Friday, 28 March 2008

Building the SL way....

One morning a few weekends ago, i got woken early to a rowdy group of men all shouting to be chosen, chosen for what? A gruelling days labour – but it pays!

Ok so ignore the razor wire surrounding my house, beyond that you can see another house that is being built (SLOWLY) across the road from us. I have to say that being on the side of a mountain, building in this spot isn't an easy challenge. BUT with no cement mixer, no crane, and no health and safety – you can see in the photo how they mix the cement on the ground, shovel it in pans, move it up a ladder (made of bits of bamboo mailed together) on their heads, then pass it along a human chain, before the guy on the end throws it to the lay the floor. All in the hot burning sun. Section by section the floor of the 2nd level gets finished.
They worked from dawn till dusk and completed their task.
Well done guys – I couldn't have done it!!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Our kittens

Aren't they sweet?
Of course the cutest and most playful one is the ginger one!!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Great day

It's been a great but exhausting day...

Abu and I headed out for a place called Lakka.

But before we got there, we stopped off to visit Amidu, a boy with quad Cerebral Palsy. He lives right on the beach too. Abu has been teaching numbers and counting, and despite many a frustration about not getting any homework done for 2 months (!!!), he seems to be learning a lot very quickly. If only there were the schooling facilities for children like these.

So eventually we reach Lakka, time for a bite of fresh juicy pineapple - SWEET!
Lakka is a beautiful village, right on the beach. It was a place where many child soilders were held in safety and rehabed during and after the war. Although the area is now somewhat run down the homes are now used by many families and FHM (one of the NGO's I partner with) continues to help needy children such as street boys and children from the prisons.
Normally we treat all the patients from this village in one hut by the sea, but we arrived to find the roof missing from the hut!! So instead we decided to wonder around to their own little houses.
I saw a lot more than I've seen before. I could imagine the village, Abu says there were 100's of boys here at one time, and some girls who had been rescued from the hands of the rebels. Living in groups of 5 with a 'caretaker' in a 1 roomed house. They rested, played football and basketball, swam in the sea, fetched water, ate, got cared for, conselled and loved. I'm told there were often fights too, all part of the process I guess!! Still, many good kids from such traumatic backgrounds came from this place, and I pray that they all continue to do well since the turn around in their lives.
So on we continued to see our patients, all doing very well. Especially my 3 little ones Paul, Mariatu (in the photo) and Jariatu, who just a few months ago were unable to walk. Now all 3 are walking, some more confidently than the others, but still, much improved!!
Being around thier homes today made it essential that I worked with all the neigbours kids too. It was great to get the 'disabled' kids more intergrated socially and everyone seemed to have a great time! I'm glad I took lots of cars to go round, no one left empty handed and smiles and shouts of joy could be seen and heard for a long time after we walked away!
So after a drive home I was well ready for a shower and some food.
Like I said great day!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Must be feeling better.....

- pasta and chocolate has been back on the menu!!
(not together!)

we had no power last night, but tonight from about 8 we got it back - no sign of water though...maybe tomorrow??? PLEASE!

Oh and if you're wondering why the sudden influx of blogging - my housemate has gone out to the villages and left me with her satellite modem - swish hey!!
thanks friend - I'm loving it!!

Monday, 17 March 2008

A few funnies...

Been a bit sick recently
But did see some wild monkeys on the side of the road on saturday
And spent a lovely chilled day at the beach.
After church I spent a trying 4 hours or so with our kerosine fridge - didnt get it working properly, then my house mate came along and finally got it going (after I'd done all the hard work!)
Was up at various points last night visiting the sick bowl but only in SL would you also have to fetch water from another bucket to flush the puke down the toilet and kill a cochroach who had witnessed a dreadful scene minutes earlier, and all by candel light!! Oh the joys!

I was amused tonight though by a friend who relayed a story of how she's gone to pay her electricity bill, only for the National Power Authority office to have a blackout, switch to generator, then that break, back to National power, only for that to be turned off again!!! All to pay 10,000le (like £2)!! Well at least we know they have their fair share of 'lack of power' problems as everyone else in the country, but of all places you'd think they'd have it sorted!!

So I'm off to bed now, but hope everyone has a peaceful and meaningful Easter.
Jesus died for all our sin, then he rose again to give us life in all it's fullness.
We can only have hope through FAITH alone in CHRIST alone (as my Pastor here says a lot)

P.S I've not seen a single Easter Egg here - but Mum has promised me she'll get me one in the sales after Easter and save it for me!!

Friday, 14 March 2008

a long week....

