Category Archives: Events

A Summer of Outreach

IMG_4802We just said goodbye to our volunteers from Kingsburg Community Church in CA. They helped us run a series of medical outreaches. IMG_4851

With the team’s help, we were able to see approximately 400 patients in our outreach clinics in just one week! Patients were tested for diabetes and high blood pressure as well as getting eye-exams and reading glasses.

 

 

The team also had the opportunity to do special health education in a large primary school. One of the highlights was being able to share the Jesus film in several different venues.

 

 

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Another special experience was feeding over 200 children lunch in the slums of Turbo after a special program and gospel presentation.

 

 

IMG_4841One of our team members has been living with diabetes for over four-decades. She was able to encourage patients to not fear testing and treatment. It was beautiful to see the skills and personal life experiences come into play to minister to the sick and hurting here in Kenya. IMG_4846

 

Glasses were distributed to those who hadn’t been able to see well or read in years. We also had a number of patients with complicated medical issues whom we were able to refer back to our medical center for more comprehensive treatment.

IMG_4860We want to give thanks to each of you who pray for and financially support this ministry. You are greatly appreciated! Please keep an eye on this blog for regular prayer updates. And if you would like to financially support the work we are doing in Kenya, please click here.

Alaska or Bust!

Alaska? What does that have to do with medical work in Kenya? Read this special message from Hope Matters supporter Kim Sparks to find out..photo (17)

The best ideas come when you least expect them! Hi, my name is Kim Sparks. I am a young professional who currently lives in Seattle, although I have spent most of my life in Southern California. My life is relatively ‘normal’ considering I work a 9 to 5 job, pay bills, enjoy spending my free time with friends and family, and being active etc. All of that is going to change this summer. I am quitting my job, hitting the road and spending the summer running from the U.S./Canadian border to Hyder, Alaska in support of Hope Matters International!

Why Run?

Self admittedly, this is a pretty crazy undertaking. But I think that’s part of the appeal for me. I love being in the outdoors, and the thought of a challenging adventure excites me! I once took a summer to hike the Sierra Nevadas five years ago, and it’s been too long since I’ve been out. As John Muir would say ‘The Mountains are calling, and I must go.” Only, this time I’ll be in Canada!

This also marks the end of a difficult chapter in my life. It is a celebration of the difficult, but life-giving, decisions I’ve had to make in regards to personal and work relationships. But I also want this run to be about something bigger than myself. While continued personal healing would be great, I’m more excited to see how this experience could be used to bless others.

Why Hope Matters International?

I have known Michelle for about 15 years now. She was highly involved in my church high school youth group, and I really connected with her. I admired all the work she was doing to become a nurse at the time, as well her passion for Africa. Although we both became busy with our own lives, we’ve stayed connected through periodic updates. Michelle’s work in Kenya has been on my heart for some time, and it was a natural choice to support her organization.

The Daily Grind

Essentially, this is one really, really long camping trip. We are officially leaving July 2nd from Seattle and heading to the U.S/Canadian border. Once we clear customs, I’ll hop out and begin!! I am so thankful to have the support of my boyfriend Caleb, without whom this trip would not be possible. He will be driving all the gear as we travel. Essentially I will be running part of the day for approximately 10 miles along country roads, and then setting up camp. Caleb will be spotting me (following me with the car) on some of the more narrow portions of road/up the 1 major mountain pass we have to cross. There will be some time for rest and sightseeing, but for the most part this will be our daily rhythm for the next 3 months. If you would like to get updates from the road, follow us at www.findingalaska.net!

How Can You Get Involved?

Please consider joining me, and donating to an extremely important cause. Many of us are extremely fortunate to have accessible medical care, unlike many people in rural Kenyan villages. My goal is to raise $14,160, which is based off of the total KM of this trip. If you want an easy breakdown, consider donating 25 cents a mile, which is $220, or 50 cents a mile which is $440. All donations are tax deductible. Check out Hope Matters at www.hopemattersintl.org

Donations can be made through http://www.hopemattersintl.org/give.html. Online transactions are through Pay-Pal. Please indicate in the note/memo section that your donation is in support of: Alaska or Bust 2015.

Donations can also be made by check made out to Hope Matters International and mailed to P.O. Box 9293, Alta Loma, CA 91701. Again, please indicate in the Memo section that your donation is in support of Alaska or Bust 2015.

