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, December 13, 2017

Amunweek 2017, 2: Playing and learning...

It is so great to see how "old friends" find each other again! Some of them see their friends only during the Amun week, or sometimes in the clinic, where they go for their ARV medicines. The children come from different districts and villages. 
The first teaching was given by Dominique and it all went about honesty. She was translated into Areso  by Francis.
 The second teaching was done by Emmanuel and Jane. And they talked about the Family. How to honor your parents, or your care takers. Most of the children are orphans and are living with relatives.  In the afternoon they talked into age groups deeper about the teachings. Very practical problems were discussed and still we pointed back to our theme: If you know others, also your relatives, even  when you are not always fairly treated by them.
And then we are going to play together!! There are organized games, football or people just sit and chat  together....

Musical chairs.... the children love it...and also the staff is joining in. the right picture shows who are the winners, Erne and Simon share the first place!!
What I really like is that everybody plays with everybody! Boys and girls are playing football together, Older and younger children playing together and there is a lot of noise and laughter. 
 In the tent were Cathy and Ruth busy to clear the chairs. And at the end they climbed on the top and were enjoying their rest on "the throne".
At the right you can see one of the girls, Irene, taking a nap on the ground (while the others are playing and making noise). Irene came sick to the Amun week and she is getting treatment. But sometimes she is tired and then she lays down to rest. This is normal, nobody finds it strange, if you are really tired, you can lay down. This year there were not so many sick children. We took several for malaria testing, but only a few were sick. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Amun week in full swing 1

Today is the third day already from this amazing Amun week!! On Sunday we started with a morning meeting, Uncle Steven, from the Soroti YWAM base, shared about the love that God has for us. When we know and understand more of God's love for us, we can love others! We sing and dance a lot, so we have our daily execercises!! Uncle Julius (also from the YWAM Soroti base) plays the guitar and auntie Sarah helps leading the praise songs!
 Yesterday, Auntie Erne shared about how special we are to God and how much He loves us. She had a pot with sweets (GRACE) she shared with us, but to enjoy the sweet (Grace) we have to accept it and take it. It was a creative lesson with lots of small activities.
 Then Uncle Simon was teaching about relationships, what makes a relationship and what destroys it and how we can maintain a relationship. We do all the teachings in two languages, so that also the children who are not so fluent in English, will not miss anything.
 Today the teachings are all about HIV/AIDS. You can see on this picture the 4 photographs hanging from 4 children who were with us the last Amun week.They all past away this year...This is the reality and we have to be real. We remembered them, but we also know that if we are not careful, we have some pictures hanging there again with the next Amun week. We have to face reality. I took the younger children (9-12 years) separate, to give a simple lesson about HIV/AIDS and taking the ARV's medicines every day. Why they need to do that and why it is so important that they understand this. The older children stayed in the tent with Francis, Kevina and Mary teaching them about HIV/AIDS. I am so proud of them, this is also the reality, the children we have brought up, from very sick and very weak, are now teaching other children....They understand so well where they are going through, their teaching is from their own experience....
 They played a drama, Mary was the counsellor and gave the result of the HIV test to Francis...
The children were paying good attention, it was hot and a bit long, but they listened. At this moment they are in 5 different age groups, talking more about the teachings, Francis, Kevina and Mary are also involved in leading those groups, together with our Amecet leadership and some experienced staff from the YWAM Sorori base. We pray this may build them up and encourage them to keep taking their medicines and not to give in to stigma's.
To be continued.........

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Amun week 2017 has started......

Today our Amun week started again! We invited 50 HIV+ children who all have been living with us for some time in the past years. It is great to see them all again and they are also excited to see each other again. They come all from different districts and villages.
 Every year we have a theme, this year the theme came from 1 John 4:7, 8
"If you know God.... love others"
We think about this theme every morning in our devotion time, then we have teaching for the children about HIV, taking their medicines, about acceptance and other subjects which are important to them. We go into groups in the afternoons, to talk things over in smaller groups. Then we have games and sports 
This are some of the youngest children.Happy with their new T-shirt. Today was the arrival day, I will post more of this Amun week later this week!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

37 graduates in our Harmony Pre-school....

