Saturday, December 19, 2009
Christianity in Swaziland is a mix of traditional religions (primarily ancestor worship) and the fundamental principles or concepts of Christianity. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the Religions in Swaziland are: Zionist 40% (a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship), Roman Catholic 20%, Muslim 10%, other (includes Anglican, Bahai, Methodist, Mormon, Jewish) 30%. What these "official" statistics fail to show is that large percentages of the non-Zionist sects are still influenced greatly by ancestor worship: maybe not at an official level, but by a large number of the adherents in each of the other groupings. We have come across many people in working here that will consult a sangoma, go to the hospital, and also have a Christian pastor pray for them. It's called covering all your bases. A sangoma is different from an inyanga. An inyanga is primarily an herbalist: using medicines made from plants, herbs and animals. A sangoma relies on (ancestral) spirits to guide them in finding a cure. A Swazi pastor we respect greatly has told us he refuses to consult an inyanga because he is unsure where the spiritist and the herbalist draw the line (he is also in line to be a chief but has totally turned his back on his family line because of the ancestor worship and spiritual aspects of becoming a traditional chief).
So why this discourse?
I sat in a meeting yesterday where a very educated Swazi woman told her story of becoming a sangoma. It was interesting and she has every right to make those choices. However, the one thing that I found astounding was her proclamation that she was also a born-again Christian and saw no conflict between the two: a follower of the risen Jesus Christ, son of the Living God and listening to spirits of dead ancestors who guide her. Syncretism. Her defense was a reference to John the Baptist and that we still read what he said in the Bible 2000 years later(?). (I don't think most of us made the connection.)
From the beginning, Judaism had to battle the pressure of the "chosen people of God" to remain faithful and separate from the pagan religious practices of the nations that surrounded them. Ultimately the vast majority of them failed: thereby the judgment from God and the destruction of their temple and deportation to various other kingdoms. Christianity, whether Western or Swazi faces the same pressures: being faithful and separate from the practices of the surrounding pagan or Godless culture or trying to syncretize the two. The synctretization of Christianity and traditional Swazi ancestor worship flies in the face of Biblical truth. We have met very few Swazi's who are still not influenced by it at a high level and many less who will denounce it outright.
But, even as westerners, we probably do the same thing with different inflences, only more subtly. We need to be on our guard to protect the truth the Bible teaches without selectively ignoring or diluting it to match our selfish preferences!
I would ask that you pray for the nation and king of Swaziland. There are many examples in Kings and Chronicles of kings who chose righteousness and a break from the pagan practices that preceded them and the blessings that flowed because of it. 'nough said
Monday, November 23, 2009
We got the call on Tuesday that he had died.
He was slated to start on ART (Anti Retro-viral Treatment) on Thursday.
It is a shame that most men (and plenty of women as well) will live in denial until they are too weak to even respond to treatment. At that point HIV really is a death sentence.
Our hope and prayer is that even for those who choose to ignore the situation (and maybe the obvious), we will still have the opportunity to minister and demonstrate Christ's love to them and their family in an obvious way.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
While there we visited with Sikhumbuzo, a 7 year old boy on CHIPS. He had been admitted earlier in the week for yet another bout of bronchial pneumonia. Teresa went to see him in the children's ward. He was eating with the other children and watching TV. Teresa gave him a hug and commented how clean and fresh he smelled. He was being taken care of by a person on the hospital staff, who also cares for upwards of fifteen other children. His mother doesn't come visit him at all. We were thinking he is taken better care of at the hospital than at home. He was recovering well and would probably be released next week. CHIPS will help cover his hospitalization costs.
From there we went with Mary to visit a bed ridden man on CHIPS in Maphiveni. His wife has been with CHIPS and on ART for several months and is doing very well; she is healthy, (very) pregnant and very close to her due date. He on the other hand has (like most men) lived in denial of any health problems (and maybe especially HIV) till it is almost too late. Now completely bed ridden, barely eating (because of sores in his throat), he is wasting away. We delivered adult diapers, gloves, and Oral Rehydration Salts given to CHIPS by the Home Care outreach at GSH. His CD4 count was 130 at the last test. He is scheduled to be initiated on ART next week.
Teresa knelt by his bed (blankets on the floor) with Mary to go over his medical condition and giving his wife and relatives instruction on how to best care for him. He should have been admitted to the hospital, but there are no free beds.
