The team in Tanzania have been working hard putting plans in place in Tanzania. Training has happening for how to treat people in the context of the growing threat of COVID-19. Food and soap parcels have been brought and started to be distributed.
This is Doctor Frank. He has got supplies for a Grassroots clinic and established protocols for who should come in and who should be treated with “social distancing” outside.
He has found supplies of arms length thermometers so they can check temperatures without contact.
The team have ordered 4000 facemasks that are being made in the market (please note we know a mask will not stop a person getting the virus, but it will stop coughs spreading and encourages people to stop touching their face. But most of all it is a powerful symbol that everyone should take this seriously). The first ones made will go to the team & volunteers, then to the older people, then to all the sponsored children. the team will receive 4 each – so they can use them and then wash them. Aren’t they fab!
Food distribution is starting. First the main supply had to be purchased.
Then it will be moved to distribution points. The most vulnerable will have theirs delivered to outside their doors.
Here is a fuller outline of the plan (below). This is all costing far more than the usual sponsorship but you are all being generous and we are trusting that we should do all we should do and the money will be there to fund it!
The team will make a delivery in each location once a month. The children will be asked to come to a distribution point (keeping social distancing rules) to receive a food parcel.
Daily Milk Children (preschool children many of whom have been malnourished) will be given a packet of Leche – which is a dried fortified milky oaty mix that can be mixed with hot water to be made into a highly nutritious porridge. The packet will be enough to last a month.
All children will receive a food packet with maize flour and other items – exactly what will be in it depends on supply and cost.
All children and all volunteers will receive a parcel of soap.
Some children and carers are particularly vulnerable as a result of HIV, heart conditions or other medical issues. These people will have their parcels delivered and left at the door.
Those children with ongoing HIV have previously been receiving extra nutrition and so in these circumstances they will also receive leche – enough for 1 month.
The volunteers who deliver these parcels will be given 4 masks and surgical gloves (which Grassroots is purchasing). Each volunteer has been told they must wear these at distributions and that they must change the masks every two hours, and then wash them carefully before the next day.
Grassroots employs two doctors in Mbeya: Dr Frank and Dr Chombo. Both of these doctors are also regional doctors and therefore know what is happening in the hospitals too. We have had a long video conferencing meeting with them and discussed what medicines are needed and agreed to buy a large supply. They have explained what level of intensive care is available in the region : “Very little”. They are committed to doing everything they can. Dr Chombo is technically on annual leave this week and so is giving his time to get all these plans in place.
Outside the Mbeya town area the locations have agreements to work with local doctors.
All sponsored children and their carers have the phone number of Grassroots Tanzania to call in an emergency.
Last Monday the doctors ran a training session for all the location leaders and pastors to help them pass on teaching about:
– Washing hands
– Social distancing and no shaking of hands (a very big thing in Tanzanian culture)
– How COVID-19 disease spreads
– Signs of COVID-19 and what to do if you have symptoms (isolation etc)
– Various levels of response (isolate, take paracetamol/liquids, call for help, etc)
Once the tailors have manufactured masks for all the volunteers, they will continue making them for all grandparent carers and then all sponsored children. Before they are given out, there will be training on how to use them. We know they have limited effect in stopping people getting disease, but they can stop coughs spreading to others and discourage face touching. Most of all they will symbolise in the community this is a big deal and encourage everyone to get serious.
Grassroots is also preparing short term supervised accommodation for a small number of children should their carer die and so they need looking after. This will not be long term because we believe it is better for children to live in safe loving families, but that can take a while to set up.