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‘Sanitation Has Improved In our Camp’

The excavation of the toilet at the Ikom Transit Shelter for Cameroonian refugees in Ikom, Cross River, has improved sanitation conditions in the camp and prevented the spread of air-borne diseases and various infections.

Following the influx of refugees from across the Cameroonian border into Cross River and Benue states, following the violence in parts of Cameroon, caring  – provision of water, health care, sanitation, etc – for them has become a challenge, one which the Health Initiative for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) has taken up, in conjunction with the United Nations’ High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The refugees are scattered in five local government areas in Cross River and parts of Benue states. Sonia Besong is one of the refugees at the Ikom Transit Shelter. She fled the violence in her country(Cameroon) for Nigeria on October 31, 2017 and arrangements were made for her and over 200 others to reside at the temporary shelter, after registration.

The pit and pour-flush toilet units for the camp filled and spewed its contents, leaving the occupants of the camp open to infections. Thanks to UNHCR/HIFASS, a WASH analysis was carried out and the waste was treated and rechanneled, making the toilet fit to use again.

For Miss Besong, the intervention could not have come at a better time. “Before that toilet was excavated and area treated, many of the women in camp had to be rushed to the hospital to be treated for various infections they got from using the toilet. There was a lot of fear in camp when it was discovered that the health issues they were having resulted from using the unsafe toilets.

“Thanks to UNHCR/HIFASS, we all use the four toilet units and they are clean. We wash them every morning so that they can be safe for everyone and proper for use,” she said.

As one of the leaders in camp, Besong is conscious of the need to keep other refugees educated about the hazards of poor sanitation. “We explain to them the need for the constant washing and cleaning of the toilets and why we must keep germs far from us, so that the women and children, especially, can be safe,” said Besong who sees beyond the current situation in her country and aspires to continue her education when it is all over.

 

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the United High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of UNHCR.

 

PACR SUCCESS STORY

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HIFASS Facilitates Safe Deliveries in Over 5 Locations

Thanks to the new arrangement between HIFASS and the primary healthcare centres, over 10 deliveries were successfully carried out in five locations within Cross River State.

The births – Obanliku 6, Akamkpa 3, Etung 2, Ikom 3 and Boki 5 – left happy mothers, fathers and healthcare workers.

One of the mothers who was delivered of twin babies in Boki local government area (a boy and girl) was grateful to HIFASS and PHC centre, Boki.

“Right from the ante-natal, HIFASS and the PHC centre took care of me. I am grateful and will remain so. I am glad that the children are well and I am getting stronger.”

 

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the United High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of UNHCR.


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NSE SUNDAY FINDS STRENGTH IN VULNERABILITY

Nse Sunday lives in Uyi Effiom area of Anantigha, a suburb in Calabar Municipal Local Government Area of Cross River State. She became saddled with the responsibility of being sole provider for her six children, as well as her late sister’s three children, after her husband left them. Making ends meet was challenging and her petty trade of buying Water Leaves and Pumpkin Leaves from farmers and reselling helped her provide her household with just one meal daily, and her children were in and out of school. A support system would have helped her, but she could not build one while going about her daily activities the way she had to.

Her household was enrolled into Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa-Local OVC Partners in Nigeria (HIFASS-LOPIN 3) in 2015, a project funded by the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through United States Agency for International Development (USAID); and in 2016, during routine Household Testing and Counselling, she was confirmed reactive. She was referred immediately to the nearest health facility for treatment, by the Civil Society Organization (CSO) manning her locality – Rhemacare Integrated Development Service – escorted by a Community Volunteer (CV).

She received a seed grant to boost her business in the same year and leased four plots of land where she now grows her own vegetable. In addition, she has received training in proper nutrition, adherence counselling, food demonstration for People Living with HIV as well as financial literacy education. She is now a member of a Savings and Internal Lending Community (SILC) for caregivers in her community, where members are encouraged to save and borrow funds to boost their businesses and attends Caregivers Forum meetings regularly.

The Caregivers Forum has helped her tremendously as a support group, as she can get relevant information and encouragement easily. Her younger children attend kids’ club meetings and her adolescent girls attend the Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) meetings, where they are given information on prevention and relevant skills in a fun-filled atmosphere.

Her nine dependants have become consistent in school and can now have three meals daily. She has moved her household from their previous residence to a better house and has opened a bank account where she saves money, aside from the funds she saves in her SILC group. She said “apart from the savings group, the project has helped me open an account with UBA where I can save my money. This project has helped me O-O-O”. She gladly said to a staff of Rhemacare at the Caregivers Forum “Aunty Ima, I have bought myself a phone…” and offered her phone number.

This is a clear example of how strength can be found in vulnerability. Proper case management helped move Nse adhere to treatment and become a role model to other Caregivers empowered by HIFASS-LOPIN 3 in the local community of Uyi Effiong.