Teresa took the opportunity to talk with him about Jesus. Mary interpreted. He was too weak to respond.
Given he won't even be initiated on ART till next week and he is already so weak and has progressed so far with the disease, his chances of survival are small. We honestly don't think he will make it till next week but are hoping he makes it to ART initiation and begins to recover once on drug.
Please partner with us so we can reach children and caregivers much earlier in the disease progression. Their survival depends upon reaching them early and beginning ART early.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Ed Lin, with Impala Development Services has helped spearhead introduction of Moringa in Swaziland. He would like to do a research study with the children in our communities comparing the differences in body weight, arm circumference, disease assessment, etc. He would like to compare children taking Moringa on a regular basis with those who are not. This should be an interesting study. We will do monthly assessments for 6 months, hopefully utilizing a student nurse to assist us.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
- A culture that stifles innovation and creative thinking.
- An education system that does not have the infrastructure or capital to educate the children through primary or secondary grades.
- Rampant under and unemployment.
- Children growing up lacking the moral and social knowledge and life skills normally passed on to children by parents because of the loss of all or nearly all family members to AIDS.
We want to impart and establish lasting Godly principles in these youth that will change their lives by teaching sustainable business and personal skills; for these youth to move from a position of poverty and dependency to self reliance and confidence.
So I'm putting this out for prayer. I believe that art (art therapy?) can play an important role in reaching the goal of #3 above. If you have that skill and the desire to use it in a completely different arena than where you are right now, would you consider praying how God may be able to use you here in Swaziland? The youth in this program (and pretty much country wide) have experienced deep trauma due to loss of parents, siblings, exploitation, and drug and alcohol abuse. I'm an engineer with an engineer's approach. It would benefit the youth in the program to have art taught by someone who can use it to help heal the wounds of everyday life here.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
We are now beginning year 2 of the CHIPS program, and we are ready to hire a second person so we can further expand. Jabulani has done an excellent job running the program. He is a patient advocate in many ways. When there is an issue with a patient or with the system, he isn’t afraid to go to the top to get the issue resolved. He contacted the TB Coordinator for the region, when he didn’t get the solution needed for the care of our patients. He helps at the hospital with counseling in the HIV clinic, which helps move our patients through faster, and also builds alliances in the system. The staff know they can count on Jabulani to pitch in and help them, so they are willing to help with our patients as well.
We have begun interviewing for the second position. Please pray for wisdom for us as we interview and choose our 2nd counselor for CHIPS. We want the person that God wants for us.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Late addition: we had a special meeting on Saturday with the doctors to discuss her case. It looks like we will be able to give chemo in the third trimester that may not affect the baby!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Last week at the breast cancer clinic at the government hospital, we saw a lady that literally crawled into the clinic, because she was too weak to walk any further. This lady has advanced breast cancer. The cancer has actually caused the breast to turn inside out and is now growing into the chest wall. She had been admitted to the hospital just the week before and had fluid drained off of her lungs and sent to the lab. The report came back that it was metastatic breast cancer. She was now at the point that she had so much fluid on her lungs that she could hardly breathe. We sent her to x-ray via wheelchair with her family to have another chest x-ray done. We received word that she had collapsed in x-ray and was brought back up to the outpatient department. The doctor and I went over to check on her and we found her lying on a exam table with an oxygen mask blowing 02 in her face. No one had noticed that she was already dead. No respirations, and no pulse. We took the oxygen off. Her daughter was sitting in a chair in the next room and she asked me if she would be OK? I had to tell her that we had lost her. The young girl (probably early 20’s) dropped her phone and everything in her lap and screamed and cried! I took her in to see her mother. She just kept saying “Make, Make” (which means mother in SiSwati). She asked, “How could God let this happen?”I was able to talk with her and comfort her and pray with her. I helped her call her family members on my phone. She had no airtime on her phone. Her brother and her uncle came, and I was also able to talk with them. Later that afternoon I received a call from the uncle thanking me for being with them and helping them. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to minister to the broken hearted!
