Amecet n'ainapakin (Shelter of Peace) is a ministry of Youth With A Mission (YWAM)in Soroti, Uganda. We are reaching out to HIV infected and affected children. We also are caring for new born babies, who lost their mother after the delivery. The third group of children we help, are children who need a safe place, they mostly come via the police. In this blog we want to share with you our stories, our pictures, our needs and blessings!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I have planted a tree in Soroti...

There is an old Arabic saying that tells us that the life of a man is complete when he has build a house, gets a son, write a book and plant a tree. For me it is not exactly like that, because I am not a man!!! But I have build a house, wrote a book, got two beautiful Ugandan daughters and....on Friday I planted a tree!!!!

Let me explain: In December 2011 Amecet celebrates it's 10 year anniversary. We didn't have an official opening, we didn't celebrate our 5 year anniversary, but now we want to celebrate the 10 years that God is so faithful to us, He enabled us all those years to reach out to those precious little children who needed help. We started with two children and now we have reached out to so many, we have had 409 children in our home so far and then all the others we helped in the community. We are so thankful to God. Together with the Figurant, the association in the Netherlands, who helps us a lot with the funding, we decided that we wanted to give a gift to the community, because of our anniversary. And we found a project, we are going to help building a playground in Soroti. There was a piece of land allocated for this, it belonged to the Soroti Lion's club, but there were no funds to build it. It is fenced and there are some old pieces of a swing and slide, but that is all. We have been in contact with the Lion's club and last Friday was the "official"start with planting some trees. I got the honor to plant the first tree.

On this picture you see the president from the lion's club (in yellow) and our own neighbour, Doctor Engulu plant also a tree. Ton and Arja planted also a tree. You can see behind the land where the playground will come, now the cows are still grazing in the future there will be children playing. There is nothing like that in whole of Soroti, it will be so great for the children. The Lion's club will be responsible for the maintenance and a care taker.

PS.1 The baby of Naome was born last night at 9.30 pm. It was a beautiful baby boy, he was burried this afternoon in their village. (see blog of yesterday 30/7/2011)

PS.2 Good news Christine 2 has gained 500 gram!! She was on drip yesterday, but today she is doing much better! (see blog of Friday 29/7/2011)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Aunti Naome....

Today I spend again a lot of my (free) day in the materity ward of Soroti hospital. This morning I got a phonecall from Naome. Naome has been with us for many years, last year she stopped working, because of her pregnancy. Sadly, her baby died inside of the womb. But she became pregnant again and that is why she called me this morning. She was in the hospital, together with her husband, she was bleeding and only 7 months pregnant. They send her for a ultra sound, because they could not hear the heartsound of the baby anymore. On the scan was the baby still alive, but very weak. I brought them back to the hospital and stayed with her for a while. She was put on IV drip and is now waiting till the dead baby is being born. I just came back again after staying with her for a couple of hours. My heart goes out to her, she is a very strong lady, but this is her second time......

For those among you, who know Naome, please remember her in your prayers.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The arrival of Christine 2....

This morning a lady came to our door, carrying a child on her back. She came to sit on our veranda and we saw that she was carrying a seven year old girl, who was very, very malnourished. We greeted her and then she started to share. At first it was a bit a strange story, but at the end she changed her statements and we think we got the real story. The lady was a bit tough with the little girl and we all felt for the child. We found out that she was admitted in the hospital, she also had a canula in her foot. In her medical book we saw different things written, so we decided that we would go back with them to the hospital to see how we could best help. We went to the HIV clinic and there we got some answers. They were admitted in the paedriatic ward, but waiting to go to the feeding centre, where was no place at present. They were also send for an X-ray to rule out TB and they were on counselling for starting ARVs. After talking with the doctor and the nurses, they all agreed that Amecet would be a good place for her and we took her for X-ray. There is no TB, so we could take her to Amecet and promised to do some extra blood tests and a CD4 test and then we will come back next week for the start of the ARV medicins.

We weighed her and she is 11,5 kgs. She is 7 years! She should weigh at least 25 kgs! When we took her to the shower to bath her, I really had to swallow, so skinny, so sad and she looked at us with those big sad eyes. We had asked her if she wanted to stay with us for a little while and she said yes, but now she was a bit scared. We put her a nice dress on and she asked for milk! That is good, she likes to eat and drink milk! But the bloodtest showed malaria, so we will treat her for that and she has a lot of diarrhea. Her name is Christine, since we have already a Christine, this will be Christine 2! She still has a long way to go, but she is able to smile, and when there is a smile..... there is hope!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

There was no blood in Soroti......

