Kinshasa now has 8 million people. Most of these people live in slums without electricity, running water or plumbing. In many areas there are no identifiable streets. Imagine trying to set up a disability program in these conditions and with so many people?
Today I saw how this can be done. The cbm partner has set up a Community Based Rehabilitation program for almost all of greater Kinshasa. They divided the city into three districts with 11 sub-districts – all with 21 paid community workers. They manage to do this with an army of volunteers – 4,000 strong!
These volunteers are the ones that find people with disabilities for further screening and treatment. They do not get any pay. They go into the community daily. They have to take time for training.
We asked how they motivated these volunteers. This commitment is rewarded by a diploma from the Mayor of Kinshasa after 10 years of service. The program started 12 years ago and they have already have had to give out 125 of these diplomas for service. This is amazing commitment!
And here is the problem.
These community volunteers are doing their job so well that the resources for treating the people they find has run out. Volunteers have identified over 1,000 CP cases, hundreds of cleft lip and palate, more club foot cases, and numerous eye issues. All of these CP cases are now pending funding. Cleft palate surgeries have run out of resources. Is there such a thing as too much commitment?
We met with a group of 30 volunteers. We asked what they needed. I expected them to talk about stipends or something else for themselves. Indeed many of the volunteers are unemployed and very poor. Instead every one that spoke talked about needing something that would help their work – like better transportation for children with disabilites to go to the hospital. Amazing.
I want to keep up with the volunteers.