Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I just thought I would do a little update on Cherise. She is six years old now and a fun little girl. In fact, she is involved in everything that is going on and if she isn't she isn't happy! She is a big help to me at the nutrition center, or the market, or whatever else I'm doing, and she loves to help Daddy in the hangar, fueling up the airplane or whatever else needs to be done. She also loves playing with her local friends, their favorite past-time right now being climbing trees. I've just included a few pictures for fun. She's really the life of our party!
Written 6/4/12 He was in a pathetic state. About a year previous he had become paralyzed from the waist down, whether from an accident or from some kind of curse, we never could ascertain, but lack of proper care and sanitation had left him with sores on his back and legs that oozed the infection that was sapping his strength. His wife brought him to us to see if we could help him, but there was nothing we could do. He had already been to Béré Adventist Hospital just 4 Km from us, but he was too far gone. Thankfully, Gary, was touched by his plight and felt that there were some deeper issues and so that Sabbath we went to visit him at his home. When we arrived he was laying naked on a mat, the refuse he was laying in attracting flies by the hundreds. His father, Phillip, quickly washed him and covered him up. Phillip said he had turned his back on God and the local evangelical church wouldn't even come pray for him. As he struggled to breathe, Gary assured them all that God never turns his back on His children and gave a simple, beautiful explanation of the plan of salvation. He then prayed for him and immediately his breathing calmed and a peaceful expression replaced the previous turmoil. He died the next day, but Phillip told us he believes he made his peace with God. Now we are holding a branch Sabbath School and midweek bible study at Phillip's home. He is eagerly seeking truth and reading his bible. Please pray for Phillip, his family, and neighbors that they will be freed from the darkness in which the devil has held them so long.

Babies, Babies!

Written 8/25/12 It's been almost two months now since we accepted our first inpatient malnourished babies at the center created from Kaleb's memorial funds. Constructions is almost finished, just some finishing touches and screening need to be done on two of the three buildings, but we have been working around the masons as they have finished things up. They are also still working on the wall surrounding the property, in between the rains, but we were seeing so much malnutrition that once the buildings were livable we decided to start with what we have. So, on June 27, though not officially open, we accepted the first three babies. Soon there were more. I can not describe for you the craziness and stress of trying to figure out what we were doing and trying to get everything functional. Looking back, I can see how far we've come, and am happy with our progress, but we still have a ways to go. At first we were trying to feed the mothers as well,and even though the mothers were actually doing the cooking, it was taking all our time going to the market and trying to keep them fed since we don't know how they prepare food here, and they are really stuck on you have to eat this particular green with peanut butter, and this other one with beans, etc. So, we decided to make the mothers bring and cook their own food, and then we can focus on feeding the babies. Well, several of the moms were unhappy and left, but this is the way they do it at any other hospital in the country so especially since all the treatment for the babies is free, it really isn't asking too much of them. We were having a lot of trouble with ladies leaving. They would come for two or three days and decide it's too much work, and then just leave (taking our dishes, etc with them!). Well, this had to stop since the first 2-3 days are very intense and a lot of work for us, and then they are wasting resources since it isn't benefiting the baby to be there for 2 days only. So, we've made it harder to get in. They have to go to the hospital for a consultation and medicines since all of them need treatment for parasites, probably malaria, and some vitamins, then they need to go home, get everything they need to stay for a month and come back on a certain day of our choice. Many of them never come back, which is really sad, but at least then the ones that come are the ones who are actually willing to do what it takes to save their baby. It is so hard for us to imagine, but most of them are not willing to wake up every two hours at night, and coax and cajole their child to drink when they don't want to, or use a stomach tube if necessary. But then that is why most of them are malnourished in the beginning. It would be too inconvenient to take the baby to the farm with them, so they leave a very small baby with an older sibling who gives it water all day to keep it's belly full until mom gets back. Or it would require a lot of work to prepare three healthy meals a day, so they just buy deep fried flour balls on the side of the road, if the kid is lucky! So, we do see a lot of sad things, but we are starting to see some rewarding results as well. I had one lady who was coming to me for baby formula because for some reason she wasn't producing breast milk. So, normally this is Tammy's specialty, but since she was in the US I decided to help this lady. So, the rule is they have to work four hours for a can of formula which lasts from 4 days to a week depending on what stage the baby is at. This lady had been working for her formula for a month or two, when one day she and her husband show up at the nutrition center with their baby who is two months old, a two year old sister, and a 5 year old brother - all malnourished! The sister being severe. So, I admitted them all and at first the mother wanted to go home, but eventually she buckled down and did a great job. The sister, her name is Lundi (which means Monday in French), we called the lonely child at first. We would constantly find her sitting somewhere all by herself doing nothing, just alone. She was always happy though if you would pick her up and haul her around with you. The older brother, Jean, would also beam with delight at any attention given him. They are super sweet kids, and we all love them! But they did really well, we worked with the mom on feeding the baby and the older two kids eat and eat, so last Friday we finally let them go home. It was really exciting for us to look back at a picture of when they first arrived and see the difference!
