Long queues as far as the eyes can see of old men, expectant women, mothers carrying their little tots, young and old, patiently braving the morning Mara chill waiting their turn to see the visiting doctors.  Every year they will commute on foot, ride on motorbikes or any other means available to them to access the free check-ups and treatment in our free annual medical camps.

One of these people is a young man called Alex (name changed for privacy).  He comes from an area called Suswa about 158 kms from the Aitong Health Centre, the venue of our medical camp.  He arrived very late on the evening of the first day of our 2017 medical camp, accompanied by his parents. Alex was unwell and had missed a few weeks of school as a result.  His condition had also kept him away from activities that young Maasai youths his age ought to be taking part in, like herding his father’s cattle and socializing with his friends.  

 

A pediatrician attends to a child during the 3rd Aitong Medical Camp

Upon examination Alex was recommended for surgery and was referred to our partner organisation Oasis’ nearby hospital.  Alex’s surgery was a great success and his mother could not hide her joy, saying “This is the happiest I have seen Alex in a long time.  He is energetic and helps around the house. He is back to school now and I think he missed his classmates.  We are very grateful to the doctor who operated on him, the nurse Jonathan who took care of him while in hospital, and the organisers of the medical camp for providing us with these opportunities for free.”

 

 

Alex is just one success story – many patients have been seen and treated by our volunteer doctors to date.  Nonetheless, affordable health care is still out of reach for many in this community because of poverty, illiteracy and retrogressive cultural practices.  Most will only seek treatment if it is offered for free or when their health condition has worsened beyond that which they can manage at home, even for preventable diseases.

Please help us take 8 doctors to the Mara this October for our 7th medical camp so that they can help many others like Alex.

With only two months to go, we are so close to reaching our goal of raising $6,700 towards this camp and we cannot do it without you!

Will you help with a gift of $50 or more to reach our goal?  Your gift is critical because it will help us:

  1. Stock the community clinic which serves over 10,000 people per month with the required medicines and pharmaceuticals
  2. Bring in volunteer doctors and specialists who will diagnose, treat and create awareness around preventable diseases prevalent in this community
  3. Build the capacities of the Aitong Health Center and it’s dedicated staff

Please make a gift today and help us help our community, because their health is in our hands!

 

Arusha Coffee Lodge and the Shanga Foundation have been supporting Plaster House for nearly six years, and Land & Life is now delighted to be helping with this wonderful project as well. The Plaster House is a rehabilitation home for children requiring orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery or corrective plastic surgery in northern Tanzania. The care provided to these children would otherwise not be available to them, and this help lifts many families out of despair, giving them hope for their children’s future.

 

On Tuesday of this week a group of staff from Land & Life, Coffee Lodge and Shanga visited Plaster House Arusha to hand over a selection of donations gathered from the lodge – sheets, pillows, and other linens as well as cutlery and crockery. The Plaster House team took time out from their schedules to give the Coffee Lodge staff a good tour of the facility, including the new wing which is nearly completed.

 

 

 

The new buildings were of particular delight to the Shanga staff. Shanga have generously made a contribution towards some beautiful hand-made stain glass windows (Dalle de Verre) for the administration block, new dormitory and volunteer wing. The artisans, Alec and Simon, who produced the windows were with the visiting group. They were overjoyed to see their handiwork in position and looking so stunning. It is wonderful to see examples of such fine work from professionals of their calibre who also happen to have a disability. It demonstrates to the children undergoing serious surgery that life can be about ability, possibility and what you CAN do achieved. The stain glass windows will serve as a daily reminder to the children to strive for their best and know they have the hope and opportunity of a bright future.

 

The Coffee Lodge and Shanga employees were delighted to meet a number of the children resident at the Plaster House, and have a chat with them in the classroom. This soon developed into a cheerful singing session in which everybody took part! Fun was had by everyone, children and visitors alike, and it reminded the lodge team how important the work we do to support Plaster House is.

 

 

This week Land & Life held our 6th Annual Free Aitong Medical Camp at Aitong Health Clinic in the Mara near to Elephant Pepper Camp. This year we are delighted to announce that we have reached a new record – the clinic saw and treated approximately 1200 people over the three days!

The team of volunteer doctors from Oasis Health Care were extremely enthusiastic and very efficient, working well with the Aitong Clinic Staff and nurses provided by the Narok District Hospital. They performed diabetes testing – HIV testing – cervical cancer screening – general medical check ups – dental check ups and treatments – family planning sessions – orthopaedic treatments – and more.

The cervical cancer screening in particular was an interesting issue. While it was welcomed by some women, for others it held a stigma, due largely to lack of awareness and understanding. We hope to work on this in the future, sensitising the community to the importance of such screening and reach even more women going forward.

Thanks to our partnership with NHIF, this year doctors were able to refer patients on for further treatment, ensuring that the camp has a wider impact than simply a one off day of treatment.

We are extremely grateful for the help and support of our partners Kicheche Camps and Saruni Lodges, Safarilink and Oasis HealthCare, and of course as ever the logistics and support from Elewana Collection’s Elephant Pepper Camp. Well done everyone and on behalf of the community, thank you for your generosity and support.

