Tuesday, December 20

Returning home...

It seems this trip to Kenya went very quickly. I will just share some of the things we accomplished this trip. Jackie Scott was with me the first half and Mindy Miller, a PFC board member, was with me the second half. Both of these women are strong in their faith and came to serve the PFC team and not to be served. They left the PFC team in Kenya better equipped to serve the people of East Africa. I am grateful to both of them. Highlights from the trip:

1. Jackie had brought with her many Christian books and tapes for the team's spiritual development. Jackie had the fundi (carpenter) build a bookselve for all the team's books and tapes. She organized them by category and Mindy completed the task of numbering all the books creating a library check-out system. This also helps us know what books and tapes we can bring to add to the library.

2. Cris and Gary from Parsons had sent hundreds of Crocs for the children in Pakishon. When Cris was there she saw first hand the need for the children to have shoes to prevent the jiggers from attacking their feet. The conditions are very harsh in this area and shoes don't last long. The Crocs are a perfect shoe for these children. Pastor Hirbo was with us in Nairobi this trip and we packed the shoes for him to take to the children! They will have them for Christmas.

3. Several people sent money for the children of Nick and Charles to have a Christmas meal at the Partners for Care house. David my sheep given to me by Sam's mom was sacrificed for the occasion. The PFC team took the vans to bring all the children to the PFC house. Moses and others cooked all day preparing food. We had given each child a new outfit and a pair of new shoes for Christmas. Some of the little ones insisted on leaving the tags on their clothes showing they were new!

4. We spent a lot of time on the implementation of the mHealth program. It is hard to explain how excited Dr. Vincent and his medical team are about mHealth. The bonus from using mHealth is that all the patients who either come to the clinic or are seen in the field will have an electronic medical record. We have really just begun to understand all the benefits of mHealth. None of the medical team had any problem using the devises. Dr. Vincent even put all his medical books into the devise to use as references. We met with the head of the Community Health Workers. She is helping us to reach all the CHWs in Marurui slum which is our catchment area. These 98 CHWs will spread the word about mHealth.

5. While at the medical mission conference last month I found some unique community health teaching tools. The same company that made Evangelism cube have recently released malaria and HIV/AIDS teaching cubes. The cubes are excellent teaching tools. We are doing a small study using pre and post tests to determine if the cubes increase a person's knowledge and behavior change. We gave a set of the cubes to the head community worker. She would like to see the thousands of community health workers have a set of them.

6. When Bridgette and I were stranded during the ash over Europe delay we were put at the Inter-Continential Hotel for a couple nights. We learned they along with hotels in Kenya throw out the uneaten food at night. Bridgette has a dream that someday the uneaten food will be given to the children who are hungry. I have been working with Bill Boling, Atlanta Food Bank and Maurice from the Glodal Foodnetworking to learn the process for establishing a food bank in Kenya. I met this time with two key people in Kenya who could help make a food bank a reality....will keep you updates.
Good trip, good progress. God is good.

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Thursday, December 15

Sometimes it is good to hear from someone else...

Mindy Miller, Partners for Care board member is here with me this trip. It is truly a blessing to have her here. She is supportive of the PFC staff, patient even in long traffic delays and has been a great observer of what is happening here in Kenya. Sometimes it is good to hear from someone else. Here is the 2nd update she sent out.

Hello, again, from Kenya!

On Tuesday, I was able to attend the Partners for Care staff meeting.  Each person covered their respective projects by telling what their vision was, where the project was at the beginning of the year, what they accomplished this year, what their challenges were, what they want to accomplish next year, and what needs they have in order to accomplish their goals. It was so great!  I won't be able to go through all of it here (it was a long meeting!), but let me give you some highlights:

IT - John heads the IT training, which is free to the community.  John told a great story: he trained one of the women who did laundry for us at the PFC house. She took her new IT skills to apply for an office job. While she was at the office applying, the hiring person was having trouble with Skype.  John had taught the woman to use Skype as part of the "internet training" (there are seven packages plus internet to complete under the IT program) - so, she was able to assist the person and was hired!  John just beamed with pride!  So precious.

Second Chance Educational Program - Sam M heads the second chance program; also free to the community.  In the Marurui slum where the center is located, 85% of the adults never finished high school. In Kenya, getting a high school diploma is accomplished by sitting for exams. The second chance program saw four students sit for their exams in December - we won't know until February whether they passed or not. There are currently 15 students enrolled in the program.

Football (soccer) - Sam G heads the sports program for football. To hear him talk of his vision was so inspiring: to capture the hearts of the young people in the slum in order to keep them away from bad behavior (idleness, drugs, etc.). You could just see the passion in his face as he talked about the kids. When they started the program, there were no teams in the Marurui slum - now there are twelve (with substitute players)! And two players did so well that they were recruited into what is the equivalent of the "minor leagues" here in Kenya - paid positions!

