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!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An eventful night.

The last couple of days were not my best ones, I was also down with malaria. I have had many times malaria, but I was never as sick as this time. I had to lay down for 2 days. But it is hard to lay down when you have three children and every time some one needs to ask you something and the most difficult thing: when there is a child fighting for her life and losing the battle. It was hard for us when little Martha slipped away in the arms of  Jesus, but what is a safer place?? I was too sick to go with them to the village the next day, to bring the body back to the relatives. I heard that the family was sad, but thankful for all we had done. But we had another worry, the twin sister of Martha, Esther, had developed also a bronchi pneumonia and was on oxygen and IV medication. We have been going every day to the doctor for review. yesterday the lungs were still not good at all, another IV anti biotic was added. Esther is stronger than Martha had been, she still cries when you give her an injection, while Martha hardly moved. That are all positive things to have. Last night two people would be in the room with the little baby´s, Dominique and Willemijn. I went to bed early, because I had worked again that day and I was tired. But I couldn´t sleep, many thoughts went through my head, maybe still an effect from the anti malaria drugs that I had taken the last three days? Around 2.30 am my mobile phone went, it was Dominique, please come and help us, there is no power and the oxygen machine is not working. So I went outside, fought my way to Amecet trough 5 enthusiast greeting dogs.  And started the generator. That worked, but there was no light in the house. I went back in the hose, checked the plugs, all was okay, again outside, checked everything at the generator, it all seemed to be good, There were some more buttons on the generator, so in desperation, I tried them all, not too long, but one by one, nothing worked. I went back home, in the dark, through the still very enthusiastic 5 dogs, for my phone and I called Simon, this was emergency!! He understood that and told me to switch on a certain button on the generator, (one I had already tried), but I was obedient worked!!!!! I saw the lights go on in the house and I screamed (I think the patients in the clinic next door all woke up)! I went inside, but now the oxygen machine didn´t work.. We tried everything we could, but it just didn´t work. We could not do anything, we prayed together and we hoped that Esther would make it.. Willemijn has been siting with her in her arms, to keep her up and the last hours of the night, Dominique took over. It was not easy to leave them behind like this, I could not do anything. I didn´t sleep much!! In the morning I went, after my girls went to school, to check and found out that she had done fairly. When Simon came we discussed the situation and we decided to take the machine to the hospital, because they use similar machine there, someone should be knowing more about them... And yes, the electrician of the hospital, with whom Simon works together about the electricity in the new HIV clinic that we are building for the hospital, was very willing to help us and he was able to fix the problem and we drove back home with the machine. Volunteer Esther had taken baby Esther again to the doctor and came back with good news, the medicines were working, the lungs were improved! So we put her back on the machine and she is quite stable.
This was a long story....... Why, to let you feel a bit of the desperation we sometimes feel, the chaotic ways we have to work sometimes, the frustration that you can't do more and you have to hope and pray that it will work out well. I have learned to pray while you go, to pray while you work and to pray while you try... And I am so thankful that our Father is still in control. (thanks for reading this long blog).
Willemijn with baby Esther

Monday, July 23, 2012

Baby Martha went HOME.

Sunday evening around 8.30 pm Martha passed away. After 3 weeks life full of sickness, injections, blood transfusion and on the oxygen machine, Martha has peace now. She died in the arms of Willemijn, one of the Dutch volunteers. We are very sad, we really tried all we could, but it was too much for her little body. This morning Simon went for a little coffin and they brought the body to the village, where the family will bury her.
Right now there are concerns for the twin sister, Esther, she has malaria and also developed a bronchi pneumonia. She is now at the oxygen machine.

I had said that when all the 6 baby;s are above the 2 kg. we will have soda's to celebrate, and this morning all the baby's were above the 2 kg! We will not have the soda today, we are still mourning Martha, but the soda will come, because we celebrate life and not death!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Martha is sick again.....

