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Information about a hospital construction project in Togo

From: Ross
Sent on: Friday, August 2, 2013 7:24 PM
Dear Brooklyn and Queens RPCVs,

I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer Togo, West Africa, from[masked] and live in Astoria.  Right now, I am helping my friends and former colleagues raise money to build a small hospital (un dispensaire), in Dagnigan, a village in the Plateau Region of Togo near the Ghana border. Even though I did not live in Dagnigan, I ended up doing most of my work there. It was easy to see that this was a special village.  As anyone who has served in this region knows, it is very difficult to find villages that can really sustain development projects for years.  Dagnigan is one of those villages.  It has a proven track-record of self-reliance, solidarity, and doing everything they can to improve their lot.  Here are links to our crowd-funded campaign and Facebook group.  I beg you to take a minute to read about our project and consider making a donation. 

Project:  http://igg.me/at/villagehealthcenter/x/3596080

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/VillageHealthCenter

Just to provide some background, we began planning this project in late 2012. Leaders from Dagnigan and neighboring villages, working with a local non-governmental organization, inquired into the villages' development priorities. Remarkably, every segment of the population gave the same response: a hospital! All too often, I have seen development projects fail because they do not really reflect the beneficiaries' priorities. For example, a village may want to improve its water system but a foreign NGO builds a school instead. Even though the NGO had the best intentions, within a few years the school falls into disrepair and disuse. That is why the participatory diagnostic we conducted is so important: it indicates the hospital's sustainability for the indefinite future. Another indicator is the hefty community contribution that Dagnigan and the other villages voluntarily undertook. Not only has Dagnigan donated land for the hospital, but the villages have organized manual labor and pledged to provide much of the raw materials for construction, including gravel, sand, and water for mixing cement and wood for doors, windows, and furniture. Men and women transport water, sand, and gravel by extracting it from local riverbeds and carrying it on their heads back to Dagnigan. It is an exhausting--indeed, excruciating--process, and evidences how much everybody values the hospital's construction.
 
Although everyone in the villages will benefit from the hospital, no group more so than women and small children. Dagnigan is a very rural village without access to paved roads or means of transportation. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death for women and infants. If a woman goes into labor in the middle of the night, for example, there is literally nothing she can do except have the baby at home--in unsanitary conditions and without any trained medical personnel. If she experiences complications it probably will not end well.
 
The hospital will also treat childhood diseases. It will vaccinate children against measles, yellow fever, hepatitis, typhoid, and meningitis, just to name a few. It will treat malaria, which is so common that in the local language 'fever' and 'malaria' are the same word. It will treat dysentery, amebas, parasites, and other gastro-intestinal problems, which are also leading causes of child mortality in this region. And it will provide immediate first-aid for scrapes, broken bones, and snake bites (which are surprisingly common).
 
As I mentioned, Dagnigan has already donated a site for the hospital and organized the community contribution to provide the raw materials for its construction. The project is shovel-ready; they are only waiting for funding (and the end of the rainy season!) to start work. Based on my experience with the village, which now dates back seven years, I am absolutely confident the hospital will be constructed quickly and enjoy long-term sustainability.
 
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any thoughts or questions. Thank you for reading this message and considering our project.
 
 
Kind regards,
 
Ross Mazer
[address removed]

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