Monthly Archives: March 2019

Health and referral services enables beneficiary cure a six-year tumor

“One day while I was working, I felt a sharp pain in my right cheek which started swelling from the inside and grew outwards overtime until half of my face was infected”, recalls Mwabu Lukalanga a 51 year old refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who successfully underwent surgery to remove an ameloblastoma he had endured for six years. It took some eight hours of surgery to remove the tumor, an extra four for an operation that is generally done within four hours. Fortunately for him the infection was removed in time preventing growth of the tumor that could have developed into a cancer.

5 months after the surgery Mwabu shows some photos taken before and during his operation

Mwabu’s problems started back in 2011 with an infection in a tooth root that was left untreated for several years. At the time he was not able to have it treated as he could not afford the cost. His main source of income working at casual jobs was often used up for the needs of his family. At one time he was forced to stop working altogether as the infection affected his physical strength. His three children had to pull out of school due to lack of school fees, and his wife struggled to make ends meet for the family.

Luck befell him when he heard about the medical assistance offered by the Zambia programme of Action Africa Help International from other refugees in the camp where he lived. Upon inquiry about his eligibility for support from programme personnel he was considered for the medical assistance and quickly scheduled for examination at a Mission hospital in Nchelenge, a town in Luapula Province of Northern Zambia. After examination it was noted that the infection had morphed into critical growth that needed to be surgically removed at a hospital with sufficient capacity to handle the operation. So Mwabu was referred to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), one of the major referral hospitals in Lusaka the capital center and largest city in Zambia. Mwabu recalls the day with a smile “I was relieved when the doctors told me that there was a solution to my condition, because I had suffered for a long time”.

Late last year in September Mwabu was admitted at UTH, although still dealing with severe pain then he eagerly awaited the operation for three days as he had to be prepared for it. Finally at the end of day three and after six years of living with a painful and distorted jaw he was cured. After the operation Mwabu said that he felt like a huge weight had been lifted off him. Back home his wife and children were anxiously waiting for his return and were equally delighted with the results of the surgery upon seeing him. His physical strength gradually returned after the surgery and now sleeps well at night without being awaken by pain from his jaw.

Mwabu’s disfigured face 4 months before the surgery

The surgery to remove the tumor at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) was facilitated by the Health and Referral Facilitation services that Action Africa Help Zambia programme provides in settlement camps located in Western, North-Western and Luapula provinces of Zambia, which border the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Since 2018 the Health and Referral Facilitation services has enabled refugees from Maheba and Mayukwayukwa settlements in the North-Western and Western provinces get access to specialised medical care. The services provided include transport to and from a transit centre and hospital for refugees in need of medical treatment, accommodation at the transit centre in Chilenje for refugee patients undergoing medical treatment, and procuring of prescribed medication for the patients.

The Health and Referral Facilitation services is part of the project for Provision of social and health assistance for refugees and asylum seekers in urban areas aligned to SDG number 3 which seeks to achieve universal health coverage, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

School clubs breaking the drug habit in Kanyama informal settlement

More pupils joined the anti-drugs club at E-Way Academy pushing up the latest attendance to over 20 of the total 230 pupils at the academy. The number of pupils joining has gradually gone up since the club formed in May 2018, and is set to increase further as efforts under the Zambia programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) eradication programme picks up pace.

Currently, pupils from the upper primary segment of the academy make up the majority of attendees at the club as they represent the age group prone to drug addiction and alcoholism in Kanyama township where E-Way Academy is situated. The situation in Kanyama is illustrative of the impact of this scourge in Zambia’s urban informal settlements. According to the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) cases of drugs and alcohol abuse have been increasing yearly among the youth in Zambia, most worryingly among school kids as young as 13 years old. In 2018, the DEC handled at least 5,000 drug-related offences which included those of 295 juveniles aged between 11 and 17 years.

As a remedy to the problem AAH Zambia initiated awareness campaigns on drugs and alcohol abuse in schools and among refugee and the host communities in Lusaka City. E-way Academy was selected for the campaign due to its location in Kanyama – one of the townships most affected by the scourge. Other locations within the city grappling with the problem are Kabulonga and Roma areas where awareness campaigns were also rolled out in Pestalozi Secondary Boarding School and Living Hope Foundation Community School, respectively.

The campaigns employ interactive activities such as singing and dancing to stimulate interest and reinforce learning. Progressively such efforts are bearing out as the affected children are casting off the harmful habit. Misheck Zimbiri, a social counselor with the Zambia AHH office noted that “the vice posed a danger to the lives and future of these young people as it affected the mental state of the individual. We are progressively beginning to see students perform better”. Loveday Mweene, the Director at E-Way Academy echos similar sentiments remarking that at one time “there was a high number of young people abusing drugs and other substances in this area where our school is situated. However, through the anti-drugs club we have seen the transformation of 3 students below the age of 15 who were addicted to alcohol. We are grateful for the partnership with the scripture union club and Action Africa Help Zambia programme that have been supporting us for the last 10 months helping us to advocate for a drug-free society”.

The programme is part of AAH-I interventions that contribute to achieving target 3.5 of Sustainable Development Goal 3, to strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.

Fashion & design centre launched in Kakuma

The Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) fashion and design centre was officially opened on 27 February 2019 by Ketura D. Brown, Deputy Regional Refugee Coordinator at the Embassy of the United States of America.

The fashion and design centre is a AAH Kenya project that is part of business support services for qualified artisans to build sustainable livelihoods. The goal is to build the resilience of girls and women from the refugee and host community, who are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence in Kakuma, Turkana County.

The project provides an incubation space where the women can access equipment and technology, legal support and referral services; and benefit from incubation support services such as business registration and documentation, access to start-up loans; and training in business plan development, entrepreneurship, financial management and marketing. 

The project objectives are to:

  • Provide business incubation services for 120 women so that they can grow their handicrafts, fashion and design businesses.
  • Link women’s tailoring groups to markets within and outside the refugee camp, utilizing aspects such as social and online marketing.
  • Facilitate linkages to finance for business growth and self-sufficiency of at-risk persons.
  • Create a cascade system that ensures skills transfer to other at-risk groups are enhanced by graduated mentors.

These are the photos from the day of the launch