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, May 30, 2012

Kick polio and measles out of Uganda..

There was this last weekend a mass immunization  going on in Uganda. It was for all children from 0 till 5 years old. They gave polio to all those children and measles to the children from 1-5 years old. They gave quite some publicity to the action and there were various places where you could go with the children. Our local counselor 1 (like a village chief) came to warn us, to take the children to immunize. It was busy, so I thought maybe tomorrow!! Then I read in the newspaper that some parents were arrested because they didn't want to take their children for immunization! I remember that I thought, I better not forget........ And yes, I forgot. Monday was the last day and I was busy and when I was somewhere in town, I heard a car going around with a big speaker on it, telling the people that this was their last call to come for immunization. So I drove home and rounded all the children up within 0-5 year range and of course the staff to come and help me, it was quite an exodus!
And here we sit, we had 12 children  with us. We were waiting under the mango tree for our turn.
 The little baby's are getting polio drops only.
 Not Full house, but Full van!! We were with 11 adults and 12 children in the van! The good thing was that the children were not crying and also in the evening and night, not one of them got a fever.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The First Aid lesson continues..

Last week we got our first Aid lesson from Meri. today she gave us the second part of the First Aid which might be helpful in Amecet.
She talked about choking and what to do if an adult or a big child chokes (on a cow pea or so!!) Of course she had us practising on each other, which brought a lot of laughter!

Then she explained what to do when there is a baby choking and we practised on dolls. bears and monkeys.

Helen our trained patient from last week was there again and Meri explained how to do CPR and she also showed it with a baby (doll).
We had to practise that to on each other and later again on the dolls, bears and monkeys.
This is Amos, and that is the only ting we know from him. He was brought on Thursday by the police. Someone found him in town. We have tried to talk with him, but Amos is the only thing we know, he forgot his other name, doesn't know if he lives in Soroti or in the village. Where his parents are, how he came where he was found. The police did radio announcements, but no response. We took him to the doctor, he had malaria, but he is doing fine now and he is very  good friends with Josh and John. We hope someone knows him and we can unite him with his family. It is a real sweet boy, we think he is around 6 years old. I love his beautiful smile .

I started this blog on Sunday, then a terrible thunder/rain storm came. A tree in our compound broke off, my TV is blown from the lightening and we had no electricity. Since Sunday evening the electricity is on and off, at the moment it is half strength. I think our copy machine has now a problem as well. I use now the solar power, but that is only during the day, because our battery is not charging any more. That is the reason that this message from Sunday is only finished today!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Today is WALKING day!!!

We have four toddlers in our home who are not walking ..... until today!!! On this picture you see from left to right: Charles, 11 months old, Rose, almost 2 years old, Rafael, almost 2 years old and Nelson, 18 months old. This morning suddenly Rose started walking on her own, we have tried to help her, but every time she cried and was afraid. But this morning she stood up and walked! Everybody was clapping and shouting for her, which she really enjoyed and it stimulated her to walk again and again. During or supper (which we have on Saturdays and Sundays at the veranda) Charles started to walk, which gave also a lot of excitement to everybody, and then Rafael did two steps!!! This was so good, we yelled and clapped and he looked around as if he had walked the marathon! Then very quiet, Nelson did two steps as well. So I believe in a couple of days we have toddlers walking all over the place. And it was so good to see all the excitement from the older children, the aunties and the toddlers themselves. It was indeed a day with progress!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trip to Kumi..

We were going to the Orthopaedic Centre in Kumi (one hour drive) with Apio Ruth. Two weeks ago we went there and she was given plaster again around her leg. We also discovered that there were two other baby's whose legs were also a bit different and we decided to take them along since we were going anyway.
Half way we stopped in a little trading centre, to visit the family of Steven. ( read the previous blog)When they brought Steven, there was a lot of confusion, they told us that the mother had died after the delivery, the father had died in November 2011. But we heard that there was a father, so we just called one of the given telephone numbers and asked for the father, and he came at the phone!!! The next day he came with the two people who brought Steven and told me a strange story, he was not really the father, but the half brother to the father and it was just a strange story. Today we travelled almost past his village, so we decided to go and pay a visit. We stopped in the trading centre and asked around, people came to the car and told us freely all the information we wanted to know, one of the men there was willing to bring us to the home.

