20 Jun 2022

Fast and fearless in Kinshasa.

On the road again... Actually, in the air again - to Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa) and finally, by tomorrow afternoon, to Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)! Spend the afternoon and evening with a friend, eating shwarma and catching up on life, kids, husbands, and work. After a hot shower (an actual shower with hot water!) and my last packet of coffee and a final hug, I arrived well to the airport, thanks to the best taxi driver ever, the bopping Dode. I am so glad to be able to call him when I need a safe, . He isn't fazed by anything. NOTHING. He just sways his body from side to side [...]

18 Jun 2022

Life skills in Gemena

A little sewing at the Boyebi Center in Gemena. This is such a cool program, helping HIV+ women with life skills, such as sewing. They take a 10 month course in order to learn and practice before they graduate. After graduation, they can rent a sewing machine at the program in order to make clothes or other items for sale. The big need we have a a large generator to handle the three specialized sewing machines they have. One of the ladies had her little boy with her and he was quite frightened by the molende (white person), so he cried and cried until I left the room. [...]

16 Jun 2022

Heirarchy of a Congolese Road

The bell of a bicycle will have walkers and animals scurrying out of the way. The beep of a motorcycle will force a bicycle, goats, pugs, and individuals into the closest yard or swath of tall grass The honk of a car horn will make even the most intrepid motorcycle driver scoot out of the way, sometimes finding the nearest path where they stop to wait for the dust to settle before going on The sound of a truck under the weight of jerry cans full of water or gasoline or palm oil, with people and their possessions perched on top of it all will make all the above run [...]

15 Jun 2022

Books for Kids at Gift Academy

Kids at Gift Academy, singing thanks for the UFEEMA Library, where they can borrow school books in order to do their homework and not fall behind in school. In a slum of Kenya, these kids have hope.... education changes lives when it is respected, valued, used properly, and shared. On behalf of each of the children who will benefit from this incredible opportunity, Asante Sana (thank you very much)! All the books at the UFEEMA Library are required by the Kenyan government but are impossible for most children to afford.

13 Jun 2022

Episode 9: Volunteer Suzanne Heskin talks about traveling with AFCA

Listen on: AnchorFM / Spotify / iTunes Podcast Homepage Join Jen as she sits with Suzanne Heskin, who has volunteered with AFCA and traveled with both Climb Up, Kilimanjaro, as well as Vacation with a Purpose Zimbabwe programs. If you are interested in learning more about our adventures, and how you too can plan a once in a lifetime trip that helps spread hope to those infected and affected by AIDS, you can learn more at www.afcaids.org/adventure Trips for 2023 are forming now!

13 Jun 2022

Taking in the Sounds

As the sun sets over the Tandala guesthouse, the night comes alive. First, a chirp, a gurgle, a moan. A rooster with his timing all askew joins in the chorus on occasion, letting those of us who hear him know he might not own a timepiece, but he has a loud, beautiful voice. By midnight, the croaking of tens and tens of frogs are heard over the blowing wind which rustles the palm trees outside my window. The night is not hot, yet not cool, either. It is perfect as I lay under my mosquito net, taking in the sounds. What sounds like a very loud duck is not [...]

12 Jun 2022

Sights from the back of a motorcycle

What I see from the back of a motorcycle never ceases to amuse, comfort, shock, and/or captivate me. Some of today's sightings include: Children barely out of babyhood themselves, carrying infants on their backs or on their hips Grannies, mothers, girls, boys, toddlers...all balancing massive bundles of wood or jugs of water on their heads, walking slowly on uneven ground A tree heavy with jackfruit, carrying its load on roots which are no longer underground, as the rain has slowly but surely eroded the soil away A woman carrying 25 liters of water on her head and another 25 in a hand, a baby on her back, and sadness [...]

11 Jun 2022

I whisper a prayer

He raises his arms to me the instant we step foot on his Mama's compound. Without hesitation, he reaches for me and I reach down for him, bringing his emaciated little body tight to mine. I pull back, looking at the first African child to not hide or stare in wonderment before finally reaching out a hand. As I look into his big eyes, too big for his little face, he smiles hugely, looking directly at me with no fear despite our differences. It is easy to carry him with me as he weighs close to nothing, his thin legs hanging on both sides of me as I hold [...]

8 Jun 2022

New stove ‘fun’

My new stove may be fancy and new, but getting a coal fire started is breaking my spirit! After a third of the box of matches, I finally succeeded but there was sweat and almost tears involved as I have been awake since 3am, listening to the guard talk to his wife RIGHT OUTSIDE MY WINDOW and the frustration of this fire seemed a bit too much for 5:30am. The only reason I didn't go out to ask them to move was my fear of the rats, they who rule the night and darkness. Four of us are heading out today to Tandala to do vaccinations on a couple [...]

6 Jun 2022

The rains didn’t come today

I pour hot water from a thermos into my Coca-Cola cup (thanks, Erin Hoover !) and sprinkle instant coffee grounds into the water. A spoonful of powdered milk follows and I sip the mixture, smiling to myself, knowing my morning is truly starting, even though I have been awake for a long time. In another cup, I stir my last packet of instant oatmeal and add some walnuts I brought to increase my fat intake so I will be full for longer. After breakfast, it is time for my bucket bath, which is the fastest way to bathe, hands down. Dressed and ready, I lay out solar lights to [...]

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