Dear fhn supporters,
Welcome to 2018, we hope it will be a peaceful and healthy year for all.
fhn has a lot going on this year…
I am very happy to say that Martin (and his wife Anna and Son Jonathon) are all in Ghana for several months. Martin is the former crazy German I started all this with back in 2001. He is going to assist on the medical side and his wife as a psychologist is going to explore and start to treat the various hidden mental health issues from the region. Mental health issues are exclusively hidden unless your clinical signs are florid and your family cannot hide you. In our region of over 5 million people there are 2 psychiatrists! This is unfortunately echoed throughout most of the developing world. Therefore, Anna is going to make a start and more importantly going to teach our health promoters.
I have attached a photo of a recent graduation. It is special to us since it is Afriyie graduating from midwife school. She has been with fhn as a midwife assistant, since 2006 and did not have the grades to go to University. Over may years and lots of study with our various volunteers, she made the grades and has just finished three years away from the clinic. We are so happy to have her back and of course she is so thankful for your sponsorship to allow her to further her life.
We really need fresh water in a few of the communities and we are pushing on with that this year. Each borehole is £3000, so if anyone wants a challenge or a fundraising goal, here is one…
As in Ghana, fhn supports the provision of quality health care in rural Ecuador where the organization, together with the Ministry of Health of Ecuador and a local health committee, runs a primary health care centre and community health services in the rainforest since 2001.
2017 was a pretty amazing year in terms of collaborative working with the government, since they seconded three new medical doctors and two nurses to us. They joined the team there already of a nurse, a midwife and dentist - replacing Dr Rafael Centeno and nurse Karin Zambrano after their successful one-year duty at the health centre. As you can see, it has come a long way since Martin and I started working there in 2001!
The new team will continue to ensure that the health centre is fully staffed 24/7 and that home visits to the approximately 30 surrounding communities are ongoing. Some of these villages are located more than 7 hours walking distance away from the health centre - unfortunately leading to a serious lack of access to health care. This equates to some inhabitants not receiving any medical care in months or years. We are trying to fix this.
At the health centre, the tradition of monthly meet-ups continues with different themes to treat different ailments ie one month will focus on hypertension, another on diabetes or pregnancy. This year, more focus will be put on public health initiatives. These include promoting the use of water filters and educating community health workers.
We are looking for public health volunteers for Ecuador if anyone is skilled/interested…
I am very sad to announce the death of our laboratory technician, Guido Tomala.
Guido typified what fhn is about. Local boy from local village who showed so much energy and enthusiasm to better himself. He was trained and worked in the lab since 2004. But Guido was much more than that. He was the heart of the health centre and helped everyone who needed it, and did it all with a huge smile. Like so many young men, he had a car accident and died from complications. We will miss him terribly.
Last year, fhn finally took the plunge and officially started to collaborate with our Swedish friends who have been requesting our assistance for years with their Nepalese project. We are now active in the continued development of a primary health care centre in rural Nepal. We are going to start by supporting the education of local nurses, in line with our long term goals. While the construction of the health centre is underway, our first nursing student started her education in the end of 2017 at the Kathmandu Medical College. fhn finances her 4-year education which amounts to approximately £10,000 USD. We have learnt from all our work/mistakes since 2001, and are really looking forward to making a difference with sustainable community development projects in Nepal, to mirror Ecuador and Ghana.
There are loads of charities to support so thanks for continuing to support fhn.
As you know we have no overheads, and are run by volunteers in Germany and UK, and give all fundraised money to the projects.
Ed and Sophie and Nick and Nadia and Paul and Sena and Maria
The Eckhardt's, consisting of Martin (co-founder of FHN), Anna and their son Jonathan, 4 years old, are currently living and working as volunteers at Huttel Health Centre in Boamadumase, Ghana.
