Saturday, September 24, 2016
Jinja - Kampala - Entebbe
Jinja - This town always brings back many reflections and memories from my early days of trekking from the village where I was living, to the children's hospital, after my work was done at the AIDS Orphan Education organization I was volunteering with in a small village outside of Jinja. Memories of John, Kenny's brother and others escorting me to village after village caring for those sick and dying of AIDS, so many children dying...my Raymond and Lawrence. Then there was Kenny (John's brother) crippled and suffering from sickle cell disease who was brought into my path (later Rogers emaciated and starving, crippled with TB of the spine). Rarely, in those days in the village did I see another "white person" unless I was in this town which has changed so much - muzungus and coffee shops are all over the place! A regular urban center now comparatively; in the past I walked everywhere in the red red dirt, in the mud- for miles (kilometers) or between matatus and bus stops. No phone. No internet, unless I went to an Internet cafe in this town. The African home I lived in had a tyrant and abusive male head of the household, typical of most African families back then. (Not much different than some things I experienced at the hands of men in America actually). Here, I even struggled at times to get enough food to eat, even if I paid for it - as there were many mouths to feed and they needed food far more than me!! With John and the other workers, I learned to pray and pray for a better day, hope to make a way. I didn't see color, nor did they, I believe. We walked side by side doing our best to help someone in much more need than we. There was no racial divide, or even discrimination among the poor, the sick, those with AIDS, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindu, etc. There was always a fear of possible danger, robbery and even violence, esp in the larger city. I learned to be careful and be street smart. Most of all, I learned to be respectful, humble and treat others no matter who they were like I would want to be treated and if made a mistake apologized. Sure, I cried - a lot. But there was always someone else way worse off than me. And this life event was not about me, not now...not ever. Never once, was I harmed or robbed in Africa, not once ( and I travelled in the war zone and very remote). When I lost things, at times very important and expensive things at times, they were found and returned to me... Yes, my passport...money... I phone...and the list goes on. It was simple. Reap what you sow. Help one another - there is always someone worse off than you - not necessarily by handouts - but love they neighbor as thyself. Help one another survive and work together as one. Unity. Encourage, mentor, give hope. They would sing and praise God as I tended to the dying. Angels among us. It was the most spiritual and beautiful experience I can ever imagine. It transformed my life. It saved me, my life... yes even from my often pathetic self - feeling sorry for me ...for God so loved the world... I don't know how or why terrorists and rapists are formed, violence and riots occur or why the human being can inflict such horrible abuse, pain and suffering upon another human being. It happens in all countries among all peoples and all religions. No one is exempt, not America, not Africa, not the Middle East or Europe or .....noone is better than the other. We all are born with the same hope, I believe: to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy - make a difference, a better life for our children...God's children. Fear, feeling out of control, fighting for one's life in so many ways...breeds such deep profound insecurities - and a kind of survival mode - of fight one another at all cost - to somehow survive emotionally, physically, spiritually. Refugees included, especially refugees. Brokenness breeds either compassion/love or hatred. Greed or Giving. Power or Humbleness/humility. Hard work or entitlement. Teach or Take. What is the turning point? God only knows. Just maybe extending a hand up (not a free give out) to anyone, anyone regardless of circumstance, regardless of where or how - can heal the soul, forgive the inequities and end poverty and violence: physical, spiritual and emotional poverty as well as violence stemmed by fear of the unknown. What are we so scared of? Hurt? Broken hearts, broken souls, broken spirits, broken bodies, broken minds ....let's heal this!
- Ahhh, if only.... I choose compassion and love - yes, even tough love without instilling dependency. And pray this world can be healed, hope renewed. Violence ended. Poverty ended. What will you choose? I choose to stand up and fight for peace. Humanity. Equality. Justice. Forgiveness. Love. Even if it kills me. God is love....
Come along... Carry me along....
