We arrived safely in Ndola.
We made good time and Grace did great in the car and we were not stopped at any of the police checks.
The Lord has His own ways of answering our prayers sometimes. It rained about 2 and a half of the 4 hour drive. This made for tense driving for me, but no police man was even standing out in the rain at the check points.
So that was a blessing. Grace hardly even made a noise in the car and slept part of the time as well.
( I think she might have been scared or confused as to why we were going for a long drive and where were all the other kids?)
We got here around noon, got some lunch and then checked in our lodge and went to see Pastor Kabwe. We are currently trying to work out the relationship with the church here, whose ministry it is to care for the orphans, but at the same time realizing that all the funding is coming from churches in the states that we represent. So this becomes a little confusing and stressful at times, since we also are seeking to report back to the individuals writing letters to these kids and sending christmas gifts. We want an open flow of communication between Ndola church and us and us and the states.
We have a meeting this evening with the members of the church that are part of the Hope for the Afflicted ministry.
Please pray that the meeting will go well and everything will be brought together so we can move forward in helping the kids.
We went to one of the kids homes yesterday, whose mom is Sharon a lady that doesn't go to the church but has helped with the kids in the past. She misunderstood what I had said when I told her we were coming and had called all the kids together. They were not all there at that point but they had been waiting for us for awhile and when we arrived we didn't know what to say to them. We had set up the christmas party for saturday and so other than asking them a few questions and singing a few songs, that was all we did with them. After they were dismissed we hung outside briefly and tried to talk to some of them. The language barrier is a big difficulty and even kids in 6th grade can't answer basic questions or know what we are saying, though they are learning english at school. It was discouraging that very few of these kids are actually attending Sunday School class anymore.
This morning we met Lister, a woman from the church who is part of the HFA ministry and has helped the kids on a routine basis. We are thinking through hiring her through the church to work full-time visiting the kids and being responsible for what is going on with them. We recently hired Maureen to do this in Kabanana and here there are twice as many kids that are being ministered to. So we will see how that all works out.
We started out visiting the Kombe girls. They are 3 sisters 2 of which are HIV positive. We just wanted to check on how things were going. Lister used to be a nurse and is a big help in that regard. She looked over their medicines and asked about recent illnesses. We then found out that Prescovia has had TB several times and asked when her most recent chest x ray was done. Routinely they are performed every year to keep a watch. She has not had one since 2008 so we wanted to check on that.
Joyce has not ever had one, at least that anyone could remember.
At that point Kat and I looked at each other and said, ok. that's what we are doing today.
So after we talked with the auntie we asked if we could take them both to go and get the x-rays done. She agreed, a bit hesitant though.
Since Prescovia is older, she attends another clinic for her check ups and to receive her ARVS. It is on the base of the army barracks. We arrived there and I started to pull in. The guard stopped us and said we had to park over there and pointed to an area. We drove back and parked and then he came over and said we could not go in. Based on our white skin, ( foreigners he assumed) we were not allowed. Lister, Maureen and Prescovia left and we waited in the car. he tried to talk to me for a little bit and said it is the same thing if he were in America he would not be allowed to come onto the military barracks there.
So he left and came back with another man who looked even more official and dressed in cam. he told us that we could not even wait there in the parked area and that we had to leave and they would contact us when we were done.
Strange but we left and drove across the street with Joyce and went to the bakery and got a cake and juice for everyone for a snack.
She hid it under the table and ate little bites and drank her juice. Grace sat next to her, taking big bites and smearing it all over her own face and hands.
They called us shortly and we headed back to pick them up. We parked where we were, they started to get in the car and the guard came over and said, "I want your contact number". I replied, "no" and quickly finished getting Grace in her car seat. He then said, "yes, like brother and sister". again I said no I am married and he said, "I want an American contact". Sorry I said and closed the door and he started walking away as I drove away.
When that situation cleared I asked how it went and Lister said they would not do the XRAY because they had to have a family member with them, so they scheduled an appointment for Tuesday and Lister will accompany her there.
We then headed to Joyce's clinic. We got there and they waited on the bench in the queue. As I stood outside with Grace on my back trying to keep her quiet, I noticed the sign. The clinic was made by funds from the US people and the government. Interesting. As I looked around inside I saw more USAID signs and thought this was pretty neat to actually be at a clinic that was started and maybe still funded by the USA.
Lister came out a little bit later with Joyce saying that they would not give her an xray. The dr. would not authorize one because unless there were signs of TB or coughing sickness they don't order them. Lister had appealed and spoke to the doctor and the nurse and they still said no. So when she came out ready to leave I asked to go back with her and speak to the doctor. He listened and said that they don't routinely do them. I told him I understand that, but we want to get one done to see if everything is ok. Lister had even told him that her sister has had TB several times and she has been in close contact with the disease, but that didn't help.
When he was talking to me, he said a few more things and then asked well who is going to read the xray? Are you? Because he was not officially "ordering it" he did not want to read it. So I said, yes. Thinking I could look if something was on the XRAY having just recently gotten one for Grace and it was clear, or at least taking the responsibility to find a doctor that would. So he wrote the form and sent us on our way.
As we were walking out Lister commented, well you got it. I told her yes I was praying as we were walking in to see him. But also I was counting how many signs and even stickers on equipment that said, "USAID". I was prepared to say, "I see you have gotten a lot of USAID, well I am from the US and I want to see the benefit of some Aid right now! "
We then walked over to the hospital and she got the xray and we had to wait for quite while.
As we were waiting in the hallway, 2 women came around the corner Wailing, one falling to the ground in wails. Immediately I knew a child died and they must have just found out. That sound was only the sound of hearing news of death, I just knew. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart immediately became heavy. Death. It is all around us.
We were able to find a doctor to read the results but that in itself caused some trouble. There was a line and we just went in to ask if he would be able to read the xray which then made it look like we were cutting in line because I am white. The nurse told us to wait here and she would see the doctor. So then in effect we did cut the line even though we had not intended to. A man sitting next to Kat in the line commented on how unfair that was… he was right. It did look unfair and probably was, though that is not what I intended, or had planned. We were just asking if he could read it and I expected to go back in line.
So problems at both clinics related to race. (sigh)
Joyce's xray looked fine which was good news, though she had a cold and he gave medicine for that.
We took the girls home and then came back to get lunch and rest until the meeting this evening.
We talked about plans and what to say yesterday but today Kat made a plan and she did most of the talking which was great. I was feeling a bit stressed and discouraged and worn out!
The meeting went well, and we were able to discuss what it is we would like to see, which is more communication on what is going on here so that we can better tell the folks back home who are supporting and praying and writing letters to these kids. They saw in themselves the failure to spend time visiting the kids and that they needed a field worker. One who had the time and could do that as their job. This was a blessing because we had already been talking to the Pastor and Lister about taking on this role. So, I think we can move forward with that.
We have the christmas party for the kids tomorrow and we will meet at the church building. We are praying the Lord will bless that time and they will see the blessing that God is giving to them even in these material gifts.
Thank you for your prayers for us and for the kids this weekend!