Before our trip, our church held a meeting to explain to the congregation regarding what we would be doing on our trip to Sierra Leone. As a part of this meeting, we held a small fundraiser to raise money to provide rice to families enrolled in the CRC program.
During our trip, we were able to go with the CRC to deliver this rice. Wow, I will never complain about the potholes in the streets of Philadelphia again! Saturday we went out to deliver rice to families; it took most of the day and a lot of patience. I am truly grateful that yesterday was the last day for delivering rice. The holes, lumps, and bumps in the ground were a challenge to the driver, and a nightmare to me, but we made it safely to every family. At one point we had to drive through a small body of water, I looked out the window to my left and there was a mother and child washing clothes a few feet from us!
Pastor Chaney and I were well please with the selection of people who received the rice. Just to share a few examples; we met with one family that both parents where blind and dependent on help from the village to raise their children. There was also the single mother who was physically disabled; she could not walk needed help daily to do simple chores for her children. And yet at the end of the worse road ever, we met a family that was being cared for by the Auntie. The mother was not available because she had to walk to the city on the very road we were on to sale fruit to support her family.
What a blessing it was to meet these families and participate in the food assistance that CRC provides to vulnerable families.
Looking back over the last two days, I saw the much-needed improvements Mercy Hospital has made. The hospital is beautiful; it looks more like a working small medical campus. I visited with and prayed for the patients who were housed on the second floor. I remember when mothers would come from long distances just to wait outside in the heat to be seen by the doctor. In one day, I have observed almost 100 pregnant women who traveled from far away villages to be seen. Those that came to Mercy where greeted in a building with conformable chairs. During my visit the mothers participated in a lecture on self-care. I discovered the unique care provided by staff was an encouragement to mothers to take better care of themselves and their children.
Today, we are just getting back from the Village Partnership--what a wonderful experience! We first met with the Chieftains and elders of the village and then with the families. We were well received by all adults, but the smaller children were afraid to come close to us. We took pictures of the parents with children who received the rice. They appear to be very grateful; the language barrier prevented much interaction, but the smiles and happy faces said it all. I was so impressed with the size of the bags of rice. We priced the rice we bought based on 50 LB bags, but it actually weighted 50kg or 110.25 lbs! It took 2 men to carry each bag of rice.
Another great experience was Pastor Chaney and I am learning to speak “Mende.” We visited a class of young school age children who native language was Mende but was learning to speak English. After a short time we ask could they help us learn a few words in Mende. We all had fun sharing with each other, it was a wonderful time. It is such a blessing to learn while you serve others.
House of the Lord Church
Today the team and I had the honor and privilege to set out to visit the children that we advocate for and their beautiful families. The families we visited found in and around the city of Bo. The team members included in this trip were Misti, Melissa, Brent, Alex, Ellen, and Tom. We took three vehicles and had Henry, the Family Empowerment Advocate in Sierra Leone, as our experienced navigator. We each had gifts, which included a bag of rice, for our families. As we traveled around Bo, it was heartwarming to see each advocate meet with the children and their families. During each stop, the team was greeted with smiles and warm welcomes.
The last stop that we had in Bo was a visit with Mabinity and her family. Mabinity is the young lady my husband, Graham, and I are advocates for. Graham and I began sponsoring Mabinity last year after the previous child we sponsored graduated from the program. Within this partnership, we pray for Mabinity and her family, support her schooling, and write letters back and forth with her. We also send pictures. At home, there is a picture of Mabinity hanging up so that my husband and I remember to pray for her each day. Despite looking at the photo daily, when we arrived at Mabinity’s home, I did not recognize the young woman who greeted us. Upon arrival there was a young lady brushing the hair of a younger girl. I greeted the girls as Henry pointed to the older girl and said something like “Janie, do you recognize who this is?” I then realized it was Mabinity! She is no longer the little girl in the picture I have, but instead a young woman. Mabinity and I looked at each other and then hugged tightly. I think Mabinity and I were both speechless at first. I could not believe that I was really meeting her in person.
