Sunday, August 3, 2014

Budget for 2014-2016

Well it is that time again! I am nearly at the end of my first two years back in Sierra Leone. Need to give a new breakdown. The money is GONE! Many changes over the past year had increased my budget so I'll be heading home soon to fund raise! So here is the breakdown!

It is always very difficult to know how much money will be needed to continue to live in Sierra Leone. These costs are estimated on the past 6 months of living in our new home. Thank you for your support! 

Breakdown of costs for 2014-2016
Travel airfare: $1,000.00 for return flight in September 2014,  $2,000.00 Round Trip for 2015, $1,000 Return flight for 2016. TOTAL $4,000.00 for two years.
Water taxi for return trips: $40.00 each x 2 = $80.00
Rent paid every January= $3,600  
In country travel expenses= approximately $100.00/month
Utilities (water, electric or generator) = Approximately $75.00/month
House security and help= $200.00/month
Medical Insurance= $180.00/month
Giving/Misc= $200.00/month
Average monthly budget= $895.00
For one year= $18,115.00
For the approximate 22 months =  $30,570.00
Some of the changes from the previous two years include paying rent annually. I was very blessed to spend one year at the Hospital’s Guest House for a monthly rent of $300.00. However, the time came to find a longer term solution. We stayed briefly with a friend but that was costing us $600 for the month. We were blessed to find a house near my 2011 neighborhood and could rent out a room to Enable the Children to also cut their rent. It was unfurnished and cost us a lot to furnish but now we are furnished and just need to continue to pay the annual rent. Of course renting is different than subletting, we now have the cost of running a household evident in our utilities, security, and house help. Security is a must for being a “Abito” as they call us makes us high risk for break-ins. House help is our two sweet ladies, Yenkein and Aminata. I don’t cook a good African meal and do not know how to wash clothes with a wash board. Thus we have these two amazing ladies who are our dear friends and keep us well cared for. Medical Insurance and giving have remained nearly the same.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hannah's Story

Over a year ago I probably saved a little girl’s life. If you look back through my blog you will see my first entry of her and her story. Hannah is her name and she was abandoned and starving, surrounded by flies and maggots when I found her in February of 2013. I have never seen a child in such a horrible condition.
I never could imagine what all would follow in saving this little girl’s life.
It has been a trying and beautiful journey in the last year from her going to a rescue shelter to being fostered by me. Hannah’s story is one of heartbreak, spiritual trials, shuffling from one place to another, overcoming hurdles, and the beginning of healing and discovering the many aspects of joy and love.
I have kept very quiet these past 6 months of fostering Hannah because so much of it was filled with difficulty, frustration, and hurt. However, I feel it is time to break the silence and let people know. I will try to blog frequently about where we are in “Hannah’s story”.
To begin, Hannah’s father “never answered the belly” – English translation “He never claimed Hannah was his.” Hannah’s mother died 4 years ago and after was being raised by an uncle who later abandoned her due to her disability. Hannah is diagnosed with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy which means she has uncontrolled movements which causes her to be unable to walk independently.
Having a sister with disabilities I have a huge heart for disabled kids. I have for a long time wanted to adopt a child with disabilities. I prayed and decided to foster Hannah and try to adopt her. When she came to me after the shelter the transition was hard but I was optimistic. After a few months, however, she was not bonding with me and talked about her sister on nearly a daily basis. I went home for a visit and decided it would not be best for either of us to try adoption when there was an attachment disorder.
Hannah’s sister, Mariama, who is 14 years was living with her adult cousin, we have recently inquired if Hannah could go live with them as they would be the only living family that we would consider to take her and she desperately wants to be reunited with her sister. The family refused, wanting nothing to do with Hannah, and said they were also sending Mariama away. We also learned that they had been taking advantage of this 14 year old in the past 4 years, not sending her to school and making her do all the housework.
Last night the two sisters slept quietly in my room. I am taking Mariama in for a visit which has been explained to both of them. Over a year ago I never could of imagined taking a 9 year old, let alone a teenager, and yet again have 3 others who spend any time out of school at my house as well.  
I do not know what plans God has. We are praying that there might be a solution for them to be placed together and even if I could take them both I would be unable to legally as Mariama is too old. One organization is working with me to help me find a solution as well as some other thoughts. What I desired above all is for it to be God’s will for them. I desire for His will to only include that I might be able to continue my relationship with these two precious girls.