Christmas Shoes

VictorI first met Victor at his school when we were doing an assessment to determine how many children required jigger treatment. Victor stood out for two reasons. First he had the saddest eyes and countenance about him for such a young child. And secondly, his jigger infection was so bad that even his hands were affected.

IMG_2381bAfter two weeks of our soaking intervention, we saw a few children improve enough to be discharged from the program. But there were many others who needed to go on to receive surgical intervention. Victor was among the second group. Treating that little boy just about broke my heart as his tears silently streamed down his face. Once finished, I bandaged him up in gauze. And it was then that I realized that he would be walking home down the dirt road on his bandages because he had no shoes. For a moment I asked myself “Why am I doing this?” Why go through so much trouble to help this one child who will go home with a good chance that his surgical wounds will be infected, and an even greater chance that he will be reinfected with jiggers? It was honestly a very discouraging day for me.

IMG_2385bAs a team at Hope Matters we have talked about how we will continue to treat the same children with the same problems repeatedly if we can’t get them in shoes. Will shoes fix everything about their life and guarantee they will never get another infection? No, but getting those little feet into shoes will be a huge step in the right direction. It will also be a physical representation of our love and care for these kids. We want them to know that we love them and more importantly that Jesus loves them too!

We have completed a survey and found that there are approximately 130 children under the age of 10, in the Kampi Mawe slum, who currently need a pair of shoes. We are holding a special Christmas Eve program for these kids. At the conclusion of the program we hope to provide them with a snack and a pair of Christmas shoes. We would love your partnership to help make this happen. We are estimating that it will be approximately $10 for each pair of shoes. If you would like to help us, you can do so by making a donation on our website by clicking here. Just make a note in the comment area that says “Christmas Shoes”.  Thank you!

December 2014 Prayer Points

IMG_2459bIt’s hard to believe that we are already in December! This month in addition to our regular ministry activities, we have a few special events related to Christmas. Here are some ways you can be praying for the ministry this month:

  •  “The Nativity” movie will be shown at several venues. Please pray that hearts will be receptive and open to learning more about Christ.
  • On Christmas Eve we will be holding a special party for children in the slums of Turbo. We are hoping to distribute a pair of shoes to each child in need. Pray for the resources to be provided for us to meet this need. Pray that the children will experience God’s love and light on this special day.
  • On December 11th we are partnering with the Training Center at Empowering Lives Int’l to provide a Basic Health Training in a train-the-trainers style, for approximately 40 individuals who will then take the education they have received and share it with others. Participants will be coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and all over Kenya. Pray that the material is understood, retained, and effective as it is shared with many beyond this training.
  • Last month we asked for prayer for a journey the Kiprops needed to make to Nairobi. Please give thanks for the success and safety of this journey. An extra blessing was that Michelle’s Kenyan nursing license was approved for a same-day renewal. Normally it takes three to four months!
  • We are praying and planning to hopefully initiate walk-in clinic services early next year. Please pray for us to have wisdom and direction as we are in the planning process for this exciting expansion in ministry.
  • As always, every single day our entire team needs prayer for divine wisdom, strength, energy and renewed hope as we reach out to make a difference in the lives of East Africans.

Video Message from Michelle: Giving Tuesday

Click on the video above for a special message from Michelle about Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday follows the American Thanksgiving holiday, and has been designated as a day of giving. This year Hope Matters has a few special projects we are hoping to accomplish through this event. First, we are hoping to be able to provide as many pairs of shoes as possible for the children in the slums of Turbo for Christmas. Each pair will cost approximately $10. Our second project is related to bringing specialized medical equipment from the USA to Kenya for use in our medical ministry. We have an incredible opportunity to bring a forty-foot shipping container filled with donated medical equipment. We only need to pay for refurbishing of some equipment as well as the purchase of the container and it’s shipping expenses. The total cost will come to around only $24,000. The value we will be receiving is literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. And we are excited to report that we have already received our first donation of $6,000 making our current need only $18,000 to make this project a reality.

We would love for you to partner with us in helping make these goals a reality. You can give to Hope Matters this Giving Tues by clicking here to make an online donation. Or you can send a check to: Hope Matters International, P.O. Box 9293, Alta Loma, CA 91701.