If you would like to make a seasonal, Christmas-inspired donation towards this excellent initiative please do click here and donate, specifying Aitong as your preferred project.

Over $20,000 for Plaster House!On Friday 24th March Land & Life Foundation co-hosted a Fundraising Gala at Arusha Coffee Lodge. With beer generously provided by Tanzania Breweries Limited and wine kindly provided by Upper Zonal Trading, there were plenty of drinks for everyone, and the lodge provided a fine spread of snacks for all guests. Prizes for the silent auction were donated from a wide range of generous sponsors including Coastal Aviation, Serengeti Balloon Safaris, Elewana Collection, Sopa Lodges, Salt Restaurant Dar es Salaam, Nomad Tanzania, Amani Forest Camp, and many more.

The event was a huge success and we raised over $20,000! This amount is being donated directly and in full to the Plaster House Arusha, a rehabilitation home for children recovering from life changing orthopaedic, plastic or neuro surgery. Plaster House will be using the funds raised at this event to purchase a Toyota Hiace van, and this will be used to transport  the sick children and their carers to and from the hospital for surgery and appointments.  Everyone is thrilled, and the staff and patients and Paster House would like to thank everyone who attended the event and contributed to the successful evening.

Winning Poster - Ololomei

Last week I visited our supported projects at the Masai Mara.  My first stop was Ololomei Primary School near Elephant Pepper Camp (EPC) where I met the children and teachers and donated some textbooks to the school. Together with one of EPC’s guides Boniface, we held a Wildlife Warrior Poster competition based on this term’s theme “Living with Elephants”.   The posters were quite impressive but there can only be one winner, so we chose group number 5 who had produced a great picture which showed all elements of the complex living with wildlife challenges faced by the community – the elephants, the manyattas, the maize being eaten by elephant, the cattle under threat from predators, the tourists on a  game drive, the dams where the water is held and which attract elephant – a  great poster!  The winning group will go on a game drive on Tuesday 28th March and will thereafter have tea and biscuits at EPC – watch this space for photos and maybe some interviews with the children.


Aitong Health CentreI also had an opportunity to visit our supported health facility at Aitong Town. Thanks to the mounting support of donors the health centre has a recently completed maternity wing, with spacious facilities and new equipment. However it is lacking in power at present and therefore is not in use, which I found very disappointing. We would like to help with this situation and over the next month or two we hope to send an electrician to see how we can rectify this problem.  We also plan to scale up our annual medical camp scheduled for November, which provides free medical and dental care to the community. This year we hope to partner with like-minded organisations to expand our impact, and  we are looking at the possibility of introducing the National Health Insurance Fund to the community as well as bringing in a wide range of medical specialists. We will keep you updated as we go along.


My last stop was at little Embiti Primary School just outside the gates of the Maasai Mara Reserve and supported by Sand River Mara. The school has 115 students from nursery up to Class 4, and the top two classes impressed me by their memorising the Wildlife Warrior pledge!

Watch the video:

Here we have provided funding for the school’s first and only toilet block, which is about to be finished. I am delighted about this as it will make a real and immediate impact on all students and staff at the school who currently have no toilet facilities at all.

I brought printed colouring sheets for the youngest children with pictures of the wildlife of the Mara, and large sheets of poster paper for the older Wildlife Warriors, and set the Warriors a poster competition on the topic of “Our Favourite Wildlife”. The winners will be taken on a game drive in the Game Reserve and be treated to a picnic lunch by SRM guides and managers.

In support of Plaster House, a home in Arusha that enables children from all over Tanzania to recover from corrective and orthopaedic surgery, Arusha Coffee Lodge will host a Gala Cocktail Evening this Friday 24th March from 7.00 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. Land & Life is co-hosting the event, at which a  silent auction and raffle will be held. The money raised will purchase a new van for the Plaster House. Currently the children and their mothers are transported to and from town and hospital in the back of a pick up, which is far from either safe or comfortable, particularly given the disabilities suffered by many of these infants and children. The purchase of a Hiace minivan will make a huge difference, allowing the Plaster House staff to carry the children safely and comfortably, out of the dust and rain.

Donations for prizes have been generous from many businesses in Arusha, including of course the Elewana Collection , who have generously offered 2 nights for 2 at  the luxurious Kilindi in Zanzibar, and 2 nights for 2 at the exclusive Manor Ngorongoro, as well as a dinner for two at the Arusha Coffee Lodge.

Photographs from the event will be forthcoming!

Smiling children at Plaster House

Our work at Land & Life Foundation always aims to give help to the people and places that need it most. Arusha Plaster House is one of the best examples where we’ve made a real, positive change for the children of our local communities.

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Working with Elewana’s Arusha Coffee Lodge, we’ve been supporting this home for children who need surgery since 2008 and we’ve seen it grow from a small set up in a guest house to a thriving centre providing surgery, therapy and education.

What exactly is Arusha Plaster House?

