Thursday, July 30, 2009

Our Latest Newsletter Tells of Our Adventures in February and March 2009 in Kenya
Please click on each page to enlarge and read.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Here is a brief sample of the ALARM Choir and my first production from imovie.
We started the day by driving over lava roads to the Alarm headquarters where we were reintroduced to Janvaire, the director, Kevi, the ass’t director who speaks very good English and is a former journalism professor in Uganda but before that was a Congolese refugee in an IDP camp in Uganda. also we met Didi, Esperanze, Mariejean, and Theophil - who are heads of various ALARM departments- Peace and Justice, Leadership, Youth, Women, Reconciliation. I don’t remember who is head of what except Theophil is head of Youth. After introductions we heard 2 songs from the ALARM Choir. I hope to upload a recording of them. They are 7 and each has a story of family members killed, lost, or injured. They are in their late teens and twenties. Steve wants to bring them to the US and I agree that their singing and stories would probably do more to increase awareness and funding for ALARM than anything we could say or do. There are over 400 tribes in Congo and these folks represent a different tribe. Their first song was about peace and their second about forgiveness.
Then we went next door to the BRENDA dress making school. There were about 12-15 women in the class being taught by Pennina, Didi’s sister
, who appeared normal size until we realized she was standing on a bench to teach the class. She can’t be more than 4’5” tall but she had a wonderful glow. They have 3 sewing machines to share. Steve said that if they all studied hard and attended faithfully at the end of class Saddleback would buy each of them a sewing machine. They cheered! $150 x 15-20 to change lives and allow them to be self sufficient.
Then we headed to a larger IDP camp, probably 3 miles outside Goma. Goma is dusty and crowded. There are thousands of small cc Korean motorcycles up and down the main street, which seems to stretch for miles. On either side are merchants with vegetables, shoes, lumber, purses, petrol ,and who knows what else for sale. We were just passed by a motorcycle with the passenger carrying a live rabbit in one hand. The roads are rougher then Kenya’s if that is possible. This was apparently a beautiful place on Kiva Lake before the war and before the earthquake and volcanic eruption in 2003. Now it is the poorest of the poor. It makes a Mexican border town look like Highland Park. And then things got worse. We took a teeth chattering lava and dirt “road” to the IDP camp run by the Nor
wegian Relief Council. The camp director was in a meeting with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Relief) and so we sat amongst the 25,000 people in this camp for 2 hours waiting. Most of them have been here for over 2 years because of the rebel violence. Many have lost husbands, wives, parents, or children to this violence. These are the poorest of the poor. They have nothing unless it is provided for them. They are desperate and we could not walk through the camp without someone taping us or standing in front of us with hand out or rubbing their stomach. We met Francisco, whom I nicknamed Frank. He was one of the few who spoke a little English. He is from the Rutshuru district, about 60 km from Goma, and has been in the camp 17 months. He has a baby girl one year old born in the camp. The women may go to the hospital to deliver but are almost immediately discharged back to the camp. Frank spoke passable English and said he was a Jehovah’s Witness. We took him aside and gave him one of the Gideon Bibles that Tom Manchester from NPPC gave us to distribute. As the Gideon’s request we inscribed it from Cherry and me. He said he had to go to his “house” briefly but we never saw him again. You will see from the pictures the mass of humanity, filth, crowding, and desperation in the faces of the people. And yet there is a dignity about them that is appealing. We took a walk through the camp. There are showers and toilets set up by the UN and water pumped by Oxfam. We took several pictures of exterior and interior of houses. Cherry gave a small girl in a faded red top sitting on the ground a small kaleidoscope. Her name was Alisa.
We were about to leave when the camp director gave the word that we could distribute the supplies we had brought. We had 400 tops and botto
ms with 2 pr of panties for the girls, 400 wraps for the widows, and 400 shirts and trousers for the sick men. ALARM did not do a very good planning job and it quickly turned to chaos and it times we were surrounded by hundreds of desperate people many whom did not have pink or blue slips that qualified them to receive the package. Girls, boys, young men and women were running at us and trying to break through to the front of the line. They were literally thrown out of the line. The haves and have nots converged - with us in the middle. It was frightening especially when people with tickets had all been given their clothing and the residents pressed in on us. One little girl, screaming and crying, lay down in front of us and refused to move until forcibly removed by the police who did little to control the crowd. We beat a retreat to the van and gave a few packages of clothing on the fly but due to the sheer number we left more unhappy people than happy ones. The dirt and desperation are hard to see and smell. Steve thinks that since Laurent Nakunda, the rebel leader, who was trained in the US and a former ally of Rwandan President Kibale, has been arrested and his no.2 man has joined the Congolese army that the rebels are less of a threat and soon people may be able to go home but when your family members have been killed or raped and your land taken it is not an easy sell. As we entered Goma yesterday 2 truckloads of Rwandans who had fled to Congo in 1994 were being forcibly repatriated and that is how it is generally done - forcibly.

