Friday, September 19, 2008

Malawi

I just returned to Lilongwe from the areas of Ntcheu and Songa, which are south of the capitol city. I have been traveling with Justin Majawa, the director of Save Orphans Ministries, and three of his workers - Naomi who is the Evangelism Coordinator, Picard the Independant Growth Activities Coordinator, and Lonely the HIV/AIDS Coordinator for SOM. It was a very good week in terms of learning and spending time with people - I met at least 100 people a day if not more. It was very tiring through, so I will be glad to fly back to Kampala tomorrow and rest on Sunday before I leave for Eastern Uganda.

My battery power on my laptop is on red, so I'll just give a high level overview, some photos and will write more later in my articles. The photo at the top is one of my favorite photos I've taken so far, which was taken at sunset next to the hospice SOM is building. In the same place, we made some new friends with the local children who were really excited to have their photo taken, which is on the right. Save Orphan's Ministries (SOM) is working with over 10,000 OVC's (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) in two regions of Malawi. Remember, an orphan in Africa means a child has lost one or both parents. 

Realizing that battling HIV/AIDS takes more than medicine, they are working holistically with the communities. Really, it's amazing and overwhelmingly beautiful what they are doing. School fees for OVC's, starting preschools for kids ages 3-5, Kid's Clubs and youth groups twice a week (like Sunday school or Bible Camp in the US - at the left is a photo of a Kid's Club we visited) Adult Literacy Classes, IGA training, farming techniques including Treadle Pump Irrigation systems, building a medical clinic for children in terminal stages of HIV/AIDS, the list goes on and on. They started in 1995 with just one worker, Justin, and today have 50 employees.

I also met with a group of mothers and daughters who are pictured below. 
All of the children are HIV positive, and some of the mothers are as well. It was such a gift to spend time with all of them - we talked about what they love about each other, what the girls want to be when they grow up, the dreams their mothers have for them, etc. We barely talked about HIV/AIDS because some of the girls don't know they are positive yet. Really, how do you tell your four year old child she is HIV positive? It really was a blessing to spend time with them. Every day, I wake up and wonder what amazing thing I will experience, and every day there is something equally amazing and unexpected given to me which I am so thankful for.

We are leaving the office in just a few minutes and I am looking forward to a nice shower in the hotel. This morning, I washed in the sink, and they day before yesterday, the water was so scalding hot at the hotel I couldn't bathe at all. So after two days of pretty much no water, I'll be glad, as well as everyone who has to be around me, to be clean. Then tomorrow morning I'll leave for Uganda, which takes about 7-8 hours to achieve by flying - we make a stop in Zambia, then I have a layover in Kenya, and then will finally make it to Kampala. I'll be on the road all of next week, but will hopefully have internet now and then for more updates. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!
-Kristen

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristen. Wow...wow...wow! What incredible updates, great pictures, and wonderful heart & spirit in your words. Good to journey along with you a bit. Thank you for helping me understand things a little more...and pray. Praises, praises for all going on through Save Orphans Ministries too!! It's hard to imagine all the people you are meeting, listening to and sharing with each day. God's great strength, wisdom, peace, love and mercy upon you. Yea for God's hand at the wheel during the riot. -Love, Shelley M.

Priya said...

Kristen - your blogs are inspiring, my friend. I hope you are keeping in good healthy, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Looking forward to talking to you when you return. Love you, Priya