Martha is sick again! Two days ago she started with a cough, I took her to the clinic next door and she was given an antibiotic, but last night it was really bad. They called me at around 3 am. The breathing was difficult and she looked really sick. I decided to take her to the clinic next door, for a cannula, and to ask the doctor on night duty for advice. It was raining and while we were at the clinic, the electricity went off. The nurse tried to give Martha a cannula, with the help of a flashlight, but she failed. they told us to continue with the syrup and to come back this morning. We stumbled back in the rain and in the dark. This morning she was not doing well, I started her on oxygen and we went again for the cannula, this time we had success, so we could start the IV antibiotic. As you see on the picture, she doesn't look very good. Her twin sister Esther came to visit her, and when you see see them next to each other, then you can see how small Martha is! At 1 pm she was doing worse, she didn't breath anymore and I hardly could hear her heart beat, I massaged her heart and picked her up and she started to breath again and her heart was beating stronger. I gave her some more oxygen and went to the clinic next door to ask advice. The doctor on duty came with me to see her and prescribed some injections, she seemed to be more stable since that time. I also believe that the IV antibiotic is now starting to work. Please pray for this little girl, she is only 3 weeks old, but has gone through a lot already, she had blood transfusion and 10 days ago she was also on oxygen, very sick and we thought she would not make it.
In the afternoon our two volunteers, Esther and Willemijn, had some activities for the older children.

With balloons and a big ball, and other games they had a lot of fun!
And blowing bubbles is always nice!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Malaria, malaria and again malaria....

There is a lot of malaria at the moment, last week several staff members tested positive for the malaria test. With malaria it is always different, sometimes you are really sick, but other times you take your medicines and you can still work. So I am glad that not everybody has to stay in bed, otherwise it would really create problems. Also several of the children had malaria, because of their HIV+ status, I always be careful and let them stay home from school, at least the first day. The last two days I have been busy with Charles (left picture) and Joseph (right picture). Charles had malaria and we have been treating him, but still he was not well, high fever, vomiting, so we took him again for a test, still malaria, I had to give him injections for three days, still the same, so on Tuesday he had to go on IV Quinine drip. That is the last medicines we have, it is not an easy medicines, you get ringing in your ears, you feel nauseated and it makes you weak, but the malaria parasite is gone. The way you get this is that you get a drip for four hours, then a rest of four hours, then again on drip for four hours, and that goes for 3 or 4 doses. It takes long and I was up and down in the night, checking the IV, taking it down, then 4 hours later put it back up. I had two patients, Joseph was also really down from the malaria. I really feel for both of them, Joseph is so weak, he can hardly walk. And he still hears the ringing in his ears, which makes him dizzy. But the IV drip is finished for both of them, so now we wait to see them pick up again. 

On this picture you see Margaret and her little brother, last week we took them in Amecet because their mother got an acute psychiatric problem. She had to be admitted in the psychiatric ward, the NGO which helped the lady, asked us to take the children. At first the little boy cried a lot, but now they enjoy their time here, they play and they interact with the other children. On Friday I went to the hospital to check on their mother. She was a bit better, but still very confused, she refused to take tablets. The mother is HIV+ and she also refuses her ARV medicines. That is not good, the NGO organization found the family in the village and brought the father of the mother to care for her in the hospital. I asked him if he could let us know if anything was changing. Today we got the message that the mother escaped from the hospital, together with her father. They are already gone for 4 days, and we have her children.... The NGO has to go to the village to find the family and see how the situation is there. Margaret and her brother enjoy the food, the toys and are easy to handle now. we did test them for HIV and they are both HIV-!!! That is great news.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy 15 th Birthday Sarah!!