Yesterday was the graduation in the YWAM Harmony Pre school. That is a big event, the children graduate from the nursery school and are going next year to the Primary school. I am involved in the leadership of the Harmony schools, so I had to hold a small speech. There were 37 graduates and it is a joy to see those children in their gown and cap, you can't stop yourself wondering, where will they be in 20 years???
It was a colorful happening with sketches, songs, dance and poems.
This year graduated Apio Ruth, one of the girls who has been in Amecet. Dominique is staff in Amecet and is in the process of adopting her! It was so special to see Ruth standing there with her certificate! She came a long way......
And after the cutting of the graduate cake, there was a meal for everybody, the parents, all the children. It was a successful graduation!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Amecet tradition on World Aids day.....

Tradition can be very powerful, and this tradition on World Aids day is one of those meaningful traditions. Every year we come together with all our staff and the children in the home on December 1st. We remember the children who have died this year. It is powerful, and very touching. Again you remember the pain and the struggle of the children who have passed away...
This year there were  so many children, more than I can remember from other years, we had  17 pictures on our table today!!!
As the whole Amecet family, we gather together in our living room, around the table with the pictures of the children who died earlier this year. 
Several staff members share about different children and light the candle for them. It is an emotional time, it is as if you feel the pain again of loosing the child and tears are flowing. Some share very personal, how they loved the child and how the child had touched them. 
These are just 5 of the 17 children we remembered today: 
Baby Arengo Deborah was born pre-mature in the clinic next door. The doctor asked us to help with our incubator, so the baby came in Amecet. But she died the following day, her lungs were not ready, she was so small, 1.2 kg. The mother was devastated, she had lost 5 other babies. She even tried to commit suicide.
George was 9 years old when he was brought to Amecet. he was HIV+ but he also had cancer. He has been for 3 months in Amecet, then he went back to his mother. But he got very sick and was admitted in Soroti hospital, where he died. George had really suffered, he is at peace now.
John Peter was only for 6 weeks in Amecet, he was 14 years old and very sick and malnourished. He was HIV+ and both his parents and 3 older brothers had died of HIV/AIDS. He had TB and got blood transfusion while he was in Amecet. He cried a lot and he wanted his grandmother. He refused to eat. He was angry and unhappy, so we decided that it was better to bring him to his grandmother, just to give him a break. We were planning to go and visit him, but we got a phone call that he had passed away, just after 14 days at home.... 
Esther lived 3 months in Amecet, She was 9 years old and HIV+, she had TB and she didn't like to eat and to take her medicines. She always had infections, malaria, urine tract infection and others.. She got problems with her intestines, hepatitis and she was admitted in Soroti hospital to be operated, after 3 days she was discharged and came back to Amecet. She was very sick, got blood transfusion, medication, the best care we could give, but all in vain, she passed away. This girl suffered so much, we know that she is out of all this pain....
Baby Christine only lived for 2 days. Her mother passed away after giving birth to her. Christine died of respiratory failure and a sepsis. According to the doctor, she had a brain damage from the birth
And these were some of the 17 touching stories we heard today. it brought us all together afresh, we have a job to do in Amecet, these are no failure stories, this is life and we have to deal with it.
Next to the candles, we have 2 vases with colorful flowers from our garden, these are representing the lives from all those children who have made it, who are back home with their relatives, going to school and are happy and healthy. After we had heard all the  17 stories, we have thanked and praised God for all those children, we had a nice time of singing together. And of course we closed our meeting with a nice bottle of soda.... (no party in Uganda without a soda!!)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

To be on the right spot, at the right time.....

Yesterday, Simon came back from the village, where he had done a follow up visit with one of the families of the children. As he drove back into town, he saw some people standing in a group, one of them was  one of our staff members. He stopped and asked her what had happened. He heard that a lady had just died, on the back of a motorbike. People tried to let her sit, but she was already gone. The motorbike had ran out of fuel,  someone went for fuel, but was gone already for a while. So the body was just laying there.... at the side of the road.... Simon reversed the car and  and talked with the sister of the lady, who was of course very upset. Simon ended up with carrying the lady in the back of his car and bringing the body, with the sister back to her village. When he arrived in the village, he heard that the lady who had passed away, had a small, one week old baby. The family was very shocked of what had happened. They wanted to give the baby to Simon, to take to Amecet, but he said that they would first think about that and organize. If they still wanted help, they could come to Amecet.
This morning the family came with the baby to Amecet.... A small beautiful baby boy, whose name is Emmanuel. The baby looks healthy and drinks well. It is so good to know, after a story like this, that God is with us....Emmanuel......