Martin is a GP and consultant in emergency medicine and helps out with complicated patient cases and training the staff. Martin has extensive experience from health care in rural Ecuador and has been to Ghana and the region before, where he took part in the process of integrating Huttel Health Centre into FHN. Anna is a clinical psychologist and the first volunteer to carry out work on mental health in the project area. She is training the local staff and community health workers on mental health. The focus is on how to identify cases, do a first assessment, basic treatment and establish routines for referral when needed. She is also conducting a baseline on what problems there are in the region and health seeking behaviour. In that quest she is also meeting traditional medicine men. Anna has previously worked in Costa Rica, Haiti and Ecuador. Jonathan is enjoying his days with playing, discovering nature and connecting to local kids.
Beside the medical and psychological work, the family also works with fundraising for five boreholes in the neighbouring villages. The situation is urgent, with no functioning water sources in those communities. Instead people fetch water from rivers and ponds, water of very poor quality. There are kilometres to walk to fetch this water and in most cases children, aged 5-12 years do this heavy work in the early mornings. After that they are too exhausted to attend school. Lacking water security thus underpins much development work. Until now two boreholes have been financed and drilling is planned to begin within the upcoming weeks. A regional company specialised on boreholes will carry out this task. They have successfully drilled one such hole for FHN 3 years ago, which is still fully functioning. As soon as there are funds for the other 3 boreholes, the work will be continued.
Any donation to the water project in the Boamadumase area would obviously be very gratefully received!
You can follow the progress of the water project here on our website.
Dear fhn supporters,
I have recently returned from Ghana and therefore wanted to write to everyone who makes all our work possible: THANK YOU so much for your continued support.
There has also been a large international meeting in Sweden in the last few weeks, where the charity looked at its direction as there is a strong possibility of assisting in Nepal: I will write more about this in the coming weeks.
Gosh… what a Ghana trip. Africa in a nutshell: all the joys, the frustrations, personalities and death. Where to start…
We are continuing our training ethos to send our staff to universities for higher training. These mainly consist of young men and women who have worked with us for several years and ‘earnt’ their right to formalise their higher education. It goes without saying that without your/fhn’s support it would only be a dream to afford to pay for several years of university. In this way we are forming a little production line of trained local women/men. I would like them all to work for fhn for the foreseeable future but we are not draconian in our ethos. Once trained they can choose where they wish to work. As long as they stay in Ghana, we are developing the country …
Whilst this cohort are away we need new members of staff: so we welcome Esther, our new nurse from the Volta Region, and our new medical assistant McJordan.
African village politics continue to amaze/delight/confuse in equal measures. We have been incurring issues with our local chief for many years and things are coming to a head. We were made aware recently about a palm plantation that has been adjacent to the clinic for many years. It is not small and will have revenue of a few thousand pounds a year. Unbeknown to us, it was bequeathed from the big paramount chief to Mrs Huttel in order for the proceeds to be given to the running of the clinic etc. It has been chopped by the local chief for many years and gone directly into his bank account. We need this back.There are set procedures for disciplining chiefs and we have to follow procedure. It is fascinating on one hand but very frustrating on the other.
Ashante culture is fairly unique in the matriarchal land rights therefore our first point of call was with the queen mother who inaugurated the health centre back in the 1990s with Mrs Huttel. It was beautiful and so sad at the same time, to see all the photos of Mrs Huttel in her prime dressed like an Ashante Queen.
We will keep
on pursuing this invaluable source of income until its conclusion.
Ghana is supposed to have universal health coverage but we have had so many problems with their health insurance. Firstly, they would not register us as a clinic, then they would not pay us back for our charges, etc. Very tricky all round when you are supplying health to very poor farmers…
However, after many years of hard work we have managed to get full registration!!! Well done David, our Ghana coordinator for making this a reality.
Next step is convincing the health insurance people that we really are registered and then getting paid for the health care we provide.If we get all the money we are supposed to, it could pay over 50% of all our costs, enabling us to expand our projects and help even more people. Bit early to mention the phrases ‘independence from UK money’, or ‘complete financial sustainability’, but we are expectant.
Our community development continues. It has to be done in the right way or it is easy to unknowingly prejudice a community.
