Our Latest News

The latest reports and updates from Fulcrum Aid

Designing a new HIV program for Bangladesh

Written by Steve Blacket on Thursday, 04 January 2018. Posted in HIV Affected Children - Bangladesh

Designing a new HIV program for Bangladesh

One of Fulcrum Aid’s objectives is to be able to respond quickly and efficiently when we hear of an opportunity to interrupt extreme inequality. However sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. The exploration of a program to support HIV affected children in Bangladesh is a classic example. After five years of conversations, research and stakeholder meetings, we are now just beginning to prepare a proposal for a HIV program with our Bangladeshi partners.

It started in November 2012. I was in Dhaka meeting with Dr Peter Halder, the Founding Director of Bangladesh Youth First Concern (BYFC), when he shared his concern for a small number of children living on the streets who had lost their parents to AIDS. This was long before Fulcrum Aid was formed, but I promised Peter I would support him.

In 2014 I returned with Angela Stewart and Shila Yukuli Phopo to explore the project, and then went again in 2016 for a consultation hosted by BYFC and including major stakeholders such as the national HIV department, UNAIDS, peer-to-peer service providers, and Dhaka University. I was impressed with the collaboration and mutual respect between the agencies, however there were different opinions about the proposed model of intervention which hindered the development of a project.

PNG Cultural Event in Adelaide

on Saturday, 28 October 2017. Posted in Fulcrum Aid News, Soil Child - Papua New Guinea

An opportunity to experience dynamic PNG culture and raise funds for medical equipment for PNG.

PNG Cultural Event in Adelaide

All are welcome to our Papua New Guinea Cultural Event on Saturday 11th November at Flinders University. As well as showcasing PNG culture, the event will raise funds to provide medical equipment to PNG’s under-resourced health services.

Although Papua New Guinea is our nearest neighbour, its vibrant culture remains a mystery to most Australians. With 865 diverse language groups and one of the world’s most colourful, energetic and gregarious societies, the people of Papua New Guinea will make an unforgettable impact on those fortunate enough to have the experience.

While being abundantly rich in culture and community, when it comes to their health care services PNG is not so well off. The majority of the population living in the rural sector face the greatest disadvantage. The relocation of the Royal Adelaide Hospital has provided a unique opportunity to secure surplus medical equipment that will be shipped to medical facilities in PNG. The equipment is provided without cost and the distribution is being managed through the Rotary Donations in Kind program. Project Manager Shila Yukuli Paia says the equipment will be distributed to 2 provincial hospitals, 57 rural health centres, 158 community aid posts plus the Angau General Hospital which is the only cancer treatment facility in PNG.

A Vision To End Child Marriage

Written by Steve Blacket on Tuesday, 17 October 2017. Posted in Angatunyo Girls Project - Uganda

A Conversation with Carol Akello

A Vision To End Child Marriage

Carol Akello is the founder and leader of the Angatunyo Girls Project in Uganda. The project provides vulnerable girls with vocational training that leads to financial independence, providing protection from forced marriages and other forms of abuse. Angatunyo is the local word for lioness and symbolises the strength and independence being developed in the participants.

I recently had the following conversation with Carol about the program.

Training Village Health Workers in Bangladesh

on Monday, 04 September 2017. Posted in Village Health Workers - Bangladesh

Gaps in basic maternal health services contribute to the high prevalence of maternal mortality in remote Bangladesh.

Training Village Health Workers in Bangladesh

Almost a year has passed since the Immanuel Mohila Kolyan Somity (IMS) first approached Fulcrum Aid to support training of primary health workers in remote regions of the Bandarban Hills. IMS is an Indigenous women’s organisation concerned for the high mortality rate amongst their communities.

Lauren Hodge is facilitating Fulcrum Aid’s partnership with IMS which aims to help women in the Bandarban Hills access safe birthing practices. In February Lauren joined a Fulcrum Aid research team in Bangladesh and was able to meet with the IMS committee and hear their vision of how to bridge critical gaps in maternal health services.

Soil Child Update - PNG

Written by Shila Yukuli Phopo on Thursday, 03 August 2017.