Mabinity quickly gathered her sisters and gave the team chairs to sit in. She pulled up a stool and we sat close together. She told me that she would be taking an exam soon for school that determines if she can move up to the next level. She also introduced me to her family dog, Biggie. After chatting for a few minutes, we stood up to take several pictures, or as they say here in Sierra Leone, “snaps.” Included in them were Mabinity, her sisters, me, and of course Biggie. I promised Mabinity that when I get home, I will write to her and send her some of the snaps we took together. She then held my hand as she walked me and the team back to our vehicles. Though our time ended quickly, I must say it was one of my favorite parts of this visit to Sierra Leone.
Mabinity and her family are one of the many families who have gone to the Child Reintegration Centre to apply for assistance. In America, they would go to social services and the government would meet that need. In Sierra Leone, we have the unique ability to be part of meeting that need. Though we may not feel like we live in abundance, the small portion that we donate each month allows families in Sierra Leone who apply for the assistance to improve their quality of life. I am thankful for the provision that God has given us to be able to help those in need. To see the impact of that help firsthand is not only a blessing for the family included in this program, but for me as well. If you have never thought about partnering with Helping Children Worldwide to advocate for a child and their family, I am here to tell you firsthand that the impact of being a Family Empowerment Advocate is greatly significant. After this experience of meeting Mabinity and her family, I urge you to pray and consider joining the Family Empowerment program through Helping Children Worldwide.
If you are interested in becoming an advocate for families in Sierra Leone, check our our website or email Munda@helpingchildrenworldwide.org
A post by Sharon Gardner:
Today, Janie Williams, Melissa Herbolsheimer, and I conducted day two of our three-day collaboration with thirteen Sierra Leonean teacher-leaders. Together, we renewed our learning around a variety of topics including learning theories, strategies for reading comprehension, character education, guidance and counseling, conflict resolution, and the power of having a growth mindset. Along the way we shared with each other our teaching experiences, games we enjoy playing with students and with each other, celebrations and struggles we have as teachers, a great deal of laughter, and the comradery of colleagues. This collaborative is in its third year as a partnership between Sierra Leonean and U.S. teachers. During this time, we have worked together to develop a professional learning curriculum, guided by the thoughts and experiences of our Sierra Leonean teacher-leaders so that they can provide meaningful learning for their Sierra Leonean colleagues. As always, it was a day filled with respect and friendship, and admiration for the work of our Sierra Leonean partners.
His name means “borne of God.” Like most all the old testament prophets, Amos preached impending doom because of Israel’s injustices. You see, God does not give his children a pass when they are disobedient. He doesn’t turn a blind eye. He gives a standard for them to live by - a plum line, if you will. They were blessed to be a blessing and they were to love as they were loved. They were to remember that all of humanity is “borne of God” and each person should be treated as one of God’s children. It matters not where you are from or any social construct of identification. It is plain and simple, everyone “borne of God” deserves the same treatment - Each given a chance to flourish, and an opportunity to live.
My church and I have been partnering with Helping Children Worldwide since 2018 and, by all accounts, I have witnessed both Mercy Hospital and the Child Reintegration Center seek to give those “borne of God” a chance to really live.
On a previous trip to Bo, Sierra Leone, in 2019, I was on a village outreach effort with Mercy, when it was quickly discovered that a two-year-old boy named Amos was suffering from a significant hernia from birth. He wasn’t eating, not gaining weight, and always in pain. To be honest, he looked emaciated and vulnerable. He looked as if he was soon to perish from such a treatable condition. However, as soon as the Mercy staff discovered the issue, Amos was taken care of regardless of his parents' ability to pay.
Other than knowing that Amos was treated for his hernia, I knew nothing more; that was until this past week. A team of 8 people from Church of the Lakes came to Bo to engage in our ministry partnership. On March 24th, three years later, I found myself on a different village outreach effort and overheard someone from Mercy Hospital talking to a woman, whose boy was at her side. They spoke of his health and how well he was doing since he was last seen. To me he looked like a very healthy, happy, and strong five-year-old boy.
Here’s where the story gets so good! Unbeknownst to me, I was surprised when I discovered that this was the same Amos I saw from 3 years ago! It was an incredible sight to behold! My soul sang! It was literal transformation that took place!
“Borne of God” was made whole and given a chance to live. I couldn’t have been more pleased. I couldn’t have been filled with more joy! Words alone cannot express the gift that moment was for me.
