Yesterday the whole team was able to participate in village outreach with the Mercy Hospital staff to Flawahun, a village in the Sembahun Salenga catchment area. We served alongside the staff in pre-natal visits, lab testing for malaria and HIV screening, nutrition for the youngest children, and pharmacy disbursements. It was humbling to be among so many people with such need and limited resources. It was a hot and exhausting, but very rewarding day. We all appreciated the care that the Mercy staff give to every person they come in contact with.
Today is our last day in Bo! We are wrapping up our projects and writing up our notes and observations. Sometimes it feels as though the time has flown by, and other times our experiences have impacted us so much we cannot believe we have been here less than 2 weeks. We are all looking forward to coming home and sharing our experiences with friends and family.
Sunday was a great day. We split the team in 2 and attended both Leader UMC and Centenary UMC in the morning. Such joyous services with lots of singing and praying. Even though we had some difficulty understanding some of what was said, much of the services had the familiar elements from home. It was laity Sunday and the services were a little shorter than usual so we were on time for lunch!
After lunch Joe and Henry took us all out to visit our sponsor children. We were able to meet 4 of the children and visit with their families at their homes. Some of the children were a little timid when first meeting their sponsors, but they quickly warmed up. We carried a portable printer with us and were able to take pictures and print them right there so that the children received a photo of them with their sponsor.
This was the second time Kristen was able to visit her sponsor child, Raymond. He was not timid, but came running out of the house to greet her. They even played a little football (soccer) with the ball she brought for him.
We are now on our second week of our projects and can't believe how quickly the time is going by.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Yesterday was a day of life in the full! We started the day as most of our days in Bo begin – a delicious breakfast prepared by Fudia and Rosaline and worshiping Papa God with our partners at the Child Rescue Centre (CRC) and Mercy Hospital. The morning was spent doing one of three activities. Linda and Kerry visited three schools in Bo Town with Mabel, Education Manager at the CRC. Students packed into classrooms were thrilled to see their visitors. Mabel and Kerry led discussions with teachers that had participated in the summer team’s Teacher Learning Exchange. They were able to obtain follow up data about implementation of the classroom practices discussed a few months ago and learn about which practices have been most useful to teachers in Bo.
Doug, Kristen and Julie spent the morning with JJ (Sponsor a Child Coordinator) and Imourana (Child Support Program Coordinator/Case Manager) traveling to Maguama, a nearby village about 7 miles from the Missionary Training Center. Julie recently began sponsoring Mohamed, a ten year old boy living in Maguama. On arrival the team was greeted by about 150 children excited to see, touch and mimic their new friends. Julie was able to visit with Mohamed and his mother, as well as provide them a gift of rice, school supplies and a soccer ball. (See picture of Julie and her sponsor child.)
The remaining three team members spent the morning participating in a medical outreach conducted at Mercy Hospital. Sonja and Debra worked to measure the length and mid-upper arm circumference and take the weight of each baby/toddler (about 170 in all!) to assess the growth of each child and see if another month of nutrition supplementation was indicated. Chris worked alongside Matron Augusta to perform cervical cancer screenings -- about 40 mothers were screened! (See picture of Sonja and Debra working at the outreach.)
As we spent the afternoon recovering from the heat in the peace hut, we were able to discuss each of our experiences and process together. One of the common themes we all witnessed yesterday was the amount of hope that the CRC and Mercy staff brings to the people they encounter daily and the joy they find in their work. Each of us has been feeling truly inspired and we pray that our presence can in some small way help to provide a little more hope. We laughed about funny parts of our day over a surprise dinner created by Fudia last night – shwarma and soda! Later during team devotions we were able to reflect together about how faithful God has been in each of our lives to bring us to Sierra Leone and how Jesus invited his disciples into his work during his time on earth, just as he invites all of us into a full life with him. We are so thankful to be in Mama Salone working alongside our partners!
Two busy days and what a fabulous time! We have had some internet connection challenges so haven't been able to post until now.
So far we have toured the facilities and had orientation to the programs. Doug and Debra conducted 2 days of Advanced Programming, Budgeting and Training Techniques workshops. Wonderful exchange of ideas. Julie and Kerry have worked with the Child Rescue Centre social workers and gone on a school visit. We have had a chance to purchase fabric at the market, and gifts for our sponsor children, whom we will this weekend. Chris, Sonja and Kristen have been observing the different areas at Mercy Hospital, culminating in the birth of this beautiful new baby girl this afternoon, who the parents named Sonja. And here she is just 20 minutes old.
Having done so much already, it seems like we have been much longer. And so much more to come.
The July team had a special treat when they got to help with a "Social Day" at the CRC. Students from the Child Rescue Centre, Jonathon’s Child Care, and SOS Children’s Village were invited to an afternoon of fun and fellowship at the CRC compound.
Children were organized into “houses” identified by color (blue, white, purple and yellow), and the members of the July UMVIM team helped the CRC staff provide supervision and do several fun activities for the kids.
Gary Gilkeson shared that the highlight of the day for him was helping a blind girl from SOS learn to ride a bike for the very first time, with Gary holding fast to the bike as she rode. “She wanted to keep going and going until I had to quit from exhaustion,” he laughed. Tina De Boeser shared her experience reading to a little girl. "Many animals she wasn’t familiar with so I had the chance to explain and do some fun animal voices. We were all a little sad when our time in the library was done!"
The team was privileged to help the CRC staff at a letter writing event on July 28th. Several times a month, the CRC holds letter events for the kids to receive their sponsors' letters, get help writing back, and enjoy fellowship with one another.
The July team members were excited to distribute letter to the students and help them write back, which is a great opportunity for the kids to practice their English. The event concluded with snacks and social time.
"Visited the village of Fengehun. JJ LOVES his kids!! Photos of the school library, the school and the football field. The kids are so proud to be in school!" - Missioner Karen Roeming
On Sunday, some of the July team members visited their sponsored students at home. It's a special time for the sponsors, the kids, and their families, and a wonderful opportunity for the missioners to learn about the lives of the children they sponsor. On Monday the rest of the team is scheduled to go on home visits.