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!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Adoption - Reunion

Amecet is not an orphanage, but we do get many children who are orphan or abandoned. As Amecet, we want to bring the children back to their families, we don't want to have them in Amecet for a long time. So we do work at their resettlement, within 2 months. If the child is emotionally and physically fit to leave, we would like the child to resettle within their family clan. But we also get children who are left behind in the hospital, on the road, or are found in the bush or something.... Simon and Elias (our social workers) try to trace their relatives. We start with a advert in the local newspaper, we ask around, we hang sometimes folders with a picture of the child. If nothing works....... if we don't find any relative, the child is than ready for adoption. We go first for the local adoption, so the child will stay in their own culture and country. As for now we have around 38 children who went for adoption, out of Amecet. Some international adoption, some to foreign families who are living in Uganda, but most of them went to Ugandan families. Today we invited 19 families to come with their children, to Amecet.
It was wonderful to see the children again and especially to see that they all do so well. The Probation Officer Mr. Ekallam was there, he spoke to them. Some of the parents shared some issues, but there was no parent who had difficulties with the children, beside the normal issues. 
In the mean time took Elias the older children to talk with them separate, to ask their opinion and experiences. That also came out good. We want to help the families to get the legal documents for their children, we are going to connect them with an organisation of lawyers, who help people for free with their legal issues, when they can't afford it. It will be so good for the future of the children, when this is all arranged well. 
Ofcourse it all brought back memories.... Some of the children have been so sick, while they were in Amecet, but when you see that they are healthy and happy,  it is worth all the struggle and hard work!

This is Moses The picture at the left is from March 2011, when Moses was found in an old pighouse, under some plastic bags. There is a long story, they found his mother and we tried to resettle him with his relatives. This didn't work out and now he is adopted and is almost 4 years old. The picture at the right shows how he is now. A very cute little man!

March 2013 the twins Augustin and William were brought to us, They were abondened by their mother. We found their relatives in the village, but they were not willing to take the two boys  (2 years old). The boys were very malnourished and one of them missed his eye. Now they are adopted in to a wonderful family, their father came with them. They were smart in their school uniform. These boys have a future ahead of them!!!!!
We ended the meeting with a lunch and everybody went back home. We want to organize, together with the Probation Office, more meetings like today. It will be good to advise and support the foster/adoption parents more. With the legal issues, but there are lots of others issues where they would like to have advise about. We see more Ugandan families, willing to open their heart and home for children who are in need. And it works well, that was proven today!!! And I am so happy, to see all those children again, such an encouragement to go on, we have a mission.........

Sunday, February 22, 2015

School fees.....

In February, the schools started again their new school year. And for many, many family's does that mean: SCHOOL FEES!!!!!!
You pay per term and there are three terms in each school year. For every family it means trying to find money to pay the fees of the children. Sometimes they sell their chickens, or goats, they borrow money or try to do extra jobs to get the money together. It happens very regularly that a child, especially in secondary schools, has to drop out for a year, hoping that there is enough money the next year. There are government schools who are almost gratis, but secondary schools are almost always with a fee, unless you are very good, you can get a scholarship.
Education is the key to get out of the circle of poverty, we get also many people coming to Amecet, asking for help with education. On February 9th, I wrote the blog about our "Tante Suus" fund, which helps some of the secondary  students to school. But even we get many asking help for primary school. YWAM, the missionary Organisation where Amecet is also a part of, has two schools: a nursery school and a primary school. As Amecet we started to help some of the vulnerable children who come to Amecet for help. That are children who have lost their parents, due to HIV/AIDS, or other causes, these orphans live with their relatives, uncles or grandparents, and are often under privileged in many things. Also a number have a single mother who has to work hard to provide for her children With paying their school fees to our Harmony Primary school, we help them to get a better education than from the Government schools, where classes have sometimes 100 pupils. This money for the primary children is not coming from tante Suus fund, which is only for secondary education, but from our Amecet funds. 
We sponsor now around 35 children, the children in the brown uniforms are from Harmony nursery school and the red-blue uniform is from Harmony Primary school. 
 Simon, is organising this part of our work, he asked all the caretakers to come and to fill the forms, we made an agreement that the families are taking care for of the uniform, while Amecet is paying the school fees. You can see the Primary school building behind them
Some of the girls, we sponsor. We find it important that girls get all the chances the boys get. In Uganda the children have to follow education until they are 18 years of age. Unfortunate, many drop out because of lack of school fees, but also many girls, because of early pregnancy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

One Happy Family!!!!!

A very special day today for baby Agnes: she is going to live with her new mammy and daddy!!
And her mammy was one of our staff members, many of you know Esther 2, who has been working for many years in Amecet and she was one of our most trusted aunties. She just stopped the other day because of her studies. Last year in March, she married with Paul and together they decided to adopt a baby from Amecet. They fell in love with Agnes. In August Agnes was found in the pig food, somewhere in the bush. It is a miracle that he pigs didn´t nibble at the the newborn baby. When she was brought to Amecet, there were many infected wounds from the maggots which had been on her body. Agnes recovered from all the infections and developed into a lovely little girl. Everybody in Amecet loves Agnes!!! And we are so happy that she will be growing up in a family with Paul and Esther!
 The Probation Officer (child protection) came to hand Agnes officially over to her new parents!
Dear Esther, thank you for all the years of giving to the children in Amecet, we are so thrilled that Agnes now has you as her mother!! We pray you will be a blessing to each other!!!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The triplets....follow up.