The work of the medical outreach team reminds me of the words found in Amos 5:24, which declares, “But let justice roll on like a river; righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”
I see this happening through the work of Helping Children Worldwide, Mercy Hospital, the Child Reintegration Center, and every partnering church. Friends, justice and righteousness wins every single time when those “borne of God” are treated like the children of God that they truly are.
May we together continue, with God’s blessings, to seek out and save the lost (Luke 19:10). In Jesus’ name may we continue to “preach good news to the poor, grant liberty to the captives, recover the sight of the blind, set the captive free, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). For, O “borne of a God” there is no better day than today to reach out and fulfill the call of our God, one Amos at a time.
Reverend Jared D. Priset
Learn how Mercy Hospital and the CRC are providing essential medical services in isolated regions where the need is great, and how HCW is working in collaboration to tackle the greatest barriers to sustainable futures in one of the most impoverished regions of the world.
This is the story of Mohamed Nabieu - "Nabs" - who grew up in the CRC residential home, went to college, and returned to become the CRC Director. Mohamed now works full-time for HCW as Child Welfare Programs Liaison, working to reform global child welfare. Nabs has devoted his life to making life better for impoverished families and children without parental care. He still collaborates with the leadership of the CRC to rescue and reintegrate orphaned and abandoned children with safe, loving parents.
This is the last blog post of the October HCW UMVIM Team. My teammates departed this morning and it is SOOO quiet here at the MTC tonight. I enjoyed my late lunch and dinner with Fudia, as we talked of her visit to the US next year to promote Fudia’s Cookbook. Coming to a church near you! Also, the return of HCW’s M&E Project Lead, Sam Bundren. This has also been a topic at many of our meetings with our partners, who are all eagerly awaiting his return. I finished the last day in Bo with a meeting of the Mercy Hospital Local Management Committee. I was finally able to put faces with several names known to me, and also to meet some new representatives of the various members of the Management Committee. I particularly enjoyed meeting the representative of the Paramount Chief and the representative of the District Medical Officer. As Reverend Francis Charley, UMC District Supervisor for Bo, and chair of the committee, took us calmly through our deliberations, I came to understand and appreciate even more about how the differences in our cultures change only the approaches we take to problem-solving, not the concerns or interests we are resolving together in partnership.
Thank you for a renewed sense of purpose and belonging to the whole wide world beneath the care of a loving God, and for firmly placing Sierra Leone in the hearts of so many grateful Americans. To all my old and new friends, whether we encountered you in Bo or Freetown, at Mercy Hospital, CRC, MTC, Leader Memorial, the US Embassy, the Ministry of Social Welfare and Gender Equality, or if we met you in the bustling urban centers or the rural villages, I say fond farewell and see you "soon time!"
Tonight is the last night at the Missionary Training Center for most of our team. Over the course of the last two weeks we’ve seen four generators repaired, medical care provided at Mercy Hospital and in local villages. We’ve interacted with children who are currently cared for by the Child Rescue Centre and CRC alums who are taking the fight to poverty in their own ministry endeavors. Two villages have taken steps as part of the new Village Partnership Initiative. We’ve worshipped, prayed, painted, and wept. Our God has richly blessed us with two fruitful weeks, yet the work is far from over.
Yesterday a little boy died at Mercy Hospital. Just under a year in age, he presented with Malaria and in desperate need of a blood transfusion. We’ll never know for certain if a transfusion would have saved his life because he didn’t receive one. Why? Mercy has a blood bank, so why didn’t this baby get what he needed? The answer may make you shout in anger or burst into tears. You see, the power grid that services Mercy Hospital and the rest of Bo is unreliable, too unreliable for Mercy to be able to maintain adequate blood for such emergencies. This is not one of those problems that lacks a solution. The solution is to outfit this campus with solar power. Yes, friends, there is much to be done.
We have been richly blessed these two weeks. Our lives have been influenced by Christ and the beautiful people of Sierra Leone in ways our team shall not soon forget. We are so grateful to our families, co-workers, and loved ones who gave us the space and coverage to be here. Yet, we depart in the full knowledge more is required. Holy work, life-and-death work is left to be done. Thank you for your prayers, for sharing in this journey with us through these blog posts, and if you feel the call to make a world-changing, life-saving difference, we hope you’ll reach out to Helping Children Worldwide to join an upcoming team, volunteer, or give.
Team Jesus: Cynthia, David, Karen, Melody, Rob, Tina and Vicki