Hydrocephalus Association was started by Lynn Ndlovu in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe after realizing the hardships faced by children living with hydrocephalus. The founder has passion and faith that combined international efforts can make an immense difference in ameliorating the plight of the children living with hydrocephalus. Lynn conceived this grand idea in 1999 and she started visiting such children in their homes and got an appreciation of the reality of the depth of their problem. The more she visited them her passion, interest and compassion birthed a strong curiosity and quest to study and inquire more about her new friends.
She started with a case work on an individual child in Ntabazanduna, a chieftainship in Umguza District in Matabeleland North in Zimbabwe, 30 kilometres from Bulawayo. She grew in passion as she realized that the child was stigmatized by her fellow-age mates and that he lacked some basic needs like medical drugs, and transportation to go to Bulawayo and Harare to see specialists, food, school fees and clothing. She established a working relationship with the care-givers and continued to assist. Now, she also identified another child in the Western suburb of Bulawayo in Mzilikazi and had discovered more problems and she increased in her efforts to just assist from her personal funds.
Her charitable spirit was then heavily provoked and triggered by a personal social tragedy which took place. As a kind woman, she was looking after an orphan, her late cousin's daughter from primary school until she was in GCE Ordinary Level Certificate and she finished that basic stage and then proceeded to undertake a Diploma in Education. Then suddenly, upon completion, her orphan niece became blind. Lynn was touched by this tragedy and then decided to compassionately engage in charity work with children with hydrocephalus.
In 2006, she started her weekly case management visits to Mpilo Central Hospital within the city of Bulawayo. It was through these visits that she deeply acquainted herself with children living with hydrocephalus and then had permanent friends. She developed productive relationships with their parents, medical staff and she then thought of finding more information about such children. She discovered that children with hydrocephalus suffered from hearing impairments without hearing aids. To make matters worse, most of these children could spend much time without being drained and fluids increased thereby interfering with the nervous system. Severe shortages of the shatters [draining pipes] in the hospitals and delayed operations complicated the situation.
Frequent and consistent visits to the hospitals and communities to see the children living with hydrocephalus also revealed the shortage of hearing aids, sporting facilities, stigma, discrimination, marginalization, neglect and emotional abuse among children living with hydrocephalus. Generally, children living with hydrocephalus have no outdoor life, no play therapy and camping facilities. Such children also need social attachment, spiritual and religious activities, entertainment and an improved social life. A close assessment of the conditions also uncovered that due to economic hardships-such children lacked a balanced nutrition. Educationally, Lynn realized that these children needed special teachers and school fees and she contributed school fees to some of them from her own meager income.
Hospital visits brought an insight that there was a gross lack of drugs in Zimbabwean health institutions. Most of the parents had no transport and health fees especially those referred to Harare from Bulawayo for specialized treatment. Mpilo Central hospital lacked key professionals such as Social Workers and Psychologists. The Department of Social Services and other health departments did not have community outreach programs to identify such cases as there are some who are hidden in houses and some who are not benefiting from free assistance and treatment programs.
It was against this background, that Hydrocephalus Association was founded and registered as a Trust in 2016 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Baseline research, data analysis and documentation is increasing and more outreaches are being undertaken to target a wider section of the children living with hydrocephalus. Although this Strategic Plan is being done in an environment of uncertain political and economic conditions in Zimbabwe, it is hoped that a concerted effort of both national and international donors, embassies and companies is going to make a huge impact into the lives of children living with hydrocephalus