“This program is a bridge to a better life. It improves people’s standard of living. With better health comes more time for economic activities that make it possible to earn a living.” This is how Nicholaus Lyatuu, a TSF liaison officer in Tanzania, summarized the tremendous impact of our volunteer cooperation program with Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
Over the years, Mr. Lyatuu has travelled to numerous regions with practically nonexistent visual and dental health care. Today, he can see how far we’ve come in the last four years, especially with respect to access to care in remote areas.
María Elena Delgado Aranda, TSF liaison officer in Bolivia, agrees. “Four years ago, these services were non-existent. But equipment donations made it possible to set up permanent facilities, which then attracted professionals,” she explained.
The fifth and final year of the program is well under way, and the main challenge is to ensure the sustainability of these services and prevention programs, which are helping more and more people previously left to fend for themselves.
In the past year, 23,000 people received dental care and 1,300 received optometry care in Bolivia. In Tanzania, prevention campaigns in visual and dental health reached 683 schoolchildren. In Honduras, homeopaths cared for 1,588 people.
While clinics were providing care and prevention campaigns were taking place in schools and villages, Canadian professionals continued to train their counterparts in Tanzania, Bolivia and Honduras. In total, 16 volunteer cooperants offered around 40 hands-on and classroom training activities to 122 people, 70% of whom were women.
“Building our professionals’ skills allows them to improve quality of life in the area,” said María Elena Delgado Aranda, who sees the program’s benefits every day. “Giving dozens of children sparkling smiles and bright eyes fills us with hope and pride.”
Concluding our partnership with GAC
Last August, we learned that GAC had decided not to renew the partnership agreement between the federal government and our volunteer cooperation program, much to our team’s surprise.
The current programming, now in its fifth and final year, will therefore focus on stabilizing activities, to ensure the sustainability of specialized care in dentistry and optometry in Tanzania and Bolivia. To achieve this, we will be realigning our regular volunteer cooperation program.The homeopathic care in Honduras was discontinued last June and will not be resumed.
The end of our partnership with Global Affairs Canada, which represents less than 2 % of our annual budget, means that TSF will no longer receive financial support from the federal government.