Sunday, December 10, 2006
All of these pictures are from the first day. Webster who you will hear a lot about translated for me while I taught in their school. We brought the black board for them which was a big deal for the children! This was the first of many amazing experiences. The children were so eager to learn and I watched them as they experienced things for the first time, like the color of crayons and how scissors cut! It was life changing!
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Mothers Without Borders has been in Zambia for six years building local contacts and volunteers. One particular, very important project that they have been working on is called the children’s village. Some of the most amazing people have dedicated their lives to helping these vulnerable children, and the village is full of incredible stories of children who needed someone to help them. The website has a full write up about each and every one of them. I want to spend a few moments writing about a few of them.
We went to the village early Saturday morning to help the children with their chores and then we prepared a Hawaiian luau. As we pulled up in the bus the children were on the front porch singing a greeting to us. Evans, who is 15, was directing the choir. Not just waving his arms but he was so into conducting his little choir!! They were wonderful! They sang their hearts out at the top of their lungs, and they were just beautiful!! They sang of Heavenly Father, faith, and the suffering they had endured!
Everyone has a job to do and to help out at the home, even Emanuel who is three (and looks like he is a year)! His job was to help with the laundry. A three year old, doing wash. He washed laundry! Some scrubbed the house, others washed clothes and still others tended to their enormous garden. It took all of us volunteers three hours to finish watering and weeding in that garden. It was great to meet the children and spend time with them. I will post a short list of the children and their stories, all of which are heart wrenching!
It was as I worked in the garden that I met Carol who joined the village this last year. She has such a huge spirit in a tiny little body! Carol sang and sang as we worked, singing with a voice that touches your soul! Carol is not doing well physically. She is doing so badly in fact she does not go to school or church because she is too tired! That is a big deal to these people because education and God are everything to them. Carol stole my heart.
I also meet Darlington as we worked in the garden. He is preparing for a mission and helped out at the village. He has been through so much in his life and we really enjoyed talking about missions and other experiences. He could not believe that I had served in Brazil!
Today was busy working and teaching the children at the village. At the little school, we tutored them with their school work. They take it so seriously and they really enjoy learning. Education is their way out of poverty and they try hard to make the most of it because not everyone gets the opportunity to go. The little ones we read stories to and the older ones had extra tutoring. Some of the older children have never been to school so we worked with them to be able to skip grades and catch up with their age group.
That afternoon we planned a special program, a Hawaiian luau. I read a book about a turtle that lived in Hawaii and was a different color. They loved it! We brought grass skirts and learned a simple hula dance. We had music to listen to while we made volcanoes out of play dough. Later after they dried we made them explode. We watched a video about Hawaii with scenes of the beaches, surfers and the animals. They loved learning about other cultures and areas. I was so impressed with how polite they were and how quiet and attentive they were when we taught. We had an opportunity to teach our values as well.
My favorite part of the day was spending time with these children and feeling of their spirits and love. They taught me so much about life and the gospel. It was so easy to form relationships with them. They were so loving! Some of them sat so close to me and others would just grin at me!!
Emanuel is my favorite little boy in Africa, even though we couldn’t talk together because he could not speak English. Emanuel and his siblings had been living with their grandparents in a village close to Bwafwano because their parents had died. All three of them were starving and were being abused by their grandparents. The organization helped to rescue them and take them to the village where they could eat, go to school, go to church and live safely with a great family of 20!!
Emanuel is three years old and up to that point, his world was filled with death, starvation and abuse! He barely had clothing. For him to trust someone was a big step.
When we first came to the village he was scared of us and frightened. He would hide and cry. I do not think he had ever seen a white person. He slowly warmed up to me and began to sit in my lap but was still very stiff. It took him several hours to relax his little body and slump into my lap. By that afternoon he was hold my hand and pulling me around by my finger to show me his world. He had become my friend and he smiled and really opened up to me.
I was able to work with him, his sister and his brother to learn some simple English words and songs. My favorite was “You are my sunshine” which they picked up quickly and would sing in their very broken English every time I came. I do not think he understood a word that we sang but he would light up every time we sang it.