The end of another week, and I'm chilling out with the MercyShips crew - they really are a lovely lot :o)

the week started out very stressful but got better as time went on.....

frustrating familes not taking responsibility
people telling me what they think i want to hear
long drives on bad roads
hot days and not always easy to keep in the shade
my poor memory allowed me to forgot a few vital pieces of padding
assistant sick and her depending on me to sort her out
patients travelling out to the villages and not keeping apointments arranged
feeling overwhelmed at all the things on my to do list!

but many good things too....

baby john's septic arthritus in his shoulder getting better
amara's stubborn pressure wounds healing
minkilu learning how to get on and off the floor on his own
mary sitting in her new corner seat
a day to get on top of admin work and a bit of rest
abdul starting to walk on his own
kadiatu and wonda having fun with balance games
an old patient Miatta, from the mercy ships fistula hospital coming back with improved movement and feeling in her foot.

and i finished it all off with a walk and a drink on the beach with my frined Sandra.

so all in all - not a bad week

hope you are all well too :o)

Saturday, 1 March 2008

February's NewsLetter

Well the sun is certainly shining on us here in Sierra Leone. The temperatures are rising and it will only get hotter next month. February has been a great month for both me and the families I'm working with here.

I've been doing a lot of home visits and still the children are a challenge and a joy. Many have received wonderful postural support systems thanks to my wonderful carpenters; Allusan and Peter. Allusan in particular has been getting weekly visits and I'm not sure if he looks at me in despair or excitement as I arrive waving yet another new design of something he has never seen anything like before – supportive chairs, standing frames, corner seats, tables, walkers. However the kids have benefited from being well positioned in a way that will prevent further problems and allows them to be more orientated with what is going on around them – whether mama pounding rice, papa pulling in the fishing nets or other kids in an orphanage.
Micheal, Ola, Alhaji, Zainab, Medo and Mariatu all want to say thank you to the people who have contributed financially to their new chairs and frames.

Amara, is doing a little better now too and his pressure sores have started to heal slowly. Next week I hope he will be back in his wheelchair. My biggest frustration with him has been his family not taking good responsibility for his condition. I am learning the fine line between doing too much to help a family, and allowing them to take more control themselves. I've found the more I do, the less the family do and more they expect me to do. It's hard though as I know for example that I would think it priority to get my child antibiotics if they had a chest infection, but Amara's family failed to fight for that, and I say fight because it is never that straight forward here to see a doctor and get the right medication prescribed. However to sit and watch a sick kid from the side lines can be really difficult.

Both Abu and Mina, my assistants, are working hard and have started to show more ability at tackling the problem solving situations we find ourselves in daily. One thing that has made me smile is that in my books they have both gone up a level purely because they have both got dirty by sitting down on the dust floors – totally not a 'done' thing as a respectable adult, but essential when working with kids!!
Here Abu is treating Alfred Junior who has Erb's Palsy a condition leaving his arm very floppy and uncontrolled. He suffered a lot when while crawling he got a nasty wound on his hand where he had been dragging it. Finally he is on his feet walking now and learning well how to involve his floppy hand in different activities.
Mina too is more active in treatment sessions and it's nice that the families are now looking to Mina and Abu for advice – even if they have to turn to me to get more guidance on what they are about to say. Knowing your limitations is as important as being confident in what you do know. These families have been fed so many lies by people who do not know any better, that it is so important to now be giving them hope albeit realistically.

Well a few funny experiences of this month need to be told just to make you giggle a bit..... I got a birthday kiss from a goat (you need to read my blog to find out more).
I happily watched a stubborn cow with huge strong horns refusing to stand up to the frustration of the 3 other cows it was tied to and the people trying to walk them through a bustling African market. But soon had an adrenaline rush when finally it did get up.... totally mad it kicked, bucked and started charging. I was sure glad that I was not the one holding the rope he was tied to. The people screamed and fled and I sat in my car wondering do I put my foot down on the accelerator or try to hide hoping they wouldn't turn the car over!!! So, looking at the fear of the guy who had the rope who was by this point frantically waving at me, I decided to put my foot down!
I kindly tried to give a lift to a child and his Dad to the Epilepsy centre on Monday. Hearing a retching noise I past them the duster thinking, ok that's the 3rd kid who has thrown up in my car, is it my driving or the bad roads? Only to find out that it wasn't just a little bit of sick – but that vomit was all over the back of my car. NICE!

Still, I had a wonderful day off on my birthday and enjoyed some rest and peace and stillness. At the weekend I celebrated with friends at a dam which we managed to get special permission to visit. It was like walking into the Lake District - beautiful, wild and a great time out moment. We also wondered in the jungle close by hoping not to come across too many beasty's, we did see a snake though. Later we went to the beach for sunset and lobster!! What an awesome day!

Thank you to those who have been keeping my Grandma and family in your prayers recently. Grandma has really improved and has even returned to her house. Please continue to pray for her though as she is needing much care and support. Also pray too for my family juggling this situation.

And a few more prayer requests:
- Thank God for good friends, good health and good opportunities to really get alongside these
children and their families.
- REST – I'm getting tired and am still trying to manage new patients every week.
- I'd really like someone to share this work with.
- Training of Abu and Mina – We are starting some more formal teaching sessions next month.
- Wisdom in managing everything from new referrals, treatment, finances, networking with other NGO's, training and trying to stay calm all at the same time.
- Good support from friends here, for fun, prayer and company.
- Continued safety and protection, particularly with the challenging driving as I travel around different areas on some very bad roads.

“For the joy of the Lord is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10

THANKS, With Love Vez