Friday, March 20, 2009

We are crossing from Rwanda into Congo, having been met by the ALARM Congo staff. The change is immediate - boulder strewn dusty streets, bicycles loaded with cargo, wooden wheeled

carts their owner bent to push the heavy load. We immediately saw relief trucks - UN, Save the Children CARE, Doctors Without Borders, Samaritan's Purse, Red Cross, World Vision, and Oxfam were just some we saw. Blue turbaned or blue helmeted armed UN troops looked at us suspiciously as they passed us in their large trucks. We were taken to our hotel - Bungwe

Guest House and stowed our luggage and then drove to our first IDP camp surrounding a Baptist Church. Oh, my gosh - the sights and smells of hopelessness were overwhelming. How

do you begin to address this humanitarian crisis?Over 300 000 people displaced because of fighting between rebel groups (some who are Hutu's who fled Rwanda after the genocide),

renegades, Congolese army troups, and groups whose loyalty is uncertain but all have brutalized, murdered and raped with impunity. These people have nothing that is not provided and although with the "capture" of the rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, things are safer oeple are still

afraid to return home. Samaritan's Purse, Franklin Graham's non profit has provided the water supply here

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 5, 2009

The drive from Kigale to Gisenyi on the Congo border was beautiful. Terraced cultivated hills of maize, bananas, melon,cabbage, and other crops I did not recognize. The trip took about 3 hours.

We stopped about 3/4 of the way there in Jenda and serendipitously met Chance, a precious 10 year old who speaks 4 languages and three Kenyan dialects. We were all taken with her. Her mother, Chantal, had returned from Nairobi where she was attending DayStar University and USIU (US International University) but had run out of money. She also had returned to see about an errant husband who was courting a potential second wife and had cut them off.

Chance had had a good education but was no longer in school. Steve gave her Stonic’s card and told the mother that she could attend the Deliverance School in Kitale if she would call him. Cherry volunteered to pay her way through the GEMS program.

She really did seem to be a special kid.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 4, 2009

Andre and Elivera took us by their church and school where we all said hello to the students at Chapel.

Then we drove an hour south to the Institute for Women's Excellence, a high school for girls orphaned by the genocide. It is well equipped with computers and a science lab.

I shook hands with an old friend. We spoke in several of the classes.

There were prisoners hired by the school to do construction and maintainence for $1.50 a day. Other laborers we saw making concrete bricks make twice that much!

Their dance troupe performed for us. About a third of the girls did not have costumes. Cherry hopes to remedy that.

After lunch at a nearby hotel we returned to Kigale we went to East Africa's version of Wal-Mart, Nakumett, and bought blankets, sheets, milk, school supplies, jam, pans, and personal care products for the school. Too bad we won't be there to see their faces when they receive these supplies.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 10th, 2009
Dear Friends and Family,
Last evening we returned from our medical mission in Africa. I find myself crying a lot. Am I tired? Not really. Tired is not being able to stay awake past nine after a day of travel on bumpy roads, medical clinics and sights and stories that awake you in the middle of the night as the mind tries to solve the problems we have seen. Oh I know that we can’t solve the big issues, the poverty issues, the political issues, the strife, the conflict, the hate. But one “starfish” at a time is our motto. We can take care of a fraction of their pain when we come and touch them with primary care, a smile, a blessing. “Mungu aku barike. God bless you.”
This mission we extended MEDS for Africa from Kenya into Rwanda and The Congo. Kenya was our continuation of medical clinics with Sister Freda Robinson in Kitale, Kenya and into the rural areas of Pokot, Narouk, the Masai Mara and Bosnia, a refugee camp named after those refugees. Then David and I went to Rwanda, a beautiful country that is moving on from the Genocide of 1994 and 1995. Poverty still remains but they have a lush green country set in hills and mountains. The wonderful people at ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministry) of Rwanda took us to The Congo border where the ALARM of The Congo met us and walked us to the other side. The Congo was rough. David & I were allowed into (IDP) Internally Displaced Person camps. These people had escaped from their homes and farms before warring rebels cut their leg muscles so that they couldn’t run before they would kill them or rape the women and make the children watch. There were thousands of children running around with no parents, no school and nothing to do, dirty, hungry, eyes and eyes oozing with infection, coughing because all cooking is done over charcoal and wood, trash burned on sight. Our respect for “check book charity” was solidified as we saw World Vision trucks making sure that there was food, Oxfam who set up water tanks and pump stations in the camps. Save the Children and Heal Africa who built and support hospitals to operate on the children who have lost their limbs from untreated infection and to operate on women who have been raped and left to die with tree limbs and knives stuck in them.
Yes, we were happy to be back to our home which was secure and untouched, to our clean toilets that carry the waste faraway, to our grocery store that was fully stocked with items that Africans can’t even imagine, to our cappuccino coffees, to our church which has a floor and windows and an organ and stain glass windows and a staff that is paid. Yes, we are thankful. Yes, we are thankful that we can serve and that we live to tell you their stories.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers.
Cherry and David Haymes
MEDS for Africa

