Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Home-based What?

One component of ELI's ministry in Kipkaren is called Tumaini na Afya - Health and Hope. And part of this health ministry is to care for the sick and the suffering in their homes. Whether it's patients suffering from HIV/AIDS-related issues, or families who are living in desperate situations, the home-based care team goes to visit them, encourage, support where they can, pray for them, simply show them, in tangible ways, the love of Christ.

Last week, 50 new caregivers underwent a 5-day training at Kipkaren. Attendees came from as far as Nairobi. During their graduation, Allison encouraged the group by telling the story of the first person she and Juli went to visit: Timon. Our friend Timon has since passed away, but since that visit just three years ago, countless lives have been touched. Others have been trained to do the same.

"Tonight, you receive a certificate," Allison reminded them. "But this is just a piece of paper. It's worthless, really. The way you'll touch lives is by going to visit the sick, the dying, the hurting. It all starts with just one visit..."

ELI Director David Tarus, praying for the students

David, Allison and Juli handing out certificates to new graduates

Students giving each other high 5's after graduating, saying,
"Together, we are defeating AIDS!"

To get a glimpse of some of the work the home-based care does, read some of these entries.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Update on the Baby

Further to the entry from two days ago, an update from Juli.

Because I had requested your prayers, I wanted to update you on the story I had written on Monday. I received news this afternoon that the baby Allison and I helped to deliver passed away last night at the hospital. I do not know anymore details but ask again for prayer for Karen, the baby's mother, as she grieves the loss of her child.

In this journey, there is joy and sorrow. There are too many harsh realities to try and understand; but tonight, I am asking the Comforter to come and do just that.

With much love, Juli

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Village Nurse

~ by Juli McGowan

In Kipkaren, we so often say that we wake up with a plan for the day, but we must leave space for God to interrupt our plans. Today was no exception. Let me share my story...

This afternoon, a nurse called from our local clinic saying that there was a sick lady who needed to be rushed to a hospital about an hour's drive away. Allison, my dearest friend, and I jumped into the car and picked up a 23-year-old lady named Karen who was 7 months pregnant and having serious complications.

Having just finished the rainy season, our dirt road is not ideal for a lady in labour, to say the least. After driving a few kilometers, Karen said that she felt to push. Allison looked at me and asked me what we should do. I replied that we should go to the nearest home of one of our traditional birth attendants named Mama Presca (TBAs are midwives from our community who ELI partners with to train them in safe delivery practices). I hoped to at least get a birthing kit with supplies to assist in delivering this baby. Unfortunately, Mama Presca was not at home.

I looked behind me to see Karen squatting behind a bush, on the side of the road, delivering a little girl. When I reached her, the baby was on the ground. I was shouting to Allison, "I need gloves. Allison, I need gloves!"

Allison ran to the car to get my bag, and then I put on my gloves and picked up this tiny baby as she began to cry. Next, we needed something to cut the umbilical cord. So once again, Allison ran with all of her might (you should know that Allison hates to run) down the road to a local shop to try and find a sterile razor blade. Though she did not have any money with her, the local shop owner had sympathy on her as he realized she was in an emergency and out of breath.

Upon reaching me, she saw that I had been innovative and used a glove to try and tie the cord. After a lot of effort, especially on Allison's part, we finished the delivery process. I will spare you many other details. We did manage to gather a small crowd in the meantime. Surely, and I mean this sincerely, God was with us.

After about 10 minutes, we climbed back in the car and went the rest of the way to the hospital. The mom and baby have been admitted to the hospital but are stable. Our beautiful little girl weighs 1lb 8oz.

Please be praying for her health and growth and peace for her mother.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Home-based Care Team Retreat

I (Adele) am back from the forest. After getting up at 5:30 on Thursday to make coffee for the team that was leaving, I got my things together, loaded the car, and took off for the forest with 11 other staff members from our home-based care ministry. This is the team that runs ELI's AIDS ministry, but also cares for anyone in our extended community who needs someone to walk the journey with them. People like the Sifunas, or like Hannah, or Lillian, the mom with the twins.

I'm not part of that team, but I went along to assist with facilitating some of the sessions. The purpose of the weekend was to rest, to reflect, and to plan ahead. And we did all of that, and more. We laughed, got to know each other, we ate good food and shared stories.

Everyone worked hard, like they always do, and came up with even loftier goals for next year. They want to see more people tested for HIV, more people helped. Most of them can find higher-paying jobs in other places, but they choose to stay and serve here because of the immense job satisfaction. And it shows.

We played Jenga our first night, combining it with answering questions about yourself after you jengad. (Jenga is Swahili for build, so here, we use the word as a verb while playing the game.) And if someone toppled the tower, they were showered with any and all questions people may want to ask.

By the time the generator was switched off, we continued the game by candlelight and flashlight.

Same last night. They watched a movie (I went to bed early) and played Scrabble, Chinese solitaire and Uno till way after midnight.

This morning, we did some fun team building activities where I had everyone blindfolded, trying to make a square. It's always fun to do these activities, but what's even more fun is to do the debriefing afterwards. "Who was the leader? Why did others take over? Why did you not listen to that person's advice?" and so on and so forth. Learn through play.

Oh, and yesterday, Juli had us all go out and spend time reflecting on "Thus far, the LORD has helped us," (1 Sam. 7:12). And so, throughout the various events, people shared some of the stories from their stones, and I wrote the names from their stone stories on rocks I had collected from the forest. We brought them back as a reminder of what God has done.

We concluded our time together with a time of affirmation. Though we thought it would take perhaps an hour or two, we spent almost five hours (!) sharing what we appreciated about one another.

By the time I dropped everyone at home tonight and Maru's children ran and threw their arms around their dad, my heart was smiling.

Spending these days together, sharing, laughing, praying, eating, having communion, made us a stronger team. Even though I'm technically not a part of their team.