Archive for the 'Health' Category

LFS Introduces…Carl & Michelle Waldron & Seed of Hope Community Development

Please introduce yourselves and tell us about how you got inspired to work with Seed of Hope…


We are Carl and Michelle Waldron.  Carl is a Canadian boy, and I, Michelle, was born in the good ole’ US of A.  Our paths crossed when we both signed up to go overseas as short-term missionaries as a one-year break from university.  We met during training for that year and started a friendship that eventually turned into romance and we married in August 1998.  Our passion has always been for cross-cultural missions. Carl has a degree in International Development and I am a Registered Nurse. The text we chose as our life’s guiding statement was from the Psalms:

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.”

Psalm 67: 1-2

Seed of Hope is a community centre in the middle of an underserved, under-resourced Zulu community.  Our centre offers many different classes and programs.  We have 3 after school programs for differing age levels.  We provide HIV testing and counseling, offer 3 HIV support groups, teach vocational skills (i.e. sewing) to women in the community, encourage gardening, promote healthy lifestyle choices, etc.  Carl is the CEO of this small organization and I work with another nurse to lead the medical side of the ministry.  We are in a daily battle against HIV/AIDS and the stigma that prevents so many people from reaching out and getting help.

How did you get involved with Seed of Hope?

We have always shared a joint love of and interest in missions.  But God did not open doors for us to go overseas until we met a South African man named Derek Liebenberg.  We attended a gathering at a friend’s home, where Derek shared how God led him and his wife, Heather, to begin a community centre in a small rural community ravaged by HIV/AIDS, near Durban. By the end of his slideshow, we were ready to jump on a plane and come to South Africa to work with them.  We gradually began that process, but unfortunately, he passed away from a sudden heart attack before we made the big move. Carl was asked to step into the CEO’s role. We finally arrived on African soil in June 2007 and have been working with Seed of Hope, ever since.

What is 2010 shaping up to look like for your work with Seed of Hope?

We are praying for an opportunity to buy or long-term lease the buildings we currently rent to do our ministry. This would allow our organization to expand and grow in ways that have been hindered until now.  We also have several new staff coming on board this year who will help us grow and reach even further into our community – and also bring leadership gifts to help fine tune the programs that already exist.

What is your favourite thing about the work you are doing?

Michelle – I LOVE being in the homes of the people in the township we serve.  Just today I was in the home of a mom we helped last year to get tested for HIV and then get onto anti-retroviral medication.  To see her healthy and actually being able to care for her children is so rewarding.  And as I sit there visiting with her, she says, “can I take you to see my neighbor?  She is now sick.”  Of course!  So she takes me next door and there is another single mom – losing the battle with AIDS…finally willing to reach out for help.

Carl – My role is more about looking ahead at how we meet the challenges of a growing number of child-headed households, the need for entrepreneurship and agricultural training, and developing leaders within our staff and the wider community who can come up with new ideas to face these issues. I also share the vision of what God’s doing in our community through Seed Of Hope, and invite others to join in and support our work in whatever way they’re able.

What is the most challenging thing about the work you are doing?

Seeing children being orphaned over and over again.  A lot of them are initially orphaned by their mom, who often succumbs first to HIV.  Then sometimes by their dad, and finally by their grandmothers, who usually end up caring for them, until they become too old or pass away. Along with that emotional strain is the challenge of relating across many different cultural, linguistic, economic and racial lines, all the cause of drawing each person involved a little closer together over time.

Who do you have supporting you? How do they support you?

Friends and family in Canada support us.  Our church in St. Albert, Alberta is the biggest supporter for us, financially, with prayer, and with love! We’ve also made friends from the UK, USA, Australia and many other places over the last few years.

Our website has links to various means of joining in with what we’re doing.

Do you partner with any other organisations?

Yes, we partner with many organizations.  Some local, like the Amanzimtoti Pregnancy Resource Centre, or Bobbi Bear, a local NGO that provides counseling for children who have suffered sexual assault and abuse.  Others include Durban-based Soul Action, local churches in Amanzimtoti such as Oasis Church and Amanzimtoti Methodist.  And we also partner with some international organizations.  Seed of Hope Canada and RESKU International in the United States are the main international partners.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone that is thinking about doing something similar to what you are doing?

Take the time and energy needed to get a good handle on the culture and language of the people you are serving. This will make your time more enjoyable, your impact more lasting, and your relationships deeper. Also, prepare well by learning as much as possible about where you’re going, visiting in advance, and cultivating a habit of being laid back, gracious and humble. Accepting that you have much to learn, being patient with delays and inadequate services, and being willing to accept tasks that help others achieve their goals even if they seem unrewarding to you at the time.

How can others engage with you and support you in the work you are doing with?

We welcome prayer support.  South Africa has a high rate of violent crime, so we love to hear when people are praying for us and for our staff at the Centre!  We are also in the process of buying the property and then doing some renovating to accommodate expanded programs/classes… so any financial support would be gladly received. We do have space for occasional volunteer placements, depending on skills and international experience. We’d love to hear from people interested.

