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!

Monday, July 29, 2013

We all need a HOME where we belong, don't we??

Today we went, together with the Probation officer, to inspect a home where one of our children might be getting adopted. On July 9 I wrote a blog about Miriam, a little two old year girl, coming from a very painful home, where the boyfriend of the mother beat her all the time. Miriam is doing very well, she is still scared for guys, but we can see her starting to play, to talk and she is laughing a lot, and she loves to dance when we sing together after the meal. Last week a family came to hear if they could adopt her, this family lives not in Soroti and heard from one of the families in their clan, who adopted the twin Augustin and William (read the blog of May 27 2013). We talked with them and send them to the Probation office (child protection) There they also had an interview and got forms to fill. The home had to be inspected, so today we went.
This is the home, Simon and Amos (the probation officer) looked at things like: how is the home, is it clean, where do they sleep, where do they cook, is there  a pit latrine, a bathing shelter. Do they have animals, do they have food, how do they store their food, and their water. 
The family was not aware that we would come today, so we got a good picture of their situation. On this picture Amos is asking the mother if there is a health facility nearby and how far the school is from the home. We had a nice visit and we all liked the home and also the lady (the husband was not around today)! After our visit, we wanted to take the opportunity to check on the twins, who were adopted in the same clan and live nearby.
 And this is the home where the twins went, 2 months ago! It was so nice to see them, we also came unexpectedly, so we also got a good picture in that home. Augustine and William were doing well, they looked clean and well dressed, but they had forgotten us! That was also good to see, they really had bonded with their new family and they were loved and cared for. 
I had taken Catherine along, since the twins had been her friends, they were open to her, but not to us. At the end Simon was able to get them near and they had a nice reunion. This was such a good afternoon, I am so happy that those two little boys have gotten a HOME! If you read the blog about them, you will be rejoicing with me! Ands we also have good hopes for Mirriam, the family has to work it out with the Probation Office and get a care order from Soroti Court, but also Mirriam will get a loving HOME! Where she can feel safe and secure, we all need a place like that!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A lesson in economics.

Our laundry lady comes from Karomoja, a District, North of the Teso region, where Soroti is part from. The Karomojong are nomads, you could compare them a bit with the Masai people from Kenya. There is not so much development yet, even the government and many NGO's try to develop that region more. Because of poverty, many come south to get a job, in Kampala you'll find many Karomojong women and children begging on the streets. Pauline is a lovely lady, she is very friendly, I can't talk with her, only with the help of a translator. Yesterday she taught me a lesson, I saw her repairing one of our basins. She made thread from a sac, where we buy our sugar in. With the point of a knife she made little holes and she was sewing the basin. It touched me, this lady could have asked for a new basin and if she could take the broken one home. I would have agreed, the basin was broken anyway, useless, but she took the effort to repair it for us! Thank you Pauline, for this lesson and for the encouragement you gave me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A visit to the Prison.

Every week we visit the prisons, we visit the mothers who are in jail and who have little children with them. Those children are growing up in the prison, they do not have always a lot of food, and we got and see them every week.
We bring them porridge flour, sugar and soap. Sometimes we give some little toys, we provided pots to cook the porridge and we help sometimes with medicines. This week we got a request from the Prison officer if we could please help the mothers with a mosquito net, a basin and a jerrycan. Elias and Esther, two of our staff, are mostly the people who go every week, they organised it and together we went to give them. At the moment there were 8 mothers with small children. The mothers were very happy with the gift we brought, the children liked the biscuits the most. 
At the back, left Esther is sitting(purple shirt).  
At the end the ladies gave us a special clap as a thank you!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Environmentally friendly..

We try, in between all the other things we do, to be friendly towards the environment. We know we have to be good stewards, not only for the children or with the donations we receive, but also with our environment.
We try to do so, in small ways, I will share some things about this:

With our cooking: In Uganda most people cook on wood or won charcoal. Both are not very friendly for our environment, because many trees are cut down for charcoal. The price has gone up and the charcoal is not always from good quality, so the bag with charcoal will not last long. In Soroti is a project set up that makes charcoal from cow dung, shells of groundnuts and the  waste from the wood shops. They mix it together and form it in small coals (see picture) The people from the project came to build the special stove in our outside kitchen and you can see Auntie Grace cooking happy on the stove! The special charcoals are cheaper, last longer and all the trees are still standing!! And our food taste the same....delicious!!!!

