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, October 26, 2011

Who will protect the children????

Today I was again confronted with the suffering of children, done by their family members or caretakers and it upset me so much. In the blog of september 22, I wrote the story about Cecila. When we came out of church on Sunday, Cecilia was standing next to our car, she wanted to come with us. I asked her if she was back with her mother and she confirmed that. She looked good and the scars on her legs were healed, there were no new ones. But I just couldn't take her with me. She cried! Then yesterday, Simon and the Probation officer (child protection) went to follow up on Betty. Her picture is here and Iwrote her story in the blog of October 3. The plaster is taken from her arm, they came to Soroti the day after we met her. But the bottemline is that the mother now wants to use Betty to get things, as a source of income. That is not good, Simon went to the police, because the mother lives with her children outside. The fathers of her two children are known, they should at least help with a small house. We will folllow up, but this is not an easy story.

Then today, we were called by the police. There was a boy of 5 years in the Hospital whose legs were badly broken, by the first husband of his mother (not the father of the boy) The mother took the boy to the hospital, but she was pregnant and her baby was born. now she sits next to the bed of the boy, with her newborn baby. She has nothing with her and her relatives didn't come to help her. Please if we could help with some basic things. We went to visit her, the boy lays with his leg in traction and the mother and the baby next to the bed on the floor. I am glad we could help this lady and the boy. Then at the end of the afternoon, the police lady came to Amecet with a small boy (maybe 8 years?) Neighbours brought the boy to the police station. The boy comes from Karemoja, a District north of Teso, where there is a famine and the mother of the boy had brought this boy, with two other children to their sister, who lives in Soroti and is married with a Teso man. But the husband of the sister beats this boy every day and the neighbours were very concerned for the boy. The boy is now in Amecet and the police will investigate the case tomorrow, The boy had not eaten the whole day, he came on the right day to us, because Wednesday is Chickenday!!!

This evening I was just so sad about all those cases, who will protect them, when even their own relatives hurt them? I looked at my own little family and I am so thankful that God brought us together, otherwise they also, might not have been alive today. But who will look after Betty, Cecila, the two boys from today and all the others, out there? Sometimes, I feel we just put a bandage on the wound, for some we were able to really chang their situation, but others will go back to their old situation, you hope than that the relatives have learned their lesson.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our blog is one year old......

Our Amecet Blog is one year old! We started the Blog to give you more information about the daily life in Amecet. To share with you our sad and also our happy moments! I want to thank everybody for taking the time to read this blog and also for the reactions, comments and emails you have send us! It really speaks to us the message that you are behind us and that you pray for us. I want to say: EYALAMA NOI, that means: thank you very much in the Atesso language. For myself is this blog also a way to work through some emotions, as I write down some of the things that are going difficult or are painful. In this year we have almost 24.000 times been read by you. I am amazed about so much interest from you all. Please do not stop giving comments and suggestions! We love to hear from you and we go on with our life here in Amecet, because there is still a lot of work!

The last two days I went to Entebbe, we (Simon and I) brought Bernard and Joke back to the airport and we were going to pick Ton and Arja, who went for a well earned break. Ton and Arja are the leaders of our second house Amun, where the older children live. I left my girls in Amecet, because this morning we would also meet together and Bernard and Joke would give some evaluation and handed back the keys of Amun to Ton and Arja. We left at 10 am from Entebbe and we drove to Kampala. There we would just buy some mosquito nets, which we give away to children who go home and to other people who are in need of a net. But we have to go for those nets to the inner city of Kampala, where the traffic terrible is and everywhere people walk, drive, cycle and carry things. We were in the middle of a big traffic jam, we hardly moved, after 30 minutes I decided that I would go out, look for a place where they sell mosquito nets and then hopefully would find the car with Simon again. It did not look that the traffic would flow very easily, but you never know, I took my mobile with me! I bought 60 nets, for a good price (after some discussions) and a man walked with me, carrying the nets. Simon had maybe moved 20 meters during my shopping!! We were at least 1 hour more in the traffic. I took this picture through the car window. People walking every where, motorcyclists looking for little ways to go through. At the right you see a big bus trying to get through. And in front (left of the big bus) you see a pile of 12 matrasses come, carried on the head of a man. The drivers of the little vans go out sometimes to talk with a friend or to drink a cup of tea. It is interesting to see this all. But we came out and proceeded on our way, back to Soroti, where we arrived at 8 pm. The last part of the way was full of potholes and Simon did a great job, bringing us safely in Soroti. We brought Ton and Arja to Amun, where they were welcomed by a group of enthousiastic children and I went to Amecet, where I was happy to see my three girls again. As of now, they are sleeping in their beds, I just called with Bernard and Joke, who were waiting to board their plane at the airport and I...... drink a glass of coke and go to bed. I am tired!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Catherine is welcomed in our little family!

