Zimbabwe Day 6

Day 6: During breakfast we were able to visit again with Rogers, and also with Justice.  He is a student at Africa University and was a former resident at Fairfield Children’s Home.  Breakfast is the same each day…eggs, stewed tomatoes, bread and porridge. Porridge tastes much like cream of wheat, and is eaten with brown sugar.  A couple of mornings chicken gizzards were offered, but we passed!
I was able to check blood sugars and blood pressures on the moms.  Two of the moms have diabetes and hypertension.  One every was well controlled, the other had a blood sugar over 400!  I was alarmed and planned to talk to her after I checked all the other women.  She left for a shopping trip in town, and I did not get to recheck her until hours later.  Her blood sugar was still 360.  I asked to see her medications.   For my medical friends…she was taking a sulfonylurea I did not recognize, and glucophage for her diabetes.  Amlodipine, lisinopril and hydrochlorthiazide were being given for hypertension.  She insisted that she was taking her medications.  I gave her some diabetic education and advised her what to eat for her dinner along with drinking plenty of water.  I told her the signs and symptoms to watch for.  I suspect her blood sugar is often this high, and will advise her to go to the local hospital/clinic to get further treatment.
Several women from our church family at home had made yarn caps for babies.   Jeff and I had the joy of giving these to the mothers and newborns.  There were seven new babies, only one was a boy.  Two of the babies had been born this morning.  All the women and babies stay on a ward together.  Since women live far away from the hospital, they come to the hospital weeks before their delivery dates.  Currently 60 waiting mothers live in a facility built for this purpose.  This space is overcrowded!  A new building is being constructed to house more waiting mothers.  The hospital delivers 80-100 babies a month.
I spent much much of the rest of the day taking pictures of the children individually.   We have a Polaroid printer that prints wallet sized photos.  We give a printed picture to each child and mother.  Taking pictures and making sure to get everyone is a challenge!!  The children are in school, out playing, visiting another house.  It is amazing how well they take care of one another.  The children care for the little ones…even preschoolers watch out for the babies.
Jeff went back to Old Mutare to try to find more materials for projects.  He was able to get a water pump for the hospital, metal to repair storage building roofs, sealant for the roof and valves for water leaks.  Steve was able to look at beds stored in one of the houses that are in need of repair.  A water storage tank was checked…it needs a new part and hopefully we can obtain this.   Steve checked the mill that could be used to grind corn..if this can be repaired the corn could be ground on site and this would not be an extra cost to the mission station.    He and Jeff have spent a lot of time looking at the water supply for the hospital and the children’s home.  If we can get needed supplies, Steve can teach employees what needs to be done, and they can often complete projects after we return home.
It it was another blessed day.  Please continue to pray that we can obtain supplies.

Read more

Zimbabwe Wednesday

Hello!  I’ve had difficulty accessing the website to continue the blog.  On Wednesday we attended chapel services at Africa University.  Rogers, the student on scholarship from the West Virginia Annual Conference, joined us.  The student choir provided beautiful music…I love the drums and the African rhythms.  The message was about Ruth.
After this Steve went to Old Mutare to work and Jeff and I stayed behind to tour the University.  Wesley was our tour guide.  The University has around 1500 students, and has the largest first year class this year.  They have had students from as many as 33 African nations, but currently students represent 22 countries.  At graduation all the flags are flown.  We saw the classrooms, hostels (dormitories), library, and archives.   The University is doing amazing research on malaria and is one of the few facilities in the world permitted to breed mosquitos for research.  The hostels are being remodeled, and the new ones  look nice.  It was surprising to only see 2 showers for 15 girls.   Also, laundry is done by hand.  They encourage study abroad, and I am sure that hand laundering clothing would be a challenge for many!!
In the afternoon I spent more time with children and mothers at Fairfield.  I continued to do some health assessments and rechecks on mothers with elevated blood sugar or blood pressure.    I spent some time just playing…passing a ragged, partially deflated ball and devising a bowling game out of broken tongue depressors stuck in the dirt.  I started to take pictures of each child.  We have a small printer, and are able to give a wallet sized photo to each child and mother.  
When I was with one mother, she was called and said she was going to get chicks.  I joined her, and this turned out to be the time some chickens were removed from the coops to be butchered for the briaa (cookout) we were providing for Fairfield the next night.  This brought back childhood memories of butchering chickens at my grandparents…a task I did not like.  Somehow all those chickens just disappeared and I never saw them killed.  I know one was under a basket on the porch of one of the homes, with a rock on top to keep it from escaping.
Jeff returned to town with Cecillia.  Sheet metal was needed for repair of storage buildings, and they went to a junk yard for this.  Jeff said it was quite an adventure!   It is so difficult here to find basic supplies needed, and it requires multiple trips to town going to many different stores.
In the evening we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Larry and Jane Keis.  Larry is originally from Iowa.  He is the agronomy professor at the university.  Jane was born in Zambia and has lived in Botswana and England.  She teaches English as a second language to many of the university students.  We went to LaRochelle–a place originally owned by an English couple. Jeff and others who had come to Zimbabwe before had lodged there.   Although it was dark, we strolled the gardens closest to the buildings and they were beautiful.  It was too dark to walk the path Jane said I saw lined with roses and lavender.  I am sure I think is lovely!  I had bream for dinner…a local fish that is delicious.   
The Keis shared some fascinating stories.  Snakes can get into homes…and once a spitting cobra was in their bathroom!  Larry removed it with a very long stick!!  Jane once saw a black mamba in a field.  The snake is able to raise the front of its body up…and she said it was as tall as her.   She backed up very slowly and finally the snake went to the ground and slithered away when it no longer felt threatened.  The black mamba bite contains a neurotoxin that paralyzed the diaphragm and can kill in 15-30 minutes.  Larry said several people survive this each year with bystander mouth to mouth and transport to the hospital to be put on a ventilator until the neurotoxin wears off.  I cannot imagine encountering one of these snakes!!!

