February 2007 News Letter
Dear Friends and Supporters of our Children in Africa:
For the past two weeks we have been taking care of the needs of our scholarship students, identifying and supporting orphaned children in Nyanza province, Timau (north or Nairobi) and Katito, south east of Kisumu, Kenya. But, the most moving event took place yesterday at Mbaka Oromo Primary School. Early this year, we made arrangements with Dr. John Akoto, provincial head of ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) medicine of Western Province and his wife, a nurse and medical camp specialist, to bring a health clinic to the students of Mbaka Oromo and to the parents and villagers that surround the school. Over 700 students and community members were given physicals, received the first dose of the three-part hepatitis B vaccine, were given de-worming medicine, antibiotics and a large spectrum of medicines. Children with scabies, HIV/AIDS, burns, infections and a variety of respiratory ailments were treated. Several children and adults were referred to the local hospital at Chulaimbo for surgery or AIDS medications.
There was a team of 8 doctors and 8 nurses and several volunteers from Mbaka Oromo primary school. Joanne and I, in addition to planning the medical camp volunteered from beginning to end. Adam Jablonski and Chris Buckley were lending a helping hand as well. The camp started at 9 a.m. and went without break until the last patient was given medication and vaccination at 7 p.m.
As the children entered the line we were able to record their basic information and provide them with a sheet of paper that they would hand to the doctors who in turn would record medical observations. As I scripted each child’s name, I was able to look in their eyes, and take in their full presence. What incredibly beautiful children of God! At several points in the day my heart grew heavy and my eyes welled with tears. These precious creations are made to suffer so much. They have been given so little. I looked to the floor and saw their calloused, battered, shoeless, feet and toes. Legs spattered with dirt, mud and other products of the red Kenyan earth. My eyes then move up to their torn and tattered school uniforms….thread bare, sleeves half-detached from the body of their shirts or blouses. Boys’ kaki shorts several sizes too small where buttons cannot be fastened as they are distant from the button holes.
A young boy waits in line for his hepatitis shot and holds a home-made soccer ball constructed out of rags, plastic shopping bags and string. I wonder if he has ever had the thrill of kicking a real ball. He appears anxious as he awaits the unknown of mystery of an injection. Later in the day I gently persuade the school principal toward the clinic with my hand around his shoulder and a kind forward motion as he greatly fears the nurse’s syringe. He said “I will eat a mountain of pills without complaint but I am so afraid of even a quarter of an injection.”
How sweet to see infants cradled tenderly by the large black hands of the African doctors. Ancient elders in local garb also the beneficiaries of the physician’s compassion.
One “mezee” (wise old man) proudly whispered to me as I wrote his name on the ledger, “I am older than you,” in the midst of an alarming screech from the lungs of an infant getting her first look at the nurse’s needle.
Goats, Goats and More Goats!
Thanks to the excitement back home in the states for our dairy goat project, we will be able to start two dairy goat farms, one is Western and one in Nyanza province. This is a long process whereby we identify 10 farming families, provide training in horticulture, breeding, marketing and management specific to dairy goats, construct a goat shelter (with the aid and skills of the farmers), plant crops that are conducive to the strong milk production and finally, purchase the goats from farmers in Nyeri and Meru. We expect that the farms will be operational by the end of the summer.
IGLA is an acronym for Income Generating Learning Activities. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. That ancient proverb guides this important project. Joanne has already assembled the school committee from one Western Province school for the purpose of putting together an IGLA group. This group is made up of two members of the school committee, two teachers, two parents and two community members. The principal and our man in Kenya, John Peter Mukhola Mukolwe will chair the committee. The group has one purpose: brainstorm an activity that will be self-sustaining and income producing. Joiniing Hearts and Hands will provide the seed money. The rest will be up to the hard work and industry of the Kenyans. We will be initiating IGLA projects at Lufumbo and Iranda in Western province as well.
We have much more to do on this winter mission. All is possible due to the much appreciated support you have given to the children and communities here in Kenya. I cannot find the words to express the need here. It’s pervasive. I cannot describe to you how valuable your support is for the orphans here. When you sponsor a child’s education, support a health clinic, buy a goat, a solar cooker or school supplies, you are literally saving a child’s life. This is no exaggeration! When the health clinic came to an end last night, the principal of Mbaka Oromo gathered nearly 500 of the students at 7 p.m. and told them, “Because of today, you will live a longer life. Because of today you will not die.” Imagine the power in your heart! Look what you have done!
Mungu Awabariki (May God Bless You)
~Bill and Joanne Cala
Joining Hearts and Hands, Ltd.
9 Fieldston Grove
Fairport, NY 14450