Written by Julie Sundermeier
We started the day with a visit to St. Thomas Aquinas College, which has a serene setting nestled amongst trees and huge boulders. This school opened in 2017 and serves 500 students, junior and senior high grades. Pipeline has played a large part in its continued development by drilling a borehole, installing a water tower, building teachers quarters, providing a shipping container and equipment for a clinic, among other things.
Today the men in our team took a tour of the campus to look at the infrastructure, kitchen area, and visit the construction site of a new library that is under construction. Jamie, Rebecca, Donna and I planned to meet with around 200 girls to distribute handmade feminine hygiene pad kits made by an organization named Stitches of Hope. Provision of menstrual supplies can keep girls in the classroom rather than staying at home during their cycle each month. Well, we were quite surprised to greet an assembly of 310 energetic, well behaved, and intelligent girls! We all handed out the cloth pouches with supplies as the girls filed into the room in single file. Then Jamie gave an introduction that inspired female empowerment and urged the girls to continue their education, and go on to further their professional development by becoming teachers, nurses, doctors, or business owners, emphasizing they could become anything they wanted to. Donna and I provided instruction on how to use and care for the kits, and how to track their monthly cycles. At the end of our presentation we asked if there were any questions. One of the girls raised her hand, stood up and said “I don’t have a question but I just want to thank you for everything”. The room have a resounding thank you and their signature African clap for thank you. What a terrific group of girls! The assembly left with smiles on their faces and a practical gift in their hand. We left invigorated by their energy and with warm hearts.
After a brief stop to change into scrubs, Donna and I parted from the rest of the team to visit Moyo General Hospital. Pipeline has supported the hospital by providing solar and battery power, renovation of staff housing, medical supplies and training for staff, and much more. We had a thorough hospital tour, and met with directors, surgeons, nurses, and patients For the past year we have been regularly communicating with Christopher Wasswa, who is the head nurse for the NICU. After obtaining his nursing diploma he went on for an additional 2 years of specialty study in neonatology and was one of 10 in his class. He came to Moyo and helped start the NICU which is only 5 years old, but now stands out as the best in the area. Pipeline recently provided solar power just for the NICU so that when the electricity went out (as it frequently does) premature babies would still receive the respiratory support and heat from incubators that they need to survive. When the only incubators that the NICU had broke down, Pipeline purchased 2 brand new incubators. Christopher shared that these donations have markedly decreased neonatal mortality at the hospital. A highlight of our visit to the NICU was visiting a set of twins who benefited from the new incubators. They weighed around 1 kg at birth and now are 3 months old and are doing well at home.
Our last stop of the day was the Moyo Babies Home-always a favorite destination. The home is run by Sacred Heart Sisters and is staffed by Care Assistants. The orphanage houses children up to 5 years of age. The children are well loved and attended to. We brought blankets and dresses, and checked in on the hot water system that Pipeline donated. But mostly we got to snuggle and play with many cute children. Ken brought bouncy balls for the kids which provided hours of entertainment for both the children and adults!
We ended the day with our usual team dinner and went around the table with our individual daily highlight. Definitely a 10/10 day in Moyo.❤️