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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kwejuna Day

Yesterday the quarterly distribution of supplemental food (20 kg ofbeans, 3 liters of oil, a kilo of salt) drew a record 230 HIV-infected women to the WHM Community Center. Most had a baby or relative in tow, so imagine the chaos of about 500 people milling through our various stations, reuniting with friends, comparing experiences and admiring each other's babies. Each is interviewed first by a health worker or peer educator, to document her status and be sure she is enrolled in ongoing care and treatment. Each is weighed and measured, to collect data on nutritional status. We scrutinize the outcome measures for the babies, and have a temporary lab set up for either sending blood spot samples for viral testing or immediate antibody screening. Each woman is offered family planning on the spot, too.

Most  importantly, all have the opportunity to enter a side room in small groups for prayer. Skip and Barb poured out their hearts to woman after woman, hearing their worries, lending a compassionate ear, laying on hands and praying. Theses women carry heavy burdens of rejection by their families, abuse in their marriages, anxiety about who will care for their children when they die, weakness as they deal with their own declining health. Being heard, and being interceded for before God . . . these are gifts that the Ryans and Pastor Kisembo offered.

Finally there was a message to all: a sack of beans and a cup of oil given to the dying, God's miraculous provision to the widow that aided Elijah reflected in the present reality, a gift that can multiply into grace for many. Each woman was then called forward to receive the food, and a generous "transport" allowance (cash) to get it all home.

A LONG day, person after person, so much brokeness. Yet these are always celebratory days too, giving good-news test results to most, seeing growth and survival. And witnessing the partnership of a former team mate who advocates, a generous supporting couple who finances, nearly our entire team at work, a dozen health workers who give their all. We are grateful.

1 comment:

Barbara Elwood said...

Thanks for including the photos of Kwejuna Day. It was exciting to see glimpses of what those days include.

God bless you all, as you love and serve those around you.