These children who had been through so much taught me a great lesson about trusting. Trusting our Heavenly Father! They could not understand me or even communicate with me but Emanuel is my friend and I will never forget him. Emanuel taught me the principle of submission to His will and His desires for us!
“When people come from other countries from around the world, sometimes communication in a common language is impossible. The language of a simple touch and sympathetic glance however is universal.” -M. Callopy
I love these scriptures about being submissive to the will of our Heavenly Father! Mosiah 3:19, D&C 50:40-41
Carol taught me to love life and everyone in it because it could be over in an instant! These children, who I had come so far to help, in turn helped me and taught me more than I could have imagined.
“Which child is not mine?
Which one do I choose to keep from the warmth of my hand or the warmth of my heart?
Which child on earth do I choose not to be mine?
Which eyes do not carry His light?
Which eyes do not carry His hope?
Which eyes do not carry love?
Which child on earth is not His?
Which child on earth is not mine?”
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Please contact me if you have any questions! 585-576-8064
* IV fluid, 200 ml size, 10% Dextrose 100
* Burette (IV tubing with drip chamber) 100
* Injectable Vitamin K (for newborns) 100 doses
* Adhesive tape 50 rolls
* Pediatric urine collectors 100
* Eye shields for infant phototherapy 100 (currently using
adult size - doesn’t work well)
* Feeding tubes, size 6 Fr 100
* Feeding tubes, size 8 Fr 100
* Suction catheters (for use with wall suction), 6 Fr 100
* Suction catheters (for use with wall suction), 8 Fr 100
* Plastic baby feeding cups (with cut-out) 100
* Cotton balls 100 pkgs
* Sterile gauze pads, for abd surgery covering, 100 so about 5" X 9" or so
* Glucometer 3
* Bilirubinometer 1
* Centigrade digital thermometers 24
* Centigrade wall thermometer 6
* Multistix which test at least for 10 bottles protein, bilirubin and glucose
* Keflex, 250 mg (when reconstituted) powder 100
Here are the birthing contents list:
* shower curtain from the Dollar Store
* 6 medium gloves in a snack-size Ziploc bag
* nail brush
* bar of soap (leave this out if mailing!)
* one new single edge razor blade
* one small package sterile umbilical cord tape (8"-10")
* 6 cloth maternity pads
* receiving blanket
* 2 newborn hats
* 2 pair baby socks
* 1 layette gown
All of this should be packaged in a 2 to 2 ½ gallon Ziploc bag.
Friday, October 20, 2006
This is Ben, he and his family live on the new 80 acres that will be the new children's village. He is five years old and He is such a light and gave us a great lesson on humility.
This is Ben's prize possession! His father made this one and only toy for him and he really loves it.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I had the unique opportunity to teach at their school while in the village! It was one of those amazing experiences were I felt like I was sent there for that moment and could touch those little souls. This specific village was so far out and so remote that they spoke no English. That made for a very difficult twist on “teaching”. I was able to collect many school items from Rochester and brought materials to make animal masks out of paper plates. The children were so excited to learn anything we had to teach them. Mothers Without Borders (MWB) brought them a great chalk board that was secured on their homemade brick wall. The school was for children ranging in age from 3 to about 16 years of age. They sat on homemade bricks on the dirt floor. The school had no windows and one door. It was dark and stinky in that tiny one room school, but it was all they had, and it was great!!
So I taught them step by step how to cut and color the different animals and then Webster (an amazing local who helped us so much during the trip) translated for me! The children were so smart and eager to learn. It was amazing to see their faces as they experienced these things for the first time. They were so excited as they realized that those little colored sticks, crayons, would put the same color down on their plates!! They were so funny with the scissors, as they had no idea what they were and what they did, and they struggled to get the coordination to make them work.
I loved the chance I had to teach these beautiful children of Heavenly Father in that humble school! I got down on their level and told them with my eyes and gestures that I loved them and that I was proud of them!!! I knew that they could not understand my words but I told them how proud I was of them and how much I loved them!! I felt like I touched their hearts and souls. They definitely touched mine. Many of these children did not have mothers and for an afternoon I could teach the wonder and amazement of colors and art!! I knew those mothers were looking down from heaven saying thank you for being a mother to those sweet innocent children! I knew those children at one time and I could see their potential. It was an amazing experience to see those children as our Heavenly Father sees them.
