Last Wednesday we changed townships and visited with another group of volunteer workers. We were introduced to a volunteer named Stumpy, a 3 ½ foot dwarfed lady who carries the weight of this community on her shoulders. Cheerful, lively, and hopeful she explains that she is a volunteer that has had special training to help people in the Kleinschool Township. Unlike the Emanuel Volunteers who help with only HIV/AIDS victims, this lady helps all her neighbors whether they have HIV, HTN, alcoholism, etc. Everyone comes to Stumpy. In fact last month she delivered a baby (not the usual occurrence, the women just appeared at her door in late stages of labor).

I don’t remember how many people Stumpy said live in this area, but the unemployment rate is running about 60%. There are formal government issued houses (concrete, 40 m sq buildings with plumbing and electric wiring) and informal shacks with no plumbing, electricity, or toilet. Many families have to get their water at the community tap and the homes without a toilet use “the rubber pail”. Many of the homes survive on disability or old age income checks from the government only ($820; divide by 7 for US dollars) for the month. Planting gardens is a way for families to have fresh veggies; seeds may be obtained from the Health Dept (I think that’s where they come from).
Stumpy explained she frequently tries to help families to apply for disability or some kind of government aid, but this is a long process because many of the people don’t have a birth certificate or ID card. I was shocked when she explained that if a woman has a baby in the hospital or at home it is the family’s responsibility to register that birth and get a certificate. The hospitals do not do this. Since the place to register births is down in the city, which is 2 taxi rides up and 2 taxi rides back, many times it is not done. If you can’t afford supper, why would you care about registering your new child. One would think this would get caught at the school level when the child goes to enter school because they have to be vaccinated, but if the child never goes to school no one catches the omission. So at the time when someone is sick or injured and is trying to get aid the lack of birth registration is finally discovered. I wonder what happens if one doesn’t remember their birthdate.
We were taken to families in this township to ask questions about health & living situations. I talked with a family that consisted of a women, her husband, and a non-family elderly woman who was >60yrs old. The younger woman has kidney problems, her husband has HTN, and the elderly lady is basically healthy and is the sole income to this household (she receives $820/mo for being 60+). The house is a formal dwelling which is divided into 4 rooms, a toilet, and a tin roof. This is one of the luck homes, there is plumbing, electricity, an inside toilet along with the luxuries of a refrigerator and electric stove. There are no children in this home, but the women has 3 children from a previous marriage. When she married again it was decided to leave the children with the family of the previous marriage because they could get foster-care money. Apparently the husband can decide if he is going to take the children in his home or not; if he cannot afford the care for the children they usually stay with the first family.
I asked this lady what would be her number one wish and she said she wants seeds to plant in her garden. So along the some food items, I will try to find seeds for planting.

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