Friday, November 24, 2017

They were all lies.....

When a new born baby is brought to Amecet with the story that the mother has passed away, we want to believe that story. The auntie brought the baby and told us that the mother (her sister) had died, and that the father was not known. The baby was small, weighing only 2.2 kg. and he looked weak. We took the baby in Amecet, the auntie filled the forms and signed. We were going to care for the baby for at least 2 months, if the baby would be stable by that time, he would go home, if he was still a bit weak, we would extend the time in Amecet......
His name is Vincent.
Vincent cried a lot in the beginning, but he started to put on weight. He was healthy, after the first visit to the doctor, he was never sick and he gained, today he is 4 kg! We have been calling to the auntie, she promised to come and visit him, but she never came... After the 2 months were over, we felt that Vincent could go home, so we called the auntie again, she promised to come... but never came. Then I called again and the phone was not answered, for several times. In Vincent's file, I found the mobile number of the local counsellor, that is a kind of village chief, I called him, he told me that the auntie would come that week, he said that he was an uncle of the mother that had died. Today, after again 3 weeks no response, our social worker, Elias, decided to go there and bring Vincent home, there was also another child in Amecet, who was going to be re-settled with his family, so they left this morning. (we always write the directions to the home in our file)
At 4 pm they came back,.........with Vincent....... They had found the family and they had found Vincent's mother and the grandfather (who was the counsellor, and said that he was the Uncle of the mother). There had been hot discussions, the grandfather wanted us to take Vincent until he could walk. He didn't care, Elias could take him...he said. The mother was 20 years old and disabled, she was lame and had epilepsy. 
Elias decided to take Vincent back to Amecet, he felt it was not safe for the baby to leave him with his family. They agreed that the clan would come together and decide what to do. Elias will go back there to follow up. It is sad, that people lie so much and are not willing to take the children back. We do see this more, but we always find out the truth. It is now important that  Vincent is safe and that we make sure that he will get to the right person. For now he is back in his little bed in Amecet.
At the same time that they came back from the village with Vincent, the Police brought a 7 year old girl in Amecet. She lives with her uncle and she had taken 1,000 shilling (maybe around 30 euro cent) the uncle had beaten her so bad, her hands are all swollen and painful, she has bruises on her back. She was dirty and hungry. We took her to the doctor and she got treatment, then a shower, clean clothes and a meal. The police is searching for her parents..
So this was our Friday....

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Baby's, teargas and Michel.....

It is almost 2 weeks, since the last blog update, lots of things have happened since the last writing... We got several new born baby's coming in, all because the mother passed away after the delivery. It is always a sad story, we are happy that we can help the family a bit, to take care of the little one, so the family can mourn and sort themselves out, before the baby comes back to them. Sometimes there are additional problems: the dowry was not paid and the family of the late mother, demands the dowry to be paid. It is good that the baby's are then out of the way, in a safe environment....
In Uganda are some political tensions because of the age limit. Some parties want to remove the age limit, so that the president is not limited by the age and can stay as a president. There are hot debates going on. Normally, you do not notice it so much in Soroti, but two weeks ago there was a day in Soroti where the opposition came to campaign and it all didn't end peaceful. There was shooting with teargas and even the army had to come in...There was looting and burning of tires, but there are always people who are suddenly caught in between.. There was a young lady who was selling airtime cards and sending money by phone, as her business. She was hit full by the teargas and was terribly burned. She is now admitted in Soroti hospital, but has a lot of pain and we hope that she will get help, because she is suffering so much. The government doctors are also on strike, she needs to get special help!! But she also has two sons, twins. They are two years old and were now cared for by neighbours, as the grandmother is staying in the hospital with the mother. 
 They were brought to Amecet, where they are safe and getting food and shelter. Patrick and Noah are their names and they are a handful!!! Very naughty and free, so we have to keep an eye on them, they are everywhere... But we see them adjusting better everyday, listening and not fighting.......

