disappointed”. Seeing his daughter smile again makes him happy and he is very thankful for the good care and quality medical services our CBR outreach team provides. Sara’s father has stopped the local treatment now completely and only relies on the medical service provided by the outreach team.

By the way, the mashed green leaves on top of Sara’s head and the feathers on her wound are traditional medicine prescribed by the local traditional healer. Thankfully, the outreach team managed to convince Mr Raja that this was not adequate treatment for his daughter.

(Patients’ names have been changed to protect their anonymity)

David's smile

David is six years old and is living in a village called Mzizi. The first time I saw David I was riding my CBR pikipiki (motorbike) from Kabagombe. I saw him at the side of the road as he was returning from school with his fellow classmates. I stopped the pikipiki and went over to talk to him because he had a severe case of a cleft nose. He directed me to where his house was located and the following day I went there to talk to his family. He lived only with his Bibi (grandmother).

By chance Sekou Toure hospital, in Mwanza, had sent me a letter, a few weeks previously, about an oversees organisation that was currently in Mwanza offering free operations for cleft lip and cleft nose cases, exactly like that of David’s. This was the best platform and opportunity of helping him. I informed David’s Bibi about this opportunity and she was happy and ready for David to have the operation. I did the necessary registrations with the hospital  and they were soon given a date for surgery, the beginning of April 2019. David was operated on successfully. The CBR outreach team has been visiting him regularly at his home to make sure that he is  healing properly by monitoring the swelling, keeping his wound clean and by providing pain killers to ease his pain.

The family is very happy with The Cedar Foundation and the CBR team for coordinating with Sekou Toure hospital for David’s free operation and for providing his after care. David smiles a lot more now. And what a lovely smile it is!  

(Patient’s name has been changed to protect their anonymity)

Who cares, wins!

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It’s still dark as the on-the-ground Cedar Foundation Tanzania team picks us up from our hotel in Mwanza. It’s been a short night after flying in from Switzerland, but we have been told that it’s worth catching the first ferry from Mwanza to Kamanga. While driving through the empty streets, I try to study the area to get a first impression of where we are. Now and then we pass someone on foot or a motorbike, loaded to the brim with goods or water. Life starts early in the morning in Tanzania. Moments later, I’m whisked into the organised chaos of the port. It’s fascinating, and at the same time epic, and I cannot imagine how anything works at all here. Large buses, puffing black smoke, push their way onto the old ferry. Women with small children tied to their backs, men with ready-to-sell food supplies and we five Swissies wriggle our way through the little space left on the boat for those on foot. The sun slowly rises as the ferry manoeuvres out of the harbour. 

We visitors from Switzerland are not alone on the ferry - the Cedar Tanzania team is with us. Together with the Cedar team, we are the only Caucasians on the boat, and you can spot from far who has done this before. Standing there open-mouthed, clinging onto my cotton bag and camera, I’m fascinated, and at the same time worried that the ferry could sink. The chaos that could break out between the black-smoke-puffing buses is unimaginable. It truly is a different world. Feeling a little lost and overwhelmed, I find it best to stick to the group and do whatever they do.  

Vivian, Claire, Adam and Dylan from the Cedar team are sitting on the back of Mark’s pickup. It seems like a good spot, a little higher up, with some space of my own. We sit together there in the morning and evening, peeling oranges and talking about life, how the team is experiencing Tanzania, their work and what really matters. While sticky orange juice runs down my arm, I can metaphorically see their adventure in front of me and, for a short while, be part of the journey. They are totally dedicated to their work and the journey they are on. They are full of life, and what they are doing is inspirational. I cannot help but wish that I could one day do the same. I look forward to repeating the ferry procedure with them the next day, and to hear more of their tales.  

