Health is a human right
Education and health are inextricably linked, because illness is a major barrier to academic success. If a child is sick, her concentration is impaired, which could result in her failing to perform to her fullest potential. Accounting for all the factors that affect education, Universal Promise designed the UP Health Education Initiative.
In partnership with the Addo Clinic and MDF Instruments, Universal Promise volunteer teams engaged in three visits to underserved communities in Addo. The doctor, nurse practitioners, and local health workers were welcomed into homes where they administered physical exams, including the measurement of blood pressure, weight, temperature, and blood sugar. They also screened for HIV, tuberculosis, breast cancer, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health, and medication adherence. By insisting on this private arrangement, and not a public forum in the community center, this unprecedented model eliminated the embarrassment and shame that comes with health issues, provided residents with a better understanding of disease, shed light on the treatment they should expect to receive, and discussed how to respond when treatment falls below expectations. To augment the medical visits, the medical team held health education sessions at the community center on nutrition and exercise, family planning, sexual health, childcare, and hygiene. Each day the crowd was so big that we had to hold the teaching sessions outside. Without exaggeration, these three initiatives did save and will continue to save lives.
All of the above was transformative, but what about sustainability? That goal is at the heart of all our projects, which is why education is our primary focus: education is synonymous with sustainability. So we did not rest until we - in conjunction with local medical personnel and residents - converted our home visits to permanent change by a) designing a medical pamphlet for distribution to each of the thousands of homes in Nomathamsanqa and b) completely renovating the Addo clinic, which serves thousands of residents in Nomathamsanqa, Valencia, Langbos, and nearby farms.
The Medical Pamphlet
UP drafted and funded a pamphlet that contains vital information about health, including the importance of check-ups and medicine compliance, what constitutes a healthy diet, disease prevention, symptoms, and treatment, the ramifications of drug and alcohol abuse, personal safety, stress management, and emergency numbers. We then sent off a full draft to South African medical personnel for their invaluable feedback (which was readily incorporated) and their stamp of approval.
After reading the document, a highly respected lifelong nurse said, "Your team will always be welcome in our facilities and the communities of Addo. I sincerely support the suggestion of a booklet with vital information that will assist everyone who [is] in doubt to show [them] where to go for assistance. Well done. This is very important information."
We then secured the services of Siyabulela, UP's first university graduate, who was born and raised in Nomathamsanqa and received his honors degree in Social Work at Nelson Mandela University. He agreed to translate the document from English to Xhosa so that we, in the spirit of education for all, could make the pamphlet available to every single citizen in Nomathamsanqa via schools and clinics. Overnight, the impact spread from neighborhoods positively affected by our door-to-door visits to an entire community positively affected by widespread education. That is sustainability.
Addo Clinic Renovation
Learning about proper healthcare is one thing, but having access to excellent treatment is quite another. For that reason, UP reached out to Addo Clinic Nurse Jenny Rudman, who responded to our request for a dream list for renovations. We launched a CrowdRise campaign and, in short order, UP's amazing donors raised enough funds to double the size of the Addo Clinic pharmacy, renovate and double the size of the waiting room, construct a shaded waiting space outside, build a waiting room for the new dental office, and more. As a result of this initiative, we dramatically expanded our impact on the Addo community by enriching the medical experience of thousands of residents from Nomathamsanqa, Valencia, Langbos, and the local farms. No one said it better than Nurse Jenny:
I still have to pinch myself. I will always remember how Universal Promise made the impossible a success. Thank you to your donors, who so willingly took on this challenge. From the moment the first brick fell until the final days of construction, I went through so many emotions of gratitude. What a pleasure to see our patients enjoying the open space, shaded area, and wheelchair ramp to enter the clinic. I wish I knew stronger words than "thank you" to express our deep appreciation of Universal Promise.