We left our nice comfortable hotel early, 8.20am, and travelled in the wonderful CRESS Ford Double Cab all the way back to Mijale – another 2.5 hour journey with 1hr 20mins of that bumping along – but it seemed easier as we were more resigned to the nature of the road.
We arrived 11ish and were met with a group of women in their yellow Savings/Agriculture group T shirts – they were singing and dancing a welcome – so we set off and walked a long way to their area deep in the bush. They had thought of us and Julious had purchased some gumboots for the three of us as it got very muddy – when we arrived there was the rest of the group, again all in their yellow group T shirts, more songs cheering and laughter! All the tools were there and the beds looked very good.
We also were with Achille Moses the lead Community Business Facilitator (see the back of his grey T Shirt with the CBFs chosen logo). The group works in shifts of 10 doing 2 days each so there is cultivation 6 days per week. We also met the chair, secretary, and treasurer of the group – their lunch was cooking – this group is called Friendly
After this it was back to the vehicle and set off for another group. This really was deep into the bush, we went down a road and then a single narrow track for a long long way – CRESS is reaching places that no one else goes and to really remote people groups. We were getting short of time BUT the heavens opened and we had to hurry back to the vehicle. I was fortunate as Beatrice the CBF for that group had her brand new raincoat which she gave me. I put on it and there is a photograph of myself modelling it! The gift of the waterproofs had only just arrived from CRESS but is so needed as these CBFs travel long distances and this year due to climate change there has been a huge amount of rain.
So we got back to the clinic – and they were there waiting for us inside as it was raining. The 8 CATT counsellors were there in their red and white T-Shirts as well as the clinic staff in their green T-shirts. But the clinic staffs had to rush off and attend to a seriously ill 10 year old – he needed the oxygen machine to stay alive and the generator going as the battery for the solar is not working well.
The clinic staff said they tend to get a lot of seriously ill patients whose lives they save, the patients come to the clinic when they have tried other places and they have failed.
I met the 2 midwives Asaba – a lovely bubbly young girl and Bethy who has worked here for years. Asaba goes into the camps every other month and might travel up to 40 km on the motorcycle to meet pregnant women. She takes mosquito nets, mama kits and iron pills and encourages them to come to the clinic to deliver. If they live far they might come to the village a few days early. On the month she is not in the field she is helping Bethy so Bethy does not have to get up every night as well as work in the day – last year 330 babies delivered safely.
Wonderful team and just like a family the clinic staff clearly get on well.