Monday, October 29, 2012

What Is Happening While Sandy Visits Us?

Outside, a storm is raging, wind is whipping things around as though they don't weigh anything at all, and the trees, bending under the pounding, are doing their best to stay upright.  I love the sound of the wind and the rain, but know that we are not anywhere close to the center of this storm yet.  As we wait, one of my children is napping and the other is playing a game with my husband.  I am doing as much as I can while we still have electricity.  As I work through contracts, inventory sheets, reports to donors, and other items which have been sitting by my computer for way too long, I realize that this a wonderful time to focus on the blessings we have been given as a family and as an organization. 
Not only do I have warm home in which to play and wait out a storm, we also have electricity, water and food to hold us through a long spell, if needed.  We have a gas stove, so I can cook anytime we are hungry.  We have family with whom to hang out.  We have blankets on beds and we have a basement to sleep in should we feel a tree will crash through the roof.  We are blessed.  So very, very blessed. 
While the kids with whom I work are lacking many (MANY!) of the things I tend to take for granted, I do have good news to report on their behalf.  Below is a list of what has been keeping us busy these past days so that they, too, can be comfortable and so that they will always know that someone does care:
  • A container of medical supplies, birthing beds, solar panels, water filters and all sorts of magical items is on the Congo River on its way to Tandala Hospital and to 16 clinics in the Ubangi of the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • We packed a 40' contaner full of medical and office .  It is on its way to Mombasa, Kenya to supply an amazing clinic set in the slums of Mombasa.
  • A container of medical supplies (and the most amazing baby bassinette) is about to launch its way to Mpumudde, Uganda thanks to generous friends at Rotary METS in Savannah, GA
  • A greenhouse has been erected in Kenya, to grow veggies for HIV+ children who need good food in order to feel better
  • 35 goat kids were born during the past two months in Zimbabwe, all part of our Livelihoods Program. They've been vaccinated and are doing well.
  • Trainings in conservation farming continue throughout Zimbabwe to teach children how to grow personal gardens using the manure from animals donated to them. 
  • We received the great news that our container to Kilembe Mines, Uganda arrived and that everything in it has been a blessing to the patients and doctors at that hospital
  • We received a grant to provide porridge to children who are desperately lacking any food. 
  • A volunteer created some ads we need for an online campaign and Share Cause Marketing is going to make it flashy for us
  • I received this note regarding a beneficiary today: "A guardian, Grace Moyo (74 years old), says that this project has shown her and the orphans she looks after that the love of the people who donated the money for these birds is changing the life of her family."
I say, let the wind blow and howl.  It is a beautiful thing to learn to care less about the material things we own than for the people around us.  Whether your people to care for are in your backyard, down the street, across the city, or on the other side of the world, do it.  Care for them.  Love them.  Hold on to them, not the the things that will be here one day and gone the next. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rain and Sunshine

October 5, 2012 - from the desk of the ED -

Yeah, it's dry!
I sit at my desk, trying to concentrate, although I’d rather be sleeping.  It is wet, rainy and grey outside and that, to me, is the best napping weather.  But, I struggle to stay focused and on task with a cup of mint tea by my side.   I find my mind wandering to our friends in countries where the lack of rain is a huge problem, killing livestock and gardens.  I pray for them, that they will see rain soon and that the rain will help blanket their land with green and with vegetables and fruit. 

I hear the ping of another email hitting my in-box.  I quit looking out the window and read with excitement an email regarding the vaccination of twenty five kids born to the goats we gave out in Zimbabwe this summer.  It is always exciting to hear of female kids being born because one knows that the program will survive, that the flocks will continue to grow.  Keeping them healthy is of utmost importance and the team on the ground is working towards that with the beneficiary families.

On days like these, I take all the good news I can.  My email account is acting up and I am not able to send out emails to specific people (I receive alright...just can't send), which is just wretched.  I have no idea who is receiving my emails and who isn’t.  How am I supposed to work this way?  So, I spend 3 hours between our domain provider and google apps, trying to figure out things that really mean nothing to me.  I find most languages fascinating, but not the language of computers.  I don’t know what they are asking me and I don’t know how to answer.  This is when a good IT person with lots of time on their hands would be so very useful.  Since one of those doesn’t exist in my current world, I will have to do the work.  I’d really rather poke my eye out, but I’ll stay on hold some more, waiting for someone on the other side to give me some answers.

Q giving an ODW vet kit to a village coordinator
Another ping!  This one is from Ron, the teacher/advisor for Operation Days Work.  This is a fantastic student-run program which gets students from various schools directly involved in local projects as well as international ones.  We received a $10,000 grant during the summer, which allowed us to purchase and distribute chickens and goats and veterinary kits for orphan families in Zimbabwe.  This new email is to let me know that the students just voted that AFCA will receive the additional $5000 they raised this year!  Oh, what good news these are!  What will we do with these funds, you ask? 

We will purchase and distribute a soya/maize blend porridge for 70 families as well as seeds and gardening training for the same families. Transportation and delivery of the food and seeds is included in this grant.  How incredibly exciting this is, especially in light of the lack of rain which has affected many families.  The porridge will provide a stop-gap as gardens grow.  The gardens are planted using something called conservation farming, which traps any moisture, even if only dew, under a thick blanket of mulch.  This allows for vegetables to grow even through times of little rain. 
I sip my tea.

My son with beneficiaries in Zimbabwe
I think of the children who’ll receive the porridge and the gardening training and seeds.  I find myself smiling.  I laugh out loud here in my home office, thrilled for them.
Suddenly, even though the rain continues to drum, things look mighty bright indeed.