Arriving at the Kamanga Health Centre, we are given a tour of this tranquil place. They have made a great job of building the medical centre. After passing the gates, you enter a true oasis of peace and care. In a country that is not necessarily familiar with western medicine – in many areas, they work with traditional medicine, and we have to be aware that our way of living isn’t necessarily theirs – this is definitely a good basis on which to build trust. During the tour, we do see that there is definitely more we can do. In my last story about Emanuel’s walk, I talked about Lake Victoria and how the lake’s water is poisoning its surroundings. The Cedar Health Centre is on the lake, and depends on its water. Although water-purifying systems are doing their job, more is needed, and projects to filter the water in ponds are in progress. What amazes me is that the fish of Lake Victoria are moving with the water. The natural cleaning system seems to be a good spot for the fish, and this could maybe become an attractive side-line for the centre one day. Another problem we are made aware of is power. The hospital regularly experiences power-outages. Emergency generators can fill the gap, but this solution isn’t compatible with the aims of low costs and sustainability. Ideally, the centre should be powered by solar energy. I think this is a great project idea, and I truly hope it can be started sooner rather than later.  

At Kamanga Health Centre, we get to know Sian and Colinda. They are very talented doctors from the UK and the Netherlands, and I don’t know what the centre would do without them. Our group is allowed to join their training session for local medical staff. I have never done anything like this before, and try my best to keep up with the medical terminology. I actually catch myself wishing I could stick around a little longer and support them in their everyday tasks. It’s really fun to learn and be part of the group. They do an amazing job with their teaching, making Cedar Tanzania’s efforts more lasting, with a sustainable outlook. Day by day, the local medical staff can take over more and more of the centre’s tasks.  

What impresses me most is how devoted and happy the Cedar Tanzania team is. It’s such a great atmosphere and they all give the impression that they have found profound happiness in what they do. I’ve heard the term “who cares, wins” in a financial business context, but I feel this is also true in the case of the Cedar Tanzania team. If you ever get the chance to visit them, I can only motivate you to do so! My big thank-you goes out to the Cedar Tanzania team. Thank you so much for having me, for showing me your world, for inspiring me. You all do a great job! My third story is about you, because you are on my mind, and you did change my view for the better.  

As much as I admire the passion, fearlessness and work of the volunteers on the ground, those back home also help immensely and show passion for good work. I can remember a speech by his holiness the Dalai Lama. He was talking about volunteering to help others. A guest told the Dalai Lama how it makes him feel bad to not be on the ground, helping those in need. He wanted to know if the Dalai Lama would suggest that he should give everything up and travel to a country in need of support. I feel this is a question that bothers many of us. The Dalai Lama reassured his guest by telling him that it would never work out if we were all to give up what we are doing and head out as volunteers. Two kinds of people are necessary in order to keep a healthy system running: those who provide the support on the ground and those who stay home and keep our world working. What is important is that we all do our best, be thoughtful and care, because, ‘who cares, wins’!

Katherine Anne Lee is a published author with her first novel  "From dust to dust and a lifetime in between" receiving much public acclaim.

Habari Kamanga (Hello Kamanga) - second article by Katherine Anne Lee

Nearly a month has passed since I arrived back home from my journey to Tanzania, and the last mosquito bites on my arm are finally fading. My mind is still very actively processing my visit to the Kamanga Health Center, however. Maybe you read my previously published story about Peruzi’s light? Today, I would like to tell you my second story about Emanuel Mavuno. I hope you will enjoy the read and feel assured that your generous support is needed more than ever.

EMANUEL’S WALK

By car, we follow Jackie and Neema, who are on their motorbikes. They are from the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) project. As mentioned in my first story, CBR is an outreach project, aimed at offering quality health services to those unable to reach any form of medical support. The Kamanga Health Centre runs the project, and I cannot stress how impressed I am by their work. Many people in Tanzania don’t have any means of transport, which means they have to walk for hours to reach a larger town. This becomes a very challenging task if they are not well. On top of this, traditional western medical support is only encountered with caution. Tentativeness paired with a difficult journey often leads to health problems being neglected, even when severe. Thanks to the CBR project, the ambassadors of the Kamanga Health Centre are in the field and can find people who are in desperate need.

Our small convoy swirls up red dust as we make our way through the remote landscape of the outskirts of Kamanga. Now and then children spot us, wave frantically or run beside the car for as long as their short legs will carry them. Even today I can hear them chanting, “white people, white people”. It’s amazing how happy they are. During the whole journey, I never saw a child cry, let alone get into a temper. Their joy underlines the fact that possessions don’t necessarily mean happiness.  