- Now look who is here and who I have found! This great and wonderful Mariel - who interned with me once upon a time. Giver and teacher of so much to women and empowerment through business and training at the Akola Project! Thank you Beth and John, my forever family, for the warm shower, lovely bed and ease of companionship and carting me around town - to my appts - to the airport - now that is another story to come. Just as I really feel like I don't want to go home yet - getting comfortable here and healing myself in this country. Then the lovely Lindsay comes to visit and what a blessing she is! So young and brave traversing this country and it's people with such amazing grace and courage even farther east in soroti. A shining star, sometimes misunderstood - pay attention - she gets it even at her young age and will make a huge difference in this world! Kampala, the multiple stops, my multi task agenda and the airport ride was uneventful and easy and ahead of schedule ... One stop I didnt make this year was to see the Congolese refuge family I have been helping to reunite with their brother in the US for past 6 years...now that is a both tragic and beautiful story as well! I was called by the Wyoming senators office asking if I could help a constituent - a Congolese refugee locate his family they believed was in uganda. Gods plan again. Certainly not mine! Searching nakavale refugee camp, then the Kampala refugee camp , the international Red Cross, standing in long lines at the OPM and finally a breakthrough with the UNHCR. Literally 6 years it took. Oh shake it off, Nadine. Stop all of these memories ... All is well! All is good. In fact too good. Clearly, far too comfortable and happy for my own good....so I guess I must be taken down a notch. And that it did...this airport experience - take me down. Not quite as bad as getting stranded in 2003 for 16 hours without a phone or money - lost credit card ...my family not knowing where I was....but definitely a ..take me down to the tears, mush melon stage - so hot, pouring with sweat and dirt, smelly and exhausted after up for 17 hours on the move. Forced to tear open all of my tubs, carry on suitcase and backpack etc..toss out stuff, re arrange and re pack all (Denis helped me pack it so well so as to get all things in!). "Are you picking on me", I say. They, "no, just doing our job". And so I survive it, endure it. Get past the exit desk, stamped to leave the country. And I look down at my grubby, red stained feet and realize I forgot my shoes....still wearing my beaten flip flops with the duct tape peeling from the bottoms of my calloused cracked feet. I shake my head, realizing - saying to myself over and over as my Kenny says, "it will be fine. It will be fine." I still have my rumpled skirt on, the torn blouse. Around my waist is tied the layers of dirty clothes i could not keep in my backpack - which was overweight with as many things stuffed in as possible. So why don't I just pay for another checked luggage? Because i just off loaded/gifted all of my personal money in uganda, since I will be working, making more again soon. Every single time...When will I learn?! No sense in bringing any money back, right?! . Haha! I long for that airport lounge and shower but they have delayed me so much! Some things never change. Once a rag muffin, always a rag muffin. Deep breath...with grace and ease...not so this time - haha! See you on the other side, my friends. Thank you angel team for carrying me along! I am so so grateful as I needed you! Your energy sharing and prayers have made a huge difference in these people and in this world - giving hope to one life, one valued life at a time. Thank you from the top and bottom of my heart! God bless you! Onward to Amsterdam. May it be uneventful! Will I be back for more? Oh, Yes! Till next time, Uganda... I love you!