 On Friday we went to Doctor's Plaza with Michel. He was operated on August 15 from Osteomyelitis, has been with metal pins in his leg since that time. But all went well. the X-rays showed that the bone was growing again and Friday, Nov. 17 the pins were removed!! On the picture you can see him, sitting in the wheelchair, going to the theatre. The left nurse is one of the three student nurses from Holland who are with us in Amecet. They are working at three places in Soroti during their practicals, In Amecet, in Doctor's Plaza, a private clinic and in a Government clinic. They will stay here for more than 3 months.

The picture below shows him today!!! The pins are out and he is allowed to put weight on his leg. But because he is a bit wild, the doctor let him walk still for 2 weeks with his crutches... We are so thankful and happy that everything went well and that Michel still has his leg, that the infection has stopped and the bone inside the leg is growing strong!!!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The triplets - 1

Yesterday morning, baby Mary got problems breathing. The doctor from the neighbour clinic came to see her and she was put on oxygen, IV medication and a lot of prayers....
She was up and down, but she made it through the night, this morning I found her better than yesterday. But then after 12 pm it went wrong, she couldn't keep up her saturation and at 2.15 pm she just stopped breathing. There was no struggle, she went peaceful to the Lord.
It is sad, we had good hopes for the little girl, who had been already been admitted in the hospital for the same kind of problem. We said goodbye to her, and Elias, together with some of the staff went to the village to bring the little coffin home. It was a strange view, the two baby's still in the bed and the third one in the little coffin. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Many things are going on......

This little, new born baby was brought to Amecet on Tuesday evening at 9.30 pm. They found the baby, laying on a veranda. The baby was around 1 day old....... At first the staff received the baby, gave her a bath and a bottle. She didn't drink much, but the next feeding went a bit better. The next morning, the Probation office and Elias, our social worker got into action. It is so good to know many people and also that Amecet is known by many people. Within a couple of hours, the mother was found! She lived not far from Amecet, together with her other daughter of, maybe, 18 months old.
She had told the neighbours that the baby had be born dead, so that is why she left Monday pregnant and came back Tuesday evening without the new baby. Elias and the Probation Officer tried to get more information, but the whole story was full of lies. 
The story was changing and changing, they tried to get the contacts of the father, or her family, parents or sisters. At the end she was taken to the Police Office, because what she had done is a criminal act, and the other little girl was brought to Amecet. The mother was put in the cells, because of her attitude and she was released the next day. Elias got some telephone numbers and he got into contact with one of the sisters. The sister was very upset when she heard the story. She promised to come the next day. There has been a lot of talking and calling over the phone and the mother came suddenly at  the doorstep of Amecet, last night, on Thursday evening, to pick both of her children!!! We couldn't just give her the children, they were brought by the Probation officer and we needed to know if the children would be safe. At that same moment, the sister also arrived and there was quite a confrontation between the two sisters. The staff told them to come back the next day to work everything out.The next day there were talks and at the end the mother took the offer from the sisters to go back home, to the village, where her parents were still living. They were willing to help her with the two little children. The sisters went to her little room, she had been renting and brought the sister, with all er belongings, back to the village.

