Friday, March 26, 2010

On Wednesday we went to visit Sarah’s home… we left early in the morning, drove for about 2 hours, got stuck in the mud multiple times (4 wheel drive is a great thing to have when driving on dirt paths in the rain), and finally arrived at her home at around 11am. As we pulled up to their house I saw Sarah’s Dad out digging in the garden, and of course he was wearing his fuchsia pants-rolled up, barefoot, and covered in mud! When he spotted us his face lit up, and he immediately came running.

We parked the car and as soon as we exited we were promptly greeted by many. Chairs were brought out for the “visitors”, and there we sat…in the rain…surrounded by smiling faces! Sarah’s Mom’s sister, Rukia was among them. Because of Sarah’s Dads mental status Rukia was going to decide where to place Sarah after she is finished with our program. So, we sat and discussed with her some different options…

We brought with us a camera that had some pictures of a now almost 13 pound Sarah, and the pictures were a huge hit! While Charles, Rukia and I talked, Brigitte showed the growing number of family members and friends Sarah’s picture! She is a beloved daughter, Granddaughter, sister, niece, cousin, and friend to many, and that was evident in the faces of those surrounding us. Every time a new comer would join our little gathering, they would be sent to Brigitte to see on a little screen the child they all thought would never again be seen on this earth. After seeing the pictures some would shake our hands and thank us profusely, some would raise their arms to the sky thanking and praiseing the Lord, and some would just walk back to their seats quietly, dumbfounded, but all smiled and laughed with clear JOY. I got so enamored with watching their faces and seeing the awe in their eyes that I would have to remind myself I was having a conversation… One of my favorite parts of the day was watching Mary’s face as she looked at a picture of her little sister…

She was not there when we first arrived, and when she came sometime later, I almost did not recognize her. She was not the same scared, despite, hopeless little girl I met almost a month ago. She looked so grown up, so strong and beautiful! So full of JOY! I had tears in my eyes as I watched Brigitte turn on the camera, and ladies and gentlemen let me tell you, I then watched the biggest, most beautiful smile I have ever seen in my life spread across a 12 year old girls face! It was priceless. As she turned and walked, or should I say skipped back to her seat on the half broken bench she could not contain the happiness that filled her, it spilled out, and bubbled over into her face! I don’t think she stopped smiling the whole time we were there.

As we concluded it was decided by the whole family that Sarah will go and live with her Auntie Rukia at the end of May! I was so excited to see that her family cared for her so much and was willing to do the necessary things to ensure that she has a safe place to live, and someone to care for her well! They wanted to make sure that she was able to remain their family, yet not fall sick again!

As we prepared to leave and start our journey home, Sarah’s Grandmother slowly stood up, raised her arms to the heavens and started to sing a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord. After a few seconds everyone chimed in, and we stood, surrounded by a chorus of beautiful praise! The young, the old, and the blind, all together, unashamed, they sang and danced before the Lord. I don’t think it gets much better than that!

Part of Sarah's family

Well, as we headed home we had no idea what was coming next, well, we kinda did… you see on the way to Sarah’s house we stopped to pick up one of their neighbors who was going to take us the rest of the way, as we didn’t know how to get there. VERY long story short there was a little boy who was brought to us while we were stopped, he was very malnourished, and in need of some major help. We said we would stop on the way back and talk with the father more (the mother died back in Nov.). I had been praying about what to do because as Brigitte is leaving in just 2 short weeks I did not really want to take on another “Sarah”. But, well let me just say, we ended up with a couple of extra passengers on the ride home… All that to say, we have a new baby in the house! Meet, Becaham, yes like the famous soccer player.

We got all of his paperwork through yesterday, and the Dr. said he thought he would be fine; they didn’t even try to admit him. He said “I know you will care well for this baby; you are ever bringing in these very sick ones, but they become ok very fast. You just take this one home.” So, we did! The Doctors at the clinic know we work with malnourished children, but I think sometimes they think I am crazy when I go in there with a kid like Sarah or Becham. Anywyas, we have ourselves another 13 month 6 pounder. Prayers please!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

So, yesterday when I came down stairs Sarah’s Dad was sitting at my kitchen table…in bright fuchsia dress pants. Sometimes you have to just laugh about life. After talking with him for a few minutes I was utterly confused; I was under the impression that he was MIA, so why was he here?