Friday, September 23, 2016
The "meeting of the minds" actually took place in Kampala with all of our project leaders or representatives. Except Awal who is just too remote and destitute. We need some more mentoring on the community group. I think Paul was shocked I pulled it off, actually - "wow he says". Each and everyone came down on the bus (unless they came with me), from very far is you recall the map. And actually showed up. Denis met them all and got them to the guesthouse and meeting the next day. Each and every potential partner/ village was given the opportunity to introduce and discuss their projects, hopes and dreams. We reviewed the details of how this may look like with the community foundation for development assistance and how to submit proposals etc. They all were given an opportunity to speak and also hear - they will also be given time to think about it and decide whether they want our help as how this relationship will look like with those on the ground, our trusted Terence and executive director, Denis and Bosco assisting. Also it is an opportunity to share knowledge and resources. For example, palabek wants to do a piggery - Opit Farm is already doing an amazing one. They can be trained by Sr Z and so on. It really steam lines all we are trying to do now that we are expanding the model to other areas and want our partners to know what their responsibility is as well as our commitments on the ground to me mentor and facilitate their development and recovery. We don't want an NGO in our name here, we want the Ugandans to learn to run it all themselves with some assistance, training and possible start up funding from Hope 2 One Life. Music to my soul! The best part is our lawyer Paul in Uganda is volunteering his time to mentor this process along with us and our team on the ground for 3 months - until I come again in Jan, with a team this time! He doesn't want to see anything stall and says, "you are helping our country. I can give back too". This rarely happens! Thank you God - glory be yours in this, your work. I had no idea where this solo trip was headed when I started out, have renewed hope, strength and light! Thank you angel team for carrying me along! I have a few more meetings in Jinja to assess a water system and meet the director of farming Gods way program here in uganda. Plus see my uganda son Kenny family - my beloved family too.... Bring Rogers brother, Charles down for a visit and my special Youwabu ( Mambo). All more amazing stories in themselves. Many of you know Kenny and Rogers stories! They both have been in the newspaper a lot and prefer I leave it alone now. Too much, Mom is! Haha! A couple more days and time to move along ....
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Day 8,9, 10.
Hey team, take an easy morning today as I have some things to take care of for Rosa Mystica Rest Home and need to spend some time with these lovelies. Bosco is also coming to assess a chicken coop. Let's plan on heading to the farm after lunch. Okay? - Cone along....Finally, I am ready. Yes, we are leaving Gulu and surrounding areas today and traveling across the wild and rapid Nile River at Karuma Falls. The baboons are definitely out on the road and guard rail as we cross the other side of the bridge, waiting for food as usual. "Don't feed the baboons", I say. (Kinda like - "don't feed the bears" in our Montana neck of the woods - haha!). Some babies too! We aren't allowed to take pictures of the River or falls as it is a police post and photos could breach security. Don't even try it, as one team member did this once and we were stopped! Otherwise, the road is smooth and we make it in record time to the farm. Less than 2.5 hours. Sr Dr Vincentina is with us, Denis and Bosco and Isaac driving. I am still very well taken care of by all! We first came to Family Empowerment Uganda - Canaan farm in 2006. This was a safe haven and refuge for those who knew or heard of the Angoma family and fled the LRA war to safety. The Angoma's opened up their land of 400 acres and allowed those who fled the north to re settle until they got on their own feet. Richard their son, longed
to do so much more and started developing the farm land which was a giant bush initially. I met Richard in 2003 when working/volunteering for the same organization in Bugembe village (near Jinja) when I was given a 3 month leave of absence from my job at St Vincent Healthcare. Richard helped me with my Kenny for the year I was working on getting him to the US for hip surgeries. We had stayed In touch. He also married nurse Suzan who I worked with side by side in village clinic outreaches and in HIV AIDs dept at the same time in 2003. When our first Calvary chapel team visited, we found, all were drinking muddy pond water and malaria and diarrhea was rampant. Since, we drilled two boreholes in 2007, installed house hold bio sand water filters in 40 huts. Teams started coming in 2007 and 2008 and 2009 and yearly onward, many from the ED/Walk in clinic dept where I was working at St Vincent Healthcare. (Thank you Brenda, Leigh, Carol