Thursday, December 2, 2010

Can you help in 2011?

It costs EBCAIDS N$150 (U$21, Aus$22) per month to give one Home Based Care client living with HIV a food & toiletries parcel.
We currently have 24 clients - do you want to sponsor one to recieve their parcel every month for 2011??

Do you have less than $20 to spare next year?
N$120 (U$17 or Aus$18) is all that's needed to buy a stationery pack per term (three in total) for a disadvantaged child who attends our After School Program.
So little can make a BIG difference! Can you help?

Many of the children who come to our After School Program for help with their schoolwork don't even own an exercise book or a pencil. They come with nothing but their homework book from school.

Next year we'd like to provide each child (an average of 90 attend each afternoon) with a stationery pack each term containing:
- a file/folder for their work
- an exercise book or exam pad for rough work
- four pencils (lower primary) or two pencils and two pens (older children)
- a ruler and an eraser.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What could be wrong with Anna?

‘What could be wrong with Anna*?’ her family wondered.

Not long ago she had a baby who died soon after being born. Now she had just given birth to twins and again one had died. Instead of waiting for the doctor to discharge her, she took the surviving baby and left the hospital, suddenly turning up at home.

‘We know she drinks a lot and these babies – did they even have the same father?’

To try and end the speculation her cousin, who lives with Anna and is HIV-positive, approached her. “Anna, why did you leave the hospital so suddenly? What did the doctor say? Do they know what was wrong, why your babies passed away?” Lydia* tried to be as gentle as possible.

Anna’s eyes narrowed. “Do you think I’m stupid? Do you think I don’t know what all of you have been saying about me – my own family! Well you can tell them they’re wrong. I’m not like you. I’m not sick!” She grabbed her health passport and held it out to Lydia. “There! Read it. Tell them all what it says!”

Hesitantly Lydia took the document containing Anna’s health history. Opening it to the page Anna had shown her she read, “Patient consented to an HIV test. Test result is negative.”

Immediately she smiled and touched her cousin on the arm. “I’m so glad! I would not like you to also have to go through the things I go through. But then what could be the problem?”

“Well it’s not HIV like you all thought! So tell them to leave me alone.” Anna stormed back to the bedroom and closed the door.

The next time Lydia received a home-based care visit from Jogbeth, she hesitantly brought up the subject of Anna. After telling Jogbeth what had happened she said, “If it’s not HIV then what is it? I don’t think she’s well. There must be something that the clinic can give her.”

Jogbeth tried to reassure her. “It doesn’t sound like Anna wants to know. Maybe she is scared. Keep talking to her, tell her what you go through and how you keep a positive attitude. We can pray that she comes to see that you and your family are here to help and support her. I also talk to her if she’s here when I come to visit you – I’ll keep doing that and she might open up to me too.” She paused. “You could talk about this at our next support group meeting. Maybe someone else has been through something similar and has some advice for you.”

Lydia followed this suggestion and Jogbeth always spent some time with Anna when she came to visit Lydia. One day Anna was not home and Jogbeth found Lydia with a troubled look on her face.

“Is there something wrong, Lydia? Where’s Anna?” Jogbeth asked.

Lydia still looked anxious. “I don’t know whether we did the right thing – but at least now we know, we know what’s wrong with Anna.”

“After your last visit, Anna started behaving strangely. Soon it was clear that she was mentally disturbed. We took her to the hospital and she was admitted. Her sister and I talked with one of the nurses. We told her that we suspected Anna is HIV-positive but showed her the health passport that said she tested negative. Do you know what?” Lydia was shaking her head in disbelief.

“The nurse said none of the doctors would write the test result like that in the health passport. None of them! It wasn’t one of the doctors, she must have gotten someone else to write that in there because she knew what we were thinking and she didn’t want to be tested. So Anna’s sister talked to the doctor looking after Anna. He said that because she is mentally disturbed, her sister can take responsibility for her and request tests.” Again Lydia looked worried. “I don’t know if she should have, but her sister told the doctor to test for HIV…and the test result was positive. We were right all along, Anna is also HIV-positive.”

Jogbeth nodded slowly. “It must be a relief to know. But Anna – have you told her yet?”

Lydia shook her head. “She is better but she is still not okay. We have to wait until she isn’t sick any more. I am frightened. I think she will be very angry.”

Anna was very angry when she found out. But she soon realized that it was better to know for sure and shortly after Anna was discharged, Jogbeth was surprised to receive a call from her.

After chatting for a bit, Anna said, “The doctor said I must take care of myself. Did you know I was tested? I have TB and I have HIV. I know you have been helping Lydia and she has improved so much since you started visiting her. Will you also have time to visit me and help me?”

Jogbeth readily agreed and since then visits both cousins, giving them individual time. Lydia continues to be an encouragement and support to Anna. While Anna is coming to terms with living with HIV, she hasn’t yet joined the support group. But when she is ready she will be able to contribute and encourage others living with HIV from her own very personal experiences.

*not their real names

Friday, August 13, 2010

Two-thirds through the year!

Well the After School Program closed for Term 2 yesterday as the children will be on holidays for two weeks as from next Friday.

