Just like in Spring 2015 and 2016, the Spring 2017 matching gift opportunity has started. It will end when ever the matching funds are depleted so act promptly. International Ministries will match dollar for dollar all gifts given in response to this opportunity. So each dollar you give goes twice as far and does two dollars of work in our ministry in DRC.
– Any gift received in response to the matching gift opportunity after March 15 will be matched 100% until matching funds are depleted. There is no minimum or maximum gift (up to the dollar amount available to be matched which this year is $50,000).
– The opportunity will end when the matching pool is depleted. The sooner you give the better chance to have your funds matched.
– This matching gift effort is meant to encourage new donors, resumed giving of prior donors or increased giving of established donors. The matching gift opportunity is designed to stimulate over and above giving of current supporters. An individual could give a one-time gift, which would be doubled, and then choose to continue or start to support a missionary on a recurring basis, but those recurring gifts will not be matched.
“The nice thing about these units, they don’t give you a STIFF NECK!” said Mr. Kabata having finished assembling a new microscope.
The most common diseases in the tropics are diagnosed with a microscope. Malaria, intestinal parisites, gardia, dysentary, turburculosis, and others are definitively diagnosed by seeing the affending culprit (often hundreds of them!) on a microscope slide. Hence laboratory technicians (or ‘techs’) and their microscopes have been essential to providing health and healing at even the most remote health centers in Congo.
You may recall that during our trip speaking in churches in Michigan last october (using funds many of you provide to support our work) we purchased four microscopes from World Wide Labs in Kalamazoo. Many of our hospitals and health centers use ancient, primitive, almost unusable microscopes hence replacements are in constant demand.
In January we made a trip to Vanga to, among other things, deliver the new microscopes to Dr. Lay who pleaded for them for the Vanga Health Zone he supervises. He in turn gave them to Mr. Kabata, the Health Zone lab tech supervisor, for assembly. Mr. Kabata has years of experience working in hospitals and health centers and now supervises and trains the 25 lab techs in the Vanga zone.
It was rewarding watching him deftly unpack and assemble the microscopes with the care and delight of a skilled craftsman. These microscopes came with LED lights powered by a small solar panel and battery pack so they can be used at night (and recharged by day). Until recently, microscopes all over the tropics have depended on a sunny window so a mirror could reflect sunlight up through the specimen.
The greatest advantage of these new microscopes is the two angled objectives so you can look through them at a comfortable angle with BOTH eyes. The standard unit used in Congo since forever has required closing one eye and craning your neck to look straight down into the thing. You can imagine the effect on your neck as you sit for hours in a busy health center looking at specimens.
These microscopes, donated in Jesus’ name, are now being used daily to combat disease among some of the world’s neediest children and adults. It is so rewarding to work with Christian brothers such as Dr. Lay and Mr. Kabata in the challenge of providing hope and healing in this world. Please know that you also are ‘making a difference’ in your gifts and support to us and to American Baptist missions.
A health zone is kind of like a county except the designation is not political but only for health purposes. Health Zones originated in Congo and are a result of pioneering work by Christian missionary Dan Fountain, MD to provide health to the entire population.
Essentially a health zone is:
200,000 persons, more or less
Supported by a Reference Hospital
That is surrounded by 10-50 Health Centers scattered throughout the Health Zone
These Health Centers are located such that no one has to walk more than a day to reach a Health Center. Ideally no one is more then 1-2 hours from a Health Center as is the case with the Vanga Health Zone that consists of 52 Health Centers serving the 250,000 persons in the Vanga Health Zone.
In this diagram the red dots are some of the villages, the grey huts are Health Centers, and there are five Reference health centers that are better equipped and the central Reference Hospital at the former American Baptist Nsona Mpangu mission station. The health centers are staffed by a nurse and a lab tech. The nurse would be trained much like a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant.
Health Centers activities include:
Diagnosing and treating disease
Referring patients to the reference hospital for complicated cases
Assuring a local supply of medicines is always available
Preventive care – it is far cheaper to prevent disease than treat it
Holding vaccination clinics in surrounding villages
Holding prenatal clinics in surrounding villages
Holding preschool clinics in surrounding villages (following under-five’s growth in height and weight to catch illness or malnutrition early)
Promoting the use of mosquito nets against malaria, latrines against intestinal diseases
Encouraging communities to protect their water sources – assuring safe, potable water reduces the incidence of intestinal diseases in a village by 30%.
Encouraging communities to use proper sanitation (latrines for every household, proper trash disposal, controlling free ranging animals)
Promote family planning – Congo has one the most horrifyingly high maternal death during delivery statistics in the world. Spacing, reducing the number of pregnancies a women has, is lifesaving.
Each Health Zone has a central office staffed by a Physician who supervises (visits) all the nurses in their health centers to collect statistics, provide medicine, see that the routine work (vaccinations and clinics) is happening properly in the zone.
Health Centers (and their nurses) are supported by community organizations that provide them with a house, garden, and assist in the work of the center. For example they would announce the next vaccination visit planned by the nurse in a village and assure families with children needing to be vaccinated were present at the appointed time and place.