We have already sunk several bore holes in the communities but many are without fresh water and drink from muddy streams. Several villages are a few miles walk from water. This is a job for the youngest of the family, who get up at dawn to walk a long way to fetch water. They are physically exhausted on return, hence this cohort of kids never go to school. We are looking at sinking 3 more bore holes this year.Our work with schools is ongoing. We have to be very sensitive here to make sure all communities agree before we get stuck in! We are helping existing schools with their run down buildings and then will top up the teachers’ salary. Since their salary is a product of the kid’s school fees which works out as very low. Average monthly take home is £40…
We are very fortunate to have a rather unusual MP. What I mean by that, is that she is a lady, and she is really interested in developing her region rather than making as much money as possible!
We have met several times over a period of years and I trust her. She is very aware we are essentially doing the government’s work for them, and she wants to help. So I am currently writing proposals for school coverage for the region.
A huge thank
you to Cindy (fhn Ecuador 2001 volunteer) and her dad Mike for funding our new
solar panels at the clinic. There was a large storm a few months ago which blew
the panels off the roof, fracturing them. Without their incredible donation we
would be without light and fans and fridges for the clinic.
After all the wonderful work we got through, the last 48 hours were particularly grim. My best friend (and drum teacher’s) wife, who had no health problems, died suddenly. One minute she was fine, then she was unconscious, and never recovered.
Not that I needed reminding how short and precarious life is… but I suppose the difference in Ghana is that there will be unanswered questions.
True to life in the village, 24 hours later, friends and loved ones were encouraging him to ‘get himself together’ and no more tears…
So once again thank you for all your hard earned cash that you give to us so generously. I hope you are happy with what we are doing with it.
If you would like to do more, or pay for a particular project, then check out the shortlist below:
- One bore hole is £2000
- A roof for a school is £1000
- University fees for one year are £1000
- Rural doctor salary is £400 per month
- Midwife salary is £200 per month
It has been a while since any of our supporters did a stupid/crazy/endurance/marathon/sponsored event for fhn. If anyone is thinking of doing something, please do!!! Get inspired here www.justgiving.com/foundationhumannature
I will write again about the international meeting in Sweden in the coming weeks…
Many thanks from fhn UK team,
Ed and Sophie and Maria and Paul and Nadia and Nick and Sena
Our 2016 Review & Challenges for 2017
Happy Xmas/Chanukah/Diwali, etc, to one and all and best wishes for a
happy and fulfilled 2017…
Welcome to fhn UK’s winter news, on the auspicious 15th anniversary of foundation human nature.
Many thanks to everyone for their loyal and continued support of the work that we do in Ecuador and Ghana.
We work very hard to make sure all your donations go to where they should do and we are aware that there are many other worthwhile causes to support - we thank you for supporting our work.
2016 has been another interesting year punctuated by successes and the usual village politics. Elections in Ghana have taken place recently and things are ‘hotting’ up. The rural vote is particularly important and thus impacts on our
Thanks to a German donation in 2006, we were able to power our health
centre with solar energy. The batteries and panels have come to the end of
their life and have been replaced. Furthermore, our large accommodation
extension also needed power and that is also now powered by the sun. This
includes some luxuries such as fans in every room and the occasional fridge! We
are now looking at smaller solar alternatives for the communities such as solar
2017 is going to be the year of schools and water. An Australian ex-doctor volunteer Claire made massive inroads into our water issue. There are still several communities that use contaminated streamwater for drinking use and even this is threatened in the dry season. Plus children are unable to go to school if their parents need to send them out to collect water from several miles away. Clare has made some strong links with various rotary clubs and we will look at those links to carry on with our water coverage.
Our school provision has been very stop start, after we carried out a census in 2006 which showed poor attendance by teachers and pupils, poor grades and literacy, etc. We have been focused on other areas of development until now and there are several options for improving the situation. fhn does not like to build new structures from scratch, but would rather support those already in place. Some of these schools are falling to pieces and may need some investment.
The two subsequent actions are to make sure that the teachers who are paid (if they get paid) an almost token government salary go to work to teach. fhn may need to top their salaries up. Secondly, use our community health volunteers as local ‘muscle’ and make sure the kids attend. With that recipe in place we will start to improve the poor education in the region and hope in a few years many of the kids may be able to attend higher education, so they can be like David, our wonderful co-ordinator!