This is Lundi and Jean on my right, I'm holding Samuel, and Kousmia is on my left. Another bright spot in everyone's day is Samuel. He is supposedly 4 years old and his father brought him in several weeks ago. His mother died when he was two. I tried to work with him by sending food home with the father because I didn't figure the father would stay with a bunch of women and babies! But after a couple weeks, he developed edema in his feet which is a bad sign, so I told the father that he really had to stay. The father said there was no one to stay with him, but said he would stay by himself. He is absolutely adorable and a little parrot! He will say whatever you say - in any language. He is so funny! He doesn't walk yet, which is really sad, but he should be gaining strength and we have him stand some every day. The problem is his father leaves him at home alone all day while he goes off and works in the fields. So, we are trying to find an aunt or grandmother who can take him. Not long after we started, we had some drama with the women. We had one lady with a very sick boy that we were really struggling with. She had a hearing problem, and so had to be looking at you to understand you, and from the beginning the other ladies treated her like she was stupid. She was really struggling, and wanted to go home, but Bronwyn convinced her to stay a little longer. She was really a nice lady and we all liked her. But one morning she came over to the office where I was working and someone told me that she was outside crying and I better come; they thought she was packing up her things. I went outside and she told me that when her mother had come to visit her the day before she had given her 2000 francs (about $4 but several days wages for them) and that she had put it in a specific place last night but now it was gone. She was really upset, but I assured her we would find her money. So, I called all the ladies into the building and closed the doors and told them that I wouldn't open the doors again until we found the money. My translator, Krya walked up just as all this was happening, for which I was very thankful. Immediately one lady who had just arrived the night before brought over a 100 franc coin and said, "I came with 200 francs and then I spent one on this oil for my baby's skin (the baby's skin was sloughing off and full of sores) so this is all the money I have." I thought that was a bit strange since I hadn't asked or accused anyone. I just told everyone to start looking for the money, but everyone just sat there, so Krya and I started with the girl who lost her money and looked through all her stuff to make sure it wasn't there. It wasn't. So, we started a systematic search through everyone's things, Krya on one end and I on the other. I did wonder what we would do if we found 2000 F, because the woman could just say it was hers. But the lady said it was only one bill, so that at least helped to narrow it down. Well, we went through everything and found only a few random coins, but this lady that had showed me her 100 F at the beginning kept talking and acting a bit strange and all the other women were saying it was her. The entire time it was a big buzz of all the women talking excitedly and giving their opinions. One lady was telling me that we had to take the lady's hand and put it in boiling water (I couldn't figure out how I was to know which woman, or if I just started with one and whoever got burned was the one who stole it, or once I found the culprit that was the punishment) but I told her no, we weren't going to do that. The babies got upset from all the ruckus and I tried unsuccessfully to calm the women down. So, after I had finished searching and found nothing, the women said it must be one of the women sleeping next to her. Since the women who was acting guilty was sleeping on one side of her, I figured that was as good a place as any to start and also all the other ladies had been there for some time and we'd had no problems and this lady had just arrived the day before, so she was my chief suspect, but I didn't want to just single her our without reason. It is really really unforgivable if you accuse someone falsely here! So, we took the two women sleeping on either side of her, and I basically made them strip down. They tie money up in the corners of their wrap around skirts, so I checked that. Neither one of them was wearing a bra! Then Carlie, the nurse who was working then said, "What about their head wraps?" "Good idea. Hand them over." So, they did. The suspect had on a nice velvety piece of cloth that was double thickness. When she handed it to me I shook it, but nothing fell out, so I almost gave it back, but instead ran my hand down the length of it. When I got to the end I found a small folded piece of paper between the layers. Krya was watching me and when I felt it she was so excited she grabbed it from my hand and fished it out. Sure enough. It was the 2000 francs! So now the women really went wild! I told the lady that she would have to leave. I tried to find a way to help the baby anyway as it was so pathetic with the sores and very malnourished, but she had had an attitude with us from the beginning and lived a long ways away, and she didn't seem willing to stay nearby and come to my house or anything. So, I had to let her go. It's so sad to see children suffer from choices that their parents make. On a funnier side note though, we have now dubbed the building where they sleep as "The Dorm" because of all the drama that goes on there! So, some days are good, and some days are bad - we have had a few babies die, which was really hard. They were so bad when they came in but we had to try. But every day, we are very busy. We are in desperate need of help, if you or anyone you know would be interested in coming to volunteer with us, please let me know. I am especially looking for nurses and someone with a nutrition background focusing on a diet that is whole food plant based.