“To him that has no might He increaseth strength.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas/Annual Update

My inbox is full! Any of you feeling overwhelmed by the all the last minute Christmas email advertisements? Maybe I just need to get off some email lists!
Shari’s Berries keeps emailing me with appealing pictures of strawberries- I don’t know how Shari got my email address but she knows what I’m craving! Thanks Shari!!
Other emails are giving towards a cause- “the gift that keeps on giving”: livestock, pineapples, and goats, Oh My! (By the way I do believe if they bring development in a Christ centered way then it is a beautiful way to gift!)
If it was not for these emails and the blaring music “Dreaming of a White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” at 3 AM outside our hospital compound I would forget we are even 4 days away from Christmas. In Sierra Leone it probably around 80 degrees, the only thing flying through the air is dust, and I drive past the ocean on a daily basis. Santa Clause is unheard of, no one has a Christmas Tree, or the presents that go under them.
I was going to say Christmas here is maybe a bit more like the first Christmas. Not too unlike the Sierra Leoneans, the Israelites were under the power of others, hoping for a Savior, a leader/a King to come and help them out of their deprivation. Sierra Leone is not under the rule of Rome or any other Country but they are in need of hope of restoration, of a Savior, of new leaders. However, in many ways the U.S. is still in great need of Hope of total restoration and a Savior as well. That is why we are awaiting Christ’s second coming, a coming that brings that hope and when all will bow down to the King of Kings.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Working with children with disabilities has always been my passion, after three years of home health nursing with disabled children in the US, I was ready to take my God given passion and gift for working with these kids to a place where there was little hope for these kids. In January I began the work with Enable the Children (ETC), from the start I was amazed at what a unique service I was joining.
 ETC has children referred to us through the only pediatric hospital in the country and through a well-known clinic. From there we can see what needs these children might have and how we can address them. The best part (for me anyway!) is after that we have the unique opportunity to visit these children and their families in their homes on a nearly monthly basis. In their homes! How many NGOs get to do that?! It opens up the opportunity to not only to impact their lives here but to have the eternal impact! We build relationships with our families through encouragement, prayers, being a listening ear, and we keep coming back- they call us, we call them to check up between the monthly visits.
Many of our families are Muslim, regularly attending Mosque, but we are regularly attending their homes- being Christ’s word and action, we are trying to be that living Gospel, different, exciting from what they have known. We have seen many families have a heart change in the last year. A child that was neglected by everyone but the grandmother’s sister, now has huge community support; to a mom who was ready to take her son to an orphanage now feeling empowered to advocate for more rights for her son in the government.; and yet another young girl on her own caring for her severely disabled toddler in a one bedroom house wanting to come to the hospital to encourage others who have children with disabilities. There are so many stories like this, despite their children being called devils, having very little help from government, living in a Country that is not set up for wheelchairs, walkers, ect. These parents have a hope and they give me so
much courage to me to continue this work!
These families have also encouraged me immensely in the past 5 weeks. The amount of respect I have for them has somehow increased! Having Hannah has been so challenging. Carrying a 9 year old around is not easy folks! Having to constantly clean the floor because her Athetoid movements cause ¼ of the food to end up on the ground (and I do not want to be bitten by those horrible ants that the food attracts- they draw blood!) and the testing behaviors that have kept her from really becoming emotionally attached to me.
I thank God though because even when we go through a two hour screaming and biting tantrum I know that God has something planned and I am beginning to glimpse it. I may have sore muscles but they remind me of the sweet little girl that I got to hold and of the dad in our program who cannot afford to take transport but piggy backs his 8 year old the half mile to school every day- We are blessed. Cleaning the floors reminds me that my little girl can eat for herself and more that we have food to eat- we are blessed! The behaviors remind me of the horrible neglect, abuse and pain that my sweet little girl had to endure for 8 years and how I, how God, can now impact the many more years of her life. The good times are so sweet, she is now beginning to give hugs and kisses, she can sit down a hold a small conversation with me, is full of questions I love to answer and has the best little kid laugh ever! Yes it is true- I am blessed!
This time of the year is the Advent Season but the way I see it we are always in a Season of waiting, but I pray it is an active waiting for all of us. Christ said we would do even greater things than He because He had to return to the Father. We can and are bringing the Kingdom to earth through our works of faith. I am thankful that I have had the last year to bring a message of hope to lives here in Sierra Leone, especially the sweet little life of Hannah. Our prayers every night include love, joy, and peace for our friends and family during the Christmas Season and always!
Much love and Merry Christmas!
Jaimie and Hannah

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Living in Stride with God- ETC Newsletter

Hello everyone!
Our founder asked me to write an Enable the Children Newsletter for the year and it has given me the time to reflect on the past ten months. I also have pink eye so I have a bit of time off from Community work- don't want to spread this to the kiddos!

