Saturday, February 27, 2010

In a mud hut a small girl, Mary sits with her 4 brothers and sisters. Alone, cold and hungry... The night before, their Mom had come home and went right to bed; she had been digging in the garden all day and was utterly exhausted. Mary could tell something was not right, not normal, she usually came home and fixed dinner before resting, but last night she went to bed without even a word. Mary tried to wake her, but she seemed to be sick, so she left her to sleep. She went out in search of food for her siblings, but there was nothing, and she had no money. That night they drank tea for dinner.

Later that night Mary bathed her little brothers and sisters, put them to bed on their mat, covered their Momma with the blanket hoping that she would be better in the morning, and washed the dishes outside. When she came back in, she closed the door-though it would not latch properly, and put herself to bed.

That was the last time she saw her Mom alive. Early in the morning some men came and took her body away. No one said a word. No one looked her in the eye. They were just there…alone; she had no idea what to do. How was she supposed to care for these children? She was their legal guardian. At the age of 12 she was now the mother to 4 children. Over the next few days they drank tea for meals, but the children began to cry-they were hungry.

All except for one... In the corner lay a little tiny girl-the youngest, Sarah. She had been sick for a while, but the closest health center was a 2 hour walk, and they had no money for medicine. She had been sick for a long time, Mary could no longer tell if she was getting worse, or just staying the same.

They became despite, so Mary started going to ask the neighbors for food-some would give her something small, some wouldn’t. Most all of their neighbors were poor, so they had nothing to give even if they wanted to. She started going to their Moms garden in hopes of finding something there. Sometimes there would be something, but sometimes there was nothing. While she was gone all day searching for food her siblings would play outside in the sun-to them things were not all that different, and they still laughed and sang. But while all the big kids played outside Sarah lay in a dark room by herself. Mary would give her tea in the morning with the others, and one of her other sisters gave her more at midday. When Mary got home she would mash whatever she had found to eat and give it to Sarah for dinner, but there was no improvement. They ate mostly Cassava root, millet bread, and tea. As the days passed Mary became less and less successful in finding food for her hungry family, and Sarah was growing weaker every day. Mary found someone to let her use their phone and called some of her relatives that lived in another village. They came a few days later and picked all the children, all except for Sarah. They said she was too sick, and no one could care for her, so they left her behind.

Mary was scared. She didn’t want to lose another family member, but what was she to do? Every morning she would tie Sarah onto her back and go searching for something, anything; she didn’t even really know what she was looking for, but she had to try.

Silvia had seen Mary walking aimlessly with a baby strapped to her back, and when she got a closer look at the baby, she felt sad, she was so small and looked to be very sick. She had heard what happened from a fellow neighbor… Silvia could sympathize because her own child had been very sick, and become severely malnourished because of it. She wanted to help this baby, though she had nothing to give, she and her husband had sold everything to keep their own child alive, but she felt as though she had to do something. That’s when she remembered…she was taking her child to Jinja to be evaluated for a program that helped malnourished children. Maybe she could bring this baby too?

She was planning to leave in a couple days, so she called ahead to inform her contact that she was bringing another baby that was severely malnourished. She gathered Mary and Sarah and started the journey toward Jinja. Hoping, praying that something could be done for this little one before it was too late

Here in Masese it had been a crazy day, and when I got the call that our kid was here, I have to tell you I was not super duper thrilled. And when I heard that there were actually 2 when there was only supposed to be 1, I was a little skeptical. I was told that the girl was an orphan, but nothing else. I assumed that they were just looking for a place for her to live, and as we are not an orphanage, I knew I would not be able to help her. I figured I would just have to send her back home, or try to refer her to a baby’s home.

When I got to the hospital I saw a small girl holding a blanket that looked to have a baby inside, but it was so small to be a baby, I thought maybe it was just a blanket with nothing inside. I was in a hurry and didn’t think too much of it; you never know what you’re going to see here, and it would not be all that strange for a girl to carry around a blanket for seemingly no reason.

