Freida Pemberton, PHD, EDD, RN, BC
In light of prior volunteerism in West Africa and the identified need for health promotion and disease prevention programs that could expand the average life span beyond age 50 for the populations in Benin and Ghana and beyond age 17 for the populations in Togo, I established as the founder and president, The World Wide Holistic Health Outreach Inc., a non-profit public charity 501c3. This public charity organization serves the humanitarian cause and was established to provide education and charitable assistance to indigenous communities both nationally and internationally by organizing and implementing Health Promotion and Disease Prevention education programs that target those who are living in despair and living without the basic human needs being met. Therefore, this organization intends to continue organizing and implementing holistic health programs that address all aspects (health, education, environment, spiritual, dietary and social) that lead to healthy living. Our Office is located at 971 Elmont Road, N. Valley Stream, NY 11580, phone number is 516-782-1061 and website www.worldwideholistichealthoutreach.com.
As the volunteer administrator and healthcare provider, I arranged and was an active participant in the implementation of the health promotion and disease prevention program for the following communities; the SE Village and Christian Sister’s Home in Benin, the Dakar Fisherman Village in Ghana, and Village in Togo. The program was designed to be implemented every two years. However, obstacles related to mobility issues interrupted the time-frame. It is with great pleasure to report; the program is back on course with the establishment of a non-profit public charity organization. As a Professor of Nursing and Missionary, I believe that it is important for healthcare providers to become active volunteers in assisting communities to receive quality health care that will eliminate the severity of chronic health problems at home and abroad. Access to Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Programs can significantly decrease the high death rates that currently exist in the countries of Benin, Ghana and Togo, West Africa.
The objectives of the program are to provide holistic care inclusive of health, education, dietary, environmental, and spiritual by traveling to the countries and bringing the care to the people. The mission was designed to run every two years beginning and running 2001, 2003, and 2005. Unfortunately, an interruption occurred due to an ambulatory issue. The program commenced again in 2010. I along with a missionary returned to the country of Benin, West Africa in the summer of 2010 and organized the health care team to carry out the health promotion and disease prevention program. July 23-August 3, 2010, I was able to make the journey irrespective of ambulatory issues and implement the mission with the use of a cane for ambulation. It was imperative that the Health Outreach Mission moved forward, especially when it was shared by the SE Village community that no one provided health services since our last visit in 2005. Upon our arrival to the Christian Sister’s Home to provide the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program, I met with the Director, who was the third director since the beginning of the program that I had the pleasure of meeting. My first encounter with the Christian Sister’s Home, August 2001, I had the pleasure of coordinating the health promotion disease prevention program with the Founder of the orphanage that was established in 2000. The Founder and Director at that time explained what generated her interest in setting-up the orphanage. We discussed in 2001 the stories shared by the young girls. Most of the girls were found living on the streets after fleeing abusive home environments. It was not uncommon for the young girls to be sold into forced labor or abused sexually. The girls found on the street by the director and in some cases the police were brought to the orphanage. In preparation for earning a living when self-sufficient, the following training programs for the girls were established; Sewing, Culinary, Beautician, and Domestic. It was enlightening to hear from the founder and director of the orphanage that we were the first group to provide the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program for “her girls,” in August 2001. Her comment was a pivotal point for me to realize that the need for voluntary service in countries of West Africa as well as the USA are great and must be maintained.
On returning visits I’m seeking out the girls that I examined previously to see how they are doing. However, with the five year hiatus the young ladies at the orphanage were new to me, with the exception of one or two. I was informed that the other young ladies that I knew had completed the program and moved on. It was interesting to note that the age range of the young ladies was 16-26 as opposed to 5-20 as noted in August 2001, 2003, and 2005. It was explained that some of the girls who may have been younger were visiting family members during this time. They also shared that more orphanages had opened and was the reason for the decreased census from 50 to 40. However, the situations that brought them to the orphanage remained constant with sexual abuse being at the top of the list.
The participants in the program at the orphanage were 25 young ladies ages 16-26, three teachers in their 30s and the Director in her 40s. In addition, one of the teachers was a former orphan who brought her son age 3 and daughter age 10 to be examined. Prior to the implementation of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention program, the young ladies welcomed me and my assistant with a welcome praise dance and African drumming. When I put aside my cane and attempted to dance with the young ladies, a smile came on their faces “a mile wide” and of course there was laughter. The teachers and Director joined in and danced with us. The experience brought about a wonderful bonding encounter that strengthened a trusting relationship.
I examined each of the 30 young ladies and personnel at the orphanage following the digital vital sign assessments done by my assistant who was also a volunteer. I was hopeful to find these young ladies in a state of stability following the exam. However, that was not the case. All the young ladies had a health problem(s) that required follow-up. I left an extensive report for the physician that was scheduled to arrive that night. However, getting in touch with the doctor responsible for the orphanage is still a work in progress. Prior to departing, I set up Skype for my liaison and interpreter, to be able to communicate at a distance and determine the best approach to address the problems found and recorded. There were four young ladies who have potential life-threatening health issues, and I’m committed to assuring they receive the care that is warranted. Each of the 30 young ladies was very descriptive in presenting their clinical manifestations and welcomed the opportunity in the anticipation of receiving help. One young lady when asked about her health problems responded, “I have a lot of problems, let me tell you them one by one.”