Today it was my free day, I was answering emails in my little house, when Miranda came with baby Brenda, the baby who is 3 days with us (see previous blog). She felt that Brenda was not responding well, sleeping too much and not drnking enough. I also looked at her and we decided to check her HB, she looked quite pale. Brenda was given bloodtransfusion on Tuesday (4 days ago) Her HB came out very low, much lower than 2 days ago. I went to the clinic next door, to ask if they had blood for transfusion, they did not have any blood. So we drove to the Soroti Hospital, only to find out that there was also no blood available. You just pray there will not any major accident today...... They told us to go to Mbale, a bigger city, 2 hours drive from Soroti. We went back home and there we organised to go to Mbale, the baby was quite weak, it had to be done quickly. Simon was driving and we took also the two Dutch volunteers with us, because they have the same blood group as Brenda. We tried already if they would not take it here in Soroti, but you will get 7 years in jail if you tranfuse unscreened blood, so we decide that was too much. After one hour drive we past another, smaller, government hospital and we decided to try if they had blood. And yes they had!!! They were very friendly and helpful and it didn't take long before we got the blood. we were brought to the peadriatic ward where a nurse gave Brenda a canula in the head and connected the blood. We were given a bed and we stayed there untill the blood was in. We were very much observed by all the other people in the ward. This was probably the first time that they had "Muzungu's"on the ward. We drove home more cheerful than on the way up. We will observe Brenda closely, but she is lucky, we had a car and we could directly drive to find blood, but what about the children who will come after us, those mothers have to get to Mbale with public transport. I know of several children who died on the way. The mother can not show anything, because when the people notice that there is a dead child in the bus, they will put her off the bus. So the mother will say nothing, just hold her baby closely, will step out of the bus in Mbale and will come back with the next bus. Life is hard and unfair at times. The nurse is connecting the blood, while Miranda is holding Brenda In the ward, I am holding Brenda, while the blood is being transfused.Back to Soroti, we could laugh again! At the back Miranda and Carlijn and in front, Sabine and Brenda in her little chair.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A busy day..........

This was a busy day for me, it started early, that I was woken by the coughing of Helen. I helped Sarah go to school at 7 am. Then I heard that one of our dogs, Rafiki, was lost. I walked all over the compound, no Rafiki to be seen. Maybe she escaped when the gate opened?? Half an hour later I was called, they found Rafiki, she was in our pit latrine. We have (besides our normal indoor toilets) also the latrine, which is a deep pit (5-6 mtrs deep) and you use it by squatting above a small hole, as you see in the picture at the right. Rafiki had entered through the whole and was laying down in the feaces. We got a torch, and she was still alive. You can see her laying down there. How to get her out??? Why did she go there in the first place???When Simon came at 9 am, he looked and left to get help. He came back with two men, they made the whole bigger and with robes and stick, they managed to get a loop around Rafiki's head and they pulled her up. She didn't struggle at all, she just let them do their work. We paid the two men and then the cleaning up started. Miranda and I have done the job, it was stinking!!!!!!! We put the water hose on her and then with buckets with water and Omo we washed her. It was a very dirty job, but the good thing is that Rafiki was so co-operative, we could do all we want to do with her. At the end we got my laundry softener with lavender smell and we used that at the end. Then we lay her to dry in the sun.

After that I had to rush with 10 of our children to the hospital for a blood test. They are all on ARV's and we check their blood levels every 6 months. We went in June for that test, but one test was not done, because the blood was "spoiled', they didn't put the blood samples in the refrigerator. So we have to go again, I asked a doctor there to listen to Helen's chest, because of the coughing. Her chest was clear, so we got a good cough syrup. A counsellor came to tell me that there was a child in the children ward, who needed our help, if I could please come and see the child? I told her that I was first bringing the 10 children to school and that I would be back.So after the blood was taken (which took also almost 2 hours) I brought them all to school, except the ones who were almost finished by that time. I called Simon, if he could meet me at the hospital. Simon is very good to talk with people, if the mother of the child doesn't speak English, then it is difficult to find a person who can translate good. We went to ward 5, the paedeatric ward and we found Christine a mother of 23 yers with her sick baby, Brenda of 2,5 months. The mother is an Albino and she is suffering of cancer. She has a big open wound on her head and even at het face she has some ulcers. The mother needs treatment, but the care for her baby doesn't allow her to care for herself. The father of the baby does not help her and she was really desperate. You could smell the wound and people are afraid to be near to her. This lady suffers also from isolation. Simon talked with her and I talked to the nurses on the ward. They thought it would be better for the baby to be with us for some time, while the mother gets treatment herself. The mother was very relieved that we took her baby, she had no problems with trusting us with her most precious one. At home we bathed and weighed the baby (3,3 kg.) and took it for malaria test. This came back very bad and we had to put the baby on quinine drip. She also got high fever, started a bit, having convulsions, but now she is better, the fever is more down, she is hungry and drinks very well.

