In June 2016 Helmut was asked to be part of a volunteer team at Ifunda Mission in Tanzania. Helmut had been asked to take a series of photographs documenting the work of the Ifunda Health Centre, which was founded by a German couple, Horst and Monika Blaser. The tiny hospital which was set up over the last 18 years, relies on donations and the help of local medical staff as well as surgical teams from Germany, who give their annual leave to work
there.He took photos of children who had surgery from cleft palate to rickets and burns etc.
It was all too common for the staff at Ifunda to treat children with appalling burns. One was a young man, Lazaro, whose brother had been killed in the same fire, and whose untreated injuries needed urgent surgical intervention. Another was a four year old called Sarah, who had fallen into an open fire in her home. After a gruelling journey on foot and by bus Sarah had arrived at a local hospital – but that wasn't the end of her troubles, because of a lack of staff and funding. Sarah spent a month at the hospital without so much as an aspirin.
By the time she reached Ifunda, Sarah’s hand had retracted onto her wrist and her arm was stuck to the side of her body. She was relatively lucky, after five hours in the operating theatre she regained use of both her arm and hand, though she lost a finger. Unfortunately Sarah’s case is in no way unique.
The cause lies in the construction method and layout of homes; a very small area with an open fire in the middle and no chimney. The fire’s essential for cooking as well as night-time warmth in the high altitudes, but when a family lives and sleeps around an open fire, accidents are inevitable. The consequences can be devastating large scale scarring and disability, or even death.
While there, we got to understand the magnitude of horror and suffering of these children and although we can’t help it all, we decided, we could help in a small way.
We set up the Tanzania Fire Children Trust to raise funds for the building of clay stoves for dwellings. Each has a chimney, is built out of local material by tradesman and costs around $130 NZD.
The money we raise will go directly to Ifunda Mission to be used for the building of these clay stoves. It will also be used to assist parents to get medical help and transport to this remote hospital for ongoing treatment, schooling and food the for the fire children like Sarah.
If you can help in a small way, that would be wonderful, the account is ASB 12-3145-280721-00.
The money will be deposited into this account run by us, and then transferred to Eusebio, who is in charge for Ifunda Mission. It is all documented and controlled by us. All administration will be free of charges at both ends, ensuring that every dollar will go directly to the Fire Children Trust.
Thank you so much for your support!