Monday, September 21, 2009
The past 12 months have been most eventful: defining our place within a new organization and our own ministry goals, computer crashes, forced eviction (by none other than our own embassy), vehicle challenges, ……
But, we are thankful that our God is faithful and that everything we go through works to our good. And while we can attest that we don’t see the good immediately, looking back, we can see His hand in everything:
· Being forced to move actually has worked to our benefit. The rent on the house we moved to is significantly cheaper than the house we’ve been in. The house we’ve moved to feels more like a home, more so than the other one ever did. There are enough rooms in this house for all the kids to have their own bedrooms and for Daran to have an office as well.
CHIPS: we are finishing up the first year of the Children’s HIV Intervention Programme in Swaziland. Over 400 children and caregivers have tested for HIV through the program this year. 7.3% of the children we’ve facilitated testing have tested HIV+. 49.5% of the caregivers have tested HIV+. CHIPS has allowed us to facilitate life giving care for these children and caregivers. Without it, these children would have faced debilitating disease and certain death. Without it, these caregivers would have succumbed to the disease and left even more orphans. We have had painful experiences during this year as well. Several participants have died, having been brought into the program too late to be able to help medically. But through that, there have been many opportunities to minister to the ailing children and caregivers and to their families and relatives. As we start year 2 of CHIPS, we ask you to continue to pray for wisdom for us to manage and expand the program to new areas and to effectively and personally share the hope found only in Jesus. Regardless of the outcome of any disease or circumstance in any of our lives, the only thing that really matters is that Hope.
Kudvumisa Glass: The youth “skills training” program has continued to develop this year. We have taken the Money Matters course developed and taught by Peter Kopp of ALP and taught it at both full day seminars and weekly classes. We have developed a Money Matters II course as well. Both of these courses have become the core of the skills program. The goal of our skills program was never to ONLY teach a hard skill, but to help effect life changing attitudes relating to personal responsibility, creativity, and recognizing the unique mix of talents, abilities, and dreams God has placed into every one of us. We have teamed with Hawane Lighthouse to implement the Kudvumisa Glass program. Young adults enter the facility through Teen Challenge at Emafini, older orphans from the Lighthouse Care Centres, and referrals from churches around Swaziland. They live at Hawane attending Bible training classes and learning basic life skills (gardening and small livestock). We began teaching the Money Matters courses this term at Hawane and to teach and train on the glass art skills (glass etching, blowing, slumping, beadwork, etc). We hope to move all of the equipment on site over the next few months. This is a huge step forward as we now have a “captive audience” to implement the program, real classroom and real computer lab space to teach the glass skills, and space to set up the equipment on site. We can’t express how excited we are to be able to work with Hawane Lighthouse to offer this program and to further develop what we can offer.
Swaziland Breast Cancer Network: Teresa continues to work with SBCN to help develop a breast cancer care program here. There is no point in trying to develop a first world program in a third world country. Besides impractical, based on standard of care, it would be impossible due to budget at all levels. So SBCN is trying to develop a basic program that will begin the process of developing first class care. Working in a system that often is dysfunctional and even more often doesn’t seem to really care at all about the outcome for a patient can be extremely frustrating. But even in this Teresa has had many opportunities to minister to hurting women and their families. That is a blessing.
The Rehmeyer Family
All of the kids continue to work hard at school. We have Gabby here with us for one more year as she completes the International Baccalaureate program at Waterford. We would ask you to keep our children in your prayers: that they can do their best in school and also develop a heart for ministry. They are learning to play various instruments which is allowing them to help play for worship at church. This is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility for them.
We want to thank everyone who has helped support us here. There have been many donations of one time support and many monthly contributors. We are reliant on everyone who prays for us here. You are all a part of this work. Please continue to lift us up in prayer and prayerful support.
We are asking for a different kind of donation at this point. Teresa and the kids would like to return to the States for Christmas this year. Financially we don’t think it is feasible based on our current support levels. We are asking for donations of frequent flyer miles so that they can afford to return for a few weeks. If you have been able to accumulate points from travel or possibly from a credit card, we would ask that you see what you could donate to us. It would be a tremendous blessing to Teresa, the kids, and family in the States.
Blessings in Christ!
