Blessing I received from them rather than what they received from me.

As I approach the finally week of my stay in Ethiopia, I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy! My heart is torn between going home to family and friends and leaving behind the patients I have grown to love. I have been here 5 weeks now and have one week left. It is an overwhelming feeling and filled with mixed emotions.

I was here last February for a 12 day stay. I worked with the Hospice program and knew at the end of my stay, I had to return. In fact, I did not want to leave. It was a true blessing from God that I was able to return within the same year. I was able to reconnect with some of the previous patients and also get to know some new ones. I made my stay for 6 weeks this trip and thought that would surely be more difficult and plenty long. As I approach the final week, I find myself feeling the same way I felt after the previous visit and torn over leaving.

The program I have worked with and grown to love is an amazing blessing for so many cancer and HIV/AIDS patients in the Kore area. The nurses and workers in the Home Hospice Care Program are amazing people. They show the love of Christ through the home visits, caring for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patients on a daily basis. I admire them all for the love of the Lord they spread throughout the community.

While I have been here, I have been blessed beyond words. I have met several women who have shown me how they live my favorite passage in the Bible. Philippians 4:4-9. They have shown me what real strength truly looks like while facing their immortality. They face life and the chance of losing their life with grace, dignity and strength that has no comparison. They face the thought of leaving young children behind but seem to trust the Lord to take care of them. Many of them sleep on a blanket on their dirt floor. The ones who have decent water have it because they carry heavy 5 gallon containers for miles to their home, without complaint. All at the same time they are dying of cancer or HIV/AIDS and most also have TB. Some of them are dealing with the issue of AIDS and Cancer. It is something impossible to grasp, for I don’t think I would have a fraction of the grit these women have. I see it in their smiling faces that greet me at the door when I visit them. I asked myself many times where this perseverance comes from and as I get to know them, I see it comes from their faith in the Lord. They are constantly praising Him throughout this storm they find themselves in. They love Him with all their hearts, souls and minds and praise Him with all their strength. It is an amazing thing to witness and a blessing to experience. Here is the passage I find them living each day I visit them. I am truly blessed!! Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

As I prepare to leave, I find myself wondering what else I can do for them. But at the same time I know the blessings given during this stay were blessing I received from them rather than what they received from me. Then I start planning how and when I will return. I think about the weaker patients that are so dear to my heart and fight back the tears knowing they may not be here to greet me when I return. But I also can rejoice knowing there are no more tears and no more pain in the life that awaits them and I will surely see them again.

I thank the Lord for giving me this new journey and mission for my life. I couldn’t ask for anything more. My cup overflows with joy from the gift He has given me with this experience. I am grateful beyond words.

written by Sami Kleppe

samiray4334@yahoo.com

 

Rescue Slameweyt who is age 17


Kasech has been a patient of the hospice program for over one year. Over this time she has been fighting through the stages of HIV and TB. At this time she is bedridden once again, and because of this cannot work. Her daughter, Slameweyt, has been forced to take over the role of providing for the family, as Kasech’s husband has passed away. Slameweyt is 17-years-old and because of having to provide for her family had to drop out of school over a year ago. She had finished through grade 8 and she said Biology was her favorite subject in school. She also said that she misses her friends and social interaction with peers her age. This past year, instead of school, she worked 10-hour everyday 6-days a week as a day laborer carrying heavy blocks and working with cement, but even this is not possible anymore. She hurt her leg at work and has not been able to work for the past 15 days. Typically, Slameweyt was making about $50 a month, which was enough to cover all of their needs. But now, they have no source of income. Their rent is due in 8 days, and costs about $25 a month. Even once Slameweyt’s leg heals, she does not belong as a day laborer, but in school where she can get an education and hope for the future.

if you are interested to send Selameweyt to school please do extend our hand of blessing on the following onine doations

http://strongheartsethiopia.org/donate/

or

https://give.cmfi.org/p-8053-strong-hearts.aspx

God Bless you!

“When i walk in the valley of Death you are there with me!!”

This has been a challenging week for the Hospice Program. We learned on Monday thatour patient Serekalem went to the doctor for a check up and was told she onlyhad a short time left to live. Serekalem has cervical cancer, and ended her chemotherapy treatment months ago. The last round of chemotherapy caused kidneyfailure, so now she is living with only one kidney. The day after she heard thenews the hospice staff spent a lot of time with her offering her words ofsolace, as well as praying with her. The news has been very hard for Serekalem,and she has spent the past few days with family and friends. It has been veryimportant to us to keep her faith strong, and make sure she knows that she willbe going to a better place. One of our big concerns is both of her daughters. Serekalem’sdaughters are ages four and twelve, and their father recently moved to Americafor work. Serekalem has always been a very hardworking, friendly, and positivepatient that we have always enjoyed visiting. We at Strong Hearts hope that thefamily stays strong, and will continue to regularly visit them throughout thenext few weeks, as well as keep Serekalem and her family in our prayers.

