Friday, May 28, 2010

Sierra Leone: Day 1

Wednesday was our first full day in Sierra Leone.   Mid-morning, we headed out into town to visit The Covering, the children's center (sounds better than orphanage) we were there to support.  Just travelling down the street was quite an experience.

There were people all over the place.  Many women carrying baskets or buckets of merchandise on their heads or sitting by the side of the road trying to sell whatever they had.  Men, women and children were setting up shop on benches, small tables or even parked cars trying to make enough money to survive.

The landscape is beautiful.  The ocean is visible from almost everywhere.  Beautiful mountains full of lush green trees, but dotting the hillside are little tin shacks and partially constructed concrete buildings.  The roads are mostly dirt.  Either dusty and dry or washed out from the downpours of the rainy season.  Traveling anywhere - even through town - takes forever because of road conditions.

As we drove closer to the center, we were driving right next to some pitiful shacks, where kids were playing in the dirt or with the roaming chickens.  Some clothed, some not.  Moms with babies on their backs, trying to tidy the little places they call home or hanging out laundry to dry.  I was shocked and taken aback by how these people were living.  As we drove by, though, the children were smiling and waving, seemingly happy and content to be running around naked chasing chickens.

We turned a corner and climbed a hill so steep I thought we might roll right over backwards.  At the top of the hill stood a line of beautiful children, dressed in sweet blue and white gingham school uniforms and holding signs to welcome us.  They were waving and singing, "Come and go with me to my Father's house.  A big, big house with lots and lots of room",  and "We welcome you in the name of Jesus Christ, We are precious in the sight of God.  Jesus loves you and we love you, too.  We say welcome."  It was just precious!

This is a short video of the last portion of our trek to the center and a clip of the kids singing.  Enjoy!






Before the welcome ceremony really got started, I followed a friend of mine, Tiffany, up to see the babies.  She sponsors a little boy named Kevin and we sponsor a set of twins, Gerald and Geraldine.  After a quick picture of everyone, the caregivers handed me Gerald and I instantly knew that he had a fever.  I didn't want to just start telling them what they needed to do and the ceremony had begun, so I took him outside with me.  He was pretty lethargic and had a hard time even holding his head up.

After we went to lunch and had gotten back to The Covering, Tiffany and I mentioned it to Dr. McCauley, who was with us.  She went up to take a look and gave both babies a chiropractic adjustment.  We set out to find all the medical supplies we'd brought along to get the fever down and get them hydrated.  Along the way, Lori, a speech therapist, came in to take a look and after an evaluation determined that they were both aspirating.  They weren't able to swallow their formula without it getting down into their lungs, which was probably a big part of the reason they were sick.

Praise God!  He knew just who needed to be there to take care of His kids!

Lori worked with them through their feeding and educated the caregivers on how to feed them safely.  Dr. McCauley was able to get them both loaded with electrolytes and after their adjustment, they both perked up and started looking much better.  They continued to have some fever throughout the week, but  were in much better shape than when we arrived.  Unfortunately, the medical care in Sierra Leone is a huge problem - from hygiene to general knowledge and understanding of how to treat illness.

At then end of the day, though, we felt like we had accomplished a lot and we had a great time getting to know the kids at The Covering.  They are just beautiful and were so happy that we were there.  They just come flocking to us from the time we arrive wanting hugs and to be loved on.

Tiffany and Kevin



The twins, 7 months old


Me and Mamie, the big sister to the twins.  We sponsor her, too.
I'm looking pretty raggedy already, but this was the afternoon and 
the heat and humidity were terrible!


Mamie again - isn't she just too cute!  Her name is pronounced
"muh-mee", with the accent on the last syllable.


Muhammed, the twins older brother, and Dr. McCauley.  
He wasn't sure quite what to think.


Safienatu, 11, another young lady who stole
my heart.


The older girls dancing for us.  They are amazing!


Don't know who this guy is, but isn't he cute!



All the girls had their hair done in braids and twists when
we got there.  They were adorable!  This is Zainab, she's 2.


Abdul playing the drum for the girls to dance.
They are wonderful musicians!


Safienatu waving good-bye as we left for the day.


Our first day was great!  We saw some shocking things in the community - I can't imagine having to live the way these people do, but the kids at The Covering were so sweet!  We couldn't wait to get back to them on Thursday.  It's so heartbreaking to realize what wonderful kids they are and to know that they are orphans. 

I'm not sure why God chose me to be here, in this place and time, instead of in a place like Sierra Leone. I'm glad, don't get me wrong.  But, I wonder why?  I certainly haven't done anything do deserve the life I have, just as I know these kids haven't done anything to deserve being orphaned in a 3rd world country.  

We each have a purpose.  And, part of my purpose now is to help minister and take care of these kids.  As long as The Covering exists, we will support it.  It's an amazing light in a very dark place and I'm proud to say that I'm part of such a great thing.





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