Letters

Alcohol.  

Alcohol is a product of amazing versatility.
It removes stains from designer clothes.
It will also remove the clothes from off your back. 

If used in sufficient quantities, alcohol will remove:
furniture from the home,
rugs from the floor,
food from the table,
vision from the eyes,
and judgement from the mind. 

Excess alcohol will also remove:
good jobs, friends,
happiness from children’s hearts, sanity,
freedom,
relationships,
and even life itself. 

As a remover of things, alcohol has no equal! 

From the notice board at Emmanuel Ministries’ home for recovering addicts, Calcutta.
 
Organic vegetable gardens 

I work as a social assistant in a district of São Paulo, where I coordinate income-generation projects. Part of my work is to develop activities among groups who are excluded from the community. We do this work in a collective spirit of economic solidarity. 

We have had particular success in establishing community organic vegetable gardens. These benefit the local community with healthy vegetables and herbs, while also generating income for the families involved. They eat healthy food and can also sell their seeds, compost, green crops and vegetables. We are grateful to receive Passo a Passo, with its rich content, always full of information. 

Eunice de Cássia Santos Pereira Chuves, São Bernardo do Campo, CEP 09861-550, São Paulo, Brazil. E-mail: obediencia@aol.com 

Midwife training 

Here is a practical suggestion that I find useful in training midwives in Haiti. 

As a teaching aid, I use a child’s doll with a firm head (made of rubber) and a soft body (made of stuffed cloth.) I make a model of the pelvis from a large, empty 2.5 litre tin (for powdered milk). This is open at both ends with one end slightly flattened, to represent the bones of the pelvic cavity. This is covered in cloth with an opening to represent the perineum (birth opening). I use a fabric bag with stuffing at one end sewn into its base to represent the amniotic sack and the placenta. Then there is a second bag with an elasticated opening to represent the uterus and the opening of the cervix. Several demonstrations are possible with these teaching aids:

  • Using the tin, you can explain the baby’s descent into the pelvis before birth.
  • Using the two bags, you can show the gradual opening of the cervix and the actual birth.
  • The doll, when placed on the abdomen of a female volunteer and covered with a thin pillow, can be used to demonstrate how to feel for the position of the baby before birth.
  • The doll can also be used to demonstrate resuscitation of the newborn (if babies are born unable to breathe). 

These simple teaching aids have proved very helpful for our students, and contributed to the happy atmosphere of our study days. 

Dr Claire Chappuis, Mission Eben-Ezer, BP 91, HT 4110 Gonaives, Haiti. 

Bishop sleeps on the streets 

In northern Uganda there is little protection for children from night-time abduction from their homes by a rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army. Parents try to protect their children by sending them to sleep in large groups on the streets in the town of Gulu, where soldiers provide some security. In order to express their solidarity with the situation, the religious leaders of Acholi, including myself [the bishop], decided to sleep out with them. We walked 3km into Gulu carrying a bag and a polythene sheet to spread on the ground. We slept (or tried to sleep) for four nights in the bus station. We experienced cold and rain. It was a hard experience! 

This is the kind of life the children in northern Uganda go through. In the cold and wet weather, they are vulnerable to catching serious illness. Many children of school age have no time or place to study. From our experience of sleeping out, the religious leaders hope to be a prophetic voice drawing attention to the suffering of children in northern Uganda. 

Bishop Onono-Onweng, Diocese of Northern Uganda, PO Box 232, Gulu, Uganda