The staff and children at the polio hostel send greetings to all their friends and supporters in the UK and thank them for their support for the work they do for the disabled children and young people.
The hostel now receives regular quarterly funds from our charity, The Kwa Mkono Disabled Children's Trust, as well as USPG and the Sisters of the Community of the Sacred Passion. This gives them a monthly income of about £1300 to cover their general expenses, salaries, food, fuel, etc. It means that Sylvester has been able to keep the hostel out of debt; he says that he is now able to pay bills on time and does not have to hope that an unexpected donation from overseas arrives before the food runs out or the power and water are cut off.
A number of people from the UK have visited the hostel this year to see for themselves how Sylvester and his staff are helping the children to overcome their physical difficulties. We have received many positive comments about how happy the children are and what is being achieved especially as the hostel receives so little money each month. One useful outcome of these visits was that one of the visitors was able to suggest how to get 4 children seen by an orthopaedic team that visits Teule hospital Muheza. The surgeon and physiotherapist have recommended exercises to help the children walk; we hope that we can get other children seen the next time the team come to Muheza.
At St. Francis hospital the operating theatre building is now completed; the doors and windows were installed during the last few weeks. The new equipment should be arriving soon and once installed operations can again be carried out at the hospital. The old theatre was closed a number of years ago because the ceiling fell down and the operating table collapsed. Once the new theatre is in use it will hopefully mean the children who need simple operations, to improve their walking, will get them done at St. Francis instead of travelling to Teule hospital, Muheza. Dr. Jonathan has moved to Teule hospital and has been replaced by Dr. George Chausa who has come from St. Raphaels hospital at Korogwe.
A number of the children will never be able to walk and need wheelchairs. Unfortunately, because of the rough terrain, finding suitable chairs is difficult and many need frequent repair to the front caster wheels and forks. One of the young men, who has completed his schooling and hopes to go to a training college to become an office machine engineer, has been given a new chair as the chair he was using had lost one of its front wheels and was not repairable. As well as wheelchairs we are trying to find hand propelled tricycles as some children will find them easier to use on the uneven ground. We need strong wheelchairs and replacement heavy duty front caster wheels to repair the chairs at the hostel as well as 2 or 3 hand propelled tricycles; if anyone can help please get in touch as it is necessary to give the young people who are unable to walk a way of getting around when they leave the hostel.
The children are more active and it is good to see them playing after school. The younger children have friends from school who come and play, and everyone enjoys listening and dancing to the music they play on the CD player, included when the solar lighting and television were installed in the mini class. The solar lighting projects for all areas used by the children, particularly at night, are completed and we thank the Tanzania Development Trust for its help in achieving this.
Like all children they have to be reminded to turn things off when they are not being used. This is very important because when the batteries run completely flat they will not charge up and the electrician has to come to reset the system. The older boys are now in charge and things have improved since they were told that if they allow the batteries to become flat the television and CD player will have be taken away as it is expensive to get the electrician to travel out to the hostel from Korogwe.
Security is very important for the children's safety and therefore we have renewed the perimeter fence which had rotted away in numerous places. This has also stopped the chickens escaping into the village, where local people made good use of them. With the village expanding and coming up to the hostel's perimeter at the back of the site it was felt that extra security was required to protect the children, office and computer room. An unused building close to where people could get over the fence was suitable to be converted into an extra staff house meaning that anyone coming onto the site will have to pass the house. The alterations are nearly complete and we have been told it will be ready for Francis (the driver) and his wife and daughter to move into by Easter.
There are 43 children/young people at the hostel plus one young man at boarding school, for his final year of secondary education, and one boy who lives in the village but is helped by the polio hostel. Two boys at the hostel finished their schooling and are waiting for a place at a vocational college. We have been told that there are 2 or 3 children known to the staff who would benefit by being at the hostel and they will be admitted as soon as beds and funds can be made available.
We were just thinking we had completed all the building work currently needed when we received this email: 'The rains have started and the boy's choo and bafu (toilet and bathroom) roof and timber have left. Many houses in the village were destroyed or damaged but no one killed or injured'. A little worried that the hostel roof was responsible for the damage in the village, we were relieved when a later email explained that the heavy rain and strong winds had done the damage both at the hostel and in the village. It also told us the cost of repairs was about £450. Fortunately we had just sent funds to help re start the poultry project and so we were able to suggest that these funds be used to do the repairs immediately to the damaged roofs and we would send more money for chickens etc. as soon as possible.
Although the roofs on the dormitories have been replaced the store room building still has its original corrugated sheets that are now letting the rain into the rooms used to keep the children's food and spare clothing in. This will need replacing as funds are available but to be practical it must be this year. Another project is to start repairing/renewing the path inside the polio hostel grounds as it has started to break up which is not ideal for the children in wheelchairs or for those who crawl.
Sylvester also tells us that the Land Rover tyres are wearing out and the insurance and service are due at the end of July.
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