Sunday, February 15, 2009

We have been meeting with our precedessors, the Barlows, to learn about the projects we will be working with in the DR Congo. It's a rather daunting task. It appears that we will be spending time travelling to oversee ongoing projects, identifying new projects and writing grants to fund the projects. We will not be working directly on many projects, which I would have loved but, this will be all right.
Currently in the DR Congo Mission (which consists of five countries), there are five major LDS Church Humanitarian Initiatives implemented:
  • Clean Water: there are currently three major water projects on-going in the area. The projects include involvement of the community as they elect a board that will over-see the project and the on-going operation of the project, contracting and supervising building the project. In a "suburb" of Kinshasa, women and children spent three to four hours accessing water for survival, climbing down a steep ravine, and carrying the water back up the hill in containers on their heads -- imagine the quality of the water after all those people had been in it!! The community elected a water board and water hydrologists were brought in from the US who designed the pumping system, piped throughout the community. The water board was involved in the design and will oversee the long-turn running of the system. Now, people can step outside their homes and for a small fee, access high quality water. One of the water projects we will be "overseeing" will eventually supply water to over 200,000 people.
  • Neo-Natal Resuscitation Training: The Church sponsors training for health care professionals so they can save babies who struggle taking their first breaths of life. This training has been such a success in the DR Congo, because the doctors who have been trained by Church Neo-Natal specialists are excited and organize training sessions for other health care professionals. The Church supplies the kits and a chart for the protocal, and sends in master trainers....but this effort has been what the goal of the humanitarian service is all about, assisting people in countries to become self-reliant.
  • Vision Care: we will be involved with training of doctors in vision care, especially eye surgeries for conditions that have been previous untreatable. Great doctors from the US have made initial visits already, and future visits are funded.
  • Measles immunization:
  • Wheelchair projects bring wheelchairs to people who are often totally immobile. The Church has four different types of wheelchairs available for different purposes and terrain.

Area initiatives are based on identified needs. In one school, the Barlows were able to supply 600 books for a school library from humanitarian services. At the ceremony celebrating the books (apparently, there is always a ceremony), Sister Barlow asked the principal how many books they had in their school. The answer, "600!" [school stories are my favorite!!]

We were originally so excited to go Lubumbashi, DR Congo on a procelyting mission and work directly with the people of the area. We have grown to love this assignment, even before we start and are excited to be less than a month we will be on our way. Love to you all, Joan and Les

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A New Beginning

Les and I received a call to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on January 30th, 2009. In the LDS culture, we refer to the request to serve in an area as a "call." We had been communicating with President Livingstone of the DR Congo about serving there so we have read about the history of the country and talked to people who had lived there. We also met a wonderful couple from Lubumbashi who were in Utah in October. We are excited for the challenges and experiences ahead.