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Irish Aid in Zambia: Our Lady’s Hospice and Umoyo Day Center for Orphans      
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Welcome, benevolent viewers, to another edition of Good People, Good Works. Zambia, located in Southern Africa, is home to the legendary Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall.

When I look at Zambia as a country, it’s a very rich country. You look in the tourism industries, we are doing well, especially with the Victoria Falls. We have a lot of tourists come in. And when you look at agriculture, we’ve got abundant rainfall, yes, we plant maize. So I think on food, we’re doing fine. So we’ve got a very bright future ahead of us.

This week we travel to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, for the first in a two-part series on projects financially supported by Irish Aid, the Government of Ireland’s humanitarian assistance organization.

Seeking to promote peace and justice, Irish Aid works to better economic conditions and foster equality in developing nations such as those found in Sub-Saharan Africa. To successfully achieve its goals, the organization forms close partnerships with recipient countries, other donors, multilateral groups, non-governmental organizations and missionaries.

Two projects that received assistance from Irish Aid in Lusaka are Our Lady’s Hospice and the Umoyo Day Center for Orphans. Our Lady’s Hospice is a faith-based organization that mainly provides palliative care to cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. The facility serves over 3,500 Zambians on an outpatient basis and operates an intensive care unit.

Now let’s meet the administrator of Our Lady’s Hospice in Lusaka, Sister Kay O’Neil.

I’ve only been here since December 2006, but I came to Zambia in 1982 from Ireland, and I first worked in a mission hospital in Luapula Province. I stayed there for 13 years, and then I moved to the Copperbelt, where I did home-based care in Luanshya, and after that I came here, and I’m here since.

I was brought up a Catholic in Ireland. I became a Franciscan sister when I was 18, and I really wanted to serve people and I had a good home, and I felt I wanted to be able to share with other people, so I thought I would like to work with the underprivileged and the poor. So, by joining the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, I have the opportunity to come and help people in Zambia.

The Zambian people are very spiritual people. And most Zambians worship in church. But many of them are Catholic. And we want to be able to provide services for them when they come here when they’re ill.

Our Lady’s Hospice has a program to help youngsters who are HIV positive cope with their condition.

Usually it’s only for the children who know their (HIV positive) status, so when we meet once a month, we sit down and they bring out stories, so they encourage one another, “Even me, I’m in your situation, even me, I’m like this, my parent is doing this, my caregiver is…” So we encourage them, we sit together by discussing with their friends, they open up.

The antiretroviral drugs that the Hospice dispenses which halt the progression of the HIV disease are truly making a difference in the lives of those with the condition in local communities.

I am a pharmacy attendant, assistant in short. We normally come to discuss the drugs, the ARVs (Anti-Retrovirals) and then we prepare for the inpatients. After that we take the drugs that side. But mainly it’s the distribution of the ARVs. That is mostly done. For those who are tested after their CD4 (T-cell count) results are out and they are eligible to start the drugs, we give them the (antiretroviral) drugs.

And there are a lot of people coming in to get their drugs, which is so encouraging, because at least people are testing and they are knowing their (HIV) status. At least they will know how to live positively than when they just stay at home and they don’t know.

The non-profit Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) sponsors a puppetry troupe to inform HIV positive children about how to manage their condition, in particular encouraging them to regularly take their antiretroviral drugs. We met the troupe when they were performing at the Hospice.

My name is Gladys Wayama I’m one of the puppeteers. I’m “Taonga” in the puppetry team. We started puppetry in 2007. It’s a CIDRZ project. They do research on cancer, HIV, TB and other related diseases. The puppetry project that we’re doing is mainly on ideas around stigma, hygiene and good health, and our objective is reaching the pedes (child patients), the young ones who are on ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy). So we mainly go to the clinics. We've started going through the clinics in Lusaka. And recently we had a tour of Southern Province.

I play the character of Oliver in the performance. And I’m a puppeteer. I think for me, this is the greatest job I've had so far, and I enjoy performing.

It is helping a lot of children to adhere to (taking) their medication and just being careful with the way they take care of their bodies, because it (the play) emphasizes hygiene and cleanliness, and the way they’re supposed to take their medication.

My name is Teddy Winashiku. I’m a doctor in the puppetry show. And actually the puppetry show is for the kids. And this is helping them to adhere to (taking) the medication. So this show at the moment has started in the clinics. We are in the clinics, because we’ve got ART (antiretroviral therapy) places in the clinics; that’s where kids get their treatment.

So it's all about talking about the treatment of kids, adhering (to treatment) and the caregivers. The caregivers are the ones that we want to also put in line with the treatment of the child. Looking at the child, a child is a person who needs a second person to actually help out to follow the (taking of) medication.

We asked the puppeteers about how the children react to their performances.

The response is overwhelming. And we have seen, looking at the clinics that we have been to, we have kids when doing their adherence (to treatment) actually they mention what they learned from our script. And that is encouraging because they are picking a few things from there.

The children love it very much.