Daran & Teresa
Gabrielle, Danielle, Nathanael, & Joelle
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Along the same lines of the government hospital not having drugs; I was on the surgical ward yesterday seeing one of our breast cancer patients who had just had a mastectomy (removal of the breast), the day before. She was in severe pain, and I asked what they were giving her and was told, Panadol or Tylenol. When we looked at what the doctor had ordered, we saw an anti-inflammatory drug called Voltarin. I asked if she was receiving this and was told that it was OS (out of stock). So I asked, “What about Ibuprofen?” The nurse called the pharmacy and they said that is out of stock as well. They don’t have any idea when they will receive it. I went to the doctor and asked him to please order something stronger for her. These are such simple drugs, so easy to get, if you can pay for them. It is such a shame that people have to suffer unnecessarily!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
2. And there are many groups and organizations here doing exceptional work in the areas they have budget and mandate to work.
3. But, because of the size of the problem, it has completely overwhelmed all coping mechanisms and service delivery in the country; whether these are cultural, social or governmental.
4. So there are still many gaps and holes in care and service delivery.
5. Our original work here was focused primarily on children and youth in the urban and peri-urban areas.
6. What we found was that even in these areas, excellent HIV care, while readily available, was not necessarily easily accessible. Especially for children.
7. As we moved to work in more remote and rural areas, we found the problem of accessibility exacerbated.
8. Last year, about this time, we approached Pastor Ken with a proposal to Claypotts Trust to fund a pilot program to address the issue of accessibility for isolated groups of children. In “isolated” we mean isolated from available heath care.
9. We chose to begin the project in the Maphiveni area which is at the junction of the road past Simunye to Lomahasha and the road coming past Mhlume from Tchaneni. This may not sound like an “isolated” community. Until you look at the economic make up of the community and the distance and therefore cost of transport to the available HIV care, which in this case is in Siteki.
10. From an economic standpoint, the community in general is impoverished, made up of displaced sugar cane worker’s families and refugees from Mozambique. They are typically assigned plots that are nowhere near the size required for subsistence farming.
11. Good Shepherd Hospital has several community outreach initiatives. They are limited to an area of roughly 30 km around Siteki. Maphiveni is closer to 45km away. There are clinics at Simunye and Mhlume. However, these tend to be more of a dispensary than true clinics.
12. To give you an idea of cost to access the care at Siteki, consider the following scenario:
A caregiver has a sickly child and wants to have the child tested for HIV
The trip from Maphiveni to Good Shepherd for both the caregiver and child is around 50 Emalangeni if the child is under eleven, over 100 otherwise.
Let’s assume the child tests positive. There are typically at least 5 trips required before the child will start on ARV’s. And then a monthly trip for drug refill and adherence checking.
That is a huge burden on a family that may not have the means to put a regular meal on the table.
So given the scenario, will the child be tested or treated? Probably not.
And if not, what is the outcome for the child?
13. So our program, dubbed, CHIPS for Children’s HIV Intervention Program in Swaziland was started to address this issue.
14. The program serves two primary purposes: to manage the HIV care of children and to bring awareness of HIV treatment for children to the community.
15. The program includes training for community workers: teachers, health motivators, and caregivers, providing transportation to Good Shepherd, managing appointments, continuous counseling for strict adherence to drug schedules, an advocate for the patients at the Hospital.
16. What have we found?
PMTCT has seemed to help reduce the number of children being infected at birth! Older infected children are followed by younger siblings who are HIV free! (Good news!)
The “C” in CHIPS has moved from children only to children AND caregivers. Leaving a caregiver to cope with the disease will invariably lead to disablement and death and ultimately more orphans and uncared for children. So we’ve expanded the nature of the program to manage the care of caregivers as well even if the children in their care are HIV free. 5% child infection rate, 50% caregiver infection rate. (Bad news!)
17. Our three year goal is to move out into squatter and informal settlements in Vuvulane and Lomahasha. Ultimately to have a model that can be replicated in other regions of the country
18. We appreciate the confidence placed in us by Pastor Ken and would covet your prayers for wisdom to see CHIPS grow and provide care on a larger scale!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Teresa had the opportunity to pray with her a number of times and she came from Christian Family Church in Tambankulu, so we trust she knew Jesus. But it was still very hard as Teresa was by her bedside as she took her last breaths Sunday. Alone. Abandoned by family. We had gone to Siteki and Maphiveni on Saturday to pick up more clothes for her and a month old x-ray that they had failed to send along with her when she was transported to Mbabane Government Hospital. With no family to care for her in the hospital, all her clothes had become soiled from constant vomiting and diarrhea. The hospital supplies nothing. Teresa had met a compassionate lady on the house keeping staff who was doing what she could for Tema. We were going to approach her today to see if we could pay her a little extra to take Tema's clothes and wash them.
