Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our Newest Family

October 2009 015 Alfiado, Narciso and Clotilde arrived in late September after one of our pastors told us about the difficult situation they were living in nearby in Marracuene. 

They were living with their mother and auntie (picture in the photo with the mother at left and the auntie with her son at right).  You can of course see that they are both albinos although none of the children are.  Albinism is VERY common here in Mozambique (and perhaps throughout Africa but I could not say that for sure).  I probably see an albino every day that I am off the center.  Life is incredibly difficult  for them as the sun is so hot here and burns strongly for so many months of our hot season. Many skin disorders plague the person who is an albino.  There is some social ostracism as well but not as much as there used to be when albino babies were often killed because they were believed to be cursed.  Although that may still occur, many if not most albinos are integrated normally into a society that recently ostracized them.  Please don't quote me, I am not an albino expert! I am going on impressions and the occasional conversation with a Mozambican about the subject!

September 2009 011 Back to our precious pumpkins!

This family had been living in Inhambane, about eight hours north of here, until their father died and his family did not permit them to stay.  This is always a tragic situation, I will NEVER get used to it although we hear of it all the time.  So they came back to the Maputo area but only found a place to stay but no work.  Their kinesu (like bamboo) home had gaps you could not only see thru but put your hand thru.  The home wasn't very sanitary and so all three children had skin disorders and health problems.  

September 2009 096So, it was decided to bring them here to help them get well and until we can help the mom (and auntie) get suitable housing and some source of income.  We hope that is soon as all three children were crying when their mom and auntie left, it was heartbreaking!

Please pray for wisdom for us in this situation.  We don't want to just create people dependent on handouts but there is likely very little this mother is qualified to do that would earn any income.  The auntie is missing a leg as well which makes physical work not impossible but very challenging for her. 

I am so grateful to be able to be here living out one of my favorite verses in the Bible - looking after orphans and widows in their distress!  Thanks for all of you who are praying, supporting and encouraging me in this incredible journey!October 2009 002

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On Round Here!

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Earthquake, which I lived right thru, about ten miles from the epicenter!  (Wait, am I old enough to have adult memories from twenty years ago?!?)

That was a monumental day to have experienced so I wanted to share my memory of it, just for fun!

I  was a student at Bethany Bible College in Scotts Valley, California on October 17th, 1989.  I also had a little job down in town at the Book Bank which I loved!  It was a small bookstore which had a little cafe in the back, where we served coffees, espressos, the best chai tea I've ever had, lasagne and amazing soups!  My favorites were the potato leek and potato cheese soup, wow they were good!  We also had scrumptious cakes, triple layer chocolate from - oh no!  My twenty year memory is failing me, I can't remember the name of the famous bakery that provided our cakes!  Well, anyway, there was a mint one too.  Pamela, remember eating that slice of Mile High cake in the Miracle bathroom late one night as we talked about, what else, boys??? 

image On the 17th, I had started work at 4:30 and headed straight for the cafe as it was always a busy time for us.  There was a counter that people could sit at to order, then a space about wide enough to walk thru, then the counter against the wall.  That's where we took orders and served from.  Up on the wall, above the walkthru, was a refrigerator unit with our bottled drinks and assorted goodies.  Kinda like those pie cases at a diner would be.  Well, I never left that work space once in the first half hour I was there, making espressos, washing glasses (twist on those built in scrubbers, rinse in treated hot water, rinse in scalding hot water, no wonder I have an addiction to hand lotion to this day!), serving slices of delicious cake. 

imageIt must have been just 5:01 or 5:02 or so that a customer came in and ordered a flavored coffee.  We kept the flavored coffee beans in glass jars lined on shelves going high up the wall, just around the corner of the counter.  So I stepped away from my post to get the beans and grind them up for a fresh cuppa.  The clock ticked over to 5:04 and that's when our 7.1 earthquake struck!

Dodging falling jars of coffee beans, I ran to the front of the store for the nearest doorframe.  My most distinct memory?  Seeing the light poles in the parking lot sway from side to side, must have been about 15 feet in either direction.  To my mind, cement poles were not supposed to do that! 

