An update from the Montreal-Makete Initiative

Here's an Update on Highlands Hope:

A number of positive developments to report on the health front of the Makete project; Dr. Rainer Brandl and the director of his Austrian donor agency, Gottfried Mernyi, returned to Tanzania last week for a series of meetings in Dar es Salaam and a visit to Njombe and Bulongwa. Earlier today, they attended a very large gathering of more than 200 PIUMA members along with dozens of village elders and local municipal leaders all committed to re-establishing the HIV clinic in Bulongwa as a community-owned and operated project.

Planning is underway for the visit by four Highlands Hope staff and volunteers to Canada in August. Tanwat nursing leader Betty Liduke, Bulongwa HIV clinic manager Jackson Mbogela, Bulongwa HIV medical director Dr. Rainer Brandl and Highlands Hope volunteer Vicky Ntetema will be attending the AIDS 2006 Conference in Toronto from August 13 - 18 along with Dr. Roy Baskind from MUHC (MNI) and Dr. Norbert Gilmore from MUHC-McGill. They will then come to Montreal from August 19 - 27.

Dr. Alison Doucet from the Family Medicine group at the McGill Faculty of Medicine has joined in the planning for the August visit. Along with Dr. John Hughes and Dr. Martin Dawes, Alison is working with us to explore how the Family Medicine group can be involved in the McGill-MUHC partnership with Makete and Highlands Hope. Grand Rounds for the Tanzanian visitors are being planned during their visit along with special programming at the School of Nurses and the MNI as well.

James Hughes, Executive Director of the Old Brewery Mission, has also joined in the planning group for August. James is already in touch with Jackson Mbogela and will be welcoming him to the Mission for discussions on community-based social action and management of outreach services.

We have received generous donations to the McGill Nurses for Highlands Hope Fund from the elementary students of St. George's School ($2,400), from the SOS women's group at St. Lambert United Church (where a special fund-raising luncheon for Betty Liduke's visit raised $1,200), from James Hughes's squash tournament ($1,800), and from a number of individual patrons as well. Charitable receipts are available for any donations received. Supporting Betty's visit is the first commitment by the Fund as well as a contribution to Tanwat Hospital to allow the purchase of some laboratory equipment that will allow for more accurate monitoring of HIV patients, especially children.

We are very pleased to announce that Christina Clausen from the School of Nursing has confirmed that she will be traveling to Njombe and working at Tanwat Hospital with Betty Liduke this Fall. Christina has a great deal of experience in mother-child health issues and is a leader with the School of Nursing's new International Health option for M.Sc. students. We are looking for support to extend Christina's time in Tanzania to allow her to accomplish more in establishing the foundations of a long-term partnership involving nurses and nursing education here in Montreal and in Makete.

Royal Orr will be returning to Tanzania on June 28th for two weeks to visit the Highlands Hope hospitals and clinics. He has been asked to write an article for The Toronto Star as a background piece for further coverage of the Tanzanians' visit to Toronto and Montreal in August. Royal will meet with PIUMA leaders to so some communications planning and will visit a neighboring district along Lake Nyasa that is currently unserved by HIV treatment programmes. He will also return to Utengule, a village where the Montreal-Makete initiative is supporting recreation and education programming for children, especially orphans and other young people made vulnerable by the HIV pandemic.

The IT project continues with plans for direct Makete-Montreal discussions in early July.