This means the ASP has to say goodbye to Emma B, as she will be leaving before we start again on 13 September. Emma will still be at Family of Hope Services (FHS) next week and will then go to Swakopmund for a few days before leaving on the 26th. The Scottish team left on 3 August – it was hard to see them go as they had worked so energetically and enthusiastically and the kids really came to love them…but still having Emma gave us some consolation!

Emma teaching recorder at FHS
Attendances were still high with a daily average of 88 for the Term. The highest daily attendance was 111 children in July.

Colly and Lazarus arrived back safely from Botswana, full of stories about their Face the Nation training and what they have learned. The EBCAIDS Committee has met with them and are working on a plan of action for using Face the Nation here.

One of our volunteers, Gebby, has been absent for a few weeks as his mother passed away in Zambia and he had to go for the funeral and then stay on to be involved in some of the necessary arrangements. Hopefully he will be back in time for the start of next term.

Friday, July 23, 2010

HBC and children

Most of our home based care (HBC) clients are raising children. Whether the children are their own, or grandchildren, or another family member’s children who are living in the house, these children are directly affected if one or more of the adults in the household is living with HIV. If the children themselves are HIV-positive then the situation becomes more complicated.

What is the best way to support these children? They have to deal with things at home changing if their caregiver becomes unemployed or cannot get a job. Often they have the primary responsibility of looking after sick parents. They can’t always understand what it means to live with HIV and why they have to do things differently to their friends.

Jogbeth, our HBC Coordinator, explains, “Our support group has been geared towards our adult clients who are living with HIV. But we are coming to see that it’s also necessary to do something for the children. Whether they are HIV-positive themselves, or they know the HIV status of their parents or caregivers, they also need a platform to express themselves and talk about the issues and challenges they face. Of course they do this one-on-one when our HBC volunteers visit them at home, but there are also benefits to bringing them together so that they can learn from and encourage each other.”

“The first step is to make the children comfortable and for the HBC volunteers to build a relationship with them so they are open and feel ‘safe’ talking about things that concern them. Often the parents or caregivers have to realize how their children are affected by what happens to them, and that their children’s needs must also be addressed. This could be helping them understand what it means for them or their parent/caregiver to be HIV positive, educating them on how to protect themselves and others, or just encouraging them to talk about anything that is bothering them.”

“In one of our HBC households a grandmother is raising six of her grandchildren and the eldest two are HIV-positive. In another, young HIV-positive parents are waiting for their daughter to be tested at 18 months to confirm her HIV status. In yet another, an HIV-positive girl is being raised by her aunt and grandmother after her mother died from AIDS.”

Volunteers with clients and children in the HBC program
“We’re working on ideas for making the support group a more conducive atmosphere for having the children attend and contribute. A couple of our clients bring their children sometimes, we want to make the children welcome on a regular basis and let them feel that they can contribute and encourage each other.”

Friday, July 9, 2010

Team time

We’re excited to have some young people from Britain here to work with our church, particularly at the After School Program (ASP). Emma B arrived last week and has come through SIM UK for two months in Namibia. She is joining up with a team from SIM Scotland who will be here for four weeks. Claire, Jen, Cara and Emma L all attend the same church in Glasgow and were brought together by their interest in missions. They arrived on Monday.

Emma B and Cara teach the children a new song - with actions!
In the mornings the girls are kept busy at Family of Hope Services, an organization that helps orphans and vulnerable children. In the afternoons they have already been a great help at the ASP. A few of our regular volunteers are currently busy with exams before the tertiary mid-year break, and with Lazarus and Colly still in Botswana this has left us a bit short-handed. So Claire, Jen, Cara and the Emmas must be feeling like they have been thrown in the deep end!

Claire helps with Gr 3 & 4 homework
They are helping the children with their homework and remedial work, as well as preparing and running some of the activities with the volunteers. There were plans to have a study camp with the older children next weekend but unfortunately the children haven’t shown much interest and it will probably be cancelled.

Jen hands back corrected remedial worksheets while Emma L helps Gr 1 & 2
They are also joining in with the regular church activities such as Bible studies, prayer meetings and Sunday services. Today they head off with the Youth Group on a weekend camp and will get to experience the Namibian bush up close and personal.

We want them to learn as much as possible so they are all staying with church members and meeting weekly with one of the ladies from the church for language and culture lessons. Hopefully this will give them a greater understanding of Namibia and plenty of information and stories to take back to their family and friends!

Friday, June 25, 2010

My After School Program

My After School Program from McCarthy Uatiraiye Mbangwa

This After School Program is very good. I like it and if I have to leave then I will miss the teachers and my friends. At the After School we play games. When we have homework our teachers help us and they explain what the paper is saying.

When my mother first brought me here last year I was very quiet but now I’m in Grade 6 and Teacher Lazarus says that I talk too much.

My best friends at the After School Program are Jordan, Tjiveze and Wilfred. We play together and make other children naughty. When this happens we have to go to Teacher Tangee and tell him what happened, and then say sorry.