Three days ago I wrote about our visit to the family with the triplets (+ 2 sets of twins), you can read it in our previous blog. We felt that we should react fast, so that the family can take better care of the children. Simon was busy buying mattresses, bedsheets, jerrycans, basins, laundry soap etc. while Anneke and me sorted out clothes for the whole family in different sizes. Because of the story in the newspaper, it all started, Simon contacted the journalist, to tell him what his article had done for the family. The man was very pleased and requested if he could join us, giving the items to the family.
 We went yesterday and the family was very happy to see us so soon again. We unpacked all the items on the mat, under the tree, so it was open for all to see. The man you with the camera, on the picture above, is the journalist.
 The grandmother and the mother were so happy!!
 Simon  (at the left) next to the grandfather, the other children were already choosing T-shirts and dresses!
 Anneke made friends as well with the grandmother, we are now sisters, she told us!
And when we left, there was a happy group behind. It is important to encourage the families to care for their children themselves. When there are possibilities to help the children, while they stay at their homes, it is so much better. Amecet is good for the children who need extra care for a while, but this way is so much better!!
We have had a very busy week in Amecet as well, We planned to re-settle 5 children this week back to their relatives, but we also got 5 new children  in Amecet, one of them was not new, it was a baby, we re-settled back in December 2014. The uncle called me on Wednesday evening and we met on Thursday, to go to Dr. Engulu together with the baby. The child is not doing well, so we decided to take Emmanuel back into Amecet, to see what the real problems are. It is also good to help in this way, when necessary!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Giving birth to 8 children in 5 years....

That happened to a lady in Serere District, in the Teso region. I read it in the New Vision, the national newspaper in Uganda.
Last week, Amecet received a phonecall from the national Child help phone line, from Kampala. They talked about this family in Serere, with the triplets. If we could see how the situation was and if we could help, if needed.
Yesterday, Simon, Anneke (Dutch volunteer) and me went to Serere. We first went to the L.C. 5, then the Probation Officer, the Subcounty chief, the Parish chief and the Health care Community Worker.
We found the family, the mother and the 8 children are currently living in the home of the parents of the husband (who is in prison).
We sat down and the baby's were brought. On the picture above, you can see the mother with one of the triplets, while Anneke and me are carrying the other two. The children were born at home, and they look very well, they are 3 weeks old. They are healthy looking, fed well, the mother gives breast feeding with a supplement of cows milk. But she alternate, all three baby's in the sharing of the breast milk and the cow milk. I was impressed with the help of the family around and also the help of the community. People came to bring some clothes or soap. The family is helping with the caring for the three little one's. She moved into the home of her parents in law, so she can get help with all her children. She is given a hut  and there is someone sleeping there with her, to help at night.  
The three baby's are all three in a good condition and the mother promised me that she was going for immunization the next day. When we went to visit this family, I had in my mind a previous situation, also a triplet, born in the village. That time, there were two of the three baby's in a bad condition and we ended up with taking two baby's into Amecet. The mother kept one baby, who she kept breastfeeding and after a while the other two baby's were brought back to her. They are doing very well now. But in this situation it was not needed. The mother was caring very well for the baby's, with the support of the family and the community. Simon talked with them and we checked where they slept and their bedding's etc. 
This are the other 5 children, the oldest two are twins, they are 4 years old, than an other set of twins, 3 years old. A little boy of 1,5 years old and after that the triplets. The children were all looking healthy and well fed. They don't have many clothes, but overall, the situation was not bad at all.
We are assessing the situation and asked them what their needs are. We made a list and we will go back soon, with some of the things they are lacking. There is no need to bring any of the children into Amecet. The best place for children in their own family, especially when they are loved and cared for. We can help the family do that a bit better with providing some of their needs. We will visit them from time to time to see how they are doing.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thanks to Aunti Suus...