After the shaking stopped and we went back into the store to check out the damage, I saw something that also shook me up!  The overhead refrigerator unit had fallen from the wall and crashed down, filling the spot where I had been standing until that blessed customer had ordered their speciality coffee!  Whew!  I was so thankful I was not standing there for that to come crashing down on my head!image

   Right next to our store was a Radio Shack and one of the employees was listening to the news on a battery radio.  The most shocking moment of the whole earthquake was when he said "they've just reported that the Bay Bridge has fallen into the Bay!!!"  Of course, we imagined the whole image bridge just collapsing and not existing anymore!  Although it was incredible that a portion of the bridge did collapse, sending cars crashing to the level below, I was still so thankful when I learned the whole bridge hadn't collapsed!

Bethany decided to close for a week so I headed home to Oakland.  Except that Highway 17 over The Hill (the north-south route connecting Santa Cruz to the Bay Area thru the Santa Cruz mountains where the epicenter was located) was closed as well.  I don't remember my exact route home but I know I went up Highway One along the coast and had to cut over thru the bay towns.  It was a LONG drive!

There were remarkably few deaths in Santa Cruz, but one was a woman named Laura who worked at a coffee shop!  Imagine my friends' fear when they heard that on the news in the days before cell phones and all our regular phone lines were down. Needless to say, we were all grateful that wasn't me!

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Of course, there was a lot of damage throughout the Bay Area, terrible destruction in the Marina district in San Francisco and the collapse of the Nimitz freeway in Oakland, both over 40 miles away.  The Battle of the Bay had started as the Oakland A's were playing the San Francisco Giants in the World Series at Candlestick Park in SF.  So all eyes were already on the Bay Area when the earthquake hit.  

I thanked God for his protection over me that day 20 years ago and I thank him again today!  He knows the plans he has for me!image

Anyone who went thru the Loma Prieta earthquake care to share your memories?  Or, anyone who's been in another earthquake for that matter, why not!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Shelton is home from the hospital!

September 2009 057 With everything happening with Paulo's death, I didn't have a chance to write a post saying that my newest boy, Shelton had gone to the hospital the same day that Paulo died.  Talk about a fright!  When someone dies, you become quite aware of the frailty of life.  It's amazing how resilient yet tenacious we humans are at the same time!

Little Shelton arrived just over two weeks ago.  Sunday morning, about an hour after learning Paulo had died, my Tia pointed out to me that Shelton had very labored breathing, a high fever and he had vomited in the night.  I felt so bad for having to call the nurse on call who was only just finishing with arranging Paulo's body going to the morgue!

She gave him paracetemol to bring down his fever which didn't help at all.  An hour later, she gave him September 2009 134ibuprofen which did take it away, thankfully.  She was also trying him on a nebulizer (which helps clear the airways) but after that had little effect, she decided he needed to go to the hospital.  

He was admitted on Sunday and just came home on Wednesday afternoon.  He came home with a diagnosis of pneumonia which we knew he had.  They didn't say he has asthma which we were suspecting but I don't know if they've ruled that out 100%.  They also took a TB test which came back negative, thankfully!

His breathing is still a little labored which is from the fluid on his lungs but not a thing as bad as it was on Sunday.  He hasn't had a fever since then either.

October 2009 029His grandmother went to the hospital with me to visit him.  This photo is of her with Shelton and his little sister, Thursday the day after he came home from the hospital.  She came when Shelton did and is staying in our girls' dorm. 


Two "small" words about the hospital and why I'm so glad he's home now:

1.  Monday morning, the doctor was seeing Shelton at breakfast time.  So, he didn't get to eat breakfast!!!!  He couldn't get down to the dining room because it was closed by the time the doctor was gone and they wouldn't make an exception.  And, the tia had asked to bring the bowl of porridge to the room for when the doctor was gone but they said No.  Why?  Because the doctor was there!!!  (what, is he allergic to porridge?!?)  I was FURIOUS!  The twist of the knife was that while I was visiting, at 4:30pm, she was able to bring his snack (a bowl of porridge!) into the room to feed him!!!  Hello!  This is a hospital where people are supposed to get well!  A sick, five year old taking about five different meds doesn't need to eat for 18 hours straight - because "the doctor was there???" 