Emanuel mending shoes

Emanuel mending shoes

We stop on a grass bank and park our car and the motorbikes. We are out in the middle of nowhere, and I can’t imagine where we are heading. The sun is beating down on my head, I feel thirsty and a first wave of travel tiredness overcomes me. But it feels good to move and use my legs, following Jackie and Neema down a little path. Well, it’s not really a path; it’s actually just some beaten down grass. It reminds me of hiking the rural hills of Church Stretton in England, close to the Welsh border. My grandparents lived there and, every summer, my brothers and I would spend loads of time exploring the hills. The grazing sheep left similar simple paths behind them. It was a great adventure to follow the short-legged animals while picking wild blueberries, and feeling the harsh Welsh wind on our faces. Lost in memories, I reach a platform with a wonderful view of Lake Victoria. Large rocks seam the outer area of a simple clay hut. But my attention is drawn to the view and the peacefulness of the area. It’s a beautiful spot, and its tranquillity distracts me from the real reason for being here. It takes me a minute to realise that we have arrived at Emanuel Mavuno’s house. Actually, I have to admit that I know we are visiting someone, of course, but I’ve somehow missed out on what I should expect. A tall man is sitting on the ground, bent over some old shoes. He carefully gets up as he sees our group. Still admiring the view, I wonder who we are visiting. The tall man has such a happy smile and a calm aura that I don’t immediately make the link between him and medical support. I admire his happiness as he slowly moves closer to our group, but then I notice that he doesn’t walk smoothly. His flip-flops are totally worn under the heel. Well, the rubber shoes don’t actually have heels anymore, just a large hole at the back. Jackie and Neema introduce Emanuel Mavuno to us. He doesn’t really give me the impression of being ill. But as I study him more closely, I realize he is missing large parts of his fingers. Only maybe 30 per cent is left from what must have been once long fingers. While I’m wondering what happened to him, Neema explains that Emanuel suffers from leprosy. Leprosy! A thousand thoughts rush through my mind. Does leprosy still exist? How does leprosy infect you? Is it safe to be so close? What about vaccinations? Did I get a vaccination? How can Emanuel be cured? After inhaling the tranquility of the place, it’s like being slapped in the face.  

Emanuel carefully sits down on a rock and slips his feet out of the remains of his flip-flops, while Neema unpacks some medical supplies.  

Emanuel Mavuno is one of the many people in Tanzania who rely on water supplies from Lake Victoria. The water is used for daily nutrition, and many people also wash themselves on the shore of the lake. The growing population, industrialization and the lack of water and waste cleaning facilities have led to the poisoning of this water lifeline. Lake Victoria is ill, and is infecting the more than 30 million people from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania who depend on its water. Emanuel Mavuno also washes himself in Lake Victoria. After he became infected with leprosy, his family left him so as not to risk becoming caught by the same destiny. Alone, he was not able to keep up with life. He lost his family, his work and his connection to the community. Before the CBR team found him, he was in great pain, hoping for the odd passer-by to show compassion and leave him some water or food. Today, the CBR team has been able to stop the infectious disease on his hands. But his feet are still a worry. Ulcers the diameter of an orange cover both his feet.The medical care has luckily been able to stop the further growth, which would have led to losing his feet, and thereby the ability to walk.  

Neema is holding a bottle and signals to Emanuel to lift his foot. While the clear liquid runs over the wound, the giant ulcer turns white. I can remember having pin-size ulcers in my mouth as a child. My father gave me salt to disinfect the wound. Only too well can I remember the burning in my mouth, and the salty taste running down my throat. It was a terrible feeling, and I cannot imagine how this procedure must feel for Emanuel. While his ulcers turn white, he closes his eyes as if to enjoy the sunlight on his face. Only the flinching of his eyebrows now and then reveals the pain he is experiencing. Once both feet have dried, a healing lotion is added and the wounds are covered with a bandage. Emanuel slips his feet back into his flip-flops and stands back up on his heels. I wish we could give him some new shoes – it would be so easy to do. Facing us all, Emanuel expresses his thanks to all of us for visiting and helping him. He expresses his extreme gratitude to the people in Switzerland, who support this project and thereby give him a cure and the hope of a somewhat more ordinary life.  