Then the sisters came to Amecet, to pick the two little girls and to bring them also to the village. It was hard work for Elias and the Probation officer, to be sure that the two children were safe and cared for.
Patrick, the little boy who was found in town, is doing very good. He is happy and soooo cute. He eats very good and you can't recognize the little boy who came so sick and malnourished in Amecet. The only thing is that he is still not talking to us. We know he can talk, we hear him sometimes talking to himself, when he is in bed or playing on his own. We are trying to find relatives, gave out posters, place his picture in the local newspaper, but still there is no one who comes forward. Simon and Elias went on Tuesday morning early, to check some areas at the lakeside, where the fishermen community lives. They came back late in the afternoon, there was no one who recognized Patrick.... This week he will be again in the newspaper, but I think  that he will probably go to a family who is willing to foster and than adopt him.
And on Wednesday, we held our first Amun week meeting!!!
We did that in the garden of our Amun home. The Amun week is a special week, we organize every year for all the older HIV+ children, who have been living in Amecet in the past years. In December there will be around 50 children staying for one week in Amun home, we will have a tent in the garden for all the meetings, we will do games and there will be singing and a lot of fun. We like to use this week to encourage the children and to teach them more about their HIV+ status. There are some YWAM staff from the YWAM Soroti base, who are joining us every year to help organizing, teaching and just be there for the children. I will be writing more about this week.....
Simon went today to the village. Two weeks ago, he went on a home visit to Alice and her grandmother. Things didn't look well there. So today he went back to follow up and he has brought them both a mattress, sheets a blanket, mosquito net. they were so happy!!
The grandmother told him that she had never had such a nice sheets and blanket. She hanged them around her neck and kept holding them the whole time. She also told Simon that when she would die, they should bury her in these sheets!!! Alice is doing well, they work together in their garden en eat from that. Alice is going to school and her health is okay.

This are just some stories about what happened this week. There is no one day the same as the day before!!!

P.S. the last news about the triplets: they are all three above the 2 kg!!! Even the last one, who was brought on Sunday, is picking up!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Triplets United.....

As I wrote about the triplets in my last blog, in the evening, the third baby was discharged from the hospital and joined her sisters. But there was some confusion: the grandmother had brought the two baby's 4 weeks ago, she told us they were the first and the second baby, so their names were Mary Apio and Elizabeth Acen, the third baby, who stayed with the mother, was Adongo Grace. There is a certain order here in naming twins and triplets, the first one is always Apio and the second one Acen, when there is a third one they call her Adongo. But when they are boys, it is different, it will be Opio, Ocen and Odongo. Now we discovered that the grandmother had made a mistake, we had the second and the third baby, so the one in hospital was the first baby, so all the names are wrong and they had to be changed.... All the papers had to be changed, but also our staff had to be trained in the changes of the names. 
 We gave each baby a different color string at the wrist.
 For the "bonding"  they share the bed, and we gave name tags and which bottle we use for which baby. They do fair, the middle one, Elizabeth, is drinking very well, the other two still need a NG tube, but they start to drink better and better. 
I was so blessed today by the grandmother of Catherine. The mother of the baby had passed away after giving birth and Catherine was brought to Amecet. We always give them 2 months, then the baby goes back to the family. And today it was exactly 2 months!!!! Very often, we have to call and call to remind the family to come for their child, but this grandmother came on the exact day!!
And she had bought little socks for Catherine. I was really touched by the lady, she was prepared for the baby, and she had bought little pink socks...... It was so nice to see and to know that Catherine is wanted and will be cared for....

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A difference of 410 gramms......

In our blog of October 6, I wrote about the two little girls, part of triplets, that had come to Amecet. We have been caring for them, seperate from the other baby's, in our medical room. Observing extra care and hygiene for those extreemly vulnerable girls.
They are doing good, but gain very slow. There is a difference of 410 gramms between Mary (left) and Elizabeth. I feel it is amazing what 410 gramms does, Mary is much bigger and she can drink by herself, we removed the NG tube and she drinks very good. Elizabeth only drinks half of what she is suppose to drink, so we have to give the rest by the NG tube. At the moment she has some diarrhea, so we keep a very close eye on her.

Mary came as a small baby of 1.5 kg, today her weight is 2.280 kg.

Elizabeth weighed only 1.3 kg when she arrive in Amecet, today she weighs 1.870 kg.
This week the aunti came to Amecet. The older sister, the first born of the triplets, was admitted in the hospital. Deborah and I went to take a look at them, the baby had been the biggest of the triplets, but not anymore. She is now the smallest and she was on oxygen. The mother was with her, but she is still weak and has hardly breastmilk. We helped with some of the medicines they needed for her. The way it looks now is that we will also take this baby into Amecet when they are discharged from the hospital. The mother can take some rest and get her strength back for the time the baby's will come home from Amecet.