When I got inside and found Joy, the nutritionist who was doing the referral, we talked briefly and went outside where the kids where waiting for us. It turned out that that blanket was a baby, it was Sarah. Joy introduced me to Mary and Sarah and began to explain a little bit of her situation. As she talked I tried to get a look at Sarah, it was evident that she was very malnourished, but she was covered, and it was hard to see how bad she really was. After hearing a little bit about what had happened, I agreed to take them both back to my house and talk through what would need to be done for her to be admitted into the program.

We left the hospital with Sarah, Mary, and another Mom plus her baby. When we reached home, we all got out of the car, and went inside. As Mary carried her little sister up the front steps her eyes were huge-I’m sure she had a lot of different emotions going though head… We talked for a long time using Charles to translate as neither of these ladies speak any English, and I got a better grasp on what had happened.

As you know our goal is to work with families; to teach the mom, not only rehabilitate the child, but Sarah has no mom. And she didn’t really have any place to go once she finished the program. I had to make a judgment call… I prayed that the Lord would lead me in the right decision. I wanted to take this little girl so badly, but I wasn’t sure that we could get permission to take her as she doesn’t have a mother, and we are under very strict orders from the government that the children are to be placed back in their homes with their families once discharged. But as of now Sarah has no family willing to take her.

I prayed. The Lord said “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Was this the Lord's way of coming to Sarah? I felt the Lord saying “Trust in the Lord. Trust in Me.” So I did. I finished her paperwork and fed Mary lunch and she left to go back home. You could see the relief in her eyes as she handed over her little sister…she had done it! She had found a way for her sister to live!

After Mary left I brought Sarah back to her room to put a diaper on her, change her clothes, weigh her, and finish a few things up. When I removed her dress I was shocked. I knew she was underweight, but I hadn’t guessed by that much.

Sarah is 13 months old and weighs 3 Kgs (that’s 6.6 pounds). She cannot sit, roll over, hold her head up well, or eat solid foods. She is a very sick little girl. Her first day and night here I thought it might have been to late, I was uncertain if she would make it. But by the Grace of God she is pulling through!!! She’s a fighter! She’s pulled her IV out 4 times. After running some tests the doctors (along with myself) were amazed that everything came back without any traces of serious infection/disease - God has surely protected this little child. After a few days, I have full confidence that the Lord is not ready to take her from this earth yet.

It’s not going to be a piece of cake to get Sarah healthy again. Oh no, it’s going to harder then hard to get to the point where this baby has a tight hold on life again. She’s on a vigorous feeding schedule, eating every 15 minutes, and yes, that would 24 hours a day. I am already super drained from just 3 nights, but I know the Lord will give me the strength to press on! He will fight this battle we’ve just entered; I am not strong enough, and because my God is ALWAYS victorious, I have no doubt what the outcome will be!

"Thus says the Lord to you. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde. For the battle is not yours but Gods. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf."

P.S As it is VERY late here and due to my tiredness, I will not be posting pictures at this time. My internet is to slow. pictures to come…

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

HERE WE GO......

Today I write you with an excited heart! Some of you may have heard mumblings through Brigitte’s blog, or updates from my Mom about a “pilot program” for the new Malnutrition Rehab Center, and I would just like to say that it’s true! Just yesterday we got the last of our paperwork signed by the government, and can now begin to put things into place.

We will be running a 3 month pilot program to “test out” our ideas, and see what works and what doesn’t. We’ll not only be keeping the child and bring him or her back to health, but we’ll be working heavily with the child’s family as well-It’s going to be a lot more work then situations in the past when we were just keeping, and treating a malnourished child (Chakool, Faith, ect.). The goal is that during the child’s treatment time the entire family will be actively involved in their recovery! We want to attempt to nip malnutrition in the bud. One of the main causes: simply not knowing how to care for your child in a healthy way. So, while the child is here with us, we are requiring that the Mother or guardian come for one overnight a week to assist in the care of their child, learn about nutrition, help do things here to give back so they are not just receiving a free hand out, and take a health class provided by a local church. The ultimate goal is that one day we will have housing for the Mothers to stay here full time with their child, but as of right now we’ll just be putting mattresses on the floor. We may have the opportunity to rent the house next door which would be a total blessing! We actually have a gate on the back side of our compound that goes into theirs…was it meant to be or what? funny how God works.

