October 2011 Archives
Know more about MDGs (Please refer to Vol.139 "What is MDGs?")
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Kampong Luong Floating Village, Cambodia
By Mr. Masaya Takahashi (Yonezawa Church, Niigata Diocese)
Kampong Luong Floating Village is floating on Tonle Sap Lake which is the biggest lake in South East Asia and located at the center of Cambodia. The people live in the boat houses there. Excrement of human and animals, waste and oil are mixed with the lake water and the people use it for the domestic water. Many infants die in the unsanitary environment as their immunity is weak.
Most of the women give birth in their boats being assisted by midwives. As they are not educated midwives but traditional ones who have experiences of only childbirth assistance, the mother and child sometimes face the risk of their lives. According to 2009 UNICEF statistic, sixty eight babies out of one thousand died under one year old. (Ref. http://www.unicef.or.jp/library/toukei_2011/m_dat01.pdf) As there is a gap between city area and countryside, it is suspected that one baby out of ten dies in Floating Village. For comparison, the mortality rate of babies under one year old is two-one thousandth in Japan.
The situation of environment is very serious for infants in Floating Village. They die very easily here.
Under the said circumstance the mother and child health program was started in June, 2009. The obstetrician and gynecologist come to the classroom of literacy education in the morning every Saturday and Sunday and conduct medical check up for infants and pregnant women. All together 278 pregnant women and 431 infants (monthly average is 11 and 18 respectively) have come to the clinic in these two years.
We hold the monthly workshop, too. Mothers gather at the workshop and the staffs from Village Health Center give talk under the topic of mother and child health such as health control before and after childbirth, sign of dangerous disease during maternity period, how to keep power milk and contraception. They also vaccinate the infants and mothers (against tetanus and measles), distribute iron supplement and vitamin A and so on. The health education is provided to the mothers. Having appropriate knowledge protects infants from risks and saves their lives.
The mother and child health program is partially supported by the Global Citizen Foundation（HP http://www.gcf.or.jp/）.
This is the report by Ms. Sakiko Ishida who was sent to Cambodia in January, 2011.
She completed her six months' language course and started her mission in July. She wrote about an incident.
By Ms. Sakiko Ishida (Seijo Church, Tokyo Archdiocese)
<Before starting my mission>
I had completed my language course and enjoyable home stay and was about to go to Siam Reap. I suddenly got high fever of 39 degree before my departure date. I had a fever and my whole body ached and had itch for a couple of days. I was afraid that I had got an unknown disease. I was diagnosed as dengue fever on the forth day. It is transmitted by mosquitoes like malaria. There is no silver bullet and I took rest and intravenous nutrition because I had no appetite. My platelet decreased tremendously and I was immediately admitted to International Hospital in Thailand. I took airplane and taxi to the hospital. A Japanese interpreter attended me and my room was a high-class private room like a hotel room. From the window of eleventh floor I could see a lot of sky high buildings which I could not believe in the country just next to Cambodia. I could recover from dengue fever and was discharged on the sixth day.
The medical expense was covered by Japanese insurance and the insurance fee is paid by the donation of the supporters. I appreciate it very much. At the same time I felt it is the difference from the lives of many poor people in Cambodia that I have money to pay when necessary. It is often said that they can live their ordinary daily life but have to borrow money when they get sick or have wedding or send their children to high school or university.
When I was attending the language course, the principal's father caused a stroke. I happened to be there and checked his blood pressure. He certainly became paralyzed and needed to be hospitalized. The principal had money to bring him to the hospital but did not trust the medical treatment in Cambodia. (They say that some diseases are cured in Thailand and Vietnam but not in Cambodia.) As the father was very old and we thought it not really good to bring him to the hospital, we discussed with a health nurse and gave him a massage. But he did not get well and we decided to take him to the hospital. We had a long discussion with the principal about the medical treatment. In Cambodia a person with money the most in the family makes decision about the medical treatment. His family members considered the father's will and brought him back to his home and got him to continue the rehabilitation. His family has enough money to choose the place and method of his father's medical treatment. But people are sometimes asked at the hospital reception whether they have money or not as well as about their disease. There is a severe reality for people who cannot afford to receive the medical treatment. I had been working in ICU in Japan and this time I saw many cases during my hospital stay.
Ms. Yui Fukahori who was sent to East Timor in December, 2010 wrote to us. She worked on the activities by herself for the first time and learned many things.
Ms.Yui Fukahori (Yuigahama Church, Yokohama Diocese)
<All by myself in Los Palos>
Japanese media was in East Timor for coverage at that time and Ms. Satoko Watanabe left Los Palos to attend to them for interpretation. The local representative Mr. Jubensio was also out of Los Palos and working on the project as a coordinator in Liquica (I live in Los Palos in Lautem.) As a result I had to be in charge of Los Palos. Maybe I should have more strictly supervised the people older than me by ten years or more....
In Los Palos there are two Japanese staffs (Ms. Satoko and I) and nine local (local representative, his assistant, three field officers, pharmacist, PHC* organizer, driver and helper). (*Health volunteer) All of them are older than me and even the youngest one is ten years older than I. We support CG (corporative group called FINI), a group making soap and I am the accountant. I check their salary and hand to them. I am in a position to hire people. Timorese men seem to feel very uncomfortable to obey a younger person especially a woman. I do understand it after having been in Timorese culture for seven month.
Anyway since Ms. Satoko and Mr. Jubensio were not around, I had no choice but to get the staffs to work under me. When they knew that Ms. Satoko and Mr. Jubensio were out of town, they geared down their work. I knew that they did not respect me but I did not know what to do about it. Some of them played a PC game (He even asked me how to shut down the game.) and others slept in the pharmacy or boarded a car to go home twenty minutes before the closing time. To work should be more serious.