and the Parkers - this is all because of you!). From there the PRESM model was born. We did many pilot projects, such as VHT (village health team training), small scale vegetable garden drip irrigation bucket kits, jewelry and crafts income generation projects, school supplies and more. Once these were implemented and successful, we did smaller scale solar water and lights, began building a clinic - brick by brick, and large scale solar water project that was able to pipe the water to the clinic , community kitchen, latrines, showers etc which also included much larger drip irrigation project with this water stored in 2 large tanks (overseen by our faithful hydrologist, Tom Osborne! We have supported some microfinance business projects for the women's empowerment group, tailoring and vocational training and teacher training/literacy. This is where Hope 2 One Life started in 2007. It has taken years and years and many team visits over the years and many many prayers. The foundation was laid and other partners came in on other parts of the model. The projects on the farm and surrounding village are numerous! 2 more deep water wells - living water - drilled in a school and surrounding Kampala village and a grant pending for Mboira village. We have up to 26 VHT's this year who are developing their own group leadership and planning to train the new ones and do their own village outreaches without waiting for me or a team to come! Mariel and Terence - thank you so much for furthering this along! Soils projects for better crop yields and better Income as well as farming Gods way training are in the works. Just look at that bountiful tomato crop! I have plans for a regional conference and training of farming Gods way in gulu after my recent meeting with the director in Jinja - yikes! The ladies were so happy to see me and share what they were doing with the farming and solar household light small business - and get this...pay back their loans! They were able to pay their children's school fees and contribute more than their husbands even! Now they want to start a ginger farming plot they researched and I promptly reinvested the loan they paid back into them. The teachers we sent to training at the Joshua foundation earlier this year in Tanzania are not only using the curriculum but relay the children have changed so much! They are praying, interacting and learning! So much so they are sharing with their families at home! The photos and videos will show you some of the work. It is music to my soul, when an area nears sustainability and we are almost, "out of a job", thus forging forward to expanding the model to other areas who have requested our assistance as you have seen on prior posts. Teams love love the farm! It is an oasis in the rough! Beautiful! Even tho we stay in grass thatched huts, women's hut and men's hut, communal living style, with a walk to the latrine and outdoor shower and outdoor kitchen/ dining area. I love it here! I can't wait to snuggle in my hut! A few years ago I did a poster presentation on this post war recovery empowerment and sustainability - community development model with the help of Leigh, at an international medicine and public health - missions conference. First of its type and the reviews were very good! I so look forward to a great few days here on this peaceful farm where I don't have to travel on the roads and can stay put in one place finally! Lots of work to do here however, as the various groups gather to tell me all about it! Come meet the VHT's. Emmanuel clinic staff, ladies sewing purses from the beautiful materials I bought in Kampala, teachers, farmers and more! Come along, carry me along....
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Day 7 - Opit Farm
Good morning sunshine! Nice to see you again. Pouring rain, alternating with blazing hot sun. Makes for beautiful country, yet lots of mud, puddles, potholes and slip n slide driving. I have always loved the rain and reminds me of my Linda Mar days I would stomp thru the puddles all that way home (much to my mothers dismay!). At least the nights cool off when it rains, even so, I still struggle with sleeping no more than 4 hours most nights. I feel am slowly healing tho, thank God. - Its a great new day! Let's get on the road again, shall we? Today, we are going to see our sustainable goat project on the Opit Farm. It was designed to help with Emmanuel clinic sustainability, the clinic we raised up on the Family Empowerment farm, (where H20 first started in 2007). We had decided the income generation piece of this E clinic needed to be separated - off the FEM farm for ease of accountability and so as not to mix up with the other goats on the farm, thus making tracking difficult. While the "how to do this" was being seriously pondered - through serendipity another surprise connection came about. Most all of what we do comes from interpersonal connections and "out of the blue" happenstances. Divine appointments. Or simply those detours encountered along the winding path of life ...as I call it " following the