Please pray specifically for Teresa. She needs His strength to continue. She has His heart and compassion.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
About 2 weeks later Jabulani received word that Mlungisi was ready to receive Christ! Praise the Lord! Pastor La’Salette, Lori and visitors from Phoenix were able to go and lead him to the Lord, as well as several other family members! They have also done some work on his homestead, which was falling apart. What a blessing!
Unfortunetly, about 3 weeks ago, Mlungisi had to be hospitalized. He was able to eat and feeling better. I received a call that he was not doing well and was on oxygen to breathe. I received word that he has gone on to be with the Lord! Although this is very sad physically and emotionally, it is a victory spiritually! He is now in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! If he had died just 3 or 4 weeks earlier, he would not have gone to heaven, where he is right now! Praise God! Please remember Mlungisi’s family in your prayers!
Sad but True
We have lost 3 of our CHIPS patients in the past month. First was a 19 year old girl who was diagnosed with abdominal TB. She had been hospitalized only for about a week before she died. The day I went to visit her 10th June, she was breathing very rapidly, talking out of her head and looked as if she was scared to death. I asked Jabulani if she had been like this the day before and he said no this is new. We reported to the doctor, who said he would see her. I received word the next day that she had died during the night.
The next one was a man named Patrick, who has been sick for a long time. Jabulani brought him to the hospital on several occasions and they did not admit him. He was finally admitted about a week ago and then he died on Friday 19th June.
The third one is of course Mlungisi, who died the 22nd June, 2009. Although, very discouraging, I know that God is in control and we are doing what He led us to do. So we must keep doing what we know He wants us to do. Please keep all of these families in your prayers, as well as the CHIPS staff. Pray specifically for Jabulani, who is on the front line everyday with these precious, sick people.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Teresa and Joelle went thru some of Joelle's outgrown clothes to give to Tema to help keep her warm. And with only a thin blanket from the hospital, she was shivering when Teresa went to visit her. We took out two of our blankets that we had not been using and gave them to her (I think they were hand made by my grandmother years ago).
Please pray for Tema. We have had three caregivers in CHIPS pass away within the past few weeks. All of these and Tema came into the program very sick and have had to struggle to survive. Three have lost and we feared Tema would give up as well.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We have now discovered through a recent x-ray that Tema may have an esophageal stricture, which means that her esophagus is too small to get food down it, and that is the cause for her vomiting. We are now in the process of having her transferred to the hospital in Mbabane to have her re-evaluated see if she can be sent to South Africa through the Phalala fund to have surgery to correct the stricture.
The doctor at Good Shepherd Hospital in Siteki wanted us to transport her in the CHIPS khombi to Mbabane. That is something we are defintely not equipped for, so we may have to pay for an ambulance. The cost of just the ambulance trip is around $120USD. Her hospital bill will have to paid at Good Shepherd as well before they will release her. With no family and impoverished herself, that cost will fall on CHIPS (around $150USD). While we do have a small monthly amount budgeted for hospital and drug costs, it is no where near the amount we'll need to help Tema.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
CHIPS continues to expand and have a life saving impact in the areas we are working in now. We have found the children’s HIV infection rate to be about 6% of those we have had tested. That is tremendous news as we expected the infection rate to much higher. For those 6%, CHIPS is the difference between life and death. The infection rate for caregivers however is about 50%. Fully half of the caregivers we’ve facilitated testing for are HIV+. That is an astounding rate. Over time, that would mean at least a doubling of the number of orphans as these caregivers would succumb to the virus and the diseases that follow it.
It is a huge blessing to see someone who was too weak to even stand, now active and able to take care of their children.
While aid and development work can be good in itself, offering it in Christ’s name can have an eternal impact on those who receive!
Gabby has started looking at colleges in the States. A parent’s lament: it’s hard to believe our “little baby” will be leaving home soon (even if it’s not for another year and a half). Danielle and Nathanael are helping with worship at HPC-Swaziland. Joelle is as loud and boisterous as ever.
We would ask that you continue to pray for our family’s protection: physical and spiritual; and wisdom and discernment for the effective implementation of the programs we’ve started and you are a part of here.