Today we celebrated the 15th birthday of my oldest daughter, Sarah!As a teenager you don't want to be in the centre, but at the other hand, you love it as well. Here you see the cutting of the cake with 15 candles, her friends are teasing her and there is a lot of fun and laughter! (Sarah is in the middle with the grey/pink Tshirt) 

This first picture is Sarah in 2000, she was 3 years old, could hardly stand on her legs, so weak she was. God used Sarah to me as an inspiration for the whole Amecet Ministry. I had promised Sarah that she would be the first child in Amecet, when we would open. Her family called her "the dead thing". We really prayed that she would stay alive to come to Amecet. And look at the second picture, how she is now, 12 years later, a beautiful girl, with a special kind of humor and I love her so much. I call her "my first born" and she really has the place of  the oldest sister for Helen and Catherine. There is still concern for her heart and her HIV status, but Sarah is alive and today we celebrate her life!!! 
 After the cutting of the cake we pray together for Sarah, thanking God for her life and praying for Gods blessing and protection for the new year. We wish her many more years!!!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Six Precious Jewels.

This are our 6 small baby's. We just put them next to each other for the picture, they are doing well, their temperature is stable and 4 of the 6 can now drink themselves, two of them, we still feed by NG tube. Three of them are still on IV medication, they have a cannula  in their foot or hand.Three of the 6 are just above the 2 kg.!!! I said to the staff that when they are all above the 2 kg. we will celebrate it with a soda!! On the picture from left to right: Eunice (born 29/5), Evalyn (born 31/5), the twins Tracey and Trevor (born 26/6) and the twin Martha and Esther (born 30/6). It makes such a difference that the children are not in a critical condition anymore, it is so much more peaceful. We still have to be very careful and after the picture we put the baby's back in their blankets and under the net, for the mosquito's. They are all so precious and they are cute, we are so excited that it is going good with them, that they are all alive.
Yesterday we had to go with all the children for their 6 monthly CD4 blood test. Every 6 months they check the blood to see how the white blood cells do. I took this picture from the clinic. I wrote in another blog that we are building a second floor on the HIV clinic. The building is going on well and they are already busy with the roof. The old man who is waving to us, is one of the professional roof builders, he even was involved in our roof in Amecet. 

While they were building upstairs, down stairs was also work going on. From all the children was a blood sample taken by Maria, one of the nurses from the HIV clinic. It is amazing how  "normal" it seems to be for the children, one by one they sit there, offer their arm for the blood test and when the blood is taken, they stand up and the next one takes their place. I am proud of  "my" children, they are so brave!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Being shaken by a "thing".