yellow brick road" - or in these cases the "red dirt road". A leap of faith where there are no road maps. A calling, an intuition, a gesture, effort or experience that proves itself. This is one of them. Ugandan nurse Susan (married to director of FEM farm Richard) was traveling on the bus one day and met Sister Zhiporro. Susan comes to know all about Sr Z's hopes and dreams to develop Opit Farm - and the years of road blocks. Torn again by the war. Their problem was lack of water. The hundred acres of farm land has been forever idle and a large wild bush, undeveloped, ripe for cultivation and yearning to be worked. Susan brings Sr Z to the farm to meet me and tell me about their "water problem". As you can imagine, I am "hit up" if you will, by so many people who are in need of this or that. At times it can be quite draining and some people downright irritating. Although all have a sad plight and a good and great need, I have to be careful and sure about what we get into. As many of my family and friends will attest, I have a hard time saying no in my work and personal life, but this non profit organization I take very seriously and feel a great deal of responsibility to see the projects and work we support, that are ultimately supported by kind and generous donors, are carefully thought out and implemented so the money donated is all 100 percent going to successful projects and well deserving people. We are an all volunteer organization and we all pay our own way over here or fundraise our own mission trips and we pride ourselves on the fact that donations go directly toward the work on the ground. So, I have my guard and caution up typically when first approached. I try to patiently listen. I explain we have many projects ahead of theirs, but that I would certainly keep it in mind. When the time and opportunity arose I would likely visit the site etc. Explained nothing happens quickly for us, feasibility assessments must take place, many others (H20 board) must approve and funding raised etc. In other words I didn't want her to get her hopes up, yet I am never one to close a potential door as I have learned there is usually a wonderful surprise on the other side! All in good time. If it is meant to be, I will be lead to her site one day. Well, another year went by. Sr Z asked to come see me on the farm again, this time we were well into the tomato drip irrigation and farming projects, some with problems. She tells me all about her agriculture degree and training. She sees the problems and offered solutions, then rolls up her sleeves and sets out to teach those doing the tomatoes how to make compost and manure pit using the goat manure and leaves/ dry grasses etc. All in her nun habit! I was impressed. The limited resource Emmanuel clinic was so in need of an income generation project to sustain it in the long run. Our MOU was for 3 years only and that supported the staff salaries. The patient fees (the amount the poverty stricken area could afford) supported the medications, supplies and lab testing, but not staff salaries. It is very difficult to access good quality healthcare in remote impoverished areas that would be sustained financially. Even the government hospitals and clinics were horrendous, ran of medication and supplies regularly, broken and run down facilities, and more... Then at a board meeting the light bulb came on.... Why don't we put in a borehole for this Opit Farm and do the goat project there? This will help Sr Z develop the Opit farm and we are able to breed goats for better meat and percentage of sales/income go toward Emmanuel clinic. After a lot of meetings, site visit and assessments, a partnership was formed. John, one of our board members was familiar with raising sheep and helped design a business plan for the goat project. At our annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser (we always have a theme) - Many donated toward the "Adopt a Goat" (the gift that keeps on giving) and start up infrastructure - goat house, and 10 acres of fencing. This project was also designed as a partial non interest bearing mico finance loan, (we always reinvest back into the projects) as we have found when the business plan follows this path, the project is more likely to succeed then just "giving it all to them". Due diligence and hard work ensue towards the success of the project. And so the African Boer Goat breeding income generation project was born. It took almost a year to clear part of the land, drill the borehole, build the goat house, fence the land, get the bank acct opened ... Buy the start up goats.... and now we have "kids"!! 