As we look forward to funding requirements through the remainder of this year and into next and we look at support from all sources (one-time and annual gifts, monthly support, stipend from SBCN), we continue to have a monthly shortfall of approximately $1000USD. We would ask that you share this ministry work and vision within your circle of friends and associates.
Blessings & Peace!
Daran & Teresa
Gabby, Danielle, Nate, & Joelle
African Leadership Partners, Inc.
PO Box 994044
Redding, CA 96099-4044
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Praise God, we were able to bless them with some clothes that visitors from Australia brought for them. Sikhumbuzo's mother was so happy. She also has a daughter who is younger than Sikhumbuzo who is not HIV+. The Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) program seems to be working!
Baby Joshua is another little one in our program. He is 9 months old and his mother is the sister of Sikumbuzo’s mother. He was in the hospital after Sikumbuzo. His mother is also HIV+. We are not yet sure if Joshua is positive or not. He will be tested again in a few weeks. He was hospitalized for dehydration, diarrhea, and malnutrition. When we visited him in the hospital, he was having horrible diarrhea, and his mother had no more diapers for him. While I was standing there, he had diarrhea all over his mother and my feet. As she was trying to clean him, he was continuing to have diarrhea. We asked the nurses for towels to clean him, but they had none. The nurse brought a diaper that was big enough to fit an adult and it covered his whole body up to his neck. We ran to town to get diapers, towels, and blankets so the mother could keep him clean. When we returned, she was crying. The baby was so lifeless and weak. I think she thought he was going to die. We prayed with her and told her to keep her eyes on Jesus, He will not leave us! Joshua is now out of the hospital as well. We visited him also this week. He was smiling and looked like a different baby! Praise God for answering prayer!
He is still very small and thin, but starting to pick up weight. I instructed his mother to work on his motor skills, crawling, sitting, and standing. She said that he was crawling before he got sick, but has now stopped. This is very common with sick babies and most of the time can be recovered.
And here is the CHIPS Khombi with Jabulani, Lori, Teresa & Daran. Thanks to Claypotts Trust and all our collective supporters that make this possible.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The first step in addressing poverty is to teach a Biblical perspective on the responsibilities, uses, and accumulation of wealth. But also to show that poverty is a multifaceted problem that has to be addressed as a connected system: material poverty, physical weakness, isolation, spiritual poverty, powerlessness, and vulnerability.
Maybe a key point of the first half of the class is that even our natural talents, abilities, and dreams are resources that God has given us to use and are a starting point for working out of poverty. It was great to see the proverbial light bulb go of in some of their heads that the cultural and learned response to managing resources (or not) was flawed and the Bible offers concrete principles for managing same. The class ends with a look at the family and finances and teaches about budgeting, planning, saving, investing and borrowing.
Daran has started researching a "Money Matters II" class that will begin where this one left off in teaching business and entrepreneurial skills, business ethics and morality (with the Bible as the moral compass), critical thinking, and problem solving.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
It struck me that is what God does with us. The Bible speaks about God's heart being broken because of our own obstinance and pride. In Luke, Jesus is quoted saying: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, .... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!.." Jesus knew full well what was in store for Jerusalem. But because of their embrace of religions form and function and their rejection of the heart and spirit of God's plan, they doomed themselves to banishment and destruction. And all Jesus could/would do was stand to the side and watch. Grieving.
How often do we turn from what we know, from God's desire, to go and do what we want. Obstinance and pride. How often do I break God's heart by my actions, choices, inaction, thoughts, words, and deeds? And while we continue to love our children, God even continues to love us; while we wait and hope for our children to make right choices, God waits and I dare say hopes we do as well.
I'm looking to the day of no more broken hearts. I'm sure God is too.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Most patients in the states want all measures taken to resuscitate them. When a patient that is not a "no code" stops breathing, and/or their heart stops; a code is called. A team of nurses and doctors rush to the scene and do everything possible to bring this person back.
I was on the ward today at the Government Hospital, visiting a couple of our breast cancer patients. One of them had a mastectomy a couple of weeks ago, the other one was getting ready to go to (theater)surgery, to have her mastectomy today.
