Soccer – an avenue for truth

Reaching youth thru soccer

First time to sleep on a real bed

As soon as we arrived at Christ Care Children’s Home in Migori, the kids received their new mattresses.

the old "mattresses"

Previously they only had small, tattered pieces of foam to sleep on. What a great way to start our time in Migori!

We were there not only to help out these orphans, but also to help spread information about HIV by means of a soccer tournament and by giving tools for pastors and coaches to use.  21 teams (one girls team could not come because that tribe, Kuria, circumcised the girls and the girls had to look after their sisters who just had this incredibly brutal act inflicted upon them). They are seeped in traditions which bind them and hurt others – especially women. I believe that little by little their eyes are opening to the truth.

Vickie, HEART's founder helps pastors to come together in unity

I was most impressed with the pastors and leaders. They requested that we do a women’s seminar, they requested education for their “midwives” because many women die in childbirth. The young people desperately need to learn trades. While talking one on one with some pastors I found them very  much lacking in biblical knowledge yet desiring to learn. They need to learn how to talk to young men about morality in a way which would begin to make difference. However, paradoxically, this promiscuous society has taboos which prohibit honest conversations about such things.

deaconesses

Teaching pastors and coaches about HIV

We gave support and education in several settings.

"we want to hear from the Muzungu (whites)" someone shouted, as they were about to get their prizes

189 tested & counseled on HIV

talking to soccer players & friends

talking to soccer players & friends

The Word convicts and trains in righteousness

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Beauty for Ashes

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Help for Paul

Paul, a 9 year old boy born with HIV got what he needed from his visit at the Coptic Hospital’s Hopes clinic.  It took all day and of us (including Alice Litton RN, Hellen Barsosio a Kenyan physician who is interning with HEART) being patient, listening well and advocating.  The staff is great, but they are limited in funds.  Much of the funding that they do have is from the US.

This is what Paul got by the end of the day which he would not have had without our asking:

  • An HIV viral load test
  • ringworm medication
  • deworming medication
  • Supplemental high nutrient food mix
  • A letter from the doctor to an orthopedic surgeon for a referral
  • Follow-up appointment for both mom and son on same day, so only one trip was necessary.

It was time for his regularly scheduled Nutrition visit so as soon as the vitals were taken we went to the Nutritionist.  It took Katherine asking what his BMI was to start the conversation about his need for additional nourishment.  Ultimately, his mom PK, carried home a large bag of Insta for him which will last a month. When underweight and malnourished, the immune system is not healthy and he is at risk for infection and disease.

When the HIV virus level is high in the body, the metabolism increases.  People living with HIV but have no symptoms generally have a metabolism 10% higher than non-infected people.  This goes up to 30 or 35% when one is symptomatic or have a very high viral load.  Paul’s CD4 (a type of white blood cell) level has been decreasing in the last year. from around 800 to 250. Attaining a viral load count was necessary for the doctor to have for making a decision about a possible medication change.  These tests are not funded but Alice stepped up and said she would pay for the $45 test.  The ramifications of Paul getting this test might mean the difference of him losing weight, developing infections, having problems in many of his body tissues or even living just a few more years to having a chance for a full life.

Hellen advocated for a personal letter from the doctor so that Paul could get into an orthopedic surgeon.  He has a limp and no one has yet been able to help him.

Katherine pointed out to Alice the ringworm on Paul’s head and Alice asked the doctor if he could have a prescription for it.  He did, and also gave a deworming prescription.  Most Kenyan children have worms.

PK was very happy to have had us to support her during this visit. We were all happy that we could help.

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Opportunities to Share

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Public Transport to Kibera

Riding public transport to Kibera was quite invigorating.  The adrenaline activated my mind, so I’d be safe and perhaps remember the way for the next time. Walking from the Matatu to the bus meant looking like I knew what I was doing, trying to stay with Hellen and Alice amidst 1000 people, memorizing landmarks and being awed at the scenes. Now, for 6 weeks in a landrover with a driver, I have been amazed at the people who walk straight though an intersection directly in front of moving cars.  The fact is, if they didn’t do it, they wouldn’t get across…ever, or maybe at midnight.  So, my favorite part of this Matatu adventure was when we came upon such an intersection.  Hellen, a Kenyan said “this always terrifies me, I find someone crossing and just go then”.  So, that is what we did, and we made across alive. We got to the bus as soon as it started to rain, jumped on and then it began to pour. Alice didn’t push her way in fast enough so Hellen had to help.  I am told that the matatu drivers charge double when it rains.

 It was still raining when we were let off at Bombalulu’s in Kibera.  We walked the muddy road to the weep center, being as careful as possible not to slip and land in the trash.  (Dr. Hellen walking to the WEEP center)

We visited 2 WEEP women.  I learned that the first  (FA) mixes some traditional witchcraft ideas with her Christianity.  We read from the Bible about the supreme authority of God.  She couldn’t find her Swahili Bible and the translation was difficult so I ended up paraphrasing it to Hellen who translated.  But I know that the word of God does not come back void.  She did say clearly that she knew that we were sent by God.  Oh, yes, we are!   The alley next to FA’s house is pictured.