As I wrote earlier, Catherine is our new family member, but she was still living in Amecet till today. My house is not so big, has only two bedrooms, one is for Sarah and Helen and I sleep in the other one. There was no space in the girls room, so Catherine should sleep in my room. There is not so much space, so I designed a bed which would fit. Catherine can stand and walk, so it had to be a bed which would be safe for her. I made a drawing of a bed and I went to a local carpenter, I told him the sizes, and they could make it, they said. Sarah and Helen asked me every time, when is Catherine coming to live with us, I said, when the bed is ready. And yesterday was the big day! The bed was ready, Bernard was helping me to pick it. And we carried it inside, and there the problem started, it was too big, I could not get it into my room!!! I was so disappointed, I had thought about the width of the doors, but had forgotten that we had to make a turn to get it inside my room. We put it outside on my veranda and today Bernard came with an idea. To get two side off from the bottem then we would turn inside the other room and then turn into my room. We startde it, I mean, Bernard started it and I helped when I could do something. On the picture, we are again stuck in my little corridor and Helen made this picture. Bernard is getting something more off (but he put everything back again!!!) The bed came in the room and Bernard screwed everything back together again and the bed is ready!

So tonight I have three precious girls sleeping in my house, I still do not yet know how I will do everything, I have to get a complete new schedule. More laundry, more mess etc. but it is all worth the effort. This evening we were together praying for Catherine, it was so special, Catherine in her new bed and new house and new family!!What do you think of my bed? It is with little doors, so I can close them and she is safe inside, under the bed there is space to keep her clothes. And it just fitted next to my bed. I had given the size to the carpenter, but it came out bigger then I wanted, but it just fitted, so no problem!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Today we have good news!!!

Today we have good news: Elisabeth, the little baby who came on Friday in Amecet. She gained in two days 90 gram!!! Her weight is now 1.2 kg. I know that 90 gram is not much, but it shows that she is a fighter, she is fed with formula milk, every two hours 15 ml. by NG tube. Today we stepped it up to 20 ml. every two hours. She has no fever, no vomiting and no diarrhea, so she can just sleep and grow!!!!!!

Patrick was brought to Amecet 2,5 months ago. His weight was 1.8 kg. His mother was a schoolgirl and it was so hard for the family to care for Patrick!

Today the mother came, together with her parents. They were ready to Patrick back home, if all was well with him. I was so encouraged, so often we have to almost push the baby's back to the family. They think it is nice if we keep them untill they can talk or walk. But that child then takes a bed where maybe a very sick child should have been in. We also feel that the child should be among his or her own people as soon as the child is stable, so it can bond with the family again. Patrick is now 4.3 kg, he more than doubled in those 2.5 months! So he went back with his family and the mother and the grandmother will come on our "come back" days.

Here you can see the grandmother with Patrick, the grandfather and the mother!

