Monday, October 11, 2010

And last but not least

It is late, 11:24 actually.  I have 6 minutes to write something I would like to spend so long on.  About 95% of the kids are at Kaziba because their mothers died in childbirth.  I start to really think about this.  And I want to do something about it.  I want to learn what I can do to decrease the number of women who die in childbirth.  Mothers do not easily give up their children.  Here or anywhere.  Out of 180 countries ranked in a recent Lancet article about maternal mortality, DRC was in the top 150 (I will get this reference and add it tomorrow).  50% of the maternal deaths were in 6 countries (DRC being one of the six).   I think my girls would want me to do something about this, I owe it to their mama.  I think, that if Tumaini gets off the ground, there will be a component dedicated to helping the Kaziba hospital (as it is the reference hospital in the area) do something to decrease the numbers of women who die in birth and leave their baby orphaned.  11:28, time to shut down.


I have a group of friends who are helping me get set up to start a 501c3 (a charity), to support the orphans in this area of Congo.  I'm not sure it will happen yet, but I am hoping.  Right now we are are going to work with the Kaziba orphanage and raise money for the following:
Monthly needs:  formula and milk powder
Projects:  finish the wall
Ongoing:  School fees for 85 orphans that have aged out of the orphanage through sponsorship.

I would like to name the charity Tumaini.  This means hope.  For me, it is a testimony to what God can do and the hope He brings to the lives of people here and for me personally.  We started out thinking we were going to adopt from an orphange named alama ya kitumaini (sign of hope).  We were going to adopt Moise.  We didn't pursue this adoption because of corruption.  We went to Kaziba, where there were and still is a great need to help (as there wasn't at the first orphanage).  I felt very hopeless when we had to say goodbye to the little boy we had come to love.  But I see now that if we had stayed there, we would have never gone to Kaziba.  And I know that He wanted us to see, love, and know the children up there and help.  Because if we had never gone up there, then today there would have been 45 children under the age of 4, with 2 mamas caring for them all and very little formula and no milk.  There is hope for the children of Kaziba.   And it is because of God and His love for the least of these, that we were brought there and that others have come along and helped us care for these children.  It is very humbling.  

I'll keep you updated.

kiddo update

The kids are doing great.  We have hit a groove I think.  Mia is a wild one.  She is ready to run, not walk everywhere.  I have to watch her constantly.  Not only does she want to climb and crawl everywhere, she seems to have figured out exactly how to bug Isla so that they end up screaming at each other.  Hmm, I think the years to come will be interesting.  Ellie is starting to crawl and scoot along the furniture.  She is so excited about that.  Natalie is loving her french preschool and is starting to say some things in french.  They were all so sick about a month ago.  I was really worried about them.  At one point we had Ellie on IV fluids in our house.  I really think it was rotavirus.  A low point for me was when I went to the local clinic to try to convince the doctor there in my horrible french, to let a nurse come to my house to do an IV.  He wanted to give her 5 drugs.  We got in an argument and at one point I say, "we don't even give that drug to children in the states!" and he says, "I know, but we experiment on children here!".   I didn't even know what to say.  What do you say?  Where do you even begin.  I was terrified I would have to take her to one of the big hospitals here.  You really have no control of what happens to you in the hospitals here.  You aren't told what is wrong with you and you are give medicines that you don't know the names for and what they do.  I was terrified that her care would be out of my hands.  Thank God, she got well at home.  And they are really doing well now.  We are hoping to get their passports soon!

