Our Bethsaida project

Bethsaida is our orphan project. AIDS is still rampant in Congo, and at the hospital at least 450 people living with HIV are being treated with ARV’s. But regularly we hear that one of them dies. Mostly this is because they don’t take these ARV’s every day. When they feel good, they think they don’t need them anymore and they quit the treatment.

Bethsaida helps orphans, who lost their parents because of HIV related illnesses, to go to school. We cannot help everybody, and this school year 2017-2018 we are supporting 25 children to go to school. Fifteen of them are in primary school, ten are in secondary school.

Dhata Yeka is the chairman of our board, and is also the director of the primary school in Adi. He is a man of integrity and a big help for me. Together with Bhayo Leku and Atiye Likiso he is following the children at school.

Dhata Yeka with Esther Anyadru, one of the orphans we support


A whole new year and a whole new start of this blog. At least, that’s what I plan to do.

This blog will be about the AIDS Awareness Program and about Bethsaida. It will also mention the treatment program that is organised in the hospital of Adi, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Adi Hospital: view of the maternity

Time out

No, it doesn’t mean time out of everything, but time out of Congo. Last Monday I left Adi for Uganda where I have been for a week and a half. AIM Central Region had its conference and it was probably the best since the start of CR. We were just north of Kampala, and the venue was perfect. Nice rooms, good food, TV with National Geographic Wild that I could snatch glimpses of, and of course good fellowship with other missionaries and visitors. One of those visitors was Eddie Larkman, a pastor from the UK, who shared the Word of God with us. He spoke about trust, sacrifice, prayer, satisfaction and service (not necessarily in that order). I took notes and like to go through them again and see where I need to commit to apply God’s Words in my life. Another visitor was Kokole Idring’i, our church president, who took the stage together with a representative of the church of South Sudan and one of Uganda. What they shared was thought provoking, and I have to go through my notes here again, but one thing I retain was that it is important to listen to them and to share our vision with them so that they can have an impact, an important impact in our ministry.

I said a bittersweet goodbye to Caroline. We had to do the debrief and talked a lot. There were things that needed to be discussed and prayed about and we separated as friends and sisters. She is now in north Uganda visiting with missionaries who work among the Karamajong.

I am on my way home now, at the moment I am in Arua, and waiting to hear from the people in Adi. They will come to the border to pick me up – on motorbike. The hospital car broke down Tuesday when it hit a rock and has not been repaired so far. From the border to Adi will be about a 2-hour ride. It has been raining here this morning, so I have to see how to protect my backpack, in which I have my computer. However, I think it will be okay.

It will be great if I’ll make it today. Tomorrow is the ‘graduation’ of the nursery school in Adi and one of the students who will say goodbye to kindergarten is Esther Anyadru, an orphan girl supported by the AIDS Program. I visited the school just before going to Kampala and she was just about to do her exam. I stayed and took pictures. She did well!!! Next school year she will go to primary school. I think she will do well there also.


Now that I succeed to arrive on my website, I notice that it has been more than two months that I was here. A lot has happened. The event that revived all the people in Adi was the wedding of the pastor leading the church section of Adi, Charles Balonge. His wife had died almost two years ago and in Azonye he found another partner. They were married on May 20 (civil wedding) and May 21 (church wedding).



Yesterday I celebrated my birthday. And although I was in a meeting of the health zone part of the day, I had a great day with lots of surprises.

Breakfast was grilled cheese sandwiches with a strong cup of coffee. My cat Mapendo was hoping for a piece of bread with cheese.

birthday breakfast

Birthday breakfast

I attended the meeting from 10am until 1pm. Then I went home for lunch. It was a ‘surprise’ lunch (of which I knew a lot already) but in spite of that, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Chicken with several side dishes and great company. Caroline had invited Badaru and her mom and had asked Anite, my house help, to join us at the table!

From left to right: Annemarie, Anite, Anisi (mother of Badaru) and Badaru

From left to right: Annemarie, Anite, Anisi (mother of Badaru) and Badaru

Desert after lunch was a very nice chocolate birthday cake baked by Caroline and presented by Badaru and herself.

presentation of the delicious birthday cake

Presentation of the delicious birthday cake

I am grateful to my heavenly Father who has brought me thus far.