A report on recent progress with the Soil Child project

Soil Child Update - PNG

Despite numerous shortfalls and unexpected events in the year, we have achieved significant milestones in lifting off Soil Child. Here are the key feature events:

  • Soil Child – the brand is selling itself at different levels across the program network. Academics, researchers, biologists, agronomists, agriculturalists, nutritionists, anthropologists, advocates, social workers, students and volunteers have been asking what “Soil Child” really stands for and shown enthusiasm. Through the brand we have so far established some very useful networking contacts and working towards establishing long-term partnerships into the future.
  • My admission into the Doctor of Public Health program at Flinders University is also strengthening the project and gathering interest. The research involves an ethnographic study focusing on my community as a first step towards mobilising people, understanding their ideas and knowledge about priority needs and issues in their community and then setting goals for positive change which is what Soil Child aims to achieve.
  • Soil Child implementation partner in PNG, Women in Development Foundation PNG (WIDFPNG) now has a basic website, and three program volunteers based in Port Moresby and in Pakura village. This is encouraging because our volunteers will facilitate logistics, activities and work with the community to achieve our targets.
  • Soil Child also has support from PNG students here in SA who have shown interest and will be working from PNG upon their return with our team in terms of linking us to relevant institutional partners, stakeholders and communities.
  • I have had opportunities to present Soil Child at various locations in Adelaide through Zonta Club and Adelaide University of Third Age and this has produced some important connections, as well as the funds raised.

Empowering Food Champions

on Friday, 28 July 2017. Posted in Food Champions - South Sudan

Fulcrum Aid has responded urgently to support food security in South Sudan.

Empowering Food Champions

Approval for the Food Champions project was given by the Fulcrum Aid Directors less than 2 months ago to support food security in South Sudan during the current famine. Seeking $500 to purchase tractor fuel for planting crops, within three weeks $1100 had been raised. $500 was transferred immediately and within two days the project manager Luka Thel reported seeding had recommenced. Just last week the remaining $600 has been transferred and will be used to weed the established crops.

Luka reports that the rains have been good and the earlier crops are looking healthy. He is optimistic of a good harvest in a few months time.

Quoting Nelson Mandela, Luka says “Poverty, hunger and famine are not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the action of human beings.” 

Food Champions in a time of Famine

Written by Steve Blacket on Monday, 05 June 2017. Posted in Food Champions - South Sudan

As the world donates millions of dollars for food relief in South Sudan, one community is determined to achieve food security

Food Champions in a time of Famine

Just days ago the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced over $19 million would be given in emergency assistance to an estimated 10 million people starving in South Sudan and the surrounding region.

It was in response to a desperate plea from the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator Mr Stephen O’Brien who in March announced the “worst humanitarian disaster” since the formation of the United Nations in 1945. 

In the face of the worsening crisis the leaders of St Andrews Episcopal Church in Aweil developed their own response. Forming the New Wider Hope for Agriculture Development Agency (NWHADA) the community aims to achieve food security and income generation while also striving for improved education and gender equality.

Executive Director Luka Thel says “We are building a network of food champions. We put agriculture at the centre, because we know we can't overcome poverty or hunger until all our people have equal rights to food.” 

Midwife Textbooks for South Sudan

Written by Steve Blacket on Friday, 23 December 2016. Posted in Training Nurses and Midwives - South Sudan

We have just received the report that our shipment of midwife textbooks has been received at the Juba School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Midwife Textbooks for South Sudan

Thirty five copies of the “Myles Textbook for Midwives, African Edition” were delivered to the medical training centre and are the only textbooks for the one hundred enrolled midwife students.

Mr Vigilio Masen, who teaches Public Health at the school, confirmed the books had been delivered, but they still are lacking a qualified midwifery tutor.

Arrangements for the shipment of textbooks has been difficult as the country suffers the impact of ongoing civil war. The economy has collapsed and even basic services are barely functional. Travel to Juba is unsafe, and in these circumstances it is a great challenge for Fulcrum Aid personnel to facilitate further support for the training of desperately needed primary health workers.

Fulcrum Aid has committed to providing textbooks and training resources, and to explore the possibility of providing a qualified midwife tutor.  We are currently holding thousands of dollars worth of new and used medical textbooks that have been donated for the school and will arrange delivery when we are confident in the stability and functionality of the medical school.

We are grateful for the assistance of Mr Adub Achier in facilitating our negotiations with the school, to the Zonta Club of Noarlunga / Southern Vales and others for the financial support, and to Teaching Aids at Low Cost (TALC) for arranging supply and logistics of the textbooks.

Fulcrum Aid will continue to explore ways of supporting the school. Although the circumstances make this difficult, the need is greater than ever.

 

Announcing Two New Opportunities

Written by Steve Blacket on Wednesday, 12 October 2016. Posted in Fulcrum Aid News, Village Health Workers - Bangladesh

Providing basic health services in Bangladesh and South Sudan

Yirol Hospital, Eastern Lakes State, South Sudan.

