July 2006

Zambia’s Life Expectancy Slumps to 37.5 years

Of the 177 countries reviewed by the Global Human Development Report (HDR) Zambia now ranks as 166th and life expectancy has dropped from 45 to 37.5 years.
This represents the percentage of Zambians who have little chance of living long, being educated, or enjoying a decent livelihood. HHI’s work therefore is even more necessary than before.
The fear is that unless the developed countries honour their commitments on debt relief and trade, Zambia and the least developed countries will continue to fare badly.
However, the HD Report notes that Zambia has made tremendous improvements in addressing HIV/AIDS as well as improving the combined enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary education from 45% - 48%.
HHI is only one small cog in the Zambian wheel (although a vital one in the township of Monze).
It is at International level, that the most good can be brought about.
There is need to interlink trade, aid, and security, which are all critical to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.
It will be a tragedy for the world’s poorest if the promise to halve poverty by 2015 is broken.

A Changing Situation

The decision by the International Monetary Fund to cancel the debts owed by many countries has been widely welcomed - but unexpected-ly, this may now cause a few problems for HHI.
Zambia has announced the United States has agreed to cancel debts owed by the country worth $280 million (£163m).
Zambia's Minister of Finance, Ngandu Magande, welcomed the decision, saying the debt relief granted in the last few days was a major boost to the economy.
With similar moves made by Japan and France, Zambian debts have fallen by over one billion dollars, and once all lenders write off their debts, Zambia will have cleared six billion dollars' worth.
At the same time as Zambia's main export, copper, is in big demand by India and China, this means that the country should have some money to spend to help its people.
Many of the country's clinics have started offering free medical care, but they are already being overwhelmed by public demand, even before people in outlying areas get the news.
The BBC has reported that people have been waiting for eight hours without even seeing a doctor.
Zambia has one doctor for every 14,000 people - the comparison in Britain is one doctor for every 600 of us.
The BBC reports that Zambia also has only 24 pharmacists serving eleven million people - and not a single psychiatrist.
The director has already received reports from the country which say:
"The introduction of free medical serv-ices in Zambia makes it very difficult for us to continue running the hard-to-reach areas we have been providing curative medical services.
"The government has also introduced outreach programmes to these areas being conducted by clinical officers from the nearby rural health centres.
The clinical officers have been given bicycles or motor-cycles to easily reach these areas and they are paid allowances by government.
After assessing the new development I had a meeting with the district health Director where it was noted that we might just be duplicating services being done by government."
It is suspected that what will happen now is that the Zambian government will concentrate on the areas which are easier to reach, and will hope that outside agencies like HHI will continue working in the most remote areas.
This will place an impossible burden on our budget because of the quite unbelievable wear-and-tear on our vehicles in reaching such places.
One immediate solution is that HHI has decided to concentrate on services which the government is unable to handle by itself, such as audiology and eye-care.
We are still helping with the delivery of healthservices to the remote areas, but now in partnership with the government.
It is probable that the work which is now needed in Africa may be slightly different from the kind of projects we have worked on up to now.

Alternative Catalogue

The most popular thing that supporters of Health Help International like to give is ...
a goat!
Yes, that’s perfectly true. We have found this out from counting up the results of our Alternative Christmas Catalogue scheme last year, in which supporters were invited to buy items for Zambia and India in the name of a friend, instead of spending the money on conventional gifts for them.
The most popular gift by far was a goat - we provided 73 of them, for which supporters paid a total of £2,190.
The entire Alternative Catalogue scheme raised a total of £14,000.

Zambia Bound, (again)

All of our supporters will know that we supply all kinds of equipment and materials to overseas communities - but very few of us know what work goes into sending them out there.
Over the past year our supporters have responded to our needs and have donated items and equipment for our work in Zambia.
In July 2005 we sent our first container to Zambia, and thanks to your generosity we have recently collected enough to send another one this year.

How does it all get there?

The container is sent by road from Newport to Bristol, then it goes by boat to Durban in South Africa and then by road for another 1600 kilometres to our headquarters at Monze.
Brunel Shipping and Liner Services made all the transport arrangements for us, but still the container had to be loaded - and when it turned up, we found it was 33 cubic metres, which is about the same as a medium-sized living room.
It took three hours simply to carry everything into the container, and eventually we had it so full that we could scarcely close the doors.
There were still many items we were unable to fit in, so they will have to wait until next time, but the important and urgent items were all in there.
The list of items is fascinating: -
three hospital beds,
four hoists for lifting patients,
23 wheelchairs,
100 walking sticks,
500 crutches,
19 walking frames
27 boxes of various drugs and bandages,
nine boxes of second-hand spectacles, (which can be put to very good use in Zambia.)
For the sewing workshop in Monze:-
21 boxes of wool,
forty boxes of assorted cloths,
about sixty rolls of other cloth,
ten hand-operated sewing machines
…and one tailor's dummy!
General items sent out:-
twenty-two computers,
one guitar,
six boxes of childrens' toys,
nine boxes of shoes,
fifty chairs,
49 boxes of clothes
and a hundred woollen blankets.