 

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.

 

LOPIN 3-SUCCESS STORY

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HER LIFE

Lisa B. discovered she was reactive in 2010 and lost two of her children to ill health. She also lost her husband in 2014 after a prolonged illness, and despite the fact that she knew her status and had access to treatment, her condition worsened. Her huge financial burden was compounded with poor nutrition and she started having hallucinations and could not continue with farming. She withdrew from treatment in February 2016, because she was told that the hallucinations were a result of a witchcraft attack. Due to her inability to meet basic needs, she could no longer cater for her surviving daughter who had to withdraw from school, she was despondent.

Lisa’s locale is a densely populated one in Calabar Municipality (Ikot Nkebre) Local Government Area of Cross River State and her case is an example of the huge challenge with managing health challenges in people groomed in a form of religious extremism. They believe that issues which can be managed with medication are not physical but a result of spiritual attacks; so they go to spiritual houses where they expect that prayer will make them better. This was Lisa’s stance even after her household was registered under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa-Local OVC Partners in Nigeria Region 3 (HIFASS-LOPIN3) project. She had given up and thought medication would make her lose her mind. She boycotted caregivers’ forum meetings till the Nutrition and OVC Referral Advisor (NRA) of HIFASS-LOPIN 3 took her up, alongside the data clerk of Oten- Ita foundation, the Community Based Organization currently handling her care, from June 6 2017.

Her needs were manifold – acceptance in the society, funds to boost her trade and hope. With constant encouragement and numerous visits by the data clerk and NRA as well as escorts by the Community Volunteer in her ward to health facilities, Lilian resumed treatment and her situation improved tremendously.

She received a seed grant of 40,000 from the project, with which she revamped her trade and farming, she now sells garri and fufu which are local staples and is able to cater for herself and her family. She also received financial literacy training and orientation in nutrition for People Living with HIV and attends the caregivers’ forum regularly, where she has like minds and access to relevant information. Her daughter has been enrolled in the Adolescent Girls and Young Women programme and is currently reinstated in school.

This is what Lisa has to say about USAID, HIFASS-LOPIN 3 and the Nutrition and OVC Referral Advisor “I never knew I could come out of the problem I was facing. I never knew I could be shown so much love and care. I have found a sister in you. I never expected someone to give me so much money to start my business again. God has used this organization to bless me. I will ever remain grateful”.

 

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.

 

 LOPIN 3-SUCCESS STORY

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A Case for the Girl Child

UNICEF reported that one out of four girls is abused sexually in Nigeria before the age of 18 (2015). Apart from sexual abuse, Gender Based violence, Child abuse, Female Genital Mutilation and withdrawal from school are some other issues which have plagued the girl child over the years worldwide.

A lot of interventions in education, health and other areas stated above have been used to improve the livelihood of this group of people and with increased Intervention over the years, statistics have shown that there is improved treatment of women in the society. It is also noteworthy that more women are coming to the fore in society, in politics and other positions that were reserved for only men in times past.

Despite these interventions and successes recorded, there still lies the painful realization that the fight is not over; that there are communities where rape is not considered a crime and Gender Based Violence is accepted, where the girl child is still given out in marriage as a commodity in exchange for money and her future thwarted for life. Some people ask the question ‘’when a woman reports her husband for domestic violence, where will she go?” This stems from the fact that some families misunderstand the concept of marital commitment and interpret it as doom, and some women have learnt wrongly that marriage is the ultimate phase of life, and will do anything to stay there and endure or lose their lives trying. So, even when a man is discovered to be abusing his child sexually, the wife feels bound to him and the child remains in the prison cell called home. It is more surprising when the woman is materially self-sufficient but is ruled by fear of doing the right thing and the expectation of the society.

Sex trade is also on the increase and drug abuse is gaining ground as well among the rich and the poor.

The deciding factor for interventions is mainly poverty as this seems to be the line that determines those who need help and those who do not; but with the happenings of recent times, it is clear that poverty should not be the only determining factor for vulnerability of the girl child.

There are middle class families where child abuse occurs with domestic staff and even parents against children, there are enlightened homes where Gender Based Violence is accepted. The increase in parental absence resulting in child vulnerability in middle class and upper class families is alarming.

The girl child has received a lot of intervention over the years, but the fight is still on and we hope that one day the war will be won.

Written by Omonefe O. Eruotor

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.

LOPIN-3 SUCCESS STORY

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HIV/AIDS AN OVERVIEW

HIV was discovered in 1984 and since then, millions of people have died from AIDS. According to the World Health Organization (2015), over 36 million people are living with the virus worldwide and several interventions have been put in place to ensure that those infected with the virus can lead normal lives.

