Blog Post

A life-changing experience for 2015 Lilly CHA ambassadors

CHA 2015 team_website

Most if not all 10 international Lilly ambassadors would agree – they had a life-changing experience during their two week stay with the Donald Woods Foundation at Hobeni in October 2015.

The group – from six different countries – formed part of Lilly’s Connecting Hearts Abroad (CHA) global service programme.

Following a week of total immersion in the day-to-day work of the Lilly-funded Health in Every Hut (HiEH) programme, the ambassadors also joined hands with community life in the immediate surroundings of the Donald Woods Centre at Hobeni.

The ambassadors’ commitment to healthy living was in daily evidence as they embarked on neighbourhood jogs. A firm favourite were the after school football matches with local school kids and games with children at local homesteads.

However it was not all play as the ambassadors joined teams of community health outreach workers (CHOWs) for daily screenings and work at clinics, often involving long hikes to outlying homesteads in a region where roads are few and far between.

On the last day of their stay, the four working groups of ambassadors presented training workshops for DWF staffers on issues such as presentation skills and ways to advocate healthy living to the elderly and the youth.

All paid tribute to the work of the DWF, particularly the Chows in the HiEH programme which the Lilly ambassadors described as exemplary with impressive milestones such as 34 102 people in 7 813 homesteads having been screened and 10 078 people visited in follow-up visits to date.

The ambassadors were: Randall Dick, Denis Finney, Kate van Brunt, Powell Hickman, Matthew Caffrey (all from the USA); Janet Tseng (Canada); Karen Ambriz (Mexico); Claudia Eichholtz (Germany); Adrien Sipos (Hungary) and Luka Plesec (Slovenia).

Their farewell messages read:

Matt Caffrey: DWF. Thank you for being an amazing example of great people doing great things – and for sharing it with us.
Powell E. Hickman: DWF, we see great things ahead. Good luck and many thanks.
Kate van Brunt: DWF, 14 days in and I continue to be in awe of the amazing work you are doing here. Keep it up – thanks for the amazing experience and memories. Hope to be back very soon!
Denis Finney: DWF, thank you for all the wonderful hospitality and life-changing experiences – ours and the people of the Mbashe district.
Randall Dick: Thanks for the chance to do something life-changing. I hope the ripple last here and back in the USA. I will try to “pass it on”.
Karen Ambriz: DWF. Thanks for giving hope to the Eastern Cape and everybody who meets you. You’re doing incredible things. 
Janet Tseng: To everyone at DWF, thank you for letting us be a part of your amazing organisation. I will never forget you!
Adrien Sipos: “Poverty is not a matter of charity, it’s a matter of justice.” – Nelson Mandela. DWF, thank you for working so hard and so effectively on this mission. You are incredible people and thank you for the 14-day experience.
Luka Plesec: Nothing has changed my life as this experience will! Thank you for being a great host and making it happen.

How HiEH works
Teams of Chows visit homesteads to screen for a range of health issues such as TB, hypertension, diabetes, HIV, maternal and child health issues (including orphans and vulnerable children) and dementia. Those found at risk are referred to local clinics. Continued care of those screened then takes place, together with on-going identification of at-risk residents by embedded Chows living and working in the communities. A clinic support team consisting of a doctor, professional nurse and data capturers provide support to the clinics in the four programme area. There is also a dedicated team which undertakes health awareness and education programmes in schools using drama and other tools to promote behavioural change on a range of issues.

For more on the Eli Lilly Connecting Hearts Abroad programme, click here.

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