Category Archives: Rural Areas

When Hunger Has a Face and a Name

IMG_2274The other night my husband, William, was out late talking with someone in our yard. When he came in I asked him what was up “His family is dealing with hunger” was his reply. And it hit me like a punch in the stomach. These are my neighbors, my friends; their kids are hungry. Tonight. As I eat my beef stew.

IMG_1922bWe’ve hit the time of year that is often referred to as the hunger gap. In this farming community harvest season takes place in Sept – Dec. During those months bellies are full and people are celebrating. People are healthy and happy. Some of the harvest is stored and kept for later, and often some is sold to help the family out of tough financial situations or to pay school fees for the children. Come March everyone is busy getting their seeds in the ground during planting season. We all look to the skies and pray for rain so the crops might grow. And then May and June roll around…

It’s a beautiful time of year when everywhere you look you see green. Incredible rain and thunderstorms. Little plants growing. New life. But if you take a look beyond the beauty of the land, you will see the pain of her people. Those beautiful green plants don’t have any food to offer yet. And so families anxiously await the time when fresh corn can be plucked and eaten. But for now they deal with hunger.IMG_1878b

Pray for us to have wisdom about how to help our neighbors. To look at big-picture, long-term solutions. But even as we pray about and seek out long-term answers, we deal with the fact of hunger today. And yes, we did make sure that our neighbor’s family got some help. But this is a struggle that is faced on a daily basis by too many people in our world.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” – Matthew 25:35

Welcoming the Ambulance/Community Health Vehicle

IMG_1475Hope Matters is pleased to announce that after much prayer, fund-raising, and searching, we are welcoming this Toyota Land Cruiser Prado into service. It will duo as an ambulance and community health vehicle. Please join us in giving thanks as we dedicate this vehicle to the glory of God and for the service of Kenyan people. A big thanks to those who helped to make this purchase possible!

Untouchable

IMG_1353No one would touch her. That was the first thing I noticed. On the hike to her home her neighbors had described her to us. HIV Positive. Harsh. Rude. Non-compliant, and not wanting to take care of herself. Covered in jiggers…..

What I found was a woman full of shame and pain. Head downcast. No eye-contact. Shoulders hunched. At thirty-years-old she carried the weight of the world. And their judgement as well. My heart broke for her. But honestly, I didn’t really want to touch her either. We sat and heard her story. Her husband is in the hospital. Two children in school. One barefoot young boy at home taking care of the cows. About three months ago she got sick and missed one of her HIV follow-up appointments. She was too sick to travel to see the doctor. And now she is afraid to go back. She has been yelled at in the past for being irresponsible and missing appointments. And if there is one thing this woman doesn’t need more of, it’s shame.

Thankfully we had a clinician from the HIV clinic in our midst. He assured her that she would be treated well and that he could get her an appointment the very next day. He then convinced a neighbor to take her to the clinic on a motorbike. He assured me that she will not only get care for her HIV, but for her massive jigger infection as well. He handed a bag of gloves to some neighbor women and asked them to assist her. To have compassion. The gloves were received gingerly, held at a distance, and my heart broke again. I knew in that moment that I would be back to see her again.

Then I heard that still small voice. “You have to touch her Michelle. She needs to know that I love her.” And so I did. I placed my hands on her shoulders and prayed over and for her. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to be near to her. I prayed for healing. For strength. And most of all, I prayed for hope….

To The Ends of the Earth

IMG_0920I recently had the opportunity to travel along with my son Ryan, and volunteer nurse practitioner Elizabeth Robison, to what felt like the ends of the earth. We had been invited to partner for a week with Africa Inland Mission to conduct trainings in remote tribal areas of Northern Kenya (towards the Ethiopian Border).

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Dirt Landing Strip (photo: E. Robison)

 

We flew in via chartered plane and landed on a dirt airstrip in the middle of the desert. As we flew over the landscape I remember thinking that it felt like I was landing on another planet.

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Birds-eye view of a traditional Rendille Village (Photo: E. Robison)

 

 

We were able to hold basic health and first aid courses in two different villages. One for the Samburu people and another for the Rendille. These are people groups who have to travel many hours to get to the nearest hospital. And that is only possible if they can access a vehicle. The closest place to catch a bus or public transportation is 175 km away!