So, here we go…today we picked up one little boy, and by Saturday we should have 2 more! We only want to take a few children for this test run, so we’re keeping it small. We want to get a good feel for everything now, so that by summer we will be able to run in full swing with hopefully 10 or more. Yes, 10 children is not a lot, but the kinds of children that will be admitted into our program are very sick and require around the clock care. And when I say around the clock, I mean all the way around the clock.

Well, I’m gunna try my best to keep you updated on the kids throughout these next 3 months; I want you to come along on this journey with us!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chakool on right

Chakool…I don’t even know where to begin… Today I had tears in my eyes as I watched that cranky little boy that I love so dearly ride away on a piki with his Grandmother. They both had big smiles spread wide across their beautiful faces as they drove away, ready to embark upon the great adventure of life together! As they were leaving Chakool turned, waved, and said one simple word, a word most children can say by the time they reach the age of 1 year “bye-bye”. Even though Chakool is almost 2 ½ I still marvel every time he says it…I don’t remember what I’ve told you about Chakool, but statistically this little boy should not be alive right, he should have gone to be with Jesus months ago. You see when I got the call to pick up Chakool from the children’s hospital the nutritionist said “this one is just going to die, he is very badly off. It’s impossible; you can try, but he is just too far gone.”

When he came to my house he could not even sit well on his own, he was on a milk based diet, and vomited after nearly every meal. It was very easy to lose hope, and just think that the everyone’s assumptions were right, this little boy was going to die, “maybe the Lord just wanted me to care for him in his last few weeks?”

Well, I and SHC’s 2 other AMAZING volunteers worked, and worked, and worked, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed. We work around the clock for 3 weeks, and somehow he was still here, alive….no improvement, but he was still breathing. “Thank you Lord”. We hit 4 weeks, and there were some ever so slight changes-he was sitting up, eating on his own (and keeping it down most of the time), and best of all he was having some of the most impressive fits I have ever seen come from a child as sick as he was. 6 weeks: he SMILED for the first time, oh but don’t worry the fits continued… 8 weeks: He gained almost a pound (which was about a sixth of his weight), slept all the way through the night-except for when he was woken up for his special formula, and was starting to interact with some of the other children! He continued to roll his eyes and glare at his caregivers, but hey, we were taking what we could get; he was interacting with another human, a white human! As we prayed, fed, and cared for him he slowly by slowly improved, and the thought that we might lose him faded into the distance... 10 weeks: because of the chemical burn that covered 1/3 of his head a huge chunk of his tissue peeled off, and left a large portion of his skull exposed. We were told that he needed a skin graft, but he was to malnourished for the operation, so we waited… all the medical professionals here looked down upon not putting him into surgery right away, but we had no other option. We prayed that God would close his wound, and were laughed at. Let me tell you, I have been on a very long, exhausting, frustrating, JOY FILLED journey with this boy… There were many moments of doubt and fear, but the Lord continued to show HIS power everyday as we relied on him to heal this very sick, hurting boy that no one believed could be healed. I know a lot of people say that miracles don’t happen anymore, but no one will ever convince me of that. I just watched the impossible happen! Before my eyes I saw a child that was suppose to die, LIVE!

Today Chakool can WALK, he won’t stop laughing, and is always smiling, and he likes to play in the dirt like all little boys, and grins when he thinks he might get into trouble! His head has completely closed, and NO surgery was needed. I have truly seen the miraculous healing power of Christ at work!

This afternoon Chakool’s Grandmother came to take him home! Because of some issues with his Mom she will not be able to care for him at this time, but his Grandmother was overjoyed to hear that he was still alive and doing very well, and she happily agreed to care for him until further notice. When I carried Chakool outside to her she had tears in her eyes because she couldn’t believe that he was even the same child. She had a picture of Chakool and his big sister-it was only about 6 months before he was admitted into the hospital. He was standing up looking fat and healthy; it makes me wonder what on earth happened in such a short time to make him regress so quickly? Crazy. Brigitte and I spent some time talking with his Grandmother, and found out that she was Muslim. Her whole family has been for many generations. Well, today that chain was broken… She said “I want to know a God who can heal a child that was almost to die, a God that cares about my grandson! A God who is alive.”

That, that is what it’s all about!

Thanks to all of you who lifted Chakool up in prayer over the past 5 months!!! Our prayers were heard…!