Outreach to Malabon

 

There they are. I see them jumping and yelling, grabbing at each other with shouts of “They’re here! They’re here!” There are always children in the basketball court but when our KIA van pulls up, they seem to crawl out of the alleys and swarm around the van as our team sets up the sound system.

The kids play games with some of our teamwhile others visit and I listen to various mothers who come to tell me of somegood things, but mostly bad thingsthat have happened since last Saturday. Someone brings me a chest xray. No, I’m not a radiologist but I have learned to spot tuberculosis.

I’m taken up the rickety stairs in a nearby home to look at an older woman.

Thankfully, I have learned to not react. Her feet are full of warts. Her body is unbearably itchy, she has been sick a long time. A man with a boil on his leg… or something. A huge bleeding, pussing, ulcer. I’ll get to that in just a little while, I say.

The crowd has gathered and I start the music. We sing, the children dance and worship.

Nico’s stories get better every week and this week is no exception. Even the parents who hold to the fringes our of the crowd lean in to hear.

After the story, the kids break up into their groups of 20 in a pseudo-organized fashion. They colour their sheets, carefully sharing the 20 crayons that each group is delegated. Then they are given their meal.

The line has already started at the van for vitamins and simple primary health-care. I love how they push and shove. They get seen every week, almost all of them, but they still push, afraid they won’t get something. Anything, as long as its free. Most weeks there is one or two serious cases that I am so thankful to havebeen there to help. I say a prayer over every bit of medicine that I give out.

Project Lazurus…The patients that we are treating for tuberculosis now number almost 30 men, women and children. They come faithfully every week to get their meds. It is so rewarding to see them gaining weight and looking more alert each week.

We have lost only one patient so far in a year of treating this disease that has turned epidemic in this community.Each day, the medicine can cost up to 100 pesos. That is a meal for a family of 8. And the treatment is a minimum of 6 months. The average family could never afford this. So the disease is left untreated and left to spread. We are able to provide the meds for each patient for less than a dollar every day.

We are about to leave. The line up for medicine has only 3 or 4 mothers left. I am relieved until I see a crowd gather andone of our team calls me over. I am horrified but, I show no emotion. Some small talk with the mother, I pay little attention to the child who looks dead in her arms.I can tell the mother is not okay, maybe mentally ill, maybe just off. I get an address, as much information as I can. Imagine, she tells me the child talks and walks.

The drive home is long, I am tired, my emotions drained. So many in need, so many so thankful for our little bit of help and love among their children and loved ones. It is a place where the burdens they carry are so heavy. Just living day to day is a struggle. Sometimes, a pack of vitamins seems so useless but they do know we care. They know we come every week and we do not tire of them. They know we love them and I pray somehow they see that this love is of the Father, not of man.

I am honored to touch the least of these, the unloved, the forgotten. What a privilege to bring some hope, some gentleness and kindness into their harsh, cruel world. God has a plan for each one of those lives in Malabon, as desperate and lonely and hopeless as they all seem. What joy I have to be just a small part of that plan.

Outreach in Malabon Continues

Arrival to court There they are. I see them jumping and yelling, grabbing at each other with shouts of “They’re here! They’re here!” There are always children in the basketball court but when our KIA van pulls up, they seem to crawl out of the alleys and swarm around the van as our team sets up the sound system.

Kids faces The kids play games with some of our team while others visit and I listen to various mothers who come to tell me of some good things, but mostly bad things that have happened since last Saturday. Someone brings me a chest xray. No, I’m not a radiologist but I have learned to spot tuberculosis. An xray to look at

I’m taken up the rickety stairs in a nearby home to look at an older woman. Thankfully, I have learned to not react. Her feet are full of warts. Her body is unbearably itchy, she has been sick a long time. A man with a boil on his leg… or something. A huge bleeding, pussing, ulcer. I’ll get to that in just a little while, I say.

Singing1 The crowd has gathered and I start the music. We sing, the children dance and worship.

Nico teaching Nico’s stories get better every week and this week is no exception. Even the parents who hold to the fringes our of the crowd lean in to hear.