Back home, I’ve thought about Emanuel Mavuno many times. The terrible disease at such a tranquil place just seemed so surreal to me. Such a kind man with so much happiness to give. Even though his illness shocked me, he was able to give me peace of mind. Even today, in the 21st century, leprosy is a dangerous and discriminating disease. I’m impressed by Emanuel’s capability to face this condition with so much grace.  

Emanuel’s situation has now improved further, and his wounds are still being regularly treated by the CBR team. The upper layers of the ulcers are slowly healing, and it appears that his feet will improve with just a little more time and care. What makes me really happy is to hear that he’s making progress with his business of mending shoes and fishermen’s nets. Emanuel is becoming able to manage his life again, and this must be game-changing for such a proud man. He’s also helping some fishermen with their catch, and now and then doing some fishing himself. Lake Victoria’s water is what it is, and I pray that he will be all right. Maybe one day the remediation of Lake Victoria will also be a topic – I would love that moment. Today, I’m just happy that we can celebrate this step of healing and enabling Emanuel Mavuno. The Cedar Foundation Tanzania and you, its donors, can be proud. This change matters, and no action is too small! Can you also see Emanuel Mavuno standing by his clay hut, gazing into the distance, feeling the sun and a soft wind touch his cheeks? He is now able to walk towards his own future.

Written by novelist Katherine Anne Lee

Chris Tucker - A Virtual Volunteer

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My name is Chris Tucker and I’m a 29 year old, based in the South East of England. I currently live in a small town called Maidstone, which is about an hour drive from London. I work for the National Health Service in a Creative and Digital role, working on websites and apps based around helping the public find the effective solution to help improve their own health or those they are caring for.

I had started using an online skill match-up platform called Pimp My Cause and in February 2016 I responded to a request for design support from Cedar Tanzania. I was keen to get involved in some new design projects and the prospect of supporting an organisation providing such value to the people it was working with was really appealing.

Since then I have worked on various projects for Cedar including logo design, flyers and signage. A significant collaboration came with the production of a number of design materials for the Kamanga Health Centre, which was a really exciting task to be involved with.

I take great joy in the idea that the projects I’ve been involved with can be of benefit to Cedar, thousands of miles away - this makes the world feel a little smaller in my head! It can be hard to quantify the impact of design and branding so if at the very least by giving my time I’ve helped to make some of the staff’s lives a bit easier that’s only a good thing!

I would recommend someone who was considering volunteering remotely for Cedar to go ahead and do so. The team are a pleasure to work with and clear when proposing ideas, which is always useful when working remotely. From my own perspective, I’ve been able to challenge myself and develop my skills as part of the process so it’s great that both sides can benefit from the collaboration.

Written by Virtual Volunteer Chris Tucker

The Cedar Tanzania team saying thank you to their virtual graphic designer volunteer Chris!

Update from Kamanga Health Centre

Over the last few months we’ve seen many changes and developments at Kamanga Health Centre - here are a few of the most important updates:

INCREASING PATIENT NUMBERS

There has been a significant increase in the number of patients attending KHC over the past few months! In February we had a total of 932 outpatient department attendances and 107 admissions, a huge increase on the numbers from last year. The most common conditions treated at KHC were pneumonia, gastroenteritis and typhoid.

The RCH (reproductive and child health) department has also seen an increase in patient numbers, particularly at the bustling under 5’s clinic. Here the children are weighed, vaccinated, and given essential medicines like mebedazole (which kills intestinal worms) and vitamin A (which prevents eye disease).  Whilst the mothers are waiting we provide them with education on topics such as nutrition, breastfeeding, and vaccinations.  In February alone we saw 519 children at the under 5’s clinic. It’s wonderful to see so many children receiving crucial vaccinations to keep them safe, even if they do make quite a racket!

