Friday, July 29, 2011

3rd Story from Congo

I'm pretty sure but not positive this is Chola Marie but as a minimum I thought you'd enjoy the lovely hairstyle.


In the Community of Kampemba, there was a Woman her name is Mwelwa aged 70 years. The husband was retired from his Job long time. After some year, life was bad for Mwelwa. To find food for the family when the husband is not working, its very difficult in Africa .

As the family started suffering, they had Deaths in a family. Four Children in this family died, and the other Lady who died after giving birth to a Baby makes Number in the family. This old Mama had nothing to do since she lost five Children in three years time.

But the Kafwa came in to encourage this old Woman and her family. When the Kafwa started coming to help the Old Mama, the new born Baby died again after three years.

Life was really bad in the past. Now life has been changed. People in the Community new her & was supported by Members in the Community. Also Non Governmental Organization came in to support this family.

Health Ed Connect was helpful because they have equipped the Kafwa in the Communities to be ready every time when need arises. Kafwa is a Community problem solver.

This Mama came back to say thank you so much for assistance & support you have given. You have made my life to be better. Life to this Mama changed, she had a lot of friends in the Community and out side the Community to look after her family.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another story from Congo

Jean Marie with Gershom and Sherri


In our Community, we had a sister, her name is Mambwe who had a Child by the name of Mary and she was two years old. Mambwe was living in Village Poland . They stayed in a house made with Bricks, and with Grass on top. Mambwe’s husband was not working, he lost imployment long time. The daughter for sister Mambwe was very sick, but she did not decide to take the Child to the hospital, until when a Member of the Kafwa came in to encourage her about medication. Until some time, this Woman agreed to take Mary to the hospital. When they arrived at the hospital the Doctor examined the Child and found her with Malaria and Anemia. She was admitted in the hospital for almost one week. They were given a prescription to buy the medicines, but the husband had nothing. Again the Kafwa took the Prescription to the Kafwa Group to assist the Child buy the required medicines. The Kafwa used the Group money which they are selling Underfive Cards. Later Mary was discharged from the hoispital & was recovered completely from Malaria & Anemia.

The life like in the past was too bad, both ways, the family were poor. Now from the time the Child was recovered life was better than before.

Health Ed Connect was helpful because they did not want to wait when the problem came, but Kafwa always has the heart to help people in time of need especially in our Community.

This family appreciated so much for assistance rendered to the family. The are good friends now. Life now for sister Mambwe and her daughter Mary is better.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Stories from Congo

This is the first of 4 'stories' from the Wasaidizi or Kafwa health workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  These amazing women have been volunteers for nearly 20 years many times going 4 or 5 years without any encouragement from me since I was prevented by civil war and other political issues from seeing them.  These stories were first written in French or Swahili, translated into Bimba, and then into English.  You may have to read them a couple of times to catch the meaning but I think you'll enjoy reading the stories in their own words.

You might notice most of them refer to brick homes in the stories.  Read this as "least" rather than "most" expensive option.  In most cases the homes are made of homemade bricks made from mud right on site and are mortared together with more mud.
Josephine (middle) supervisor of Wasaidizi in Congo


The Story about the Child, who was the Orphan and her name was Kanyimbu Mpundu, she was 8 years old and was in Grade two at Alumashi School . The total number of people in the family was 12. Kanyimbu was cared by the Grand ma. The house was made with bricks.

Kanyimbu’s Grand mother was a Widow. One day Kanyimbu was very sick, she had abad sore on her right leg. And the sore was becoming worse & worse. One day we had a home visit program and I met this young girl, and asked her where she was living and she directed me to her Grand mother’s home. The following day I went to look for the Grand mother in order to explain what I saw to the young girl. I found her and asked her if I can help with the sore, and she said yes you are welcome. Kanyimbu’s Grand mother had 9 children four of them were Prostitute and was just bringing problems to the Widow. She was complaining almost every day because problems were more and more, but I KEPT ON ENCOURANGING HER.

The following day I went to see the young girl and started washing her sore there after apply the anointment Which we received from Sherri. I CONTINUED to wash the sore for Kanyimbu. And in almost a month, the sore was completely dry. The girl who failed to walk and go to School, started walking and going to School everyday.

The life in the past was too bad, but after the treatment, the life changed completely to a better life. Health ed Connect was very helpful because of the support, and trainings we received from them. Mpundu’s life is better that it was before.

Kanyimbu’s Grand mother appreciated for the good work done for Kanyimbu. Life for Kanyimbu was very difficult but, made it good for her life. She is walking well, going to School without any problem.


Monday, July 18, 2011

We're almost There!