After the story, the kids break up into their groups of 20 in a pseudo-organized fashion. They colour their sheets, carefully sharing the 20 crayons that each group is delegated. Then they are given their meal. Groups of 20
Medical line The line has already started at the van for vitamins and simple primary health-care. I love how they push and shove. They get seen every week, almost all of them, but they still push, afraid they won’t get something. Anything, as long as its free. Most weeks there is one or two serious cases that I am so thankful to have been there to help. I say a prayer over every bit of medicine that I give out.

Talking to people before Project Lazurus…The patients that we are treating for tuberculosis now number almost 30 men, women and children. They come faithfully every week to get their meds. It is so rewarding to see them gaining weight and looking more alert each week. We have lost only one patient so far in a year of treating this disease that has turned epidemic in this community. Houses Each day, the medicine can cost up to 100 pesos. That is a meal for a family of 8. And the treatment is a minimum of 6 months. The average family could never afford this. Kids coloring 3 So the disease is left untreated and left to spread. We are able to provide the meds for each patient for less than a dollar every day. 

Road to malabon We are about to leave. The line up for medicine has only 3 or 4 mothers left. I am relieved until I see a crowd gather and one of our team calls me over. I am horrified but, I show no emotion. Some small talk with the mother, Houses inside I pay little attention to the child who looks dead in her arms. I can tell the mother is not okay, maybe mentally ill, maybe just off. I get an address, as much information as I can. Imagine, she tells me the child talks and walks.

Mom with kid The drive home is long, I am tired, my emotions drained. So many in need, so many so thankful for our little bit of help and love among their children and loved ones. It is a place where the burdens they carry are so heavy. Just living day to day is a struggle. Sometimes, a pack of vitamins seems so useless but they do know we care. They know we come every week and we do not tire of them. They know we love them and I pray somehow they see that this love is of the Father, not of man.

Little girl I am honored to touch the least of these, the unloved, the forgotten. What a privilege to bring some hope, some gentleness and kindness into their harsh, cruel world. God has a plan for each one of those lives in Malabon, as desperate and lonely and hopeless as they all seem. What joy I have to be just a small part of that plan.

Elaine

I ran down the stairs to Elaine. Her stomach was hurting and she was calling for me.

She was shivering, holding her water bottle and blanket tightly. The tears seem to spill out of her eyes. There was no emotion, just the tears chasing each other down her pale light brown cheek.

She was brought to our door by someone who knew about our work in Malabon. Her older half sister came with her that first day and as mysteriously as she showed up, she suddenly left. We knew nothing of Elaine’s history or her current situation except that it was made clear she was very sick and unwanted.

It was a Friday night, the rain was pouring, Her fever was raging and she was shaking. Just skin and bones, she couldn’t walk. Her eyes flitted from face to face. She hardly had strength to speak, much less fight the meds I quickly started her on. She was terrified that first night, fort sure. I stroked her head and rubbed her tiny hands, whispering that everything was okay. Only once would she look at me.

She has been here exactly one month, tonight. The rains are pouring outside again. But she is tucked into a little bed in the corner of a room now. She is able to walk and she laughs the most beautiful laugh. But she seems to be burdened tonight, as I give her meds to stop her tummyache. I sit with her for a while and stroke her head. We are friends now and she seems to trust me.

Mama used to care for me. I have always been sick. I only went to grade one but I was too sick. Then mama threw up blood and they rushed her to the hospital but she died before they got there. That was two years ago, I think.

Her frail little hand came up and brushed at the stream of tears.

Then my auntie’s wouldn’t feed me. They didn’t want me. I was so weak. And then I got so sick and then my sister didn’t want me and someone told them to bring me  here to you.

Then suddenly she flung her tiny arms around  around my neck. If you didn’t take me, I know I would be dead. Her little body heaved with sobs. That’s why I’m so thankful to you for letting me stay here and for taking care of me. I’m so thankful.


Elaine  
Her tears burned my neck and I could hardly speak. I held her tightly, wishing I could take away her pain and lonlieness and make her know she was safe and loved.

She settled and I layed her down to sleep. She snuggled under the soft green and pink blanket I had given her. 

She is so tiny. Everything about her is fragile, almost breakable. Her eyes are deep and speak of things I cannot even imagine. She holds my eyes until I smile and tousel her hair. It’s okay, I reassure her. Sleep now.

She is only 9 years old and she has hurt enough for a lifetime.