They love it. We’ve been to certain clinics on several occasions, and they just want us to be there all the time. They love it, because it teaches them about playing with one another. Mostly, you find that the children that are sick are stigmatized by their friends. But we teach them to love their friends who are sick.

We are one of the countries in Africa that is actually doing the best, despite (the fact) we are in the sub-Saharan area where there’s a high rate of HIV. But in Zambia, our statistics are showing that people are actually complying with the treatment, and all the necessary measures of not getting infected, and others actually are not falling off from the treatment (regimen).

When this facility first opened in 2003, the majority of the patients didn’t go out alive. But now, 70% are going out alive. And they’re returning to work. So already, the number of new orphans has decreased. Many of them they get to have their parents back again. They’re back working, so the children are not suffering because there's no income.

So, we would hope that people will come in time for treatment, so then they can stay alive longer. But obviously, ultimately, we would like that there would be no more HIV. So we are also trying to give health education and education about how to live life and not become infected. And that’s the ideal.

What do Zambians wish for their children’s future?

Zambia is a great nation. I love to be a Zambian and there’s a lot of potential in our country. That’s why mostly, when HIV and AIDS started, a lot of people sought out the older people. But today we look at the children. That’s why we are seeking this group that we have. We are looking at the young children because they are the future generation, and they are the future leaders. We love our country.

My hope is that we have in the future, a generation free from HIV. That’s why we are looking at the young ones, because they are the foundation of the country, that if we seek out the young ones, probably and by God’s grace, we will have a nation free from HIV and AIDS.

What I’m hoping for maybe, really, it’s for a cure, and they give them that confidence that no matter their status, knowing that they’re HIV positive, still they can do well in school, they can finish school, they can go to universities, and they can study well, and get a good job after finishing their schooling.

My wish for Zambia as a whole, of course is to see that this peace which we have in this country continues and that there will be no conflicts, and just peace to continue.

We love Zambia! Yeah. Great nation.
We love Zambia! Woooo, yeah, yeah.
We love Supreme Master TV! Wooo! Yeah.

We commend and salute you, Irish Aid for your support of Our Lady’s Hospice which is uplifting the lives of the Zambian people. Our sincere thanks, Hospice staff as well as the puppeteer troupe from the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia for bettering the lives of many Zambians in need.

Respected viewers, please join us again next Sunday on Good People, Good Works for the conclusion of our two-part show where we’ll visit the Umoyo Day Center for Orphans in Lusaka.

For more details on the organizations featured today, please visit the following websites:
Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia www.CIDRZ.org
Irish Aid www.IrishAid.gov.ie
Our Lady’s Hospice www.OurLadysHospice-Zambia.org

Thank you for your lovely presence on today’s program. May peace, love, and dignity eternally prevail everywhere.
Welcome, engaged viewers, to this edition of Good People, Good Works, for the conclusion of our two-part program on the activities of the charitable group Irish Aid in Zambia, which has helped build the facilities at Our Lady’s Hospice and the Umoyo Day Center for Orphans in the capital city of Lusaka.

Seeking to promote peace and justice, Irish Aid works to better economic conditions and foster equality in developing nations such as those found in Sub-Saharan Africa like Zambia. The Umoyo Day Center looks after nearly 100 orphans ages 4 to 8 during the day and provides them with education and hot meals.

Our Lady’s Hospice is a faith-based organization that mainly provides palliative care to cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. We begin with Sister Kay O’Neil, administrator of Our Lady’s Hospice, showing us around the facility.

This building was funded by Irish Aid, and it was opened in 2001. And it was the first building for this plot here, and we started training the caregivers to look after the people in their homes suffering from HIV/AIDS. And from then after, we got some more buildings, and then we started admitting patients and seeing to them in the outpatients department.

In 2004, we got free antiretroviral drugs, and then the patients increased enormously. And now we’ve got over 5,000 registered patients coming to our outpatients (department). This room here is a physiotherapy (room) for patients who suffer side effects from the antiretroviral drugs. They get a lot of nerve pain and they come here for massage and ultrasound and other treatments.

This is the Physiotherapy Department. People who have been in bed for a long time, they experience maybe swollen limbs, we give them a massage. If they've got painful legs, then you can give them a massage straight to their joints to keep them mobile, and also improve on the blood circulation.

Here is a demonstration of the massage technique that brings relief to patients at the Hospice.

Use some oil, just enough, then… …. just massage her. This massage is just to improve some circulation, and also just to relax the muscles, and then after that, sometimes use a pain relief gel, so that when it penetrates the skin, it’s able to relieve the pain. Then it will be easy for me to just move her elbow so that it’s flexible. Even if somebody’s in the hospital, when they come out of the hospital, they should be able to use their arm in their daily function. This is why we do physiotherapy

Sister Kay O’Neil next takes us to another important department in the Hospice that provides treatment to HIV patients.

Our latest hospice is a facility that caters to HIV-positive clients, on ART (antiretroviral therapy) and just on palliative management. We are helping the community, because right now, apart from giving them the medication which they need, we also give them the food supplements, which are being produced by other organizations.

