We had Ruth and Kristen with us for three weeks in June/July and we did ministry together in Finetown with Pastor Terrance Wessels. All his friends call him "Wessie". We admire him and the work he and his church do in the impoverished community right down the street from where they live. In this photo, Wessie is in the front, Heather (dark blue) and Jenny (brown sweatshirt) are OC missionary teammates, Kristen is front left, Ruth is front right holding Miesha, Tina (in orange) and Helen (black and white stripes) are members of Wessie's church's Compassionate Care team. Micah Witherow (baseball cap) got the day off of school to come and help us do ministry. I am so glad that his parents let him do this. I think there is no better education than working with and helping people in circumstances which are different than yours. We loved working with this group!
Finetown isn't "fine" at all and it is filled with people deperate for a touch of love and the gift of hope. We worked at a project called Zanzele ("do it yourself") for a week. There are around 60 trained health care volunteers who work in pairs to serve those dying of AIDS in their communties. Zanzele also is a home where 28 orphan kids live with their foster mother Mama Linda. She is my new hero!
Zanzele also has a feeding project on the campus and they give free food to several hundred children each day and also assist some elderly people who do not have any money. The priority is to feed orphans and vulnerable children - can you imagine several hundred orphaned and vulnerable children in your small neighborhood? (vulnerable children is a definition given to kids in several types of situations. The most common scenario is they may still have one parent, but that parent is sick with AIDS and can't work/can't care for them.)
Ruth is a nurse in Canada and she and Dan did a first aid training for the people who work with those sick with AIDS.
Several people said it was a really helpful review and many said they learned something new! Ruth also did a workshop on how to process grief since everyone every day are surrounded by death and those who are dying. There were lots of tears, some good processing, and valuable counseling type listening techniques communicated. One thing I have observed about Africans and how they process grief is that they rarely give themselves permission to cry, to grieve and to talk about their pain. I have seen this several times with the parents are dying, the kids watch their parents get sick and waste away to skeletons, but they are not allowed to ask questions about what is going on. They know their parents are dying, but they can't ask "how much time do you have left? who will care for me when you are gone?" Many never get to hear stories about their parent's lives that are crucial to pass from generation to generation. (Can you tell I am passionate about this?!! This is why I am writing the Bible Study curriculum for my friends who are dying of AIDS. A portion of it is called Leaving A Legacy...teaching them how to write their life stories to pass along to their kids. It is now translated into the Sotho language!)
Below are the healthcare workers who attended the class. There were 4 health facilities represented and these leaders will in turn teach others underneath them to maximize the impact of this training!
Several of the ladies had deep pain that they were willing to share with the group. One lady shared the pain of growing up without her father. She tracked him down and wanted to have a relationship with him. She also asked him if he would help fund her education so she could become a nurse. She only knew him for one year before he died of AIDS and he didn't make any attempt to build relationship with her or to assist her in acheiving her dream of becoming a nurse. She was grieving the loss of a father (even though he was absent) and also her dream of becoming a nurse to help people.
Another lady had just buried a husband two months before and was struggling to process her grief with friends who had a difficult time understanding and supporting her. This training will be an amazing tool these gals can use to help people they meet to process grief.