Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Planning Visit 'Don Don'

Dear Friends,

Well, my initial planning visit is 'don don' as the locals would say. A month is up and I'm back in the UK for a bit.

I thank God for such a successful trip and am happy that my plans for work in Sierra Leone have totally come together. Although I'm still to see how some of that looks, I've got a home and some lovely house mates (one an American who has lived in SL for 17 years so has lots of 'know how'!), made good connections with people I can be useful with, got lots of work set up with kids homes and a few schools, and even a few babies who have been referred to me with developmental probs that I will start to see in their homes, and a new challenge to me, but one I've already started to enjoy are the women and young girls who have fistula's after complications during birth resulting in the death of the child and them being incontinent.
AND, I've got a crio (the local language) teacher, a close network of international and local friends, a much better idea of local transport, and even more amazingly MercyShips managed to sort out for free a residents permit and visa for me, both of which were going to cost me lots money and lots of hassle! So I'm now officially a Sierra Leonean resident!!

Isn't it awesome that God sorts out these things well and truly to get you right in there where He wants you!

Let me finish with a few little thoughts / challenges,
how many people do you think typically squeeze into a PodaPoda – a form of public transport used for people and objects like greens or jerry cans (see photos)?

How do you teach a bible study on Godly submission to authority (Romans 13)?

Why did I put myself through 3 hours of torture all in the name of beauty? Do you like my hair?

Which method of transport would you choose to get to the airport which is across a large stretch of water from the city......
1. old Russian helicopter at 125,000 Leones (£25) you hope all the important parts are still working because there certainly are not enough seat belts!
OR 2. rusty old ferry at 5,000 Leones (£1), first class that is, ignoring all the grounded and half sunk wrecks around you all the way along the route?
The choice is yours!!

Hope to catch up with a lot of you over the next month before I return back to my new home in SL.
My UK mobile no. should still work 07812572870, and I'm hoping my car does too! Just a few more weeks Lord – keep it going PLEASE!!!

Byeo as they say in crio,
Love Vez

Monday, 14 May 2007

Mango's, Mozzie-nets and Mugginess!

Hello my friends,

I'm on African soil again! Writing from Sierra Leone, thought I'd give you a bit of an update.
Mango's, mango's everywhere. Tis the season to be mango-ed! I love mango's so much that I wasn't impressed to be sharing my one this morning with a sneeky maggot that I caught red-handed just as I bit near him! He was lucky (or I was more to the point) not to be eaten too!
The mozzie's are not so much around, but it's still important to be sleeping under a net at night, unfortunately it does make it hotter as it stops any breeze flowing too.
It's so muggy here – humid like I've never know it before. Sweating like a beast – what a pretty picture to start off with! Apparently it breaks when the rains come, but they're sure not here yet!

The familiar sounds of Sierra Leone have been flooding back to me in the last 2 weeks. As I sit here I listen; the sound of a neighbours generator to provide power, chickens and dogs roaming for food amongst the rubbish heaps, the distant hum of traffic and horns tooting for no apparent reason, children singing songs from the local school drift over the non-moving oxygen starved air. Some noises are hard to work out; a barring goat or a child crying?? Sounds strange that these can be mixed up, but things here do sound odd, not the norm or what my English mind has been programmed to. Sometimes my mind goes wild – is that the screams of someone being beaten? Or just an animal making strange moans? Someone giving birth maybe? You really can't tell. The Lord is in control and has mercy on every situation.
This planning trip has so far been very successful. Having thought it would take me the whole month to sort out practicalities, most was done within the first week and a half! Miracles do happen in Africa sometimes!

My work will be based with 3 organisations here. SOS Children's Village, an orphanage and school run by locals, but supported from Germany; FHM – Family Homes Movement, run by locals, supported by Italians. In these two I will be doing children's developmental physio and training within the children's homes – some with lots of children living together, some individually with their carers / parents. Then I will also work a day a week back with Mercy Ships at their Fistula centre. Women who have had a very prolonged and obstructed labour (due to the poor birthing facilities) often suffer from a fistula which makes them incontinent and sometimes they have a foot drop, not to mention the death of their unborn child. Mercy Ships asked if I would be willing to help them with the physio these women need, and although this a very new area of physio for me to be working in, many of the women are under 20. The two I saw this week were 15 and 16, but they have operated on girls as young as 11 who have fistulas. They are still children themselves.

Working with well rooted organisations has helped me gain a good network of friends and support. They have helped me sort permit's and visa's – a blessing that I did not have to tackle the government offices myself! They are such an encouragement and a source of wisdom – I thank God for paving the way to these fruitful connections.

I've had an interesting time sorting my accommodation. Having got the number of zero's mixed up in the prices I was being quoted, I did start to panic that I may have massively under budgeted. Safety was always paramount when looking into my accommodation. After looking at a few places, and talking to a few possible future house-mates, I decided to settle on one which is a about 5 mins walk off the main road, sharing with 2 other ladies with other people coming and going. The community here is largely very transient. But there are a few people who stick around much longer, so it's great to find a home with them. The extra blessing is that we will get water most of the time (although I think washing from the bucket is a norm - goodbye to by nice long baths!), and we should even have electricity some days!!
It's been great fun living with Dr Elmer and his wife Angelica, my Peruvian friends, they have a great sense of humour and a humble openness. Our dinner conversations are normally around English pronunciation's, one evening we sat with them trying to tell the difference between 'a' and 'u', I'm not sure how many times I said cap, cup; hat, hut. But I'm also teaching lots of phrases that I keep popping out with – and them not knowing what on earth I'm trying to say – like 'bog-standard' and costing an 'arm and a leg'! We don't often think what we are saying or why, it just comes out!

Praise the Lord, I've not been sick, although I have burnt my shoulders when I was working sorting out a shipping container of medical supplies. I'm drinking more than you could imagine, all water I might add, but it's the only way to keep the headaches and dehydration away.

Thanks for your support and encouraging emails. For those of you who pray please could you remember to pray for continued safety in this country where elections are looming and have already moved date once (now due 11th Aug) due to big political campaigns. Also pray that I can use the rest of my time here this month to be fruitful and pleasing in God's sight.

Bye for now, God bless and be in touch soon,