Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gone to the Dogs!

Some people (and dogs!) will brave most anything for HealthEd Connect.  Ella successfully completed her race last week and surpassed her fund-raising goal.  We have it from good authority that she persevered in spite of the stress of construction on the trail, strangers everywhere, a thunder/rain storm, blaring music at the picnic, a huge tent that she was afraid of, a squealy microphone, and so forth.  Thank you Ella!!!  We really appreciate your efforts on behalf of HealthEd Connect.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Not one but two HealthEd Connect building projects are now in process.  In addition to the Kafwa Center in Chipulukusu, the placement of two new classrooms in Kasompe has been finalized. 

Stakes were driven in the ground to mark the site during our visit.  Community members have already cleared the area of brush in preparation for the building.  The exact date for commencement of construction has not been determined but everyone is hoping it will be very soon.   The children are very excited!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Oh Happy Day!

The Kafwa Center is becoming a reality! 

Talk about smiles and jubilation among the Kafwa!   Friday when we met with the building committee to finalize plans and stake out the exact location of the Center, I asked when they thought they would start building.  The contractor looked at me a bit puzzled for a minute and then said, “Monday, of course.”  The architect revised the plans Friday evening, the community development committee reviewed the plans later that  night and approved them with a 3 foot extension to the length of the building (sigh…I guess they’re just doing a good job for their community!), the night watchman was moved to another house at the same time so the existing mud-block  house could be torn down to make way for the Center.  These folks are letting no grass grow under their feet—no pun intended but for those of you who’ve visited the school you know we have dirt not grass!!  A short ground breaking ceremony is planned for Monday.  And we’re off on another adventure!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Yeah for the Cooks!

The colorful cooks’ aprons made by the women in Spokane Valley were a huge hit!  The aprons were immediately donned and put to good use.  In addition to the women who regularly do the cooking, there are now a number of caretakers from the neighborhood who volunteer to help.  The regular cooks take their aprons home with them so they can be washed and cared for.  They always bring an extra with them back to the school, however, so the volunteers also have an apron to wear.  Of course the kids aren’t as impressed with the aprons as they are with the food the apron wearers produce.  Now that’s good stuff!  Today’s menu was Sample (a coarse cracked corn) cooked in a huge kettle of water for over an hour.  When the Sample was thickened, a pan of soya flour was mixed with fresh milk and added to the pot.  The finishing touch was a bag of sugar.  Judging from the smiles on the faces of the children, the cooks got the recipe just right!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ask and Ye Shall Receive!

In January, Cherry Newcom challenged the Kafwa to make MANY string bracelets for the campers at Spectacular, a sports and leadership camp on the Graceland University Lamoni Campus in July.  Cherry, got her wish!  I now have 1092 bracelets of every color imaginable in my possession.  Some ladies even stayed up late last night making last minute ones for me to take.  The thread bracelets are beautiful and all have incorporated one or two hand-made paper beads into  the design.  When they ran out of thread, however, they bought colorful yard and kept making bracelets!  Not as fine a quality but, hey, it’s a great example of can-do spirit!  Everyone’s use to substituting and making do with what they have.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Vigil

The day of Mary’s funeral, people arrived by foot, in the backs of trucks, in mini-buses, and even one large old Greyhound-type bus (think 25 years old and well used). 

Women gathered outside the church singing and dancing as they remembered Mary. 

After the casket arrived and was taken to the front of the church (carried by women, of course), six of Mary’s friends, wearing white turban head scarves and white blouses, encircled the casket. 

Holding white candles they kept vigil throughout the service.  Every fifteen minutes or so, new women stepped up, took the candle, and assumed the watch.  The church was filled with over 100 people standing outside the doors and windows. 