Our group with 'friend'(the tall one in the back) at Jo-Burg airport
We look glorious after 3 days of travel and 2 nights on planes but we're happy to have arrived safely in South Africa.  We met Liza de Guzman within minutes of landing so the whole team (Liza, Jena Wight, Tara Shupe, Bryce Veazey, Jac and Sherri) is now together.  We travel on to Malawi in about an hour.  Everyone's doing great!  We walked over 10 miles in London (oh, yes, we did and verified it with our pedometer!) and had a great time.  It rained until about noon so we were damp but happy to enjoy London Tower, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, a 10 minute tour of the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone, etc.  Actually being out and around all day helped us reset our biological clocks so we could get over jetlag faster.  Now we're eager to get on to Malawi to see the health workers and share in training together.

P.S. I'm just checking to see if you're paying attention. If you think this blog is out of sequence and a month late you are absolutely correct!!   I tried to send this from my phone for days and was never successful.   Better late than never?  At least you now know we were thinking about the folks back home from the beginning of our trip.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The crowd who waited 2 1/2 hours to see us at Zamtan

I'm skipping over to Zambia now with some stories from there.  Every stop is always full of surprises!

We stopped at a poor little township called Zamtan coming back from Chingola.  One of our most faithful Kafwa, Angela, lives there.  She attended our January training for Child Support Specialists and was one of the biggest advocates for caring for the orphans.  She's raising an orphaned niece that she's had for 4 years.  We arrived at Zamtan 2 1/2 hours later than we had told them and were greeted by over 200 people who had waited patiently for us.

Two of the school children
Angela said after the January training she decided to start a school in her community for the kids who could not afford the government school.  The school opened in May and she has 51 children enrolled - all taught by one teacher at the same time!  The kids were all there to show us what they had already learned and we were duly impressed.  They sang their version of a little ABC song with gusto, demonstrated their knowledge of English with a cute little action song about sitting, standing, jumping, etc. under a banana tree, and wrote a letter of the alphabet on a crude board (they have no chalk board) as their teacher asked them to.

Angela showing the School Attendance Book

They haven't organized with school committees, etc. yet but are planning to do so.  They started with a meeting for the whole community and the locals thought they could pay 5000 Kw (about $1) per month for the school.  They have already paid some but I would be amazed if this poor little community can maintain a payment schedule of that magnitude.
Angela also has a support group going for the orphans and has 32 children attending evening sessions.  Angela is a quiet lady with a ready smile and a big heart who does amazing things!  We will watch their progress and see if they maintain their enthusiasm for the school.  If so, this is probably another HealthEd Connect program waiting in the wings for future development.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Linley's story


Linley's house - no electricity or running water
I took little printed guidelines along on the trip to give the health workers ideas for reporting their stories.  They took the assignment very seriously and immediately began writing stories for me.

This is Linley's story as dictated to her husband -- the grammar and spelling are as written.  Her husband, Patrick, speaks fluent English and was our translator during the training.

I am Linley Mzira, a Sinkhani volunteer here at Chintheche, Malawi.  Chintheche is a small township in Nhkata Bay Malawi which is bordered by Lake Malawi to the East and a range of hills to the West.  It becomes exceedingly hot in the months of September, October and early November of each year.
People of this town benefit from the fish that is caught from the lake and also from the yams and firewood that come from the hills.  Every morning a number of bicycle riders come down from the hills carrying bundles of firewood on their carriers and also some bags of yams which they sale or exchange with the fish at the lake.
One Sunday in June, 2011, as I was preparing breakfast for my family ready to go for worship service, I heard a cry just outside my house which is just close to the road that goes to the lake.  When I came out of my kitchen I found out that a man had made an accident.  The man's name is Mr. Tijing Phiri.  This man aged 32 years was on his bicycle with a bundle of firewood on its carrier.  On the top of the bundle of wood he put a very sharp axe and when he wanted to come off the bicycle his right leg hit directly at the sharp edge of an axe and he was wounded badly.  Blood came out of the cut without seazing (he was bleeding badly).
I went in my house and informed my husband who is a pastor, and I took my "first aid" kit and with the assistance of my husband we tied the upper part of the wound to stop blood from coming out then I cleaned the blood from the affected part and applied "triple antibiotic" the medicine for wounds which Sherri brought for Sinkhani community health workers and then bandaged the wounded part.
The day this accident happened was Sunday, as a result this man was not taken to the hospital at the spot, but I advised him to go and see the doctor the next day.  But when he went there the follosing day, he did not receive any help.  There were no medicines at the hospital to treat wounds, as a result I found out the following day this man coming to me again for further treatment.
I did my treatment for six days and the wound disappeared completely.  This man got healed.  He started testifying about Sinkhani in his vallage and now many people with wounds from that area come down for aid from me. This man has opened a way for me as a Sinkhani (CHW) to be visiting his home area and meeting with women whom I expect to teach lessons about child care and sanitation since many people in the remote do not find chances of receiving health lessons.  This program will start soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sinkhani stories