At the After School Program we must behave, if you want to go and drink water you must ask for permission. If you come late then you should apologise. When we go home we clean up our class and close the windows. After the activities and games we go to assembly, we pray and then we can go home.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Face the Nation Part 2

I flew to Gaborone on 8 June to join the last day of the Face the Nation (FTN) training and to attend the commissioning service for the volunteers on the evening of 9 June.

This year there were 160 volunteers involved, from 60 different churches. As well as Botswana and our guys from Namibia, volunteers from Zambia are attending for the third year (and FTN has now been started in Zambia).

Lazarus and Colly are really appreciating and enthusiastic about the training and say they have learned a lot. They have not only covered the curriculum they will be teaching but also topics such as: counselling, apologetics, ethics, other religions (traditional African religions, new age and humanism), spiritual warfare, an overview of the Old and New Testaments, and relationships and marriage.

FTN is an HIV prevention program that teaches abstinence and shares the Gospel. But through the training, as you can see from the topics covered, the volunteers are really grown and encouraged as believers and equipped with valuable life skills.
...and making new friends

Everyone at FTN was very welcoming and mentioned that Lazarus and Colly have been an asset to the program.

Face the Nation
I arrived in time for lunch on Tuesday (great timing!) and that was followed by “group time”. The volunteers divided into groups according to the regions where the schools they’re assigned to are located. They worked on a final discussion about the curriculum and the last instructions from the regional facilitators. At the same time the Rally teams were practising and I watched their puppet and drama rehearsals. (The two Rally teams will visit all the schools and reinforce the message of the curriculum through dance, drama, puppetry and singing.)
Puppet rehearsal

I then headed home with Gail Wingreen, the Training Coordinator, who had generously invited me to stay with her and her family. We had dinner that night with Lazarus and Colly, as well as Pastor Modise Mokgwathise, FTN Director, and his wife. We were able to talk about Lazarus’s and Colly’s impressions of the training and their ideas, as well as getting to know the Wingreens and Mokgwathises better. But it did seem that Lazarus and Colly were more interested in discussing with Moruti (Pastor) Modise the topic he had been presenting, God’s Design for Marriage!

The next morning I overslept – forgot that I’d left my cellphone on Namibia time, so my alarm went off an hour later than it should have (Botswana is currently an hour ahead of Namibia). Miraculously though, I was all ready to go in half an hour – still don’t know how that happened! I sat in on the last morning of training, enjoying the energetic praise and worship time, and Moruti Modise even roped me in to answer some of the questions. At lunch time one of the girls in Colly’s group was celebrating her birthday and in addition to the hearty lunch, served us with cake, soft drinks and snacks.
Colly's group
Then everyone was busy cleaning and setting up for the evening’s service. I met up with a Australian volunteer who had just come over to work with Flying Mission and we went out for coffee and a chat. Afterwards there was time for a quick change before heading back to the Open Baptist Church for the commissioning service.

Honoured Guests
The service was a great send-off to the volunteers – it marks the half-way point of their time with FTN. After 5 weeks of training comes the practical part where the volunteers are placed at senior secondary schools for 5 weeks to teach the curriculum. FTN has placed teams of volunteers at all 29 Government senior secondary schools across Botswana. Through the guidance and counselling lessons they will teach every student in those schools about HIV-AIDS, STIs, abstinence and God’s plan for their lives. They will also link with Scripture Union and abstinence clubs at the schools and build relationships with the students.

The patron of FTN is His Excellency Sir Ketumile Masire, a former President of Botswana and Chancellor of the University of Botswana. It was an honour to have him attend the service and address the volunteers in a humorous way that challenged all of us to do what we can in the fight against HIV and AIDS. (For me it was also a bit intimidating to be introduced directly after him when they were welcoming the special guests to the service!) Sir Masire expressed his pleasure that people from Namibia were involved in this year’s training and his desire that this program would spread to Namibia and the Southern African region.

Lazarus singing in the choir for the service

It was a late evening as, after a tea for the ‘dignitaries’ (ha ha, me included!), I made some plans with Lazarus and Colly for the next day and then helped with the clean-up.

Future Plans

On Thursday morning Gail showed me around the FTN premises and then Lazarus, Colly and I went out for breakfast and talked more about how we could use the FTN program in Namibia.

Lazarus' group

After that, it was time for Lazarus and Colly to pack up and get ready to travel to their schools – Lazarus has been placed in a town called Molepolole and Colly in Good Hope. Colly has especially asked for prayer because there is a lot of witchcraft in the community in which he will work.

Lazarus, Gail and Colly

On the way to the airport Gail stopped by the church, which was the base for the training, and tried to make sure that all the last minute details were taken care of. We also visited friends at the Flying Mission and talked to them about their visit to Windhoek in September. Then it was off to the airport – from Gaborone I flew to Johannesburg and from there to Windhoek. This was the evening before the World Cup started, so you can imagine how crazy Joburg airport was!

Sorry that this post is quite long, but a few people have asked for the details of my trip – so I thought I’d share them with all of you!

FTN is now looking at expanding their program to neighbouring countries. Because of our participation this year, they are very interested in hearing about the possibilities of using the program here in Namibia. Please pray for us as we discuss this.