While we were visiting, I heard a lady crying out "MaMa!","MaMa!". I thought that it was someone having a nightmare or talking out of their head! Then I saw a woman standing by the bedside of an older woman. She was shaking the woman and crying out for her to wake up. The older woman was limp and not breathing. She had a large bandage on her neck. I realized that the older woman had just passed away and her daughter was calling for her in a panic! Finally, the nurses made their way, casually, not hurriedly, to the patient and pulled her daughter away. They layed
the patient down flat and covered her head with the sheet, and closed the curtain around her bed.
"I thought, is that all, is that it, you are not going to do anything else?" I wanted to run and get the crash cart, call a code, and try to save her. I looked around the room full of patients. The wards here just have bed after bed, no individual rooms. None of the other patients were reacting at all. Their faces were blank, no emotion! I was amazed! It was as if nothing was happening!
I asked the nurse that was visiting the patients with me if they ever try to resuscitate patients when they stop breathing, intubate them,or try to do CPR? She said, no usually they can't even get a doctor to come and they don't have the proper equipment to intubate them.
This was a HUGE REALITY CHECK as to where I am working! I realized that they are all No Codes here! How very sad! I also realized that they see death so much that it doesn't affect them unless it is their own family. I was able to go back to the ward later and I saw the daughter sitting in the hall on the floor. I told her I was so sorry for her loss and asked her if I could pray with her. She said yes and I prayed and gave her a big hug! I asked her if she knows Jesus and she said yes.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
While I was visiting her in the hospital, her 14 year old daughter came to visit. The girl had been beaten by an older male relative, who thought that since Zodwa was being sent to South Africa for treatment for cancer (and would surely die), he could kick the kids out of the house and take over the house. She also received a letter from her son’s school that she must pay E2, 500 in order for him to stay in school. She is asking for assistance with school fees for her son. This is just one more issue for this sick mother to worry about while going to South Africa for treatment.
She received word from the SMO’s office that she should be going to South Africa this week, if can get all medical visa issues completed. Her children will be left alone, except for her sister and mother who live nearby and check in on them from time to time.
It was such a blessing to be able to visit Zodwa in the hospital. I was able to minister to her and pray with her about her needs . She was so grateful every time that I was able to go by and see her. I gave her a devotional book that has scriptures for circumstances that we go through in life. When I came to see her the next time, she was so glad that she had the book to encourage her in the Lord. Her family was supposed to bring her Bible to her from home, but they forgot, so she was thankful that she had the devotional book.
In the picture is her mother, her sister, and a friend. A friend of mine and I were able to pray with all of them as well! She has started her treatments in South Africa by now. I will give a follow up as soon as I hear from her again! Please keep this precious sister and her family in your prayers. Let’s pray especially for the protection of her children and that her treatments go well with good response!
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Love you! Susan
I would rather have the calculators, I think they would be more accurate, but whatever you can find will be fine. I just wanted to throw in the towel and quit on Thursday. I get so frustrated, the surgeon won't answer his phone and won't return my calls. We have several very difficult cases that I need to discuss with him and my oncologist is leaving on Monday to go back to Cuba for 6 weeks. I really feel like it is all on my shoulders. One lady had a lumpectomy which came back as ductal carcinoma, the oncologist said that he could only get part of the tumor. He knows there was still disease there, as well as positive lymph nodes. Her mastectomy specimen got sent to the government lab instead of the private lab where we send breast specimens. The report came back that it was fibrocystic disease and no lymph nodes reported on. The oncologist says this report does not belong to this patient. I can't fight with the pathologist, I need the surgeon to call and take care of this. Another case, the surgeon says the tumor is too big to do a lumpectomy. Her FNA came back as hyperplastic ductal cells, which my oncologist thinks is probably cancer. He wanted the surgeon to do a lumpectomy for a definitive diagnosis. The surgeon says he needs to do a core biopsy, but doesn't' have the needle to do it. So I am checking with the private hospital to see if they have it. This patient needs chemo and RTX before mastectomy, but we can't send her to south Africa for chemo without a definitive diagnosis. I just feel so helpless sometimes! Thanks for trying to get these for me! Keep me in your prayers, please!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
An ongoing problem is improving nutrition for those who are HIV+ and starting on ARV's as well as the whole community in general. We have been asked if we will provide food to those in the CHIPS program. Besides not having the resources to give out food, this is really a non-sustainable and counter productive effort to promote nutrition. While a help in the short term, handing out food will never be a long term solution to the needs here.
