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.