So here we are waiting for the father Behind our car you can see the home of Steven. The neighbours came and everybody told us the same, the uncle was the real father! When he arrived we had a good talk with him and we told him that it is not good to lie. He felt that he needed a good story, otherwise we might not want to help. he asked us to forgive, so we did and we told him to come and visit Steven.
We continued our trip and the doctor saw the three baby's. With the two new baby's was it not so bad, only one of them we have to bring back in 6 months, to see how she developed. On the picture you can see that they took off the plaster from her leg. It doesn't help her very much. We have to exercise her leg and come back in 6 months. Then they will do an operation on her.  
Ruth is 1 year and 3 months old. She is behind in her development, but the last months we have seen a lot of improvement.She can sit now, she can hold her cup and drink herself, she plays more and she had this week her first visit to the sandbox.  She still has a long way to go, but she is on her way!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sad news...

I just got a phone call from the village with the news that Patrick had passed away this afternoon. I was so shocked, Patrick went home on May 2, he was not even 3 weeks home!!! The man, who called said that it was malaria, I asked if they went for treatment, he answered, they tried... so that might mean: no they didn't! I feel so sad about it, of course I asked myself now, did we let him go too early? Patrick has been with us for almost 4 months, he was small, but he had gained and was healthy. Did the family not want him? I feel for this little man, not loved by his family, I remember that the going home did not went so smoothly. At least he was loved in his time with us, he was cuddled, fed and cared for. I know he is in safe Hands now, but I feel angry, sad and I have so many questions. I guess I have to give it a place somehow.
Than the next sad news today: baby Steven, (on the picture above) he is 5 weeks old and his mother died after giving birth, the story is that also his father died in Nov. in a car accident. We were a bit worried about him, because he cries so much and is so tense. Today, Meri took him to the doctor, she didn't trust his eye sight. And she came back with the sad news that Steven might be blind and deaf. He doesn't react on the normal way. He is only 5 weeks old, so the doctor told us to come back in one month. Steven is a beautiful baby, I can't believe that this is true, but yes, he does react different than the others. Maybe that is the cause of his crying, blind and deaf, you live all alone in your own world, only touch can give somehow contact. We had to wipe away some tears, who would care for this little baby without any parents?? But we still have hope, maybe we are wrong, we pray and observe, we care and we cuddle. Steven must feel that he is loved!

Sometimes you feel so helpless, you can do so little and the children are suffering, I tell you a story about what happened on Saturday, it is also a sad one.. The probation officer and the police came by in Amecet to ask if we could help. There were 3 children staying at the police office, there were a lot of problems and they wanted to bring them home in their village. Simon went with them, to help them drive there. The father of the children died in December and after that their mother went crazy. She didn't want to see her children and was mostly away from home. Then the uncles took all the belongings of the family, the cows, goats, the money on the bank, the mattresses and even the household things. The children were sent to Soroti to stay with an aunt. The aunt was not happy with that and the children were not cared for. The oldest girl of 14, went into prostitution and even the second girl from 11 years went with guys, because they were so hungry! There are two more children ( 8 and 4 years old). When they reached the village, the police and the probation officer talked with the family and the local authorities. It was clear that they could not stay there and after all the talks, they brought them back to the aunt. Talked with her and there is a police case now for the family. Who will talk for the children?? Who will fight for righteousness for those innocent children? It makes me sometimes so helpless, so inadequate. There is so much suffering.

Sorry, this blog is a bit sad, but I can't help it, that is how I feel at the moment. We do have many happy moments, but there are also days like today. And we don't give up, we have a good cry and then we go on!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

First aid lessons for the aunties.