15 of them so far. They are doing very well! Sr is doing a great job! She has done farming as well and vegetable gardens with Hope Seeds donation! Farming gods way technique (manure, mulch, spaced planting in rows etc) which is far more sustainable than using expensive fertilizer - yielded 20 sacks of ground nuts in 3.5 acres. She had great yields of maize also. Grew giant beets, carrots etc. In addition as this project has progressed there has been a great deal of local interest in it. Sr Z applied for and recieved a grant for a piggery, using IMO food which allows microorganisms to break down the feces even and when all mixed in greens etc. These pigs stay confined in this structure, love it and flourish, while limiting the typical destruction they cause when raised the usual way. She is doing a masters thesis on these pigs as well. They are in high demand and have potential to bring in good income as well. She was given a cow. Also has chickens and rabbits. A real farm has been born out of nothing! We are so so happy to see this and very encouraged that this was the right way to go! We are so proud of Sr Z! She is also so thankful the assistance and she had failed to get start up help for years in the past. Music to my soul. Sr Z has also agreed to come to the meeting of the minds Monday as we organizes how the community foundation for development assists and oversees all of our projects. She is forward thinking and planting a living fence as the one we have now will not last forever. And so much more she shares of the future planning, including the need for a rain water gutter system for the goat house roof, as with the pouring rains it can make quite a muddle puddly mess and thus breed some potential sickness and problems for the goats. Most local goats graze wild and sleep outdoors on the ground and eat and get into things that cause them the get sick and die often. This model we have only one goat so far was a still birth and one died shortly after birth. The rest are thriving. Come along ...let's look at all of these amazing animals! Not the little pigs and note the "lame one" as they call him, who is thriving also. This is the last project we call "up north" in the war torn region, at this time. I am at peace and tomorrow looking forward to traveling to the Family Empowerment - Canaan Farm where Hope 2 One Life stated after a mission trip in 2006 and where all of our pilot projects for the PRESM, post war recovery empowerment and sustainability model were tested and how we know this model and dream of mine works!! Hallelujah, I am looking forward to a nice rest there in the grass thatched hut I have slept in for years,,,,come along, carry me along..,,
Monday, September 19, 2016
Day 6. Awere Village
Good morning team! How are we doing? It is time we had a little de briefing as these village visits can be quite emotional, especially the first time. It is a glimpse into humanity and usually people come away forever impacted and more aware, less frightened of the "other world", more compassionate and understanding. There is always the why's - why does it have to be this way? We are born this way and God had his ultimate plan. I go where he leads and have faith and trust in him. And that by loving thy neighbor as thyself, even if it is a half a world away, the love and energy that brings will make for a better way, a peaceful way. The training, projects and community development we brings make for a better way, a way forward out of poverty. The poverty that brings so much hate and violence. We can't control what people do to each other, what kind of mental illness abounds from a tormented soul but we can spread some hope faith and love in this world. And that is enough. We can't save them all, only God can. I don't have all the answers for sure. But that is enough and gives me the courage to carry on, keep moving forward. So good job my faithful friends, thanks for your love and compassion, thanks for coming along! I am grateful! - We are now in Gulu. I stayed at Rosa Mystica Rest Home last night with my dear elderly sisters. One has broken both hips and is bedridden, in a lot of pain and with bed sores. Actually the skin is sticking to the sheets and peeling. Thankfully, I have some antibiotic ointment, saline, gloves, wipes, soap, hand sanitizer and will buy some bandages. She needs a pressure relief mattress and we have located a way to buy one in Kampala. It is expensive but they will always need it for any others who become bedridden at the end of life. They don't really do palliative care here with pain meds, hospice etc like I would normally do at home in my job. This is where she wants to be rather than the hospital. She also has a bit of dementia, yet is happy to see me and wants to sit up when I come In. But oh - the pain. Father Peter comes to pray with the sisters daily and he prays over her with all of them surrounding in love. They sing beautiful music. Later he and I have long discussion on how to help these sisters sustain themselves. My room here is much more soothing that the hotel, cooler and a breeze thru the window. Still stark and plain but suits me fine. It continues to pour glorious rain at night, somehow this rain unites me with all sorts of emotions, yet washes away the tears and the pain and the suffering. Sets hope for a new day...giving growth and nourishment for all sorts of living things that spring to life with the morning dawn. The sun is bright and beautiful....may it rise all around you, peace and joy and love surround you...
