Final Update from Kenya
This was a long trip and many things happened. I will attempt to briefly summarize. The trip began with a meeting with all of the field directors for the National Aids Control Council (NACC). Professor Orego, Director of the NACC called them to a meeting from the nine provinces so they could assist Debbie Jones, Interfaith Office, Emory University, in identifying all programs that are addressing youth and HIV/AIDS. They were very helpful and will complete a survey for Emory. This begins a “mapping” iniative that assists in identifying best practices and also can link programs together to improve effectiveness. Professor has assigned someone to work on this project with us.
Debbie Jones had a very favorable response to Partners for Care and GOA. She has 30 years experience at CDC and 5 years at Emory. She has been working with African countries for five years. She said it was incredible the impact Partners for Care staff have had working throuigh GOA. She is committed to assist with funding opportunities and will return to Kenya with me in August.
The first week I was there I was contacted by my friend David Whithers with Recovery Consultants. David’s group does testing for HIV/AIDS in Atlanta and is well respected for his work. Recently he was invited to the White House to be recognized for achievement as a faith-based group. He asked me to partner with him and Morehouse University in a PEPFAR proposal. The proposal is for $5 million dollars addressing HIV/AIDS and TB in prisons in Kenya. Of course the proposal was due in three weeks so we would need to develop the concept, secure the partners, plan the budget and write the proposal all by email, phone calls and text messages. I began working with people at Morehouse I had never met in person but soon we became partners in submitting this proposal. GOA, Partners for Care, Recovery Consultants and Chance Afrika will be the partners who implement the HIV/AIDS part of the proposal. The proposal includes testing for AIDS all 40,000 prisoners and 19,000 staff in the 89 prisons throughout Kenya. SN will put sports programs in all of the prisons that will focus on HIV/AIDS prevention. We will also partner with OraSure. There is another partner who will work on the TB issue which is at epidemic propotion in the prisons. I was able to get a very supportive letter from Professor Orago and Bishop David got us an appointment with the Permanebt Secretary for the Vice President who is responsible for prisons. Professor Orago wrote us an introductory letter which the Permanent Secretary said was good enough for him and he got us a recommendation letter from the Vice President of Kenya. Now we wait. The Reach a Million iniative team laid hands on the proposal and prayed for its acceptance. I plan to meet Dr. B from Morehouse this week. He is the man behind the emails, calls, etc. that guided this proposal from beginning to end. Our Partner Eric, Chance Afrika spent 36 hours in one weekend on our part. And David Gruber helped too. Dr. B ended up being a great encourager as I went from office to office following Kenyan protocols obtaining these letters. God must have known I needed encouragement. Each day I looked forward to his encouraging messages. Pray for acceptance of this PEPFAR proposal. I never have been called to prison ministry (I keep saying this but God has other plans) but I realize men and women go into prison uninfected come out infected and and then infect their family members in their communities. I will go and work whereever He calls me to prevent one more child like Rebecca being born infected with AIDS.
The Reach-A-Million 4-day event in the slums of Nukuru drew 15,000 over the 4 days with 10.000 the last night for the award ceremony where the Bishop preached. This was the first time in this area in five years a football (soccer) tournament ended peacefully. And this event did not go unnoticed. The week before I had met three women from the new ministry Youth and Sports and had invited them to come for the last day of this event. They heard the Bishop preach in the morning then went to the tournament staying for the awards ceremony They have asked SN to consult with them on how to mobilize and do events like he did. We met with them and they have asked for a proposal to see if they can help with funding. They told us they had never seen an event like SN organized. We are to meet with their supervisor when I return and they want their Minister to attend the Reach-A-Million in Kiberia July 2-6.
As part of the Going Deeper mission of GOA the Partners for Care and GOA leaders assessed all of the children’s homes. The assessors did an excellent job! I have been in the buisness of quality assessment reviews all my professional life and I was very impressed with their skill level. The reports have been prepared for the Bishop and now the second phase begins which is consulting with each home to assist them to provide the best care meeting Kenyan regulations and GOA’s vision.
This trip I took an Apple computer for the apartment for the Partners for Care staff to use. I cannot tell you how impressed I was at how quickly the team learned how to use this computer to write newsletters, produce videos, etc. You would think they always had used a Mac. It gave me great pleasure to watch them each day as they got better and better. If we could just have David Gruber spend a week with them! They have ideas how they can even earn money producing brochures, videos, etc.
GOA has a great new friend – Deb Zinn. She loves the children and has access to things that are needed in Kenya. This time she sent bibles. What a blessing to be able to take a bible to a child who doesn’t have one. She is sending me with suitcases full next time!
We spent a full day with our new partners Community Transformers (CT) Nick and Charles and have worked out how they can help GOA and how GOA and Partners for Care can help them. The Bishop plans to plant a church there which will be wonderful! I want to be there the day this church opens. Our nurses will spend two – three days a week at CT helping their community health workers. The music team will assist the work they are already doing in developing talent by going once a week to set up music and drama clubs. They will help the young people do music therapy for the people in Mathare who are sick in bed with AIDS. And SN and the team will go on Wednesdays to hold a service as a beginning for the church. Moses one of our social workers will assist their addiction department by connecting them with AA and NA. Sandra thurman from the same office as Debbie jones joined us this day. She has 25 years experience in HIV/AIds and is one of the most respected professional in her field. She was very impessed with the Partners for Care staff and GOA. Her, Debbie and I will meet next week to see how we can partner together to help GOA help those they serve.
One of the highlights of the trip was spending five days with Pastor Hirbo. If I ever question how good God is I should remember gifts like this. Pastor Hirbo and eight of the tribal pastors came down from Marsabit 16 hours on the top of a lowry truck to meet the Roswell United Methodist team. What a suprise to see Pastor Hirbo at church! All of them stayed at the apartment with us Sunday night (32 people total in the apartment that night!) And then Pastor Hirbo stayed with us until Thursday. We love Pastor Hirbo so much! He is sacrificing so much for God. Yet he has such a sense of humor. When he returned to Marsabit he called the team and told us the flight had landed! He had just travelled 16 hours on the top of a lowry. The Bishop and he worked out a plan for the twin babies that the Bishop saw in November and thought would die and we saw in March and thought would die. God obviously has plans for these baby girls. The mom is an alcoholic and the Bishop insisted on a plan to help her not just the babies. So we have sent funds for Pastor Hirbo to move her from the village to a house near the church where he and Mare can check on them everyday and make sure the babies are fed and the mom recovers. If anyone can do this Pastor Hirbo can.
Pastor Hirbo has been removing the jiggers from the feet of children. He was doing this without gloves so we sent him home with two boxes of gloves. But, we also sent funds for him to hire a nurse to go with him to assist these children. This is a desperate situation as the children and adults will lose their toes if the jiggers are not removed. Pastor Hirbo is amazing! He goes where God leads him to care for the most needy. The PEACE Bus is returning to Marsabit August 31st. All the Partners for Care staff will go again – sports, nurses, VCT testing, social workers, etc. We hope are partner at HEART will bless us with more nets! And Pastor Karanja is going. The team is excited to return to help such a man of God as Pastor Hirbo. We have two people from US going besides me. If God is calling you to Marsabit please call me. It is not a trip for anyone who likes comfort – but it is the best trip I and most of the team has ever taken.
Well this wasn’t brief as I said it would be. God is moving in Kenya and I believe as Pastor Karanja says God is preparing Kenya for a great revival that will reach out to other African Nations. I am blessed to witness what God is doing through the Kenyans. Connie
Sent via Cingular Xpress Mail with Blackberry