Rufiji Leprosy Trust is a charitable trust supporting the Kindwitwi Leprosy Care Centre in the Rufiji area of Tanzania.
The care centre assists in:
~ finding and treating people living with leprosy in the Rufiji area
~ supporting people all people affected by leprosy throughout the Rufiji area
~ promoting self-sufficiency of people living with leprosy and their families.
As leprosy is curable, many think the disease is no longer a problem, however it is listed as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) by the World Health Organisation, which means it is especially common in some of the world’s poorest areas.
The Trust prides itself on being totally managed by volunteer Trustees; the only paid employees are those who carry out the Trust’s work in Tanzania.
Last year, we funded a training course for health workers in the outlying districts to enable them to recognise and treat leprosy.
However, our outreach work goes beyond this. When health workers go to villages where people who have had leprosy are living with their families, they also work on preventing disability.
Known as 'Prevention of Disability' (PoD) visits, the health visitor reminds people to wear sunglasses to reduce the risk of cataract and eye infections (if the nerve which supplies the eyelid is affected, some people who are living with leprosy are not able to blink so this puts them more at risk of infection ).
People are also taught skin care for their hands and feet to reduce the risk of ulcers, and are given apposite shoes to help with any disability.
Health visitors also advise on basic safety measures such as always wearing shoes and using a cloth to lift pans from the cooking stove as they will not feel it's hot - this reduces the risk of burns and further hand injury.
Earlier this year, PoD visits were carried out on two routes of Muhoro and Bungu where 46 patients were seen.
Also, earlier this year five new cases of leprosy were diagnosed, and two people had relapses. Our shoemaker made 26 pairs of shoes and five pairs were repaired.
We were delighted to hear supervision was given in health facilities in Ndundu nyikanza, Kilimani, Kibiti, Bungu and Jaribu Mpakani.Click to read full story
We were very sad to hear the passing of one of Kindwitwi’s much loved and oldest residents, Mzee Mkambakamba last month. Mkambakamba was 80 years old (we think) when he died, and had been living in Kindwitwi for over 50 years.
He was originally from Mohoroa, and came to Kindwitwi when he was diagnosed with leprosy, leaving behind his wife, friends and family.
In Kindwitwi, he became a valuable and much loved member of the community, living a very full and happy life. Mkambakamba married again and has two daughters, although his second wife, who also lived with leprosy, died a while ago.
We really encourage people living with leprosy to support themselves in some way. Many in Kindwitwi sell chickens and produce from their shambas (fields). However, Mkambakamba was a talented weaver and earned money selling brushes, mats and also rope for beds.
Although he sold his products mainly in Kindwitwi and the nearby Utete, visitors to the village would also buy them, so some have apparently made their way to Dar es Salaam!
Mkambakamba was also a keen fisherman and regularly went out fishing with friends until his health deteriorated due to old age.
Kindwitwi will miss Mkambakamba's big smile, sense of humour and playing ‘Bao’, a rather complicated Tanzanian board game.
Our thoughts are with his friends and family and the whole village at this time.Click to read full story
People living with leprosy experience numbness and as a result they need specially made footwear to protect their limbs from becoming damaged. Even so, many have disabilities as a result of late diagnosis and infections.
Until tailor-made shoes can be made with 3D printing, our specially trained orthopaedic shoemaker, Salum Kipoloya, is kept busy making shoes from scratch - using leather, glue, thread, speed rivets and buckles.
The individual protective custom-made footwear he makes is essential to help people living with leprosy not only maintain their ability to walk but to go about their daily lives, working, socialising and living independent lives.
As well as making shoes for people living in Kindwitwi, Salum visits many of the surrounding villages such as Mloka and Mohoro.
“It always gives me pleasure to visit someone like Tatu (pictured left) who is able to work her own shamba (field) and grow her own rice … and I know that it’s only because her leprosy has been properly treated and she has been given protective clothing that she is able to have any independence at all,” says Salum.
Salum often makes over 40 shoes each quarter, with each pair of shoes costing just £5.
Our thanks goes to National TB and Leprosy Programme for providing the materials for more shoes earlier this year.
Click here if you would like to buy a pair of shoes for someone living with leprosy, or text HAND43 £5 to 70070 to donate £5.Click to read full story