Every two weeks we have some training we share with the staff. The training might go about HIV/AIDS, or the ARV medicines, or we talk about fever, diarrhea or coughs. We also talk about things as hygiene and ways to help the children develop. Today we had Meri (our Canadian nurse) share about first aid.
Here you see us standing around the table, don't worry, that are no babies, laying on the table, just dolls! We have our training at the time that all the children are resting, except Helen, she came walking into the room and she was directly promoted to model patient. We had done nose bleeding and here we were talking about seizures. You see Helen laying on the table.
Then we all walked outside to our trampoline. Meri taught us how to support an arm, which might be broken, after jumping on the trampoline. Helen enjoyed being "our patient" and played it very well.
Here, she broke her leg, while jumping on the trampoline, and the staff supported her leg with a pillow and carried her out, to go for X-ray. It made me urge all the staff to keep ALWAYS an eye on the children when they jump on the trampoline.
Then we practised on each other making a good support for our broken legs, while using things that are around us. (baby blankets, skipping robes, aprons etc.) We had also a lot of fun!
Here shows Meri how to lay a child in the right posture, while the child is having seizures. And we practised that on each other.
At the end we clapped for Helen for being such a good "patient" and she received her payment ( a nice lollipop). Next week we hope to do the second part of the first aid lesson.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bad roads....

Today we had to go back with Catherine to the Eye Hospital in Torroro. Normally you drive it in 2 hours, but nowadays it cost 4 hours, due to the bad roads. So we were on this road for 8 hours today!! You see on the two pictures left, big holes in the road, muddy and big puddles with water. This is the road where all the traffic drives on the way from Kenya to Sudan. So many big trucks and trailers.
For almost 2 years they are working on this road, but not much is improved, it is even more worse now.
We also took Joshua with us, he has a lot of problems with his eyes, I took him some time ago to the doctor in Soroti. he thought it was a bad allergy, but advised us to let the eye doctor look at him. So that we did, the bad road got  effects, Joshua got car sick and threw up in the car.
Here is Joshua being examened by the eye doctor. And it is a bad allergy, we got special eye drops for him, that is all what we can do. Catherine was also doing well, the problem she has, is still there, but they found out that it is a congential cause, and nothing with her brains or optic nerve ststem. That is also good news. She did very good with the examination and she was all over the place, greeting people, walking everywhere and on the picture she is very interested in the stool which can go up and down. We have to come back over 6 months. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Work in process...1

In the Blog of May 1, I wrote about the HIV clinic in Soroti hospital. Together with the Dutch foundation "the Figurant" we are building the second floor on the clinic (which we also build in 2009). Today I had to be in the hospital for a test result of one of our bay's. The test proved that the baby (Charles) is HIV -. I was very happy with that, I always feel like celebrating after news like that. On the picture above you can see the walls growing.
At the back of the building the builders made stairs to carry all the building materials up. It is a very heavy job. All the bricks have to be carried up, and one brick weighs 5 kg. So you can imagine how many kgs, have been carried up. I decided to climb up as well, it was a bit scary, it was slippery and there was really nothing to grasp in case I would fall. At least we are on the hospital grounds, so there would be medical help, in case that...  
I have respect for these men, it is hard work and also hot, in the sun. Today it was mostly carrying materials and tomorrow they are going to build again. All the materials have to be bought by us. That is what Simon is doing. All the bricks, sand, cement are organised by Simon. And I do the payments! Simon knows many people and has many connections. So he calls a truck driver to bring 3 truck loads of sand, the guy does the work and comes to Amecet to collect the money. So it does go very organised.
Everything is done by hand and it is exciting to see the clinic growing. The doctors and the nurses are also very exciting about the new clinic!

Of course you have to eat when you work so hard. So there is a lady hired, who cooks the lunch for the builders. She cooks down there, on some big stones and wood. The men sit  around and eat, rest and go back to work!

P.S. I didn't fall, so no medical help was needed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two new arrivals in Amecet.

Today we had to make a lot of changes in Amecet. There was a boy coming, via the HIV clinic from the hospital. We do have empty beds for girls, but not for boys. So we had to move everybody around. The girls are now all in one big room and the empty girls room has become the boys room! Joseph was brought by his two uncles. The doctor from the clinic had told me by phone that Joseph was weak and malnourished. And indeed he is! Joseph is an orphan and lives with his uncle in the village. He is 11 years old and he only weighs 20 kg! My daughter Helen of 6 years,  is not very heavy and weighs 21 kg! Joseph has also TB and is taking medication for that, he is also taking ARVs. A sad weak boy, when he walks, he has to support himself, otherwise he might fall. I hope he will pick up and that we see the joy in his face again.
The schools have started again on Monday and all the children are back to school, except Mary Abait, who was operated last week and we had two other children who were sick, so they stayed home, but tomorrow they will go back to school. We also got a new baby girl in Amecet yesterday. Again a sad story, the baby was born at home, around midnight, the placenta didn't come out, the mother passed away because of the bleeding. The baby is called Sarah and she weight 2.7 kg. She is drinking, but not so much, so we feed her every two hours.
We also got the sad news that the mother of Nelson has died, she was to be buried today. Very sad for the family, at the other hand we expected it, she was so very, very sick. We pray that she has found her peace. Nelson is doing very well, he is moving all over the place, smiles a lot and eats very good,
I'll end with this funny picture. When we were moving beds around this morning and cleaning up cupboard's, sorting out clothes and creating space for the children, Helen found this ballet suit. She put it on and was dancing all over the place. It is a pity that there is nothing like a ballet school, she would do well there!  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Abait is operated, a new baby and a dog trainer...