- Okay, get ready we are headed to Awere Village and the Side by Side Community Group Farming project! This is another couple hour journey remote and actually goes past Kony's birthplace - the leader of the LRA. It is raining again by the time we arrive. Many are gathered in the church to meet. 70 members are in the group and again, one by one, I meet their leaders. They have ledgers ready and want to show me what they have done. We have supported them with a borehole (water well repair) oxen for plowing and seeds so far. Oh and encouragement that we also are by their side. Each member pays 5000 Ug shillings ( less than $2) to be a part of the group. They have a bank account, a constitution and a CBO formed. They take immense pride in reciting every kilogram of crop yield, price sold, how many acres and then the total income. It is a delight! Through the cultivation of sim sim, soy bean, ground nuts and millet - in approx 4 acres of land total they have raised 2.8 million shillings nearly $1000 dollars! They have worked so hard and also tout unity as their driving force. They include holding up those that cannot fend for themselves well and supporting the "old ones, lazy ones, sick ones" to do something together to help. Bringing togetherness as a group. Unity. Peace among them. Music to my soul. They have identified a leader who will represent them at our group meeting in Kampala as we form the framework for the CBO Community Foundation for Development. I can't forget, this plan that became outlined and evident as to why this solo journey took place at this time and these places. We now have 5 partners gathered, 3 potential board members and more to go - for what I feel will show itself as a ground breaking meeting of the minds, further unity and support for each other as these projects grow and move forward - faces of progress in the developing world. Come along my friends... After viewing the well and cows and some of the nearby fields, I am drenched! Feels good but I am tired and long to be tucked in under my mosquito net, snuggled at Rosa Mystica where I can rest a little before visiting the next exciting project tomorrow on Opit Farm. Come along ...carry me along.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Awal Village - Day 5
Today as we make a surprise visit since we were unable to reach them to inform them (no network), people of the village slowly gather around. This year we blessed to drill a new borehole for them (water well) as their old one had broken they were without clean water for nearly a year. This is a very good well with lots of water! They have also kept it so nice! We give world water day t shirts to all of the water boards each year. It is a must to learn now to maintain and care for a borehole so it doesn't become contaminated. They have done very well and I am so proud of them! They are very happy! Most were in the fields tending to their crops of cotton, maize or soya bean. We had some t shirts for the kids still left over from Shandra and the nursing school. Vitamins, etc. Good fellowship and plans to form a community group and mentorship are underway. The pain was much less evident at this visit. Bosco's gifts were given and they were very very happy. I hope to see change and positive light in their future from now on.....
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Achua mebe. "Good morning, how was the night? How is the family?" The African people are very social and personal. Greetings are important to them. They stop, pause, great and shake hands enthusiastically and ask how you are. It is quite nice! I have to really make myself slow it down when here and take time to do this, esp as I tend to still want to operate under my typical American multi task speed. It is refreshing to just "be" in the moment and pay attention to people and not things, the phone. I am still pulled in a lot of directions here but my team of Africans help a lot. The American team is not always easy as this experience can bring out many emotions and I am always surprised at what comes out of the woodwork of one's soul and insecurity or anxiety or fear of the unknown. Cultural differences also abound. I am not always a very patient team leader. I try to be cognizant of what is going on or brewing but I miss the boat many times. Personalities can clash especially in communal living and travelling. I also neglect to explain things thoroughly many times. For
many it is their first time. For me it is many times so I forget how it is. So, please slow me down and ask. Any questions? No matter what, the experience usually changes or impacts people greatly. I always know everyone's hearts are in the right place and they are sacrificing, giving and loving. Everyone copes in different ways and takes home different perspectives. Always I survive and come back for more! I am grateful and miss some of you on trips like this. Your contribution adds a lot of dimension and creativity to activities and blessed the people immensely. Before each trip you all have to sign a Waiver acknowledging this is NOT a Vacation haha! I am a terrible vacation tour guide that's for sure! You all are doing great!! By the way! Thanks hanging in there and taking the long road!