Nearly everyone went to the cemetery where another short service was held and special guests were invited to “plant” a long-stemmed rose on the grave.  Immediately following the burial, several hundred guests were invited back to the Chifumbe house for dinner where women had been cooking nshima and chicken for hours.  What a celebration of life!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Watch

The outpouring of love was evident all week as friends and relatives arrived from far and near to show their respects to Mary Chifumbe, one of our Kafwa volunteers who served faithfully for over 20 years.  The number of people at the visitation at the Chifumbe home the night before the funeral was amazing!  ALL furniture was removed from the house and placed outside on the lawn for the 75 or so men to sit on.  Mattresses and mats were brought from throughout the neighborhood and placed wall to wall inside the house and along the walls outside for approximately 100 ladies.  Grieving is not silent in Zambia so the wails of the women were a constant reminder of the death of their beloved sister.  Everyone stayed all night – the women singing inside the house and the men huddling around a humongous bonfire to keep warm.  What a tribute!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Classy Chef's

L to R Rita Goehner, Doddie Williams, Dottie Gutgsell, JoAnne Dobson, Laura Carnie.

Two of our 'chefs' in Zambia cooking school lunches
Our hard-working-volunteer-village chef's in Zambia will have classy new uniforms very soon.  Tucked into our suitcases are 16 incredible aprons made with love by loyal HealthEd Connect supporters in Washington.  This isn't their first gift!  Oh, no.  They have sewn aprons by the dozens for the health workers in Malawi.  In order to meet our travel schedule, they have sometimes burned the wee hours oil in order to get them to us before we left. 

Not everyone was there on the day photos were taken. At least 10 people helped with the production of the aprons, including Laura's 13 year-old granddaughter, Morgan, who helped cut out the aprons and prepare the packets. Several seamstresses, including Doddie Williams who is age 92,  took the packets home for assembly. John Dean, photographer has given his permission to pass the photo on for your enjoyment!

Now imagine, our cooks proudly wearing their new aprons as they stir huge pots of school lunch nshima (cornmeal) over open wood fires. Only 5 Star volunteers dressed for the part in our operation!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Role Playing

The situation is deplorable for sisters Patricia and Fally.  When the CSS [the Child Support Specialists trained by HealthEd Connect] asked the two girls how they were staying, the girls, ages 10 and 14, confided that they often shift houses night by night, trying to find a place to sleep.  With the passing of their mother, the girls lived with only their father.  Things were difficult, but they could manage.  When their father re-married, however, everything changed.  The step-mother treats the girls unfairly and they feel unwelcome in their own home.  The girls want to finish their studies at Kafue Basic School, but their constant shifting makes regular attendance difficult.  Fourteen-year-old Fally is at risk of dropping out, and engaging in other high-risk behaviors as she moves into her teenage years. The CSS groups try to create a sense of stability for their girls and equip them with skills to address their situation respectfully.  During group sessions, children put on skits and role-play how to speak to caregivers if they are being treated unfairly.
                                                                                  Reported by Lisa Ash

[Your donations are the link toward a totally different life for these kids thanks to HealthEd Connect educational and support programs.  We soooo appreciate your generosity!  Many of you are making online donations by going to   From all the kids you're touching -- THANK YOU!!]
 Very sad news.  We received a phone call at 11:30 p.m. last night saying that our good friend Mary Chifumbe had unexpectedly passed away.  She had been in the hospital for a couple of weeks treating severe problems with her diabetes.  She also ended up with the amputation of her leg a couple of days ago, but seemed to be recovering.  Mary was one of the original loyal Kafwa that I trained over 20 years ago.  She was also the wife of our beloved HealthEd Connect Zambian representative, Gershom Chifumbe.  We will be attending Mary's funeral in Ndola on Thursday.  Please send your special thoughts and love to Gershom who has lost his companion of many years.

Friday, June 8, 2012

They made us Proud!

SIFE First Round Presentation

Semi-final Awards Ceremony
They made us sooo proud!  The Graceland Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team competed in Nationals in Kansas City this past week.  Of the 160 District winners who competed at Nationals, our team was among the top 8!!  In our totally unbiased opinion they were number one without question!  They presented a video plus gave a live totally synchronized narration that explained their major projects this year.  One of the highlights was the Income Generating Activities and oral health screening programs they introduced in Zambia.  The projects were totally impressive!!  But the real differentiation between our team and the other teams was the team members themselves. Anyone who saw our team present knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the future was in good hands.  What awesome young people!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Going to the Dogs!

