August 11, 2015
What a day! This morning was my morning at Tessa Grace. I got there at about 8:30 and there were women and babies everywhere waiting to be seen. Tessa Grace is right next to the clinic where people in the community can be seen and receive meds for very inexpensive. At Tessa Grace a certain number of children, ages 0-2, can come weekly to get the care and formula that they need. Most of the moms are HIV positive, or the baby is in the care of a relative due to parents death, and they need formula that they cannot afford. There is a bible study, singing, baby weighing and a visit with the clinic director to receive formula for the week.
The director gave me a quick tour of the clinic and Tessa Grace, grabbed a weighing contraption, hung it from a beam on the porch, gave me a pen and paper and told me to weigh all the babies and give the weight on paper to the mom. So, thankfully all the moms knew what to do and started taking all of their babies clothes off and putting them in these homemade slings. Imagine a cloth diaper with a long strap attached. They put the baby in the diaper and hang them on the hook attached to the weight and they dangle in the air until I can get an accurate weight. I did my best to get accurate weights on all of them, then introduced myself and told them why I was there and prayed over them while they waited to be seen.
We moved to the office where the women would come in two at a time and would be asked a few questions about their baby's health and make sure that they were gaining weight. Then they were given an opened can of formula. The reason for opening the formula is because a lot of the women would sell it instead of give it to their baby. If the can is open, no one will buy it. Lots of cute babies came in and out and I held as many as I could and asked all the moms their ages because all the women here look so freaking young. Well, it's because they ARE all very young.
I thought we were all done when they called back a mom, Maria, and her 1 month old twin boys that had been waiting. I asked to hold them and she seemed very relieved to not have take care of them for those few minutes. The clinic didn't have room for any more children, but Maria explained that her husband doesn't work, so there isn't much food, so she wasn't making enough breastmilk to feed her twins. The director made an executive decision to let them in to the program based on the fact that most twins don't make it here and they take priority.
El Shaddai when they went to grade school, that I would sponsor them to go. She quickly said her other children hadn't graduated preschool, so she doubted these boys would go to school either. Then we gave her rice and beans, formula and bottles. She put one newborn on her back and the other on her 6 year old son and they headed home. Surreal.
(Fun fact about twins in Africa...whoever comes out last is the big sibling because they had to be the strongest to push the first one out!)
Around 1:30 Braxton drove me and Max to El Shaddai school so I could assist Max in teaching his English classes. On the way down the long dirt road that leads to the school, we passed a chubby little boy that saw Max and started yelling and waving, "Hey Teacha"! We had to stop and give him a ride and I hope I never forget him running his little heart out to the truck with the biggest grin on his face you've ever seen. He sat by me and giggled the whole way there. I knew he was the next kid the Hubby and I had to sponsor.
El Shaddai is beautiful. Several modest concrete buildings with a playground set among the most beautiful landscape I've seen here. Kids are everywhere, they all seem super happy. The classroom size was large, 30-40 kids. We taught 2 classes to 8-10 year olds. The kids are wild! Lots of talking, little listening, many giggles. Very different than American schools, but they are here, which is great. If they come and absorb half of the lessons and learn to read and write, they are ahead of most of the population here. We worked on basic words like please, thank you, breakfast, lunch, dinner, hello, goodbye, good morning, good afternoon and goodnight! Their accents are adorable!
Max and I had a long walk back to town and he told me how he came to know Christ and how he started working for Children's Relief. I could talk to him for hours. His joy, passion and energy are intoxicating. He is going to do great things. Everyone should have a Max and Afonso in their lives.