The report of all problems and assessments was left for the doctor’s review and follow-up. We were assured that the doctor would be provided with the report prior to our departure, and communications would be arranged between us. However, I moved forward, not hearing from the doctor in two days and consulted with another physician to determine the options for the three young ladies in terms of getting the diagnostic test completed in Cotonou.
Once in Cotonou Benin, I met with the doctor whom I worked with in prior years to coordinate the implementation of the program for the SE Village community. In early preparation for the program, I emailed one week prior to our arrival an excel spreadsheet list of medications including, the medication dosage, action of the drug, expiration date and quantity. I was bringing the medications for the SE Village Community Infirmary. Based on the medications which were primarily, cardiovascular and diabetes type 2 related, and the limitations I had, we determined it best to examine the most critical clients with hypertension and type two diabetes. It was obvious that we could not address the health problems for the entire village of 25,000 to 30,000 residents. My assistant was assigned to take the Blood Pressure and Pulse using an electronic digital blood pressure machine. The primary physician would dispense the medications as required to treat the patients. Another member of the village took the glucose level for my evaluation until the strips ran out.
At the SE Village, I examined a total of 61 people. The findings were as follows; 36 out of the 61 clients examined at the SE Village had extremely high blood pressures, well beyond the normal limits of 140/90 as shown on the chart.
Actual Blood Pressure Findings
The people were examined and treated with the appropriate antihypertensive medication(s) that were donated by a physician in the USA. The donated medications gave hope to the clients living in despair wondering how their life would be prolonged beyond the average life-span of 50-55 with these alarming high blood pressures that increased their potential for a CVA (Stroke), if left untreated. As one of the gentlemen said, now you understand the reason for the short life-span. Two of the younger men were post stroke for this very reason. When they were queried about their diet and medication resources in an effort to maintain the appropriate intervention, I was informed that their diet consisted of only “corn” and they had no means to purchase their needed medications. One of the gentlemen stated, “I cannot afford the medication, can you get us a lot of it?" It was difficult to determine the ages of the elderly clients because they did not have any birth records. The program ran smoothly and the 61 people who were examined and treated expressed a brighter outlook on life, including the two clients who were post CVA (stroke). Based on the report that they were not seen since 2005, it was not surprising that the residents of the SE Village had worsened in terms of the alarmingly high blood pressures. This was the result of no access to health care or resources for medication sustainability. The major goal and objective for the SE Village will be to establish a means for maintaining the required medications, balanced therapeutic diets and continuity of the program with a growing group of participants.
I’m most passionately engaged in social change that centers on bridging the gap to health care access through shared resources and cultural experiences in Ghana, Togo and Benin, West Africa as well as in the USA. Based on the volunteer work that has been accomplished, it is clear the work of volunteers makes a difference in the lives of others. The implementation of the health promotion and disease prevention program over the years has demonstrated that it doesn’t take an army of volunteers to make a difference; it takes people who are truly committed to changing the human conditions across the world. As a result of our program the lives of many have been prolonged and the services must continue. As stated in the report, many of the residents of the SE Village are now living longer than the average life-span of age 50. As you can see there is much work to be accomplished prior to our next visit July/August 2012. I’m standing on faith that other caring individuals will volunteer and travel with us to carry out the mission in 2012.
It was very encouraging to receive a thank you letter from the ambassador and a request from the community to move forward in setting-up an NGO in Benin. Instead of offering the program every two years, they requested that the program be provided every year. With your support and volunteerism, their request may become a reality. To share what keeps me going as a volunteer is the following scripture, “ As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the households of faith” (Galatians, 6:10).
Recent Update on the Mission of Grave Urgency: Your Help is Needed to Prolong the life of a 22y/o:
As you read the report, we have been waiting for the diagnostic report from the doctor to rule out
suspicion of breast cancer following an exam I conducted on Ms. R.T. at the Orphanage July 2010. As an update, last week I received the Doctor’s report dated December 28, 2010. Unfortunately, the diagnostic procedure confirms cancer of the left breast. The mass is noted as being large at this time (5 months later). In addition, some abnormalities were identified related to her heart wave. She has a prolong p-r interval.
It is clear that immediate attention is needed to have any chance of prolonging the life of this vibrant 22 year old young lady. During my assessment of her, she asked, “will you help me?” My response was I will do my very best and hopefully engage others in her cause to have a chance of living beyond the average lifespan in Benin of 50. Ms. R.T. is scheduled for surgery March 26, 2011 according to Doctor Lucien Zinsou. The cost of the surgery is $7,000.00. Her surgery will be postponed, if we cannot raise the funds through the newly formed World Wide Holistic Health Outreach, non-profit 501c3 charitable organization or other donor supporters. Thus, I’m reaching out to individuals that truly care about life’s conditions for others to gain support of the cause of Ms. R.T.
Thank you for your consideration of joining the mission designed to help those in dire need of human services that will make a difference and prolong life. All donations are greatly appreciated and tax deductable.
This site was last updated 07/01/13