It is now almost 5 o'clock pm. I wonder what will still happen today. All in all, it was a busy, but interesting day, Rafiki is still alive (we got the veterian doctor to look at her, she got an injection) and Brenda is the new member in our Amecet family. I hope she will pick up soon and we pray also that her mother will get the help she needs. And... life in Amecet is not boring!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Baby Esther has a boyfriend......

It is almost two weeks ago that two ladies and a baby came to our door, asking for help. It was the mother and the grandmother of Esther. The mother was HIV+ and told us that Esther also was tested and was found HIV+. The father abandoned the family and Esther was sick. After more talking , we agreed to take Esther in, her weight was 5,5 kg and she is 15 months old. She refused to drink or eat, only water she took. We decided to bring in a NG tube and to feed her every two hours, a mixture of milk with some extra energy/calorie rich powder. We took her again for HIV test and she came out HIV-!!!!! We were very happy with that, the first test must have shown the antibodies from the mother, which stay in the blood of the baby for quite some time. But there were still many problems, Esther still refuses to eat or drink and she had still bad diarrhea and she is not gaining. We went several times with her to the doctor and now we seem to have success with the present medicines, the diarrhea is getting less, but she is still not drinking. We still feed her by the NG tube. But today at the table, she was eating a piece of meat. She is getting some more interest in her surroundings and............she has a boyfriend!!!! Maybe that is doing the trick, she was playing together with Rafael. Maybe is a boyfriend just what she needs now! So we put them together(under supervision, of course!) and we will see what it does. I am happy that she is sitting by herself and interact (a little) with others.

Rafael and Esther
This afternoon I went with Simon and Josephine and their twins for a check-up to the doctor. We have been visiting them at their home this week, they are doing fine, but the feeding is not so easy. On Thursday (they were 4 days old) the little boy had lost 270 gram and the girl only 30 gram. The picture is taken on Saterday, we went with our Amecet weighing scale to them and weighed them again. The boy had gained a little and together they weighed 3450 gram. The feeding goes a bit better, Josephine is also using a syringe and a bottle to feed them, of course together with the breast milk. It is a lot of work for her, but she is doing really good. I pray that they will start gaining soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sarah's Birthday and a Beautynight.......

Yesterday Sarah celebrated her 14th birthday!! Looking back over those 14 years, it is indeed a reason to celebrate and to thank God for her life! We started with a pancake breakfast and ended with a beauty night!

The volunteers, who are working with us at this time, had organised the beauty night in the Amecet living room. All the staff "auntie's"came, the girls from our Amun house and the older girls in Amecet!

A face mask from fresh Avocado (bought on the market) with some drops of fresh lemon and it makes your face smooth and soft, this is Maaike who serves Veronika.

Leah, Veronika and Rose are still "under treatment" Harriet is finished and is now very beautiful!!
There was also attention for the hands, a nice special scrub with a hand bath, to make our hands very soft (the baby's will enjoy this!!) There are several colors of nail polish to do the finishing touch!

Carlijn gives the feet of Helen a bath, (I think she is tickling her), Mary is waiting to be the next and of course there is also nail polish for the toe nails!

Miranda, Carlijn, Sabine, Gerlinda and Maaike, eyalama noi for the evening, we had a lot of fun and we are all so beautiful now!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Goodbye Catherine.....

This morning we had to go with 11 children for their 3 monthly check-up to the hospital. All the children get their ARVs from the hospital. We pick them every month, but every three months they have to be seen by the doctor. It is always quite an organisation, we weigh and measure their length at home, to help the nurses in the clinic, beause it is quite an invasion when we arrive. We go to the clinic that we have build for them. With the help of the organisation de Figurant from Holland, we were able to build this HIV paediatric clinic. There are now 3 extra doctors to see the 1300 patients, 5 days a week! And I really think this is one of the most beautiful waiting rooms in Uganda!!!!

It took several hours, but all the children were seen and given time, we got all the medicins and we went home. When we came home there were some people waiting, they came to pick Catherine!!! We had taken Catherine also to see the doctor, it was quite a shock. We have talked with the family about taking Catherine home, but there was a lot of confusion in the family and we were not sure if it was safe for Catherine to go.

