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Published: March 22nd 2010
Wednesday was a tough day ... Erick, James, and Lynn met with Esperance to discuss our future connection with them.
This had been an issue long before I arrived in the DRC ... it had been a constant power struggle with the leaders of Esperance ... and because we discovered they were stealing money they’d been backed into a corner and we found something else ... there had been zero home visits in the 4 communities here in Likasi and the feeding points had been almost useless. We then “took over” Toyota and made sure the feeding point was being run correctly and home visits started happening.
In December Erick took me to the community of Shituru to see Leontine for the first time ... I couldn’t even say anything. No child should have to go through that kind of sickness at 7. She was born with AIDS. Her grandfather and primary care giver had just passed away and she was now being taken care of by her grandmother. The passing of her caregiver was news to Erick and hit him hard ... we sat in silence for several minutes before asking about Leontine’s health and if they had been visited by any volunteers recently. They hadn’t been visited for some time and Leontine’s health was decreasing ... the leader of Esperance, Ma Mwamba, had declined free ARV’s for our HIV patients for reasons still unknown ... Leontine was the victim. We left some food with the family along with our prayers ... then we were gone.
I got to visit Leontine once more in late January ... conditions were the same ... still no home visits ... still no ARV’s.
The week before Lynn and James visited we had made contact with an organization here in the Congo that distributes free ARV’s and were planning on taking Leontine to them. We had already taken one patient from Toyota to them to get tested and get counselling ... our relationship with the organization’s representative for Likasi was growing well.
I wasn’t at the meeting on Wednesday but when the guys got back I could tell something happened ... I thought it had to do with money though. I feel sick ... I have a new reason not to sleep at night.
Leontine died soon after our visit in January.
We’ve been caught up in expansion ... reaching as many children as we can ... are we actually reaching them if the number of communities becomes the most important? If the planning becomes more important than the action ... are we doing anything?
We teach volunteers that home visits aren’t home visits if you don’t build a relationship with the children you’re visiting ... they mean nothing if the kids you see are just a checkmark on your list. We can’t teach that ... not when expansion is all we are worried about.
So there’s my struggle ... the pit in my stomach ... and yet here I sit ... in the office ... checking emails ... planning.
I continue to ask myself ... why did I come to Africa?
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