by Brittany Cannon
Roatan, Honduras
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health

brittany cannon photo 2

My first week in Roatan, Honduras  has been was quite an eye opening and educational experience.

The first day there I met with a dentist to discuss a dental hygiene educational program and I discovered there was basically "no such thing" as preventative measures regarding dental health here. As with many other countries, dental health is of no concern to the people.  If you have to choose between eating rice for a couple of days or having your teeth cleaned, you would most likely pick eating.

A significant dental health issue among the children here is maintenance of of their primary molars. I didn't know the significance of the primary molar until our meeting with the local dentist. The primary molar basically sets the stage for a young person’s entire mouth.  A child usually gets his/her first molars six years of age. Well, because preventative dental health measures have not been taught many of the children's teeth have severe decay including their primary molars. When the decay becomes very severe, the solution is to pull the tooth. Although this is a temporary fix for the child in terms of alleviating the pain, it poses huge problems for the child’s permanent teeth development and future dental health. The primary molar is actually an adult tooth and if it gets pulled it will cause the child’s other teeth to become very crowded and grow in incorrectly.

Our job is to gather data on the local school children to quantify the severity of decay in each child’s mouth and report whether the primary molar had been extracted. This data will hopefully aid the dentist in receiving a grant to help address this problem.

Before we collected the data in each classroom we did a dental hygiene educational class. We taught the children why it is important to brush their teeth and why good dental hygiene was important to their overall health.  After teaching them the basics of dental health we gave them all tooth brushes. This was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done because when they received their tooth brush  they acted like we had handed them a magical toy.  They were so excited to show us how they were going to brush their teeth. I really felt this was definitely worth while!

Over the four day period of going into schools we educated 385 children on how to brush their teeth and taught them why they should. They were very eager to learn and it was obvious that they had not received even basic training on this important aspect of health. A lot of the children asked for tooth brushes for their parents!  Hopefully we made an impact and my biggest hope is that with the knowledge we provided them they will continue to brush and one day it will become a cultural norm here.


June 2, 2010

by Beth O'Connell
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health
Cygera, Rwanda

Upon my arrival to the Cygera Faith and Hope Children’s Home  I discussed the problems and what could be done about them with my preceptor, Elizabeth Nzakizwanimana, who the nurse for the children’s home, Ernest Batera, the administrator of the children’s home and the local church’s pastor, and John Mary Bemeyimana, the headmaster of the school.

Environmental Illnesses: Malaria and Spider-Bites

The immediate need  presented to me was environment-related illnesses.  Two children were recovering from malaria and several had spider bites.  Spider bites can be dangerous if incurred from a poisonous spider.   Malaria can be life threatening, and mosquitoes can spread other dangerous illnesses as well. Therefore, my first objective quickly became analyzing and addressing environmental hazards at the children’s home and adjacent school. 

My environmental analysis revealed both broad problems and some more addressable problems. Those that I was able to address included the pest problems, which I tackled in several ways. First , we placed screen over the windows to avoid insects coming into the children’s bedrooms.  Second, we sprayed a pesticide barrier around the homes and nearby school to detour insects.  So that these interventions would be continued after I leave, I asked the home administrator to assist me. He helped me place the screens, dilute the pesticide concentrate appropriately, and helped spray it.  Third, I placed fly traps in the homes, reducing the chance of fly-related food contamination, and conjunctivitis, which is often caused by flies. During my assessment,  I questioned staff about the presence of lice and bed bugs. They denied their presence and said they were currently preventing these problems by washing bed linens regularly and keeping the children’s hair short. I explained the use of the lice treatment materials and gave to them for future use.


Sanitation is another environmental problem. There is a lack of a garbage system and the outhouses used at the children’s home were incredibly dirty. One of the caretakers explained that they scrubbed them out weekly, along with the floors of the homes.  I provided scrub brushes I had brought with me and suggested that the outhouses be cleaned twice a week to avoid fecal-related infectious disease.

The entire community has no publicly provided means of garbage disposal; therefore, they simply throw it on the ground, or give it to children to play with.  The children’s home has a small composting system, but the community as a whole does not. This problem is much greater than I can address during the time I will be here and requires government cooperation and funding.

Climate-related Problems

Climate related problems include extremes in temperature with a vast difference between day and night.   Some of the children and I have been sick with head and chest colds probably due to the cold nights.  The local people call this illness “grape” and told me that I had it because I drank a cold Fanta (a soft drink soda) the day before I got sick!  This explanation prompted me to educate them on the correct cause of colds and was to prevent them.  Another climate related problem is lack of consistent rain fall. Like many equatorial locations, Cygera has a rainy season and a dry season. In order to manage water supply, the children’s home has two rain water storage tanks which collect from the two roofs. I have suggested to Hope 2.2.1. that purchasing more storage tanks would allow the home to use rain water only throughout the dry season, rather than resorting to using a local stream, which is highly contaminated. In the future, it would also be beneficial to install rain water collection at the school and any home that have metal roofs. The problem of unclean water will be addressed in the next update.

