Saturday, February 28, 2009

Note to Susan

Teresa. Remember where you are. I know that you want the patients to receive the same care as they do in the states. But, is that realistic? I think that you should pray and ask the Lord to direct you. You know that nothing happens in God's world by mistake.....Everything, if it is supposed to, will work out just fine. It is NOT up to YOU but to him all things are well done....You are not alone. He called you there. He will help you, believe in him....
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


On Friday, we went to Tambankulu for the day. Teresa went with Jabulani into Maphiveni to visit CHIPS children and caregivers. Jabulani wanted to visit those who are getting ready to start ARV's and those who have just started to encourage them, and one more time, talk to them about adherence (taking the meds at the prescribed times every day (at least until there is a cure for HIV). Teresa really enjoys getting to visit at the homesteads and meet with the families one on one. It is a good chance to minister and pray with them.
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

Mother Bear

We had the privilege of taking Connie Parker, the wife of the American Ambassador to Swaziland, and Vanessa from the American Embassy to the Vuvulane area in eastrern side of Swaziland. The two areas that we visited are both squatter camps fit between breaks in trhe sugar cane fields here. Both are full of extremely impoverished people. Connie and Vanessa both said that these were the poorest areas that they had seen since being here in Swaziland. These are the areas that we will take the CHIPS program into next.
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

January Update


The CHIPS (Children’s HIV Intervention Program in Swaziland) is envisioned to be a way to help the 15,000 children in Swaziland who are HIV+ (age 0-14, 2005 estimate). A number we can assume has only increased since then. The goal of the program is to make the available health care accessible to these children and their caregivers.

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 Swaziland range from the mid twenties to the low forties, depending on whose numbers you choose to use. These high percentages are reflected in the high number of caregivers we are seeing that are positive. It also shows that PMCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission) programs are showing some effectiveness in stopping HIV from being passed to more children (GOOD NEWS). We have chosen to continue to keep these caregivers in the program even though the children they are responsible for are not HIV+. It is essential to keep these caregivers healthy so they can actually care for these children. Swaziland does not need any more orphans!

Kudvumisa Glass Youth Skills Program

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 Swaziland (and for that matter southern Africa) have to look forward to.

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 Swaziland from scratch (i.e., there is nothing here now). They are also hoping to start a cervical cancer program, again nothing exists here now for treatment (and very little in diagnosis). There is believed to be a high correlation between cervical cancer and HIV. Daran continues to preach at the Christian Family Church in Tambankulu under Pastor La’Salette Duarte. He has also received an invitation from a local church in Nkoyoyo. All the children are back in school, starting the new year. Gabby has started year one of the International Baccalaureate program while Danielle and Nathanael begin Form 3 (grade 9) at Waterford. Joelle begins grade 5 at Sifundzani Primary. They are all involved in church, soccer and various other sports at school.

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!

Daran & Teresa

Gabby, Danielle, Nate, & Joelle

African Leadership Partners, Inc.

PO Box 994044

Redding, CA 96099-4044

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"New" Bike for Banele

We gave Joelle’s old bike to the orphanage where Pepe and Banele are living now. Sandra, a friend of mine from Children's Cup, took the bike and had the brakes fixed, air in the tires, etc, to get it into good working condition. Banele has been asking for a bike for a while. We took it to him this past Sunday. It was a delight to watch all of the kids attempt to ride the bike. Sandra and I did not think about them never having the opportunity to learn to ride a bike before. They enjoyed chasing after each other on the bike, fighting over whose turn it was to ride, and posing for pictures with the bike. They sang for us, gave of lots of hugs, and smiles, and taught us how to play hand-clapping games. It was a pleasure to see them enjoying themselves with their new gift!

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!

Children's HIV Intervention Program in Swaziland

Sorry I have not put anything out for a while. The holidays are over and we are back in full swing! The CHIPS program has started and is going well. We are concentrating now in the community of Maphiveni. As we work out all the procedures and protocols. we'll begin expanding into neighboring communities. Since our start up in December, we have taken 141 people, (children and caregivers) to be tested for HIV. Eighty-four of the 141 are children; the remaining are caregivers. Twenty-eight of the caregivers tested positive and nine of the children tested positive. We have been pleasantly surprised at the low number of positive children so far. The highest percentage of HIV+ people here in Swaziland are between the ages of 25-45. We believe it is very important to make HIV treatment for these caregivers accessible so that they live healthy and productive lives to be able to take care of the children under their care.

There is one little boy that touched my heart last week with his big swollen belly (ascites). He is very sick and his CD4 count is very low, which means that his immune system is very weak and he needs to start on treatment as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the machine to check the chemistries (blood work that shows kidney and liver function) has been broken for a month now. They are very hesitant to start them on treatment without this blood work. We have been transporting blood samples back to the city of Mbabane, where the blood can be tested.

I brought some samples in on Friday afternoon, to find out that they did not accept samples after noon on Fridays. I thought, oh, no, we do not need any delays for this little one. We had already drawn his blood the week before and the results got lost in the system, so we had to re-draw them and we had to stick him twice this time. All I could think was, surely we will not have to do it again! I took the blood to the private clinic lab and spoke to the manager, who I know from my work with the Breast Cancer Network. It just so happened that her husband is the one that is working on the machine in the hospital where we take them for treatment. She said he should have it working by next week. She also said that she would run the tests for us without charge and the results would be ready in one hour! I wanted to shout, “Praise the Lord!” God is good and He is in control, even when we feel very out of control!

I sent the results back down over the weekend and the boy, along with several others, should be starting on treatment soon! Please keep this program in your prayers, as we move forward. We are praying for God’s divine wisdom and guidance!