When I left Adi on February 17, the corona virus already ravaged in China, but was not yet an issue elsewhere in the world. How quickly that has changed. In the week after having arrived in The Netherlands the first corona patient was announced in a TV talk with the minister of health on February 27. When I had my medical check-up in the Leiden University Medical Centre the doctors didn’t shake hands anymore, and disinfectant was available at the entrance of the hospital. By the way, my medical check-up was fine, no problems at all.
The situation in The Netherlands deteriorated quickly. And while at the beginning of March I was thinking that my trip to Israel might be cancelled, but I would make it to Uganda by the end of April and that I would be in time for the first workshop of Channels of Hope with the women of the Adi Bible School. But that is not to be. Now all borders are closed, even in Uganda and in the DRC schools have closed down. Please pray for the 29 children that we support with our program Bethsaida. Four of them would sit for their final exams. Church gatherings in Congo are forbidden and only groups of less than 20 people are allowed. Doctors and nurses in Adi hospital are afraid that corona will present itself at the hospital. Cases have been detected in Kinshasa and already also five in North Kivu. North Kivu is the province that has had lots of trouble with ebola, and the last case of ebola left the hospital when I was already in The Netherlands. Also they still struggle with attacks of rebels of the ADF. And now this. Please pray for the hospital workers in Congo, for their protection and for wisdom and that God will help them. I know that the medical staff in Adi fears that corona might reach Adi. In Ituri there are two cases of corona.
Last week the news was published that just before announcing the end of the ebola epidemic a new case was detected in Beni. There have been three cases so far.
So, what am I doing?
I am staying with my parents, and the three of us stay pretty much at home. My dad walks with their dog three times a day and my mom regularly takes a walk outside just to have a ‘fresh nose’, as we say in Dutch. Shopping is done mostly by me together. We buy a bit more, but we don’t ‘hamster’ or stockpile. It was a stupid sight on television to see people leaving the supermarket with a big stock of toilet paper. I listen to sermons, read and I have started a small course of a month about member care. I am already behind but it is a good course (Member Care Foundations) and I definitely plan to finish it.
This afternoon I received a voice mail of Ayila, one of my colleagues in Adi. Ayila is a nurse working in Adi Hospital in the treatment program for people living with HIV. Furthermore he is helping me as a facilitator in the workshops of ‘Channels of Hope’. In this mail he expressed his concerns about the people living with ARV who have to go to Uganda for their ARV. Now with the corona the borders have been closed, and both Uganda and Congo are pretty much in a lockdown. Many cannot cross the border and without ARV their health will deteriorate. Also food is becoming a problem, while people living with HIV who are taking ARV have to eat well. Ayila is asking for prayer and practical help. They could already help people as I left money with the accountant of the hospital to prepare the first of the workshops in Adi, but because of the restrictions this will not take place. I am glad that he felt free to start helping people living with HIV with food with this money. Even today he visited a woman with HIV and could help her and two others with ARV and food.
- That God will facilitate that people living with HIV can go to Uganda for their ARV;
- That others can be assisted at Adi hospital, and that the supply of ARV will not dry up; so pray also for a good collaboration with the medical authorities in Congo;
- For wisdom for me how I can be of help to them.
- Pray if you can assist financially.
If you are in The Netherlands there are two possibilities. You can directly transfer money to the AIM account which is:
IBAN is NL91 RABO 0155 6577 12
Or you can go to the following site to donate your gift. http://dms.vigilantdms.nl:81/AIMInt/adres004.html#steun
If you are not in The Netherlands, you can go to the following website and donate your gift. http://www.aimint.org
Please make a note that the money is destined for the Hospital of Adi (Ziekenhuis Adi) in DR Congo for the assistance of people living with HIV during the corona crisis. After reception, I will make sure that the money will be transferred to the hospital bank account in Aru and will follow the use of the money.
Thank you so much for your prayers and assistance.
