Support from the heart.

A Call to Mercy is currently giving holistic support to 350+ orphans and vulnerable children, 50 of whom are being mentored.  The need is immense here…and each child has his or her own story of loss and struggle.  We try to get to know many of their stories.  We don’t want to see them as numbers.   We met Ernestine 5 years ago when she was working as a caretaker at the hospital orphanage.  At night, she was teaching herself to sew with an old machine that the hospital matron had loaned to her.  We could see that she had talent and a desire to do more with her life.  She was the first child we mentored, before it became part of A Call to Mercy’s program.  We paid for her training as a “decorator”.  In Africa, seamstresses decorate weddings, funerals and events with fabric.  Ernestine’s training is over and she has her certificate but is still working with her trainer, without pay, in order to keep learning.  She is also embarking on her own business.  A Call to Mercy purchased satin decorator fabric to help her get that started.DSC_7043DSC_7048

Maris is 14 years old.  He is a cousin to Clovis, the boy in the last post.  Maris has lost all of his elders in his immediate family, both parents, all four grandparents.  He is alone in the world and lives with extended relatives who do not have the means to support him.  Sr Rosemary, Director of Project Hope has taken him under her wing this past year, giving him work in the pig sty during the summer holidays and food when she can.  She begged people she knew in the community for a second hand bike for him because his school is more than an hours walk from where he is currently living.  When we met Maris last week, we were trying to find Clovis’s twin siblings.  Maris helped with that search.  We also learned that his tires were busted and the chain broken on his bike.  We gave him money to get his bike fixed and he returned to show us the work.  Maris is being enrolled in A Call to Mercy’s program so he will not have to worry anymore about who will help him pay his school fees.  He will also receive health care.  He is a sweet and grateful boy.  Here he is with his bike, and wearing a t-shirt donated by Dub Caesar Apparel, Philadelphia.DSC_7051DSC_7052

For Clovis…

Clovis was 17 when he died last year from complications of Sickle Cell.  He was a dear, precious boy that we met at the orphanage in 2012.  He captured our hearts with his quiet ways and tenderness. Clovis’ mother passed after the birth of his twin siblings, Stella and Sylvester.  He came to be at St Martin de Porres Mission Hospital Orphanage to help care for them and keep them connected to a family member.  We left an account for Clovis at the internet cafe so he could stay in touch with us throughout the year and he emailed us two days before he died.  We were so heartsick to learn of his passing.  When we returned this year to find his twin siblings gone from the orphanage…we felt compelled to track them down and make sure they were OK.  Clovis would want us to do that.  We discovered that they were in another orphanage, Harvest Children’s Home, a few villages away in Fundong.  The orphanage here at St Martin de Porres is one of the few that takes infants.  It is expensive to feed and care for an infant. And their policy is to send them back to their extended families when they can walk and eat real food.  These twins, Stella and Sylvester had no where to go, both parents gone, their siblings still too young to support them.  Not only did we find them healthy and well, but we discovered a wonderful Baptist Orphanage, Harvest Children’s Home, that took them in with open arms until they can hopefully be rejoined with their siblings.  It filled our cup to see them.

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Clovis in 2014

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Sylvester and Stella, now 4 yrs old at Harvest Children’s Home.

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Sylvester

 

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Stella

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Emmanuel Ful, Director and Chaplain and Emmanuel Ngala, Manager of Harvest Children’s Home.

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Carol with her babies.

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.

Thriving, Hope and Gratitude in the Year of Mercy.

Our first week here has been wonderful, seeing A Call to Mercy’s program with Project Hope thriving and in action.  It is so beneficial for us to be with those who are in the program and to talk to them about their lives and concerns.  We are so proud and grateful to be partnering with Project Hope, whose dedication and concern for their community is only matched by their skill at creating and implementing programs that really work.

THRIVING!  Two years ago, we met 9 yr old Carine and her grandmother at the family compound.  Carine is HIV+, had lost both parents, was not in school and had defaulted on her medicines because her grandmother could not afford her clinic visits or school fees.  She was enrolled in A Call to Mercy’s OVC program and today is thriving.  We met Carine again last week when she came for her clinic visit.  Note that Cameroonians are proud people and wear their Sunday best when coming to the hospital.  Here is Carine, before and after two years in the program.

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At the family compount, 2014.

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At the family compound, 2014

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2016, Healthy, strong, in school and complaint with her meds.

HOPE! This little boy, Achia is from Anjin village. During a field outreach there on Friday, the Anjin support group (more on that later) alerted Project Hope about a sick child.  Achia was diagnosed HIV+ one year ago.  He had recently became very ill and developed fluid in his stomach.  His mother could not afford the transport or hospital fees.  Project Hope provided transport and enrolled this child immediately into the program so he could be treated at the hospital – 100% covered by support from A Call to Mercy.  By Monday, he was feeling much better!

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Friday, admitted to hospital.

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Friday, admitted to hospital.

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Monday, feeling better!

GRATITUDE! On Saturday we were taken to Anjin village to meet with the people there whose children benefit from A Call to Mercy’s program.  Because this village is a few hours walk away on rough, rocky terrain, Project Hope has created an HIV Support Group there.  The group helps to raise awareness, lessen stigma, and teach the community what it has learned from Project Hope, specifically about nutrition, hygiene and the importance of taking their meds. Project Hope will deliver 2 months of HIV meds to the support group to save the people from the long journey every month.  They only come to the clinic when their lab work needs to be done.  The women greeted us at the opening of the compound with traditional song.  Beautiful and sweet.  They had prepared a small program in the meeting house, the home of the groups’ President.  They expressed heartfelt gratitude and sincere appreciation that people a world away would care about their wellbeing.  Some of their words after mentioning the support they received… “from the beginning we never believed that such dreams could ever be true. So we were shocked when everything was a reality. In the past days our lives were hopeless.  Today, thanks to the efforts of A Call to Mercy to make us have hopeful lives.  Your visit here today is remarkable in the history of this village.”  We then were given their sentiments in writing, a meal, and gifts of beans and bananas from their subsistent farm plots.

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Women singing a welcome song.

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Secretary of the group expressing appreciation.

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Oh the children!

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Dressed in their Sunday best for the visitors.

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The customary group shot with the children!

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