Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rabies, HIV & 'Cup Teachers

This past week I saw little boy at the Children's Wellness Centre who had been bitten by a possibly rabid dog. The wound looked infected, he was running a fever, had a sore throat, and was having difficulty eating. He had been bitten 9 days earlier. The mother took him to the government hospital in Manzini where they told them that they had no medication to treat rabies. They also checked at the government hospital in Mbabane and they didn’t have any either. The hospital told the mother to bring him to another government hospital about 2 hours away. What these people don’t think about is that she had no money for transport, so she brought him to us. Since I didn’t have the medication either, we gave him transport money to go back and forth 5 times to complete the series of rabies shots. Thank the Lord that she did bring him before it was too late!!!

Today we held a clinic for the Mbabane CarePoints. I saw one little 7 year old boy who is very sick. The teacher thinks that we need to get him tested for HIV and I agree. I could barely get a half smile out of him. You can tell by the look on his face that he just doesn’t feel well. The teacher says that he doesn’t play like the other children. He just wants to sit. He has many rotten teeth, and also seems to have a yeast infection in his mouth. He says that it feels like he has sores all the way down his throat and it is very painful to swallow. His mother died about a year ago and his father is very sick now. My heart just goes out to these little ones that are so helpless, weak and ill. I asked the teacher/HCW to ask him if we could pray for him, and as soon as she got the words out of her mouth, he folded his little hands in front of his face and began to pray in SiSwati like his heart was on fire. I couldn’t do anything but cry. When he finished, I barely got out a little pray between tears. I asked the teacher what he was praying and she said that he was praying for the Lord to help him in school and to make his daddy well and for his gogo and several other things, none of which were for him. I was amazed; someone has been teaching this boy to pray. I pray that the Lord will keep these children so that they can grow up and be the next generation that sparks a revival of God’s spirit and power in Swaziland.

Last week we had HIV testing at the Children's Wellness Centre with an organization called TASC. Abraham went out to the CarePoints and spoke with the teachers and care givers about the children that we think need to be tested. We expected to have 20 children and their care givers there. We only had about 6, and half of them showed up without a care giver. I was very disappointed; however, the people from TASC said that this was not unusual. The people need more education, they are afraid. The more education we give our communities, the better response we will get. We will try to set up some times that the people can come and get more information before we have another testing day.

One of the teachers sent a little boy that lives with his gogo. Both his mother and father have died with HIV. The gogo is very sick and could not come to the clinic. When we called the teacher to see why no one came with him, she said that she spoke to the gogo and she is begging for us to test the boy. He is sick all of the time and gogo is convinced that he needs to be tested. Since gogo could not come, I asked the teacher if she would write a letter that says that gogo gives her permission to have the boy tested and treated if necessary for HIV, and have gogo sign it. The teacher agreed to take the responsibility of this little one who is in her class. She said that he is sick very often and sometimes does not have food except for the meal that he gets at the CarePoint each day. I told her that this is a big responsibility for her to take on. She said that she is willing, and that she just wants to see him live. By doing this, the teacher must come with him to the clinic for counseling, make sure he gets his medications twice daily, twelve hours apart, and also make sure he has enough food. This is very heroic of this teacher, and I pray that God will bless her abundantly for her sacrifice.

We are very thankful to the Lord for the progress that we are seeing in the lives of our teachers. God is really moving in their hearts and lives and continues to help them grow in grace and wisdom in Him!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Makholweni Youth

We have been searching for ways to help the older youth around our CarePoints. The younger kids are being reached on a daily basis with the food and Bible Clubs, but the older teenagers (teenagers are teenagers) are being lost back into the community. So we are trying a number of different approaches to help them with life skills, business skills, and an avenue to have a continued impact on their life for Christ. So far, we've helped fund a start-up block yard and a sewing project at Makholweni. The older boys are working at a block yard making block which they sell for construction projects around Makholweni. They learn what it takes to run a small business: managing cash flow, material ordering, marketing, personnel skills, etc.
Next up is a sewing project: teenage girls will be taught to sew. Initially, we plan for them to make uniforms for the kids in the pre-schools at each CarePoint. Then we hope to be able to make uniforms for the kids we sponsor at the "public" schools. If all goes well, we hope they can then take orders to make and sell uniforms for other students at the government schools. The girls will learn a skill they can use the rest of their life as well as basic business skills.
Our dream project is to develop a glass blowing project where some of the youth could learn glass blowing. Not all boys want to make block, not all girls want to sew. This would be an excellent opportunity for these kids (remember, we're in our 40's, so "kids" is anybody under 25) to express themselves artistically. This is by far the most expensive project to start up (we are currently searching for sponsors-email us if you would like to see our proposal for this project).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nkobe Clinic (& Painting)

Teresa & I were able to visit the CarePoint in Mozambique yesterday. It was Teresa's first time there. Her comment: This is really out in the booneys. Teresa, Brianne, and Carol did an impromptu medical clinic for as many children as they could see. Ben, Issac, Charles, Nathie, Roger, and Abraham were there to paint until Saturday. The church building is coming along nicely. Painting should make it really stand out in the community.
Pictures show Teresa with Celeste (the teacher at Nkobe) and Abraham (the Swazi Wellness Centre's Health Care Worker) inside the church, Charles and Issac (literally hanging out [the window]), and some of the kids at the CarePoint.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Playing House-House

I saw a two year old boy today, who has the same symptoms as the one from Tuesday, painful urination and white discharge. I also found out something that I never realized before. One of our teachers asked me if a child can get HIV or STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases) from another child by playing "House-House". I asked her what they did when they played this, and she said that they actually, as young as 3 years old, play having sex, and literally do it. I asked why, and she said that they see their mom and dad doing it and imitate them. I had to sit down at this point. Abraham explained that it is very common for adults to have sex in front of their children, especially since many of them live in a one room house. I asked, why they don’t wait until they are asleep, they said they wake up. This sheds some light on why there is so much promiscuity so early in this culture. I guess I need to brush up on STD's, which I didn't think I would need for a pediatric population.

