Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year! Thank you to our generous donors

Happy New Year and Peace on Earth!
I want to take this opportunity and thank our donors. You are too many to all be listed individually but a few I will introduce to you all and explain the purposes that are attached to the donations.
Thank you to our 200+ donors during the year 2007 who have given big and small to our main cause: supporting people in Africa to produce drugs. We are pushing hard on this and before I come home Diamond Pharmaceutical will be producing a diagnostic reagent that the Hospitals and AIDS testing centers need to make sure patients are on the right combination of AIDS drugs. Most recently my hiking buddy Susan has contributed $500.
Gary Ostrow, Dr. DO PC donated $1800 towards the $6000 we need to give a micro loan so a very successful new school can move onto their own land and continue to grow in peace. He also donated $800 to buy mosquito nets. Pictures on that to follow soon.
Phyllis Pawlovsky and Ann Higgins are our sponsors. That means they contribute continuously on a monthly base.
Jeff Hurst from Herschey Pennsylvania donated an analytical balance
Elliott Bay donated some of the chemicals we need to produce the diagnostic solution. He also donated an electrode to measure the pH of a solution, that is to measure how acidic or basic an aqueous solution is.
Susan from Rockland County was so kind to give us her mothers sewing supplies. See pictures below from Weh.
My dentist Lenore Schwartz, White Plains, NY donated toothbrushes and tooth paste for children living in a poor neighborhood in Bamenda.
My local Ossining Pharmacy "Health Smart" donated chewable vitamins for children.
This trip is sponsored in part by Tibotec, a company based in Belgium. They produce a very efficient and user friendly anti fungal drug and are making the drug available on a non-profit base in countries in Africa. Tibotec gave us a grant to find out what it takes so that this drug can be distributed and sold in Cameroon. We also want to find out if the doctors as well as the patients like the drug - as of today this question can be answered with a resounding YES. Fungus infections are very common in Africa. Children have it in form of ring worms. That is a white flaky, itchy coloring on the head. Women know it as yeast infections and AIDS patients have it in the mouth and esophagus and it is called thrush. It is one of the opportunistic infections of HIV/AIDS. Although thrush does not kill directly, the patient have difficulty eating and swallowing. Thus they stop taking in enough food. Unfortunately AIDS drugs require a patient to eat sufficiently. We are very hopeful that the drug will be allowed to be distributed through the already existing Cameroon Drug Procurement and Distribution Agencies.

I am looking forward to 2008 as the year in which we raise 1/2 a million US dollar. We have almost everything in place. What is now holding us back is lack of funding. I urge you to continue to be generous. Our web site www.AIDSfreeAFRICA.org offers the convenient PAYPAL credit card option. Your checks are always welcome.

With heaps of love and peace
Dr. Rolande

Cry Die

Happy New Year to everyone. Peace seems so far away as we see the carnage in Pakistan and the assassination of a strong democratic female leader, Ms. Benazir Bhutto.
And in Africa that dying continues. My host mother goes from one funeral, called Cry Die, to the next. Dying is such a daily occurrence that people developed different coping strategies. First of all when someone dies everyone starts screaming and crying immediately. It sounds like they are screaming their anguish into the heavens and then they breath again. The Cry Die is like a wake. Sometimes it is a year after the person has passed away. It is a social MUST, people have to travel to the place, which cost energy and money and they have to bring gifts. The expectations are rather high, and everyone is obligated. The surviving family also has to provide for the guests drinks and food and the Juju's.
These are people in masks that dance wildly and their job is to appease the elders, the spirits and so on. Cry Dies can last 3 days non-stop singing, dancing, eating and drinking.
It is actually a happy occasion since by then the bereaved have moved on. Often they pick a relative and put this person in charge of the family duties of the deceased. This is an honor and is celebrated. Of course it comes with responsibilities.
In case a husband dies an animal is slaughtered and parts and pieces of the animal is given to the surviving widows (up to 6 wives are allowed by law) in an symbolic act of promising to provide for them after the husband passed on. Of course this is often not the case. Women are lawless and the husbands’ family has the say over her household, children, and so forth. Women often organize in supportive groups once they are abandoned by their in-laws.

Monday, December 31, 2007

My Child's 4th Birthday

I woke up on the 29th of December listening to my host family singing Happy Birthday. I got up and inquired and learned that little 4 year old Benwih in fact turned 4 years old. Here she is in her Birthday dress. The family had to attend a wedding and I was invited to join them after going to the office and getting some important communications out. Benwih's Birthday party with children from the neighborhood was supposed to be in the afternoon. I joint them at 1:00 PM when they were still in church. I learned that the reception was not until 3:00PM and that we would stop by the market. Theresa and Comfort joined me to help me buy a dress for a formal Wedding Anniversary that I had to attend. We found a very lovely Top and Bottom" kind of a blouse with a wrap around skirt, very festively decorated. We went to the reception and sat in front of sodas that made us even more thirsty. COPAAP volunteer Francine and I finally left to walk an hour through town in an attempt to place a small parcel into the hands of the Cameroonian Baptist Conventions driver to transport to Kumbo. We managed but the vehicle had just left. We are promised that it will be delivered. We walk back to the Wedding just in time for the drinks to be served, the gifts are handed to the Bride, food is served, and in no time it is over and we all go home. Cameroonians inhale their food, and lots of it.
We get home late, the child sleeps and everyone watches soccer... Don't know if there is a later date for the Birthday party. I managed to buy a pair of shoes for the child. Her smile when I presented them made it all worth while.