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 2, 2009

After stowing our luggage at ALARM our driver, Theo, took us to the Museum in Kigale.
ALARM is Africa Leadership and Reconciliation Ministry. It is largely a Baptist and Evangelical supported ministry and it is a congenial group. Their headquarters are in Dallas on Coit Road. They are working hard to heal Rwanda from the genocide of 1994.

The museum describes the state of Rwanda from 1895 to post genocide Rwanda. It was heartbreaking and we shed quite a few tears.

Steve and Andre at Museum

A large picture of David stares at the camera smiling.

Age: 8
Favorite sport: football
Best friend: my mother
Ambition: to be a doctor
Characteristic: likes to make people laugh

and then

Hacked to death by machete.

No pictures allowed inside. 800,000 people killed in an area smaller than Maryland.

Where was God during all this?

Mass grave on Museum site

Garden on Museum grounds
March 1, 2009

After our game drive we drove back through Narok and took pictures with Rachel, a young Masai girl who sold bananas at this service station. Steve asked her why she was not in school. She had to sell to support her family. On our way to the game drive Steve met the family and arranged for a uniform, books, and school fees for the girl and some money to help the family until the drought improves. Here she is in her uniform.

Then we took the four hour dusty ride into Nairobi to the Safari Park Hotel. We were greeted by Chrispinus and Christine. Chrispinus is taller than Steve and indebted to him because in the post election violence in 2008 his female cousin was murdered in brought daylight near the hotel. Because of the danger taking her body to be buried near Mt Kenya, as tradition required, was very dangerous. Steve provided money, a driver, and a safe route to accomplish this. Chrispinus still cried when he told us this.

We said goodbye to the Californians as they headed for the airport and repaired to the Hemingway bar for some antimalarial treatment, Bombay gin and Tonic.

March 2, 2009

After a day of rest at the Safari Park we headed to Jomo Kenyatta for the short but expensive flight to Kigale Rwanda..

The flight was pleasant and we were met at the Kigale Airport by the head of ALARM in Rwanda, Pastor Andre Mfitumukiza. We are staying at ALARM's conference center.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 1, 2009.
This morning we left the Losho Mara camp for a game drive through the Masai Mara National Park. One of our vans was giving us trouble and I was surprised to see a Masai warrior leaning into the van working on the engine.

When he straightened up I saw that it was Stonic Koipah, our lead driver and protector. This is his area and his people. At the clinic in Narok I saw his mother, father, grandfather, sister,

sister-in-law and other Koipah's of uncertain relation. Although he lives in Nairobi this is where he is at home, where he killed a lion with spear and shield when he was a teenager. He is quite a guy.

The pictures if the game drive speak for themselves.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Losho Mara.


Yesterday we did a clinic near the Masai Mara at the Losho Mara tent camp where we are staying.

We saw mostly children. Several had bilateral ear infections and one baby less then a year old had abscess on his anterior thigh. Sister Freda said it was from a "quack." Apparently because of lack of access to medical care people visit folk healers. This child had visited one who had a syringe and needle that she used to draw up God knows what (often water that has collected on banana leaves overnight) into the child. All it does is make these abscesses. Sister Freda showed me a picture on her phone of a young man at her clinic who had to have an AK amputation (thats above the knee for you non medical types) because of this practice. I brought Sister Freda a book on tropical disease and read about Brucellosis prior to the clinic. This infectious disease contracted from infected cattle is wide spread among the Masai and can cause many problems, including chronic arthritis. I am convinced that many of the joint pains I saw were due to this and I treated several men for Brucellosis. Of course out here there is no way to confirm it. After seeing forty to fifty patients and lancing an abscess above a little boys eye we organized the delivery of corn meal and sugar to the women of the village. There seemed to be about a hundred women and we saw only about ten Masai warriors. I never did get to ask Stonic if all these women were the responsibility of just these few men. As usual the activity got chaotic but we managed to distribute all we'd brought. Then the Masai women set up in the field and many of us bought Masai jewelry.

Kris Carpenter bought necklaces for Helen and Bernice, Sister Freda's clinical specialist and pharmacist. She presented them while we had tea around a campfire that afternoon. They were thrilled. Doubly thrilled when we told them they were going on our game drive tomorrow. They have never been.