Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas from Uganda

Merry Christmas  to all our old friends, new friends and all our wonderful family.
As we sit down to our Christmas dinner it is 80 degrees outside and 100% humidity, in fact it has rained all morning. 
 We have had a month of Christmas giving and serving in the name of LDS Humanitarian Services - it has been a wonderful month that has wrenched our hearts and warmed our hearts all at the same time..

 DECEMBER 9th - Kiryandongo IDP Camp (Internally Displaced Persons)
Note kite - made from plastic bags.
500 blankets and 400 mosquito nets distributed to help with the problems of malaria among the children. 
These are the people who were evacuated from the Bududa mud slides on Mt. Elgon, a disaster that happened just a couple of weeks before we arrived in Uganda.  They were given immediate relief then and are now in IDP camps and are now being asked to move out to 2.5 acre plots to start a new life in a new area.  They are without working wells, latrines or houses on their new land and so many were staying in the IDP camp until they can get shelter and sanitation problems resolved.
The women of the camp told Minister Esweru (Minister of Emergency Relief and Refugees) that they appreciated the blankets and mosquito nets but they had more needs, very basic needs,  They needed salt and soap desperately.  The minister sent for salt from the closest town and gave out the salt while we were finishing up the blankets and mosquito nets distribution.  When the salt arrived the people became very desperate for the salt and pushed and grabbed trying to secure a share.  In the process a couple of bags of salt were torn and were spilled into the dirt.  As people dispersed , those without came and gathered up the spilled salt along with the dirt trying to salvage some of the salt. -  heart wrenching..
One man asked if we would be returning.  He said that there were 5 groups in the camp and we only distributed to 3 of them.  Apparently his group did not get any blankets or mosquito nets.
Ssimbwa was with us at the distribution and it was hard for him to see his people suffering and in such need. On the way home he started to think about ways we could help with more salt and other relief which the people seemed to need.  When he got home he met with our bishop and discussed how the members of our Makindye ward could help the people of Kiryandongo.  All week the ward and many nonmembers have been collecting bags of salt, clothing and anything else they wanted to donate to take back to the IDP camp.  Next week a couple of trucks will return to the camp with the donated items.  We are witnessing people who have very little putting the needs of others ahead of their own and working together to give relief to people who are desperate for the basic needs of sustaining life - heart warming

Dec.12th - Rubaga People with Disabilities
After 4 months of struggling to get an industrial knitting machine for the Rubaga People with Disabilities Association we were finally successful.  The project for this association was in jeopardy of failing due to the delay in getting this knitting machine.  The  group had hinged all their expenses for their training program on the production of this knitting machine.  We met the vendor at the training center and paid for the machine.  The one member of the association that knows how to use the machine was there learning the specifics of maintenance and was very excited to get started on sweater production and training others how to knit. 
As we were getting ready to leave Lillian our contact told us that the trainer was struggling with his wheelchair which is very old.  It had two flat tires and needed some repairs to be workable.  He was having a difficult time getting to the training center as he was having to move on his hands and knees, a difficult and dangerous way to travel in Kampala.  They wanted to know if we could get him a new wheelchair with our wheelchair program.  We are unable to help him as the wheelchairs are being distributed by the partner organizations and we are unable to just give out wheelchairs.  We realized that the success of the knitting training hinged on the being able to be to the center each day working and training - heart wrenching.

After we returned to our car we both looked at each other and said Merry Christmas and got out the 120,000 shillings needed to repair a wheelchair and returned to the training center and gave him the needed money.  He was touched, overwhelmed and left right then to arrange to have his chair repaired -heart warming.

Dec. 22nd Amuria Emergency Relief for flooded farms.

We spent two days doing distribution to 3 areas in Amuria District that has been hit so hard with flooding causing their crops to fail and increasing the chances of disease.
Distribution of 400 mosquito nets to mothers of Alasi, Ojamai and Osepai Villages .  This area has had a high incidence of malaria among the children and several children have died from this awful disease.  It is estimated that in Uganda over 100,000 children die of malaria each year - heart wrenching.  The best protection from malaria is to sleep under a mosquito net - .  The mothers were not told what relief they were receiving and when we told them we had brought them mosquito nets there was quite a cheer that went up.  .  They said we were the first white people to ever come to their villages. 
They all wanted to shake your hand and speak kind words to us in their native language.  We would say Merry Christmas and they would say, "God bless you."

Distributed 400 hoes at Abia Parrish and Agwaia Parrish. 
These people are victims of heavy rains are are struggling with flooded gardens and fields causing crops to fail.  Their hands were calloused, rough and cracked from hard work.  The feet were bare and covered with dirt.  The clothes were tattered and it was obvious that these people were struggling to survive with the barest of essentials  - heart wrenching.
At the request of Minister Escweru we had brought hoes for each family to help them prepare the ground for a new planting.   The people had to walk quite a distance and all came excited to receive some relief.  They were not told what they were getting but were very excited when Farrell told them that we had brought hoes to assist them in planting their gardens.  The hoes were the metal blades without the handle as they will hew their own handle but the blades were good, heavy hoes weighing 3 lbs each. 