 Isaiah 42:16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

God has been engineering our circumstances. Enable the Children is a small team of just 5 community workers- 2 of us from the West and 3 Sierra Leoneans. Our desire is to use a passion that we each have in us to spread God's love and hope to children with disabilities and their families. 
As you read our newsletter I pray you will see what God is doing. We are privileged that He has given us the gifts and that we have the opportunity to use them to teach and preach for His Glory!

ETC 2013 Newsletter
Had an encouraging day with Enable the Children today as I was greeted clearly by one of our Autistic children who use to not talk, a little girl who couldn’t sit now can, and one of our Cerebral Palsy boys who had poor balance is not enjoying playing football with his friends.- April 23rd2013
We told one of our 7 years today in the program we were going to make her a desk and chair to help her practice writing- her smile was HUGE! -October 1st 2013
It has been an amazing year with Enable the Children. I came in January to join the small team reaching out to nearly 300 kids and their families! Abu our faithful team leader and Rehab Therapist and Ambrose, Rehab Therapist Assistant and Morlai, ETC Driver, were holding together the team since Sara and Katie left mid-2012. Anna, a physiotherapist, came out a week before me and then we were 5. With the ever increasing case load and the desire to give our children quality visits at least once a month we have been working towards splitting the team into two groups. We have created this year a Family Support Team and hired Mariama, Support Worker Trainee. Mariama is in
her second month of training and is full of love for the kids and enthusiasm for the work. The work for Mariama and me will consist of in home counsel, teaching, advocating, creating support groups and focusing on activities to promote the children’s independence. The others will continue in the home based therapy care to allow children to reach their full potential while also supporting and teaching families. We are excited to work together towards bringing hope and joy into the lives of these families in different ways.
We have been able to continue our partnerships with Cottage, the only pediatric hospital in the Country, and with Aberdeen Women’s Centre Children’s Clinic (formally Mercy Ships). Through these two sources we see as many as ten new patients a week and have the opportunity to share our knowledge and give them the hope of Jesus through our services. We have recently started working with an enthusiastic pediatric surgeon who is willing to assist us (for free) with our children who need surgery! We have had two children (the first two in the Country from what we are told) successfully have feeding tubes placed for better nutrition management; both are doing great 6 months after the placements! Over 70 pieces of equipment have been given out- supportive chairs, standing frames, gaiters, and stability boots! 27 children have been discharged for successful therapy and no longer needing our services. We have seen parents who were nearly driven from their home and now when we visit their home is so crowded with neighbors who are excited to tell us the child can now sit by herself! Though there are some valleys among the amazing work that Enable the Children is doing we trust God to see us through and to teach us from every child and family we meet along this journey!
I love in my job that I can be silly sticking my tongue out and making faces and say its speech therapy. I love that I can teach a pre-teen how to brush her own teeth and clean up her family’s floor and make it fun and at the same time be teaching independence. I love that I can put together fun coloring books teaching about nutrition, that I can see the joy on a granny’s face when her child’s able to do something for the first time by herself. I love that we can pray with each and every family we see a day to encourage them and open up conversations about God. I am so blessed to have such fun at what I do, have so much love and joy in it and rely upon a God who continues to equip me to keep on experiencing and sharing his love in this way.- July 16th2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Amazing Kids

I want to introduce you to three of my favorite kiddos- they have blessed me, taught me, and given me immense joy!

Fanta Mady- Is a little Cerebral Palsy boy whose mom is one of the most dedicated mothers I have ever met! Mady struggled with feedings his whole life often sick because he frequently aspirated his food. Despite all this Mady's mom fed him not only physically but I do believe that it was the love and dedication to her son  that really has kept him alive. Dr. Anne one of the doctors we were working with wanted me to met Mady just a couple months ago and my first thought was how do we get a G-Tube for him. A G-tube is a feeding tube direct to the stomach and my sister having one for many years I knew this could help Mady thrive. With the help of some German doctors Mady became I imagine one of the first kids in Sierra Leone to have this G-tube. It has been a joy to often visit Mady while I teach his family how to use and care for his G-tube. I am always greeted with the biggest smile and happiest squeals! 
Mady being fed by his Aunty

Grace- She was abandoned at the only children's hospital in Sierra Leone likely because of her disabilities. When we first started visiting her there was a mom who had taken on caring for her. Once that mom's child was better Grace was then left in the nurses care which often left her often unfed and not cared for. However as our involvement increased and we gave Grace a chair to let her sit down in the nurses and other mom's started taking note. I loved hearing the moms and nursing saying "She is a real person." Grace has been changing the stigma of disabled children being demons or cursed. She has won the love of many of the nurses and moms on the ward. Today we went to see Grace and found out next week if all goes well she will be moved to The Rainy Season Orphanage- quite near to where I live. This is fantastic news as TRS is what I would say the best orphanage in the country and I will often get to go love on her as she is so near!

