We have finally planted ourselves here in Tchad, Africa. We are on the outskirts of a small village called Bendelay which is near a large village/town named Bere. –
(Search on a google map for Bere Adventist Hospital and you will be able to get a good idea of where we are in Tchad. I would have to show you on the map where our little project is from there.)
Chris and I are the Directors of a small program for malnourished babies. Our program name is: Bere Adventist Nutrition Training Center. The goal is to take in a dozen moms with babies that have severe acute malnutrition (MAM) and work with a special feeding program for each child. It does not take many weeks before the little ones are gaining weight and moving around. Most of the babies that we will work with are at least -3sd on a growth chart. There is
a “golden interval” between birth and two years old that if we can get them back up to speed, they will do very well in the years to come. After that period, there is still a good success rate of stabilizing the child’s weight but there are some lost growth and development milestones that are difficult to regain. Not impossible, but questionable. That is where Chris comes in.
She has a degree in Early Childhood development and with a lot of Play Therapy can help the parents raise the child to be more normal. This past Tuesday we had 64 moms bring their babies for a feeding program where we assessed the babies from head to toe, determined where they came on the growth chart and decided if they fit our criteria for receiving a week’s worth of formula or not. We ended up with 38 on the program. The moms were so patient with us. Everything had to be translated from English to French to Nangjere and back again multiple times with each question. Seven of us worked from 9am-5pm. We had to package up 265 small bags of formula and a vitamin for each day of the week for the 38 kids on the program for this week. (We did the packaging just like another program has done it for years. Very time consuming.
From our days of doing Pack-n-Wrap at Laurelwood, I am changing how we do the packaging.) Chris and I nearly finished moving into a 20ft diameter one room mud brick thatched roof hut. We have painted the walls a nice enamel white and robin egg blue. Nice and clean. Concrete floor with a colorful mat purchased in the near village. So as to not feel to sorrowful for us, we do have a little propane stove with an oven. (I even made oatmeal raisin cookies after I cooked way to much oatmeal for breakfast. They were all eaten by ourselves and another couple that we fixed lunch for.) Also, we do have running water and an indoor toilet. No hot water. But cold showers are wonderful in these hot African days. Chris still fills a camp shower bucket and gets in hot by laying it out in the sun.
Most of our getting around is by motorcycles. I may a cycle endorsement on my Oregon driver’s license but that does not make me a motorcyclist by any means. My arms and shoulders aren’t what they use to be. Besides most of the trails around here are turning into deep sandy ruts. I have a 125cc Honda that belongs to the center, which, although I have not dumped yet, is taking a beating from me. Chris is learning on a 110 Royal scooter, which was meant to be ridden on pavement. But it is lighter. She has been practicing on the dirt airstrip near our center. She has taken it out on the sandy trails has dump a few times. I am proud of her but am concerned that she might get hurt. She has been talking out buying one of the local ponies and making a ridding cart that she can take from the airstrip to the nutrition center every day.
There are many more details to share. Watch for group emails. Check out our web page and hopefully soon more blog postings. www.berecenter.org africacallsmikekelly.blogspot.com
We are asking all our families and friends to join us in our efforts to make a difference in the lives of these children. When these moms and babes stay at the center for several weeks at a time, we have opportunities to share the love of Jesus with them. If we cannot give anything else, we can at least give them Jesus.