1504.0 - Methodological News, Sep 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/09/2008   
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Making a Difference- ABS Staff and the Foster Parents Plan

A group of MDMD staff, ex-MD staff and now other ABS staff is actively supporting the Foster Parents Plan, a program of PLAN International which is a community development network operating in over 60 countries. The group collectively donates money to sponsor children overseas and currently supports three children: Margaret (12 year old girl in Uganda), Boussiratou (11 year old girl in Mali) and Rajeet (6 year old boy in India). Simon Ow, an ex-MD staff member, has recently travelled to Tororo, Uganda, to visit Margaret. He reports below:

    The PLAN sponsorship money goes into a pool of funds that support community projects such as schools and health centres. For example, in Tororo, two health centres were built. Here, patients are encouraged to test for HIV every 3 months, one-on-one counseling is provided to those who are tested HIV-positive and appropriate treatment is provided. The Prevention of Parent-to-child Transmission of HIV initiative provides free antiretroviral drugs to pregnant mothers before and after delivery. This has a high success rate of 90% and has reduced the number of children infected by HIV dramatically.

    A PLAN youth centre was built near the Tororo town centre. Many young people come to the centre to learn about drama, music, karate, and other skills. It also has facilities such as a pool table, table tennis table, basketball court and soccer field. This was built next to one of the health centres. Most young people do not like to be seen by their family when they are going to a health centre (e.g. to test whether they are HIV positive) so they come to the youth centre for activities and then sneak into the health centre afterwards. PLAN has also increased access to potable water by drilling many boreholes. I am convinced that Margaret and her community are being transformed through the help of PLAN.

    When I met Margaret, she walked quietly towards me and greeted me by kneeling down and shaking my hand (that's the culture in Uganda). Like most African children, she was very shy! Children in Africa are often seen but not heard. PLAN is changing this culture by encouraging input from the children.

    Margaret's home is just a small mud hut, a typical house in rural Uganda. She lives with her three siblings, her parents and her grandfather. There is no electricity in her home. Margaret’s family harvest crops (millet, maize and cassava) to eat and tend their cattle daily. I presented Margaret’s father gifts which I brought on behalf of the ABS - maize flour, soap, cooking oil, colouring pencils, stationery, tennis ball, koala toy etc. The family was very excited to receive these gifts! Margaret’s family then surprised me by putting a live chicken in my hands! Giving me their chicken meant that they would have one less egg the next day. They were so generous to me even though they don’t have much at all. Margaret and her family send their greetings to all of you and thank you very much for your generous support!

For more information, contact Maree Size on (02) 62526055 or Tamie Anakotta on (02) 62527360.