Read more

Zimbabwe 2018 Day 4 & 5

Sunday October 28, Day 5

 We attended the church service at the Old Mutare Mission church.  The service was 2 1/2 hours long.  The choir had been to a chorale competition for church choirs and won first place out of almost 200 participating choirs.  The music was beautiful.  The sermon was in Shona, and interpreters helped us to understand.  Two young ladies had just returned from a conference on empowering women, and spoke to the congregation briefly about it.  There was a lot of singing, and dancing, and everyone actively participated.  It was a blessing!


 After the service, we were invited to lunch, along with a family that had just joined the church.  The church treated us to a sandwich, cake and a soda.  The hospitality is amazing here.  


 In the afternoon we went to Fairfield.  We set up one of the solar cookers we had purchased and brought with us.  We started with heating water, and it worked well.  We are going to cook potatoes and try making bread later in the week.  The cooker attracted several people who were curious  what it was.


 Jeff and Steve met with the two maintenance men to discuss possible projects for the week.  I played with children during this time.  There were several students from Africa University known as the “Fairfield buddies” who had come to play with the children.  They played group games and brought the children chips (French fries) and an orange soda.  Several of the children came over to me and were content to hold my hand or lean against me.  Two young boys discovered my phone and quickly discovered a tennis game I had and started to play.  


 Monday October 29, Day 5

 At breakfast we saw Rogers, a second year student a time Africa University who has a scholarship from the WV United Methodist church Conference.  He just happened to be wearing a WVU shirt he had been given by a mission team In Kenya.  An awesome young man with a touching story.  He is studying agriculture and plans to return to Kenya to farm.
 We then met with the Vice Chancellor of Africa University.  The University is adding courses with a plan to eventually add a medical school.  Students attend from all over Africa.
 Next we met with the hospital administrator of Old Mutare mission hospital.  She faces incredible challenges.  There are frequent power outages lasting as long as three days.  There are several problems with water supply.  With the current inflation in the country and the shortages it is difficult to find food to feed the patients.  When we met with the nursing matron we discovered that I have as much or more medical supplies with me than they have in the whole hospital.  I plan to donate a otoscope, ophthalmoscope and pulse oximeter given to me by my nurse practitioner co-worker Tammy Crookshanks.  I will be able to give them 2 stethoscopes, a blood pressure cuff, thermometer, blood sugar meter with lancing device, strips and lancets, gloves, alcohol swabs, and hand sanitizer.  It is so sad that they have so little supplies.
 In the afternoon we went to Old Mutare to shop for supplies for several projects.  On the way I saw two primates along the road…I am unsure what type….but it was amazing!!  The car barely made it up the hill, so the first place we stopped was an auto repair shop.  Luckily it was a simple fix with a new spark plug.
 We treated Cecillia to lunch.  The guys went to hardware stores looking for the supplies needed for their work, but there were many things they could not find.  Cecillia and I purchased some medicine for one of the children, then went to grocery stores.  The first store had no bread, flour or cooking oil.  Right now these staples are difficult to find, and everything is very expensive.  A snickers candy bar was $3.19.  A box of tissues was $7.15.  We were able to find some flour at the next store,  but still no cooking oil.  Both of us purchased a small bag of flour, since the limit was one.  We purchased baby formula, and Cecillia had to plead with the store manager to buy several cans…since the limit was one.  The check-out lines were very long.   There is a gasoline shortage and many gas lines.  Several gas stations are out of fuel.
 Please pray that we can find supplies to do repairs needed.   Pray for the economic crisis to resolve.  Please pray that we can be Jesus’ hands and feet.  

 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”  Proverbs 3:27

Read more