Around the 3rd or 4th day here, the visual and emotional stimuli reach a point where one cannot help but let the tears flow. And so you do.
Today was the second of the three days at the hospital’s HIV clinic, meeting with the children in A Call to Mercy’s program. The ages today were 10-13. This group is the age that Project Hope staff begins the process of disclosure about the disease to the children. There is still an enormous stigma attached to HIV in Africa. Project Hope takes tremendous care and with great sensitivity helps the children come to terms with this disease that has infected their bodies. Today’s lesson involved discussing a display board of a child surrounded by green creatures which represent policemen or soldiers that were there to fight the yellow “germs” that attack their bodies. The medicine that they come to get each month and take every day strengthens the green policemen to fight the yellow germs. The goal is to encourage responsibility and an age appropriate understanding of the need to take the medicine everyday, without fail. After the lesson, the children drew themselves surrounded by strong green creatures, “policemen”, that were strengthened by the medication to fight the yellow germs. They understood the lesson well.
Project Hope nurse processing new child for HIV treatment.
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Mimi learning a card game.
PH Social Worker, Lillian, conducting health lesson.
Girl showing off drawing of the lesson.
Receiving her child’s medication.
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.
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.
Greeting the children, Mimi style.
The children are so brave.
Care and tenderness, Project Hope Staff.
After a health lesson, dancing…and these kids LOVE to dance!
Helping to serve the meal.
Maybe the best part of the day for the kids. Children eat with their hands, very efficient.
Fufu (ground corn meal), Jamma jamma (a bitter green) and fish with sauce.
Never a bit wasted.
Washing after the meal.
We are excited to meet with Project Hope this morning to plan out the month. But we wanted to leave you with three pics from our late afternoon walk yesterday.
Walking home from school.
Children of Njinikom
Carol coaxing a song!
We arrived in Njinikom early Sunday evening after a very long but good journey. The 8 hour ride from the congested hot city of Douala into the cool mountainous region of the Boyo division is an eye opening drive. A joyful arrival was complete with waves, warm hugs and a delicious meal. We are staying in lodging built by docs from Holland, aptly named the Holland house. The pastural scene is the view we wake up to. Life is very good and we are excited to get to work.
Girl walking on road.
Vendor at market selling deep fried treats. I’m inspired by their balance and determined to learn how to carry my camera bag on my head!
Boy at produce stand.
Sunday walk. Love the colors.
Boys selling homemade brooms along the road.
Good Morning Njinikom. Farm at St. Martin de Porres Mission Hospital.
Mountains in the near distance. It is the end month of the dry season. The fog like atmosphere is caused by the blowing Saharan sands.
We are so excited as we prepare for this journey. We leave Friday, Jan 29th. We will be met at the airport in Douala and spend the night there before beginning the 8 hour drive to the mountainous area of Njinikom on Sunday. The long drive through small towns and villages and into the mountains has become familiar but still amazes us. It is quite a culture shock arriving there…even after being there before. These are images from the drive on our last trip. Can’t wait to begin this work!!!!