Home Visits, “You are welcome”.

The last two days were spent making home visits to compounds where A Call to Mercy supports children in the household.  A child may be eligible for one or more of the supports which include food supplements, school fees, books, birth certificates and health care.  All of the HIV children receive health care through A Call to Mercy, automatically.  The visits were unannounced but we were always welcomed with open arms.

Regina Nih and her 12 year old son Clovis live on a family compound far off the beaten track.  There is a sister in law and uncle who also live on the compound.  Regina is HIV positive and had a stroke 3 years ago.  She received no physical therapy after leaving the hospital and today cannot walk or use her left hand.  She lays in bed all day.  Clovis has not been in school for 3 years and takes care of his mother best he can.  His aunt helps with food and cooking but spends much of the day on their farm plot, leaving the boy to care for his mother.  When approached 2 years ago with school support, Clovis said he did not want to go.  Perhaps he didn’t want to leave his mother.  Yesterday, he expressed interest in returning to school.  This child has received health care from A Call to Mercy but is in need of much more.  We have asked Project Hope to send emergency food support to this family and to follow up on the needs of this very vulnerable child.  His isolation was palpable.  As we were leaving, the sister in law offered us a gift of 5 eggs.  This family that could not feed itself was proudly offering all they had to their visitors.  We were humbled beyond words.

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Regina and her son Clovis.

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Regina explains that she eats once a day, usually rice.

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Project Hope’s Eric checks the mobility of her leg.

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Listening to Project Hope explain the supports that will come.

We arrived at this compound to find only children, some of who receive support from A Call to Mercy.  There had been a death of a child the night before and the adults were at the burial.  It is not unusual for children of 9 or 10 to be caring for many smaller ones.  The children are self reliant at a very young age.

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Children caring for themselves at the compound.

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Grace Nambu lives with her sister and they have 7 children between them.  The grandmother also lives with them.  Two of the children receive all of the supports from A Call to Mercy, which helps the whole family.  All of the men have died or are gone.  The two sisters work the farm plot which helps to feed the family.  They also sell some of what they grow.  Everyone we visited offered us gifts of precious food.  To decline would be an insult.  Here we received medicinal bitter nuts as gifts.

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Grace and her family.

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Child peeking through the slats in the cook room.  A room where there is an open fire on the floor.

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A warm greeting.

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Gracious offering of bitter medicinal nuts.

Chiawichi is the mother of Ciduanet who was at school when we visited.  Cid receives school support and health care from A Call to Mercy.  Cid and Chiawichi live with her mother in law and great grandmother who is bed ridden and over 100 years old.  Chiawichi expressed “plenty gratitude” for the support of her child.  Her mother in law offered us Kola nuts as a gesture of gratitude, telling us “She who brings Kola brings life”.  There is a lot of tradition and folklore around the Kola.

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Making fufu corn in the cook room, which also is the bedroom of grandmother.

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Grandmother, over 100 yrs old.

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Gift of “Kola”.

Rhoda Nange has three children, age 4, 15 and 19, all receiving support from A Call to Mercy.  When her husband died 3 years ago, the family was devastated.  Without his income, the family could barely afford food let alone school fees.  Melvis, 15 receives school support, fees, books uniforms.  Flora, 4yrs old receives food supplements which helps the whole family.  Emile, 19 is mentally disabled and requires a lot of care.  Rhoda worries about his future.  The family farms ground nuts and sells what they can.  They also grow plantains to eat and sell. We were gifted with a branch of plantains.

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Melvis and Flora bagging sugared nuts for sale.

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Emile, selling nuts on the road.  Emile has some form of mental retardation along with visual problems.

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Rhoda, chopping down a gift of gratitude for us.

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Plantains fresh from the tree.

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Rhoda’s family in front of their rented house.

To Teach, Advise, Train…

A Call to Mercy’s program with Project Hope provides mentoring for 50 orphans and vulnerable children who are beyond school age.  Some had not been in school for some time so learning a trade provides the best opportunity for a way out of poverty.  Today we went to visit some of the children in the shops where they learn.  Mentoring youths can change lives…and the lives of their families.  Meeting these children and seeing them in the workplace gave us hope for their future.

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Paul and Silas, being mentored in the building trade…On site building a house.

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Paul, laying bricks.

 

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Silas, leveling.

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Meet George, age 15 and Etien, 18, with their mentor Elvis!