Mary Abait is operated today! She is 16 years old and had a very big hernia near her belly button. It was really a bit embarrassing for her, you could see it sticking out trough her clothes. So we asked her if she would like to get an operation. She wanted it, so Meri and I took her to the clinic next door with the question if Dr. Engulu could do this operation. And that was possible, so this morning Mary Abait went, together with Meri to the neighbours. Meri was allowed to be in the operation room and everything went well. She had to stay in the clinic this day, but when she came out of the anesthetics, she got visitors, her friends wanted to see her. She came back to Amecet at around 6 pm. She is now sleeping and she is doing well and very excited that the operation is done and that her hernia is repaired. 
After I brought Meri and Abait to the clinic, a new baby girl arrived in Amect. The baby was not yet 2 days old. The story was so sad, her mother went into labour on Tuesday evening. They took the mother on a motor bike to the health centre. But the baby didn't wait, and the baby was born on the way. It was dark and it was raining, the baby was born on the road and the mother died there on the road because of excessive bleeding. She was buried yesterday. The baby was fed with only some sugar water and an old lady tied the cord with some pieces of cloth. I took the baby, Benna, directly to Dr. Engulu (who just finished Abait's operation) and they retied the cord and put the baby on antibiotics, because of the dirty environment where the baby was born. She is drinking very good, she was dehydrated. We pray that she will pick up and be a blessing to her father in the future.
While this was all going on, we had a dog trainer working in the compound with our dogs. We have had problems with our dogs, one of them (the one here at the left) suddenly turned on one of our other dogs. And that dog was really wounded and we had to get the Veterinarian doctor for her. he advised us to get this dog trainer involved, because we have beatiful dogs, but they are very wild.
The two dogs could not stay together in the doghouse anymore, because that was directly war. The dog trainer got every dog (also my two puppies) out and worked with them for five hours and now are all the dogs together again in their dog house. I am amazed what he did today, the trainer will teach them to obey, to work together and to be better watch dogs. He made a great start today!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Who says that boys can't jump????

Yesterday many cars drove into our compound and lots of men and some ladies came to visit Amecet. The Ministry of Gender had a workshop for all the officers from the Probation offices in the North East of Uganda. The workshop was all about assessing children and baby homes. There are a lot of  children  homes in Uganda, often sponsored by foreign countries. there are a number of homes which are not really operating good and some are abusing the funds. So after the teaching they came to make an assessment of Amecet. I was a bit nervous , they came with so many! Some from Kampala, from the Ministry of Gender, they had many questions and inspected the house and also outside, around the house. many questions about the children, protocols, finances, reporting, staff etc. they were good questions and they also wanted to see our files and office. Simon and I answered as good as we could. And they were satisfied, they complimented us about the home and how we operate. We have to improve in some area's, like reporting and protocols. But is was a very good visit and Simon and I have a good feeling about it. So there is no reason to be nervous!

It is still holiday, but the children are really enjoying themselves. At the moment they are learning to skip robe. And also the boys are enjoying it so much! It is so good to see the joy and the fun on their faces. They are happy!