This morning my phone went at 6.15, it was Amecet, if I could come. I ran there and found baby Martha Apio, (from the last blog) in problems, she looked very weak, they had put her on oxygen because she was breathing very difficult. We decided to put her on a slow IV drip as well, because she was also dehydrated. Then I run back home to get the girls ready for school, and after I had put everything ready for them, I went to our van, to bring Meri to the bus. When I stepped in the van, I saw something moving, I assumed it was a mouse, because I had seen paper half eaten. I opened the other door and moved the van a bit up and down. I didn't see anything so I started to drive. Suddenly something ran on my leg, under my skirt. I screamed and grabbed my skirt with one hand, where the "thing" was, I jumped out of the van, holding my skirt with the thing, only then realising that the van was still driving. So I run, still screaming, next to the van, and reached through the open door, to stop the van. That worked, the van stopped, I ran to my veranda and took down my skirt, still holding that "thing" and used my slipper to beat on the "thing" . Then I shook my skirt, to find that there was a big rat falling out of my skirt, with big teeth. I was so shaken, I cried and laughed at the same time, it was too much for me, all the tension about the baby's, Meri's leaving and being now alone responsible, came out. I cried!!! Sarah and Helen didn't know what to think about it, they had never seen me like this. I dried my tears and comforted them, that I was alright and I brought Meri to the bus. After that I went back to get the girls ready and bathed Catherine and Catherine and I walked to Amecet. Martha was a bit more stable, also Eunice was on oxygen and needed a new cannula for her IV medication, now I told the rat story to the others and I could laugh about it, it would have been a funny movie, me jumping out of the van and the van was still moving. But at that time it was far from funny. It had really shaken me. 
Simon was going to bring the three children (see blog of June 29) back to their home. The police officer from family affairs went with him. The previous week they had helped the man cleaning and spraying his house and compound. We had bought a mattress and mosquito net for them and we gave them some clothes. They were very happy. Simon told me later that half of the village came to welcome them back, they promised to help the father and also the grandparents promised to be involved. So everything had a happy ending!
In the meantime the dog trainer had come again, since May 10, he has been coming on weekdays to work with our dogs. We have seen the results, but lately the dogs are again fighting at night. Two dogs are being harassed and on Saturday night, one of them sneaked into the staff house to hide from the others. She choose the room of Esther (Dutch volunteer) and made a mess there and she ate from the mouse poison that she had put out. On Sunday night we had given the dog charcoal to eat and this morning I got vitamin K injection from the clinic next door. I think she is fine, we have not seen any bleeding. The dog trainer is coming now for one month every night to work with the dogs when they are all out. As you can see  on this picture, he is now trying to let them work in a team.The 2 dogs at the back, are mine puppies, they are big now, 6 months old. They are all real beautiful dogs, and quite tough!!
We also have two new children again, I got a request from another NGO, that one of their clients was admitted in the hospital for blood transfusion and has gotten a psychiatric problem, so bad that she had to be sedated and taken to the psychiatric ward. She had two children with her, 3 years and 9 months old. And she was alone, no caretaker with her. So I drove to the hospital, together with Dorcas, one of our Ugandan staff, to pick the children. They are going to search for the relatives. The 9 months old little boy has the record of loud crying on his name now, and the 3 years old girl is following us where ever we go with her brother. She really keeps an eye on him, even when we are going to change his diaper, she follows her little brother, so touching. We also put them together in one bed.
The situation in the little baby room is a bit stable, at the moment no one is on oxygen, most of them are a bit better and Evelyn and Eunice have been just over the 2 kg!! Martha is not so critical at the moment, the doctor prescribed another IV medicine, so we are going on with the intensive care we give to them. I am so encouraged by the commitment and dedication of the volunteers we have, also some of the Ugandan staff is really good to care for those little ones. We have 24 hours, two people working in that room. I find it quite a responsibility on my shoulders, I am also so thankful for Dr. Engulu, our neighbour and his staff, who have set at least 15 cannula's in the last two weeks and it is not an easy job in a premature baby arm, to find the vein.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Apio is holding on...

Yesterday, one of the twins which arrived 2 days ago developed some breathing problems, she was already on IV drip, because she became dehydrated. We took her for some tests and we discovered that she was severe anaemic, she needed blood transfusion. At our neighbours, the clinic, they do have blood, but they had only A and B type and after testing, the baby had blood type 0 +. So we had to go to the hospital. We were lucky, they had blood type 0, so we got 45 ml. of blood and the nurse hooked her on. It was on a table in the intensive care unit, where the children are kept who are on oxygen or very sick. There were two other baby's on the table, so we just joined them. Of course we got people who came to look at us, three muzungu's (white people) with a black baby, even from outside, through the window they kept an eye on us. The blood transfusion went very slow, one drop a minute. i tried to keep the bag with blood higher and that seemed to help, but to stand like that for 4 hours, no that was too much. I asked the nurse if we could take her home to let her rest more comfortable during the transfusion. That was okay, so we drove very fast home and let her get the rest of the blood. It took 6 hours, we slowed it down, because the breathing problems. She was comfortable and after the transfusion she was looking much better, the problems with the breathing also went much better
She is not drinking now, so we feed her via the NG tube.