Poultry project - The PFC house has a poultry project led by committee. It's actually chickens and rabbits. This was the last presentation and it had us all cracking up with laughter!  Turns out, it's sort of hard to be a farmer. :)  But, the project is on the cusp of turning around! We all have high hopes!

Medical clinic - Dr. Vincent officially opened the clinic on October 5th this year. There are approximately 900 households in the Marurui slum. Dr. Vincent has seen 536 patients since opening! Wow. Peter and Charles, who also work in the clinic, have distributed bed nets to almost 75% of the households. They were very excited to report that some of their healthcare instructions to the community have been taking root - for example, they've seen people placing their captured rain water barrels on their roofs (it boils in the sun and kills the germs).  Dr. Vincent and his team have great plans for this clinic!

It was such a great meeting!  I loved being able to sit in to see and hear the passion and plans these guys have for their community!

On Thursday, I spent the day in Mathare slum with Community Transformers, an organization that PFC supports. Mathare is the second largest slum in Kenya with approximately 800,000 people. It's always hard to see the poverty in the slums - I prepared with lots of prayer (thanks to those of you who are praying for me, too). The CT center volunteers visit the sick and help where they can. I tagged along for two house visits to clients. The women we visited were so grateful for how they are cared for by CT - I was encouraged.  The center facilitates a beaded jewelry and note card making business to help cover costs of the center (the clients do the work). In addition, they have a cyber cafe.

I'm looking forward to the staff Christmas party tonight.  We've all had a fun time joking about the killing of David, the sheep, for the celebration.  This sheep was given to Connie last year as a thank you from Sam G's mother. David's life ended yesterday - I didn't watch the killing, but caught a glimpse of the draining and skinning - glad to be a vegetarian! Ha! (And, by the way, Moses has been feeding me quite well with lots of vegetarian dishes!)

I hope you can sense my excitement about what PFC is doing in Kenya!

An exciting day for PFC - implementation of mHealth has begun

If you read the last update you know Partners for Care is partnering with Global H.E.E.D. to implement mHealth. We have been working with Global H.E.E.D. for the last 6 months developing the technical side of the program. Global H.E.E.D. Has done all the work on the technical side with PFC developing the medical protocols for the program. I came with four smart phones that were programmed with the medical protocols.

We have struggled with technical difficulties all week but this morning I received the following message from Dr. Vincent:
"We just recorded the first patient on the device and its working well. The data has also uploaded to the server." And, to make it even more special, the first patient - patient 001 was one of Pastor Hirbos's children. Pastor Hirbo has been with us all week and had brought his children with him to attend a camp.

The way the program works is we will have two of our non-medical staff collect information from a patient in the slum sending the information via the internet to a server creating a secure medical record. Dr. Vincent can access the information on his computer and provide recommendations in real-time to our staff who is with the patient in the slum. Our staff then advises the patient. The devises take and transmit photos of the patient for Dr. Vincent.

The advantage of mHealth are many including:
  • Quicker access to healthcare for people living in a slum with poor infrastructure and limited transportation to health facilities
  • Increased number of patients one physician can manage as he has more people collecting information for him
  • Improved follow-up to determine resolution of patient's complaint
  • Better tracking of patient's compliance with treatment regime 
  • Improved surveillance of diseases
Phase I of the project will be in Marurui slum. Phase II we are looking at implementing in Mathare Slum through Community Transformers with Nick and Charles. And, Phase III we want to implement in government facilities with Dr. Joe.
There are many key players to a successful implementation of mHealth including Dr. Vincent who is our physician using the program, Sam who is working with the technical team in the US, Dr. Joe who is our consultant on the project, Sammy who is the PFC Director in Kenya and the Global H.E.E.D. team - Chris, Sonny, Igor, Ling and Shreya.

We are all very excited to be involved in improving health care in Kenya.
A good day in Kenya....Connie

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Can't even begin to tell you how exciting this is!  This is just the beginning of great things to come! Partners for Care and Global HEED are on the verge of revolutionizing access to health care in developing nations.

Sharon Dicks

Thursday, December 8

More convinced than ever....

This trip to Kenya, I have become more convinced than ever that people in developing nations can and will reach their own people, care for their own people, and build their own bridges to their future. We in the developed nations can help by equipping them to do the work. And, together we can celebrate as they move their villages, their nation towards development. Let me share a few examples of equipping that we are blessed to be able to do because of our donors and partners in the US.

First, there is Pastor Hirbo. We have equipped him with the resources to reach the children of Parkishon treating their hands and feet for jiggers. He has reached 113 children in the last three months treating them for jiggers. Twenty-three of these children have now returned to school. They had stopped going to school because of being infected with jiggers. He told me last night he has expanded his territory to other villages in his area. And, he has done this without any means of transportation! Imagine what he can do when someday we are blessed to be able to equip him with a motor bike. Jackie Scott is with me this trip. She sat and talked with Pastor Hirbo last night. She said to me his eyes light up and dance when he talks of reaching the children.