I wrote before also about my worries about Job, a little premature baby (1.6 kg.) He is doing very well and his weight is now 2.3 kg! He is drinking well and his mother comes every week to visit, she is so happy and has hope again! It is good to focus again on the positive things that happen in Amecet. The whole story about the passing away of Immaculate took a lot of energy and emotions. I have peace with the fact that she is now with Jesus, her suffering is over, yesterday we went to the house of the grandmother. we had organised the coffin and we were with our car with several of the staff of Amecet. The burial was going to be in the village where the clan comes from. And that was far, several hours drive over bad roads. When we came to drive with the others to the village, several people of the family started to argue that we had to take the coffin and they were angry that we could not, the car was full. We had done our part and the family is responsible for the burial. There were many people and they all were travelling in a truck. It hurt me that, when Immaculate was alive, not many people came to see her or were interested in her, but now at her burial, many people came and there was even no place for the coffin. Simon decided that we were not going to the burial, he said that people would blame us all the time and it would not be good. So we went back home, leaving the people arguing what to do. It was a sad ending, but we know that Immaculate is celebrating her life with Jesus!

And today..... we had many positive things to be happy with and we are thankful that God brings things in balance, so we can cope and have Hope!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Immaculate went HOME.....

This afternoon Immaculate went to be with Jesus. Yesterday I took her to the hospital for review and the doctor admitted her. The biggest problem she had was that she could pass any urine. She had been on an IV drip, but no urine. I have been a lot with her during those last two days in the hospital. Today she was most of the time unconsious. Her condition deteriorated more and more. This afternoon we knew that she was going to die. I thank God that I was there on the right moment. Her breathing became more difficult and she was moaning a lot. I felt I should talk to her, she could maybe still hear me. So I started to talk to her about Jesus, how much He loves her and that He was right there and wanted to hold her hand. Immaculate opened her eyes, looked at me, I don't think she saw me, but grabbed my hand. I went on to talk that she should not be afraid, she was going to a place where there would be no pain, no medicines and no injections, she again opened her eyes and looked (at me?), I told her that she was so tired, that Jesus would carry her in His arms, close to His heart, again she reacted, the moaning had stopped, the breathing went slower, one more last breath and she was gone, her hand was till in mine, but I know that her hand was now in Jesus ' hand. It was such a holy moment, there in the hosptal, in the middle of al those patients and children Immaculate went to be with Jesus, her suffering was over!

(This pictures is from yesterday).

This evening we had a meeting with the bigger children, to explain and to cry together, when your room mate dies, it comes very close to you, especially when you know that you were both HIV+. It was an emotional time, but I pray that we have also shared the hope we have as children of the living God.

Then in the morning, just before I left to the hospital, a new baby was brought to us. The baby was born pre mature and was very small, the weight was only 1,1 kg. So small and so delicate! The mother had died and the father was afraid his daughter might also die.

The baby was cold and we made warm water bottles to warm her up. Her name is Elisabeth! I gave her the marker in her hand, so you can see how small she really is! We gave her a NG tube, because she is too weak to drink from the bottle and we decided to lay her in our incubator. Even she has been already 10 days old, the incubator will give her that safe, warm place to grow stronger!

The staff is a bit scared to feed her, because she is so very small, we pray that she will live and that she will be a blessing to her father!

It was a very emotinal day, giving Immaculate back to Jesus and receiving this precious little life into our Amecet family! But this is exactly what we are suppose to do, being the hand and foot from God!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Worries about Immaculate

Last night I was called that Immaculate was shouting from the pain. I went directly to see her and Immaculate had a lot of pain, she had hardly eaten that day and was very weak. I went to talk with the doctor on duty at our neighbour's clinic and then I gave her the medication they suggested. We prayed for her and we made her as comfortable as possible. The medicines helped a bit and this morning she was a bit sleeping. I went to the HIV clinic in Soroti hospital and the doctor there came with me to Amecet, to see Immaculate. She was put on drip and got some more pain medicines. She is still very weak, can hardly talk, but the pain is a bit less. My heart goes out to her, she is now for 9 months in Amecet, but it is all the time up and down, if I am honest, more down than up. How long can you suffer like that? Please pray for her.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mary, Mary and Kennedy...

