Monday, September 21, 2015

Trip to Epulu & Coffee Harvest

September 20, 2015

Mapenzi’s Story
She was breathing quickly and was too weary to sit.  Her mother's brow was furrowed.  I kept looking at Mapenzi’s body and her date of birth on the intake, thinking to myself  “There is no way she is 7 years old.  She looks to be about 3.”  But the mother insisted that she was indeed 7 years old.  A few questions later we learned that Mapenzi’s grandfather had just died of tuberculosis.  My first concern was that Mapenzi also had tuberculosis.  However the mother's first concern was, "how will we eat in the hospital?  I have no one.  I have no husband and my parents are dead and my other child is sick at home with the neighbor."  The family had not eaten in over a day since arriving to the hospital. 

This story illustrates is a fairly common occurrence.  The children who enter our nutrition program have multiple social problems and are often in great need.  The children are weak.  The families are stressed.  What was uncommon about this story was the degree of this woman’s loss.  Most people have someone to look after them.  This mother was truly alone.  You could just see the stress melt from the mother’s face as we told her Mama Ruth, the nutrition program cook, would look after her needs.

In the days that followed we learned more of her story. At the urging of friends and neighbors this mother brought Mapenzi to the hospital after three days of mourning of her father’s passing.  The villagers insisted that she would be taken care of at Nyankunde.  This warmed my heart, "They will take care of you."  We learned that the woman's whole family had been killed during the war.  Her two children had been attending a local heath center for nutritional supplements, but Mapenzi in particular was not doing well.  Mapenzi has received blood transfusions to correct severe anemia. She has started on tuberculosis treatment and in the therapeutic feeding program and is gaining the strength to sit and stand again. Her cough is decreasing.  She is on the road to recovery, with her mother and brother at her side.

I feel blessed to be part of something I KNOW makes a difference.  The causes of poverty and malnutrition are deep and complex.  There is no simple
solution.  But we can carry people through really difficult times and we watch
them pick their lives back up again.  I have lost hope in some parents for their
situations to change, but I can say that I am often wrong.  Often it is the
person you least expect to change who will.  People need someone to believe in
them and to experience the love of Christ through us. 

A Trip to Epulu
We were fortunate enough to take a short trip to Epulu Nature Preserve last week.  This is a very special place dedicated to the preservation of local species including a native endangered species of DRC in the giraffe family called the okapi.  The preserve plans to re-establish a select number of okapi in captivity in the next few months so the world can see this unique animal.  We woke up to the sound of African grey parrots and monkeys in the trees.  We went on a few nature hikes and actually saw the traces of a recent troup of elephants.  There is a kind of mystique to knowing the animal been there but not actually seeing it.
Checking everybody out, looking for a friend

Found a buddy!

Such confidence...I don't think he knows why he is different than them

Emmanuel loved splashing in the shallow pools around the riverside.  We spent some time with our friends Jon and Cher Cadd and Rosie a Swiss woman who helps to operate the reserve.  Rosie was a wonderful host, showing us around and spoiling us with wonderful evening meals.  Jon is a MAF pilot and was doing some wildlife surveys in the area as well as looking for encroachment on the park by poaching or logging.  Conservation in this part of the world means protecting the land from misuse and attempting to re-establish populations of rare species.  The local pygmees have such a dependent relationship on what the rainforest provides…from how to extract water from plants to harvesting honey from hives high up in trees.  It is really nice to be able to get away from time-to-time in country.  We look forward to seeing more wildlife and conservation efforts in DRC. 

A Recent Visitor

We were fortunate to welcome Dr. Kimiko Sugimoto, an American surgeon, to Nyankunde Hospital this past month.  She grew up in DRC and even lived here in this village for a short time.  This was
Dr. Kimiko (front left)
her second visit to our hospital and it was a blessing to have her with us again.  The staff of the hospital is encouraged by visitors as this allows them to learn new things.  Her presence allowed Warren to work on some projects and even build a chicken coop.  She even helped him remove a cyst from our dog Cocoa.  She really looked for ways to be helpful and relieve the surgical load.  Thank you Kimiko.  We will miss you.

Chickens and Coffee

The newest addition to our household are three hens named Kim Jun, Plastic, and Flower (named by various children).  Warren designed and built a chicken coop, which looks like a treehouse about 6

This sweet boy Jebel Miller climbed up into the chicken coop thinking it was a treehouse...then got stuck
feet off the ground.  For the first few days the chickens kept flying into the surrounding trees at night to roost….then we clipped their wings.  Since clipping their wings they are sleeping in their chicken coop.  We are hoping for eggs soon.  It remains to be seen if a male chicken is needed for the females to lay eggs.  It is a learning process.  I am glad that Warren likes to experiment with new animals…a cow might be next.

We are harvesting the first coffee from Warren's coffee plants from two years ago.  He is learning all about the growing, drying, shelling, roasting process.  How fun that we will be drinking our own home grown coffee!  
Playing in the new sandbox with friends
Harvesting coffee with nanny Maziga

Fresh Milk for Pediatrics

This past week the pediatric department ran out of therapeutic milk for the re-feeding program.  We completely ran out!  For the Congolese this is a common occurrence to run out of things, but for me this is not at all normal.  This milk rupture was anticipated, as we are still waiting for the importation of more therapeutic milk through UNICEF and other organizations.  Since mid-week we are making our own F75 milk with a combination of fresh milk, sugar, oil, electrolyte solution, and water.  I am thankful that we live in a farming area where cows are in abundance.  During wartime the hospital was often lacked therapeutic milk and had to come up with local solutions.  Pray for our hospital and continued management of children with malnutrition.  Our census has decreased these past weeks which is a blessing.

Thanks for your interest in our lives and for praying for us.  As you can see by all the kid photos, this is a busy and full season.  We enjoying our life here in DRC.  

If you want to be more involved in our work here, drop us an email.

Lindsey (for the Coopers)

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