Meri (our Canadian nurse) and I took Nelson for his second HIV test. In my last blog I wrote how Nelson came into Amecet. Nelson has been very sick during the weekend, he was on IV drip because of a bad malaria.
He took the blood test very well, on Sunday when they tried to put the cannula in, they had to try many times and after trying his arms, hands they succeeded in the foot. Today he didn't seem to have a trauma from it. But the test came out negative!!!! Nelson is free of HIV, we are very happy with this and so is he!!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A welcome for Nelson in Amecet

Simon went today with some of the elder children to the village, to visit their homes. It is important that the children keep that contact with their families and it is always an encouragement for the families to see the children doing so well. While they were visiting a family of one of our children, he was called to come to the home of the neighbours, where a drama was going on. The mother was very sick, she is HIV+, tested, but she denied completely the result of the test. She refused the ARV's, and got sicker and sicker. The father already died earlier, also without the ARV medicines, which slows down the growth of the HIV virus and helps the immunity of the body to get stronger.

The mother was laying on a sack, under the tree, because of the visitors, she was carried to sit (!) against the home. She was mostly unconscious and there was no reaction from her. The family tried to give her some glucose water, she is not eating any more, she is in her last stage of AIDS. There are 8 children and they asked help for the youngest child, a little boy of 1 year and 5 months.He looked okay, not malnourished or with skin rashes. 

You see him here on the picture with his 14 year old sister. This girl is looking after him and she looks after the mother as well. There are two older brothers, but the work is mostly done by the girls. The boy had no medical records, not even an immunization card, but they said there was a blood test done, but there was no result. We decided that we would take the boy to Amecet, to get him tested and maybe put on medicines and it would really help the sister, to have than only the mother to care for. When they tried to talk to the mother about bringing the baby to Amecet, there was no response. The grandfather was then brought in to sign our papers and also the local counsellor was asked to come and sign the papers.
It makes me so sad, that in a country like Uganda, where there is so much openness and teaching about HIV and AIDS, people just denied their status, there are free medicines for everyone and still people die like this mother, somewhere deep in the village. Nelson is the name of the baby, he was brought to Amecet, he looked around with big eyes, but he likes the food and the milk. When it was almost evening he developed a high fever, we bathed him and gave him medicines. Tomorrow we have to go for tests. But we welcome him into Amecet. We pray for the family in the village, where the mother is dying, that God helps the family to cope with the situation.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

HIV children clinic will be enlarged.

This is the HIV children clinic in Soroti hospital. We come with all our children to this clinic. Before there was not really a good place for the children, the waiting room was a small dark corridor and the room where the doctor sat, was also the room where all the files were kept and often there were two doctors in the same room, sharing the same desk.
Together with the help of the Dutch Foundation "de Figurant" we were able to build a new clinic, and on this picture you see the opening in December 2009. At the right, my brother, (who is part of the Figurant), me, then Helen, Dr. Florence and her husband, Dr. Egwao.

The clinic is a real blessing and since the opening in 2009 there are more doctors and counsellors working in the clinic. There are now 5 days of clinics, there are more than 1600 patients registred, mostly children. And on Saturdays they started with children and youth meetings. I was very proud of the nice and cheerful waiting room, you see this picture at the right. We had some volunteers who painted the walls and my brother carried a play table with beets over from Holland. I think we are the only waiting room with a play table like this in Uganda.
But the place became too crowded, the rooms too few and they started to make two rooms out of one. You can see that the nice waiting room is now divided into two rooms, behind the wooden wall they take the blood samples from the patients. There is one room they divided into three rooms.


This is the reception area, where they take the names, weight , height etc. They get your file and you wait till the doctor calls you.
This week we went with our children to the doctor. We are with a big group, with 13 children. One by one they go into the doctors room and he checks them and asks if they have any complains. we do blood tests every 6 months.

Here we are all together in the room with Doctor Wandera, he is very gentle with the children, they like him.  
Then we go for the medicines. We always get for one month, after a month I go with the medical books and get new medicines. The children go once every three months to the clinic, unless there is a problem.
Why this story, yesterday we signed the contract with the builder who is going to build the second store on the clinic. The Figurant is going to help us again. We shared with the Figurant that the clinic is just getting too small, and is so much used and is facilitating so many patients. They came back with the message that we could go ahead, we believe that the funds will come in. So Simon and I went to the hospital authorities and to Dr. Florence and shared with them. They were so happy and thankful! Simon contacted several builders and had the building design made. Yesterday we signed and today the first bricks were delivered in he hospital. I am so glad that we can help in this way, it means more work for Simon, he is doing most of the running around, while I keep an eye on the finances and administration. It will be a big blessing to the community! I'll keep you updated from time to time how the building is going.