On Saturday, Sarah, Helen, Catherine and I went to visit Mary in her boarding school. Mary has been one of the children who lived in Amecet and later in Amun. She finished her primary school and we received support to help her (and some others) to continue with her secondary school. She is in her first year and found it not so easy to adjust to the boarding school life, which is really tough. We tried to support her as much as we could, but she has to do most of the job herself. Every term, there is one visitation day, where the parents can visit their children. They are very strict with that, Mary can also not come and visit us. I asked the head of the school if I could take her out for lunch, and I got permission!! So we had a nice time at the restaurant, Mary enjoyed the spaghetti instead of the posho and brown beans they eat at the school. Mary is doing better and was happy to see us, we had a good visit together.

Sunday morning, an old lady with her grandchild stood at our veranda. The child was Mary, a girl of 10 years old, who has been in Amecet before. Mary is HIV + and has been sick with TB. She has been with us for quite a while. We brought her back to her mother, who was also on ARV medicines and we helped her with school fees. They came to tell us that the mother had passed away that night and the body was still laying on the veranda at the hospital, if we could please help them. Simon went with them to the hospital to get the body and he brought them to their home village where the mother was going to be buried. We talked about the possibility of having Mary back for a while, the mother had told the grandmother, to bring Mary to Amecet when she was dead. Now we are not really for that, but Simon said that he was touched when he saw her sitting next to the body of her mother. The other problem was that when they looked for the ARV medicines from Mary, everything was gone from the little hut they lived in, So we had to organise new medicines, so Mary came back with Simon and is now living in Amecet. She is happy, in spite of where she went trough. Today she went to school with the others.

Then today the police came to bring a little boy, we looked at him and recoginesed him, this is Kennedy! His mother is very young and has a mental problem, she threw him away before and got better and got her son back. Now she left him on his own in the Public Gardens in the centre of Soroti, talking to him that she was going to get a knife to kill him. Some ladies heard her talking and when she left him, one took the boy to the police and the other stayed to see what she would do. Kennedy was brought to us, because his mother is much worse then last year. Kennedy is sick, he has malaria, so we started to treat him. He likes to eat and to drink the juice, I think he will pick up fast. Today we said goodbye to Esther and to Peter, they both went back to their families. Both are doing very well now and it was good to give them back to their relatives. We will see them both back on our "come back" days.
Not a day is the same, we have some sick children Immaculet is again sick and loosing weight, then we have 3 children with malaria. So my days are never dull there is enough excitement!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A new daughter in my family.....

Today I would like to introduce my new daughter to you! Her name is Catherine Asele and she is 1 year and 3 months old. She has been living in Amecet for the past year. Her parents have died of AIDS and also Catherine is HIV+ and is using the ARV medicines.

I have been writing about Catherine on earlier blogs: March 3, June 8, July 15, Aug. 12, 16 and 22. When the grandfather brought her to Amecet for help, Sept.2010, Catherine was very weak and sickly, she also has a problem with one of her feet and we got special little shoes for her. But the ARV's helped her and she became stronger, but still she is a vulnerable little girl, when she gets sick, she can be very sick! Our plan was to give her back to the family, the grandfather had promised to take her back when she would be stronger, so in July 2011, we gave her back to the family. By that time I really had grown fond of her, but I do believe that the child is the best between her own people. But it didn't go well in the village, Catherine didn't get her medicines in time, and at times she was over dosed. She lost weight, was very lethargic and sickly. The family also didn't know what to do, they told us that they couldn't do it, so at a home visit in her village (after 5 weeks at home) we got her back in Amecet. I have been praying and thinking and I felt I should open our little family for Catherine. Sarah and Helen were very excited, they love her so much. For me it is quite an adjustment, to have a baby in the house, next to my fulltime work in Amecet. The good thing is that my little house is in the same compound as Amecet, that helps a lot. This week we have been back to the village with Simon and the Probation officer (children protection unit) and we have talked with the family, they wrote a statement that they can't care for Catherine and that they give her over to me for foster care and later adoption. So now the paperwork is almost finished and I will get a court order for her. And we are starting a new life as a family or four!
I am thankful that I get the chance to invest in the lives of those three precious ladies!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why do those innocent children have to suffer so much????

