We’ve had a productive week here! After-school programs were filled with fun activities, we had more home visits, the standard 8 children finished their national exams, I spent three mornings at the hospital, and today we are attending a wedding! Whew! I wish I could share more and reflect about everything, but time and internet limitations only allow me to share a few highlights right now:
Tinashe and I had the privilege of visiting a sister program YouthCare Ministries in Lilongwe last Saturday. It was so special to visit with our friend Gibozi, with whom we interned in 07-08, and see the lives he is impacting. His ministry runs two after-school programs and the SafeHaven teenage-boys orphanage. Since it was Saturday, we didn’t see the after-school programs, but got to meet the boys at SafeHaven and share lunch together. We had a good time asking each other questions about life, education, and our World Cup predictions. The most poignant time was when I asked how they have seen positive change in themselves after being involved in YouthCare programs. They all had powerful stories of transformation. One used to beg on the streets for food but now has provisions and shelter at SafeHaven and is one of the most improved students at his school, another used to get by stealing and drinking, but now is attending secondary school and wants to serve God and have a career. How wonderful to see what focused love and resources can do in a kid’s life!
Another stand-out morning was my shift spent in the Madisi ARV (Anti-Retro Viral) clinic. During this time, I was able to shadow the clinician as he counseled and evaluated HIV-positive patients who have been determined to be sick enough to begin ARV therapy (the drugs are free, but only the sickest are eligible). While I spent my clinical visits at school this year working in the Pediatric AIDS clinic in New Jersey, this experience really put into focus how vast the need is to work on the HIV-AIDS issue worldwide and work for prevention and a vaccine. There was a constant stream of people all morning and it was hard to know that while ARVs will help their quality and length of life, there is still no cure. I really applaud the staff here for the thorough job they do trying to provide counseling and support for the patients. I can only imagine what is going on in the patients’ thoughts as they face this illness. Next week I’m planning a HIV preventive health lesson for the RiseMalawi kids, so my up-close experiences at the hospital have surely ignited my passion for sharing this message with them!
Thanks for all your kind words and support-Have a blessed week!
Pictures-Visiting with Gibozi and the SafeHaven boys and me trying to lead the kids’ first paper mache` experience during arts & crafts time