The University of Alabama-Birmingham in the US provides diagnostic services to the Hospice. Sister Kay now explains further.

The members of the staff are putting the data of the patients into the computer and then it goes to Birmingham in Alabama (USA) for analysis. And they give us feedback about how we can proceed with the treatment of the patient, whether we need to change some of their medication or give us indication of how they’re improving or if they’re not responding to the treatment.

Let us meet one of the facility’s fine physicians, who provides great care to the patients.

Basically here we care for the people who are terminally ill. Most of the time, like the criteria of admission here, for those who are HIV positive and all the complications of HIV like opportunistic infections, then people with cancer, those are the people who are admitted (to the Hospice).

Conditions like cancer, those are palliative conditions. And usually it’s just palliative care, then we have people like those who are infected with HIV/AIDS. Then there is some opportunistic infection, things like TB. We do admit them. Though sometimes they may come in a serious condition, but by the grace of God, we do manage them properly. Then after they start their TB treatment, after that, then we initiate them with ARVs (antiretrovirals).

I can say that 70% of the people, they are doing fine. And you may find that they are discharged and they go back to their homes and some time after initiating the ARVs, they pick up, they go back to their daily activities. If they are working, they will again recover, they start working again.

We now visit another project financially supported by Irish Aid, the Umoyo Day Center for Orphans. Sister Edna O’Connor is the manager of the facility.

I've worked here at the center since 2003. I’ve worked with the children and then we have four teachers and we have a coordinator. All the children here are orphans. Either both their parents are gone or one parent may still be living but they are usually sick. So they're raised by their grandparents, aunt, uncle, or whatever. We have 96 children and we take them from age four to eight. So we start with the very young children.

The idea is to build them up nutritionally so there are two meals every day. They come to school five days a week. Then we have trained teachers for all the classes. We have four classes; about 24 children in each class. We have two cooks that prepare delicious meals, breakfast and lunch, and after lunch then they go home.

... This is the day That the Lord has made,
that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice, we will rejoice,
And be glad in it, and be glad in it.
This is the day that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it,
and be glad in it.
Oh, this is the day, this is the day
That the Lord has made.
We are the sons, we are the sons,
Of the living God, of the living God.
We will rejoice, we will rejoice,
And be glad in Him, and be glad in Him.
We are the sons of the living God.
We will rejoice and be glad in Him,
And be glad in Him.
Oh, we are the sons,
we are the sons Of the living God.

When they are finished here the children that reach the age of seven they go on to first grade in government schools. This place was built with the help of Irish Aid, the building itself. We would never be able to put up the building if it wasn't for that initial grant that we got from Irish Aid.

And then other people gave donations, but the biggest one was Irish Aid. So we appreciate what they have given to us. We were opened in 2003; that's when we started, we started over at the church and then when this building was built they moved over here. So this is where we have been.

Isaac Kahlaya is the Center’s coordinator and plays a very important role.

My work here involves quite a lot of things. There's a follow-up of children who are sick, follow-up of children who don't go to school, follow-up of children who don't normally look well. So initially my job is to make sure that everything is in place, and also the registration of children eligible to come for the program. Because we are looking at only those who are half and full orphans.

And the main purpose of this school is the nutrition part of it; that's what we're looking at. These are orphans. They are looking forward to someone who can show love to them, of which this place is there. So they feel good otherwise. And sometimes, they even come during Saturdays or holidays' time because of the good reception.

They're happy, joyful, playful children. And that's what you see here; they enjoy their childhood.

There is a name I love so much
I love so much
There is a name I love so much
The name of Jesus Christ
Oh, how I love Jesus Oh, how I love Jesus
Oh, how I love Jesus Because He died for me.

Read your Bible every day Every day, every day
Read your Bible every day
As you grow, grow, grow As you grow, grow.

What is Sister Edna O’Connor’s hope for Zambian children?

That they will get a good foundation in education, especially, and then also get good food so that they'll be strong and healthy and be able to cope with the ups and downs of life. So I hopefully see good education, good healthcare.

I believe God loves us all. I believe we're all brothers and sisters. I believe God is our Father; we’ve the same God; no matter who we are, God loves all of us. And I think it's our responsibility to help and support one another as much as we can. Because it comes back in peace, it comes back in a sense of joy. There’s more received than given actually.

Our appreciation, Irish Aid for funding benevolent projects in Zambia and elsewhere in the world. We sincerely thank you, staff members of Our Lady’s Hospice and the Umoyo Day Center for Orphans for giving great comfort to others in need and your dedicated efforts to nurture orphaned children in Lusaka. May your service continue to uplift the spirits and lives of the country’s mothers, fathers and children.

For more details on Irish Aid and Our Lady’s Hospice, please visit the following websites:
Irish Aid www.IrishAid.gov.ie
Our Lady’s Hospice www.OurLadysHospice-Zambia.org

Thank you, wonderful viewers, for your company on this week’s edition of Good People, Good Works. May Heaven grace all beings on Earth with everlasting health and well-being.

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