After coming back from Uganda it was straight back to work. In three months we organised four workshops. One in October, in Adi for school chaplains and the school directors.
The second one, in November, was for the pastors in the church district of Aru. Here I found an old woman friend, Asero, now director of the Women of the Good News of the district.
The third one, end of November, was for the Bible School Students from Adi. This was a huge group, really too big, but we did it.
For World AIDS Day, that was just following the workshop, we had asked the students to teach about HIV in the church of their Christian Service and preach about Mark 1:40-45. One of the students who serves in the local church in Adi leads a small women’s choir and they sang about AIDS in the Bangala service. I wanted to upload it here, but it doesn’t work. Sorry. But as you can see, I tried, and while it doesn’t work for me, it might for you, so I’ll leave it here.
The last workshop in the series was for the pastors in the church section of Adi, beginning of December. Too close to the other one, but also a good one. I really like to give those workshops. The only problem is that the pastors sometimes don’t even have a knowledge of French and the teaching has to be done in Bangala. And when I am tired, French is the language that I start to speak. I had to be reminded sometimes that translation was needed 😉 and what a blessing it is to have two colleagues next to you who can do just that.
Are you involved in warning people about HIV infection? In proclaiming that Christ has made room for them in his heaven when they believe in Him and place their faith in Him? That is the message we share and live.
I left Adi on Wednesday August 7 to go to Koboko and the next day I had a long bustrip to Kampala on Thursday. But the reception at Matoke Inn was, as usual, warm and friendly. I stayed there for a couple of days until Sunday afternoon the AIM conference for Central Region started. It was about rest. We need time alone with God, to be built up and just rest in His arms. It was a good time, but still with a lot going on.
Abedju and Aru
July was busy and sometimes hectic, as in the beginning of the month I was sick. I even had to cancel two workshops that I had planned in the first full week of July. One I could plan in later in the month and it went well. The school chaplains and headmasters of secondary schools in the church districts of Aru and the new church district of Ariwara came to Abedju for a two-and -a-half day workshop of Channels of Hope. I went there with Ayila, with whom I worked in October as well.
July 30 was a very special day. Graduation day for Margaret Badaru, my friend who I hope will be involved in the treatment program for people living with HIV at the hospital and also in the AIDS Program. She graduated as a registered nurse after three years of intensive study.
The three days following the graduation, I stayed in Aru to have a rest and time off to connect with God, which was a very good time. Saturday August 3rd a big wedding was organised in Aru and I was invited. I knew the groom, had given him advice and help about his studies (Theology at the University Shalom Bunia) and his wedding. His wife is the daughter to the Bible Institute director in Adi. At the reception I got a big surprise, I was given one of the wedding cakes. After the wedding I went back to Adi again.
After conference I went with a former short termer Caroline Bell and her colleagues to Moroto where they are serving with AIM under the Karamojong. Margaret went with me. We hope to see some of the work.
Visit from Wiebe and Heleen, Members of my home church in The Netherlands
I will be going back to Kampala at the end of this month, to wait there for Wiebe and Heleen. I am looking forward to their visit. There are some questions and issues to be solved, so I like to ask your prayers for these.
A comprehensive workshop discovering how church leaders can be involved in teaching about HIV and care for those living with HIV. It is a workshop that I have followed in South Africa in 2013 when it was organised by AIDSLink. And I have developed it into a workshop of 2-3 days for DR Congo. I have organised two workshops last year, in the CECA 20 church districts of Aba and Watsa. This year in November I will go to Bunia and teach the new CECA leadership. And…
Next month I will be for a two-day workshop in Koboko, Uganda. CECA has expanded into Uganda and the beginning of July some 12 pastors will meet for their executive council. Following these meetings I have been given the opportunity for this workshop. The teaching will be on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 July! And of course it will be in English this time, so I have been translating what I translated from English to French back into English again.
July will be busy, as the school chaplains in the church district of Aru have asked for a Channels of Hope workshop also. That will probably follow the one in Koboko.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.