Monday, October 27, 2008

Motivating our volunteers

Since September we have had a difficult time with the volunteers out at the OVC project, with their enthusiasm and commitment decreasing significantly. In October there were days when only one volunteer would come, especially dangerous when we were on vacation and Shelley was alone with the one volunteer and close to 200 kids: chaos ensued, including fist-fights.

We called a meeting this past week and invited the OVC Committee Members and the volunteers so we could improve communication. Originally, the volunteers expressed frustration by the lack of supplies for the Home Based Care (HBC) program, which haven’t been replenished for months by the ministry of Health. Eventually the main issue appeared, that the volunteers are burnt out. Some regularly give up 3 afternoons a week, 2 for project and 1 for HBC. We have been asking the committee to search for more volunteers for months now, to no effect. We would ideally like to see the number of volunteers triple from 11 (of which usually only 3 or so show up), so that there could be a rotation schedule and we could supervise and interact with the kids better. We are also going to try a formal schedule for the volunteers: we hope it works!

In August we hosted a pizza party and showed our volunteers the first Lord Of the Rings movie to bless their hard work. It was such a hit we decided to do it again, this time hoping it would excite them to renew their commitment as a volunteer! It was a great success. We served homemade pizza and showed them the second part of the series and they enjoyed it tremendously. I don’t think I have ever watched a movie where there was so much cheering and applause! We hosts couldn’t contain our laughter as we watched them enjoy it so much.

We took a little intermission half way through and as it was Sabrina’s birthday, Kimmie and Shelley had made a cake and everyone sung happy birthday, which just began an impromptu time of singing and dancing - what fun! We also took some time to let the volunteers say their thank yous to Shelley as she prepares to leave us this week.

Hopefully we see some change in terms of the volunteers showing up on their scheduled days. Please pray we get more of them!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our first African vacation!

We met our friends from Canada (Marc and Karla Drader, who are currently living in Germany) at Livingstone Airport in Zambia on Oct 2nd. It’s an 8 hour drive from Rundu to Livingstone, so we split the trip into 2 days so that we could get to the airport in time to pick them up at 12:30. The border crossing at Zambia was quite a cultural experience, as most of the many visa and car fees were collected in broken down motor homes! We managed to get to the airport just on time, only to find out that the plane was going to be delayed (it arrived 7 hours late) and then their luggage didn’t come until the next day! What a way to start..

Our first day we went River rafting down the Zambezi river. Apparently river rafting junkies travel from all over the world to raft these rapids, especially at this time of year as the waters are very low making the rapids even more challenging. None of us had ever done it before and it was so much fun, not to mention hair raising! (The highest level of rapids is a class 6, which they don‘t allow people to actually attempt, and we travelled through a series of class 4 and 5’s. One rapid we travelled through was going to be shutting down one week after we went as it was getting too dangerous - yes, this is the one that we completely flipped in!). The afternoon was spent on the top of Victoria Falls looking down at the beautiful valley and the rapids we had rafted through that morning. The falls are very low at this time of season but it was still a majestic sight.

Our second day was spent doing a full day safari in Botswana at a Game Park called Chobe. We saw well over 250 elephants, fields full of the dangerous cape Buffalo, crocodiles, and hippos! The morning was spent on a boat along the river where we got to “swim” with the elephants crossing the river, the hippos playing hide and seek, and the crocs poking their heads up to say hi. In the afternoon we were given a private tour in a safari jeep in the bush where more wildlife made themselves known.

Our third day was spent doing “Gorge activities” in the morning. Unfortunately Karla came down with the travellers bug and wasn’t able to join in. The first activity was called “Absailing”, or rappelling, where you propel yourself backwards down a cliff-face, and then hike the Gorge up (about a 20 minute steep climb). The second activity was the “Flying Fox” where you are attached to a sort of zip line and you run off the cliff to zip across the Gorge. The third and definitely most challenging was the Gorge Swing. This is very close to a Bungee jump as it is a 53 meter free fall and then the “swing” catches you and you and gives you time to recover before they let the line down onto the ground. Marc and Daryl found that although they wanted to yell, they couldn’t. Not to worry, because Sabrina’s scream made up for it all!

After the Gorge activities we met up with Karla again and had lunch on a little island called Livingstone Island. This is a very popular destination as we had the opportunity to literally sit one meter away from the edge of the falls. Karla was such a trouper - not many people can literally say they threw up “over” Victoria Falls!

Much too quickly our time in Zambia was over, and we were on the road back to Rundu. Although we had already spoken a lot in the previous few days, the road trip was a great time of processing so many of the challenges that we face in our lives here. The next few days Marc and Karla were able to participate in our ministries here at the OVC project and home based care. They immediately clicked with the kids and we wish so much they could stay and help! They also got a tour of the hospital and saw our work environment.

Both Marc and Karla where overwhelmed by the heaviness and the struggles that we simply know as life here. We so appreciated having them here and listening to our every detail. Saying goodbye was extremely tough, as we knew we were returning to Rundu to deal with all the hardships here, whereas we felt a certain sense of jealousy that they just got to leave. These last few days have been really tough on us, as processing and discussing has brought to the surface several painful issues. Conversely, it also allows us to deal with situations and reminds us to pray and press into God for help and grace.

We truly had a wonderful vacation and felt a deep gratitude for good friends.