THE NEW WARD

We realised back in November that we needed extra space to accommodate the increasing numbers of admitted patients. We only had 4 beds (2 postnatal beds and 2 medical beds) and we were often over-capacity, leading to inappropriate rooms being occupied such as the clinic rooms.  After an emergency meeting of the Cedar team we made a plan and the maintenance team got to work on converting one of the waiting rooms into a new ward.  This provided an extra 4 beds- doubling our capacity! The imaginatively named ‘New Ward’ was finished back in January and has been more or less full ever since! (I’m trying not to imagine the chaos that will ensue if we build another ward - ‘New new ward’?!)

NEW STAFF

To cope with the increasing patient demand, we have employed 12 new volunteer staff members. They have settled into the team wonderfully and, alongside the other staff, are working hard to cope with increasing patient numbers. Since we have started admitting patients all of the staff have had to adapt to working in the inpatient setting- this has involved many new procedures and protocols which ensure patients are closely monitored and receive the necessary medication during their stay. This has required a huge amount of work over the last few months, but we have managed to create a system which is working smoothly!

ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

Kamanga Health Centre celebrated its 1 year anniversary on the 18th of January! To celebrate the big day, all the staff gathered for a post-work feast. Awards for the best staff of 2018 were given to Neema , our clinical officer, and Mussa, head of maintenance – both very well deserved! A fun evening was had – eating, drinking, and celebrating our achievements over the last year. Excited to see what year 2 has in store.

Written by Medical Volunteer Dr. Sian Ashby

Changing lives, one bring at the time

On March 1st, 1,500 bricks were delivered to Mtakuja Primary School of Kamanga.  These bricks were donated by Cedar Tanzania in an effort to help the community complete the construction of the school. 

Mtakuja Primary School was opened in January of 2019, which allowed the nearly 900 students of the other primary school located in Kamanga, Kamanga Primary School, to attend their school full time, instead of splitting classroom time with the students of Mtakuja.  However, the 800 plus students of Mtakuja are still forced to split time in the classroom, because as of today, there are only five completed classrooms to accommodate the seven primary classes, as well as the kindergarten.  The community has been struggling to construct Mtakuja Primary School since 2014, because although it is a government school, nearly all the funding has come from donations by the community at large or individual community members.

With the sixth classroom of Mtakuja nearing completion, the donated bricks will allow the community to start the construction of the seventh classroom.  The primary school will continue to be a work in progress, but these 1,500 bricks will help the community and school get one step closer to their goal of a complete eight classroom school.  A school, which once completed, will give more than 800 students aged 5 to 12 the opportunity to attend for the whole day, every day of the week.

Written by Educational Adviser and Volunteer Dylan Parkin

Mambo! Adam from the UK here!

For a long while, I had been thinking about escaping London and doing some voluntary work abroad. Having reached and exceeded the ripe old age of 30, I figured now was a good-a-time as any to do so. I have absolutely zero regrets regarding the decision I made – I have really enjoyed myself out here! Prior to joining Cedar Tanzania, I worked as a consultant for a FinTech company in London, and, prior to that, I spent 8 years in glorious Bristol, studying a MSci and PhD in chemistry.

What inspired you to volunteer with Cedar Tanzania?  

Adam Nunn - Volunteer at Cedar Tanzania Head Office in Mwanza, Tanzania

Adam Nunn - Volunteer at Cedar Tanzania Head Office in Mwanza, Tanzania

An up-to-date website is a rare thing for NGOs in these parts. It was great to get a real-time feel for the amazing and inspirational work that Cedar Tanzania are doing here in Mwanza/Nyamatongo District. I had a chance to speak to Claire, the Executive Director, who was a delight and very reassuring with regards to what I might be able to contribute to the team. The diversity of projects being run here was immediately appealing, as well as the clear vision that Cedar Tanzania sets out, which I also don't find with many other NGOs that I researched. In addition to that, I was quite keen to skip a cold, bleak, grey British winter for once.

How long is your volunteer placement?

Three and a half months.

What is your role at Cedar Tanzania? 