Then there is Dr. Vincent and Charles, Franko and Peter who we have equipped with a medical clinic. They have treated in the first 3 months 350 patients, distributed 250 bed nets and screened 250 people for hypertension. Everyday they see more patients. This trip we have brought smart phones for them to implement mHealth. With this program Dr. Vincent can reach thousands with the help of his non-medical staff using smart phones in the slum to collect and transmit medical information to his computer. These smart phones serve as Dr. Vincent's eyes and ears...these devises can take photos and even video tape the patients. Our partners on this project is Global H.E.E.D (globalheed.org). who is partnering with SANA (sana.mit.edu). If you are interested in learning more about this Initiative go their websites. The staff here are so excited about this new initiative...they are already talking of Phase II of implementation - Mathare Slum and Marsabit.

Next is the ministry of Nick and Charles. We only equip them by paying their salaries and helping sometimes financially with the 34 children they care for. Their ministry reaches to the very heart of Mathare slum - 2nd largest slum in the world. They have helped almost 500 people who are infected with HIV/AIDS through the mobilization of young men and women volunteers. We don't need to tell Nick and Charles how to care for their people...and we don't need to do it for them. I am a nurse and a social worker and I have been in healthcare my entire professional career. I have seen healthcare in health care settings in 35 states in the US. I am in awe of what I see in Nick and Charles' ministry. A ministry without nurses, social workers and medical supplies and equipment. But, what they lack in degrees and equipment they make-up for with a heart and passion to care for their people.

And, the Temples of Worship have been equipped with a keyboard , drums, guitars, microphones, speakers and a saxophone. They use their music to reach thousands with the message of salvation and HiV/AIDS prevention. Next they want to make and distribute a video of their song Peace and Love. It is a song they wrote during the Post-Election Violence. It is a message that will inspire Kenyans as they move toward elections next year. A message of peace.

We have also equipped the team with two vehicles so they go and spread the gospel.
The last example I want to share with you is the equipping of the sports program. Partners for Care staff here started a what if? football team in Maruri Village. Now there are 12 football teams in this village. Thanks to our partner PEACEPASSERS we have been able to bring football equipment for the players equipping them with what they needed to play football.

This trip I have brought the information about the Atlanta Food Bank. I was truly blessed to spend time with Bill Bolling a man who has had a passion all his life to eliminate hunger. Bill is the founder and Executive Director of the Atlanta Food Bank. Bill connected me to the Global FoodBanking Network. The Global FoodBanking has helped create food banks in 30 countries. They have given me the Feasibility Analysis:Starting a Food Bank System Toolkit. My part is to pass this information to people here who like Bill have a passion to eliminate hunger. PFC will play a role in the development by partnering with others and equipping where we can.

Ryan Morris who spent three months with the team here in Kenya once wrote that he was blessed to have a front row seat to watch God at work. I feel the same way - blessed to be a small part of equipping this team on the ground in Kenya to reach their people.

I am grateful for mentors like Steve Saint and my daughter Mindy who continually teach me ways to help and not harm.

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Saturday, December 3

Remembering Elizabeth and Baby Diamond on this World's Aids Day 2011

On this World's Aids Day I am remembering two very special little children - Elizabeth and Baby Diamond. Both Elizabeth and Baby Diamond were born infected with HIV/AIDS. Both died from this disease - Elizabeth was 4 years old, Baby Diamond just 1 1/2 years old. Both gave a mighty fight but the disease ravaged their bodies and left them unable to fight off the secondary diseases they died from.


Baby Diamond
Sometimes it seems the world has forgotten that HIV/AIDS is still a threat. According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 34 million people living with HIV. During 2010 some 2.7 million people became newly infected with the virus, including an estimated 390,000 children. Despite a significant decline in the estimated number of AIDS-related deaths over the last five years, there were still an estimated 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths in 2010.

Imagine 390,000 children born with a disease that could have been prevented. The Partners for Care team in Kenya everyday fights to prevent babies from being born infected. Everything they do is focused on stopping this disease that either has infected or affected everyone they know - their families, their friends, their neighbors. Through their what if? campaign they call the youth to do their part to create an HIV/AIDS - free generation.

On this day, I also remember Nick and Charles who mobilize young men and women to go as volunteers to minister at the bedside of those infected with HiV/AIDS. Those who live in the 2nd largest slum in the world - Mathare Slum. Nick and Charles have seen 77 people die from HIV/AIDS including 22 children. Two of these children were Elizabeth and Baby Diamond.

Today...I remember and for me I pledge to do whatever I can to support to support the team on the ground in Kenya who are fighting the giant of HIV/AIDS.

Grateful for those who also help support them in this fight,

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