The director offers his grateful thanks not just to those who donated the equipment, but to all who turned up to help pack the boxes in the preceding weeks and load the container … and the catering ladies who provided the tea, hot dogs and cakes afterwards!

The House of Hope

Some quite remarkable advances are being made by Pastor Sam in his work with destitute and mentally disabled women in India.
Pastor Sam is a character, and this is by no means his first project for the helpless of Trivandrum.
Sam was one of the founders of that remarkable group of pastors, the Tentmakers, who work with our friend Tom Sutherland in seeking out need and doing practical things to help.
This latest project is based in an area of Trivandrum which almost defies description.
To describe his building as a shack is being generous - if you have ever seen one of those dilapidated, falling-down garden sheds which can be found in some allotments (and in some of our gardens!) then that would be luxury compared to the places where Sam lives and works.
And yet, for his latest project, Sam decided that he and his family should take in and care for the destitute and disabled women that nobody else would help - indeed they are general-ly members of the ‘untouchables’, the lowest class of all in Indian society.
There are now 25 women being cared for, and the Director, Ron Prosser, had the experience of actually seeing one lady being rescued during his most recent trip to India.
He was being driven through a village when a woman was noticed crouching on the Pavement, with a group of men and boys jeering at her.
Tom Sutherland always reacts the same way in such a situation - he stops, and goes to see what he can do to help.
In this case, he decided that she should be cared for by Paster Sam and his family.
She was taken in, washed and fed, and then they discovered that she had serious medical attention - she needed a hysterectomy.
She was in such a bad state that when she was asked for her name, she replied, ‘I am nothing, just call me what you want’.
The latest and very good news is that following last November’s Bible Readathon, in which sponsors paid £1 a verse, HHI has raised over £12,000 with which to buy Sam a plot of land on which he can build a permanent refuge for these women.
What is more, the land is an extremely good one for raising crops to help with the upkeep of the new home, which is to be called ’The House of Hope’.
There is room for growing bananas, pineapples and vegetables, and there are already coconut palms - if these are well tended, they can produce 400 coconuts a year per tree!

Disability is not Inability

"Even if we were born disabled there are people who love us.
HHI loves us and they have demonstrated their love by coming today.
They are our friends and now we can be proud to have found a friend in you."
That's quite a welcome, isn't it?
It's what was sung to our man in Zambia, when he arrived to visit the Kacholoma Disabled Association, a group of 80 people who had applied to HHI for help.
"HHI has honoured its promise," the chairman said when David arrived.
"We were not very sure whether you were going to come because all other organisations we had asked to come and listen to our problems never turned up.
We are so grateful that you have come and it gives us great hope." David discovered that the group was formed because all of them were being ignored by the community and their own families.
They heard about HHI on a radio broadcast, and ask if they could be given some wheel-chairs, which we have been able to supply.
The man who originally approached us told the meeting, "Dear friends, this is the man who came to visit me.
I felt humbled that friends from UK could travel to my village together with one of our own, brother Munyama, to talk issues of develop-ent to us, the disabled.
Though I couldn't see them because I am blind, I could feel the spirit of God in them that they were sent by God himself to bring hope to us the disabled , hopeless people.
Health Help International is the only organisation so far that has proved to have a listening ear to the plight of the disabled and less fortunate in our society.
They are friends of the disabled."
David addressed the group, and assured them that that they were no different from anyone else.
He asked how many of them were able to use sewing machines and the response was overwhelming most of them are trained in tailoring but lacked sewing machines.
Others are trained carpenters and would be very happy to start their own carpentry workshops to help support their families.
David suggested that we help them to establish one fund-generating project which would bring money for them, and they could develop more fundraising projects from that.
The biggest suggestion that came was to have a grinding mill.
They can build their own house for it, but we may have to help them with cement and iron sheets.
The cost seems to be around £1,500.
The director has read David's report and says he wants us to support it, but adds, "I am not sure when we will send the money as we have to raise it first!"
David sought out specific items of need, and discovered Elita, a single parent with a one-year-old baby blind and deaf.
It reminded him immediately of Phedon, the baby he discovered some years ago, who can now hear and see - and in this new case, he has already had the baby taken into Lusaka's eye hospital for proper care, and the bill so far is just £98.

Where are Kumfi and Kosi?

We have lost Kumfi and Kosi, our lion and tiger puppets that the director uses in many of his talks.
Someone borrowed them recently and we cannot remember who it was.
Now we need them again!

Would whoever has them please call Ron Prosser?

Choongo Disabled Unit

Saturday, 4th February was a very emotional day.

