Coming back down

Well I've come back and hit the ground running so I haven't had much time (and the internet has been most uncooperative) lately to upload pics and give you a report on my adventures North to Chimoio.  I'm taking a few moments now, though.....so, here goes.....

First, why I went:
A few months ago I think I wrote that God's been really placing to work more closely with the community on my heart.  I've been praying about and dreaming about what that would look like and opportunities to do so.  I've contacted a few other mission agencies and smaller projects to see what they are doing medically in Moz and see if it's something He would have me be a part of.  I've already explored a community close by here (45 minutes away allowing me to remain at Iris and just start a new project within our ministry) that is in desperate need of medical help, but after really praying and seeking His will, I felt like (along with another missionary) that it would be an unsustainable project at the present, that we don't have the man power, and that our help actually (in the long run) might be a hindrance, rather than a step up for the community.  Also, during this time, I feel like God has given me a pretty clear vision on what He wants me to be a part of and how I'm to fit into it, and honestly, that wasn't it.  So, through a random series of God-incidences I came in contact (for 2 minutes) with a nurse who previously worked here at Iris in Zimpeto and is now working 18 hrs north of Maputo way out in a small tiny town called Chimoio.  To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect or even much information about the project.  In the end, the information I did have, was outdated and wasn't even valid by the time I got there.  But God had place it in my heart to go there and visit and pray and then he provided the way, coverage here on the base, and the money for the plane ticket.  So I went.

The team there:
I was BLESSED....see my last post about provisions if you haven't read it already.  I had so much fun and was truly encouraged by some very bold, wise, and experienced, single missionary women.  The 3 women that have been at the project the longest have been living and working in Moz as missionaries for over 10 years EACH.  There's another family (who was away on furlough but due back soon) who has 5 children, all who were born (except 1) and raised in Moz for the last 17 years.  Talk about wisdom and encouragement and experience.  Amazing.  There are 3 other missionary girls helping out and living with them all around my age and in Moz each for less than 2 years.  They all live on a very small compound with 2-3 guards (of which at least 2 are armed) at all times and 4 dogs (that make VERY good watch dogs and friendly companions too).  The guards are all pastors in bush churches as well as amazingly friendly, hardworking, kind, and generous.  There's also a grounds keeper that helps with watering things, cutting the grass, weeding, ect.  Then they have a Mozambican that works 5 days a week preparing 2-3 meals per day for all the staff, visitors, and missionaries.  They all eat together for at least 1 meal a day as a family.  Everyone at the same table.  They have room to have 16 visitors, but they are rarely full and it is usually always teams of people the staff personally know.

The area:
Chimoio is a 1.5 hr plane ride from Maputo (capital city where I live) and about an 18 hr drive north.  It's 2 hrs West of the 3rd largest city (Beira)  in Moz.  It's also 1.5 hrs East of the Zimbabwe border.  It's pretty rural.  The airport has one gate.  There's one shoprite (western grocery store from SA).  There's one government run pharmacy and one private pharmacy.  There's one private clinic in town, one small government run clinic and a small hospital.  There's 2 main roads that have shops on it, one post office, and one bank.  There's just a handful of restaurants to chose from.  They live 30 km (19 miles) outside of Chimoio, right across from their baby clinic.  The live off the main road that is the corridor from Beira to Zimbabwe.   The area surrounding where they live is pretty much the bush.

The project I went to see and help at:
There is a Physician assistant that is the director of the entire project (called Africa 180).  She's essentially the encourager, pioneer, and the person that gets things off the ground and running.  She's the dream assister.  Everyone else are the dreamers that just need help getting their vision off the ground.  Once you establish what God has placed in your heart to do, she'll help you, but you're in charge of the fundraising, support team, manpower, ect.  So everyone there is working on different projects independently of each other, but not really fighting for resources or finances, ect.  They are able to pray for and encourage each other in what the Lord is doing in and through them.  All of them work on a project outside of the compound where they live, directly dealing with the community and helping it somehow.

The baby clinic:

They just opened this particularly new clinic about 6 wks ago (though they have been doing the project for much longer).  At the moment, the building isn't completed yet and they are without water, electricity, or air-conditioning (to keep the medications at a stable temperature for storage).  They deal with what they have.  

The clinic is primarily focused on babies and toddlers.  It's a nutrition program aimed at health and education.  They have anywhere from 500-600 registered children that they see weekly or every other week depending on where they are in the program and what their health status is at the present.  The clinic is open only 3 days a week at the present.  There are 2-3 nurses that staff the clinic and 2-3 Mozambican women that they have trained to simply assist them with simple tasks and help do administrative things.  The children come from 60-100 km (37-62 miles) away in every direction around the clinic. 

The mother/father/grandmother (or whoever the caregiver might be-distant relative, neighbor, church member) has to get the child there in whatever way they can afford or logistically do.  They only occasionally have enough money to help with transport.  Some of the women start walking at midnight the night before to get there the next day.  Most all of the children have or had HIV positive mothers, but occasionally the child is sick and not thriving for any number of reasons and is admitted to the program.  All the children have to be registered with and seen by social services before they are admitted to the program.  Once admitted, the nurses check them out physically, educate the caregiver on nutrition, medical information, disease processes, simple health matters, and monitor the child's progress weekly or every other week.  They encourage and recommend the caregivers to get the child HIV and tuberculosis tested when necessary.  The caregivers are expected to go to the doctor when the child is sick and produce papers and prescriptions at their next appt.  They have to show documentation of the parent's and child's HIV status, ect and must be registered with the HIV clinic or TB clinic and show that they are keeping the consults and taking their medications.  The caregiver's health and wt are also monitored.  They provide health care to any family member of the child admitted to the program.  They encourage breastfeeding, good nutrition, and healthy habits.  They dispel witchcraft, ancestor worship, and any other kinds of traditional medicine.  They explain why certain beliefs are lies and inaccurate, encourage the care givers to make healthy decisions and then wait and pray for the child to get better, thus disproving the cultural lies that have been passed down.  They pray with and for their patients and caregivers.  They mourn with the caregivers for the loses or in times of desperation, and they celebrate the milestones and successes like testing HIV negative or gaining wt!  If the child ends up HIV positive, they keep the child until they are 5 years old, getting them through the time that they are most vulnerable (16.8% of all Mozambican children will not live to see their 5th birthday).  If the child is NOT HIV positive, they keep the child until they are 2ish years old, depending on their health and wt at the time.  Once the child is taking formula or supplemental foods, they help by giving them enough milk, sugar and/or oil (for the really malnourished), and poridge mix to make their breakfast cereal.  Sometimes they are even able to help out by giving them ground up peanuts or beans to add to the cereal for extra protein.  They keep bread and bananas or other fruit in the clinic for the sickest or those that came the furtherest to help out just a little bit extra.  

The care givers wait HOURS to be seen, faithfully return week after week, their children showing improvement, themselves gaining confidence in caring for their sick child, and showing more and more initiative in seeking out medical help and care when needed.

The future:

They have previously had, are praying and dreaming about, having once again a step-down intermediate care nutrition ward for 6-8 babies and their caregivers to stay for a few weeks to months after they are discharged from hospital but aren't quite well enough to go back out to the bush where there is not any medical care for miles and miles.  There the caregiver and the child would stay, be taught how to take care of the child, feed them, help them gain wt, and then watch them medically. 

I had the privilege of helping them for 3 days while I was there.  It was such a great experience and the team was wonderful to me.  I'm now praying to see if this is something God would have me join in the future. I appreciate any prayers you send up on my behalf!  :)

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