How Do You Keep Vaccines Cold in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

This is a special guest blog from The American Foundation for AIDS (AFCA).

The American Foundation for AIDS has been working the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since late 2007. There, we have provided medicine for patients cared for at Tandala Hospital and at 13 smaller clinics throughout the region known as the Ubangi. With little infrastructure in place (think – no electricity or running water) and with roads that are full of potholes, mud, and puddles, it is always an adventure when we visit the projects to see how things are going!

water spigotWhile visiting one year, we held discussions with local people to determine if there were other ways we could help those who need to take medicine. We decided to start a livelihoods pilot project, selecting 20 beneficiary families with whom to work. The families selected had to fit three criteria:

1. Child-headed household,

2. One live parent in the household, but sick or dying, or

3. A grandparent was raising the children who’d been orphaned by AIDS

Following this criteria, it was not difficult to find 20 families who qualified. They all received training in gardening and husbandry, in how to build appropriate housing for their livestock, in nutrition, and how to use donated water filters.

Once all the families were trained, they were given seeds and $50 to purchase tools needed and to rent a small plot of land to plant their gardens. Once gardens were started, families went through a second training and received their livestock. Guinea pigs, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens were all part of the project and each family received a specific number of one of the animals. With instructions not to barter, sell, kill, or trade the animals, families used the manure for their gardens, drank milk and ate some eggs while letting their animals reproduce.

It was then that we discovered the acute need for vaccines, as some animals were lost, due to swine flu and avian flu. We immediately started searching for the best solar fridge we could find and we purchased one through Sure Chill in 2015. We found an incredibly generous donor, who funded the purchase and shipment of the fridge all the way to Gemena, where it was installed at Elikya Farm, where AFCA maintains an animal multiplication center.

The solar fridge has changed EVERYTHING. Five people received para-vet training and they are in charge of making sure that livestock given by AFCA is healthy. They also vaccinate animals for the local community, earning a little income while helping others.

For the case study on how the solar fridge is changing lives, please click here.

Now, AFCA needs to procure another solar fridge to continue the life-saving work of providing a livelihood for our friends in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as we have expanded our work to the Tandala area and a fridge is needed there.

Please support our campaign to raise $8,000 for the fridge, shipping, fees, customs, taxes and delivery to the remote are of the DRC that needs it. Even a small gift will make a big impact. Donate here.

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