Sunday, June 14, 2009

Update from Pamela: Lutheran Kenya Deaconess Training (Part 1)

From Pamela Boehle-Silva (Part 1)

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and All Whom I Love

Greetings from Kisumu, Kenya:

I am good. Sleeping well, but very emotionally spent this morning. Yesterday we went out on home visits with 3 of the deaconesses, a social work intern and Ruth, the wife of Joseph, seminary professor. What we saw was beyond words. To say that the visits in 2006 were "sugar coated" would not be accurate, but yesterday's visits were people and places with no joy.

What these deaconesses face is unbelievable. Most of the women - and they were all widows - we visited, were HIV+ and, of course, had many other maladies. I did get to play nurse with each visit and that was both frustrating and satisfying. Frustrating in that the problems are complex - or rather getting help is complex - but satisfying, in that, even the simplest remedies are welcomed and bring some relief.

We saw people with chronic wounds, Tuberculosis - hence the shortness of breath, coughing and lethargy - diarrhea, malnutrition, high blood pressure, anemia, cardiac irregularities... and then there were those whose lives are affected by the fatigue that goes with not feeling well and not having enough to eat.

The deaconesses are frustrated because they cannot provide for the needs of their people. We left each person money for food and medical care. We dressed wounds, gave ibuprofen and children's Tylenol. Instilled hope through song, the Word of God, prayer and touch.

(continued in part 2)