During our second training there were participants who walked three hours each way just to attend the class. That’s six hours of walking under the desert sun! During our lecture about heat-exhaustion and heat stroke I was thinking about our participants who were risking this very condition each day just to get to class.

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Here are just a few of the statements made about the course:

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Learning to Splint a Broken Arm

“I never knew that some of the things we were doing were causing more harm than good. Thank you so much for teaching us the better way. We will do as you have taught us” – Course Participant

“Thank you for sharing this information with us. We are so far from a hospital, and it is hard sometimes to know how to help someone who is having an emergency.” - Course Participant

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Finding the Position to Perform CPR

“I cannot express enough my gratitude for the courses you held here. I am still hearing such praises about it all from the people here in Korr. Everytime I run into one of your students they are thanking you and praying for your return. I talked to Mary and she was telling me that many other people in Korr really wanted to attend the course, but understood that there was a list of selected people*. Mary’s response was so encouraging; she told these people, “We will teach you. We have learned how to teach others; just come to our house and we will teach you.” Everyone that has passed through her home has received information on choking, burns, bleeding..etc. It makes me so happy to see everyone so excited about what they have learned.” - Hosting Missionary

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Samburu Man Collecting Supplies for Practical Exercises (photo: E. Robison)

 

*Courses were limited to 25 students per class due to limited funding. The participants were selected strategically to represent different areas. There were teachers from a number of different schools who were selected because of their position working with children.

 

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Bringing the Goats to Water (Photo: E. Robison)

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Outside Mary’s Home (Photo: E. Robison)

On our last day we were able to visit a special lady named Mary in her traditional Rendille home in a nearby village. She shared with me about the needs of pregnant women and midwives. Because there is no nearby hospital, women give birth in their homes on cow-hides. She shared with me that the Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA’s) would love the opportunity to attend a formal training course to broaden their skills. During our basic health classes there were a number of questions about childbirth that came up, and just not enough time to go in-depth with answers. With my passion for women’s healthcare I was truly moved. Would you pray with me that God would open the doors for me to take a course to these ladies sometime next year?

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Inside Mary’s Home (Photo: E. Robison)

Going Off the Grid

IMG_4560This week I (Michelle) am going off the grid! I am embarking on a journey to an extremely remote part of Kenya. I likely won’t be able to access e-mail/internet and there are no phones in this part of the country. This is an area where people have little-to-no access to medical care. The ultra-remote areas in Kenya have been on my heart for a number of years now. So this week I’m headed there for a twofold mission. First I will be team teaching First Aid training in two different villages. Secondly, I want to make this a vision trip to explore what ways Hope Matters might become involved in these communities as we grow and develop down the road.

Our host missionary recently wrote these words to me:

“Everyone -chief, pastor, project leader- have expressed their excitement for your team’s arrival and their great need for something like this. Our area has been visited by medical teams in the past, but its always been a “treat it and beat it” kind of method. They come for 3 days and give medicine then hit the road. Not saying it’s bad, but it is not something that is sustainable and many times leaves people depending on the medicine given, which is not available if needed in the future. Anyways, I just want you to know that there are many people praying for you and your team in regards to your plans to come and your ministry.”

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At Hope Matters we want our work to be sustainable. We don’t want to just rush into a community, hit them with a fast fix, and then be on our way. In all of our programs we want to operate in a way that will be life changing with long-term, sustainable, positive effects.

Thursday evening Elizabeth (volunteer nurse practitioner), my two-year-old son Ryan, and myself will begin our journey to Korr. We will get on a little MAF airplane to fly north to the desert. Once there, we will be teaching skills so that when we leave, people will be better equipped to handle emergencies when they arise.

We would appreciate your prayers for the following:

  • Traveling mercies (my stomach doesn’t have a great track record with prop-planes!)
  • Safety throughout our journey
  • That Ryan would adjust well to the many changes on this trip
  • Clarity of communication as we work through translators to teach people who do not speak English or Swahili
  • Retention for the learners
  • That lives would be impacted by our time up North
  • Wisdom regarding possible future partnerships in this area

 

The pictures here are from a trip William made up north a few years back. We look forward to bringing new faces and stories to you when we get home at the end of next week!

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