Training church leaders

The training is finished. It were hectic, busy days but all went well. Monday morning 16 March, was for the last preparations but not all worked out, like to have the statistics about the treatment program in the health zone of Adi. The people of the health zone were still working on their reports.

Several church leaders came with their wives. This made that the language used was Bangala, although at the end I noticed that I started using French more because I was tired (this because bedtime for me was around midnight for three nights in a row).

Badaru gives her testimony

Badaru gives her testimony

There were many really positive points during the training. For me that was Badaru’s testimony. She is living with HIV and I knew her story as she told it before. But the fact that she stood before these church leaders and had the courage to tell them, making herself vulnerable, touched my heart. And my eyes, I must confess, didn’t stay dry. After her testimony I asked all to stand around her in a circle and one pastor to pray for her.

Participation was great. From the icebreaker on the participants were not afraid to speak, ask questions and give their opinion. There was a big discussion about condom use. Also during explanations the participants were all attention.

Full attention (chief of Adi in pink shirt next to his wife)

Full attention (chief of Adi in pink shirt next to his wife)

On their evaluation form many said that they wanted to have a follow-up, either in training or in visits from the facilitators. And that is exactly what we want to do. They also asked for a syllabus. Also something we like to do. However, we didn’t have enough time to prepare this as I translated a lot from English into French and then we needed on the spot or in our workshop preparation translate it again into Bangala. We will prepare a small syllabus though, we (Badaru, Likambo and I) decided this morning during our evaluation. Of course there were other things as well to improve and we will. One thing to keep though is the testimony of Badaru, as many have expressed it to be one of the important moments of the training.

As I said, several pastor’s wives came also, as did the wife of the chief of the Kakwa. She attended even more sessions than her husband, who was asked to attend several important meetings at the chiefdom.

Kakwa chief

Kakwa chief

Kakwa chief's wife

Kakwa chief’s wife

Achievements: February 2015

First of all my apologies. Due to an error in the website some information was deleted. Thus…I will write this about the whole month of February.

Adi has been hot, and busy.

Laura has been filming and editing for the AIDS Program. It will be a kind of documentary about the program and show how it started, how it developed into what it is now and how we see the future. She has been working with a volunteer, Beba, who came to ask one day if he could work with her so that he could learn many things about editing. Laura could finish the French version before she left on February 19. I have translated all the interviews for the subtitling she will need to put under it. I’ll make sure that it will be distributed in the UK, USA and The Netherlands (at least).


Laura filming (photo Caroline)


Caroline is a medical doctor and following the work at the hospital. Sometimes it is hard on her, especially when she lacks all the facilities that are available in the UK (where she’s from). Sometimes she experiences new things. Like in the first week when we were helping at the prenatal clinic and a woman who was full term had come for her prenatal checkups. Her water broke though, but there was no progress. Finally it ended up to be a C-section with the birth of a healthy baby boy, whom we called Aimé after the doctor who had done the intervention.

People around here appreciate the presence of the two short termers and we have regular visitors. Like Papa Zebulona, a former teacher, but though retreated, he is still teaching the Sunday school children. He asked for a photo together with us, and we gladly agreed.

From left to right: Laura, Papa Zebulona, Caroline and Annemarie

From left to right: Laura, Papa Zebulona, Caroline and Annemarie

Also Badaru comes. She is a volunteer in the AIDS program and she is living with HIV. Together with her I am preparing a workshop for church leaders. She often has good ideas and we discuss a lot of things.

With Badaru

With Badaru

While discussing and using materials from the Channels of Hope training that I attended in South Africa in 2013, we came up with a wild idea. As Badaru speaks both French and English and as it is difficult to find facilitators who can teach in French, we decided that it is a great idea to send Badaru to the training, either this year or next year (of course preferably this year). However, we don’t have the money for her going. Also she doesn’t have a passport. We have been calculating the total costs (passport, trip, training) to be around $3,000 in total and we will need to find financial support for our dream to become reality. When she has attended this facilitator’s training, she can help me facilitating workshops using the Channels of Hope materials. Even a bigger dream, it would be great if one of our doctors (maybe Dr. Aimé, who is the focal point for the treatment and care program for PLWHA, could go together with her).