Sinkhani practicing recording of baby weights

The stories the health workers tell are so inspiring.  They are truly life-changing agents in their villages.  Our first stop last month was to Malawi to visit the Sinkhani before we started the training.  As usual they had stories to share.
Role play of pregnant mother
Joyce works in several different villages.  She said she had recently helped a boy who had scraped all of the skin off of his ankle in a bicycle accident.  He went to the hospital but it didn't help.  Joyce said, "It started rotting -- had a bad smell."  She started using the guava leaf antiseptic we had taught them to make and when the wound was dry, she applied the antibiotic ointment.  It wasn't long before his leg was completely healed.
Sherri taking a break with a future Sinkhani
Joyce also told of a lady who came to see her just last month.  She had injured her finger and within a few days her whole arm started getting red.  She treated her the same way she had treated the boy with the bicycle injury and had the same good results.
Ester, another Sinkhani, said, "Everyone knows about the antibiotic ointment we have.  In January there was an accident near my house.  A girl named Flora was making mandazi.  She put cooking oil in a pan and when she dropped in the mandazi to fry them, the pan fell and she was badly burned on her arm.  The parents wanted to go to the hospital but the neighbors said, "God to Sinkhani, Ester."  Within 2 weeks the burn was healed.
It's so sad that medicines are in such short supply, or worse yet, totally absent in the hospitals.  Even though the Sinkhani have meager supplies to say the least, they are frequently much better stocked than the clinics and medical facilities.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thanks from Sinkhani

Sinkhani studying baby-weighing scale
 We received many words of thanks from the Sinkhani in Malawi for supporting the health worker program over the years.

In their own words, here are some of their thoughts as verbalized during the training.

Ester - I thank God for giving me a long life so I can work as Sinkhani.
Angela - Because of Sinkhani I was able to go to Zambia and be close to Congo [1992 gathering of health workers we sponsored that brought together the health workers from Zambia, Malawi, and Congo.  This was a huge event in the lives of these women and one they still talk about.]  I joined the church in 1992 and became a Sinkhani.
Another Sinkhani - We want to get all of the good lessons so we can share them in Kasungu [a new area].  We want to assure you we will do exactly as we learn.
Ireen - Thank you to Jac and Sherri.  From the lessons they have been teaching us we are very important people in our communities.  People say "Let's not go to the hospital, let's go to Sinkhani first."  We have opened our eyes and now we know a lot of things.
Brown [our only male Sinkhani] - Now I'm called a woman because I always stay with women.  I'm proud because here in Malawi I am the only man Sinkhani.
Zione - I work with over 200 children in a school.  Now with training I can do even better.
Another Sinkhani - I ask the Lord to give me more life so I can work with Sinkhani.
Another Sinkhani - I joined the church after 1992 and missed the [first] Sinkhani training.  I've been waiting ever since to attend training and become a Sinkhani.
Another Sinkhani - Last year I was very sick and afraid I would have to leave Sinkhani.  Now I am better and can continue.  I was one who got to go to Mwnese [the 1992 gathering in Zambia].  Sinkhani members were 11 but now we are growing up with more members.  Jac and Sherri use to come as two but now there are many of us.

They also resurrected a little song they wrote in 1992.  It has a real catchy tune and goes like this:

Who started Sinkhani here in Malawi?
Sherri started Sinkhani
She was wise enough
She did not fear
She came in Malawi

They added a new verse for this training --
You women be wise
Do not fear
You will go to Chinteche [location for this year's training]

The view of Lake Malawi from our training site

Friday, July 8, 2011

Home Again!

We arrived back in the U.S. on July 4th just in time to be reminded of the incredible blessings we enjoy. There are so many places in our world where people live with constant mind boggling challenges just to survive. So much we take for granted!
By all counts we christened our trip "Successful." The training went off without any hitches, we made all of our travel connections, we needed only 3 tablets of Cipro to cure the usual traveler's GI issues, we saw many friends we hadn't seen for years, we heard incredible stories from the health workers, and we celebrated the continued progress and success of both schools. As our good friend Lackings Banda from Malawi frequently exclaims, "Life is Good!"
Now that Jac has pictures ready to share from our trip we will illustrate our Blogs with visual aids. Hopefully you will find that helpful and interesting!