David got married earlier in the year which was an incredible experience to attend the sweaty ceremonies with Sena and Nadia. We are not quite sure what happened (!), but in a few weeks David and Portia are expecting their first child, and I am very much looking forward to returning to Ghana to help with the celebrations.
Our midwife is a little old and we are lacking someone with energy who can not only provide a good 24/7 service at the health centre with deliveries/antenatal/contraception, but is also fit enough to go into the communities and do mother/baby checks. We sent Efriyie to school almost 3 years ago and she is due to return this year. We cannot wait to have such a vital and strong person back at the clinic, especially since Mabel has been sent to nursing college paid for by fhn.
Our health services are improving with the employment of a full time, 24/7 medical assistant. We still cannot provide surgical procedures at the clinic therefore a medical assistant is what we need. A doctor gives you the option of caesarean sections or appendectomies which we can currently easily refer to the local hospital. Therefore, for now, we will remain a clinic, not a hospital!
The village politics go on unabated. Mostly led by our unhelpful local chief who sees this whole community health
development as a game to try and position himself in a more powerful role. This has not changed and we are used to this.
Our illustrious ex-nurse volunteer Maria is back from her year of traveling with her husband and has thrown herself into her fhn work. Please check out one of the things she has done by looking at our new look website f-h-n.org. Great to have you back Maria.
supporting, editing, emailing, listening etc. Basically everything that was ever asked of him over the last 15 years, for free. It is impossible to thank him enough for all his charitable work, and he is not leaving but going to be stepping down a little bit. So you will now be getting emails/reminders from Maria instead. Thank you Paul so much from everyone
involved, we would not be here without your help.
And finally, after 15 years and much deliberation, we are thinking about
another project. We have had links with some Nepali clinics for a while and are
seriously looking at options at assisting. This is largely due to the fact that
fhn Ecuador runs semi-autonomously and also that we have the experience and
expertise to help.
Seasons greetings from fhn UK
Ed, Paul, Sophie, Sena, Ana, Nadia and Nick
Old set of solar panels are faulty
Thanks to their London to Lisbon cycle ride 2 years ago, our NGO members Maria, Nadia and some friends raised almost 7000£ to install more solar power at our clinic and staff's accommodation area. The so called Ride for Ashanti.
Since then, we've had free energy and finally no power outages. Obviously keeping vaccinations and other medicines at the right temperature is crucial, and giving birth with a proper light source (not a torch!) is a safer experience for both patients and medical staff. Also having cooling fans on the wards is also much better for patients suffering from fever.
The newer equipment continues providing efficient lightingt! However, the older set of panels, the first ever installed, got faulty. So we need 6 new panels (300€/panel). Do you want to see the continuity of this (solar) energy?
Donate what you can, here!
Our jamboree has been one of our most successful Fundraising Events! We gathered approximately 150 people for a night of live music, magic, dancing and a photography exhibition. Delicious food, drinks and a cosy garden were available at The Russet. Thanks to the generosity of our guests, our friends who volunteered and all the astonishing performers, over £1200 were fundraised to go straight to medical supplies and training of the staff at our clinic in rural Ashanti/Ghana.
New water bore in Boamadumase
Claire is one of our FHN previous medical volunteers. She has been developing, with incredible persistence, a water project to install more water pumps in the 8 villages covered by our clinic. Here's the result (Facebook > Menu > Videos)!
Fundraising project Ride for Ashanti
16/9/2014 to 11/10/2014
Two of our volunteers cycled 2400 km's from London to Lisbon, to fundraise for new solar power devices at our medical center in Ghana. The £7000 were also enough to pay for the training of one of our local staff. FHN, in the name of the population of Ashanti/Ghana, is truly thankful to all the family, friends and donors involved in this project.
Articles London School Hygiene and Tropical Medicine / Green Savers / Bike Magazine
TV Portuguese News Channel / Portuguese News video