  • It’s a medical centre that provides pre and post surgery care for up to 100 children at a time
  • It performs corrective surgery and has specialist orthopedic, plastic and neurosurgeons to help children live the lives they want to
  • It provides therapeutic services for the kids when they’re staying there, to make sure they’re ready to get back to their community after surgery
  • It even has a classroom so having an operation doesn’t mean missing out on vital education

The real success of the Plaster House is that it turns what can often be a negative or traumatic experience for children into something where they receive expert treatment in a clean environment, surrounded by professional medical and care staff. The children leave Plaster House as stronger people, both physically and mentally.

Our efforts in supporting the centre in partnership with Arusha Coffee Lodge helping put smiles on the faces of hundreds of children. Remember, by encouraging people to stay at Elewana’s Arusha Coffee Lodge and support Plaster House, you are also contributing to those smiles.

As always it’s a team effort to be proud of, every day, and thanks for all your support in helping make the difference.

World aids day

World AIDS dayOn this World AIDS Day people around the globe are coming together to join the fight against HIV, showing their support for people living with HIV, and commemorating those who they have lost.

At Land & Life Foundation, we’re very proud of the work we do to support people with HIV and their communities. We often think of Kenya as a natural paradise but it has the joint 4th largest AIDS epidemic in the world, a million and a half people are living with HIV and over a million children have been orphaned because of AIDS.

So Land & Life Foundation initiatives such as the Aitong Medical camp are vital to the future health of our people. At this year’s camp, 240 people volunteered to be tested for HIV and learnt how to avoid getting and spreading HIV. It’s not only the people who got tested who will benefit – what they’ve learnt will be passed on and help keep the community safer.

Spread the word today and help keep everyone healthy and safe.

We look forward to seeing even more people at the 2017 Aitong Medical camp – more information to follow soon!

We’ve just finished holding our 5th Aitong Medical Camp and we are pleased to report it was our biggest success yet. It’s fantastic to see the impact that these camps have on the local community and I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone involved.

The camp, which ran from November 1st – 3rd was only possible by working in partnership with Elewana Collection’s Elephant Pepper Camp, Kicheche Community trust, and Safarilink Aviation and brought vital medical services, support and supplies to the people around Aitong.

There was a lot of hard work to get the camp running and even more meant we could help hundreds of people each day. The community has no regular access to medical services, so the camp is literally a lifeline for many of them.

This years’ medical camp focussed on:

  • Gynecology and obstetrics (childbirth and midwifery)
  • Adult health
  • Paediatrics
  • Dentistry

We had six dedicated specialists (2 Gynecologists, 1 General Practitioner, 1 Pediatrician and 2 Dentists) who were kind enough to offer their services for free. Through their efforts, they managed to treat an unbelievable total of 885 patients in only three days!

Not only is this a fantastic result but also a tremendous increase from the previous medical camp. That’s nearly a thousand people who are in much better health, who have received the care and attention they need and can start to live better lives.

But that’s not all. Together with our partner, Kicheche Community Trust, we also donated medical supplies worth USD 685, so even more people got access to both the expertise and the medicine they needed.

Once again, I’d just like to say a very sincere and heartfelt thank you to the medics for giving up their time to be part of the medical camp, to everyone at Elephant Pepper & Kicheche Camps for hosting them during the medical camp and to everyone else who made the event such a vital success. The positive impact on the community will be felt in so many ways and we can’t wait to see what we can do next year!

Today we would like to share with you some heartwarming news.

31 year old Eunice Kapeen is a devoted mother of six and dedicated community health volunteer. Without the Aitong Medical Camp, Eunice wouldn’t have been able to get back to health and continue these vital roles.

For two months, Eunice was suffering from recurrent tonsillitis, causing her great pain and making it impossible for her to care for her family and community.

Without treatment, the bacteria that causes tonsillitis can spread through the body, affecting the kidneys, immune system and lead to further complex and dangerous complications.

Luckily, Eunice was able to get help at the Aitong Medical camp. “The doctor who treated me was very good and professional.” she says with a smile. “She explained to me clearly what I needed to do to prevent future infections and prescribed some medicine which I was given for free to be taken for five days.

“She asked me to go for review after a week but it was too costly for me to come back to the health facility. But I am very grateful because without their help I would not be well enough to take care of my family and community. I would like to commend the organisers for this free service to my community. ”

Eunice is part of the Olosogon community in Aitong. Like so many of her friends, family and neighbours trying to thrive in the area, Eunice faces health, social and economic challenges every day.

Her community are semi-nomadic farmers who rely on cattle to live, bringing the added challenge of wildlife attacks on their livestock .

Land and Life Foundation has worked with the Olosogon people to show the benefits of working with rather than against nature. They have become partners in our conservation work and as one small way of giving back, we hold these free medical camps annually. In the last 4 years, the camps have treated over 1,200 people, bringing life – and community-changing results.

Because of her successful treatment, Eunice has offered to go back to her community and try to encourage all those who need help to visit the medical camps. The demand today for medical attention, supplies and professionals is growing.

Please support our work and make sure we continue to help save and improve the lives of people like Eunice.