Friday, July 22, 2005

Some prayer requests

About two weeks ago I moved into a new place! My host family is traveling this
month, so Melanie, one of my friends from church who is also traveling this
month, said I could stay in her room while she is away. She stays with a
Kenyan woman named Wanjiku who is about my age. Wanjiku is a lot of fun, we
have been getting along really well, and I am really enjoying staying there.
In addition, Melanie has a car that she said I could use while I am staying in
her room. After 6 months of an hour matatu ride and then a 1.7 km walk home
each day, having a car has been a nice treat (matutus are 15 person vans used
as public transportation in Kenya).

There have been several cases at work which are making me realize how important
it is to educate women on parenting issues – so many young girls are having
babies, and their mothers and relatives are living in rural areas so there is
no one to tell them how to take care of a child. For example, we visited one
mother who is 20 years old with 3 children – 5, 3, and 4 months. The 5 year
old boy has severe rickets and can barely walk. When we visited the home to
follow up the case, we found out that the mother hits the boy because he goes
to the bathroom on the bed (most likely it is because he is too weak to do
anything else.) The husband also suggested that she not give him much food so
that he won’t go to the bathroom – so she was withholding food from this boy
who is already suffering from malnutrition! Her actions were not done
maliciously, but she was just doing what she thought would solve the problem so
that he wouldn’t go to the bathroom on the bed anymore. Thankfully, we were
able to counsel her, we have been buying extra milk to give to the boy every
day at our day care, and he was taken to a hospital to get treatment. Please
pray for this boy Franco that he would recover from his sickness and gain
strength.

Thank you for all of your prayers for Shiro and Hilda (Shiro is the 3 year old
HIV positive girl that we brought to a children's home, and Hilda is her 21
year old mother who is dying from HIV). We brought Shiro to the children’s
home on a Thurs (the 7th), and then that Saturday (the 9th) I visited to see
how she was doing. She called me “Mzungu wangu” (my white person) and kept
saying that she wants me to take her home. She cried when I told her that she
would be staying there, and then she cried again when I left and she kept
saying that she wanted to come with me. I visited her again on Sunday, and
then both days of the following weekend (last weekend) as well. When I went
last Saturday, Shiro was doing much better. The house moms said she was
adjusting well but she was still frequently asking for her mom. I was there
for a few hours and Shiro was laughing, playing, and talking more than I have
ever seen before. So overall, I think she is adjusting very well. Please
continue to pray for her.

Unfortunately, Hilda isn’t doing as well. Since we brought Shiro to the home,
we have visited her at least twice a week to pray with her, encourage her, and
see how she is doing. Last week, she even agreed to go for a walk and was able
to walk all of the way to Beacon and back again. This was so encouraging since
she hadn’t been out of her compound for about three weeks.

However, yesterday we received news in the morning that Hilda was doing badly
and would need to be taken to the hospital. We went to see her before she went
and she was very weak. Her chest and throat were hurting and she was having
trouble breathing. Her legs were also very painful and she couldn’t even stand
up. It was amazing to see how quickly she had gone downhill, and we were all
very upset to see her like this. Today, we returned to her place and found out
that she had refused to go to the hospital. She is still in pain and is
suffering from dimentia. Please continue pray for Hilda.

I am really looking forward to the upcoming month – in a little over a week,
the group from Chapel Hill Bible Church will be arriving, and then in about two
and a half weeks my parents and sister Kelly will be coming. Please pray for
safe travels and blessed fellowship as I spend time with friends and family
from home.

Some prayer requests

Hello friends,
>>>
>>> About two weeks ago I moved into a new place! My host family is
>>> traveling this
>>> month, so Melanie, one of my friends from church who is also traveling
>>> this
>>> month, said I could stay in her room while she is away. She stays with a
>>> Kenyan woman named Wanjiku who is about my age. Wanjiku is a lot of fun,
>>> we
>>> have been getting along really well, and I am really enjoying staying
>>> there.
>>> In addition, Melanie has a car that she said I could use while I am
>>> staying in
>>> her room. After 6 months of an hour matatu ride and then a 1.7 km walk
>>> home
>>> each day, having a car has been a nice treat (matutus are 15 person vans
>>> used
>>> as public transportation in Kenya).
>>>
>>> There have been several cases at work which are making me realize how
>>> important
>>> it is to educate women on parenting issues  so many young girls are
>>> having
>>> babies, and their mothers and relatives are living in rural areas so
>>> there is
>>> no one to tell them how to take care of a child. For example, we visited
>>> one
>>> mother who is 20 years old with 3 children  5, 3, and 4 months. The 5
>>> year
>>> old boy has severe rickets and can barely walk. When we visited the home
>>> to
>>> follow up the case, we found out that the mother hits the boy because he
>>> goes
>>> to the bathroom on the bed (most likely it is because he is too weak to
>>> do
>>> anything else.) The husband also suggested that she not give him much
>>> food so
>>> that he wont go to the bathroom  so she was withholding food from this
>>> boy
>>> who is already suffering from malnutrition! Her actions were not done
>>> maliciously, but she was just doing what she thought would solve the
>>> problem so
>>> that he wouldnt go to the bathroom on the bed anymore. Thankfully, we
>>> were
>>> able to counsel her, we have been buying extra milk to give to the boy
>>> every
>>> day at our day care, and he was taken to a hospital to get treatment.
>>> Please
>>> pray for this boy Franco that he would recover from his sickness and gain
>>> strength.
>>>
>>> Thank you for all of your prayers for Shiro and Hilda (Shiro is the 3
>>> year old
>>> HIV positive girl that we brought to a children's home, and Hilda is her
>>> 21
>>> year old mother who is dying from HIV). We brought Shiro to the
>>> childrens
>>> home on a Thurs (the 7th), and then that Saturday (the 9th) I visited to
>>> see
>>> how she was doing. She called me Mzungu wangu (my white person) and
>>> kept
>>> saying that she wants me to take her home. She cried when I told her
>>> that she
>>> would be staying there, and then she cried again when I left and she kept
>>> saying that she wanted to come with me. I visited her again on Sunday,
>>> and
>>> then both days of the following weekend (last weekend) as well. When I
>>> went
>>> last Saturday, Shiro was doing much better. The house moms said she was
>>> adjusting well but she was still frequently asking for her mom. I was
>>> there
>>> for a few hours and Shiro was laughing, playing, and talking more than I
>>> have ever seen before. So overall, I think she is adjusting very well. Please continue to pray for her.
Unfortunately, Hilda isnt doing as well. Since we brought Shiro to the home, we have visited her at least twice a week to pray with her, encourage her, and see how she is doing. Last week, she even agreed to go for a walk and was able to walk all of the way to Beacon and back again. This was so encouraging since she hadnt been out of her compound for about three weeks.
However, yesterday we received news in the morning that Hilda was doing badly and would need to be taken to the hospital. We went to see her before she went and she was very weak. Her chest and throat were hurting and she was having trouble breathing. Her legs were also very painful and she couldnt even stand up. It was amazing to see how quickly she had gone downhill, and we were all very upset to see her like this. Today, we returned to her place and found out that she had refused to go to the hospital. She is still in pain and is suffering from dimentia. Please continue pray for Hilda.

