Saturday, May 30, 2009

Beauty from Brokenness

Nathan Elwood here, one of the new faces on the BundiNutrition team. I’m working with the BBB program, and outpatient nutrition program for children with moderate acute malnutrition. These are kids who are between 70-85% of the weight that they should be, given their height. Children who qualify are enrolled in the program for ten weeks, during which they receive locally produced ready-to-use peanut and soy food weekly. The children are weighed at each distribution, and community volunteers teach a nutrition lesson to the parents in attendance, which we hope will have a longer-term impact than the food that we’re providing. Between the two sites from where we run this program, we currently are able to have 50 children enrolled at a time.

The first 10-week cycle recently came to a close, and I thought it good to look back and reflect on how it’s going at this point. On a week-to-week basis, I’m often frustrated by what seems to be a lack of growth or progress: children gaining some weight one week, losing some the next; children showing good growth, but then getting sick and losing it all; weight gain that seems too slow to be much of an improvement. These frustrations have, at times, caused me to wonder if the program is worth it, if it’s having any real effect on these kids’ lives.

When I went over their weights at the end of ten weeks and calculated their weight-for-lengths, I was stunned. Out of the 17 children who finished the program that week, all but one had risen over the 85% mark, out of the acute malnutrition range. The truly amazing part is this: many of them had risen from less than 85% weight-for-length to over 100%! I had to laugh with joy. Seeing these children at the start of the program, thin, bony, and sickly-looking, I couldn’t have hoped that they would reach a normal healthy weight in just 10 weeks. It was simply beautiful. Seeing these kids putting on weight, the world seemed to be a better, more beautiful place. The world felt more right – this is how children are supposed to be.

So, as the program rolls on, I’m encouraged by the progress that so many of the children from the first round made. It brings new meaning to the work and shows me that, despite numerous frustrations and difficulties, the program can have a transformational effect on children’s and families lives. While there will always be more sick and hungry children than we can care for, I find the world a more beautiful place for having seen these ones go from malnutrition to a healthy weight. I wish you could see the beauty of it for yourselves.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March Goat Distribution

This past Thursday, Lamech and Pauline distributed 24 high-grade dairy goats thanks to the generosity of our donors! An additional 9 beneficiaries will receive goats but were unable to make it on Thursday. Each recipient attended a two-day training and constructed a shelter before receiving their goat. Lamech was able to find enough high-grade dairy goats in Bundibugyo, thanks to the buck stations throughout the district, and previous goat-recipients, who returned the first-born offspring to our farm!

Lamech asked the beneficiaries to arrive at 9:30 am. In true African fashion, we had a quorum around 10:30 am. Lamech gave a few words of instruction and I prayed along with several of the beneficiaries. Then the gates to the pen were opened; Jackson began wrangling goats and distributed one by one. The traditional serious face each woman made when I took their picture is not indicative of their feelings. As soon as their picture was snapped, they dropped the pose and the large grins returned as the chatted with Pauline and Lamech.

This was the first of several distributions we’ll have throughout the year. We’re hoping to place a few more high-grade bucks throughout the district as well!

Again, to those of you who gave money for goats, on behalf of myself and all of the beneficiaries: Webale! Wasinge! Thank you! (Thanks expressed in Lubwisi, Luconjo, and you guessed it, English)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Christmas Goat Giving

We are so thankful for more than 100 families who received dairy goats in 2008, funded by the generosity of our friends and supporters in America.  Once again this year we are offering the Give-a-Goat opportunity.  For $130 we can purchase and transport a specially bred dairy goat here in Uganda, train a family in its care, give them a few tools for constructing a simple shed, and then allow them to take the goat home.  Thanks to this project, many children who otherwise would have starved, can thrive—drinking the calories and protein they need.  Most of our recipients are babies whose mothers have died, or whose mothers are infected with HIV/AIDS and therefore need to wean them from potentially infectious breast milk. 

Your donation is a gift to a family which is about as close as one can come in 2008 to that of the homeless and wandering parents of the infant Jesus, living on a slim margin of survival.  The first 100 donors will receive a hand-made African Christmas tree ornament which symbolizes the real gift of the goat.  Please put it on your tree to remind you that Christmas is all about incarnation:  love in bodily form, God becoming human and needing milk, your generosity translating into a real live animal and its milk.

The mechanics:

1.     Use the "Give-a-Goat" button on our sidebar (or at to donate by credit card.  This is the simplest and fastest method, and allows our colleague Ginny Barnette in the Sending Center to quickly confirm your donation and address and mail you the ornament.  Here is the direct link :

2.     Send a check to WHM Donation Processing Center, P.O. Box 1244, Albert Lea, MN 56007-1244, writing "Goat Fund  12375" on the memo line.  Since the processing and return of the information to Ginny could take a couple of weeks, you may want to email her ( in order to be sure you receive the ornament before Christmas. 

3.     If you would like the ornament mailed to a DIFFERENT address than the one on your credit card or check, you must also communicate this to Ginny.  A card will be included with each goat describing the program.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

To Whom Does it Belong?