Hand Washing Campaign

I have also begun my hand washing campaign. I first taught the children at the Faith and Hope Children’s home as well as the caregivers and cooks.  I did this by simply discussing the steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with some minor changes for cultural effectiveness, such as singing “Jesus Loves Me” instead of “Happy Birthday” as the guide for how long it takes for an effective hand washing.  I then prepared a handout and posted it on the hand washing station and also demonstrated the technique at a hand washing station outside of the homes. 

Additional hygiene education involved a Coleman solar camp shower which is more effective in prevention of infectious diseases than their current use of a bucket of water. I am still persuading the adults that it is better to bathe this way for full coverage and with warm water.  I have purchased soap for the home, because the soap they were using was actually for laundry. They used it because it was cheaper.   I was given permission to teach hand washing and give soap and handouts to the congregation after church on Sunday. In this class, we discussed the proper way to wash hands and when we should wash our hands to prevent infection and disease. The people asked questions and showed interest. The outcome of the hand washing campaign will be determined by observation at the children’s home and school over the next nine weeks. Members of the church class will simply be asked in coming services if they have been washing their hands at appropriate times and with correct technique.

Dental Hygiene

I have begun working on dental hygiene by providing the children with toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss to aid in prevention of dental diseases.  I also began the nutritional portion of my objectives. I created an excel spreadsheet for tracking the daily intake of the adults and children at the Faith and Hope Children’s Home and have documented all meals since my arrival.

June 2, 2010

by Katie Skelton
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health

katie skelton peru 2

Welcome to Urubamba, located in the ancient Inca’s Sacred Valley in the heart of Peru.  The local culture is permeated with Andean traditions as natives wear traditional clothing and live in Adobe homes.  Although the personal sense community is strong, the need for Public Health services remains vast.

Since arriving in Urubamba, I have been working on a health assessment of the Collanes-Pillary community, located approximately 20 minutes from Urubamba.  This community is in desperate need of much help.  They face many barriers that have prohibited them from obtaining optimal healthcare.  Many of the natives are not educated, do not speak Spanish, and have little to no income each month.  Our health assessment, containing 26 questions, will enable us understand the needs and wants of the community at hand.

Thankfully, my coursework at ETSU has greatly prepared me for the challenges I face here in Peru.  I have learned how to create a first-class survey, assess communities, and have gained the ability to develop and conduct a tailored, health intervention. These skills will be of great use to impact the health status of the local community.

Upon completion of my first two weeks in Peru, I have assessed ninety different families.  While each family is different, many of the same issues are consistent from household to household.  The area is lacking in clean water, the homes do not have sewers, health education is sparse, and gender equality is not present.  Over the next 6 weeks, the health assessments will be used to develop several specific health interventions that will best fit the community’s needs.  I will continue to work each day to help the local community defeat the barriers they face and obtain the needed healthcare they need and deserve.

Thank you Hope Through Healing Hands Foundation and Niswonger Foundation for making this incredible opportunity possible.


June 1, 2010

by Brande Jackson, Lokahi

water=hope st. louis 1 water=hope kansas city

Hope Through Healing Hands and Water = Hope were back out on the road with Brad Paisley this past weekend, making stops in Kansas City and St. Louis.

As always, we were joined by some amazing volunteers along the way. Jacqueline and Troy are a couple that live in Kansas City who are active volunteers in their community. They helped us have a great night, talking to fans about the campaign and getting many of their fellow KC residents involved! Our Kansas City set up was pretty fun; the ‘water world’ where our booth is situated each show was on a closed street outside of the Sprint Center in downtown KC, and we also had a table set up inside the arena as well. Kansas City also featured the debut of our PSA, which was exciting to see!

In St. Louis, we were joined by Mira, Kelley, Holly and Jeremy. They all know each other from high school, and it was the first time most of them had volunteered with a campaign like Water = Hope. They did an incredible job, working non-stop in what was by far the hottest day to hit St. Louis in a long time! Our St. Louis volunteer crew helped us have our best day yet on the tour, signing up hundreds of new supporters for Water = Hope and getting lots of fans to text to donate. 

As always, we were able to talk to lots and lots of fans about clean water issues as well. We were particularly impressed by how many young people in St. Louis told us about studying these issues in college, high school, or even middle school, and who in turn were eager to join the campaign. We are excited to start working with our new base of supporters in Missouri in the months to come!