With our electricity: We have been able to buy solar panels and use most of the time solar energy. We have done this some years ago, there are times when the electric power is unreliable, and with all the baby's and often very sick children, it is so difficult to work with paraffin lanterns. The batteries have been changed, with a gift from Metterdaad from Holland, now we have again solar power most of the day and night! It saves us money, which we can use for something else now. And.. we give shelter to a dove family. Under the solar panels we saw a nest from two doves, nowadays I can see more than two, there must have been a blessing in that nest!! You can see even one dove (if you have good eyes) sitting above the panels.
With our water: We get our water supply via the water pipes from Soroti town. It is going in two high water tanks, from there it is piped in our home, to flush the toilets etc. Our drinking water is brought in jerrycans, by David and Calvin, our two gardeners, from the borehole nearby. Borehole water is safe to drink, so we use that only for drinking. Then we have 5 big water tanks (see picture) in our compound, to catch the rain water.  This we can use for cleaning, watering the flowers, bathing laundry etc. There are sometimes days when there is no water coming from Soroti town, then we have at least the rainwater which can help us. 
In Soroti there is no service, which comes to collect your garbage, so we have to do something with it ourselves. Left you see the big pit, where we throw all the non burn-able waste. When the pit is full, David and Calvin cover it and dig a new one. This is behind our home. At the right you see our oven, we burn all the papers, plastics and other things we can burn. It is used every day and is again in need of repair!! It is important to really burn it completely, because at night the dogs are out, they love to take the half burned things and in the morning you'll find them all over the compound!
The last, but not least: our Mouse catcher!!! Since 5 days we have this little kitten in Amecet. His job is to catch mice! She is still very small, but we have good hopes, we have no name yet, there are several optioned, but not yet one chosen. At the moment we try to teach her not to jump on the sofa and to stay in during the night, because that is when her job starts and out are the dogs, who will kill her when they get the chance.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Electricity stories

There is one big electricity provider in Uganda, it is called Umeme. And it is not easy to deal with them. Every month someone from Umeme enters your compound and they read the meter. After some time, another person brings the bill, on which is written how much you have to pay. The bill is most of the time delivered after the payment date, but that doesn't matter. Most of the time, I wait till we have all the bills, from the two YWAM schools and from the two Amecet homes and I'll go to the Bank to pay them. Last month I paid all the bills on June 17th, only 5 days after receiving the bills. On June 20, I got the call from the Pre-school, that Umeme disconnected them, then one hour later I got a call from our Amun home, Umeme guys were there and they wanted to disconnect them. I said, to tell them that the bill was paid and all the receipts were in our office. The person, who called said, they do not want to listen.... So I told them not let them go (lock the gate or so) and I ran with the receipts to Amun home. I showed the men from Umeme the receipts and also the receipt from the Pre-school. Yes they remembered the school and sorry, sorry, we will connect them again. At least I was able to save Amun from disconnection. Two days later... still no power in the Pre-school. I went to Umeme office in town to report this. They told me they would fix it, they were sorry.... One week later, still no power in the Pre-school, again to the Umeme office, very, very sorry, they would go to the school and reconnect it. Two weeks later, still no power in the Pre-school... Again I went to the office and they told one of the men from Umeme, to go with me to fix it, their vehicle was not available. So here the picture from the man in the pole from the Pre school,  to reconnect the electricity, after 3 weeks!!! After his action, he took off his climbing gear, stepped back in our car and I brought him back to their office.
I am a regular visitor in the Umeme office. 4 years ago we started the process of requesting electricity for our Primary school. The school is just outside Soroti and there was not yet electricity. We invited the community to also join in, so that we, as a group, were putting more weight behind the request. Everybody had to pay an amount to help buying the transformer. Our school got connected in December 2012!!! But the rest from the group not yet. Some YWAM staff is in that group, they live just a bit further than our YWAM school and I bought also some land up there, so I also paid into this group, for electricity. Now I have build my house, ready for the girls and me, but electricity. Some of the people from the group got power, but for example my house, there is a need for 3 poles, and that is too much for Umeme. I have been talking, begging and nothing helped. The manager is very friendly and understanding, but she can't do much for me. The only thing I can do is to buy the poles myself, but that was not in my budget, they had promised that as a group we would receive electricity. This week I went already 4 times to their office, waiting for an invoice, how much 3 poles would be. Still I have no answer, maybe tomorrow??? The community will be happy then, if I buy the poles, they can just get the connection too!! Happy neighbours are also important!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fiona has Peace...