Everyone we met were gracious and happy for the efforts of the church in assisting them.   The need is great - the problems are many - the people are all God's children and deserve the basic essentials needed to sustain life.  It is heart warming as you see people greet each other warmly, laugh together and strive to help and support each other.

Sister Barlow gets to hang out with the women.

Elder Barlow gets to hang out with the spiders.  The whole time he was passing out the hoes he was standing under a huge spider web just a few inches above his head.

December 23rd - Amahoro Orphans Home

Several months ago Caleb and Ritta came into our office just wanting to talk.  He said he had 3 homes in which he was caring for street kids and abandoned children.  He had just taken in a 2 year old who was paralysed and abandoned on his doorstep of his children's orphanage.  He is newly married and he and his wife have the responsibility for all three homes.  Caleb was a street child who was able to find a way to get an education by working for a school for school fees and he got through school and went to the university with the help of some kind people.  He now has a good job with the water company in Kampala.  He feels he has to care for street children as he remembers how hard it was to live on the street.  He said that the hardest time for him as a street child was 5:00 pm when everyone went home to family and he had no where to go.  He asked us if we had any friends or members of the church who would just visit his kids and read to them and let them know that someone cared about them.   We sent a good Ugandan friend, Olivia, and she has been going weekly to the orphanage ever since serving , loving the children, teaching and being an extra mom to 40 children.

We wanted a missionary service project  for Christmas so we took the Thaynes, Sis. Beachley and her daughter, sister in law and a friend, Daniell Gardner who is visiting.  Olivia and her daughter Maria went with us also.  We took rice and beans, apples and oranges and the Danielle brought 15 homemade children's blankets to give out.

Olivia and her daughter brought Barbie type dolls along with yogurt and cookies for all the children.
We were smitten before we even got to the front door as the children came running out to greet us giving us hugs and tugging us by the hand into the yard. 

The children range in age from 2 to 16.  There are 7 staff members.  They grow a lot of their own food and said they would be self sustaining in another year for enough food to feed the children.  The bedrooms were clean and neat and the children were clean and dressed in adequate clothing.  Olivia had sewn uniforms for a school that never picked up the finished uniforms so she gave them to the children and several of them had on the blue uniforms when they greeted us. 

Elder Barlow made some new friends who followed him wherever he went.
They asked us to plant a tree so they would remember our visit and we planted 2 mango trees and gave them names.  One we named Michael Adam after our son and Elder Thayne named one Dotty after Sis. Thayne. 
These children come in many different packages.  Two children, a brother and sister age 1yr. and 3 yrs,. were abandoned on the streets of Kampala.  A  young girl 14 yrs was sold by her father to a man.  She ran away and the police brought her to the orphanage.  She is pregnant and very scared.  A baby, estimated to be 2 yrs. old was left on the door step of the orphanage.  He is paralysed and cannot sit up on his own.  Another child came to the orphanage very ill with Sickle Cell Anemia and has had complications causing paralysis.  Each child has a heart wrenching story.
Elder and Sister Thayne made many new friends.
The children love oranges but most of them had never tasted an apple before.
What's a party without balloons.

One young woman, Daniell) had an experience of a life time giving service and enjoying every minute of it.
 As we left the orphanage Farrell gave Caleb some money, a donation, to help where he needed it.  He was very appreciative.  He is trying to find the money for a special chair for his handicapped kids.  The cost is more than we gave but we hope the money will help him find the right wheelchair that may be used for both children.  I wish we had access to one of those great big tire jogging strollers they have in the US or a custom chair suited for their needs. 

 Amohoro Home, Amohoro meaning 'Peace', is a wonderful place doing good things for a lot of children.  These children have it better than many other children we see and we applaud Caleb and Ritta in their efforts of caring for these children.- heart warming.

So this holiday season we wish you a very Merry Christmas and want you to know that we love you, we are thinking about you and we have made some personal service efforts this season in your behalf.  Instead of presents, neighborhood treats, parties or Christmas cards we have  bought salt and clothes for the people of Kiryandongo, repaired a wheelchair for a man who desperately needed his chair and tried to help some orphans in an effort to say

Merry Christmas
 to you and
Peace on Earth and Good Will to all Men

Monday, December 20, 2010

Going Back , , , feels like home!

Looks the same from the air-
Same loaded taxis with people riding, hanging on the back-
Same beautiful sunset
Same Mimi and Wivine trying to get me to buy over ripe bananas and pineapple at the end of the day
Have you figured it out yet?  Yes, we went back to the DR Congo.  We can't believe we got an opportunity to return to the Congo, but a couple of months ago we got an invitation to return to Luputa for the turn over of the biggest water project the church has ever undertaken.  Three humanitarian couples worked on this project and we were all going to be there for the turnover.  So, on Nov. 9th we flew to Kinshasa and an opportunity to see a lot of old friends.

