Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Update!

Dear Friends,
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.

As one of our supporters, you are a part of this!

We have taken the next and crucial step in developing the youth skills program. Beginning in May, Daran started teaching the “Money Matters” course originally developed by Peter Kopp of African Leadership Partners. The alternative title is “God’s Answer to Poverty”. The first all-day class was taught at Christian Family Church International in Tambankulu. Roughly 30 people attended that class. Daran is also teaching a 6 week version of the course to fifteen people at the Mbabane UPC on Monday evenings. We have plans to repeat the class at both these churches and to expand to other churches. We’ve been asked to work on an all siSwati version for non-English speakers in the rural areas. We also are in the beginning stages of developing a “Money Matters 2” course. These courses will form an essential part of the youth skills program.
Teresa continues to be active with the Swaziland Breast Cancer Network (SBCN). It looks like there may be funding to proceed with setting up chemo treatment here in Swaziland. Daran is working with several churches here to develop children’s homes based on the New Life Homes model. Each organization faces hurdles in either finding land or finding funding sources. Please pray for the Holiness Union Church that the land issues there will be resolved and for Christian Family Church that Swaziland registration issues will be resolved so promised funding can be made available.
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, D
anielle, Nate, & Joelle

African Leadership Partners, Inc.
PO Box 994044
Redding, CA 96099-4044

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CHIPS - Progress!

Sikhumbuzo is a little boy who is part of CHIPS. He is 7 years old, and still very sick. He was born with HIV and His mother is HIV+. He has been treated for TB in the past, but we are not sure whether he completed the treatment. He was started on ARV’s a couple of weeks ago while he was hospitalized. The first time I saw him, his stomach was very swollen and his breathing was very rapid. He was a very sick little boy. Each time I see him he seems a little stronger! I first saw him in church after he was discharged from the hospital. When he saw me, he gave me a big smile, which melted my heart. We visited him this past week at his homestead. He has a runny nose and a cough, and some sores around his mouth that may be herpes. I instructed Jabulani to keep a close watch, and if he was unable to eat or the cough was worse take him in to be checked again by the doctor. It is very important to watch these little ones closely. They seem to get sick so quickly!

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

Money Follows Wisdom (and not vice versa)

Daran has started teaching the Money Matters class (God's Answer to Poverty) that Peter Kopp with African Leadership Partners originally began here in Swaziland. The class is set up help people identify and confront cultural and learned behavior towards money and wealth that is counter Biblical. The first day long class was at Christian Family Church in Tambankulu. He is teaching a six-week version of the class at the United Pentecostal Church of Mbabane. We had over thirty in attendance in Tambankulu and are averaging twenty at the UPC.
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.