I am really looking forward to the upcoming month  in a little over a week, the group from Chapel Hill Bible Church will be arriving, and then in about two and a half weeks my parents and sister Kelly will be coming. Please pray for safe travels and blessed fellowship as I spend time with friends and family
from home.
Love, Val

Friday, July 08, 2005

Finding a home for Shiro

The week started on an interesting note when Shiro, a 2 year old HIV positive girl in our day care, was brought to the day care by one of the women with all of her clothes and a note from the mother saying that the mother had left for Tanzania and was leaving the child with us.
Hilda, Shiro's mother, is HIV positive and had been recently hospitalized for about a month with cerebral menigitis. She is from Tanzania but has lived in Kenya for many years illegally.
So, when we found Shiro waiting for us at BOH Monday morning with all of her clothes, we had no idea what to do with her. Hilda's first husband (Shiro's father) has already died from AIDS and Hilda does not have any realtives in Kenya. Hilda's mother died while Hilda was young, and her father has remarried in Tanzania. In Africa, many women will not accept their husband's children from a previous wife, let alone a young grandchild from a previous wife who is HIV positive. And, even if we sent Shiro to them in Tanzania, she would not have access to medical care which is so important since she is HIV positive.
So the social workers and I went to Kware to speak to Hilda's friends to find out what happened. We were shocked when we found Hilda at home in bed! She had planned to go home to Tanzania, but she was not feeling well so she turned back and came home. But, she told us she is no longer able to care for Shiro because she is bedridden so she asked us to find a place for her.
Unfortunately, there are very few children's homes who accept HIV positive children and almost all are full. So Jane and I stopped by Grace Children's Center, the home I visit on the weekends, to see if they have space for Shiro. They had been completely full, but a few weeks ago two of the young children were retested for HIV and found to be negative (false positives are common in infants due to maternal antibodies and many "turn" negative before 18 months). These two children had been moved to the main house, so there were two beds available. One had been taken, and there was one bed left, so they agreed to take her.
We went to Hilda's house on Wed to tell her the news and have her sign paperwork since she wouldn't be able to come with us to take Shiro because she was too weak. As we were filling out the paperwork, we learned more about Hilda's past. She is only 22 years, and her husband died from AIDS two and a half years ago. Then, last year December, she had a 4 month old baby who also died from AIDS. Now, she is in the final stages of AIDS herself, and is "losing" her other daughter. This was definately the hardest home visit I've done since I've been here - I kept thinking about how this girl was younger than me, has already buried a husband and a child, and is now dying and unable to care for her other child. I was fighting back tears the entire time I was there - Shiro was so depressed when her mother was in the hospital for a month and I kept thinking that they may never see one another again. I couldn't imagine what Hilda was going through as she was making preparations for her death at only 21 years of age.
So on Thursday, the social workers went to pick up Shiro. They prayed with Hilda, she said good bye, and then they brought Shiro to BOH, where we picked her up to take her to GCC.
Shiro received a warm welcome at the home, where they greeted her with a bright orange and pink teddy bear. We finished the paper work and Shiro was shown around her new home. The house moms there are great with the kids and I know Shiro will receive excellent care. There is a school right on the compound and the children receive excellent medical care, good nutrition, and access to ARVs. She seemed a little scared when we were leaving but she didn't cry.
I also took some pictures of the home, and we visited Hilda in the afternoon to show her the pictures. We had two good pictures of Shiro smiling and Hilda laughed when she saw the pictures because she said she hadn't seen Shiro smile in about two months since she had been hospitalized. She asked us if this was really her daughter. She was very impressed with the pictures, but she became emotional as we were leaving. We prayed with her, brought her some food, and then left.
Please pray for both Shiro and Hilda as they make this difficult adjustment. Please pray that Shiro will fit in well and adjust easily to her new home, and that she will begin smiling and laughing again. Please also pray for Hilda as she deals with the loss of her daughter. Pray for peace in her soul over her decision, and pray for increased health and support as she is in the final stages of AIDS.