“Most patients live on less than $0.50US per day in this present-day economy, and because they are very poor, they do not pay for the services and medicines they receive.” Dr. Julia Musariri
I hope to find you all well. I know that some of you have not been well in the last months, but the good Lord has taken care of everyone of us because he wants you and us to continue working for his people, the poor of St. Albert’s Mission Hospital in Centenary, Zimbabwe.
Visitors to St. Albert’s
2019 has been a great year for gaining new friends because of Luisa Guidotti: Maria Laura, Giorgia Sereni, and others from Modena. Giorgia has been updating us of the wonders that God worked for us. We also met with Stefano Manzini of ManzoProdAid of Firence who eventually passed through Victoria Falls on their leave. We were sorry that he developed a high fever, and he and his wife never saw the Victoria Falls, a sign that he should come back again.
St. Albert’s Mission Hospital also had visitors from Australia who did voluntary work at our Rehabilitation department and at Open Heart Trust where the disabled are taught skills to be self-sufficient. They were six very efficient professionals. We hope to have a similar group in the future.
A second group was a couple from Germany who stayed at St. Albert’s for a month. The lady had just completed her nursing course in Germany, and the young man was helping with games, especially soccer, at the high school. They left for South Africa from where they would return home after a week or two.
The last group was that of the Americans Mr. Darrell Ward and Dr. Lowell Schnipper. In their company was Mr. Matthew Ward and Ms. Megan Jukich, who have visited us every year to see how the program of cervical-cancer screening is going on. They are sponsoring the VIAC program at St. Albert’s and Karanda Mission Hospitals and have been part of us for a long time now. They left on 4th November for Maputo, Mozambique, where they attended the AORTIC cancer conference.
The Poultry Project, a dream come true
Made possible by Dr. Lowell Schnipper, Mr. Darrell Ward and donors to Better Healthcare for Africa.
Give a poor man a fish, and you feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime.
We have started a poultry project to raise a bit of money for the hospital. The hens came on the 8th of August, and they started laying 9th August, producing 8 eggs. Now they are laying an average of 850 daily. We sell the eggs to individuals and to retailers. Patients also get eggs as a source of protein and villagers and retailers are also buying eggs for their needs. Now, thanks to funds raised by the International Student Organization at the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, we will be able to expand and become an industry. We hope to earn enough to pay for all the little things and medicines we need. The only hitch is that our Zimbabwean currency is highly inflationary against the USD.
The Safe House
Father Tonny of Rosy Bay Australia has made it possible.
We at St. Albert’s see many children who suffer many kinds of abuse: physical, emotional, neglect and sexual. The hospital acquired a bit of property for a Safe House in 2010, but it had not been developed. It now has a building that is nearly finished. Abused children will be housed at this Safe House while the Police carry out their investigation before a court hearing. This was necessitated by the fact that children who go back home change their evidence narrative, because of intimidation and coaching on how to respond to questions in court. When abused children go back home before trial, they do not get the justice they deserve from the courts. In 2019, we saw 40 cases of abuse: 26 girls and 14 boys.
Alone from January to November a total of 72 girls were child brides. This practice accounts for the number of caesarean sections, too.
Stefano Manzini and his friends of Firenze (ManzoProdAid) donated a suction pump, which we needed very much primarily in the operation theatre for caesarean sections.
Jutta has persevered in sending knitted objects for children and second hand clothing. This is a group of elderly ladies who knit small hats and blankets, which they put together and send to St. Albert’s Mission Hospital. They have contributed towards the poultry project, too, making it possible for the hospital to construct and buy the 1,000 birds for eggs.
The operation theatre
We closed the operation theatre on 25th October 2019 after the anaesthetic machine broke down. We instructed the pregnant women to seek an alternative hospital for their care. Mt. Darwin District Hospital told us not to advise the women to go there because their anaesthetic machine was also down. The Provincial Hospital in Bindura told us that our doctor and nurses must accompany the patient to Bindura and perform the caesarean and return to St. Albert’s with the patient and baby.
This solution was not feasible because we cannot predict the number of women who need caesarean section daily. The technician came to St. Albert’s and was able to repair the machine that had become unreliable, but as before, he said that he does not know how long it will function before it breaks down again.
The theatre air con is down due to the inconsistency of the general electricity, which is available to us for short periods of time, sometimes with very low voltage.
Our ambulance is not functioning because of the quality of the diesel that is available to us. The Toyota land cruiser is now very old and every time it goes for service it takes the larger share of the revenue from the paying patients. Most patients live on less than $0.50US per day in this present-day economy, and because they are very poor, they do not pay for the services and medicines they receive. This vehicle cannot hold up anymore, and it continually breaks down. We need funds for tyres and spare parts and to pay for maintenance work. The tractors are still in discreet good condition; we are now in the cropping season. We are grateful for funds received from Ramsey Foundation that can be used to procure inputs for our field.
Medicines and medical sundries
Medicines are always in short supply and expensive for us and the patients. Most patients are unable to pay for the medicines and sundries. As a Catholic institution, we give a waiver to the patient to pay later in kind or in monetary value, which they never come to do. The hospital shelves are mostly empty of essential medicines. We are grateful to our Italian friends and well wishers for availing us funds for medicines that are ordered from Medeor Action in Germany.
Water pumps and produce
The water pumps have been giving a lot of problem because of the inconsistent supply of the electricity. We have sent them for repair several times, because our shared water becomes inadequate to supply the mission without electricity. Thank God the hospital has running water now from the Stanbic bank donation of a borehole and from the donation of a solar pump by Better Healthcare for Africa and students at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. This pump provides water except when it is too cloudy in the rainy season, then the quantity reduces. We are now wishing we had solar driven pumps and panels on all our boreholes and the large ground tank for pumping the water into the tower tanks thus avoiding the use of direct electricity.
The farm has not been doing well on animal husbandry and horticulture. The initial enthusiasm we saw in the manager has died. He wants a raise in pay when in fact he is producing very little to raise any reasonable income; the hospital is paying him for nonproduction. This is a problem we must sort out.
Women and children come to us asking for food. Unfortunately, our food hampers have run out. We have seen some malnutrition even in adults. Two women presented with pellagra and one of them died in spite of all the efforts to save her life.
Funds from well wishers and donors
Our life at St. Albert’s Mission Hospital is sustained by our friends and well wishers in one way or the other.
Rock No War: Towards school fees and medicines
ASI: School fees, medicines, repair of vehicles and equipment
Casa Aperta: Medicines
Rotary Trieste Nord: Medicines
Ramsey Foundation: Safe House construction, Agricultural inputs for 2019-2020 season
BHA: Contracted nurses for the cancer screening program and outreach, vehicle maintenance, poultry project and other needs.
- Dr. Lowell Schnipper family and Darrell Ward family: Food hampers for the needy and poultry project
- Lesley Lynghart: repair of generator, school fees
- Soffia Hildago and colleagues: Poultry project
- Annelie Bergman and colleagues: Poultry Project
- Julia Susanne Limberger and Micheal Andreas Meder: medicines and repair vehicle and orthopaedical surgical fee for patient to Karanda Hospital.
- Medri Family and Parish Ferrara: University Fees to train a doctor in Orthopaedic Surgery
We face many challenges, but we again want to thank our friends and visitors, old and new, for caring. We need and appreciate your help, and we at St. Albert’s wish you a happy and holy Christmas.
Dr Julia Musariri
St. Albert’s Mission Hospital