I'm helping transition the Cedar Tanzania Accounting Team from MS Excel to an off-the-shelf accounting software system, which will provide significant improvements to their accounting abilities as well as efficiency savings for accounting team and the NGO. I've also been involved in writing an application to a section of the Tanzanian Government and teaching some of the staff at the Kamanga Health Centre how to cook chilli con carne (which isn't strictly speaking in my job description, but it's been fun).

Can you mention highlights of some of the activities that you have been involved in whilst you have worked for Cedar?

Well, all of my colleagues are great, which is always a good start. It was immediately evident when I started working here that everyone is really passionate about their work and about delivering upon Cedar Tanzania's vision. I've been given a lot of autonomy over what I do, but with plenty of support when I've needed it. Accounting isn't a particularly glamorous job, but it's been really rewarding supporting an NGO and knowing that my small contribution helps the NGO operate more efficiently and continue to deliver their outstanding work within the Nyamatongo community.

What things have challenged you so far?

Navigating in the dark around the potholes in the pavements here. And not succumbing to the temptation of eating ‘chips mayai’* every day.

What things have you found enjoyable or surprising about Tanzanian culture either socially or at work?

I love the Tanzanian attitude to life. It's much more relaxed and friendlier than what I've experienced in the majority of Western Europe. Almost everyone here is keen to chat and seem to enjoy my very broken and limited attempts at speaking Kiswahili. No one seemed to enjoy that on the London Underground. Also, the food you find at the little hawkers dotted along the roads or in the villages is delicious, and almost everyone here is a great dancer. I'm not a great dancer, if you were wondering. But I've picked up some moves that I execute poorly.

What would you say to anyone who said that they could not volunteer because they didn't have a skill to offer?

If you are already interested in volunteering abroad, if you already have that desire to take yourself out of your comfort zone and do something different, if you want to immerse yourself in a totally different culture and give your time and energy to help others who live a very different and likely less fortunate lifestyle than yourself, then you already have what it takes to volunteer at Cedar Tanzania. There is no shortage of work to be done, no shortage of inspirational projects to get involved in, and I don't doubt that you'd have a great time volunteering here. I certainly have.

Thank you.

*Chips mayai – a Tanzanian dish of fried chips in an omelette.

Written by Mwanza Head Office Volunteer and self professed excellent chilli con carne chef, Adam Nunns

It's finally here!

Cedar Tanzania is so excited to announce that Kamanga Health Centre (KHC) has received the brand new neonatal resuscitation table that was bought by funds raised by the crowd-funding campaign of December 2018.  The arrival of this life saving equipment will mean safer and better treatment for all our new babies born at our health centre. At the moment we average a birth a day but numbers are increasing as KHC gets to be known in the region as a first class heath facility for mothers to deliver their babies safely.  

KHC’s staff has received training in its use and is ready to give quality care to babies born at the centre.  

The neonatal resuscitation table became a reality through Australia for Cedar Tanzania’s (ACT) first crowd-funding campaign. Cedar Tanzania and ACT were amazed by the fantastic support you all showed and they were able to raise funds not only for the neonatal resuscitation table but also for two portable cots as well. The cots have been ordered and are on their way to Kamanga, Tanzania. As you will appreciate, getting good quality medical equipment to Kamanga Health Centre can sometimes be difficult and can take a lot of effort and logistical planning. But Cedar Tanzania shall announce the arrival of the cots as soon as KHC gets them.  

From all of us at Cedar Tanzania, ACT and the mothers of Nyamatongo Ward thank you for making the purchase of the neo-natal resuscitation table possible. You did it!

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Habari Kamanga! (Hello Kamanga!)

My name is Katherine Anne Lee. I live in the beautiful city of Zug in Switzerland and, a few weeks ago, was given the unique opportunity to visit the Kamanga Health Centre in Tanzania, which was opened by the Cedar Foundation Tanzania one year ago. My friends and family back home have been very excited to hear about my latest Africa journey, in which I saw many things, some beautiful and some hard to grasp, even painful. They are all stories about everyday life in Tanzania and the wonderful work the Cedar Foundation team is doing. I’d like to share my first story about my visit to Peruzi, and maybe I can share some more later on. I hope you will enjoy reading this, and see how your support for the project matters.