Catherine had been in Amecet for more than 10 months and everybodyly loves her, it is a real cute friendly girl. She is HIV+ and also on ARVs and she is not so very strong. We had to let make for her special shoes, because her feet were not standing right, she has been sick several times and now we have to say goodbye! It was not easy, I was suprised myself, how sad I was and I even cried when she was gone. I knew that Sarah would be also very sad, because Catherine was almost her little girl. When Sarah came out of school, I took her aside and told her that Catherine was gone, we cried together! But we will keep an eye on her, the grandmother will bring her to our "come back days" and we know where she lives. And now we pray that she will be fine and not getting sick!

Sarah with Catherine

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Twins for Josephine and Simon....

We have been quiet for a while, since we had no Internet for almost one week!!! But that doesn't mean that nothing is happening in Amecet. Last week Friday I wrote about Florence and her little baby girl. She is doing fine, she went home on Monday. The baby is drinking well, they named the baby after me, Els!! I am really honored! This morning we took some baby's from Amecet for immunization in the hospital and we met Florence and her husband, they went for check up and everything was fine!

But now I have to tell you about Monday 11th of July!! At 7 am I got a phone call from Simon, please come, we are already in the hospital! The twins were not yet expected to come, but with twins, you never know, I had just said two days earlier that they should get ready, because they might come earlier. Sarah was gone to school already, and I put Helen at the road, to wait for the school bus. I raced to the hospital. When I got there, I didn't see them, so I walked into the delivery room and there I saw Jospehine laying on the table. One baby was out already, a little baby girl and the second was still in. In between the contractions Josephine told me that she got pains at 5 am, at 6.30 am they decided to go to the hospital. The first baby came almost directly, the nurse was not even there, she delivered the baby alone, but everything was well with her, she started to cry. So at least we could support her with the second baby, which was a breech. But he came out as well, a little boy!

This picture was taken minutes after the second baby was born. Left is baby Josephine, which was born the first, she weights 1,6 kg and at the right baby Simon, his weight is 2 kg.

After both baby's were born Josephine was given a bed on the ward. The baby's, who were born 5 weeks per mature, were lying in the delivery room under a heater, but the electricity went off, so we called to Amecet and there were warm blankets brought and warm water bottles. So they could join their mother on the ward. And they were laying all on the same bed. Josephine is such a strong lady, she was happy that it went so fast, I think she had been a bit scared about the delivery. But now they were all there, Simon is also very proud of his two baby's. he even dared to carry them!

The brothers, Mark and Amos came to visit, they told us that they would help carry the boy, but not the girl, that one was for Faith, the oldest daughter of Simon and Josephine, they said.

The next day they went all home, and I heard that they are doing fine. Josephine is busy feeding them, but they are drinking OK. We are happy that everything went well, and that is not to be taken for granted, yesterday we got a beautiful baby girl in Amecet, she was also born on Monday, but her mother didn't make it.

We pray that the Orugon family will soon find their routine in having two little crying baby's around and that they will be a blessing for the family!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A baby girl for aunti Florence (amun)

Florence has been working with us in Amecet for many years, she was one of the senior staff members. She left the end of May 2011, because of being pregnant of her first baby. We do miss her!Thursday morning at 4 am I got a phone call from her husband, the labour pains were beginning, if I could help them getting to the clinic. Together with Rose and Veronika, who I woke up to go with me, we drove to their house. Things look very different at night! I couldn't find their house, I was happy that I was not alone in the car! But we did find them and I drove them to the clinic. At first there was no nurse to find, but then she was admitted. We stayed with her for some hours, then I went home, because Sarah and Helen had to go to school and were still sleeping. The next day, we checked on them several times, not much was happening. Then at around 3 pm I got again a call, they referred them to the Soroti hospital. I went to pick them and brought them to the maternity ward. They checked her and told her to wait till the contractions were more severe. The ward was over crowded, everywhere people, baby's, pregnant ladies and nervous relatives. At first Florence was laying in the delivery room, on one of the tables there. In this room are 3 examination tables, divided by a curtain only. There is no privacy. In the time we were there we saw several baby's being born. People walk in and out. You can see on the picture here, that at that time there are two ladies waiting for their baby to be born. In the corner is a place where the new born baby's are laid, there is a warming element above it. After the doctor examined Florence, they told her to rest for 4 hours.. But there were no beds, everything was full, but we were able to get a bed for Florence, there were even mothers with new born baby's laying on a mat on the floor (which is not so very clean). We went home and at 10 pm I went back to the hospital with Carlijn (Dutch volunteer nurse) and Esther. They checked Florence again and she was put on IV drip. For 6 hours she was laying in this delivery room, with Carlijn and me standing next to her and Esther and her husband sitting on the corridor (which was full with sleeping people everywhere) It is not common here that the husband is with his wife during the labour. It was quite an interesting time, several ladies came in and out the delivery room. Some pre mature babies van 1,5 kg and 2 kg were brought in, they came from the theatre, where they do Cesarean. It is so different here, then in the West. The midwife was a bit tough, the ladies in labour are not allowed to make a lot of noise or to cry, she told me that the Ugandan ladies have to be strong!!! And I tell you, they are strong!! At around 3.00 am the midwife called the doctor to come and see Florence, because there was no progress, even the contractions were more strong and more frequent. The doctor decided that a Cesarean operation was necessary. It was sad, but I think, also a good decision. Florence was getting tired and the baby wanted to get out. I left the hospital at around 4 am, Carlijn and Esther stayed with Florence. The husband was given a list with drugs etc. he had to buy for the operation (it was 3.30 am!) he went shopping!
The baby was born around 4.45 am, a healthy baby girl who weights 3.2 kg.A little bit later Florence was brought back to the ward and she is also doing well.I know that giving birth is a risky thing in Uganda, but after all those hours I spent in this delivery room I know that it takes a lot!I am so happy for this little family that everything went well and I pray this little girl will bring them a lot of joy.