Apparently when he heard Sarah was still alive he would not believe it to be true until he saw her with his own eyes. So, he came with his neighbor, Silvia, the woman who first brought Sarah here. They live very far away, so I was a bit surprise that he would have come all this way; they left their house at 3:30am to arrive here at 7am.

At first I was a little upset because from his appearance, he looked to be of sound mind, and I was told that he had a mental condition that prohibited him from caring for his children. We had been lied to… When Charles (our day guard/interpreter) got here, I called him in to attempt to help solve the mystery. Within a few minutes it was apparent that this man did indeed have a condition that made it impossible for him to think and process things clearly.

It was very sweet to see him interact with Sarah, she definitely remembered him! They just sat together on the veranda and played. Here you don’t see fathers playing, or really interacting with their children in a positive way, so to see that he really cared for Sarah, and was willing to show his affection was encouraging! Before he left we come to the conclusion that we would visit his home and meet with his sister-in-law; she would be the most likely relative to be able to keep Sarah after she is finished here with our program-if she is unable to care for Sarah long term than we will start looking into alternative options for her future.

I want to thank all of you for your prayers; I received so many emails from people saying that they were praying for Sarah and everyone here at SHC administering her care! It was so encouraging to read those emails, facebook messages, and blog comments; to know that people all over the world were covering Sarah in prayer! She has made a complete turnaround; she weighs a total of 5 ½ kilos, and learns to interact with people more and more everyday! I ask you to join us in continued prayer for this little girl and the future that God has in store for her.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some of you may remember a blog post written back in September about a little baby that was brought to my house, well one of the many.

You may remember reading the story…she was brought by a neighbor who rescued her from a pit latrine. My neighbor, Mary tried to care for her, but she became sick, and grew weaker every day. Mary had no money to properly care for the baby, and in an attempt to keep her alive she carried the little bundle here, to my house.

There is really nothing strange about a lady bringing a sick baby to my house, people do it daily, so when she arrived I was not all concerned or alarmed, though I was a little surprised because Mary did not have a baby. After Mary explained that she had been abandon-left to die, how she had come to find her, and that she couldn’t care for her, I agreed to take the baby for the time being. She was very sick, and needed immediate medical attention. The day she arrived she weighed a little under 6 pounds, and had severe rashes all over her body; she had never been bathed, and was bound tightly in a blanket almost constantly since birth. She was said to be about 1 month old. Little did I know that this small, nameless baby would change my life forever...

We promptly gave her a name, Selah which means “Praise the Lord”, did some research and found that she was only 10 days old, and started her on the prescribed treatment. Then, we began to search for some kind of family member who would be able take her. I expected we would get her healthy, and send her home in a few months, though no one knew where home was…

Every day she grew and developed more and more, and I fell more and more in love with her.

A couple weeks after her arrival an elderly lady came to the gate and said “I heard my grandchild is here. I would like to see the baby.” My heart stopped. I knew she would be going home; all the kids that come through SHC do, but I didn’t think it would be so soon. I brought Selah outside and placed her in her grandmother’s arms, trying to prepare myself for goodbye. Over time I have learned to guard my heart and not get attached to the kids that come-it’s to painful if I don’t, and it was no different with Selah, or was it?

As I talked with Selah’s Grandma, Emaculate, she explained what happened, and filled in some of the blanks that were still question marks in my mind. At the time she didn’t know where her daughter was; she had run away from home about a year prier, and had only heard thorough a friend that she was pregnant. She asked if we could keep her for a little longer while she looked for her daughter, and I of course said “yes”!

About a week later I got a call saying that she had found Selah’s mom, Pricilla. She had been in the main hospital, but now wanted to see her baby. With a heavy heart we went to visit. When we got there I knew why this woman had left her baby…she was so sick. Pricilla had been suffering from severe AIDS and TB for the past 2 years, and she was definitely showing signs of her fight. Selah herself had just tested positive for HIV, so when her Mom said she had TB I wanted to get her out of there immediately-TB is VERY contagious, and for a baby, deadly. But, I curbed my fears and asked if she wanted to hold her daughter? Much to my surprise she declined; she knew to risk of infecting her baby, and put her own desires aside to protect her child. That day I brought Selah back home with me-her Mom was in no condition to care for herself, much less a baby.

