Sunday, July 6, 2014

Week 70 Nodding Syndrome

very busy and still loving it
Sunday: fireside with our beloved Mission President and his wife.
Monday: Zone Conference with Pres and Sister Chatfield; 
YSA Family Home Evening service project  cutting, wrapping and inserting  800 more bars of soap for hygiene kits for refugees
Tuesday: class 1 of "Walking Out of Poverty" : teaching President Uchtdorf's promise to members around the world that if they will pay tithing; become more self-reliant; care for the needy and provide compassionate service they truly will walk out of poverty.  Its an intense five week course with lots of homework and service requirements.  They learn skills such as time management, finances and budgeting, planning and setting goals, practicing job/self-employment guidelines, and hear from individuals who have successfully walked out of poverty.  We thank Elder and Sister Story  in Kampala for giving us the vision to create this course.
Wed: zone development meeting; keyboard lessons til 7
Thurs: trip to Odek;  enjoying  institute with our terrific single adults (taught each week by one of our return missionaries)
Fri: visit members, work on lessons
Sat:  teach; organize hygiene kits
Sun:  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

An Oasis in the Desert


We had the best experience this week visiting the village of Odek  where we handed over the ATMIT donated by the Church, which Brooks and Lawrence brought on their visit to Uganda. Here is where Hope for Humans, founded by two doctors out of San Antionio Texas, have established an amazingly well run Care Center for children and families who suffer from Nodding Syndrome, a neurological disease that causes severe seizures resulting  in mental and physical retardation, malnurishment, losing control of their body and many accidental deaths. Aside from Tanzania during the 1960's, it is almost unique to northern Uganda and effects about 400 children around this particular facility and another 3000 more around Kitgum, a few hours further north of us, close to the So. Sudanese border. (We have a Church group in Kitgum we occasionally visit). There are now also a number of cases appearing in South Sudan where their war is raging.  While the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization have researched Nodding Syndrome, no known cause or cure has been found.  It seems, though, that wars and living in refugee camps are key indicators to this debilitating problem. The disease only hits children between the ages of 5 and 15.  The anti-seizure medicine and nutritional supplements such as the porridge ATMIT, seems to help immensely as you will see below.  No one knows what the lifespan will be for these kids since it is a relatively new disease. 

The day care center we visited is about an hour and 45 mins from Gulu. It is one of the best run and most successful projects we have seen in Northern Uganda. The village people had no money, but when they saw the genuine interest of Drs. Suzanne Gazda and Sally Baynton and Hope for Humanity Administrator Collines Angwich had for their sick children, they donated a number of acres of land for the facility. Because families also made the bricks for the buildings and provided most of the manual labor, they were able to complete many of the buildings in only a few months time. In addition, they help grow and harvest most of the food that is eaten at the care center.  These people are united in their efforts to help the Care Center - and thus their children -  be successful, and because of their efforts as well as outside donations, the care center is expanding and another is being planned for the Kitgum area.

 At this facility, forty of the most severe children, who are still able to walk daily to and from their homes, come to  the center, where they are fed two nutritious meals, attend "school" according to their cognitive level, have music therapy, learn to wash their own clothes and take care of themselves, maintain a garden, as well as many other things that can help them become more self-sufficient when they are well enough to leave the facility.  The other 350 or so are outpatients who are visited throughout the month by Care Center personnel for checkups and medicines.  The children are served two nutritious, largely homegrown, meals and are given the Atmit before they leave home because it is likely they will receive no dinner.

Most of the children die as a result of a seizure, which can happen 3 to 20 times a day; in the course of the seizure they may fall into water and drown or into a fire where food is being prepared. That is why their parents have to tie them to a tree or watch them constantly in the hut if they are at home.  By Hope for Humans providing this care center, the children are carefully watched all day so the parents can work in their gardens or whatever else they do to eke out a living.  

Collines is an amazing administrator, the perfect person for this undaunting task of managing all that is involved with the center and the care of these children and their families.  She will be in the states raising awareness and money for several months, from August through October.  We know for sure She will be in San Antonio TX, Ohio, and Colorado, and at our insistence, she is now coming to Utah.  She said their organization wanted to do some research on ATMIT and how they might produce it here in Uganda.  We know this is what the church hopes also to see happen - locally produced.  We hope to acquaint her with BYU research/production of ATMIT as well as the Church's Humanitarian Service facilities.  

Collines understands our church does not get involved in fundraising for itself or any other entity, however, if you know of a group or organization that may be interested in learning more about this organization, it is one we recommend -- not something we do for most as we frequently see that in many, much of the money goes into the pockets of administrators.  Darren Peterson , if your industry group is still looking for an African project after So Sudan went down, we can talk about this.
Part of their facilities.  Even their outdoor toilets were the best we have seen. One of the buildings is a  simple but nice guest house with separate rooms for men and women, used for those who come to help.  