We had a day lay over in Kinshasa which gave us a chance to see a few things and some people we have really missed.  Many things looked the same.  Our old dependable Izuzu was still around although it had been sold to a member.  It felt like we ought to be able to climb right back in it and head out to Malueka..   
There was a new CES building next to the Kinshasa Stake Center.  What a great addition now if only there could be a temple right next door, what a blessing that would be.

Bishop Hoboko showed up in his casuals to say hi.  What a great man.  Actually he is like one of our sons and often calls me mummy. 
 He is the new CES coordinator.  Not  sure what his title is but he looks good behind his new desk in his new office in the new CES building.
 Patience, his daughter is two and beautiful.  We took her home from the hospital when she was born. 
We also ran into Pres. Eustache Ilunga.  He use to be just Eustache to us when we were there on our mission, the guy that mentored us, tutored Farrell in French, and who always kept us going in the right direction.  Farrell was even asked to assist in blessing Patience when she was born.  But today he is Pres. Ilunga, stake President of the Kinshasa Stake and the new Director of Employment for the northern area.

We took a ride over to St. Joseph's Hospital to see Dr. Ngoy.  Dr. Ngoy is the leader of NRT (Neonatal Resuscitation) in the DRC.  He first attended an NRT session in 2007 and with in a few months it became obvious he was our champion trainer. 

He is another one of those people we miss greatly since leaving the Congo.   He has been in the church news, Liahoha and  the publication of the American Pediatrics Association where he has been extolled for his efforts in training so many people in the DRC in Neonatal resuscitation.
We brought his wife, Dr. Florence a few gifts from Uganda
Dr.Ngoy has trained over 1500 people in the NRT program and says that not a day goes by that he doesn't get a call from someone he has taught telling him they have saved a baby.  He estimates that 20,000 babies have been saved with the program.  He has also trained 3 teams of doctors as master trainers who are building their own programs throughout the DRC.  He had a goal to take the training across the nation and he is succeeding.  He is presently training some government people at their request as he is now seen as the expert in NRT for the Congo.
Hadn't been in the Congo long when we heard from Bishop Nguwe.  He, his wife Isabelle and their youngest son Kevin spent 5 weeks with us in the USA before we came to Uganda.  He was anxious for us to come to dinner and meet all his family. They live in Kinshasa and are in the process of remodeling their home there.
 It was a great reunion.
Isabelle was even happy to see Elder Barlow greeting him with a flourish of French and a warm hug.

We brought her a little of Uganda also. Not really her look as she is in to Glitz.
Isabelle and her sisters had been cooking all day.  No stove yet in her remodeling but everything was cooked on a charcoal stove out side.  Isabelles sister in blue is a doctor of Family Medicine.  Both women were delightful and they spoke a little English.
 /There was enough food to feed the whole neighborhood.
 Fried chicken, beef steak, pork chops, sausage, corn, green salad, macaroni salad, mixed vegetables, potatoes, rice, fried plantains, and a beautiful tomatoes hallowed out and a boiled egg inserted, topped with a purple onion, Vienna sausage stick, and a sprig of parsley stuck in the top. 
So much food we didn't know where to start. 
 It was impossible to try everything so we had to pick and choose.
 After dinner I was taken to the bedroom and dressed in a Congolese outfit.  I know, I know, I look a little strange in the head gear but I wasn't doing the dressing.  I just smiled and said thank you.  It was a beautiful outfit and it is green - what can I say.  John Pierre's mother felt we needed a picture with all the Congolese attired women.
Every time we turned around John Pierre was on his cell phone,   Well, he is a "man about town".  What can we say.  He is busy as he owns a trucking firm and he is also a customs agent and there are also other deals to be madeHe is quite a successful business man for the Congo.
 There is certainly a love between these two brothers. 
 Kevin was about 10 months old when they visited us in the USA.  He has grown so much but as soon as we started singing the songs we sang to him in the US he warmed right up.
 The Nguwas have a very eclectic family.  They have 8 children two of which are in Utah going to school at UVU in Provo.  The rest are living at home along with John Pierre's mother, Isabelles father, John Pierres, sister and her baby (there while she is getting treatment for an illness), an assortment of nephews and I even think we could have found a bed there if we needed it.  Actually it is a very traditional African family.
What a great night we had with the Nguwas.  It was a treat to greet them in their home and to get to meet the whole family.

It was a whirlwind day but such a renewal of memories for us.  We even stayed in our old apartment (the Moody's abode) and hosted the Ericksons from South Africa who are Public Relations for the So. East African Area.  That brought back a few memories.  When

When I was fixing us all breakfast I found in the cupboard a ziplock bag of Grape Kool-aid that ore daughter, Christie had sent to her dad when we were in the Congo.  Farrell reclaimed the Kool-aid and the Moodys said it would be tough to give up grape kool-aid but they would survive the loss.  I don't think they had a thing for grape kool-aid like some, other people we know.

Kinshasa time had passed and the next day we would be off to Luputa and the celebration.