7 days later Pricilla died.

I will never forget that day I met Selah’s Mom, when I looked into Pricilla’s lifeless eyes, I saw the love she had for her daughter, the desire to know her, to be with her, to even touch her for a moment. She didn’t abandon Selah because she didn’t care, she knew if she kept her that she would surly die; she cared so much that she wanted her to have a chance at life; she wanted her have hope, a future. And she did it the only way she knew how. In a way Pricilla did for Selah what Christ did for us.
We decided that it was best for Selah to stay here until further notice…

Well, long story short, Selah has a Mom!!! Me!!! After a LOT of prayer and thought, I KNOW that the Lord is calling me to be Selah’s forever Mommy. I really had no intention of adopting a child at age 20, but apparently God had a different plan, and His plan normally wins!

I really struggled through the decision making process that has gone on the past few months-not about whether I wanted to be her Mom or not, but about what was best. In my heart Selah was nothing but my daughter, but because I love her so much, I want the absolute best for her. So if that meant to go to another family then I prayed I would be able to release her, and trust that the Lord knew better than I. I ran all the pros and cons through my mind a million times… for me and for Selah… Some of the cons being: Selah having to grow up surrounded by children that are very sick, not having a mom all to herself, but having to share with other children that require more attention then she, not having a Daddy right now-I want Selah to have Dad like mine; one that thinks she’s a princess, and tells her how special she is and says that he loves her every single day. And for me, it’s a little scary to think about having a child, especially a child that will be on medication twice a day for the rest of her life. I thought and prayed about all those things, and more. And the Lords answer was what it tends to often be “TRUST ME”.

This is the start of a long journey, and your prayers would be a huge blessing! Adoption in Uganda is VERY difficult, and VERY expensive; I have neither an abundance of time or money, so I am completely trusting the Lord for both.

Oh, and let me tell you about answered prayer…Selah had another type of HIV test done a couple months back, one that test her actual DNA, and I would like to proclaim with great EXCITEMENT that it came back NEGATIVE! Thank you Jesus!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Plumpy Nut it up...

I don’t know if any of you have heard of something called “Plumy Nut” well, I hadn’t until about a year and a half ago… It is a readymade therapeutic food designed to treat severely malnourished children. The high-protein, high-energy, peanut-based paste typically comes in foil wrappers or small plastic tubs, which are practical for children, and makes feeding easier. The WHO and UNICEF distribute it; you can’t just go to the store and buy it. It’s not easy to get. Some government hospitals give it out, but only if you are admitted into the ward, and consume it while there. I have looked into getting plumpy Nut in the past and have been very unsuccessful.

Typically, it allows children to return to a healthy weight within three to four weeks. Last year, the product was used to treat more than 63,000 malnourished children all over Africa.

I actually brought information about Plumpy Nut to my board, and they laughed at me; they didn’t think it was a real thing. That’s how good this stuff is. It is just jammed packed with protein, milk powder, vitamins, ect. They dose it by measuring the child’s mid upper arm (using something called a MARK tape-Sarah falls in the “red zone” I don’t think I have to explain what that means for you to know it’s not good) , height, and weight.

A child of Sarah's age should be at 13-she's at 8

As I have said, Plumpt Nut is not easy to get here in Uganda-there are only a few places that have it, and only 2 that will give it to you to take home. Well, God is so good! This is what’s sitting on my kitchen table at this very moment!!!

YES, 50 packets of Plumpy Nut for Sarah! She is not yet a fan, but I believe she soon will be. God is holding this little girl up in his mighty hand; He is fighting the battle for her! And winning by a long shot. I didn’t share these pictures with you; well simply because she looks a little scary, but I want you to see the improvement that has taken place in such a short time.

Hours after arriving on Wednesday.

After only 6 days!!!