water water water

The rainy season started.  And then it stopped.  The grass went from brown, to green to brown again.  We were unprepared.  So was the city.  All our back up rain containment systems ran empty in one day.  We started living out of jerry cans.  This is what is practically looked like.  You have a jerry can in your bathroom.  You pour water from it, down the toilet bowl to flush it.  You use it in the sink to wash your hands.  You use another jerry can for the dishes, for cleaning the food, for cleaning the floors.  You use too many jerry cans for washing the cloth diapers that 5 kids produce every day.  You don't wash your clothes until you are absolutely out of everything and then you prioritize.  You spend 30 minutes sniffing the clothes of six kids.  Pee/poop smells-yes wash, dusty dirty-depends on whose it is (twins-wash, big girls-wait).  You heat up a pan of water for bath time.  You pour that in a bucket with some water.  You wash six kids with as little of the water as you can.  You decide who is the dirtiest and who you can get away with using some wipes on.  You dream about trying to cross the border to take a shower in Rwanda.  You wonder how a city that lives on a lake cannot have a plan to treat the water to make is safe for the population when there is drought.  You listen to your housekeeper tell you about how her kids wander the city at night looking for water.  And you feel so guilty knowing how much water you "need" compared to how much she uses for her family of 10.  It is raining now, finally.  I can open a tap and water is coming out.  This will probably be the last time I live in a dry season here.  I wonder if I will forget what it is like to wonder if we will be able to find water again today.  Or to have to consider if we should use untreated lake water and look up cholera (and be terrified of the idea).  I wonder what I will remember and what I will too quickly forget about living here.

braver hearts

I have talked before about this group before.  The woman started a grassroots movement about 10 years ago to help orphans displaced from the wars.  She (with the help of 3000 other congolese) have started 6 centers to help orphans with food and education.  They are INCREDIBLE.  We often here the sad statistics and forget that there are people here on the ground, without any outside help, that are doing what they can to help orphans and vulnerable children.  Two months ago we visited them again.  It was humbling.  Maybe 40 kids came that day.  Porridge was handed out.  There really wasn't enough.  The kids all waited patiently.  They didn't have enough plastic mugs.  They had to give the porridge (which had just finished boiling) out in tin plates.  They were so patient, waiting until it cooled to eat it, bigger ones helping little ones.  At one point, one little boy grabbed it with his bare hands, he burned himself and threw the porridge away.  It landed on all the other kids around him, who in turn jumped up overturning their cups.  It was horrible.  Kids getting burned with porridge and screaming and crying.  Thankfully, the burns were not deep.  But they were still painful.  About a month ago, we were able to give this group two sewing machines!  They were so excited, and they have already come back with pictures and stories about how they are helping the older orphan girls learn how to sew.  We also gave them some plastic mugs.   There are SO many brave congolese women, men, and children who are helping each other and doing what they can to ease the suffering and pain of their fellow brothers and sisters.  It is humbling.  I do have some pictures, that I will post when I can.

the military by day, les voleurs by night

When it comes to what happens in the city, I can only ever tell about rumors.  The news services will sometimes give reports, but most of what happens here is what we hear about.  This morning we heard about how a neighborhood in Bukavu was attacked by the military at night.  They shot their guns, broke into homes, stole food and goods, and beat up women.  They don't get paid.  They have recently moved into a new neighborhood.  They see what others have.  There are lot of people coming into town this week for international woman's day.  The military send a message to the population and to us.  They are untouchable.

trip 13

I went up to Kaziba on October 1st with some friends.  It had really been a long time since I had last gone, and when I arrived and heard the kids calling out my name and Mugeni (visitor) I realized how much I had missed them all.  One little girl came running up and jumped into my arms.  Another little one started walking.  So many are gaining weight.  This little guy I almost didn't recognize!  Hmmm, for some reason I can't upload pictures right now.  Will try again at another point.  The kids looked great!  It was really dusty, we had a flat tire on our way there, and we got stuck in the area of Essence, which is never a good place to get stuck in during the evening.  But everything was okay in the end, and I am so glad to have been able to go visit the kids.   I really hope I can get the pictures up soon.  I was so excited to see the progress on the wall (really more like a big fence).  The wall has enabled them to be able to start two large areas for gardening.  The director is so motivated to grow a crop which will not only be able to feed the kids, but also be able to be sold so that the orphanage can earn some income.  So many good things are happening up there.  The new babies looked good.  If you pray, perhaps you could pray for little Jacob.  He is about 4 weeks old now and only 4lbs.  He is such a tiny sweet baby.  Because of donations there is plenty of formula for him.  It is saving his life.  And he loves eating it.  I've seen miracles there, so I have hope he will live.