Friday, September 25, 2009

Knitting for babies in Rwanda

A message from Partners in Health:
In the chilly mountains of rural Rwanda, where last year PIH's partner organization began working with the Burera District Hospital, resources are very limited and the temperature often drops into the 50s. Newborn babies, particularly those born prematurely, often struggle to keep warm. In a country where one in 10 babies dies before her first birthday, hypothermia is a serious threat.   A simple solution that can help save some of these little ones is to provide them all with beanies to keep them warm. 

We are looking for knitters to help us put a warm beanie cap on every baby born in Burer--as is done in American hospitals. The Burera District Hospital welcomes about 100 new babies into the world each month, so our current goal is to provide 100 caps per month. 

All beanie styles and colors are welcome. Hats can be made to fit either premature babies (head about the size of an orange) or full-term babies (head about the size of a grapefruit). We will arrange shipping from Boston to northern Rwanda. 

Hats and donations may be sent to:
Jesse Greenspan
Partners In Health, Attn: Baby hats
888 Commonwealth Ave, 3rd floor
Boston, MA 02215

More information about this initiative and pattern samples can be found at:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pollution and Disease in Punjab

In the Faridkot centre… Harmanbir Kaur, 15, was rocking gently backwards and forwards. When her test results came back, they showed she had 10 times the safe limit of uranium in her body. Her brother, Naunihal Singh, six, has double the safe level.
An article in The Observer discusses the link between the dramatic rise in birth defects in Punjab and pollution from coal-fired power stations. Many of the children are being treated in Faridkot and at the Baba Farid centers for special children in Bathinda, where there are two coal-fired thermal plants. Staff at these clinics had noticed an increase in the incidence of severely handicapped children who were born with hydroencephaly, microencephaly, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and other complications. They suspected environmental poisoning.

The healthcare workers rightfully voiced their concerns about this and wondered, if some children were being treated, how many more were being affected? As with governments’ other dirty little secrets, staff at the clinics were visited and threatened if they spoke out. In addition, a visiting South African toxicologist arranged for tests to be carried out and found that the children had massive levels of uranium in their bodies, in one case more than 60 times the maximum safe limit. The scientist was later warned by the authorities that she may not be allowed back into the country.

Read more on The Langar Hall.