The Directors of Fulcrum Aid are excited to announce support for two new projects that will provide basic health care for some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities. In Bangladesh Fulcrum Aid will sponsor the training of ten Village Health Workers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and in South Sudan Fulcrum Aid will support the development of primary health services in the newly formed state of Eastern Lakes.

The request to support the training of Village Health Workers in the Bandarban Hills of Bangladesh has come from a group of women who are concerned for the high number of women giving birth without access to skilled midwives. Basic training will be provided by doctors and midwives registered with the Ministry of Health, and will cost approximately $250 AUD per trainee. Fulcrum Aid is seeking ten individuals or groups willing to sponsor one trainee.

The second opportunity is the initiative of Athina (Athieng) Duot who has a vision to support the development of primary health care in her homeland of South Sudan. Athina is a Registered Nurse and is currently undertaking further medical qualifications. Yirol is the centre of the newly formed Eastern Lakes State in the central region of South Sudan and has minimal services and infrastructure. Athina’s vision is to support training of nurses and midwives, and to resource the development of basic health care systems.

Please contact Fulcrum Aid for more information or to register your interest in these two strategic opportunities.

Changing Attitudes and Changing Fortunes in Uganda

Written by Steve Blacket on Wednesday, 24 August 2016. Posted in Angatunyo Girls Project - Uganda

The Angatunyo Girls Project has provided twelve girls with an opportunity for ongoing education and financial independence, rather than being forced into unwanted marriages.

Changing Attitudes and Changing Fortunes in Uganda

Early this year Carol Akello used a modest grant from Fulcrum Aid to establish a micro-enterprise project designed to empower teenage girls with alternatives to forced marriage. She called the project “Angatanyo” which is the local word for lioness. Four teenage girls commenced training in business skills that would enable them to become financially self-sufficient – which is all it takes to avoid being forced into an early marriage.

Within a few months community leaders from Amuria approached Carol asking if she would accept other girls who were at risk of forced marriages, and even some who had already been forced into marriages. Despite her resources being stretched to the limit Carol has accepted an additional eight girls. 

Breaking Cycles of Poverty in Remote PNG

Written by Steve Blacket on Monday, 04 April 2016. Posted in Soil Child - Papua New Guinea

A bold vision is beginning to take shape for a comprehensive poverty reduction program in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Breaking Cycles of Poverty in Remote PNG

The Soil Child project is the initiative of Shila Phopo and aims to provide full access to primary education and basic health care, as well as development of agricultural practices that boost nutrition and the local economy.

Soil Child will commence in Pakura, in the highlands of PNG where Shila was raised, and is designed to be replicated throughout rural PNG. Little has changed in Pakura since Shila’s childhood, but recently the community has been mobilised to establish a basic pre-school, and building has commenced on two classrooms for the primary school. Fulcrum Aid is gathering resources to be sent to this and other primary schools throughout Hela Province. (Read our Blog to see the progress towards re-opening Pakura Primary School).

Academics and health professionals in Adelaide are collaborating with Fulcrum Aid to increase the capacity of the regional health system, with a focus initially on training and resourcing maternal health care workers. The project is to be implemented in partnership with Women In Development Foundation PNG, ensuring opportunities for the empowerment of women in a strongly patriarchal society.

The design of Soil Child is shaped by Shila’s Doctoral research through Flinders University exploring socio-cultural factors related to the development of a thriving society in rural PNG.

Would you like to know more? Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive regular updates on Soil Child.

 

Research and Dialogue for HIV+ Children

Written by Steve Blacket on Monday, 28 March 2016. Posted in HIV Affected Children - Bangladesh

A recent consultation in Dhaka has drawn together the key agencies working with HIV affected children in Bangladesh.

From left, Steve Blacket (Fulcrum Aid), Dr Md Anisur Rahman (NASP), Dr Ratu Saha (BYFC) & Dr Saima Khan (UNAIDS)

Bangladesh Youth First Concern (BYFC) initiated the consultation to guide the process of establishing a program for isolated HIV infected children in Bangladesh. The Chief Guest, Dr Md Anisur Rahman, representing the National AIDS/STD Plan, stressed the need for models of care based on best practice, and a coordinated strategy of all service providers.