This morning at 3.45 am Fiona passed away to be with Jesus. Last night I had the feeling that it won't be too long. I asked her mother if she wanted to stay with her during the night. The mother stayed and I went back to Amecet at around 11pm (my daughters were all sleeping!). I stayed, together with the mother with Fiona. She was unconscious, but not in pain, her breathing had changed and her heart was beating so fast!! At 3.45 am I suddenly saw that Fiona just stopped breathing, that was all, no struggle, no fear, no pain! The mother and I cared for the body of Fiona, not easy, it just made me cry when you see and feel all the bones, I never had a child who was as skinny as Fiona, only skin and bones. That is why I put this picture in the blog, I want to remember Fiona a like this, smiling and happy (this was only taken less than 2 months ago). I went to bed for 1,5 hour, than at 7 am I was back in Amecet. Simon went to town to let the coffin being made. Some relatives of the mother came to sit in the room where Fiona was laying. When the coffin was finished, Elias and I carried the coffin inside and we lay Fiona to rest. Then we carried the coffin into our vehicle and together with the mother and some relatives and some staff members of Amecet we drove to the village. 
When we were close to the home (we drove on a very small bicycle path) there were people waiting and after we passed them, they walked behind the vehicle, following us to the home. The (mobile) tam tam had done its work.
The coffin was placed under the Mango tree and the people were sitting around it. More people were arriving and after a little while the elder of the clan welcomed us and thanked us for bringing Fiona back home. I had to give a report of all that had happened with Fiona, while being with us, Elias translated. The family was grateful for our help, they all knew that Fiona had been very sick. So after a little while we left, I gave the medical book to the family and we left them mourning Fiona as a clan. 
It has not been easy, but I am so glad that I was with Fiona in her last hours, just holding her hand, praying for her, changing her. It was hard to see this little body suffer and it is a release to know that she is at peace now, without pain, medicines and sickness. I had an uncle who was in the Salvation Army, when someone dies there, they don't say he had died, but that he is promoted into Glory. That is what I feel for Fiona, she has been promoted into Glory. So what did I do? I went to our Amecet wall of Fame (read our last blog) and I gave a star next to Fiona's name! It almost felt like a medal of honor. Fiona has peace, and so have we!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Our Amecet Wall of Fame

When a child arrives in Amecet, we always take a picture. That picture stays in their file, but we also put the picture on our "Wall of Fame".  Every child who has lived in Amecet has his/her picture on our wall. Some stayed long, others a short time, some a very short time. Many children have passed away and they have a star behind their name. We will still remember them!
There are at the moment around 530 pictures  and the wall was full, so we rearranged our Wall of Fame. We asked a carpenter to put two big soft boards on the wall and yesterday and today I have been hanging the pictures back. They are all numbered, so we keep them in order. Number one is Sarah, my daughter, God really used her to be the inspiration to set up Amecet! I must say that I enjoyed hanging back the 530 pictures. All memories came back, so many stories, about Esther, who died on New years eve, because the electricity went off and she was on the oxygen machine, or Brenda, who was saved from the shrine of the witchdoctor, she was to be sacrificed, she was doing very well in Amecet. Then we had two little sisters Grace and Lois, their parents had died and everybody in the village said that they had AIDS, we took them in Amecet, went to the doctor and the tests were done and we could bring them back to their relatives with the result that they were HIV-.
Then there was Augustine, Timothy, the twins Esther and Martha, baby Jesse, baby Anna and so many more! We have so many stories, hanging at our wall!! I am so thankful to God, that He enables us to minister to those children. And my prayer is that we keep listening to Him, to know what to do.

And see the result!

The last news about Fiona, the 15 years old girl who is so very sick is, that she is in critical condition. I think she will pass away very, very soon. It is so sad to see her in this condition, she is so skinny, and so weak. I hardly believe that she stayed with us for so long. Pray for her mother and also for us, in Amecet, we love her a lot, but we don't want her to suffer more.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Where children can shine again...