I was reading about Solomon and how he asked God for wisdom and discernment. I am asking the Lord for supernatural wisdom that only comes from Him to help me with these situations. Their mindset is so different. How do you teach that this is not appropriate behavior to a culture who knows nothing else? Maybe we need someone to do some teaching on sexual abuse, and sexuality in children. Jesus is the only answer!

I saw Pepe, the little girl who was hospitalized for TB at the end of last year, today, and she looks pretty good. She is completely finished with TB treatment, but she is still coughing. Her lungs sound clear. No fever, eating good, still taking ARV's. She also has a double ear infection, one of her ears looks like the eardrum is busted, and one of them is draining and looks like it has pus in it. I started her on an antibiotic. I was so excited to see her looking so well, even with an ear infection. She definitely has a special place in my heart!

One of our teachers and her little girl went for HIV testing today, and came back with good news! She was beaming when she told me, we are negative! Praise the Lord! We paid the school fees and bought the uniform for a young girl at Madonsa this week. She is fifteen and has been out of school since Grade 2. She has been too sick for years to attend classes. Since she was tested and started on ARV’s she has been doing much better. She has never seen her father and her mother is sick; she tries to make a living at the market when she is able. Through Mission of Mercy we have been able to pay the school fees for a number of double orphans at the Makholweni CarePoint. But it only scratches the surface. We hear of newly orphaned children and child-headed-households daily. And that is only at one CarePoint. There are many, many children who are categorized as single orphans or destitute that are in just as dire need.

In our women’s Bible study, we are doing the series by Beth Moore, “Believing God.” I really desire to see the miracle working power of God in Swaziland. If you ask Swazi’s if they have ever seen the power of witch doctors, they will say yes. If you ask them if they have ever seen the miracle working power of God, they say no. Why is that, in a third world country? Is it because we just don’t believe that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He would do? I want to believe God and the rest is up to Him!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

El Roi

We’ve been seeing some sick kids in our Tuesday and Thursday clinics at the Children’s Wellness Centre. I saw an 11 year old boy today that has a white discharge and a few small sores around his genitals and many sores on his legs, especially his knees. He says that it is painful when he urinates. I am treating him for a UTI (urinary tract infection) and giving him antibiotic cream for the sores. I am not sure if he has been sexually abused or just has a UTI. Abraham tried to talk to him and get him to open up. He says that he has not been involved sexually, but Abraham is not sure. The boy said that he would talk to Abraham about it later, so he thinks that he is hiding something. I told Abraham and Sindie (the teacher at the Ngwane Point CarePoint) to try to find out about his family and friends. I'm not sure how to proceed from here with this case. I would like to have him tested for HIV, but that will require agreement from his caretaker, who is his gogo (grandmother). Please help me pray for wisdom in this case, and that the grandmother will cooperate and agree to have him tested. I also pray that this is not a case of sexual abuse. I prayed for him today that the Lord would heal him and keep His hand of protection on him. I was thinking: I pray everyday for my own kids, who prays for these orphans? God sees them and has not forgotten them. Please help us remember these little ones in prayer every day.

We found out today about 3 more double orphaned children (both parents have died) that lived with their gogo. The gogo died this week. There is no one to take care of these three precious children. They are 8, 9, and 11 years old. We are trying to find some family that can take them and we will provide extra food for them and help them with these children. This is not something that is uncommon here is Swaziland, it happens every day. We found out today about another orphaned 8 year old little girl that is living with cousins who are also orphaned. The oldest cousin keeps the keys to their homestead so they are locked out at night till he comes home very late and typically drunk. She came crying to the CarePoint yesterday wanting to leave and go somewhere/anywhere else (we assume because of abuse). One of the cooks (Make Maziya) at Makholweni has offered to let her come and stay with her and her husband. Most of these kids are out of school because there is no one to pay their school fees. We try to help where we can. Pray that God will again give us wisdom and guidance as we try to provide for the needs of these helpless children.

We also met with TASC, an organization that does HIV testing, today. They are the ones that will help us get the kids tested and work with Baylor Children’s Clinic. We are going to try to get the first group tested at the end of this month and see how it goes. I would like to get the little 11 year old boy that I wrote about in the first paragraph tested, as well as another little 9year old girl that I also so today. I have treated her before for infected sores, swollen glands, etc. Today she is having the same problem. I saw her last week and gave her antibiotic cream for her sores. Today, her glands around her face and neck are all swollen and the rash/sores under her chin look infected. I placed her on an oral antibiotic and will follow up with her in a week. I have asked the teacher at her CarePoint to speak with her care giver also to see if she will bring her for HIV testing as well. Many times these infections are chronic and never really clear up until these children are placed on medications to treat HIV, which will help to boost their immune system and allow their body to heal.