Grace a few months ago

Grace and Ola (another abandoned disabled child) get their chairs!
They remind me of a cute old couple all they need is a porch!

Looking much better- Grace was the second child to receive a G-tube!

Hannah- last but certainly not least! Most of my friends and family already know "Baby" Hannah's story. She was being severely neglected- left for days in her chair while she was unable to walk. Her Aunty had remarried and moved away so although Hannah had been in our program for awhile she was now under the care of an Uncle who never was home. After a couple of weeks of visiting her, cleaning and feeding her with no contact from the Uncle I got social workers involved and now Hannah is safely at a shelter where she is extremely well cared for and improving rapidly. She comes to the Aberdeen Women's Centre a couple times a month to check on her therapies and we recently were able to give her stability boots to practice standing. She has gained so much confidence and with this lots of attitude! She brings me lots of laughs and joy when I get to see her! Amazed at how God is so faithfully at work in these little lives! And so blessed that he has let me be a part of their lives!

Hannah back in February 

Last week working hard at her therapy!
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mountains and Valleys

I find it hard to write on most nights, one because of pure exhaustion and another because our days are so full of emotion. Some moments there is so much joy in seeing a child walk that no one imagined they ever would, and the beaming smiles of kids who are so full of life- something I recognize very fondly as being the same look my sister Mindy often has. There are families who love their children so dearly that they carry them to school (sometimes miles away) on their backs even when the child might weigh 60+ pounds. A father who looks on with pride as his son is now able to play a stacking game that before wasn’t able to coordinate his hand movement. These are families who amidst struggling to survive find the time to do a few exercises or spend a few moments teaching their child every day. They are the families who have decided to keep their disabled child despite the overwhelming stigma that these children are demons, a curse. It is a very sad reality that many of these children are abandoned or sacrificed. Yet we have over 200 beautiful kids in our program whose parents, aunts or granny’s decided that these children are worth giving a chance to. And Oh! What an opportunity these families have to show their culture how valuable children with disabilities are and to see what purpose God will make known through them and their testimonies.
I’ve really struggled to not take some of the less fortunate of our patients and run away with them in my arms. A sweet little boy we have seen twice since I have come has been found lying, dirty, on the cement both times with no one immediately around him to care for him. The back of his head there is no hair because he is left lying most of the day. We fixed him up a nice little chair for him to sit in this last time and placed him in it before leaving. We did our best to encourage the sister to give him toys and help to sit and lie alternatively throughout the day. Yet even this child beams from ear to ear- just to be touched to be a part of something for a moment seems to make his life joy-filled. There is also sweet little Grace who is probably around 2 years old who was abandoned at the children’s hospital here in Freetown because she is a floppy Cerebral Palsy- unable to move herself independently. I have seen little Grace 3 times and she is about the size of an infant and left often hungry, thirsty, and dirty. The nurses sit at their station with no idea of how this little life suffers. I try to spur on the patient’s moms who are in the bed next to her to try to see that she is cared for. I sit and hold her little body and just pray for her to one day not have to suffer like this whether on this earth or in God’s kingdom- I know that she is promised that and that God does in fact see her suffering.
I enjoy the work we have been called to do here in Sierra Leone and yet I feel like a messy wreck daily- so full of emotions. God is my constant, he understands, he sees, he knows better than I and he reminds me that he is in control. That I am to just remain in him.
It is really special that with each family we end our session with them in prayer- bringing our petetions and thanksgiving to him-it is a time of peace and surrender.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Oh how I missed this! I never doubt that my passion is to work with kids with disabilities. I just love kids, Isha and Mamayo  the girls pictures above, pile on my lap as soon as I sit down and God's love and joy just washes over me. I tickle them, dance with them, tease them and watch their faces light up when someone wants to just be with them. I have known these two from 2011 and Isha especially touches my heart as she has physical limitations to her right side. Often these children are outcast and in fact I believe Isha was not accepted by the community 2 years ago because of her disability. It overjoys my heart now to see her better cared for and the neighbors knowing her and the children including her in to play with them. I set Isha up with Enable the Children in 2011, the organisation I am now working for.  Today I was able to play a clapping game with her, she used both of her hands! Something she wouldn't have done when I was here before! God is working in her life, he is changing hearts in the community and Enable the Children has been an amazing instrument in His plan. I miss my family and my friends back home but I feel God has me on this journey and it is for his purpose. I pray that each day I will continue to put my faith and trust in my Great God who has shown me today a changed life and community! Let my eyes be open to what you will have me see.