If people would like to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

Pray that more people (particularly the men) will come for HIV testing, pray that the stigma will be reduced, pray for the massive orphan crisis that South Africa is facing. We would value prayer for the health and safety of our organization staff and volunteers, and for favour as we build relationships with local government, rural Zulu tribal and nearby city authorities in our region.

Thank you so much Carl & Michelle for sharing with us. I feel so blessed to have met you in person and to have spent time working with the Seed of Hope team, and have such fond memories of my short time there last summer. Hopefully by what you’ve shared people may understand why many of us are missing everyone there so much!

For more information on Seed of Hope Community Development, check out their website www.theseedofhope.org . You can also follow Carl’s Blog and Michelle’s Blog.

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LFS Introduces…Alece & Thrive Africa

Please introduce yourself, and tell us about what you do with Thrive Africa?

Hey! I’m Alece, Originally from New York and have lived in South Africa for almost 12 years, where I helped pioneer the ministry of Thrive Africa. I provide strategic and visionary direction to the ministry, even during this season of being Stateside.

What inspired you to start Thrive Africa?

I fell in love with Africa when I first spent a summer on her soil at 16 years old, and then I moved to South Africa by myself when I was 19. All I knew was that I felt God was leading me there and I wanted to use my life to make a difference. As I began by simply meeting needs around me, God brought clarity to my vision and my ministry work became more focused on leadership development.

What is 2010 shaping up to look like for your work with Thrive Africa?

I’m in a unique season of restoration right now. A year ago my husband chose to leave me and the ministry to pursue another woman. The ripple effects of that decision have obviously been devastating both to me personally as well as to Thrive. By God’s grace, Thrive continues to move forward and bear fruit of changed lives under the leadership of our Director. I am spending this year Stateside, allowing the Lord to do His healing work in my heart and promoting Thrive domestically.

What is your favourite thing about the work you are doing?

What I’m most passionate about is the work we’re doing in public schools, teaching students what it means to follow Christ and make Godly choices. I believe it’s the best thing we can do to prevent the next generation from contracting AIDS.

What is the most challenging thing about the work you are doing?

The challenge for me lies not in the work we’re doing, but in the work we’re still unable to do because we simply don’t have the finances yet. Our vision is bigger than we are, which is how I know God’s in it. But it is also an ongoing challenge to lack the resources and manpower to do all we want to do. The realities of poverty and HIV increase the urgency of the vision. My heart always longs to reach farther and have a greater impact than we currently are.

Who do you have supporting you? How do they support you?

We are funded solely by donations from generous people and churches across America. Support information can be found here if anyone is interested in partnering with us: http://thriveafrica.org/helpout/

Do you partner with any other organisations?

We partner locally in South Africa with over a hundred local churches of all denominations. We work with several other African-based independent missions organizations that have visions similar to ours. We also have supporting partner churches in America that run the full spectrum of denominations.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone that is thinking about doing mission/charity work overseas?

More important than Biblical training or a missions degree, is a teachable heart. For anyone doing missions work, it is vitally important to have the posture and attitude of a learner and not just a teacher. Be willing to be flexible and to learn as much as you can from the people you are going to serve. Nothing makes a missionary more effective than a teachable spirit.

How can others engage with you and support you in the work you do with Thrive Africa?

You can support our work through your prayers and giving. You can help promote what God’s doing through us by telling others about us. You can also spend time on the field with us. We have programs that run two weeks, two months, one year, and three years, giving you the opportunity to serve with us for any length of time that you might be interested in.

If people would like to pray for you, what would you have them talk to God about on your behalf?

For Thrive, I covet your prayers for wisdom, favor, and provision as we navigate through this new season of ministry. For me personally, I’d appreciate your prayers for my heart healing and strength for the journey.

Thank you so much for sharing with us Alece. What an inspiration, we pray for continued healing and restoration for you, and for the growth and provision needed for Thrive Africa to continue its work alongside partner churches in South Africa.

You can read more on Alece’s personal story and many of her thought provoking writings on her blog Grit and Glory at www.gritandglory.com

LFS Introduces…Rebecca, a student Nurse

Hello! Please introduce yourself, and give us a brief summary about what you are doing just now.

I’m Rebecca, [age] 20 and a student at the University of Surrey, England. I am doing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Adult Nursing Studies. The course is a mix of 50% theory in lectures and 50% practice in different hospital settings. The course lasts 3 years and I hope to achieve my qualification in July this year! 🙂

How is it going?

I would need a million hands to count the amount of times I have wanted to give up and just say ‘this is too much’. The course is tough and most nights keeps me up way past midnight to finish work, research and read up on nursing practice etc. In spite of that it has gone far better than I could ever have expected. It gets more rewarding and exciting as each day leads to my qualification. It has been a roller coaster of ups and downs but I would not have traded it for the world.

How did you get into nursing?