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These boys have the added advantage of learning two trades, welding and auto mechanics at he same shop.

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Gloves and protective shoes are a luxury that is not afforded here.

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Mentor, Egidus and his student, Desmond.

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Desmond is 14, very poor.  He is extremely enthusiastic, shows up on time every day and stays late.  We think he is a wonderful prospect for success!

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He’s covered in the dust of the dry season. Happy to work, Desmond knows every part of the car under the hood.  He is grateful for the support of A CAll to Mercy and Project Hope.  

 

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Vera is 18 and learning the sewing trade.

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Vera and her mentor share a laugh during a lesson.


 

 

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Erickson is 18 yrs old…his mentor, Genesis, just 23.  Genesis started young in the field and has done well.  Now he mentors other youths.

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Erickson is doing well, but he lacks proper tools which his mentor cannot provide.  For now, he makes do with what he has available.

So many blessings…

Today brought so many blessings, some of which we will post another day.  But this Friday night, we want to leave you with the story of Diran and Ahfombu.  We met them four years ago in the hospital orphanage. Here, when a mommy dies in childbirth and the infant is brought to the orphanage, a sibling has to come along to help care for the baby and provide a family connection.  When the baby is old enough to walk and eat real food, the children are sent back to be reintegrated into their extended family and village.  And so it was that Diran’s mother died while giving birth to Ahfombu and they were both brought to the orphanage.  Diran was 11 at the time.  Today he is 16 and with no parents, is the main caretaker of his brother who just turned 5.  Ahfombu is HIV positve.  Diran cares for his brother by making sure he takes his meds every day and bringing him every month for his check up and medications.  He takes him to school every morning before going to a mechanics shop where he is being mentored, sponsored now by A Call to Mercy.  We had the joy of finding them today at the HIV clinic where they had come for the monthly visit.  We spent quality time with them at our residence re connecting and giving them gifts of hats, clothes and socks that we brought for them.  Loving the children here is so easy.  Their strength and fortitude is beyond what is expected at home.  Their sense of responsibility for family at a young age, astounding.  We are so happy to be able to support these boys and other children like them.  These are the very children who benefit from your generous contributions.DSC_6549P1000266

Hitting the ground running!

Tuesday, we had a wonderful meeting with Project Hope and talked for nearly 3 hours about  A Call to Mercy’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Program.  We discussed what worked the past two years, what was learned for improvement, and the future of the program, all with sustainability and empowerment of the people in mind.DSC_6095

Today, we worked at the HIV clinic .  All of the HIV positive children who come to the clinic for their monthly medicines and lab work are in A Call to Mercy’s program.  They come over the course of 3 days…today ages 0-9, about 40 kids.  It is a very long day for the children, many are there for 8-10 hrs. They come hours early to get in the front of the line, first come, first served. Some are brought by caretakers or older siblings, but most are brought by single parent mothers who are also HIV positive.  The mother’s also have their monthly lab work and collect their meds which adds to the time there but saves two visits.  A Call to Mercy pays for the clinic visits (about 500 cfa’s, just less than $1) for each of the children as well as any health needs that arise.  HIV positive children have increased vulnerability to many types of infections and illnesses so A Call to Mercy is  honored to provide 100% health care for them through the program.  Project Hope does a wonderful job of providing a day for the children that includes activities, health lessons, dancing, playing and a hot meal. It was truly wonderful to see many of the children that we met in their homes two years ago when the program was first implemented.

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Greeting the children, Mimi style.

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The children are so brave.

 

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Care and tenderness, Project Hope Staff.

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After a health lesson, dancing…and these kids LOVE to dance!

 

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Helping to serve the meal.

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Maybe the best part of the day for the kids. Children eat with their hands, very efficient.

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Fufu (ground corn meal), Jamma jamma (a bitter green) and fish with sauce.

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Never a bit wasted.

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Clearing up.

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Washing after the meal.

The Young Faces of HIV.

These are the faces of HIV infected children in Njinikom, Cameroon.  These children will be part of the Orphan and Vulnerable children’s project administered by Project Hope and sponsored by A Call to Mercy.  Your donations will help these children live better lives through receiving health care, nutritional, educational and judicial support. There is a saying “It takes a village to raise a child”.  Your donations have helped to make that village global.  May you receive many, many blessings for your generosity.  Click on any image to go to Gallery Mode.