This article was written about an inspirational Ottawa doctor and the dynamic NGO he had founded, for which I had volunteered in Tanzania. Seven years later, I’m honoured to be working with the Canada Africa Community Health Alliance (CACHA) again, which makes it a nice time to reprint this.
Here is a slice of the CACHA story:
The full article is at the link above, an excerpt is below:
KILEMA, Tanzania – The Tanzanian foothills below Mount Kilimanjaro are alive, green with banana and avocado trees, flowing with streams and waterfalls. Even the wet red clay seems as flesh. It’s a vision of life juxtaposed with the stench of death, the sickly sweet tropical smell of rotting leaves and fruit. Hidden in this jungle Eden is a dense maze of shacks connected by footpaths and a population plagued with a 20-per-cent HIV infection rate — on top of malaria, malnutrition, tuberculosis and dysentery.
These hills are a front line in the battle against AIDS in Africa, and an Ottawa group is an active combatant, providing funds, equipment, volunteers and a lifeline to the outside world.
CACHA, the Canada Africa Community Health Alliance, has been supporting this community through Kilema Hospital, the health centre for this rural district. With CACHA’s help, food and clothing are reaching orphans in the surrounding villages and an Internet connection provides hospital staff, many of whom have never used a computer before, with a link to the West.
This summer, a Canadian shipping container arrived with used hospital beds, operating tables, an ultrasound, a portable
X-ray, anesthesia machines, books, clothing — village children can be seen in NHL jerseys — and much more. A modern HIV centre is being built at the hospital, just below the livestock pens and the nun’s residence with the satellite dish on the roof.
In its five years of existence, CACHA has sent well over $2 million in medical equipment to African hospitals and organizations. Their medical caravans, which partner Canadian volunteers with doctors in Gabon, Benin, and Tanzania, have seen tens of thousands of patients.