World Malaria Day

Malaria

Today, Friday April 25th, is World Malaria Day. So I want to take just a few moments to share some thoughts and stories about this wretched disease.

I’ll never forget the first malaria death I handled here in Kenya. I don’t remember the date, but I vividly remember the patient. She was just 7-years-old… Her mom carried her into the clinic. She was unconscious, dehydrated, anemic and had extremely high fevers. We did everything we could. Shortly after she started IV medical therapy we lost her pulse because her heart had stopped beating. I knew she was gone but I did CPR anyway. She was only seven! It felt wrong. Really, really, wrong, for such a sweet young life to be cut so short by a disease that came from a mosquito bite. Her mom was in shock. I was in shock. It was a tough day.

I’ll also never forget what it felt like to get malaria for the first time. It landed me in the hospital as a patient and took weeks for me to fully recover. At one point I actually dreamed that I was going to a white light and my life was over. I was really disappointed when I woke up from that dream to discover I was still alive. Thankfully I did live through the experience and came out the other side with some pretty strong feelings about malaria!

Someone recently asked me how malaria affects someone. I explained that malaria is a parasite in the blood. So everywhere that the blood goes, malaria goes. These are just a few of the symptoms commonly observed:

  • High Fevers (like 105 degrees Fahrenheit high!)
  • Body-Shaking Chills
  • Serious Anemia
  • Migraine-like Headaches
  • Bone Crushing Ache in the Bones and Joints
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Coughing and Difficulty Breathing
  • Seizures in Young Children (Brought on by the high fevers)

The bad news is that according to the World Health Organization we are still seeing more than 200 million cases annually and that approximately 627,000 people actually die from this disease each year. Most of those deaths are children in Africa under the age of five. The good news is that these numbers actually represent a 54% drop in mortality since the year 2000. So we are making progress!

The best thing that we as health providers can do about malaria is working to prevent it from happening in the first place. We do this by distributing mosquito nets and teaching people about the importance of having every member of the household sleep under a net. We educate about eliminating stagnant water which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. We encourage people to stay indoors and take proper precautions in the evenings when the malaria-carrying mosquitoes tend to make their appearance. We encourage families to seek appropriate care immediately at the first signs of sickness. Treating an early case is much easier and has a greater success rate that treating someone with advanced illness.

Slowly by slowly we wage war on malaria and the mosquitoes transmitting this disease! If you would like to learn more about malaria you can visit the World Health Organization site by clicking here.

Prayer Points for March

Here are some prayer points for March:

  • This month we are giving thanks for God’s provision of a vehicle for Hope Matters. William went to Nairobi to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado to be used for both community health work and as an ambulance to transport sick patients when needed.
  • Pray for wisdom and energy as we continue the comparison study of jigger treatments. This month we will wrap up at the first school and then prepare to begin a different treatment intervention at a different school next month. Pray that lives will be touch both spiritually and emotionally as well as physically through our work with these jigger patients.
  • Give thanks with us for the many people who are standing with Hope Matters financially. Pray that God will continue to provide for each need as it arises.
  • William is seriously searching for land to build the future hospital on. Please pray for wisdom as he narrows down a piece of property and for direction as negotiations for that property begin.
  • This Month Michelle will be attending an international nursing symposium for medical missionaries in the Middle East and Africa. She’s blessed that she doesn’t have far to travel as the conference is here in Kenya, in Nairobi. She will be teaching two sessions. Pray for her to be encouraged as she interacts with other medical missionaries, and that she might learn many new things to benefit our work here in Kenya. Pray for her to have peace and clarity also as she teaches.

Anticipating Easter

1016328_10152116293288555_1670741277_nNext Wednesday marks the start of the season of Lent Some of you are likely very familiar with Lent and take part annually. Others may not be so aware. It’s a 40 day period (not counting Sundays) of anticipating and preparing for the celebration of Easter. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life in both anticipation and preparation. There have been major events such as graduations, weddings, births, and of course the launch of Hope Matters, that are exciting, but also require time and attention to prepare for. Lent is a period of time that allows us to contemplate Easter and all that it means. To honor this season we are going to be putting together a series of devotionals for lent. We will post one on the blog each week. If you would like to receive copies through e-mail please drop me a line at Michelle@hopemattersintl.org and let me know that you’d like to get the Lent devotionals in your inbox.