Our supporters may remember the children at the Choongo Disabled Unit, a group of 23 youngsters at a very run-down school, who were expected to live in a quite terrible situation.
We helped them a few years ago by refurbishing the disabled children's dormitories and supplied 2 donkeys and a donkey cart to help with transport.
We have recently been to see them again and were again appalled at the lack of facilities - there is only one water bore hole, to serve 600 school pupils and the surrounding community.
It is not easy for the disabled children to draw water with the hand pump, and so we have an idea for providing a mechanical pump.
We are also thinking of providing light by means of solar panels, because in this area dark falls at 6pm.
We do not yet have an estimate of costs, but we think it may be around £1,600 for water and £2,000 for electricity.

Bible Readathon

There has been a very welcome late addition to our Bible Readathon event which was held last November to raise money to purchase land for Pastor Sam's home for destitute women in India.
We took in over £12,000 and a lovely piece of land has been purchased.
However, supporters from St John’s Church in Tenby were unable to take part at the time, and so ran their own Readathon just a few weeks ago - a group of children read for eight hours continuously, and raised £500 for the cause.
The director thanks all who took part, and reports that the building of the womens' home is now beginning.

St. John’s Leprosy Hospital

The following is a letter received from Fr. Joseph Thadathil, in Trivandrum.
Very glad to send you greetings from Kerala.
You have visited our leprosy sanatorium a few days ago.
Unfortunately I was out of station.
I am Director here since 18 years.
As you know this centre is the only one private organisation who is doing Leprosy Services in Trivandrum District.
The Medical Students come from Trivandrum at every now and then to learn the know how.
Since more than 15 years the Multi Drugs Treatment introduced a tremendous change has taken place.
More than seven thousand leprosy patients completely cured from sickness.
Really it’s a fact that most of them are hailing from extremely poor economic background.
A good number of them are having deformities and physical wounds.
The stigma is existing till today.
As a matter of fact, the patients are not taken care of any other hospital in Trivandrum District.
So they are coming to us.
Average 30 beds are occupied regularly.
You know we had over 40 staff including field work.
Because of the reduction of new cases the fund is stopped and the staff are terminated.
The Government has the claim that this programme is integrated with the General Health Care.
In the mean time they are not trained in this programme.
In this context we are thinking to support the Government staff, visiting various centres, giving training, directing the patients to their own nearby primary health centres.
This is really a challenger to be taken up.
The Government staff is very slow in understanding; they think this is an additional burden for them.
The whole treatment for leprosy are free of cost treated.
I write this to you because you have visited us and you have expressed your interest towards our programme.
May I know your impression about you/our programmes.
Expecting a word from you, wishing you all the good wishes.
Thanking you, ever yours truly,
Fr. Joseph Thadathil

The 2006 Health Help International Harvest Festival Theme


Do you know how to make chai?
If you would care to try it, you could make a wonderful contribution to the HHI Harvest Festival appeal.
Chai, sometimes called char, is the wonderful kind of tea which is drunk in India.
This is not quite the same as the tea we drink in Britain - it is certainly based on the same kind of tea, and it is drunk hot, with milk, but we don't experience anything like the flavours that they do.
The reason for this is the way they make it.
Chai is made by thousands of roadside vendors all over India, and each cup of tea is made to order for the customer.
They have a little cauldron of milk, which is kept warm over a log fire, and when someone asks for tea, they take a handful of tea leaves and a collection of spices according to their own family recipe - generally, it involves cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper, and each char-wallah has his own variation.
They then add a remarkable amount of sugar, and brew it in the hot milk, decanting it time after time from cup to cup before they serve it.

It is the most refreshing tea in the world, and at a roadside char stall will cost two or three pence.
Now the director suggests that you may care to make some as part of your own church fund-raising, in support of our Harvest Festival programme.
Our activity this year will be to raise money for a vehicle for St John's Leprosy Hospital, at Trivandrum in south-west India.
HHI will be offering a Harvest pack, which will include a fact file on leprosy as it was in the time of Jesus and as it is today, some craft ideas, Bible studies, etc.
There will be a list of suggestions for fund-raising ideas, such as a curry party or a pineapple and banana party.
The pack will include a book of India stories printed by the leprosy patients at St. John's Hospital.
And what about the chai?
Well, you won't have to do the whole thing by yourself, or set up a cauldron of milk over a log fire.
Several leading tea companies have very kindly promised to donate to us quantities of chai in packets or in tea-bags, and we shall be happy to make these available!
If your church would like to take part just contact us.


Newsletter Quantities

We have always taken a guess at how many newsletters, etc. to send to you and generally we have got it right. However, if you would like more, or less, please let us know and we will adjust as necessary.
Thank you.

A small space for a huge


A large Thank you to all our supporters for your on-going financial and practical support.
We could not do without it.
£158,000 was donated last year.
And so many individual churches and organisations have made special efforts this year that they are too many to try to list.
You know what you have done so please accept our sincere thanks.