This is a question which has been asked many times and by many people, but today I asked this question again, why do those little ones have to suffer so much??
Last night, after supper, the police lady from the family affairs department came by with a little baby. They found the baby somewhere, left behind by the mother who was drinking in another drinking place. The lady was so drunk, she didn't even know the age of her child. So they put her in the police cells and came with the baby to Amecet. We were full, but what can you do, there is always place for one more!! We don't know the name, the age, nothing. The baby doesn't want to drink, we think she might be four months old? I took her this morning to the doctor, because she has a bad cough, and we started her on anti biotics. She also has a problem with one of her feet. She is coughing a lot and we try to feed her. I think this little girl has endured a lot in her short life already!! Then the next experience, which made me ask this old question again. I got a phone call on Saterday from an American nurse, who works in a mission hospital in the village. We decided to go and see how we could help and combined it with bringing Lois back to her mother and grandmother. Lois is very healthy now, gained 2,5 kg in 6 weeks and they were happy to recieve her back.

The nurse asked our help for Betty, whose picture you see here. Betty is around 4 or 5 years old, her mother looks after her and a younger child. The mother has psychiatric problems and loves her youngest child more than Betty. Betty has been thrown down by the mother and she broke her arm, the plaster put around her arm was to be removed four weeks ago. There are no clothes for Betty and her mother is most of the time gone with her little child, leaving Betty without food at home. A neighbour gives her food at times. Betty was very dirty, she can't walk and she never talks. Then there was another sad thing, Betty's hand has been burned and the scars were so bad that some of her fingers have been grown together. Seeing those fingers I just can imagine that this must have been very, very painful. I don't know how it happened, but it was not good. When we visited the hut, also this time the mother was gone with the little child and Betty was just sitting in the old wheelchair. The neighbour lady talked with us, what could we do? This is a family matter, where are the uncles, the aunti's and the grandparents, and even the father of Betty? We gave some money for transport and the neighbour lady will bring Betty to Soroti hospital tomorrow to remove the plaster. We are going to contact the Local counsellor, to come and have a meeting with the family. This is child neglection, this is a serious matter. We are willing to take Betty for a while in Amecet, but the family must be involved. My heart went out to this little girl, who was scared of us and I would love to see her smiling. This little girl has suffered so much and I pray that we can be used to change that.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A little dragon in my blood.....

This week I had a "meeting" with 6 of our girls. I wanted to read a small book to them, it is called: Brenda has a little dragon in her blood". It tells the story about a little HIV+ girl who has to go to the doctor, because she has a little dragon in her blood which is called HIV and the doctor gives medicines so the dragon stays asleep. When Brenda is not taking her medicines, the dragon wakes up and makes her sick. One of our staff members, Margaret helped with translating, so all the girls could understand well. It was touching seeing them sitting and listening, and asking questions like: why does the medicines not kill the dragon instead of only let him sleep? And why do I have this dragon in my blood and you don't? How did this dragon came into my blood? What if I take a lot of medicines, will he be dead? Or Why does the dragon wants to make me sick? What happens when I don´t take the medicines????? Many questions, they were listening and I saw them thinking..... We really want them to understand that it is not their mistake, they are very normal children, only they have this little dragon in their blood and they have to take their medicines to let the dragon sleep.

Is this not a beautiful group of girls!!! At the back Mary and Immaculate, then the row with Norah, Helen and Christine 1, at the front Christine 2. Last night, just before it was the time to take the medicines, Helen told me: I think the dragon is almost awake, I need to take my medicines fast, before he wakes up! She is only 6 years old but she understands it on her level.

I am a bit worried about baby Job. He is now 4 days with us and he is not drinking well. His weight was only 1.6 kg. He is 2 weeks old and was born premature. Both of his parents are HIV+ and they were so scared too loose this baby, they lost 2 children before. I gave him a NG tube today and we pray that he will keep the milk in and start growing. We will also take him for a HIV test. We pray that he is negative. He is so small, so delicate and so vunrable. And also so cute (lief)!!!!