We made a total of 83 masks that day!! The children loved them so much that they did not take them off for the rest of the day. They were so proud of themselves and the things that they had done and learned!! They showed everyone and anyone. It was something so simple and small, yet it meant so much to them. As we sat there in that room there was an old grandfather sitting in the corner just watching us out of the corner of his eye. At first I was a little annoyed at his presence because he seemed to be judging me and what I was doing: a rich American who was just bringing these silly masks to the children of that village! But suddenly he stood up and slowly inched his way up to me! He said something really fast and did not look me in the face. I looked to Webster for a translation and he said this man would like to make a mask!! He was so shy and embarrassed. I handed him the materials and he got right to work. I watched him as he tried to cut the eyes and mouth out awkwardly with two hands and then grasp the crayons with his old stubby fingers. He just came alive!! His face lit up as he actually cut the holes himself and saw the colors of the crayons. After he was done he came right up to me and proudly showed me his childlike mask of no identifiable animal at all. He could not stop smiling. He became my friend from that moment on. It was an experience that showed me how lucky we are for the little enjoyments in life!! Crayons. This simple, humble, old man learned to enjoy life for two hours because of crayons.
After I finished in the school I wandered outside to see what the rest of the team was up to. I got this huge, amazing panoramic view of the village. The entire scene was full of energy and activity. They had kites in the sky, a parachute full of color and jump ropes going in circles. There were games and activities every where I looked!! The women taught the village women crochet and sewing skills. I just loved seeing all the good things going on!!!
We also taught our “values” that MWB had given us to prepare before the trip. We were given topics like health, education, and hard work to teach in each and every situation we found. My group had hard work and we taught the story of the little red hen, a song and team games. The children have no media entertainment so they use what they call skits to teach and use their imaginations. I know that not all the children understood or got everything out of our values but someone got something out of our lessons. I do know however that if one child understood that using safe sex practices saves lives that was worth all the hard work and heart ache!!
Throughout the day I interacted with more than 300 children. I could not tell you their names or even remember all their faces but I looked them in the eyes and told them I loved and cared for them. I hugged and kissed their dirty faces and held them like they were my own!! I knew that I could not change their situation or that they were hungry. Not one of them ate lunch that day! But I knew that I left them with love and they knew that I loved them!! I cried when we left and prayed that Heavenly Father would tuck them in that night and hold them when they were scared! I was also blessed with the eyes to see them as children of God. I saw how these people live and how hard life is for them! I felt great gratitude for the life and privileges that we have! Heavenly Father knows these children by name, by each and every struggle and every hunger pain. I got to see them in His eyes.
“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”
- Nelson Mandela
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Monday, October 16, 2006
Well the trip started out a little rough, seeing as how I got all of 30 minutes of sleep the night before I left, but everything was well packed and organized. I left at 4:00 am from Rochester flying to Washington DC where I met the rest of the team for Mothers Without Borders. After a long layover in DC, we left for Johannesburg, only to sit through another long layover before our flight to Lusaka. In Johanna (Johannesburg) we got a motel where we slept, showered and ate. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity we left for Lusaka and arrived at 8pm Wednesday night. After traveling for 32 hours, we had finally arrived!!! My first view of Lusaka was flying into the city, watching the most beautiful sunset that covered the entire sky. The colors were amazing-bold and bright!
We stayed in a backpackers lodge called Kumboka, which was right in the city. It wasn’t home, but it was a place to stay. There was a random employee who slept on our front porch and awoke at 5 am every morning to sweep the porch. The showers were freezing so it was an ice cold version of the hokey pokey in the shower; and the toilets, well, we were lucky that there was light to see all the filth. But it was home for three weeks and a bed with 8 other women to sleep with at night. Breakfast was cereal or “interesting” egg sandwiches with sweet ketchup and toast if we were lucky!