It all started when I was around 12 years old. At first I wanted to be a Midwife – pretty ironic considering I never want to be a Midwife now I am doing the Nursing. However, I first got into it when my Mum liaised with Nurses as part of her job. I was fascinated by their demeanour, their uniform and the medical terms they used in conversation. Even though I was really interested in their roles I still maintained I wanted to do Midwifery. I was confident I would be offered a place on the course at the university of my choice. Wrong. The University of Surrey felt that I was too young to become a Midwifery student and they offered me a Nursing position instead. It was safe to say I was very upset and I felt like I had failed at something I always felt was my ‘calling’ to do. I was then offered a Midwifery position at another university. But I found that I was not as happy and jumping for joy like I imagined I would be. It was a really confusing couple of days for me! As I was toying between a career I thought I had always wanted to do and another I had been interested in but never really looked into it as ‘suiting’ me. I found it hard to believe that a panel of people thought I could make a good Nurse. After deliberating, researching and many conversations with myself I made a decision. And 3 years later it remains the best decision I have ever made! Nursing is the career for me 🙂

Has it been everything you expected?

Yes and No. I expected it to be hard, be long hours and tiring. I guess I expected the whole negative side to it…typical huh?! I never went into this course blind. However, one of the things I didn’t expect was just how comfortable I felt easing into the nursing role. I remember before starting my clinicals/placements all my friends talking about the injections, wound dressings and the people they had catheterised etc.. I remember thinking ‘How on Earth can I do that? What had I let myself in for?’ Yet when I was asked by other Nurses to carry out those types of interventions I surprised myself at how incredibly easy and comfortable I felt doing them. It was those moments I thought ‘I can do this!‘ and I never expected that!

What is your favourite thing about your role as a Nurse/Student Nurse?

It may come across cliché but without a doubt the people I care for. I adore getting to know them, their stories, their background, their humour and not just their illness and why they need nursing care. I enjoy making them smile when they feel very unwell. I love doing crosswords, or talking by their bedsides when they miss their family. I adore learning new skills and for them to trust me practising on them is SUCH a privilege. I love the fact that they are my patients for that shift and I am their Nurse to care for them.

What is the most challenging thing about being a Nurse/Student Nurse?

The sheer workload is tough to deal with. We constantly have to apply our theory of nursing knowledge into our nursing practice. That in itself is very draining. As well as having to do a 37.5 hour week (no pay!), earn money at weekends, have a social life and somehow fit adequate sleep into the equation all adds to feeling quite exhausted a lot of the time. I guess the only difference to when I am qualified is that I will be paid 🙂

What do you wish others knew about nursing?

I wish people knew just HOW HARD it is. I am not waving the sympathy flag because I chose to do this and I LOVE it. However, people don’t tend realise the importance of the nursing role and the lengths we have to go to ensure EVERYONE who needs us gets the care they need. Nursing is 24/7, 365 days a year. It never stops. We never shut our doors. A lot of Nurses I have spoken with have said that the public doesn’t tend to appreciate the nursing role until they need nursing care themselves. We can so easily judge the drunk person who stumbles into A&E with a bleeding wound to the head and say ‘you had that coming.’ We could so easily condemn a patient who has cancer related to their smoking and say ‘well the amount you smoke we’re not surprised your ill‘ – but we don’t. We simply just don’t. On a personal level to me, a simple smile and a ‘thank you‘ makes my day.

Who do you have supporting you?

I have a personal tutor who deals with all my queries related to work, placements and any worries. She is amazing and has helped me a lot. We also have our module leaders who are trained in certain aspects of Nursing care. For example, if I need assistance about wound care there is a link tutor who is specifically trained in wound nursing management and we can go to them. They are fantastic learning tools. Plus, I have my family and friends who are wonderful in letting me vent, cry or simply ask how it is going. I love them for just asking 🙂

What piece of advice would you give to anyone who is thinking of becoming a nurse or other health professional?

If you want to become a Nurse and you feel it is something you would love to do then do your research, apply and enjoy the journey. It has it many bumps in the road but also some extraordinary achievements that will never leave you – ever. My advice to other health professionals and people who are student nurses is to turn every negative into a positive. There have been people I have not enjoyed learning from and fields/branches of nursing that I find dull. However, those negatives have made me evaluate my communication skills with others and how I perceive peoples personalities. If there has been a placement/clinical area I have not enjoyed then I say to myself ‘this area is not for you so you don’t have to work in it when you’re qualified.‘ As a result of it happening it has helped me realise that surgical nursing and blood giving are my passions.

If people wanted to pray for you, what would you like them to talk to God about on your behalf?

That I hope the Nursing role continues to grow and reach more people, particularly those in more deprived/under developed areas. My biggest hope is that every single person in the world should have access to health care that is affordable and easily accessible. It’s tough to achieve but I know it can be done. Furthermore, the rate of people applying for nursing courses is dropping – fast. I would love people to pray that this picks up. I can only vouch for myself, but I adore Nursing and the person it is allowing me to become. My only hope is that others follow into this amazing career field.

Thank you so much for sharing with us Rebecca! We will be praying for you, and look forward to celebrating with you when you graduate this summer. 😀

You can engage with more of Rebecca’s writings and video blogs at ‘Making Memories‘.

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