Peruzi’s light

by Katherine Anne Lee

It’s only a short drive from the Health Centre in Kamanga to a small village nearby. Clay huts line the busy, graveled street. It isn’t a classic street as you would imagine in the western world - the main street of Kamanga is along stretch of dusty gravel that connects remote communities. Sooner or later, everything that is making its way from A to B, has to end up on this street, dodging portholes and stray dogs. Overloaded buses, children who walk for miles to go to school, cattle in search of a new grazing spot and locals on their way to the market or maybe the Health Centre, pass by. It’s a bustle you could watch for a while if you wouldn’t become coated in red dust every time a heavy lorry passes by. But we’re not here to observe the street. We are here to visit Peruzi. Jackie and Neema from the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) project are showing us their work. CBR is an outreach project, aimed to offer quality health services to those unable to reach any form of medical support.

It’s only a short jump down the bank from the dusty road and we’re standing in front of a tiny mud house with two simple doors. Both are open, but it’s dark and difficult to guess what’s inside. An elderly lady is nervously sweeping the floor outside, and greets Jackie and Neema. She is missing some front teeth but nevertheless has a happy smile, and points us towards one of the small doors. As we come a little closer, I can see an old, weathered mattress on the floor. There are colourful sheets on top of the mattress, all muddled up. And there, in between the colours, I see a face and part of a leg sticking out between the sheets.So small and fragile, as if it were a child lying there. It’s Peruzi, a 40-year-old woman, marked by her heart-breaking past.

Peruzi is challenged with epilepsy. The illness was more under control in her younger years; she lived within the village and even gave birth to a son. In her twenties, her epileptic outbreaks increased to the point where she was no longer in control of her own destiny. Her mother, a small lady, closely interwoven into the local community and swayed by social stigmas, was unable to cope with her daughter’s deteriorating situation. Embarrassed by the local talk that her daughter was afflicted due to the failure of her mother, she thought the only thing she could do was to tie Peruzi to a rope and lock her into a small dark room. There, Peruzi vegetated for a full twelve years on the bare, cold, clay floor, without any form of comfort, light or proper nutrition. It was a pure coincidence that the CBR team found Peruzi. The degeneration of her body left the team with no option other than to transfer Peruzi to the nearby hospital. While Peruzi received care, the team patiently educated her mother to correct her misbelief about disabilities being a consequence of personal failure, and persuaded her to share her old - and only - mattress with her daughter.  

Peruzi’s situation left me feeling ashamed, and reluctant to enter the dark room. I didn’t want to disturb her; maybe she would be afraid or feel uncomfortable at having us all looking down at her. On the other hand, I didn’t want to appear rude by not visiting her.While I waited, I deeply wished I could do more for her. A new mattress, some fresh clothes, sanitary material; this would be easy for us to organise. Having so much, but having nothing in my hands to help gives a feeling of powerlessness. Her big brown eyes gazed up as I entered her room. I wished I could comfort her, tell her it will be better now that Jackie and Neema have found her.

A few weeks later, back home, I was happy to hear that the CBR team had been able to improve Peruzi’s situation. They brought her a wheelchair, bedding and sanitary material. I can picture Peruzi sitting outside, enjoying some fresh air and finally feeling the sunlight touch her cheeks again after twelve years in the dark. It must be an exciting moment for her to be part of the community again.  

Only a few days later, I received the terrible news that Peruzi has sadly passed away. Her poor health and missing nutrition had taken its toll. Were we too late? Or could we have made a change? While frustration and deep sadness cloud my heart, I decide to light a candle for Peruzi. Gazing at the flame, I whisper to her and thank her for her time. The candle burns all night in our window. In the morning, the flame flickers one more time before turning to smoke and I realise that Peruzi’s story matters. Peruzi’s light has been seen.

KATHERINE ANNE LEE IS A PUBLISHED AUTHOR WITH HER FIRST NOVEL  "FROM DUST TO DUST AND A LIFETIME IN BETWEEN" RECEIVING PUBLIC ACCLAIM.