 

 

 

Debre with Ovarian cancer

Debre is fifty one years old. She came to addis from the countryside region of Gojam when she was ten years old. She is in stage four at this time, and is bedridden. Last August Debre learned that she had ovarian cancer. The doctors did biopsies and other tests that showed the cancer has already metastasized to many organs in her body. They were not able to remove the present tumors and sent her home. There is much accumulation of fluid in her abdomen, back, and peritonea. She suffers with extreme pain and discomfort, including shortness of breath from the fluid. She is taking morphine four times a day for pain. Debre worked before she got sick, but is now unable to leave her home and is dependent. Now her husband and twenty five year old daughter work to support their family. Debre is our newest patient, only having been with strong hearts for two months. Strong Hearts provides her with groceries monthly and other needs periodically. The Hospice team visit Debre everyday in her home to evaluate her physical state and encourage her spiritually, psychologically and emotionally.IMG_4836 IMG_4832

Shibere & Her sucess

Twenty-five years ago, Shibera Bogale who is currently our Hospice care Client, came to Addis Ababa from the countryside of Welo. She had no children, but her husband, who came with her, has children that live with them currently. Eight years ago Shibera went to the hospital to be tested and treated for Herpes Zoster. The tests revealed that she also was positive for HIV AIDS. She started treatment immediately. Shibera and her husband support themselves by collecting garbage from people’s homes. Last year Shibera began growing vegetables to sell. Although her garden is flourishing, she is becoming increasingly weak from her illness, and struggles to carry water from far away for her garden. One month ago, she took out a loan, which she will repay within 18 months, to purchase 15 young chickens. Shibera is an excellent example for people suffering from HIV AIDS. She does not let her illness keep her from setting goals for herself and accomplishing things. She is industrious, positive, and should be an encouragement for all HIV AIDS patients.

If Shibera got a water tab line at her house then that will make her successful in her garden work and Strong Hearts appreciate any help towards this need!!! The water tab line costs abdout $250 if anyone is interested in helping Shiberea please let me know!

Shibere Shibere

 

My time at Hospice Care

Strong Hearts Hospice Program located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia helps people who have HIV or cancer. The program helps with managing medication, going to medical appointments, counseling, and assisting with the daily cost of living when needed. The program is run by a medical staff which includes a pharmacist and trained nurses as well as a range of volunteers with different medical backgrounds.

I am an American student taking pre-med courses who has decided to volunteer with the hospice program over the summer. These past few weeks I have had the privilege to work with this team visiting the patients in their homes, and it has been a remarkable experience.

One patient I was particularly moved to meet was Emawayish, she is 35 years old with a 7 year old daughter who she named Dasasha which she explained translates as her everything. She is widowed, and her daughter is extremely precious. Emawayish is HIV positive and has cervical cancer and is in continual pain. Her only source of income is begging as she has no other family to help. Despite that she was initially reluctant to accept money for medication, but is now being helped by Strong Hearts with medication and food for her and her daughter. I found Dasasha and Emawayish to be friendly, and she wished blessing on the team visiting her. I was touched by her courage and optimism. With the medication and food being provided the outlook for both her and her daughter looks more positive.

We are also helping 27-year-old Meaza, who was working as a housemaid before she was tragically raped, as a result of which she contracted HIV. Her parents had already passed away and when she went back to her village she was rejected. She then moved to Addis Ababa and got married, however, when her daughter was born her husband left her. She bakes as a source of income to help support herself and her daughter, and Strong Hearts are able to support her work by assisting with pain medication to help her. I felt deeply affected by visiting her and her efforts to overcome the adversities life has thrown at her, and to remain positive and keep faith to provide her and her daughter with the best life possible.

I find it amazing to see the Ethiopian team, with assistance from other volunteers, enter the peoples’ homes, spend time listening to them, working to understand them, praying with them, helping with managing their medication, and bringing pain relief as far is as possible, and food and rent when needed. I think its great that they are taking the time and effort to care about these people who could easily be forgotten and left alone in their homes with just their pain and suffering.