Kindwitwi Leprosy Care Centre is at the heart of our work in Tanzania.
Kindwitwi is now a thriving village. The centre plays a vital role in leprosy awareness and education, as well as in the treatment and eradication of leprosy in the Rufiji district of Tanzania.
We help support the employment of a small team of 20 who work for the care and cure of leprosy patients in the hamlet of Kindwitwi.
Support for this work includes:
– an office
– a ward to care for long-term patients
– a clinic and dispensary
– a workshop
– and a kindergarten.
Kindwitwi is home to people affected by leprosy who, as a result of their previous illness, are unable to care for themselves at home. Each resident has their own simple and private room and as part of funding from KLCCDA all their meals are provided. Often people who have been affected by leprosy have severe scar tissue which must be is treated each day. The ward is situated in the heart of Kindwitwi Village, just behind the tree where Village meetings take place, so the residents are still a part of the community and are able to participate in daily village life.
The Polack Dispensary
The Polack Dispensary is a large building situated in the centre of the Village. This building was constructed by the staff and students of the International School of Tanganyika (IST), under the auspices of Mike Maybury, William Powell and Charlie Woolman. It was named after Ernest Polack, the first principal of the Upper School. Initially, the Dispensary was primarily dispensing the drugs used to treat leprosy. Over the years, it has grown in size, now treats many other ailments and features a Mother and Baby Clinic. Medicines are free and many people come from the surrounding areas to be treated. The Tanzanian government, with whom the Care Centre cooperates closely, provides the drugs and funds some of the dispensary health-care workers.
The Outreach Programme
Much of Kindwitwi Leprosy Care Centre’s work takes place through Outreach Safaris where staff travel into the surrounding area to find and assist people living with leprosy. At least four Outreach Safaris are made each year, some as far afield as the Rufiji river delta on the Indian Ocean coast. The staff involved include:
– The scout to go ahead to secure the help of the Village Headman
– The medical staff to diagnose leprosy and decide what treatment is best (choice of drugs, treatment location and whether the person will need to come for more specialised treatment). Medical staff also educate and advise local health care staff how best to recognise, manage and treat their patients in their villages
– The shoemaker to make individual protective shoes and gloves and to measure up for prostheses.
The Centre and Outreach staff also organise:
– Traditional Healer Sessions:
Healers work alongside staff to persuade people to come forward for treatment. In 2007 two of the newly-found leprosy cases were detected by Traditional Healers who directed them to the Outreach Team for treatment. This is a big culture change and has been achieved by sharing knowledge and best practice through education sessions organised.
– World Leprosy Day:
This happens every January with staff organising a weekend of celebrations in a village in the Rufiji area. This involves local schools competing through drama, songs and poetry for the most effective message on a particular aspect of leprosy education. An important Guest of Honour is invited to distribute prizes and the celebration ends with a ‘ngoma’ – a party.
The region around Kindwitwi is predominantly one of subsistence agriculture. Successful agriculture is the key to life in Kindwitwi. Everyone, including the Centre employees, has a shamba of land on which to grow food. One area of shambas is near to the Rufiji River and is subject to early morning mists. Here you can see a raised platform, where farmers can stay overnight to scare off wild animals and, occasionally, take refuge when the river overflows.
Kindwitwi has the only pre-school kindergarten in the whole district, and is currently expanding thanks to donations from the International School of Tanganyika. It is staffed by two teachers whose training was paid for by RLT. All Kindwitwi children then progress to primary education at schools in the neighbouring villages of Nyanda or Katundu
RLT pays the school fees for the secondary education of any Kindwitwi child who passes their primary education and thus qualifies for secondary education. Currently, most of these children go to Utete Secondary School. In 2007 RLT offered to pay for three students from any one year to attend secondary school from the surrounding schools of Nyanda and Katundu. These students are selected by the Kindwitwi Development Agency.