Today Ruth went home! She came in Amecet on March 29 (see blog 29/3) and she is doing great. She is a lovely baby, she laughs so much! When you feed her she wants to smile the whole time! her grandmother came to pick her, and I was touched by the gratitude that she expressed to Amecet, we do not always see that. She was really happy to take Ruth with her. I really loved the old lady, when I asked her how old she was, she replied: 67 years old, not really a age to have to care for a baby, but she is very willing to do so and I believe that Ruth will have a loving environment! While we were talking, two ladies walked in the compound, with two baby's, yes ...... another twin!!!! A little boy and girl, they were 10 days old, very small and dehydrated. I could cry, felt a bit overwhelmed we had already 4 small baby's under 2 kg. But if we let them go back home, they might die... I had a talk with Meri and Esther, (Dutch volunteer) and we decided no we can't let them go. So they were going to change the room around where we have all the little baby's and I did the interview with the mother. She had no breastfeeding (I checked it!) and she fed the baby's with sugar water. They were 10 days old, their birth weight had been 2.1 kg and 2.2 kg. But now they both weighed 1.5 kg!! They had lost 25% of their body weight. We took them in, took them to the doctor and they both had to go on IV drip. But they like to drink, so we hope that we can help them by giving them this "push" in to life. Monday morning Meri is leaving, she has been such an enormous blessing for Amecet and especially for those little baby's. She is tired and lost her voice, I pray God will really bless her for just giving all she had for those little one's. And I pray we can manage without her, she definitely left behind some good advices and protocols and an example of true dedication and a part of her heart (I believe)!
The new twins, left Tracey and right Trevor

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

This was Joseph's day!!!!

In the blog of May 15 you can read the story about Joseph, his picture is from that day. Jospeh was sick and we struggled through some weeks with him, but yesterday was his day!! He went to school with the other children and he was so happy!!!
Just look at the picture of Joseph in his school uniform, he is just shining! He is such a sweet boy and I am just thrilled when I see him, this is why we do what we do, giving hope to children, restore their health and see the life and joy coming back in their eyes!

. The children were waiting near the road till the school truck arrives to pick them to bring to school. It is a colorful truck, when there is no rain, they roll up the white/blue plastics and there are windows. The children are also brought back by the truck.

We  said goodbye to 4 children yesterday. Abraham and little Joseph were picked by their uncle and aunt. It is so good that after the tragedy in their family, they are welcome in the family of their aunt (read the blog of June 14), then Nelson went back, after the death of the mother, the grandfather takes the children in. He has older brothers and sisters, who will help. (read the blog of May 5). Then Baby Blessing was picked by the family. I have a good feeling about them all being back with their relatives.

Then today: I was called at 8 am. (I was still bathing Catherine), that there were newborn twins at the veranda. So I came as quickly as I could, two little girls, born 4 days ago, the mother passed away after the delivery. They were quite a good size, their weight was 2.1 and 2.2 kg. We took them in, the sister of the late mother will take care of them after Amecet. 
Then an other family came with a baby, also a newborn baby of 2 days old, a very little, cute boy, his weight was 2.5 kg. His mother also died after the delivery, the placenta didn't come out. She was only 16 years old!! We took them after bathing and feeding to the doctor and the cord of the little boy was retied. He is doing well and enjoys the milk we feed him. The family had only given sugar water to him since he was born. So we had 4 children go home and 3 children come in. Simon and I also went to the police station, they called us that they found the father of the 3 abandoned children from the blog of  June 29. A team of the police together with some social study students went today to the home of them to help the father to clean and spray the home. And also to talk with the family of the father to ask for help with the children. The father can't do it on his own, the mother seperated from him and left the children with him. The 3 children are doing very well, their wounds are healing.

Are they not beautiful? left is Martha and right is Esther

Monday, July 2, 2012

Today we had a party...

It is good to celebrate and laugh together, That is what we did this evening. We had a goodbye party for two volunteers, who have been with us for almost three months. Left is Verity (from England) and right is Rebecca (from the USA). They were a blessing for Amecet, just when we have so many children, they were right there. They were also involved in the care for the pre mature baby's. I am sure that they also learned a lot and were touched by he children!

The bigger children had organised the dancing by them selves! So we put the chairs aside, made a stage and enjoyed their singing and dancing. It was fun and I think we needed that, all the baby's and toddlers were in bed and this was their time!
 We closed off with our tradional "Bye Rikki Bye "song. We waved with the bibs and at the end threw them all on Verity and Becca!
Tomorrow I bring them to their bus to Jinja, thank you so much dear ladies, to be willing to be part of our Amecet family, thank you for being with us in the laughter and also in the tears (Jesse), may God bless you in your next step!