This is text on our brochure: A shelter where children can shine again!
This is what we would love to see: children who are shining again! 6 days ago the police brought a little girl, very sad, weak and some cuts on her head. The story was that the mother and her boyfriend lock the child up in the house with some food and then go their way. The child is malnourished and just very sad, when you see her, you just feel for her, she looks so sad and depressed. I took this first picture just 3 days ago, she just wanted to sit on your lap and she did not play or talk. We went to the police, Simon went to see the mother and we got information from the neighbours, the police and the Local leader in their area. Then he went to talk with the Probation office and they went together again to the mother.

 Last night there was a clan/neighbourhood meeting and they would decide if the child was going back to the mother or not. The decision, made by the mother and her uncles and agreed by the community is that they will not take the child back. Today Simon drove with the Probation officer and the mother to their village, to talk with the family/clan there and they all agreed: nobody wanted to take care of the little girl. So Miriam, that is the name of the girl stays in Amecet until we have found a family who want to adopt her. We know now that she is around 2 years old, we tested her, she is HIV-!! 
 This picture I took today, she is shining!!! She is walking around and starts to play. It is such a encouragement to see this little girl already changed! I am sure that God has a plan for her!!
When we talk about shining children... I couldn 't hold this picture from you! This is Michel, he is with us for more than one year. He has cerebral damage, maybe after cerebral malaria??  He was left behind in the outpatient department of Soroti Hospital. He has come a long way... And this boy can smile!!!! When you call him, he starts smiling already. Honestly, we do not have a good plan for him, he also needs adoption, I know that God has a plan with him too. For now , we enjoy his beautiful smiles!!!! (even when they are sometimes snotty!)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Going to Pre-school...

 My youngest daughter, Catherine goes to Baby class since the beginning of this term. Every morning I bring her to school. She is the smallest of her class (the first in the right row), But she loves it! She made friends and she sings already many new songs (which are joined in by Sarah and Helen, since they also went to Harmony Pre-school). In the morning they first pray  and they sing the National Anthem, then they enter the school.
 At the moment there are around 120 children in the Pre-school (in 3 classes), today they did their PE (Physical Education=gymnastiek les) Together with teacher Anna and teacher Irene.
 We are rabbits, we are rabbits, we hop like rabbits.
But now we are airplanes, that goes much faster!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Two sets of twins went home...

We started the week on Monday, by bringing Judith and Joseph back to the village. they have been 5 weeks with us in Amecet. They were not really sick, but the mother was a bit desperate. She had to stop breastfeeding because she was too weak, she had wounds and she is HIV+. We had given her at first milk money, but she still was putting the baby's at the breast whenever they cried. Then after talking more with her we found out that she had no place to live, after the death from her husband she was going from place to place, staying with people. She still had her parents in the village, but she couldn't go there, she said. Simon asked her permission to visit her parents to see and talk, and she agreed. So Simon drove to her village and visited her parents, after talking they welcomed her back home and they even gave her a hut to live in. So we talked with her and she agreed to go back to the village and we took her twin baby's to help her to stop breastfeeding and to give her a chance to settle in the village. Last week she came by to see her twins and it was so cute to see them smiling at her, and her to them!! She said she was ready to take them back, so on Monday we went to bring them. The mother was not around at that moment, but the family was very happy to see them. At the right is the grandfather and the grandmother is the lady with the blue head scarf.
On May 4th we got another set of twins, two newborn baby's, the mother had passed away. Left is Silver and at the right his sister Aliana. Silver was sick in the beginning, but they started to drink well and they gained!!!
On this picture you can see what two months can do! They are doing very well, drinking good, no sickness, and they even can smile very good. Also on this picture is the left baby Silver. The father came to pick them. It is nice to have some baby's leaving, it was really a bit too much. So many bottles to give, so many diapers to change and so many baby's crying sometimes. We still have the 14 girls doing their practical in Amecet. That was also a bit too much, tomorrow it is their last day, and I think everybody will be happy with that. Too many people around and the girls don't know how things are going in Amecet, so the staff is also busy explaining everything.
Fiona is still with us, but more weak than last time I wrote. She is so skinny, and so weak, her mother visits her most days, that is nice for her. Fiona has no pain, but she is just so weak and tired, it pains us, seeing her like this.