The tour continues into more of the midwest this week as well; we’ll be in Toledo, Indianapolis and Cincinnati this week. Next week will see stops in Detroit and Pittsburgh. To join us, just visit


You can check out more photos from the tour (and tag yourself if you are in one of them!) on our Facebook page:



Olken Foncime May 2010

by Christian L. Gilbert, M.D. F.A.C.S.
Associate Medical Director
International Children's Heart Foundation

Olken Foncime May 2010

Olken Foncime, 2010

My wife and I were invited to attend a gathering sponsored by Hope through Healing Hands at Senator William Frist's home in Nashville. Towards the end of the evening I was approached about a child in Haiti, Olken Foncime, who was very sick with a heart defect. This was the end of September 2009 and in early October I was planning to leave for Dominican Republic for a two week mission and I offered I would be glad to help this child, however he would need to come to Santiago to be evaluated.

After a few emails and several back and forth conversations with Dr. Dorian, who by the way is the man of God who first identified this child, it was arranged for the boy to come to Santiago.

When he arrived we learned he had Tetralogy of Fallot and was profoundly cyanotic(blue) and would need some blood exchanges and a shunt procedure. All that went according to plan and he was released from the hospital in several days, much improved, see pictures below. Somehow I knew he would mean so much more than one child getting surgery and going home. His gentle spirit and captivating smile were contagious and all who met him instantly fell in love with him.

When tragedy struck on January 10, 2010 everyone was fearful he might have been injured or killed. Frantic email were sent out and after several anxious days we found out he was OK but the orphanage was severely damaged. Dr. Dorian traveled to Haiti after the earthquake to help with emergency relief and found him there and made arrangements for him to return to the states on a medical visa for his corrective procedure.

Out of all this an idea came forth, which I believe is from the Holy Spirit, that we needed to develop a program for Haitian children with heart defects. So here we are gathering ideas and looking for support for this project: To provide a place for 400 children over a period of five years and hopefully find a more permanent location for a cardiac institute in Haiti to care for these children closer to home.

Thankfully, we have on the island a place where children can receive advanced cardiac care in Santiago DR at Hospital Infantil Arturo Grullon. In fact, the hospital is about to break ground on a new pediatric cardiac institute specifically for children with heart disease. This will allow for the more immediate need to be met, however a more lasting solution needs to be developed. This will take more hard work and prayer and with His direction I believe we can find an answer.


1750 Madison Ave, Suite 500
Memphis, Tennessee 38104

May 24, 2010

by Jenny Dyer, Ph.D.

Brad Paisley and Bill Frist Photo 

In spite of the flooding of millions of dollars worth of the H2O tour instruments and equipment, the show still went on.

The Brad Paisley H2O World Tour began in Virginia Beach this Friday night, and critical reviews are saying it will spoil you for any other summer shows...and maybe even Disney World.

Hope Through Healing Hands has been honored to partner with the tour to promote awareness, advocacy, and philanthropy for clean, safe water initiatives around the world with our Water=Hope Campaign.

Senator Frist and his family, staff, and friends flew to Virginia Beach for the launch of the tour.

"It was so exciting to be there for the very first show. I'm proud to be partnered with the H2O tour and I'm proud of the hard work of all our Water=Hope Campaign volunteers. We have a great booth, and we signed up many interested activists and donors for this important campaign for clean water," says Frist.

Being in Virginia Beach, the volunteers talked with lots of fans that were current or retired members of the military, many of whom had seen the need for clean water around the world first hand and were eager to lend their support. 

We also got a lot of love from the Paisley crew - Brad himself came by and picked up a shirt from our booth, so keep an eye out for it to appear on stage sometime soon. The tour continues on, and we are looking forward to getting more and more people involved!

If you'd like to be a volunteer, sign up at We may be coming to a city near you soon!

University Teaching Hospital

Lusaka, Zambia


The two weeks I spent on the gynecology service were eye-opening and much less pleasurable than working on the maternity wards. On this service we were mostly giving bad news and taking care of chronically ill patients. Of the urgent cases, the majority presented with complaints of bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy. At least half of these were spontaneous abortions (miscarriages), an average of 12 per 24 hour shift. These patients needed manual vacuum aspiration to empty the uterus of any retained products of conception. Amazingly, the women accepted the news gracefully and were cooperative with this method of treatment. Only their strength carried them through this painful procedure as analgesia was not given.