The keynote presentation by Dr Saima Khan (Acting National Director of UNAIDS) provided current global and national data on HIV/AIDS. She noted that the global HIV infection rate of children fell by 58% from 2000 to 2014, with 32% accessing treatment - a significant improvement from just 14% in 2000. The prevalence of HIV infection remains low in Bangladesh with less than 0.1% of the population being HIV+. Amongst drug users who inject, the prevalence rises to 5.3% and other high risk sectors of the population include fly-in-fly-out workers. Dr Khan reported there were no recorded cases of mother-to-child infections in the past 12 months. The number of HIV+ children in Bangladesh remains low – currently estimated to be about 300 – however Dr Khan warned that these children face high risk of social isolation, stigma, deprivation from health care, education and basic needs such as food, shelter and emotional support. In several cases relatives had claimed the land belonging to children whose parents had died of AIDS.

Despite the risk of stigma and abuse Dr Khan strongly advised that children orphaned through HIV/AIDS should be cared for in their communities wherever possible. Ms Habiba Akter, the founding Director of Ashar Alo Society agreed, saying HIV+ children shouldn’t be given the “double trauma” of being taken from their communities, having already experienced severe losses. However she noted that declining resources were making their task increasingly difficult.

Dr Peter Halder and Mr Apurba Sarker presented the plan of BYFC to establish a program for isolated children infected with HIV who are not being catered for under current programs. Children who have fled or been driven from their communities face extreme risk and will be the highest priority for BYFC’s program. Fulcrum Aid is partnering with BYFC and will provide research, support in project design, advocacy and fundraising.

 

Photo: From left, Steve Blacket (Fulcrum Aid), Dr Md Anisur Rahman (NASP), Dr Ratu Saha (BYFC) & Dr Saima Khan (UNAIDS).

Bangladesh Conference for HIV Children’s Project

Written by Steve Blacket on Monday, 08 February 2016. Posted in HIV Affected Children - Bangladesh

Preparations are being made for a project providing holistic care for HIV affected children in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Conference for HIV Children’s Project

Bangladesh Youth First Concern (BYFC) will host a conference in Dhaka on February 22nd to consult with the key stakeholders, including UNICEF, WHO, UNAIDS, BRAC, Dhaka Medical College, about 20 local organisations involved in HIV, and Fulcrum Aid from Australia. It is hoped that the conference will map a strategy to establish the program that will ensure vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS have a safe home, plus access to education, medical treatment and psychological support.

Dr Peter Halder (pictured) Director of BYFC, reports it will be the only program of its kind in Bangladesh.

Fulcrum Aid has made a commitment to support the project and is working with staff from Flinders University and professionals from the Bangladesh community in Adelaide to provide research that will be used to design the model of care provided.

Dr Julie Robinson, Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Flinders University, has supplied initial research outlining best practice for nurturing the development and well being of disadvantaged children in developing countries.

Dr Shahid Ullah, Senior Biostatistician at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) says “Fulcrum Aid is a great milestone of working with adults and children from extreme inequality to alleviate their suffering and to improve their lives. As a Bangladeshi national, I am so delighted to see the Bangladesh project "HIV affected children - Bangladesh” and raised my sincere appreciation to those who have taken initiatives of working with vulnerable HIV children in Bangladesh. It is my great pleasure to become part of Fulcrum Aid and work for disadvantaged children and adults in Bangladesh and the world."

Joining Dr Shahid Ullah and Dr Julie Robinson on our research team are Asma Akther (PhD candidate in Developmental Psychology), Shila Phopo (Fulcrum Aid Project Manager and DrPH candidate) and Dr Lillian Mwanri, (Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Flinders University).

An Increase In Nursing And Midwifery Students

Written by Steve Blacket on Monday, 17 August 2015. Posted in Training Nurses and Midwives - South Sudan

A new intake has dramatically increased the number of students at the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Juba, South Sudan.

An Increase In Nursing And Midwifery Students

Principal James Lotto recently informed us the number of students has risen to 200, with 38 first year midwifery students joining the 18 who are in their second year, and a large intake of 114 new nursing students to supplement the 30 who have completed their first year of training.

The potential for 200 graduates to enter the public health system provides an opportunity to significantly boost health outcomes in the coming years. In addition to the dramatic increase in numbers, the high retention rate of the first intake of students is very encouraging, with 48 of the original 50 students continuing into their second year.

At the same time the high volume of students creates an increased workload for staff and tutors who were already under-resourced.

Fulcrum Aid is in the process of purchasing and sending 60 copies of the African Edition of Myles Textbook for Midwives. We have also received donations of reference books for the library valued at over $3000.

We express our great appreciation to the Zonta Club of Noarlunga / Southern Vales for their generous gift of $650 towards the cost of the midwife text books, and to the many generous individuals who have donated books or money.

If you would like to help provide trained nurses and midwives in South Sudan there is information here on how you can support this project.

 

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