One of the classrooms for the kids.  The students improve rapidly in this facility where they get proper medications and nutrition.  They  are divided into three groups according to their cognitive level.  In the highest level they are taught math and reading skills, as well as other basics.  

This is their first kitchen, a hut already on the premises.  Now it is a resting area.

This is the new kitchen, the village helped to build.

one of their double stoves.  They have a larger one for community events.Firewood below boiling water for rice and beans and eggplant on top.  The campus grows their own beans and eggplant.  They have cows, goats, a hen house and a piggery. They also have a room where the villagers can learn sewing and make beads.  The beads necklaces and bracelets are sold in Uganda as well as the states..  Very self-sustaining.

The children are required to wash their own clothes which they are doing in the blue buckets.  Notice they are standing up and moving around.  Something many of them couldn't do a few months ago.  They were either bedridden or locked inside a hut or tied to a tree so they wouldn't wander off.  

The nursing staff.
pictures of pictures; read the captions. We saw that this was all true. 

Mama pig doing her thing.  Very clean, well kept piggery.  Their piggery program has been so successful that they are able to train some of the villagers on proper maintenance and provide them with two pigs.  Once the sow has piglets, that villager gives two of his litter to another family to do the same thing. So this is the Piggery Perpetual Education Fund 

Naturally...Pam insisted on holding a piglet.  It screamed louder than those Auburn fans after last years "Kick Six" victory over Bama.  Which proves Auburn isn't a just cow college's a pig college too.

Music therapy.  Some of them were quite good

While we were observing the class this young boy had a seizure and was walked over to one of the beds in the classromm where he curled up and appeared to sleep.  The longer seizures are very draining.

The Nodding Syndome at Odek is very close to the old neighborhood of  Joseph Kony...the warlord who terrorized Gulu and northern Uganda for over 20 years.  Google him if you haven't already to read of his atrocities. He has never been caught.  We ran into some US military intelligence at Kampala airport a few months ago that were here assisting the surrounding countries government's in locating him. (South Sudan, Congo)  His family home is near Odek and he still has family living there.  This is a picture of his old church building where he was an alter boy..  We missed taking a picture of a large rock/stone that he claims he received his spiritual powers from.  Those who know good from evil, know where his powers are coming from.

We have actually met Westerners who say there is no one by the name of Joseph Kony who has ever existed.  We have also met young men (close friends here) who have slept in Gulu town, escaping from their villages at night where Kony would rob, plunder, torture and rape villagers of all ages.  Little boys were kidnapped and forced to join his army.  Girls were made sex slaves.  I have friends at home who do not believe in conspiracy theories or secret combinations.  They should talk to some of my friends here who hid in Gulu every night for years or were actually kidnapped and later escaped in the middle of a Uganda military I know who was shot.  Certainly Kony's group is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of secret combinations. My friends back home might also think about the terrorist who are rolling through Iraq and Syria and who even threatened the Kampala Airport last night with an attack or took down the Twin Towers in New York.  Are these things not accomplished via conspiracies? These are latter-day conspiracies or secret combinations!  It has been said that if you want to know what is going on in the world today, you should read the Book of Mormon which was compiled  by prophets on the American continent over a 1000 year period before and after Christ was born in the old world.  It was written and compiled for our day.  Those who wrote it, never read it but preserved it for you and I.

. Evil Secret Works Can Destroy Societies
  • Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the threat of secret combinations still exists in our day:
    “The Book of Mormon teaches that secret combinations engaged in crime present a serious challenge, not just to individuals and families but to entire civilizations. Among today’s secret combinations are gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime families. The secret combinations of our day function much like the Gadianton robbers of the Book of Mormon times. They have secret signs and code words. They participate in secret rites and initiation ceremonies. Among their purposes are to ‘murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God’ [Helaman 6:23].
    “If we are not careful, today’s secret combinations can obtain power and influence just as quickly and just as completely as they did in Book of Mormon times. Do you remember the pattern? The secret combinations began among the ‘more wicked part’ of society, but eventually ‘seduced the more part of the righteous’ until the whole society was polluted [Helaman 6:38]. …
    “The Book of Mormon teaches that the devil is the ‘author of all sin’ and the founder of these secret combinations [Helaman 6:30; see2 Nephi 26:22]. He uses secret combinations, including gangs, ‘from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men’ [Helaman 6:30]. His purpose is to destroy individuals, families, communities, and nations [see 2 Nephi 9:9]. To a degree, he was successful during Book of Mormon times. And he is having far too much success today. That’s why it is so important for us as priesthood holders to take a firm stand for truth and right by doing what we can to help keep our communities safe” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 51–52; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 38).

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