Michelle and fan club in Zambia
Even our favorite mascot, Ella, is getting into the act!  Ella convinced Michelle to join her and enter a race (??) to benefit HealthEd Connect. The cross-country dog walk is June 16 in honor of a man's dog who died.  The course is divided into 10 legs, and there are only 10 participants!!  Each dog and buddy walk one leg and donate the proceeds to their favorite charity (guess who!!) She even has her own page on the website.  Please don't disappoint Ella -- she really really really wants to raise at least $1,000 for the kids in Zambia and needs your help.      Here's how:  Go to  You can donate right on the page and all donations go right to HealthEd Connect.  Go Team Ella!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What a legacy!  Very special friends who have now passed on continue to minister to people around the world.  Our much beloved friend, Ken Fisher,who passed away several years ago, knew and loved every child he ever saw.  And they adored him in return!  His wife, Isabella, recently gave us Ken's Samsonite suitcases to transport supplies to the kids in Africa.  Ken's still reaching out to kids...his legacy lives on.

Some of the supplies are extra special too!  Vivian Tresham, who passed on 3 or 4 years ago, was an accomplished seamstress who made dozens of baby weighing seats for me to take to Africa.    Vivian had cared for her invalid husband for years and had few opportunities to engage in community service.  After she got him settled for the night, she would often sew until the wee hours making the baby seats.  She said it was her life line.  Her daughter recently found some of the seats that Vivian had started but never finished.  After contacting me to see if they were still needed, she completed the colorful little seats and now they're ready to receive little brown bottoms in Africa.  Vivian's still bringing ministry around the world...her legacy lives on.

Monday, June 4, 2012

London in Royal Regalia

London in full Royal Regalia

Danielle and Alisha
After being awakened at 6:00 a.m. yesterday by a recording from United Airlines saying our London to South Africa flight had been cancelled, we didn't know what to expect.  Proceeding in good faith, however, we met our two World Service Corps volunteers, Danielle Landrum and Alisha Horikami, at the KC airport and boarded our plane for London.  Upon arrival, we stood in line for two hours at the Heathrow ticket desk and confirmed our flight had been cancelled but we were able to secure the last 4 seats on the following flight.  Whew!  Now ready to celebrate, we caught the tube into London and meandered through the crowds of people gathered for the Queen's Jubilation celebration.  The town is really decked out in full regalia.  We're now back at the airport waiting to board our flight to South Africa in about an hour.  Let's hope this is our first and only travel glitch.  Okay, okay, maybe it's not likely there will be no more hiccups in our travel but at least we can  hope!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

We're off to Zambia today!  As always, we're excited and eager to see our friends and the progress in the schools.  The BIG agenda items this trip will be laying out the lines for the foundation of the first two new classrooms at Kasompe and also making final plans to begin construction on the Kafwa (health worker) Center in Chipulukusu.  Think they're excited??  We received an email from Isiah in Kasompe earlier this week after wiring  money.  He said, "The School Committee and indeed the School Staff and pupils are very very thankful for your sincere gesture of financing our School Project.  We were very excited for the good news Sherri.  It is unbelievable that you can accord us this gesture.  Please convey our heartfelt gratitude to the HealthEd Connect Board for the wonderful work they are doing for Orphans and Vulnerable children in our Community."  What this really means is that the lives of many children will be totally changed forever by having an opportunity to obtain an education.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Concerned Citizens
Best is only seven years old, but is asked by her caretakers to fill impossibly heavy containers from the dip well in her compound of ZamTan.  “I see her with the heavy containers and I ask her: ‘How will you manage?’” says concerned Child Support Specialist member Imelda.  “She is very shy and says she has no choice.  If she doesn’t fetch the water for the family then she won’t get anything to eat.  And they send her during meal time so she isn’t even in the house when their own children eat!”  A double orphan living with relatives, Best’s story is not unique.  Often, orphans kept by extended family members are treated unfairly.  The CSS members know they can’t change her situation easily, but they hope that by attending the CSS groups, her self-esteem will be strengthened and she will find a place where she feels loved.  “We want to do some classes for caregivers in our community on how to treat orphans,” Angela reports.  And they are doing just that!
                                                                               Reported by Lisa Ash