The first day we were thrown right into things, starting at the beginning-birth and newborns. We went to a shelter for abandoned babies aged 0 to 18 months called House of Moses. It was founded by two women from Arizona and run by wonderful, dedicated local women, most of whom are volunteers working and helping all day with a meal at the end of the day for their payment. They get babies from the hospital, individuals and local authorities. It has a special spirit there and the babies are well taken care of. We played with them, cuddled them and heard their stories! They were so amazing! These children had nothing in the world but were open to you and loved you right away!
There was a little 3 month old boy who had been found in the street. He was placed in a plastic bag and left to die on the side of the road in the gutter. He fought his way out all by himself and was found by a police officer. He was named Daniel, just like from the Bible! He was so strong and powerful.
Another little girl, Gloria, was so beautiful!! Her mother died in child birth and her father was unknown. Her grandmother was already taking care of other grandchildren and was forced to leave her at the hospital. Despite all of that, she was so full of life and love. She just held you with her huge black eyes, cooed and giggled!
These were just two of 30 babies that were currently being taken care of there. The House of Moses operates three other houses throughout the city, and that is not nearly enough for all the babies being abandoned!
I will go into more details later but there was a couple traveling with us who were planning to adopt, and they were able to work with the House of Moses to provide a better home for some of those abandoned babies! While we were there, we were able to bring many items, three duffel bags full of blankets and diapers and clothes, all of which were greatly needed.
That afternoon we drove to the best hospital in Lusaka, the University Hospital of Zambia. It was shockingly different from anything we expect out of a hospital. There are no laundries, house cleaning or food services there. Family members of the patients have to travel everyday to the hospital to bring food, clean clothes and bathe the patients everyday, because there is no one at the hospital to take care of those tasks. There are no flowers, no grass, and no paint on the cement wall to brighten the patients stay. The floors were warped and fragmented, but the worst was the infestation of rats, cockroaches and ants. The water, if there was any, was brown and dirty. And this was the best that they had!
We were able to walk through the NICU where the babies under 5 lbs were staying. There were three rooms with one to two incubators a room. While all the babies needed them, only a few were given that luxury. They had simple benches for the mothers to visit and feed their babies. There was no sanitation to speak of, we were not asked to wash our hands or place gloves on or wear any kind of sanitary clothing while holding and helping with the babies. The only thing we were given were orange, ripped smocks to wear which were even dirtier than we were. As we walked around the ward we saw young mothers as young as 16 and talked with them about their babies. Some were optimistic and inviting. Others looked scared and frightened. One mother asked us to pray for her and her baby because he would most likely not make it through the night.
Next we walked to the second room to find a baby boy no more than 2 lbs. He was purple and blue with thin transparent skin. He had no blanket, no diaper, no hat. He had no one. He just lay there exposed and naked, gasping for breath. He gasped slowly and then would lie very still. His eyes were still and he never blinked or moved a muscle besides the short breaths. He was too weak to do anything but breathe every few seconds. He died soon there after. He had no mother there to hold him, sing to him or rock him until he returned to his Heavenly Father. He was alone. He was beautiful!
The next room revealed more babies in similar circumstances. One little boy was foaming at the mouth. His head was misshapen and half bald. He was wrapped in a simple blanket and had a blank stare on his face. Most of those babies were abandoned and would eventually go to the House of Moses if they lived. Because of lack of funding at the hospital, we saw few nurses or other staff. The hardest part was how quiet the wings were in the NICU. The babies never cried or screamed. I almost wanted to hear their cries just to be reassured that they were really alive.
There is health insurance if you have a job but just to rent a house and pay for food keeps people so strapped that they are unable to pay for medical expenses; especially when doctors are ill-equipped to diagnose a problem, let alone treat any ailments. It is made even more difficult by a lack of proper equipment and medicine.
This was a very difficult day! I wanted to scream at someone to do something. I wanted to hold those babies, wash them and feed them. I felt so overwhelmingly helpless. They had no medicine and there was so little food, especially for those babies that had no mothers.
Alma 26:37 “Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in.” This was the beginning of many days and nights trying to understand how this principle could be true.