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19 Nov 2019

Sister Vero in Mombasa

We’ve been friends for a long time, Sister Vero and I. She and I both started the jobs we currently hold at the same time in March 2005. We came to know each other first by email and later, through the visits I make to Mombasa, Kenya. With her quick smile, huge hugs, and loving ways, I was embraced into her world – a world that is full of orphans, widows, poor, destitute, unloved, and the unwanted. Here, she lives fully, giving of herself day in and day out, loving well and showing others what it is to do so humbly and with dignity. I have picked up the [...]

12 Nov 2019

Love, compassion, respect and the impact is incredible

AFCA is THE BEST. I am an extremely proud volunteer and avid supporter. I discovered AFCA in 2010 while volunteering on another non-profit project in Nepal. Some of my teammates had experience as AFCA volunteers, and their AFCA T-shirts prompted me to ask questions about this organization. The way they beamed with joy and excitement telling me about the amazing work AFCA does, was telling this was something very special and unique. I got the general mission from them, 'helping children in Sub-Saharan Africa who are infected or affected by AIDS', which in truth is too summarial to define the magnitude, dimension, heart, and reach of this organization and [...]

8 Nov 2019

Balanced meals from the GARDEN PROJECT

We walk towards the 23 garden plots bursting with kale, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and a smattering of butternut squash. Seven women, all affected by AIDS, work this land three days a week, giving them time to be mothers and grandmothers. Proudly wearing bright yellow shirts that say GARDEN PROJECT on their back, they mulch, water, weed, prepare new land, sow, plant, harvest. I strike up a conversation with two women and ask what the project means to them and they explain that they and the children eat from the money earned. That their children are in school. That their household has seen improvements. I ask if they are paid [...]

4 Nov 2019

Bright yellow t-shirts

In the village of Miwani in western Kenya, you’ll find 23 garden beds, teeming with veggies and fruit, all tended by HIV+ mothers. Kale, onions, potatoes, spider plants, tomatoes, peppers, and so much more is grown in this plot, helping achieve one of the goals of this project: help an orphanage become self-sustaining. Children there now eat balanced meals, complete with green, white, yellow, red, and orange veggies and fruit and the excess is sold in the open market. Part of the proceeds go back into the project while the rest is used to help run the orphanage.  Win-win! The fair wages earned by the women who work the [...]

25 Oct 2019

Notes on traveling with Naomi

Our trip starts with these words from me to my travel companion, Naomi: “Do not eat lettuce or any veggies which haven’t been cooked or peeled, ok?” I walk downstairs to join Kathy and Naomi and am greeted by Kathy who tells me that Naomi is distraught. I feel a momentary fear that something terrible has happened at home to one of her children and ask where Naomi is so I can find out what is happening. Kathy points out the door into the torrential rain as lightning flashes across the sky. I am obviously confused, so I look between Kathy and the storm until Kathy says, “she can’t [...]

18 Oct 2019

Offered a baby

Today, I am offered a baby boy to raise as my own. We are at the maternity clinic AFCA helped build in a slum in Mombasa and I head towards a woman who is having her baby measured and weighed. I want to talk to her in order to find out how this clinic may be helping her. She explains that the baby is her grandnephew and that she is only here for one more month, in order to help the family out. Her niece is 14, making her the same age as my own child. A baby raising a baby. I ask if I can hold him and [...]

9 Oct 2019

Grannies, hugs and our sisal project

The grannies sit outside in a circle, doing their thing. The ropes get longer and longer as they work, a babble of voices accompanying the work. As we approach, they wave their greetings, inviting us to join them on the side of the tin building which provides them with shelter from the sun.  I pass hugs and kisses all around, instantly happy to see them. My heart feels good here and after a day of meetings and planning, it is good to be outside amongst these Luo speakers. Rain is imminent, with the sky a petroleum grey behind us, rapidly overpowering the bright sunlight. Time is short, so we [...]

7 Oct 2019

My spirit was full

It is a warm evening in Gemena, Democratic Republic of the Congo where I am doing some site visits to make sure that our livelihoods projects are doing well.  We visited 15 families so far and, in each case, I am incredibly encouraged and happy by what I see – families eating well because of their gardens and animals. Children no longer going to the clinic and not needing medicine for water borne illnesses because they now are using water filters and their bellies no longer hurt. And just as exciting – we are told over and over again of children attending school because school fees were paid through [...]

14 Sep 2019

Brian brightened my day, my week my year!

Jet lag has a grip on me this time around and I don’t sleep more than an hour total all night. When the alarm goes off at 4:30am, I am grateful for it, as I no longer need try to be still so that I don’t wake Naomi up. I shower and check us out, ready for our 5am trip to the airport, where we will catch a flight to Mombasa. Sister Veronica greets us at the Mombasa airport, where the sky is heavy with moisture and we are instantly drenched in sweat. Vero, on the other hand, comments on how cold the weather has turned and how strange it [...]

14 Sep 2019

Cold water, roosters and the different smells of the rains

I had forgotten cold water is so cold when taking a bath in the morning. It had slipped my mind that the rooster will crow at all odd hours, not just at sunrise. I missed the different smells of the rains: before they hit the scorched red earth, while it is raining, and as it moves on, leaving the land watered and complete. I fail to recall that that a chicken will likely be sitting on my bed throughout the day and will give me a look of utter contempt when I shoo her away. What has never escaped my memory and what forever lives in me is the sound [...]

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