|NEWS FROM OUR MEDICAL DIRECTOR
Our Medical Director, Dr. Jeff Karasik, visited Kenya in December to check on the status of the children and in particular the health services being provided to them, their guardians, and residents of the Villages.
SHARE is working with Mbita General Hospital to address a number of issues related to infant mortality. Sometimes the babies need an oxygen supplement to help them breath on their own. The local hospital does not have oxygen tanks and instead use an “oxygen concentrator” which takes air from the room and concentrates the oxygen from the air. Such a valuable and life saving machine, yet the local hospital has only one of these and often when a baby needs an oxygen supplement, by the time the machine is located, cleaned and hooked up for the baby, it is too late. SHARE purchased and provided a new oxygen concentrator to be kept in the maternity ward which will hopefully increase the survival rate of the babies and their mothers. Extraordinarily, the cost was only between $200 and $300, which highlights the level of poverty SHARE is trying to combat.
While visiting, Jeff conducted another “Helping Babies Breathe” class for staff. He also took the first steps toward instituting a new program “Essential Care for Every Mother”. Hopefully the program will be instituted in the near future to aid in providing currently lacking essential obstetric care to pregnant women. We had previously brought you information about the program called, “Helping Babies Breathe” where the infant mortality rate has been reduced. “Helping Babies Breathe” is one component of a program called “Helping Babies Survive” comprised of two sub courses: “Helping Babies Breathe,” (first minute of life) and “Essential Care for Every Baby” (first 24 hours). This program trains maternity staff to turn attention to the infants immediately after birth and during the first 24 hours after birth, to ensure they receive appropriate attention.
PROVIDING CLEAN WATER
Jeff also had the opportunity to visit with families who had received the water filters recently supplied by SHARE. They were delighted with the opportunity to receive clean filtered water and noted a sharp decline in gastrointestinal issues since the filters were supplied. SHARE plans to provide many more families with these filters over time. Each of the first 58 home filters distributed provided clean water to approximately 8 people per household, although at least one was being shared by multiple households covering more than twenty people.
To date they are performing very well with no issues on the routine maintenance of filter back flushing. They appear to be a big hit and fulfilling a basic need. Based on this success SHARE has put on order our next batch of 56 home filters. We hope to be distributing those in February to the next group of Orphan Guardian homes.
STATUS OF SCHOOL FOR SHARE SPONSORED ORPHANS
In Kenya, the school year is divided into 3 terms or trimesters. The academic year begins in January and ends in December. Between the trimesters, the children are on breaks. In 2020, our children were in school from January until late February or early March. Therefore, they were deemed to have completed one trimester.
Children in Grades 5, 7, and Form IV (high school seniors), are subject to examinations that determine their progression in school. The government called them back to school in October 2020 to start their second trimester (Oct- Dec) and they started the third trimester in January 2021 which will end in March 2021. Normally these children would have taken their national examinations at the end of the school year in December, but this time they will all finish their final trimester in late March and take the examinations in May. Therefore, those who would have graduated from high school and would no longer require sponsors will require an additional half year of assistance.
For all other children, the remaining second trimester started in January 2021 and the third trimester will follow in April, ending in June 2021. A new academic year will then begin in July 2021, with two trimesters completed by December 2021 and the third trimester starting in January 2022.
This revised schedule creates certain issues for SHARE finances during 2021. SHARE had paid all the fees for the entire year of 2020 (for 3 trimesters). SHARE is entitled to a school credit for two trimesters education and lodging and boarding, for those students not called back already in October and for those we should have a one trimester credit. The fees already paid for the remaining 2020 trimester(s) will be applied to the first half of this year. This provides some relief, although we had additional expenses for providing food and other necessities for the children while they were home. In addition, Kenya requires a full calendar year of fees paid in January, in advance, so SHARE has been required to pay the full balance of fees for the period through the end of December, in January.
Another program SHARE conducts is what has been dubbed medical outreach. In addition to continuing to distribute PPE to the children and their guardians as necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, SHARE has continued its program of providing medical resources to the underserved communities.
Our SHARE nurse, Kirindo Casmiel, along with a staff of volunteer nurses, clinical officers, pharmacist, and community health workers, travel to remote areas. The people in these areas have little access to medical care because of distance, lack of transportation, poor road conditions, etc. They set up a mobile clinic and do treatment, education, and distribute much needed medication.
The generosity of our donors contributes to these and the other services SHARE provides.
As a new feature of our Newsletter, we will periodically spotlight someone who has contributed in multiple ways to the success of SHARE. Our February spotlight is on Jena Hernandez. Jena lived in Rockland County for many years and was active in her community. She first became aware of SHARE’s activities through friends in 2013. Initially, she attended SHARE’s golf outing and learned of the sponsor program and other programs. Thereafter, Jena joined the golf committee and became a member of the SHARE Board and chair of the golf committee. In 2015, Jena traveled with SHARE’s President, Usha Wright and Vice President, Jerry Warshaw to Kenya. It was a moving and heartwarming experience for her, especially her visit to Double Joy Orphanage.
Although Jena has moved out of state and subsequently left the Board, she has continued to be a supporter of SHARE through her sponsorship of an orphan and contributions to various SHARE activities, in particular education initiatives and support of post high school education for SHARE orphans. She is a valuable member of the SHARE family.