The second lady (Mary) we visited has been experiencing neuropathy which as very painful.  She had a small but great little garden which provided a great deal of her families vegetables.  Nairobi supports very lush vegetation and I am always delighted to see the many areas of flowers and colorful trees. The muddy trash of Kibera is hard to take, but in the middle of this, this woman claimed her plot and has made something very good. With Nairobi’s marvelous climate her garden grows well. Nourishment and Green in the middle of Kibera, what joy.  Good for Mary!

 

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Freedom For Girls

Tonight at a “Freedom for Girls” launch at Prime Bank, I heard a member of Parliament say she was ashamed that it was not her country but America who brought to the forefront a matter of great importance to Kenya.  I also heard from a popular TV host (who was raised in a privileged family) that she was entirely ignorant of this matter until she was 30 years old.  The matter is that girls miss up to 48 days of school each year because of lack of sanitary pads – so they cannot keep up and they drop out.

The facts are that many that Kenyan girls *do not have money for sanitary pads *do not have bathrooms in their homes  *do not have running water so they cannot cleanse themselves well *use cloths or leaves or even dung, if they have cloth, washing the cloth is very problematic *some slums charge for every use of the toilet or shower * girls hold off going to the bathroom

Last night I was privileged to read a speech from a woman named Geeta Meneek who as unable to attend the Freedom For Girls launch of the Lahanna Ladies Circle.  She wrote: As ladies – from a somewhat privileged background – take a moment to reflect. Close your eyes for an instance and think about “how would I manage myself during these days of the month, without a sanitary pad, or a tampon or clean water”. And if at all, you had managed some of these items, imagine how would you manage to wash yourself and then dispose of the used sanitary towel. Noting that whilst you are doing all this, you are living in a single room with the parents and siblings – with the toilets out in public access of the dwelling. And every time it costs to go to and use public toilet. It therefore takes a conscious effort to keep asking Mum and Dad for a few shillings, from an already scare kitty. So such choices are made amidst, cutting back on other necessities like food, buying books or simply using the bathroom. 

The Lahana Ladies Circle last night provided money for 1000 girls to have pads for one year. And this evening, Prime Bank provided money for another 2000 girls.

This generosity does much more than make the monthly cycle easier for girls.  It lights them up, they learn that they are important.  They can succeed in school and believe in that there is a bright future.  Look at the light in young children’s eyes, do you see their excitment for living and learning? Even in the heart of Kibera I see happy little kids learning, singing, running after us to saying “how are you”.  Yet as they begin to enter into puberty, the heaviness of their lives starts to settle in.  For a girl, it often means, they cannot clean themselves or their clothes, they have infections, there is embarrassment and they have to hide away.  The light diminishes.  Yet, this one simple human act of kindness, lifts them up.  It elevates them closer to an equal platform of those who are privelidged so that they have a chance in life.

As I compare the last two evenings, I saw this very clearly.  Last night, the 10 girls who received the token pads (for the ceremony) never had sanitary pads and nor the confidence-boost they provide.  This evening though were a group of 10 girls were from a school in Nairobi whose headmaster was obviously supporting these girls in tangible ways and sanitary pads were given last year.  The first group of girls were slow to smile, spoke quietly and uncomfortable with looking you in the face.  The second however were full of life.  Entering into puberty for them was not a “life-sucker” as it is for so many.  These girls new they were valuable and had something to give.  The first group, now has the chance.  They will use the pads, continue in school and like the first, will have increased confidence. They will in turn empower others to be who they are meant to be.

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Crops for Health in Nakuru

The great rift valley, forests, a volcano, lakes, baboons and zebras were some of the sights traveling to and from Nakuru.

Evans (HEARTs program manager) needed to check out the land and talk with a small community who would like us to help them get a greenhouse built on the pre-school’s land. Parents of the pre-schoolers will take care of the greenhouse.  Alice and I went along to meet people and see how we might help.  Besides being a new RN, she has 2 masters in agriculture.

25 parents and teachers met us with singing and dancing as we drove in.  6 moms carried their babies wrapped on their backs.  They wanted to let us know that this greenhouse is important to them. They emphasized that though the land is green today, it is only green for about 3 months of the year.

The purpose of this project is to avoid malnutrition.  The food will feed the pre-schoolers, then the families and also will be sold for cash.  Already they are growing on the land maize for ugali and sukumuwiki (kale).  When lunchtime came around the children lined up for sukumuwiki which they grew and ugali which they bought.  Now contrast that scene with a typical pre-schoolers lunch in the US.  What did you pack for your kids?  What did the school feed them?

I felt much joy as they listened attentively as I spoke about Nutrition.

