In the past year, prenatal health in Burundi has improved, more babies were born safely in Rwanda, more people in Tanzania gained access to clean drinking water, more babies were not born in the dark in Mozambique and almost 400 low-income women were able to start businesses and lift themselves above the poverty line.
Those are just a few of the ways that the diocese’s $500,000 Our Faith-Our Hope grant to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) made an impact in Africa last year. The funds also supported an Indigenous midwives program in Canada, Peru and Mexico.
“The funds provided by the Diocese of Toronto have had a real impact on the lives of thousands of people in a very sustainable and lasting way,” says Zaida Bastos, director of PWRDF’s Development Partnership Program. “The medical equipment, water wells, construction of infrastructure and loans will continue affecting the lives of beneficiaries long after the projects are over. PWRDF is very thankful to the diocese for its generous gift and the lasting impact it is having towards alleviating poverty in target countries.”
PWRDF used the grant for its maternal, newborn and child health program called All Mothers and Children Count. The $500,000 grant was matched by $3 million from Global Affairs Canada, which gives $6 for every $1 that PWRDF contributes to the program. The program is being implemented in Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Burundi with local partners who are focussed on health and food security.
Here’s a summary of how the Our Faith-Our Hope grant made a world of difference:
Medical equipment in Burundi
Village Health Works, a partner of PWRDF, operates in 18 villages in the provinces of Vyanda and Rumonge. They used the funds to buy a polymerase chain reaction machine (PCR), as well as to help build a nutrition centre and a house for nurses. The PCR machine, located in the main clinic in Kigutu, is the only one of its kind in Burundi. It is essential in helping assess the status of HIV/AIDS patients and their treatment protocol, especially in pregnant women and children with HIV/AIDS. The housing facilities for nurses have allowed the clinic to retain more skilled health staff, who are providing around-the-clock service for patients. The new on-site nutrition centre diagnosed and treated 2,233 children for malnutrition last year.
Solar panels in Tanzania
PWRDF’s partner in Tanzania is the Diocese of Masasi. Funds were used to equip 12 rural clinics in the district of Tunduru with solar panels, which provide reliable, affordable and clean energy. The clinics can deliver services around the clock, including night births. More than 400 pregnant women were referred to receive services.
New water wells are making safe drinking water available to more than 33,000 people in 20 villages in Tunduru. Women and girls no longer must walk for hours each day to fetch water, which exposes them to risk of rape and other violent attacks; now it takes about 20 to 30 minutes, and girls can go to school.
The grant also enabled PWRDF to organize a trip to Tanzania to see the work in Masasi first-hand. The delegation included a videographer who produced two videos (both available for viewing on PWRDF’s You Tube channel), as well as Elin Goulden, the Social Justice and Advocacy consultant for the Diocese of Toronto.
Equipment for Rwanda
PWRDF partner Partners in Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima used the funds to buy equipment such as an anesthesia machine, fetal monitoring machine, hospital beds and incubators. The equipment was distributed to 43 health centres and three hospitals in Burera, Southern Kayonza and Kirehe districts. The agency also bought an ambulance and assigned it to one of the remotest districts, so women could safely get to a clinic to deliver their babies.
Solar suitcases in Mozambique
PWDF partner EHALE used the funds to buy and install 30 solar suitcases in rural clinics that do not have electricity. In the past, nurses and midwives would hold cellphones in their mouths and use its light to help them see to deliver babies in the dark – sometimes as many as 10 in a night. The risks of infection and obstetric complications were very high. A solar suitcase – mounted to the wall and attached to solar panels on the roof – provides medical lighting and power for mobile communication, laptop computers and a fetal doppler with rechargeable batteries. Clinics with solar suitcases registered 7,161 nocturnal births last year, and 31 babies were resuscitated. EHALE was also able to equip 27 health clinics with baby scales, patient beds and mattresses, sterilizers and other medical disposal products.
Micro-finance in Mozambique
The Our Faith-Our Hope grant provided funding for 392 women to start or run a business through CCM Pemba, a micro-finance initiative in Pemba, Mozambique. The loans have enabled women to build and expand businesses that include restaurants, convenience stores, food stands, catering, hairdressing and more. Some of the women are now paying university fees for their children. Other women are able to cover medical expenses and improve their housing. Many have become employers, contributing to the development of the local economy. The loans range from $500 to $2,000 with an interest rate of 4 per cent, compared to the local bank institutional rate of 25 per cent or more. The delinquency rate is 0.0 per cent.
Indigenous midwifery in Americas
Ryerson University’s Aboriginal Initiatives is working with KINAL Antzetik in Mexico and CHIRAPAQ Indigenous Women group in Peru to develop a midwifery curriculum that affirms and validates Indigenous midwifery best practices throughout the Americas. The grant enabled partners to compile examples of Indigenous midwifery curriculum developed by and for Indigenous learners in Nunavik, Manitoba and Six Nations in Ontario. Partners also presented findings in Toronto at the International Congress of Midwives last April.