Dr. Louise Jilek-Aall and the Roots of Provision Charitable Foundation
Dr. Jilek-Aall, after taking a diploma in tropical medicine in 1959, worked for three years as a physician in Tanzania in the Mahenge mountains of the Ulanga district. She discovered that the people suffered from a compulsive disorder called Kifafa, a disease we know as epilepsy. Those who had epilepsy never received medical treatment and suffered greatly from severe seizures. Believing that the seizures were caused by evil spirits the epileptics were feared and shunned even by their own family members. Epileptics came to the clinics often for help, not for epilepsy but for the burns and injuries suffered when they had seizures and fell into the cooking fire. They faced severe neglect and discrimination amongst their own people and lived lives of disgrace and humiliation. Subsequently, it was determined that the level of epilepsy in this area was 10 times the expected level in other countries.
Seeing the incredible misery of these patients, Dr. Jilek-Aall in 1960 founded the Mahenge Epileptic Clinic. Patients and families began to receive education about epilepsy and its treatment. But Dr. Jilek -Aall had to leave Africa after three years. However, she remained faithful to this work throughout her whole career, returning often to Tanzania, working to promote education research and medication for these people. During these years, Dr. Jilek-Aall publicized the problem in the Mahenge area, organized research trips to the area to try to determine the cause, and also worked tirelessly to obtain proper medication and promote education.
Our Early Visits to Tanzania
In 2009 Ken and Nancy Morrison, inspired by Dr. Jilek-Aall's dedication, travelled to Tanzania with Dr. Jilek-Aall and her daughter Martica. After visiting the clinic and the epileptic patients, it was decided that the next stage of education is to show that treated people with epilepsy can successfully be employed. Ten treated epileptic patients were employed to be involved in vegetable gardening and reforestation. The standard of living, the status in the community, and the self-esteem of these people improved dramatically.
In 2011, Ken and Nancy Morrison travelled to Tanzania for a second time to review the results of the first two years of the employment program and to discuss other needs that could be addressed.
Provision Charitable Foundation Begins
In 2011, it was also decided that education should be a priority and therefore the first university students were supported. Sister Anunsiata was assisted with the costs of her education degree, and Sharifa Chenga was also supported in her studies. Sharifa has now completed Masters in Human Resources. Provision continues to support various younger students to complete early school years.
Provision trained the first group of beekeepers, at Kasita in 2013, and now has trained beekeepers at five locations in the Kilombero River Valley. The plan is to develop a processing centre at Ifakara and expand the beekeeping project.
The Kilombero river valley is unique in that the geography provides a year-round supply of water unlike other areas of Africa. However, while the water is available the problem is both accessing the water and transporting the water to where it’s is needed. Provision has funded the drilling of wells at Ifakara, Luhombero and Kwiro to ensure a year-round supply. Provision has also assisted with water distribution and irrigation by supplying pumps, storage tanks and irrigation hoses and sprinklers. At Kwiro the underground water pipes installed in the 1930s were collapsing so Provision funded the upgrade to the system required to provide water to the local farmers and villages.
Provision also started supporting medical students at Saint Francis medical school. The medical school has a five-year general practice program and intakes students from the poorer rural areas of the country. Many are unable to fund their own education. Provision provided a combination of loans and grants to students who had successfully completed the first year of medical school and were having to drop out for financial reasons. The students were to be equally divided between women and men. By 2020, Provision had helped graduate 21 doctors, ten women and eleven men.
Provision become aware of the desperate need for oral health and dental health care in 2015. Ken and Nancy Morrison and Dr. Jeff Hackett, a dentist, travelled to evaluate whether there are possibilities to assist in the chronic oral and dental health needs of this country. It was determined that the need is so severe that without medical assistance many Tanzanians are simply unable to lead healthy, normal lives. In 2016, Dr Ken Stones travelled to Tanzania to prepare for the arrival of the first dental team, which arrived in Tanzania from Canada later the same year. In 2017, Kelly Antosh and the first Oral hygiene team travelled to Tanzania. In September 2019, the second dental team travelled to Tanzania.
Provision then began to assist with the development of a maternity ward at Kwiro. The basic construction was completed by 2019 but still needs equipment, supplies and staff to begin the operations.
Engineering Ministries International is commissioned to complete a master plan for the future development of St. Francis University College of Health and Allied Sciences, Ifakara (SFUCHAS). The construction of an on-campus women’s residence began in September 2018, and the residence was opened in October 2019.
In 2019, Provision also committed to begin construction of schools at Luhombero and Tunduru. Engineering Ministries International was commissioned to develop a master plan for the Tunduru girls’ school. The Luhombero primary school construction began in 2020 with the opening scheduled for January 2022.
In 2020, we could not travel to Tanzania because of Covid 19, but Provision began supporting three graduate doctors in speciality programs: Emanuel in Obstetrics, Eveline in Orthopaedics and Dan in Public Health.
In 2021, Provision started the Community Dental Health Worker Program. The same we also committed to supporting Oliver, a female student in law school, with the objective of championing women’s and children’s rights after her graduation.