The day before she left, Caroline and I prepared a surprise for Laura. Together with Badaru (AIDS Awareness Program) and Iyete (teacher of English at the secondary school) we went for a delicious meal in Ingbokolo. It was fun. And it was a big surprise for Laura. On the way back we went to see Onzi, the French teacher of Laura and Caroline. We were offered another big meal, and because we couldn’t refuse we all took a tiny bit. We were still satisfied from our late lunch.

From left to right: Caroline, Laura, Badaru, Annemarie, Iyete

From left to right: Caroline, Laura, Badaru, Annemarie, Iyete

The church leaders have proposed a date for our training, 16-18 March. With around 45 participants. Many leaders will be invited together with their wives. A momentous occasion. Often only the men come. I really look forward to it. The time flies, and we still have lots of preparation ahead so Badaru and I want to involve Likambo as well.

Another short termer has arrived

Yesterday I again had a busy day. I went with Dr. Simon and Indani, who is the accountant at the hospital, to Arua. We had several missions, of which the biggest was to pick up Caroline. She is a medical doctor and will be working with the AIDS Program and in the hospital for about 6 months. Laura and I were really excited to welcome her. After having picked her up, we had to do some shopping as well. As gas tank as my gas had almost run out. Just as well I bought it yesterday as this morning it did ran out! Also some groceries and treats and a battery for the water pump in the other house that is used as printing press. Around 5.30 pm we arrived back home, and were welcomed by Laura, who was still talking with her French teacher, Onzi.
She had a good day as well. Working on the video with Beba and baking. She did a good job. The chocolate chip cookies and lemon meringue pie were delicious and we decided that she could have another go at it.

Caroline (left) and Laura ready to enjoy the lemon meringue pie.

Caroline (left) and Laura ready to enjoy the lemon meringue pie.

We are resting now and having a quiet day. Although…quiet? The girls do lots of talking to get to know each other.

Working on films

Working on films
Since Laura is here we have been working on the production of a film that will document the work of the AIDS Awareness Program. When Laura came, she could jump straight in the deep end because only four days after her arrival it was World AIDS Day and she could film how we went for sensitization at several schools in Ingbokolo.

Laura surrounded by school children

Laura surrounded by school children

After World AIDS Day Laura has taken some time to settle, however, we continued to think about the filming as well. What did we want to show the viewers, what did we want them to know, how did we want to do that. Were there more videos we wanted to produce?

So we got to it all in a relaxed way. There are three main videos now that we are thinking about. The top one of these is a video about the AIDS Awareness Program. How did it start, how did it develop, where are we now and how do we look at the future. We have already done one interview, with Dr. Aimé, who is the medical head of staff and also responsible for the treatment program. He did very well. In the mean time Laura has been able to film and we want to put these little clips in front of the speeches.

Dr. Aimé during his interview

Dr. Aimé during his interview

The second one is about my life in Adi, so, this is a more personal one and really the least important for I am visible in the one for the AIDS Program as well.

The third one is an idea of Bhayo, one of my colleagues. He works a lot with young people and observes the problems with marriage. Many young people don’t marry the biblical way but a boy just grasps a girl, takes her home and she is his ‘wife’ from that moment on. Often she is already pregnant when he takes her home. During the prenatal clinics that we attended I have seen some girls of 15 and 16 years of age that came to those clinics with their first pregnancy. We pray that this video, which will show the biblical marriage in contrast with the marriage by abduction, will have an impact on the young people who watch it. Here too we will have a pastor (Bhayo) give a short sermon and show what he says in short video clips.

December and January are also the times for church conferences. During the Christmas break a three day conference was organized for the young people of Adi and CECA churches in the neighborhood. Margaret and I have been talking about AIDS and made a call for the youth to be tested. This week there will be a general church conference and also here we have been given time to share about AIDS. The main theme for this conference is “God’s Plan” and we want to talk about God’s Plan for the church in relationship with HIV and AIDS.

Margaret and I during the youth conference

Margaret and I during the youth conference


To all readers I want to wish you a Happy New Year and all of Gods blessings bestowed on you.

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