My blood donation to the AfriKids Medical Centre

Back in 2012, AfriKids established a blood bank at the AfriKids Medical Centre. Two years later this service is literally saving and transforming lives. In order to do this it relies on local and visiting blood donors. Our UK fundraiser Ama Atteen recently visited the centre and gave blood. Here she tells why she decided to donate and what it will mean to the patients at the centre.

 

 

I’ve been working at AfriKids (UK) for four years and have had the pleasure of seeing the AfriKids Medical Centre go from strength to strength. Back in June I went out to Ghana for my fourth trip. This time I decided to do something I’ve never done before, in the UK or in Ghana – I decided to give blood.

 

The reason I’ve never given before is really quite pathetic. Like many people, I don’t like needles. However after spending time with Bismark, the manager of the laboratory at the AfriKids Medical Centre, I was totally struck by the challenges they face in getting blood donors.  While the team in Ghana have done really well, managing to increase the number of donors in 2013 following a radio advertisement (something they now do regularly),  they predominantly rely on donations from patients’ relatives  and AfriKids Ghana’s staff.

 

On average the AfriKids Medical Centre receives nine donations of blood per month. Most of the recipients tend to be children because they are more susceptible to tropical diseases like malaria, deteriorate faster and are therefore more likely to need a blood transfusion than adults. One of the more common reasons a patient will need a blood transfusion is malaria that has led to further life threatening complications, like anaemia. Malaria remains the most commonly treated condition at the AfriKids Medical Centre.

 

It was really simple to make the donation. They took a sample to screen my blood, I came back an hour later after visiting other departments in the centre and was told I could donate. Bismark and Ramatu, his colleague, were really excited because I have one of the rarer blood groups – O negative. This apparently means I am a universal donor and my blood can be given to almost anyone regardless of their blood group. However people that are O negative can only receive the exact same match for blood transfusions – essentially should I need blood I can only be given O Negative. This blood group is so rare, so the team at the Medical Centre have a list of potential O Negative donors  in the area that they can call on for instances where O Negative patients require a transfusion.

 

The actual process of making the donation took about 20 minutes, and then I had to rest for a while after. Every donor is given a sweet malt drink straight after which helps with the process of boosting bloods cells and energy levels. I was also given a chocolate drink and a can of carnation milk for the following  morning.

 

I gave 200mls of blood, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s enough to provide life-saving treatment for two infants under the age of two. In fact, while I was there they told me about a baby boy who was critically sick with malaria and as a result had developed anaemia so would potentially need blood. I don’t know whether he required a blood transfusion in the end and if so whether he received my donation. What I do know is that someone will receive my blood who needs it and that’s a good feeling.

 

Find out more about The AfriKids Medical Centre here, and donate (cash, not blood) here

 

GUEST POST – An internship at AfriKids

AfriKids’ Fundraising and Operations Intern Danielle Skidmore writes about why she decided to take on an internship with AfriKids and what she’s getting out of it. 

 

 

I came to do my internship with AfriKids primarily due to my respect for the organisation; but also because of the extensive work that is done to help children living on the streets into education.

 

Street children. The sight of these two words together in their unholy matrimony is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine. Yet this is a reality for people living in the Upper East Region (UER) of Ghana where children living on the streets are sadly not uncommon. The Ghana national average of people living in poverty is 52%, however the figure for the UER is 88% – a north-south disparity that the national average hides.

 

The plight of street children is one of the reasons I chose AfriKids to do my internship. The organisation seeks out these children with nowhere to call home and brings them into its loving, caring environment. I have always been an advocator of charities focusing their efforts on small parts of the world in order for beneficiaries to really reap the benefits. AfriKids takes time to work out the root causes of the problem, and then endeavours to fix it. They treat each child differently, each being given a tailored package of care made for their needs precisely. AfriKids works with families, schools and communities in order to communicate its message with the people; ensuring the most individuals and families possible can benefit from its different projects.

 

The one thing I really admire about the organisation is its locally led, grassroots approach. The team in Ghana create the projects based on local needs, as who knows these needs better than the locals? Everybody working in AfriKids Ghana is from the surrounding area and has grown up in the communities that they are now working with. This to me is essential in gaining the trust of the street children; some of the staff were even on the streets themselves at some point. Building a relationship with street children is a necessity, for most of them; street life is so ingrained that it is hard for them to imagine anything else, and some don’t want to give up the tiny amount that they are earning during the day in order to attend school. This is where the School of Night Rabbits comes into the picture, for example, enabling street children to get an education on their terms, classes run of an evening time so children do not have to choose between an education or earning. The staff work hard at the relationships in order to show them that there is a much better way of life and work to resettle them at home as well as educating them.

 

AfriKids really is a prime example of a charity using change to aid development; not dependence. An organisation far advanced compared to its peers, leading the way in sustainable development. The organisation is planning for its future by looking to shut down its London office. That is, by 2018 AfriKids UK will cease to exist, and AfriKids Ghana will be totally self-sufficient. This will be possible because of the way the organisation is run. To this end there have been businesses set up in Ghana, feeding back into the projects to help ensure their future. For example, Mama Laadi’s Guest House – the inspirational lady herself, Mama Laadi, runs a foster home, and now has a guest house to supplement the home’s income. Sister Jane, the project manager behind Operation Smiles, has a farm, and also harvests honey which she sells at the market. The crops from the farm are grown to feed the families she has staying with her in the Nakuuabi Young Mother’s Centre.

