Thursday, September 1, 2016

An Incredible Week with Izulu Orphan Projects (edited with pictures)

 I don't even know where to begin.  There are so many incredible things going on here with IOP that I have had the opportunity to get involved with.  Kate has been an incredible host so far, and what she has going on with IOP and the direction it is headed is so exciting!

Kate and I in Durban.

I'll start with last weekend.  Kate took me to Durban to her parents house for her mom's birthday party.  I saw the big soccer stadium built for the World Cup, and we spent Sunday morning lying on the beach!!  I just kept thinking about how cold Whistler was before I left and was grateful for that!!

Jedd (Kate's oldest son) and me on the beach.

Sunday evening was my first experience seeing the huts that the blacks here live in in the area surrounding Kate's farm.  At first I was shocked, it was just so different from anything I have ever seen before.  Since then I have driven through many of the orphan villages and I'm starting to get used to it.  It was definitely eye opening for me.

These are the huts from a distance.

On Monday I helped put together 210 food packages for the category 1 (lowest income) families that are supported by IOP.  A food package included soup bases, canned fish, canned vegetable curry, peanut butter, cooking oil, vaseline, shoe polish, toothpaste, soap, brown sugar, tea, uncooked beans and a large bag of maize meal.  We had women visiting the house all day picking up their food packages and I helped hand them out.  Some of these women would have walked over an hour to Kate's farm and would then have walked the same distance back home, all the while balancing a large 25kg bag of maize meal on their heads and carrying their other groceries.  I wish I was that talented!!

Kate also showed me current database being used by IOP and the new improved one she is working on.  It was all so impressive and very extensive!  Hopefully in the near future IOP will have Ipads for all the health workers and doctors to make collecting health data so much easier for all.  The ideas bouncing around this place just make me realize how different and innovative this project is from anything else in the world.

Food Packages for the IOP members

IOP members lining up for their food packages.
I spent the rest of the week working with doctors, Rick and Anita.  Rick and Anita are training 4 or 5 "health workers" in all the different orphan communities that IOP is supporting.  The health workers are females ranging from late teens to early thirties that are interesting in making a difference in their communities.  Rick and Anita have trained them to do HIV testing, blood glucose testing, and blood pressure testing.  They have set them all up with their personal testing kits and the health workers go out into their communities and test anyone and everyone who wants it.  Anita taught me to do the tests as well, so over the next few weeks I will be going out with the health workers and making sure the testing is going okay.

As well as the HIV, blood glucose and blood pressure screening, Rick and Anita were looking to expand their screening to include BMI testing and also educating the communities about obesity, diabetes, and healthy eating.  They had made some starts with it and we actually spent two mornings last week in the communities educating the health workers. After many exciting discussions with Anita I took on the role of coming up with a training plan for the health workers.  I just finished it this evening.  Soon the health workers will be going out into their communities and measuring BMI, educating on obesity and diabetes, and analyzing people's diets and giving suggestions for healthier eating plans.

In one of the community gardens where these women are growing sunflowers for sunflower oil production.

This week another doctor has arrived for a diet study.  I will be going out to the hospital with him tomorrow for the colonoscopies (I hope I don't have to watch!).  I looks like an interesting study but I'll write more about it when I know more about it.  It will be going on for the next month so I'm sure I will be busy helping out with that.  On Tuesday this week I am meeting one of the health workers on my own to finish her diabetes and blood sugar testing training.  I will then be joining her in the communities doing HIV and blood glucose screening.  Needless to say I have been busy, but it's all very exciting.  I have tons of pictures, but it's dinner time.. so another time!

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