Unfortunately, a few of the women lost a significant amount of blood and fainted soon after the procedure. We scrambled to start intravenous fluids and manually monitor vital signs for quick resuscitation. We were always very concerned about blood loss knowing that the entire hospital had a critical shortage of blood available. For weeks most requests for blood transfusions were denied. Blood was only given for surgical cases since these patients were at highest risk for becoming acutely anemic.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Chongwe District Health Center, a rural health center outside of Lusaka. The clinic was very busy and ran as efficiently as possible with 1 physician working day shift, 1 clinical officer, 2 midwives, and 4 or 5 nurses. This center functions as a hospital and clinic, keeping patients who need close monitoring overnight as well as treating any acute cases that come day or night. On site is an antiretroviral clinic used for the care of people with HIV/AIDS, a women's clinic with equipment to perform cervical cancer screening, and men's and women's wards which are usually mixed due to an overflow of patients. Pediatric cases are also treated and kept overnight if necessary. The physician on duty treats a variety of illnesses, from malaria to strokes to burns. Emergent cases or those needing specialized care are stabilized and sent to University Teaching Hospital, some 45 kilometers away. All medical care is free, including medications and laboratory tests. In 2009 this clinic serviced over 17,000 patients.

The medical care in Zambia is adequate. The major shortcoming is manpower, a result of limited resources. I was grateful to be welcomed as member of the medical team, helping patients receive quality care in a timely fashion. The dedication of the medical staff and strength of patients will forever influence my attitude and actions throughout my medical career.

One of our partners, Ellie's Run for Africa, will host its 6th annual 5K race and family fun day next weekend - Saturday, May 22, 2010 - at Percy Warner Park.  Not a runner?  No problem.  There's something in it for everyone...

Ellie's Run was started by a Nashville teen when she was just ten years old.  Responding to a "missionary Sunday" presentation at her church, Ellie knew that she had to do something to help the kids she saw in those pictures whose mothers could not feed them and who had no chance at an education. 

Today, Ellie is planning her 4th trip to Africa this summer and has raised $210,000 for educational efforts in the Kibera slum of Kenya through the race.  What's more is that she has learned to see the hope that the Africans have in education as a way out of the slums. 

In addition to the 5K race, Ellie's Run features a kid's one-mile fun run, African dancing and drumming, cultural activities and learning opportunities and carnival-like games.  Yes - it's a race.  But it's really a family event.
We hope to see you there on May 22!  Learn more or register at

Today we want to announce the launch of our Water=Hope Campaign in partnership with The Brad Paisley H2O World Tour 2010. The tour begins next week, May 21 in Virginia Beach, VA - and we will be there to promote awareness, advocacy, and philanthropy for clean, safe water.

Around the globe, one out of every seven people lacks access to safe drinking water. 

TEXT H2O to 25383 to give $10.*

Your investment will build wells, provide water purification systems, and address sanitation issues both in the United States and around the world. Check in to our website in the coming months to watch how your dollars are being spent.


If you would like to volunteer to help with our booths at a Paisley concert, please visit to sign up for a concert near you.  Friends and family are welcome to sign up as well.


Let your Friends on Facebook know that you are supporting clean, safe water to save lives. See our NEW Application: and add it to your Facebook page!

Cut and paste the following to your Twitter/Facebook status to update your Friends and Family:

Clean, safe water saves lives. Text H2O to 25383 to give $10 today for the Water=Hope Campaign to build wells around the world.

Thanks for spreading the word and for your support. We hope to see you on the road at a Brad Paisley concert this summer!

*A one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducated from your prepaid balance. Messaging & Data Rates May Apply. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of Hope Through HEaling Hands by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to teh terms found at You can unsubscribe at any time by replying STOP to short code "25383"; Reply HELP to "25383" for help.

There is exciting and timely news for students looking to make a direct impact in the world. Each year, the Clinton Global Initiative's CGI U sponsors a competitive grant program called the Outstanding Commitment Awards.  These grants are given to students who submit proposals for "Commitments to Action" that are aimed at improving communities and lives in their communities and across the globe.  The grant awards range from $1,000 - $10,000 and applications are open to all currently-enrolled students, both undergraduate and graduate. The applications should be focused on one of CGI U's five global challenge areas: Education, Environment & Climate Change, Peace & Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health, and are awarded to student-led groups focused on these areas.
This is a fantastic opportunity for students to take action in making a difference across the globe, and helping turn their ideas into reality. Time is running out however.  The final deadline has been extended to April 30, 2010, so there are only a coupe days left for you to submit your applications.
I encourage students in Tennessee and across the gobe to take advantage of this funding opportunity by submitting an application before the deadline.  For more information about this exciting project, please visit
The CGI U Outstanding Commitment Awards were launched in 2008 to provide financial support to innovative, student-driven initiatives. To see a map of previous award winners and their winning projects, please click here.

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