- Meet little Keny. We first met him in 2006 at the Kitgum infant orphan care center. During the war and as massacres happened or mothers became abducted or died in one way or another, many babies were found under bushes or nearly anywhere. People would bring them to St Joseph's hospital where Terence was working. He saw such a need and opened the center for babies. A caregiver was required to be with the children as well. Hiring aids etc was not and option or feasible. The babies needed milk, health care, food, warmth and love. By the time they reached the hospitals they were usually very malnourished and ill, many of them barely alive. There was no such thing as infamil formula or baby bottles, so without mothers breast milk these babies would have all died. Keny, was one of them. His mother died of HIV and his father was also very sick with HIV. Keny turned positive for HIV and he was dying. Our team spent a week at the infant orphan care center teaching the caregivers all about healthcare and nutrition, as well as doing clinics evaluating and treating the babies. When we arrived they were all sick, nearly every one of them. Dripping snot from their noses like I have never seen, goop from their eyes and ears. coughing, feverish, sores all over their bodies, bellies swollen, arms so so thin. Worst of all they were so lethargic, eyes dulled with hardly a spark of light. And they did not cry. They did not cry. I will never forget it. Pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea, skin infections, ear infections - you name it. Thankfully on the Calvary Chapel team we had one doctor (Dr Marty Lucas) , two PA's (including me), a couple nurses and a lot of loving people who pitched in with anything needed for the clinic, pharmacy, lab testing etc, while others loved, sang, and played with the children during a VBS. We prayed and prayed for healing and showered on them as much love , vitamins, medicines and supplies as we could. Cheryl Morgan carried small, weak little Keny in her arms most of the time. When we left we thought he would die. Well, he didn't - he lived! God had other plans for his little life. ARV medications became available and others for treatment and prophylaxis. He started to survive and then thrive. His father also was able to get on ARV's and he survived and his health improved also. Keny graduated from the infant care center and his father took him home. Cheryl has sponsored him ever since. Keny is now in P 4 primary school. They come to see me each visit. He used to be very shy and now has grown into a bright eyed very talkative boy. Not a bit afraid to ask for what he wants and speaks great English! This time he asked for a bicycle! I looked at his grades. They were not so good and he admitted he played a little too much last term so we made a deal - if he studies hard, pays attention and gets his grades up, I will get him a bicycle in January when we are next here. He has 3 months to earn this - haha! Here I go again mothering these children - It would be easier on my soft heart to just give him the bike (and many team members would be taken by that grin and insist they wish to buy him the bike) but he understands and this is better for him in the long run I keep telling myself! His father is taking very good care of him and so deserving of some help. Thank you and bless you Cheryl! Hope 2 One life supported the infant care center in medical treatment and a visiting nurse since 2007 - until the center closed a couple years back due to lack of funding when the war was over and the government wanted all of the children to be integrated and cared for by extended families. Hundreds of babies were helped and saved over the years. Terence was the founder owner and director of the center and that is how he came to help us on these development projects. His heart is pure gold and the most trustworthy, competent and cooperative person with the financial accountability and feedback we need for H2O to exist. We couldn't have expanded to these areas without him and now Denis and Bosco's desire to help. ----
Come along my friends, carry me along as we head next to Awal village, the home of my Bosco's family who suffered immensely during the war and still continue to struggle. This is a hard one for me. We also met Bosco at the infant care center in 2006 when he was the child caregiver (10 years old) of baby N. He carried her from the hospital to the children's activities and VBS on his back with an IV in her arm each day. We all cried as he carefully placed her tiny body on his back, snuggled the blanket around her bottom to hold her to his waist, turned and looked back at us one last time...as he slowly walked back to the hospital and the nutrition ward. She had nearly died of malaria, pneumonia and malnutrition and he was nursing, loving her back to life. The whole team fell in love with them. Especially the Zinsers. I searched for his family all through the IDP camps and found them in a dispersement camp in 2007 and helped get permissions and documents for a family who wanted to adopt them. Tragically, that adoption didn't turn out so well. I blame myself for helping that process and not a day goes by I ask for forgiveness as children have been hurt. Bosco made mistakes too, he was a child of war...older child, afraid to trust and torn between their broken marriage. He was a child. Only God knows his plan for these children. Meanwhile, I am blessed with the best kid ever - he has grown a lot through this tragedy. He gives me so much joy and I am so so proud of him! Never mind, we will carry on....you will not want to miss this visit! It is deep and remote and they struggle even more than palabek, although we have been able to help them some over the years, starting with cows, plow and seeds ......Bosco is sending greetings and gifts through me to them. He is working hard as an electrician and unable to come this time. I miss him dearly. Their borehole had also broken down and they had no clean water, thankully we were able to drill a borehole this year (water well) for their village. I can't wait to see it for the very first time! Come along.....