 This are Veronika, Angela and Mary Abeit. Veronika and Mary have been in Amecet, many years ago. When they came into Amecet, they were very sick and very weak. Through the treatment, food and love they survived and after a while re-settled back with their relatives in the village. We have been visiting them, to see if they were all right. We helped them go to school. In the village the school is free, but there are extra costs, like a uniform, school books, pencils etc. Some years ago we got a small fund for further study costs. There was a sweet old lady in the Netherlands, who passed away and left her inheritance towards this cause. we call the fund: Aunti Suus fund. We use this money to give a chance for the children, who have been in Amecet, to go to secondary school or to do a course. It is a big blessing!!
Veronika and Mary are 20 years old, but were still in Primary school. because of sickness, they started very late, but now it is not going well, they feel awkward, because they are so old and feel ashamed to go back to school (they both didn't pass). We sat together and we offered them go for life skill course. They talked with their relatives and now they go to learn to be a tailor! Today they came to Soroti and they will be for one year in boarding school, learning to sew. Angela, is the girl in the middle. She is around 15, but never went to school, she is at home, looking after her younger brothers and sisters (some are HIV+). there is an old grandma, but Angela is doing all the work at home. We talked with the family and they organised themselves to give Angela the chance to go for this course. There is a fourth girl, Damali, who was also in Amecet before, she also will join the tailoring course. It will give them a chance to earn a living and they are happy for the opportunity given!
Elias was very busy today, last week he visited them all in the village to talk about the details, but today he had to go to buy their boxes, and jerrycan and other things. After this he was going to bring them to the school, they were a bit scared, but they can give each other support and we are still nearby. We are so grateful for this fund, it gives the youth an opportunity they would not get otherwise!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mark was not welcome.....

Thursday, at the end of the afternoon, this little boy was brought to Amecet. By two men, with a letter of the Police. They said they were not involved, they were just bringing him...
The letter said that the mother has left this boy with a certain lady. The lady had looked after him for almost two months, but she was sick and couldn't continue to care for him. So she brought him to the Police, who brought him to us.
A very handsome little boy, he might be 1,5 years old, he can walk and he understands English and Atesso. No name, no age,  nothing..... The lady had cared for him well, he looked well! He started to play and he was not shy. The next day, Grace, our cook saw him, she knew him and later Simon got all the details from her. Friday afternoon, Simon and Emmanuel went together with the little boy, whom we had called Mark, to see his family. Some hours later they came back..........with Mark!!! The had found the family, The grandfather has two wifes, the daughter (the mother of Mark) has been giving many problems in the family. The father didn't want to see or hear anything about her and he didn't even want to see his own grandson!!! Also the two wifes (one of them was the real grandmother) didn't want to know anything about the child. 
We were all shocked, your own grandchild, who is innocent to all what his mother might have done...
So Mark is back in Amecet, where he is happily playing and we have to sort out what to do, together with the Police and the Probation office.
They told us his name, but we decided to keep it Mark and not the name, given by people who rejected him.
Mark, you are welcome in Amecet and we will do all we can to place you among (your) Family!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

FIRE!!!!!! (but not of the Holy Gost)

Today I went home, it was late, because it is a very busy week, the first school week, also many of our secondary students are going back to school and need assistance. We needed bread for home, so I stopped at a small supermarket to buy bread. While I was paying, Anneke came running in the shop, "Els your telephone rings"I answered, then I hear Simon saying:"Els Amun house in on fire!!" It was as if my heart stopped... I grabbed my bread, the shop lady ran after me, with my change, I jumped in the car, back to Amecet. I left the car on the drive (Anneke took it later into Amecet compound) and ran to Amun. All kind of thoughts went trough my mind in those minutes, is the staff safe, are Dominique and Ruth safe..... When I ran into the Amun compound I saw lots of smoke and big flames in the round shelter we had build between the two houses. Thank God, the houses seemed to be okay. I saw Dominique with Ruth and some other staff members outside, many people came into the compound to watch. Elias, Emma, Calvin were trying to throw the last water out of our rain drums on the grass, so the fire didn't move to the house. Everything is so dry and there is no water in the tap, so it was just watching the flames do their destroying work. Simon was gone to the Police, because since some time, we have a fire truck in Soroti, which can be called in situations like this. Before this,  the fire men had to come from Mbale, a two hour drive from Soroti.
I didn't have my phone or my camera, Anneke brought it from the car, so I don't have pictures from the big flames. The neighbours at the back of Amun compound had been busy to clear their land by setting fire on the bushes, there is no house on that plot, only a lot of bushes. Because of the wind the fire went out of hand and jumped our fence and landed on the roof of our shelter. It is a BIG miracle that the house was okay!!
The left overs of the shelter, which has been such a blessing to us in the past.
There was a lot of smoke.
 There came smoke out of the gutter of the Amun house. that was the only thing!!!! You can see the water tank on the frame. At the right of that frame is the fence where the fire jumped over. It is really a miracle that the house didn't caught fire. We can only say:"Thank you God!!"
 The Police/fire men did a great job, they made sure that the left overs were very wet with water so that the fire couldn't start again! You can see how close the houses are, and even the mango trees are still alive!! 
We are thankful for the fire truck and the men, who came so fast to ensure things were not going worse. (and also that they were able to drive around our swings etc.)

 End good-all good!! Simon asked the fire men if they had some water left over to fill our empty rain tanks in Amecet. the tap water supply is not very good at the moment and the rain water is finished. the fire men said they would call their colleague to come with the other tanker and fill our 4 rain tanks. so after all that had happened we were thankful, it could have been so much worse...and we have 4 big tanks filled with water for the laundry, bathing etc.. 
I was exhausted when I came home,  but thankful!!!!!!