Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wow. What a month. Wow. What a year.

January 1, 2012

After a week of settling back into home here, we entered our crazy life, catching up on the last 3 months and awaited decisions.
Many new faces greeted us. New young mothers and a few new employees at Grace. A lot happens in 3 months, whether we are present or not, there is need, and hope is found through Grace.

First day back... The first day back at Grace, I found myself choking back tears throughout the day. I dove straight back into the thick of it with a hospital trip to see 2 young Grace kids. One little boy had his appendix out. I stood shocked at the sight of his frail skeleton body. He was a young healthy boy three months before. The stench of the hospital made me want to throw up. It smelt the same as always, the smell of body odour, old blood, filth and urine. Tears welled up as I heard sister Ababu in a cheery voice say ‘oh, I am happy, it is cleaner today’. I couldn’t see ‘clean’. I could smell was death and rot and see grot and old bloody sheets that had not been changed for days.  I could feel the hopelessness and desperate need around me and it was overwhelming. I felt incapable and inadequate to my calling, and I needed fresh air. I needed to breathe. And when I did...breathe....I realised it was all a part of transition and re-entry. This site and occasion was no different from any other hospital visit, but after three months in Australia, I was no longer immune or used the sights of poverty that hit me in the chest and left me breathless as today.
We walked into the paediatric ward, with a courtyard of visiting family members. Each time we go, we discreetly keep our eyes open for situations that may need our assistance. Sometimes the nursing staff will alert Sister Ababu. It may be a desperate mother who cannot pay her bill. Sometimes it may be children who are there with a terminally ill mother but the young children have nowhere to sleep. The extreme illnesses of the children is the most heart breaking of all. Children with illnesses like asthma or pneumonia in Australia can easily access medical help and can regain health quickly. Here these illnesses are often life threatening.  My gaze skims the room. A little girl of about two sits on the bed moaning in pain. Her legs so swollen she cannot walk. Another small child, his chest so swollen breathing heavily, waiting for heart surgery, but unable to get it. A little 3 year old girl, her rectum sitting out of her anus screaming in pain. Kidist asked the mother how long she had been like that until they came to the hospital that day. “One month” she replied, (big breath...moving on). The little girl we came to visit, sits lethargic with her little sunken eyes staring at us. She had had diarrhoea and been vomiting for three days. This seems less of a concern than the other children in the ward, but we have seen children die from simple things like this. Sister Ababu spent years working in paediatrics at the hospital before we were blessed to have her work for us. She is well known and has the approval to walk in and attend our beneficiaries. She attends to baby Eyerus, inserting her IV and getting her settled. We prayed for Eyerus and her mother, and left. A couple of weeks later, Eyerus is doing much better and is back in Baby Day Care healthy and well.

Two weeks on... We are feeling more grounded and at home. I am blown away with the opportunity we have to make a difference and impact the world around us.

In just the last week-

-We found a very sick mother and premi baby in a house in need of admission into hospital. It was a close call and the mother may have died if it was not for Sister Ababu’s intervention. Mother and child are doing well and have made much improvement in 24hours.
It is amazing how close to life and death we are here.

We really need to appreciate every minute of every day.

- Grace Children’s Home celebrated with a Christmas party for the kids. Lots of fun, laughter and joy. Watching the children open gifts (donated by Lara Knight and the New York Mothers volunteer group, some children opening gifts for the first time in their lives. At a time where many children may be feeling loss, we are able also bring love.

-We were also able to bring Christmas presents to the Special Needs School. It was the first time for me to visit the class, I was moved to tears and so appreciative to be part of the special time, and to witness firsthand the joy seen on the children’s faces.

-Grace helped facilitate a 5 day Voluntary Counselling and HIV Testing course, thanks to Milli, a nurse from the US, volunteering with Grace.

-Kidsit and Worku left on a road trip in hopes to reunite a little boy with his father.

-Melishew held a one day training for 40 Grace Centre Day Care and Kitchen Assistant staff. It was a great way to spend the last day of 2011, and step into the New Year, being inspired and equipped. Melishew had the opportunity to learn many things during the 3 months in Australia and she was eager to share it with the rest of the ladies and see positive things being implemented in the centres. It was exciting to see Melishew implementing what she had learnt, and more exciting seeing the ladies excited about what they had learnt from her.

In the last couple of months we have had new children come into Temporary care, referred to us by Woman Affairs. Children who have been abandoned or had parents die. This has left us with little space, but much opportunity to love more children that very much need it, and a big reminder that we need to build a bigger place to enable the children to sleep, eat, learn, love, grow and play in a home that has enough room.

We are anticipating a great 2012! January will start us off with 3 groups coming to Grace. One from America and 2 from Australia. The American group, lead by Millie McCarty, will run a 5 day training program for newly graduated psychologists from around Ethiopia, some people from other local NGO’s and our 2 social workers, Kidist and Worku. Grace Centre is proud to be able to offer this training to the community as it is our goal to not just equip people at Grace, but the community around us. By building bridges and joining hands, more can be done for those in need. Leith Harding, who brings a team at least every year (more commonly every 6 months) comes with a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers. It is always a pleasure to have Leith and Zed with us, they are very much family and a great support to all that is being done at Grace. Leith will also be involved in selecting a psychologist that QUT Australia has funded for Grace.

With the New Year in, it brings excitement and expectation. At Grace, we are so expectant of great things this year. We are expectant that God will do above and beyond, prayers will be answered, lives will be changed, mothers and families will be equipped, budgets will be met, and goals will be fulfilled. We want to thank you for your ongoing support. Support through your prayers, through your sponsorship, your donations, your encouragement, and support through simply taking an interest in what is happening through Grace. Thank you for remembering the poor and needy, the fatherless and the forgotten.

May God truly bless your year this year!

Dee and Andrew x