Sunday, February 20, 2011

We hiked to the other side of the slender island!

Slave steps!

We docked in a beautiful cove on the south side of one of the islands, then began the walk up the slave steps.

"Once the domain for the powerful Caulker family - Thomas Corker arrived in Sierra Leone from England in 1684 - Banana Islands was a bastion for slave trading, and quickly became a well-to-do spot for colonials and Krio families alike." from...Bradt Travel Guide

Boat ride from the mainland to Banana Islands!

There was a crew of 3 men on the wooden boat with small motor. One was designated to bail water!

The Banana Islands

Late in January, we and several others on the Restore Hope Team began to realize that we were working virtually non-stop, including weekends. We deliberately set aside a Fri-Sat for a "get away." We determined there would be no computers and no cell phones. The Banana Islands were the perfect choice for peace and solitude. For a whopping $45 Tom and I were able to relax overnight in a setting that we believe to be near paradize! This included the boat ride over, the accommodations in a "hut," lunches for 2 days, dinner on Friday evening and breakfast Saturday morning.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mohamed jumped right in!

Mohamed jumped right into the action at St George. Friday was a public holiday here, so the kids were out of school (they go to schools in the community). At the refuge they were spending the morning in an HIV awareness seminar.

Alfred of Buckner!

Alfred of Buckner International went with us to transfer Mohamed. He and the interns that work alongside him with the street kids are so dedicated to their ministry! We are blessed to be partnered with them!

You mean babies can be "street kids" too???

The answer is, "YES!" This baby is the youngest street kid currently at St George Refuge for Street Kids. Her mother died during childbirth. The only living relative was an old grandmother that could not take care of her. Authorities brought her to the refuge at 4 days old. She is now 6 months. Auntie Marion is holding her. Marion is one of the caretakers of the kids.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What a birthday present!!! Mohamed's smile!

This morning we relocated Mohamed from the clinic, where he has been the last 29 days, to The St George Refuge for Street Kids. His skin condition will take aggressive treatment for months to come, but the staff at St George are just the folks to take good care of him. We've visited the refuge each year since 2008, and they have such a heart for the kids. We will be making weekly visits to replenish his medications and to hug on him. We dropped back by this afternoon to deliver a 50 kilo bag of rice for all the kids and staff. Mohamed was having a ball with his new friend, also named Mohamed, who was picked up on the road by police near Freetown. He only speaks Mende which means someone probably brought him here from the southern part of Sierra Leone and left him on the sad, but not unusual at all.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thank you!

Hello dear friends and family!

We trust this finds you all doing well and diving deep into 2011! Can you believe it is February already?!?

We’ve been watching God work like crazy here in Sierra Leone. We are trying to keep up with Him and enjoying every moment. Aside from the projects we are involved in, on a weekly basis we come across individual needs. It is our aim to prayerfully consider each one and then act as God would have us to. Please know that we are mindful that your support is making this possible, and YOU are impacting people from across the ocean. We have numerous pictures and brief updates on our blog, and we invite you to look into the eyes of some of the people and groups that you are touching!

Projects YOU are a part of:

• Orphans, caretakers and widows – we have completed our second month of food distribution, agricultural work begins this month as the families clear land in preparation for high-yield seed that will be planted in March, simultaneous to this assessments for skills development is on-going and the War Widows are well on their way to marketing their sewing/crafts, also the 10 interns from the Bible College are continuing social work among the families to compliment our goals of long-rage sustainability for 226 orphans, all their caretaker families and 85 war widow families.

• Young adult skills development in the Jui Community – as of last week we have secured trainers for four areas of skills development with classes set to begin Feb 28th, these are in addition to computer classes that began in the fall.

• Waterloo street kids – we are thrilled to be developing relationships among the street kids, long-range plans are in the works for a “Drop-In Centre” as a first step toward an interim care facility with the ultimate goal of getting kids off the streets one child at a time.

• Hosetta School for kids with mental challenges – we can’t wait for teams to come in May and June, work continues on Phase I of a dorm facility, arrangements are being made for furnishings, possible dedication of building in May as students in need of “live-in” accommodation move in to their new home.

Individuals YOU are impacting:

• Saidu and Isata – we’ve helped with the educational needs of this brother and sister since 2009, now YOU are providing for their schooling

• David Sr and David Jr – help with food, school fees and supplies

• Ishmael’s children: Isha, Mariama, Mohamed - you may remember that Ishmael’s (a Muslim) home burned not long after we arrived, we watched as friends and family helped them get the house livable, our concern was for the children to have uniforms, books and supplies to finish out the school year, YOU have made this possible.

• “Father Joe” (Alhassan) – street kid with serious injury and infection from a cut on his foot, spent 12 days in a clinic facility, has now been reunited with family

• Alhaji – street kid with serious leg wound, spent 10 days at the clinic, has now been reunited with family and is attending school

• Mohamed (17) – street kid with pneumonia, Malaria and Typhoid, spent 14 days at the clinic, we tried reuniting with family, but after 6 years of being on his own he only stayed 2 days, we will now continue to minister to him on the streets with hopes that a Drop-In Centre will one day provide skills training that will offer him hope for the future

• Mohamed (9) – is still at the clinic after 26 days, his skin problems will take long-term aggressive treatment, we have visited with the uncle that was raising him before he took to the streets, we do not sense that the family has ever taken responsibility since his parents died 3 years ago, we are looking to have him transferred to the St George Refuge for Street Kids, they have a great track record and will certainly care for this precious little boy.

As you can see, God is touching lives all over the place through YOU!! We thank you from the depths of our being for your prayers and support! We are here because of YOU!

To the glory of our Father!
Tom and Beck

Ishmael's house is coming along!

We absolutely love Ishmael, his wife, 3 children and nephew. They live next door to the Centre and from our office window we watch them live life. We wave back and forth throughout the day. Ishmael has been a right arm to Tom with plumbing needs at the Centre as well. You can see in the picture that the house is still being restored from the fire. They are using this opportunity to add an addition to the back. They all have the most beautiful smiles!

Raising the tanks!

Preparations to raise the water tanks at the Centre for better pressure in the lines. Tom is working alongside a local plumber and welder to make much needed repairs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Strategic Planning for 2011

Oops...we really were planning...just had to break for lunch!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hosetta Construction!

The dorms at Hosetta will have the capacity for 20 boys and 20 girls, along with dorm room parents. Tom is working with a local contractor and two men that have proven to be very qualified in plumbing and electrical to bring Phase I to completion. We think this will be done by the end of March. Tom is also in contact with a welder about frames for beds, and we are pricing other furnishings that will be needed. We are so excited to see things coming together so quickly!

Hosetta School for Children with Mental Challenges

Tom with Dr Coker (Chairman of the Board of Trustees) and some of the students at Hosetta. In May and June of this year, our teams from the USA will work alongside the staff to expand their curriculum and move into Phase II of an ongoing construction effort. God is blessing as Hosetta will become a school with boarding capability for students that need this service. Currently the school is a day school that runs Mon-Fri.