This is Bisa and his parents. Bisa is a 14 year-old boy who was born without the ability to speak or to walk. He had an older sister who was born with the same disabilities but did not live past infancy. Bisa has spent his life being carried by his parents or pulling himself around with the strength of his arms.
But now, thanks to our good friend Jim Anderson, his friends at St. John's Ambulance and freewheelchairmission.org, Bisa has a wheelchair that works for him in the rough terrain of Bualeni. It was so wonderful to see him eye to eye with the children around him, rather than looking up at them from the ground. This was an incredible day!
The wheelchair pick up!
Meet Taonga, Chisome and Rachel.
Rachel is the young woman in the middle. When we met her, the day this picture was taken, she looked terribly thin, tired and gaunt. We found out that both of her parents had died of AIDS. We were very worried that she might also be suffering from the disease. We were able to get Rachel a medical card for the year and she was tested for HIV. Her results were negative! She was simply malnourished. While malnourishment is not a good thing, we were still thrilled because malnourishment is something that we can do something about. Today, Rachel looks much better. She comes to the school each Saturday and helps out with the little kids!
On each side of Rachel are the twins Taonga and Chisome. They are 12 years old and live in the same house as Rachel. Their parents have also both died. The day after finding out that Rachel was negative for HIV we found out that Taonga and Chisome both tested positive. We were devastated. The HIV medication is free in Zambia. It took a few weeks to get them started on the regimen, but they are now taking it. The doctors say that the medication will make the girls feel week and sick for a few months, but then their bodies should adjust to it. As of today, Taonga is feeling well and comes to class on a regular basis. Chisome, is not feeling very well at all. She is week and often sick to her stomach. We hope that the doctors are right and that she improves once her body adjusts to the medication. We do our best to provide 'shima', the basic staple food along with vegetables and a little fish called Kapenta to the girls and the 'Grandma' who cares for them. Nutrition is vital to all of them.
Meet Edward. Edward is a 5 year old little boy who has the size and stature of a two year old. He appeared to be malnourished and not thriving. When we met Edward he did not speak, did not make eye contact and did not interact with other children.
We have been able to provide Edward's family with Nshima and vegetables on a regular basis. He now comes to school, smiles, talks and plays with friends!!
Appleseed students at AISL.
As part of the Global Issues program at the American International School, where we work, we were able to bring 13 of out Appleseed kids to AISL. Our friend Jim provided them with shoes through on organization called Altrusa, based in San Diego, California. This was an amazing day for these 13 kids! The project continues and AISL kids are meeting and planning more activities for more of our Appleseed students!
In addition, we have been able to provide necessary medications to a few adults in the Bauleni Housing Compound. Even though they may have medical cards, the card only provides diagnosis, but not treatment or medicine. A few people had heard that Mary's friends were helping others and have asked Mary if we could help them as well. If Mary brings us a prescription from the doctor, we take it to the pharmacy and fill it.
An older woman came to Mary just yesterday and asked if she could come to school, as she has never learned to read or write.
And another woman from the compound has said that she would like to help at the school by teaching the children to sew. We are thinking of asking her to sew school uniforms for the children. Zambian children take pride in having a school uniform to wear.
Ken and Joy Hoffman. See the'Who We Are' page.