Our days are now immersed with preparations for our mission trip. It seems each new idea spawns ten more good ones, and this leads me on a trail of never ending fun as I imagine what we will be able to offer at the orphanage and the surrounding village.
There are so many plans developing that our eyes have been opened to see as possible ways to help. It is very exciting. We have children programs developing to teach the children about how God’s word is alive and active in their personal lives. We are preparing gift packages of health supplies for when we are able to visit the widowed and abandoned women in the village surrounding the orphanage. We hope to also have a small stash of funds raised to arrive toting a sack of groceries for them. One team member and her group at church created first aid kits to leave at the orphanage. Art supplies are being collected so the children can sit at their new tables and begin exploring their imaginations and learn to express themselves in new ways. Chewable vitamins are being donated as well as toothbrushes. (we could never have enough of those)
Most importantly Dr. Cindy Anthis is busy preparing for the medical care and education we need to do with the children and community. She was a missionary doctor in Nigeria for three years with her family so she brings so much expertise to this mission. Each time I meet with her I become like a little kid who is excited to go on a field trip to learn hands on. Cindy has a heart for teaching and equipping others to have practical medical knowledge. I am sitting up straight on the front row hanging on her every word, clapping exuberantly every time I learn something new that will be useful to me in future visits to Uganda.
I’m going to learn what to listen for with a stethoscope, how to check blood pressure, and even how to give a shot. Although, Mama Tonya won’t be giving any of her own children a shot. I’ll be passing out the lollipops, kissing foreheads and offering hugs. I look forward to understanding how to broadly diagnose skin conditions. What are the danger signals when shining a light in the eyes, nose, ears and throat. I want to know what a fungus looks like, and how it differs from an allergic reaction or some weird tropical condition like mango worms. I feel like having practical knowledge will help me be more useful when I visit in the future. She is also going to train Elitia, who is there all the time, to learn how to do first aid. I am brining her a book to keep, Where there is no Doctor. It is a good guide for health care in the rural areas of Africa. I am going to read it myself and study it well enough to know where to go within it’s covers when I need an answer.
What’s reassuring is that we will establish relationships with the local clinic by donating some supplies and offering learning opportunities. When our kids are sick they can go there and if there is some confusion about what to do we can always get Cindy’s help through the internet.
For example, there are some strange sores spreading at the orphanage right now. Elitia emailed photos of them to Cindy who was able to determine the cause was not fungus but probably a vitamin deficiency. She forwarded the photo to a dermatologist friend and soon we will be able to tell Elitia what to do to make the sores stop spreading and go away all together. It gives me a great sense of relief to know the health of our children there will be managed and watched over by Cindy’s capable mind and generous heart long after she returns to America.
While we were there for six weeks for our adoption I can’t even count how many reports there were of someone losing a family member during those weeks. I think it was five. And that was only within our small circle of friends. It seemed like there was a funeral every week. Death is just a matter of life there. And in so many cases the people die of causes that could have been prevented. As Mama Tonya of this group of 47 children I take a personal stand against losing one of our precious ones from something that we could have fought to prevent. This is why it is vital we immunize against measles, meningitis and Hepatitis. I am so thankful for Cindy’s commitment to caring for the health of our kids. I can’t wait to be a student of hers and enjoy the results of her care in the good health our children will enjoy at the orphanage.
She has done some reading about mega doses of vitamin A and how if given it decreases mortality by 23% and measles by 80%, so she contacted a pharmacist at a very well known Houston hospital who will help her get the doses of Vitamin A. I learned about deworming everyone twice a year at the same time, and this is what will eliminate most of the stomach problems everyone experiences.
I have sent money to get all of the children tested for HIV before we arrive so when we are on the ground we can proceed with getting help to those with need. Cindy began to explain to me how difficult it is to treat HIV because it is such an adaptable virus so it needs constant tweaking of a mixture of three kinds of meds so the virus can’t override it. Fascinating. If we discover an untreated case of HIV I won’t rest until I find a program that will supply the meds.
Most importantly God is directing the way and showing each of us how to use our gifts and talents to help those with great need. We need prayer as we prepare for this trip because there is spiritual warfare brewing. Please remember our mission in your prayers whenever we come to your mind. We ask for protection, discernment, wisdom and safety. That is the most important help we could ask for as we embark on this exciting journey.