Our Future Focus
FUTURE PCF PROJECTS: SUSTAINABILITY, INTERCONNECTED GOALS, COLLABORATION, TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE
Since Provision began working in Tanzania in 2009 the world has greatly changed in many positive ways. However, the challenges facing us seem overwhelming and now call for changes in approaches to international development. A pathway forward is provided by the United Nations who has responded to these challenges in two ways: to focus attention on the highest priority issues, it has arrived at 17 sustainable development goals (SDG’S), and it has declared the period from 2020 to 2030 the “Decade of Action” to accelerate change at the global, local, and individual levels. This pathway aims for collaboration among partners to develop and implement projects that are transformational at all levels for a participating community and society.
Provision’s past and current initiatives address many of the 17 SD goals and make it well-positioned to forge appropriate prospective partnerships towards sustainable development and transformative change.
The Key Components of Sustainable Development
The SDG’S fall into six broad categories:
1. Zero hunger
2. Good health and well-being
3. Clean water and sanitation
4. No poverty
5. Affordable and clean technology
6. Decent work and economic growth
7. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
8. Sustainable cities and communities
9. Quality education
10. Gender equality
11. Reduced inequalities
12. Peace, justice and strong institutions
13. Responsible production and consumption
14. Climate action
15. Life below water
16. Life on land
17. Partnerships for the goals
(Details of each category can be found HERE.)
In addition to these 17 SDGs, in recognition of the urgency for transformative, sustainable development, the Decade of Action calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges—ranging from poverty and gender to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap. In September 2019, the UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action on three levels:
• global action to secure greater leadership, more resources and smarter solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals;
• local action embedding the needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities; and
• people action, including by youth, civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia and other stakeholders, to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.
Together, the SDGs and Decade of Action have crystallized into a new approach to international development. This approach is informed by the higher-level goal of transformational development, the strategy of interconnected SDGs, and the careful development of relationships among partners who will plan and implement sustainable and transformative projects.
The recognition of the need to transition from traditional to transformational development is a hugely important distinction with major implications on how projects will be developed and run. Traditional development requires an ongoing flow of external resources in order to continue to improve peoples’ lives (e.g. through better health provision, education, etc.) or to preserve the environment.
Transformational development, in contrast, aims to transform unsustainable situations (in economic, social or natural resource usage terms) to sustainable (or at least more sustainable), ongoing situations. In other words, it attempts to tackle the underlying causes and collaboratively build a resilient legacy where little or no further action, and no ongoing external inputs, are necessary.
Not all development could or should be transformational in nature, for in humanitarian or fragile situations, it may not be apt or even possible. And, some issues will often be too complex for transformational approaches, or the immediate need can be too great and too urgent to wait for what is a longer-term solution.
Provision has had both traditional and transformational projects during the historical period, although much of our focus, albeit unknowingly, was transformational:
We have responded to periods of hunger with emergency food (traditional).
We have supported students until graduation as medical doctors for example (transformational).
We have sent emergency dental teams (traditional) and are now teaching oral health (transformational).
Interconnected Sustainable Development Goals
As Provision has reviewed historical projects and considered various projects it has become very obvious that there are often interlinks or connections that can have long term effects over several of the 17 SDG’S. The following projects are good examples:
Rocket Stove Small Business ( Link to a similar project can be found HERE)
Developing a small business of building and selling rocket stoves enables an entrepreneur to become independent and raises the family’s standard of living. The family buying the rocket stove no longer lives in second-hand smoke and so is much healthier. The rocket stoves efficiently use approximately 75% less wood so the mother and children, usually the girls, do not have to spend hours each day scrounging fuel. The result is less deforestation, already a serious problem in Africa. The mother has more time for the family and the girls can stay in school.
This one simple project can significantly impact the following SDG’S: no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education gender equality, reduced inequalities, and climate action.
Employing Epileptic people at Mahenge, Tanzania from 2009 to present
People with Epilepsy in Tanzania, as in many countries, are treated very badly, often ostracized and shunned by their families. The word for a person with epilepsy in Swahili is Maskini, which means “useless.” The employment project was started in 2009 to show families and society in general that people with epilepsy, once treated properly can work hard and become productive members of society. The people work in a school garden and the food that the resident students are eating has improved so much that the marks of the students have improved because they are simply eating well. The employed people have been able to improve their housing to the point where they move from straw roofs to tin roofs so they are dry and warm in the rainy season. They are now sending their children to school and are able to have adequate food most of the time, breaking the cycle of poverty.
The payment of wages is a “traditional’’ strategy, requiring a constant Invite or donations to pay the monthly salaries. The transformational aspects of the project however include decent work, a healthy diet, greater educational success, reduced poverty, and improved housing and standard of living.
Collaborative Partnerships Towards the Goals
A key SDG is “partnership for the goals” and Provision is committed to further develop specific partner relationships in order to maximize efforts.
The 2030 Decade of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also represent a fundamental shift in thinking in international development, recognising the interconnectedness of prosperous business, a thriving society and a healthy environment. The action agenda names all three sectors as key development actors and requires an unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration among civil society, business, government, NGOs, foundations, academia and others for its achievement.
The 2030 agenda and the SDGs are the results of – and a call for – a new collaborative way of working. The 2030 Agenda sends a powerful signal that old ways of thinking and working – often tackling symptoms rather than root causes and focusing narrowly on single-issue goals – simply do not deliver the fundamental shifts our planet requires: for countries to deliver a sufficiently high quality of life to all their citizens while operating within sustainable natural resource limits.
Provision’s past and current initiatives make it well-positioned to develop meaningful partnerships to collaborate on sustainable development projects that aim to effect transformative change.