  • Praise God for the beauty of Nakuru, may He bless the crops
  • Keep eating sukumuwiki (kale) it is very nutritious (Vit A, C & folicin)
  • Breastmilk only 4-6 months for the babies
  • Record height and weight of kids.  Keep one card for each kid in plastic.
  • Young children need to eat frequently
  • Eat Energy foods – their staple, ugali
  • Boosting the Energy food with fats, nuts, seeds
  • Add to that Body Building foods  (protein)
  • Add to protein foods Protecting Foods (fruits, vegies) to decrease disease
  • Use cash (e.g. cash crops) to purchase Quality Foods, avoid sugar, soda

The women were pleased to bring me out to the field and teach me about what they have done.  There I also let them all feel my hair.  One lady said that they have never met white people before.  The maize was in heaps.  After fully drying they will have it milled and it will supply them with 3 – 6 months of ulgali.

 

 

 

Another month until this heap will be harvested.

The few fathers who could make it there were awesome, I had the pleasure of meeting with them as well.  I believe there is much hope as the men of this community take their roles as the moral leaders. With Christian values acted out first in their families, then community their land will be blessed.

Joseph, Benard, Simon, Jeremiah, Winfred, Benjamin

They hope the future success of this project will go beyond the pre-school and they will replicate it throughout the area.  May this community of Nakuru work diligently and wisely, may their lives be emulating Christ and may His glory be magnified throughout all of Kenya.

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  I Peter 4:10 NKJ

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Starving

…visit the orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27).

Esther, the widow I visited today used to have a job at the local grocery store.  Her husband left her after infecting her with HIV and she has been raising her 7 year old boy alone. She had no food and no way to get to the clinic for her HIV pills. Her many neighbors are of little help. She cannot even stand because her feet are stricken with neuropathy and she is so weak. Without our help, it is likely she will die soon and her boy left an orphan.  She had nothing at all to eat or drink before we got there. I ran out and found at road side vendors some milk and bananas. Then, we got some rice and oral rehydration fluid.  I have never seen a body so wasted away. I think she was starving to death. Pray that she does not die, but instead is lifted up to live a glorious life.

What use is it my brethren if a man says he has faith but has no works, can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is without clothing and need of daily food and one of you says to him “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled” and does not do what is necessary for the body, what use is it? Even so, faith if it has no works is dead being by itself. (James 1: 14 – 17)

It is hard to see such lonely suffering but I am grateful that I am able to be of help.  If you have joined me in this ministry, you too are visiting the orphans and widows in their distress. I have heard from their mouths “thank you” (or, “asante sana”) specifically to you at home.

See 50 of the children at the WEEP pre-school singing “Father Abraham” on my facebook wall. What a joy they are!

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Beautiful Land and Peoples of Kenya

This is a dream come true.  I am thoroughly enjoying the beauty of Kenya – lush or dry, the varying cultures of the land, the climate, and the beautiful people. I am able to bring light and love to many in need.

I caught this picture of 2 Maasai men relaxing in the equatorial sun a couple hours from Nairobi. Though it is dry, I found the ground to sparkle with minerals.

 

Mercy is one of the special ladies I have meet. We have had fun and have a sweet connection.  I look forward to spending time in her home. Her children Paul 21 and Naomi 7 are awesome and full of joy. My prayers are with them and with her other 3 kids, especially James.

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Heaven and Hell – Kibera

MaryLou thought her day was like heaven.  She felt the gratefulness of all the WEEP women she has been faithfully financially supporting. For me it was a day knowing the Presence of the King.  A part of me had dreaded returning to that slum – probably the largest in Africa. Last week, walking through the maze of shacks, mud and trash seemed like walking through hell.  This morning we got some very sad news – the brother of one of the women we visited last week came a took her and her son on a bus to her family in Kissi which would take all day. She was too sick for that.  She died the next day. One more orphan in Africa. One precious child without parents.

Then we heard about another of the women visited last week.  She came in to the WEEP center this morning and said that before she was visited she felt utterly hopeless, she thought she was going to die, but they prayed for her and the food she was given gave her much strength and now she is able to walk. She knows the prayers for her were heard.

We visited a few of the homes given to the WEEP graduates.  The current tenants were still there but the WEEP women will move into the homes in a month. Four homes were all attached to each other.  The first one was dark and behind the sheet that divided the room a woman was cooking over coals.  No chimney; hot and smoky. The others were brighter. The women getting these 11 x 15 homes were full of gratitude. 

They sang and danced.  The women and each of us stood up and spoke to the group.  Silvia came late but started talking about how grateful she was for WEEP, I asked to video her talking and I got a great clip. We gave them peanut butter, lots of thread and clothes for their children brought by Bayside.

On the way home, a car crashed into us.  Fortunately, no one was hurt and our vehicle didn’t get a scratch but the other guys car front was crunched.  Hope he didn’t have trouble at the Police station.

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