I’d also like to throw out a challenge. One of the traditions of Lent is to give something up during this time period to help focus on the meaning of Easter and on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. If you are planning to participate in this aspect of Lent, would you consider giving something up and in it’s place making a choice to support the ministry of Hope Matters this season? It could be as simple as saying “Instead of that specialty shop drink every morning I’ll take coffee from home in a travel mug.” I’ve known many people who have given up chocolate for this period. It could mean cutting out reducing fast food and/or restaurant visits for a while. This is a great time to get the whole family involved in thinking about what they can do to help others by making a small personal sacrifice. And sometimes that sacrifice becomes a bit easier when you consider what a difference it is making in the life of another family. If you are willing to take on this challenge, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to drop me a line anytime. I always love getting e-mail! Or you can share about your Lent plans on our Facebook page. Take care and may God bless you as we prepare for Easter together.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Jiggers

Here’s the long awaited post about everything you ever wanted to know about jiggers and then some… As we have been sharing some pictures and stories about our current jigger campaign in the community of Turbo, I’ve had quite a few questions come up. So here’s the dirt on the jiggers of Turbo.

IMG_0290What are they? The scientific name for the jigger is Tunga Penetrans. Its really a parasitic flea that burrows into the hosts skin and then lays eggs there. The eggs develop into larvae which, you guessed it, produce more jiggers! The whole process takes a few weeks to go from initial bite to full blown infestation with eggs and larvae.Tunga Penetrans

Other than being disgusting what problems do they cause? The location that the jigger bites and burrows in becomes both painful and extremely itchy. Unfortunately these fleas also carry a lot of bacteria on their bodies. Once the flea imbeds itself in a child’s skin, that child is also being exposed to the bacteria and can develop a super-infection.

Why do so many people have this problem? The area where we are seeing huge numbers of infections is a slum area. People live in crowded and rather unhygienic conditions. Most members of this community do not have good shoes. Most commonly seen are flip-flops that are open and allow the fleas easy access. Many children don’t even own a pair of closed-toed shoes. If they do, they are reserved for school and worn until there is nothing left to wear. Houses are often not well maintained with regular smearing, allowing the jiggers to set-up shop inside the mud-homes. (Smearing is coating the house with a fresh, smooth layer of mud and sealing up any cracks where the jiggers like to live.)IMG_1263

So why don’t they wear shoes and have better hygiene? This is where we really start to see some of the root problems. Besides being a very poor community, alcohol is a major issue in this area. Most of the people living in the slums have had extremely difficult pasts. Some were born into poverty, others have faced unspeakable acts of violence and rejection. Ultimately, the majority have turned to home-brew alcohol as a coping mechanism. It’s not unusual to enter the community at 9 in the morning and find the majority of people you meet already completely drunk. In this state it’s hard to do things like properly maintain a home and care for one’s children. This is why we are partnering with Empowering Lives’ Anti-Alcohol program in this community.1545158_10152116283938555_1051532791_n

How do you treat them? It has generally been believed that the best way to treat is to soak the feet in a special disinfectant and then surgically remove the bugs and all of the eggs. Up to this point that is how we have conducted treatment. We have recently heard from some other organizations that they have had success by following a strict daily soaking regimen to kill the parasite and that it will fall out. Because we haven’t been able to find a scientific study comparing the two methods, we are conducting our own study right now in partnership with some local healthcare providers. Our goal is to find out the best possible treatment method and then to provide it, free of charge, for the children and adults in this community.close

How can I help? Thanks for asking! First of all you can pray. This is not an easy task and at times we feel discouraged as we try to tackle it head-on. Secondly you can give by clicking here. We do not charge our jigger patients for their treatment. So your donation to Hope Matters can help underwrite expenses for treatment. We have already had a few donations specifically for the purchase of shoes. It is our hope to be able to purchase a good, closed-toe, pair of shoes to every child in this community who is being impacted by jigger infections. We believe that by investing in the children we are investing in the future of the community.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about jiggers. It’s not a pleasant or fun topic. Honestly, some days when I return home from Turbo I’m completely drained both emotionally and physically. But then I look into the eyes of these children who I’m able to physically touch with the love of Jesus and I know that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.