In Nigeria, a lot of indigenous and international organizations work to ensure prevention, treatment and management services are available in both the urban and rural areas. These include services to ensure the use of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) – a combination of drugs to ensure that the growth of the virus is prevented, slowing its progression, thereby slowing the disease. Other interventions include the formation of support groups to help patients share challenges and a lot of positive ideas.

Another wonderful intervention is the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme which ensures that mothers do not transmit the virus to their children during pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards; thereby preserving future generations. This helps decrease morbidity and mortality due to HIV in infants.

A huge challenge is stigmatization, which makes people avoid those infected with the virus for fear of contracting same. Another is non-adherence to treatment. Sometimes patients get frustrated and as a result of inadequate funds and access to treatment centers, a lot of them give up; some others get into denial or bouts of hopelessness and stop taking their medication. Ignorance also poses a serious threat because people who lack information are prone to believe anything they are told, including the misconception that everyone with HIV/AIDS must die.

John Ubason Program officer carrying out testing.jpg

HIFASS offical carrying out testing during the outreach in Jahi on World AIDS Day 2016

The 1st of December is a day set aside globally to remember those who have passed, show support for those living with HIV/AIDS, and create awareness on HIV prevention and for most civil societies, it serves as a way to recommitting to ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat.  A lot of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)and government establishments are holding rallies to support people living with HIV/AIDS and also to enlighten the general public on HIV prevention. They are also encouraging people to stop stigmatization and suggesting ways through which support can be given to people living with HIV/AIDS.

This year with theme “Hands Up for HIV Prevention,” HIFASS conducted a one day community outreach in the Jahi community (Kado Kuchi) AMAC, FCT with Health Talks, HIV Testing, and Distribution of Condoms and IEC materials. Also the HIFASS-LOPIN 3 in  conjunction with other implementing organizations like FHI 360, Mediatrix, Lafarge, Pathfinder and Heartland Alliance organised a long walk creating awareness on HIV  as well as HIV Testing in Calabar, Cross river state.

Written by: Omonefe Oisedebamen Eruotor

References- Worldaidsday.org, WHO data site(http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.22100WHO), https://www.westerncape.gov.za/service/prevention-mother-child-transmission-pmtct, http://www.emtct-iatt.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Nigeria_National-PMTCT-Guidelines_2010.pdf, http://www.thebody.com/content/art6114.html

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MARIA’S TALE OF HOPE

Maria, a 36 year old Person Living Positive (PLP) widow residing in Adim Community in Biase Local Government Area of Cross River state, lost her husband with whom she had three kids and got involved with another man who promised to marry her. She had a child for the latter but he eloped, leaving her to cater for all the kids alone. With no source of income, aside the occasional N500-700 she got for weeding farmlands and four hungry mouths to feed; she began yielding to men who were interested in satisfying their sexual appetites with her in the community. Although farming and trading are the major occupations there; traditionally, women are not allowed to hold titles and are regarded as second class citizens who cannot own lands but can lease them for farming. The poverty rate is so high that like Maria, very high risk sexual activities take place among the girls, women and men especially among the widows who are regarded as free women. When her situation became unbearable, Maria had to release her fourteen year old daughter to a distant relative in Abuja for care which she cannot monitor from her location.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project – Local Orphans and Vulnerable Children Partners in Nigeria- Region 3 (LOPIN3), with as the lead partner enrolled Maria’s household in 2015. During the intervention, she received HIV Testing and Counseling services where she was discovered to be positive and referred to the nearest Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) for CD four count and further treatment. She also received training on the importance of proper healthcare like the need to sleep under insecticide treated nets, in nutrition, education, effective parenting skills, gender norms and financial literacy through the Catholic Archdiocesan Action Committee on AIDS (CAACA), a HIFASS-LOPIN 3 Community Based Organisation (CBO).

Maria by her shop

maria

As one of the project beneficiaries of seed grants in her community, she also received N30, 000 with which she started table trade. After about two months, Maria has this to say “Men no longer take advantage of me since I started my business, as I no longer depend on any one to provide for my family’s needs”. She now sells provisions daily and farm produce on market days.

This empowerment has boosted her self-esteem as she is able to feed, clothe, pay medical bills for and support the education of her children. In addition, along with other empowered caregivers, she was trained on Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC), they were taught to save and borrow money amongst themselves to improve their businesses.

CAACA and the HIFASS-LOPIN 3 Technical Point Person will continue to monitor and mentor Maria to see that her business keeps growing. The Community OVC Improvement Team (COIT) and Community Volunteers (CVs) are also on ground to offer necessary support to Maria and all empowered households in the community.

Disclaimer: This success story was made possible by the kind support from the American people delivered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Health Initiatives for Safety and Stability in Africa (HIFASS) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of USAID or the U.S. Government.