*I visited Zambia, Africa through a United Nations Foundation fellowship.*
The Simonga Clinic outside of Livingstone, Zambia serves over 5,000 people within four zones. Made of cement, the clinic with three to four rooms has basic electricity and no real equipment. They do however have a vaccine fridge. While they provide wellness checkups and even deliver babies, immunizations are very important here.
During my trip there a couple of months ago, I was reminded how easy we have it here in the states. When it’s time for my children’s yearly checkup, I call and make an appointment, they get their shots, and that’s it. I am able to drive there. I don’t have to worry about a power outage ruining vaccines, preventing my child from receiving what’s necessary. Nor do I have to fight wild animals just to get to a clinic.
It’s not that easy in Zambia. Women prefer to come in groups as it’s usually a long walk and most men aren’t involved in the care of their children. This is typically the responsibility of the mother. Each day is grouped by check-ups and immunizations. I was amazed to hear some of the stories for the mothers here. Each day they go through great lengths to get their children the care they need.
The head nurse Mamakau ,seen above, has been working at the Simonga Clinic for four years but as a nurse for twenty. She’s a former member of the Red Cross and has always had a great love for helping people.She has two workers at the clinic but the clinic really would have trouble surviving without the help of community volunteers.
I had the opportunity, along with Martha Rebour (Director of Shot@Life), to interview two of the incredible moms that benefit from the services at the Simonga Clinic.
Helen with her 8 month old daughter, Bertina
Helen is 25 years old and has two girls named Lucky and Albertina. Living 18km away Helen must come early in the morning to avoid the elephants which aside from transportation is one of the biggest challenges in Zambia. Helen brought both of her girls to the Simonga Clinic for their immunizations. She told us “it is an important way for me to protect my children.”
She sees illness often within her village and recently witnessed two young children covered in chicken pox. She encouraged their mother to bring them to the clinic for treatment but due to distance it’s quite difficult for the children to travel while sick.
Lucky, age 3
Albertina, age 8 months
Like most mothers Helen has dreams for Lucky and Albertina. She says “I would like for Lucky to become a teacher and Albertina to become a nurse or even doctor!”
Petronella with her 3 year old daughter Victoria
Petronella is 35 years old with four children between the ages of three and fourteen. Thankfully she lives close to the clinic, so when one of her children suffered from asthma and chest problems she was able to get him treatment quickly. All of her children have been immunized. Petronella has dreams for her children too which include medicine, law, and education.
Victoria, age 3
These mothers understand the importance of immunizations for diseases and how they can save the lives of their children. For example, according to the World Health Organization from 2000 to 2015, measles vaccinations have prevented an estimated 20.3 million deaths. That’s an incredible amount!
This Holiday Season, I encourage you to consider donating to Shot@Life. YOU can help protect children like Victoria, Lucky, and Albertina.
Click here to make a donation today.