Annual report 2019
Missions: Kisantu, Kongo Central, DRC.
02.03.2019: Social Enterprise & Medical Programme Genital Fistula; Incontinence Care. Team: Lieve Vanrusselt, Noel Haegens.
06.04.2019: Medical Programme Genital Fistulae; Reparative Surgery at Hôpital St Luc, Kisantu. Team: Prof. De Ridder, Dr Siska Van Bruwaene, Piet Eelen, Gonda Martens.
11.05.2019: Social Enterprise; Logistics and Maintenance. Team: Jan Leemans.
28.09.2019: Social Enterprise & Medical Programme Genital Fistulae; Incontinence Care. Team: Lieve Vanrusselt, Jan Leemans, Lorrie Vandeginste.
14.11.2019: Medical Programme; Reparative Surgery in collaboration with UNFPA, Hôpital St Luc, Kisantu. Team SOLFA: Dr Jean Ndundu, Dr Paul Ntweba & Team UNFPA: Dr Mathieu Loposso.
09.11.2019: Social Entreprise; Production and Logistic Management Software System Update. Team: Theo Reymen, Hubert Lemmens, Lorrie Vandeginste.
1. Mission reports: published on www.solfanet.org
2. New developments within the Medical Programme:
- Collaboration with Fistulaid and MDD:
SOLFA has taken the initiative to collaborate with two other Belgian medical charities running a genital fistula programme in the DRC. Fistulaid is an organisation based in Brussels with main activities in Hôpital St Joseph in Kinshasa and MDD (Médecins du Désert) is based in Liège and mainly active in Lubumbashi (Katanga).The main benefit for all partners involved is the exchange of expertise and the greater visibility and brand awareness in the DRC. The aim of this project is to train local teams to be able to carry out successful reparative surgery on simple fistula cases so that there will only be need to call upon one of our teams to surgically repair the more complicated fistula conditions i.e. ‘chirurgie d’excellence’. Furthermore, all three partners adhere to a comprehensive fistula care policy which includes prevention, training and incontinence care.
- Collaboration with UNFPA:
The UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has been running a genital fistula programme in several African countries for years, but has only been active in the DRC for the last 2 years. The UNFPA only carries out short missions funded by a large financial budget, which is very attractive for the local hospitals and surgeons involved. Although their approach is somewhat different, they were enthousiastic to accept our proposal to collaborate with SOLFA, Fistulaid and MDD, more particularly by providing them with the necessary specialist urological and gynaecological expertise. We were therefore really pleased that a UNFPA mission in Kisantu could be realised last November together with the local team at Hôpital St Luc: gynaecologists Dr Ndundu and Dr Loposso, who have been both trained by SOLFA and Dr Ntweba for the locoregional anaesthesia, an expertise that he has been able to develop in collaboration with SOLFA during our medical missions over the last 15 years.
- Incontinence Programme:
After evaluating our first system of reusable incontinence products, we decided to modify this further and adapt our materials better to the different types and degrees of incontinence. Hence, for fistula patients suffering from serious incontinence, we now use a reusable diaper with more absorbent diaper inlays. For patients with less serious incontinence, we modified our system of reusable pads so that it can be used with any type of underwear. Maternity nurses monitor patients closely and record patients’ experience and progress using a report file put together by us. This should provide us with important feedback on the usefulness and comfortability of our materials.
3. New developments within the Social Enterprise Programme:
- List of products and all recipes have been finalised: : 5 fruit juices, 6 soy drinks and 1 nut drink, 5 jams, 7 sauces, 2 creams, dried ginger and grilled soy
- Switch to pasteurisation: Since food safety is of prime importance, we have invested in a proper pasteurisation-filling machine for our drinks
- Switch to glass packaging: For ecological and economic reasons, we have started using glass bottles using a deposit system with return of empties.
This has proven to be a more complex project than expected; our products can be categorised as 'artisanal' but according to the authorities they have to meet ‘industrial’ standards. Also, from experience, we have found that our customers are quite demanding and prefer to buy products with a western look. All these factors have led to the need for a label that needs to be quite professional detailing the information that is required for an ‘industrial’ product.Sofar, we have been able to finalise the paper labels for the jars (jams and sauces) and will start using these from 2020 onwards. For the reusable bottles (drinks), we are still running tests to decide on the optimal glue to be used so lables will stay on during washing in our special bottle dishwasher. Further tests will be carried out during our next mission in March (which now has been postponed to November due to COVID-19).
- recruitment of an additional worker
- distribution: rental and furnishing of a new point of sale ; recruitment of an additional sales person; recruitment of street vendors: at the moment there are 4 "vendeuses ambulantes" through whom we are able to reach more customers.
4. New developments within the management of our enterprise:
Thanks to the voluntary efforts of Theo Reymen and Hubert Lemmens, a new production and logistic management system software has been installed so that our local management can keep track more easily of the daily activities of buying resources, producing and selling products. This new system also allows them to share this information with us on a daily basis. We are thrilled with this major achievement and are convinced that this is an important transfer of knowledge in the field of business management and accounting to our local management team as well as to many committed dynamic young people in Kisantu and further afield in the DRC.