We've come across another organization here (SwaziAid) that is introducing another approach in Swaziland. A multipurpose tree called Moringa is being introduced in several areas here. The leaves of the tree are highly nutritious and when used as a food supplement, can greatly help the nutrition value of the staple diet (a fine ground corm meal called pap).
The country rep for SwaziAid (Thokozane) accompanied us on Friday from Mbabane. We planted a "high density" 5mx5m plot of the seeds at Pastor Duarte's garden in Tambankulu on Friday. Hoping all the seeds germinate, in three months we should have meter tall trees that we can start harvesting the leaves from. Once dried and powdered, we'll introduce the powder as a food supplement in the communities CHIPS is working in. In time and as demand increases, we hope to be able to introduce the trees into the community so they can grow them themselves. As another positive by-product, this could also be a means to generate income for the homesteads as they can sell surplus powdered leaves and seeds (which are also a good source for cooking oil).
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Connie and Vanessa are working with the Mother Bear project which provides beautiful hand made bears for children either affected or effected by HIV. These bears are all made using the same pattern, but all have the unique touch of their own individual makers. The bears are sent from the United States with love to bring comfort to these children.
We got many smiles and giggles from the children blessed by these bears. They were all very happy to receive the bears and we are very grateful to the women (and men) who made these bears and sent them to be a blessing to the children of Swaziland!
Accompanying us on the visit were Pastor La'Salette Duarte from Christian Family Church in Swaziland who works in this area, Lori (who took these wonderful pictures), and Jabulani, the CHIPS driver.
Thank you Connie and Vanessa, and the US Embassy for making this possible, as well as all of the people in the U.S. who made the bears! May God richly bless you all!
Saturday, February 07, 2009
The CHIPS (Children’s HIV Intervention Program in
Jabulani was hired and sent to training for HIV counseling last year. He began working in the Maphiveni community mid-December to generate awareness and help the community to start identifying children who would be candidates for testing. Through the end of January, 141 children and caregivers were transported to the Good Shepherd VCT Clinic in Siteki (84 children, 57 caregivers). Of these, 9 children and 28 caregivers tested positive. Two things to note: as our pre-screening of children improves, the percentage of HIV+ children taken for testing should improve; the second thing is the high percentage of caregivers that are positive. The percentages for adult HIV infection in
Few jobs, poor education, no dreams and nothing to look forward to are a potent mix for promiscuity, sex-for-food, HIV infection and a whole host of other destructive attitudes and behaviors. This is what a large segment of the youth in
We are continuing to develop the skills training program. The goal of the program is to help the youth develop healthy attitudes, uncover their God given talents, abilities and dreams, and develop business and entrepreneurial skills based on Biblical principles of management and finances. We are working with one young woman from Manzini now. She has spent almost a year working with glass etching and has developed a reasonable level of skill and technique. We hope to be able to expand the program to include more youth, classroom space and a computer lab this year.
With that in mind, we will need a teacher who can who can work in the classroom to teach the business and computer skills. So if you would want to invest some time in a project that can truly change lives and you have teaching skills, please pray about this! Of utmost importance is to disciple, teach and nurture a Swazi who can perform these tasks as well.
Teresa is working with the Swaziland Breast Cancer Network (SBCN) to develop a treatment program for breast cancer in
We would ask that you pray for two things for us here (if God puts more on your heart, please be obedient): protection: physical and spiritual; and wisdom and discernment for the effective implementation of the programs we’ve started here.
Daran’s trip back to the States last year was a great success and we are grateful for everyone who helped make it one. He met many new friends who made him feel like family. As we look forward to funding requirements through the remainder of this year and into the next and we look at support from all sources (one-time and annual gifts, monthly support, stipend from SBCN), we still have a monthly shortfall of approximately $1000USD. We would ask that you share our ministry work and vision within your circle of friends and associates.
Blessings & Peace!
Gabby, Danielle, Nate, & Joelle
African Leadership Partners, Inc.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Pepe is going into grade 4. She did well the last term of grade 3, when she returned to school after being out for several years while she was fighting multiple pneumonias and TB. She is now healthy and strong, and happy! It was so comforting to see her smiling, talking, and playing! A year ago, she was not able to do any of these things. Banele has also improved greatly in this past year! He is healthy, strong, and happy, as well!