Letters

Community approaches to disability

Thank you for the excellent Footsteps issue on people with disabilities. Readers may be interested to hear of a new approach which bridges community-based rehabilitation and general community development work. We call this Community Approaches to Handicap and Disability (CAHD). It helps existing community development organisations to gain awareness, knowledge and skills to include people with disabilities in their existing work. CAHD tries to lessen the exclusion of, and negative attitudes towards, people with disabilities and to break the negative cycle which links poverty and disability. CAHD is being piloted in Asia by Handicap International and Christoffel Blinden Mission in partnership with local organisations.

Jane Schofield, Gurung Community Based Rehabilitation Service (CBRS), Naya Bazaar, PO Box 293, Pokhara, Nepal. E-mail: cbrs@mail.com.np. For more information, contact: handicap-international@infonie.fr Website: www.handicap-international.org

Training about medicinal plants

I was very interested to read the Footsteps issue on medicinal plants. Our group has been interested in medicinal plants for about 25 years. We have gradually set up a training centre and created a botanical garden. The garden holds 182 local varieties of medicinal plants. We hold seminars in French for groups of 15–60 participants for training in medicinal plants and group dynamics. Please write for details if you are interested in attending these seminars.

Hervé de Lauture, CADI (Centre d’Application au Développement Intégré), BP6259, Dakar, Senegal

The Deborah Movement

A group of women had a vision to gather all the women from evangelical churches in Burkina Faso together for intercession, evangelism and to train them using Bible studies.

They launched the Deborah Movement. With support from various church groups they have organised Prayer Days to pray for the country. Half the day is used for teaching and the other half for praying for the various needs in the country.

A second day of prayer for AIDS was held in 2002 with a particular concern for the 200,000 orphans in the country. These days have been a huge encouragement and we are now planning an inter-national conference in November.

Joanna Ilboudo, Contact Editions, 04 BP 8463, Ouagadougou 04, Burkina Faso

Water for health

People often do not drink enough water. This results in people having health problems such as stomach problems, dizziness and dry skin. To encourage people to drink more water we have tried the following demonstration.

  • Cut the bottom off a plastic soda bottle with a narrow neck. Half fill the bottle with a mix of gravel, sand and earth. Line up eight full glasses of water.
  • Explain to people that drinking water is important for the body to get rid of wastes. Start pouring the water from the glasses slowly into the bottle. The water looks dirty at first. If you don’t drink enough, the body’s leftover dirt will cause problems.
  • Continue pouring the glasses into the bottle. Gradually the water will become clear. Each person should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. This will keep their body healthy as wastes will be washed away.  

Louise Fong, Project Grace, Yunnan, China

Helpful weeds

I read the article about helpful weeds in Footsteps 48 with a keen interest. In Nigeria, the Tiv people of Benue State have many local chickens. Newcastle disease constantly plagues these chickens. Tiv people use a cheap means of controlling this dangerous disease. They use striga, a common weed of maize and sorghum, and find this treatment as effective as the vaccine.

They soak the whole striga plant in water for 10–20 minutes. Leaving the plant in the water, they give the water to the chickens to drink. The mixture should be kept topped up with water. Continue treatment for one week.

Akaa Ijir, PO Box 491, Makurdi 970001, Benue State, Nigeria

Reflections on HIV/AIDS

Statistics show clearly that unless drastic measures are taken immediately, the HIV/AIDS epidemic will claim half of Africa’s population within the next few years. It is estimated that over 7,000 Africans are dying and about 11,000 are being infected with the virus every single day!

If HIV testing facilities and life-saving medicines were readily available and affordable, more people would be encouraged to go for an HIV test. Over 90% of people who discover they are HIV positive try to avoid passing on the virus to others until they die. This helps reduce transmission of the disease.

Life-saving medicines such as Nevirapine help reduce HIV/AIDS being passed from mother to child. However, improving child survival without doing anything to prolong the life of the mother will produce orphans with an uncertain future.

Children who become orphans because of AIDS must be helped in a sustainable way, with education and training that will eventually make them self-sufficient. There is a danger of pouring money into institutions for orphans, as extended families will hand over their traditional responsibility of looking after orphans. It is vital to strengthen and support African extended families to take care of orphans.

Dr Eben Mwasha, PHC Ambassadors Foundation, PO Box 9618, Moshi, Tanzania E-mail: paftrustees@elct.org