Thursday, April 22, 2010

Besides running the Bible clinic in Samfya, we spend our day with the home base care clients. With Heather here the program has improved - now they are taking 10 new sick clients with AIDS a month, instead of 100 once a year, and helping them get stronger with their HIV meds, meal supplements. This allows them to get better faster, then when they are strong enough they will get a microloan af about $30 for seed and fertilizer and get taught how to do a kitchen farm. This is Vivian surrounded by her family. This is all done through the local Churches who are members of SCCP - Samfya Community Care Providers. The goal is for the community to be raised up economically out of poverty, to help support the Church with tithing, so that these programs become independent, then they can in turn start supported similar churches out in more rural areas, like the island. Mark and Carmen who have been here 3 years, thinks this is a few years away, but God has been strong here and things are improved sooooo much in the 4 years that I have been coming.
This is the kids ward at Mansa Hospital - filled with kids with malaria, vomiting, and boys with broken legs. There were two rooms filled with kids with malnutrition for slow refeeding programs. These work - the big problem is that many of these kids end up coming back in 3 months time.
Saturday we drove up to Mansa, 2 hrs North, to visit the closest government hospital, "MGH" - Mansa General HOspital. This is the free pay women's ward. For $30 a night you can go into the high cost ward, where you will get some meat with your meals along with a private cubbie hole as a room. The free wards are just open spaces, including the TB ward, with three meals a day of beans and mealie meal (a dried corn patty) that you use as the "silver ware." At least they can Xrays, surgery, labs here and have MDs, though they don't work at all on weekends. An eye doc does do cataracts here every Friday. It actually looked better than expected, though from local experience it takes all day to get seen. Mark had a kidney stone, he was to get an Xray - they had him fill up his bladder to get ready, then had him sitting on the bench behind 20 other people for hours with his legs crossed. When he was 6 people away from the test, they came out and closed down for the day until the next day!

Monday, we took a speed boat to one of the islands in the lake, Mbabala island. Here reminds me of Samfya 4 yrs ago when I first came - worse poverty, little food, more disease, more needs. One of the SCCP employees helped to start a home based care volunteer program here and they got HIV meds right out at a small local clinic, which has greatly helped care for their very sick HIV patients - otherwise last year they would have to row across the lake 7 hrs one way to the stage 2 clinic to try to be seen, many times turned away when they got there is the clinical officer was not there or if it was the wrong day. Here we are meeting at one of the huts with their volunteers. It was a great day, still have not seen any crocodiles though supposedly they are all around this island. We saw a young woman with her arms all chewed up Saturday from a croc near this island. Too bad they don't like to eat the crocodiles!

Sight for Samfya!

We have been extremely busy fitting glasses. Here is Andrea with a client - pretty nice fit! We are getting as close as we can but after passing out
close to 300 glasses we are running out and just
taking orders for next time. We have about one hundred locals lined up to see us every morning. These people are quite grateful - otherwise they would need to travel 2 hrs by car - if they can get a ride - to try to get glasses, which cost up to $50 - about 2 months wages for most - almost impossible. We are still also seeing the everyday medical problems in clinic. The local clinic is still understaffed, though the supplies seem better right now. All and all, things are improving here everytime I come.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sorry, internet not working well to post often. We have been super busy with eye glasses - 100 a day looking for them and we have handed out at least 300, more on the list for next time and many for first time seeing.
Awesome stuff, have to run, will try more later.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We made it and are settled into a beautiful new lodge right on the shore of this gorgeous lake. It is amazing the stark contrast with the beauty of this place and the extreme poverty. This place would be packed with motor boats and beach goers if this was in the state, except for the crocodiles!
Julie started in on teaching therapy to 4 locals, refreshing what they learned last time and they love it. Heather and Courtney are two young Chicago-area girls who are here 1 year, and are both doing amazing things with the Home Care Program, the micro-loans, and an after school program. We set up things to start the eye glasses and they are drooling at the bit to get them - should be interesting how that goes - thanks all who helped with that. Our team took a tour and got introduced to all the locals. It is fun to be back. Tomorrow the real work starts - and I think most of us our over our jet lag and sore butts with the long ride. All our healthy and looking forward to a great week.
Lesa omepale (God Bless)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our team is off. Here we are before getting on our 19 hr plane flight - one last piece of pizza and Ben and Jerry's ice cream before lovely Zambian food! All bags packed on the plane - we hope ; 0
Pray for safe travels - take care of things for us at home while we are gone.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Out to Africa

Muleshani my friends,
Packed and ready to go tomorrow back to Samfya. We had an awesome response to the eye glass project and I am bringing about 400 pairs of eyeglasses to help the village see along with the lens set that can determine their presciption - should be fun! Many thanks go out to my friend Deb who had the eyeglasses prepped at her shop, to my friend and supporter Frank along with my volleyball friends who brought in tons of glasses, along with my friend Greg who showed me how to use the lens set - we will see how good of a student, then teacher I am. Julie will also help. Andrea and Joe are also ready to do some teaching for the home care volunteers. Unfortunately, Joan had some last second problems that were unavoidable no matter how much she tried and she will not be making this trip - maybe next one. Prayers out to Joan.
I will be shotting back pics when I can, though the next 3 days will be spent travelling - I have lots of reading material - pray for safe journeys.
Talk to you soon. Mike