2.  The person who stays with the child/patient, isn't allowed to keep ANYthing in the room.  Not an extra capulana (the piece of material they use for a skirt, wrap, towel, blanket, etc.), not their purse, not a diaper (if the child is using  them), not a set of clothes, a toothbrush, nothing.  And, not food! They can eat when their visitors bring them food (because the hospital only provides the basics for the patient), but they can't keep any of the food in the room.  Where must they keep it?  In the BATHROOM!  In an open cubbie!!!  For the sake of decorum, can I suffice to say that the bathrooms in the hospital are  not clean?  I've been in them, please trust me on this, I won't go into detail but you've not likely been in a gas station, beach bathroom or reststop that holds a candle to these bathrooms!  Do you know ANYone who stores food in their bathroom?  And we aren't talking about canned goods here.  Not only do I wonder "are they trying to drum up more business here?"  but many, many of the things left in the bathroom are stolen as well.  It's terrible and so unnecessary. 

In case you think I was ranting just there, trust me, those were my "small" words about the hospital! 

I am SO glad Shelton is home!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Paulo Cossa, 1997 -2009

Paulo_CDay08 (5) What a terrible title for a blog post.  One I hope to never have to write again.

Paulo, the boy in the red shirt making the funny faces in the group photos, died on Saturday night, some time in his sleep.  He wasn't feeling well on Saturday and on Sunday he just didn't wake up.  They found him with his hands tucked under his chin, a very peaceful looking position which has comforted us all that he wasn't suffering.  He was twelve.

  Paulo was such a Lauraandkfcfriendssweetheart!  He came to our center two years ago, leaving his family an hour and a half away so he could be closer to the city (as well as our clinic) for good medical care.  He was very sickly when he came but had improved so much, you'd hardly know it!  In fact, he was so much improved, he was set to return home to his mother and family in about two weeks time after school is out for summer holidays. 

lauraandkfcfriends2 Paulo quickly became one of the boys and his closest buddies were the boys who moved out of my dorm last year, including all of these in the group photos.  Naturally, they are missing him, grieving his loss and not sure what to think of it at all.

His funeral was yesterday.  I'm sure most of my readers have never been, nor ever will go, to an African funeral.  The grief is palpable and very visible.  There is no attempt at stoicism, the family usually weeps until physically laying on the ground and Paulo's funeral was no exception.  It' heart-wrenching to see.  And devastating to watch that little casket lowered into the ground with utter finality.  I will certainly miss him and cannot imagine how his family is feeling.

His death has also caused a bit of fear to creep into my heart, for all my boys, but especially those who are HIV+ and whose health is more fragile than appears to the eye.  I have seven HIV+ boys in my dorm currently and although you would never know which was which because they look so healthy, I'm reminded that even a cold could be life-threatening when their immune system is so compromised.  So although I don't want to be fearful, I want to be always vigilant about looking after these boys extra carefully, as well as all the others. 

 

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Tchau meu amigo Paulo.  Tem saudades de ti.  Ate' logo!

(Goodbye my friend Paulo, I miss you.  See you soon!)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mozambique's Next Top Male Model search is on!

September 2009 058 September 2009 062

Pedrito Pai

September 2009 074 September 2009 067

Simois Daniel

September 2009 109 September 2009 116

Armando Lito

September 2009 101 September 2009 107

Ivo Adilson

September 2009 117 September 2009 120

Tia Laura Tia Bilena

September 2009 126 September 2009 128

Tia Anna Mana Laura

September 2009 037 September 2009 077

Shelton Alfiado

We begin with four cute-as-a-button littlies from Room 3, the youngest boys in the dorm. The second two, Simois and Daniel, are brothers! But you can only vote for one!

Room 1, the middle age, was conspicuously absent from the photo shoot. Could it be they are overly self-conscious of their missing front teeth? Nah, simply they were playing in the back garden, rather than down by the soccer field!

The next group of four are from the biggest and most handsome boys in the dorm, Room 2!

The Ladies are included here simply for consideration for the "best sport" award. The blurry one, Mana Laura won't win it for sure - she didn't even jump down from the tree as everyone else did!

And lastly, honorable mention goes to our very serious newest entrants. Shelton and Alfiado arrived last week and were still getting a feel for things during our photo shoot.

Let me know who YOU would choose for Mozambique's Next Top Male Model!!!

And remember, there are 22 more boys in consideration for runner-up! (Actually, they either weren't there, Room 1, or their photos were too blurry. Less is more anyway, huh?)