Esther holds the new baby.

Monday, July 4, 2011

To be 76 years old and still looking after baby's.

We have a programme in which we help mothers who are HIV+ to care for their little baby's. If they can not give breastfeeding, we give milk money and when the baby is a bit older we give porridge flour, sugar and soap. All those mothers come every two weeks to Amecet for this extra supplement. If they live far, we give for one month at the time. We ask them to come every now and then with the children, so we see how they are doing. Especially little baby's we want to see every time and we weigh them, to see if they are gaining. In this group are also a number of care takers, when the mother of the child has passed away.
I want to introduce one of those people to you, she came yesterday again, and I am touched by this lady.

This is Margreta Asella, she is 76 years old. She cares for the two sets of twins from her daughter. Her daughter was brought home by her husband, 4 months ago. In Uganda, when you marry, you leave your home and you live with the family of your husband. She was very sick, dying, and the husband dumped her at her mothers place, together with her 4 children (2 sets of twins). The lady died and the grandmother was left with the four children, the youngest twins were only 6 months old.

She came to us for help, so we are providing her, at first with milk money, but now, since the baby's are already 10 months old, with porridge flour, sugar and soap. This time she came also to talk about the children, one of the twins was a bit sickly, she was afraid that the mother might have died from AIDS and maybe the twins were also infected. We talked and I suggested that we would go for an HIV test, by that, we would know for sure. She agreed and we walked together to the clinic, next to Amecet. We got the tests done and the result was: they are both HIV-!!!! So that was a great relieve for the Grandma, to care for 4 children on her age is a lot, but when two of them would be HIV+, it would be even a harder job.

I am impressed by Magreta Asello, her sight is not so good anymore (she travels together with a grandson), 76 years old, an age whereby she would have been cared for by her children, but now looking after 4 children and with love!! I saw how she handled the baby's, she loves them and I am glad I could help her today, by taking some of her anxiety away trough this HIV test. I hope to see her again!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

One of the Three Musketeers goes to Amun.....

In January 2011, we took three girls back in Amecet, they had all three been before in our home, they went back to their relatives and now we felt that they need more help again. They are all three HIV+ and all three are on ARVs (medicines which slows down the HIV virus). On this pictures you see our three "Musketeers".

Mary is the girl at the right, she is 15 years old and her weight is 25 kg. We took her for a bloodtest to see how her level white bloodcells were, her CD4 was 3, normally it should be above the 500! We think that it was because of the care she received at home, she is an orphan and lives with her grandmother, and the fact that she is not taking her medicines regularly. In the beginning she was weak and sick a lot. But she picked up, in the village Mary didn't go to school very much, but we brought her to our YWAM Harmony primary school. She is now in P2, but she likes it and every morning she is ready, waiting for the schoolbus to pick her. She hardly gets sick now, only some malaria, and she eats very well. We felt that it was not yet time for her to go back home in the village, so we made the plan for her to go to our second home: Amecet n'amun (Shelter of Hope). Here she will get more training to take her medicines every day and she will get the extra care she still needs. Our second home is very near the first home, also on the Lira road, there is one house in between our two homes. We will still see her a lot, because all the medical issues are done out of our first home, Amecet n'ainapakin.

Leaving Amecet, 5 months later, weighing 11 kg. more!!! We have done a new CD4 test, but are still waiting for the results, but I am sure the CD4 count is also up!!!

Arriving in Amun!!

Here she will be sharing her room with two other girls. She will be more independent and will also have more responsebilities. We pray she is doing well and the next step towards her going back to the village is set!

Succes Mary!!!