 

Being an intern here means there is never a dull day. I found myself surprised at how quickly I became immersed in the work of AfriKids; always wanting to learn more about the numerous beneficiaries involved in the many projects. Currently I am in the process of completing updates for some of our longest standing donors, meaning I get to learn a lot about many of the beneficiaries – so much so that I feel I now know them. From looking at their photos to reading about their lives, they have come to life for me; no longer just a name but a real person. Working in the office it is impossible not to want to know more about it all, everything the organisation focuses on is thought-provoking and interesting. The experience of the charity world that AfriKids is giving me is second to none; as an organisation paving the way in many areas, the lessons I am learning are invaluable and hopefully will stay with me for a long time to come. I also feel the benefit from working with a small team – no question goes unanswered and experience can be gained in many different areas.

 

If you are interested in an internship with AfriKids, all vacancies are advertised on our website here. At time of posting, AfriKids is currently recruiting a Tourism Development Intern. 

 

Supporters brave the storms to raise money for AfriKids!

On Sunday, three of our intrepid supporters braved the elements to take part in the Prudential Ride London Surrey 100 cycle! AfriKids Trustee Jason Haines, Jon Fienberg and Pete Kerridge joined nearly 20,000 cyclists taking part in the event. A whopping 60,000 family and friends lined the streets of London to show their support for the cyclists.

 

 

Ride London won seven awards in its inaugural year last year, and Mayor of London Boris Johnson commented after yesterday’s sportive:  “This weekend Prudential RideLondon has cemented its status as the world’s premier mass-participation cycling event.”

 

AfriKids is so proud of our supporters who took part! If you want to support them you can sponsor them online here.

 

If you would like to take part in a sponsored challenge for AfriKids, please click here – we have just two places left for the Royal Parks Half Marathon! Email Bea for more info!

Finalists for Third Sector Excellence Award for Best Corporate Partnership!


We’re thrilled to share the news that AfriKids is a finalist for the 2014 Third Sector Excellence Award for Best Corporate Partnership in recognition of our fantastic partnership with Allen & Overy (A&O). We will find out in September whether we’ve won or not, but being a finalist is fantastic recognition for all the hard work that went into the partnership from AfriKids in the UK and Ghana, and A&O from 42 offices around the world.

 

We celebrated the achievements of our two year partnership with A&O earlier this year and are all incredibly proud of what was achieved together. The partnership led to:

 

  • Over £822,000 of fundraising and donations – more than trebling the original target
  • Over £467,000 worth of legal and non-legal pro bono support. A&O staff volunteered 1,485 hours of time on 35 key AfriKids projects
  • £31,568 worth of in-kind support through hosting events and providing printing and design services for AfriKids in Ghana and the UK

 

The partnership was also shortlisted for a Business Charity Award in April.

 

If you want to find out how your business – however large or small – could benefit from partnering with AfriKids, please contact AfriKids’ Corporate Partnerships Manager Emma Mortoo via emmamortoo@afrikids.org or call for a quick chat on 0207 269 0759

A new way of measuring poverty – Multidimensional poverty indicators

Most people understand what is commonly meant by the ‘poverty line’ – a single threshold that indicates whether a person is classed as living in poverty based on whether their income falls above or below a certain level. This is a very useful way of looking at poverty but in many ways it oversimplifies what is a very complex issue.

 

Using a relatively new approach developed by the University of Oxford as its foundation, AfriKids is currently embedding our own multidimensional poverty indicators (MPI) across our microfinance programme; The Family Livelihoods Support Programme – FliSP. This is a new measure that analyses poverty using indicators based on health, education and livelihoods, rather than simply calculating income levels. AfriKids is one of the first charities globally to be adapting its monitoring to incorporate these indicators, and it will give us an unparalleled depth of knowledge on our beneficiaries ultimately leading to more tailored and effective programmes in the future. Here AfriKids’ Head of Finance, David Whitworth, writes about its implementation.

 

 

AfriKids UK and AfriKids Ghana have now finalised the dimensions of poverty that we feel best describe circumstances faced by our beneficiaries, and created indicators which can be used to effectively monitor the wider impact of our microfinance programme in each dimension. It focuses on three core areas: healthcare, education, and living standards. This is an acknowledgement of the need to measure more than income, but additionally is not designed to replace either qualitative feedback, or indicate that poverty is only absolute. Our aim is to blend this data with our other feedback systems, to gain a multidimensional picture, and to acknowledge that fulfillment for our beneficiaries cannot be achieved without minimum healthcare, education and living standards. Additionally business performance is tracked as part of an ongoing monitoring system, but this feedback does not feed directly into the multidimensional score.

 

For each question, under healthcare, education and living standards, minimum thresholds are created, and are used to define whether beneficiaries are ‘in poverty’ for each individual category. Categories are weighted (%), and if a beneficiary is below the threshold they are given a score of 1 (or if above the threshold, 0). After multiplying the weighting and score for each category, these are added and if the total score is above 1/3, then the beneficiary, and their associated household, is defined as ‘multidimensionally’ poor. By administering the survey every two years we can track progress for each individual beneficiary.

 

In April 2014 AfriKids Ghana began to shape the questions, and associated indicators, using their detailed local knowledge.  This has created a range of questions that best track key poverty criteria in the UER, but are also questions that are culturally sensitive. These indicators have been finalised, and AfriKids has just begun a pilot test to gain responses from 50 current microfinance beneficiaries. Once completed there will be a review of the strengths and weaknesses, before making adjustments, to ensure that when it is fully rolled out across out microfinance programme it can have the greatest impact.