To whom? To whom? To whom does it belong?

Hands on hips, bobbing up and down, Heidi and I chant in unison with the other thirty volunteers who showed up for Lamech’s seminar on ownership and sustainability. We were utterly clueless as to why we are chanting, and why we are chanting this particular phrase, but no one else was having similar qualms. Apparently, such “energizers” are common in Ugandan seminars. It’s pretty impressive when you think about it, because it definitely would take more than two minutes of chanting to keep me refreshed and focused through a 7-hour seminar.

Pauline, Lamech and Baguma Charles, entirely on their own initiative, organized this training for the BundiNutrition volunteers and a few other key farmers in the community. Many of the attendees were members of the four BBB production teams, others were volunteers from the Busunga/Bursaru outpatient nutrition programs, or buck keepers from around the district. They listened attentively and participated actively. The morning was spent brainstorming what makes an effective team, and ways for the production teams to be self sustaining if BundiNutrition is not around some day. The afternoon discussion centered around brainstorming micro-enterprise ideas with a focus on local chicken projects.

Heidi and I agreed that one of the best things about this seminar was that (other than organizing the lunch) we had nothing to do with the planning or execution. Often there can be a disconnect when we Bazungu come in with our ways of thinking. In this case, Ugandans with a wealth of knowledge and creative ideas were effectively encouraging and educating each other.

When we’re discouraged with the state of the district, it’s a privilege to glimpse how God is truly working in the hearts and minds of community members.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Unsung Heroines of Motherless Babies

Dear Readers, 
These two motherless babies are cared for by some of the unsung heroines of Bundibugyo, Grandmothers!  These two babies born were born one day apart and have just turned 6 months old left to right: Ategheka Francini (the Italian Mubwisi) and Batigwa Bususanna. Their mothers died after giving birth to them and their grandmothers came to the rescue. Both grandmothers have nursed their babies in the hope of producing milk after years without having children. One of these has been more successful at providing breast milk than the other. Grandmother Francini came to us the very day his mother died and received milk and Dr Jennifer's attention. Grandmother Bususanna came days later and received the same kindness and care. 

I wanted you to see the faces of these heroines who carry on their backs baby, milk and beans to and from their homes deep in the village to receive medical attention and support for their grandchildren, sometimes great grandchildren.  

Once when we were waiting for the motherless caretakers to receive medical attention, I asked the volunteer staff, "Which baby would you choose to be if you could be any one of these babies and be cared for by one of these grandmothers?" We all had different answers because we each saw such wonderful nurture and love displayed by several of these amazing heroines. I thank God for the selflessness of these women who lay down their lives to care for these motherless babies.  thank you too for the generosity of your gifts that enable us to give milk, beans and vitamins to many children in the Nutrition Program!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Batende Evaline's Photo

oops! sorry folks i am new at this blogging thing. so let me try and attach Batende and Kazini's photo with their goat they received in April!  pat abbottfile:///Users/pat/Pictures/iPhoto%20Library/Modified/2008/Roll%20184/IMG_0360.JPG

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Timely Rescue

A Timely Rescue
I (pat Abbott) was in the ART (Anti Retroviral Drug where people living
with HIV receive their life extending drugs and education about HIV) clinic
last week and met a young 25 year old, veteran Kwejuna Mom (HIV+) named
Batende Evaline. Evaline was admitted in the Hospital in a very bad
condition. She was not eating or drinking because everything she put in came
back up. I was devastated about her condition wondering how she slipped so
quickly into such a state without our notice. (I had personally handed her a
goat in the April distribution. See photo) I sought out a counselor and
advocated for her to get the ARV Drug Counseling so that the next week she
could be initiated on the drugs in the clinic that will extend her life. I
prayed for her many times over the weekend and returned on Monday to see how
she was doing. She was NOT there, she had gone home. I was sure this meant
she had gone home to die.

The next day I was in Evaline¹s home area of Bunyangule for an HIV/AIDS
Education Out Reach and asked the PEER Educators (HIV+) friends if they
could take me to see her. I was nervous expecting the worst. We crossed two
rivers on our 20 minute journey to Evaline's father¹s home where she lives.
We were welcomed and given seats. I spotted her among the 7 or 8 adults and
her one year old Kazini Robert toddling around. She came and sat down with
us. She smiled and she was so shocked to see me. She told me that her
stomach was feeling much better and she was drinking goat's milk and juice
with no problems. She was so delighted that we had come to see her, she said
it three times. I prayed for her and her family before we left reminding
them of God¹s love for the poor and weak. So yesterday in the ART clinic (a
week later) she came with her father and they were given more teaching on
the use of the the Anti-Retroviral Drugs that will prolong her life and sent
home to recover and gain what she has lost in recent months!
Thanks be to GOD! We get a lot of encouragement mileage out of these rescue
stories! Thank you too for being part of Batende Evaline and Kazini Robert's
lives through your generous gifts and prayers!


Pat Abbott
P.O. Box 1142
Bundibugyo, Uganda
East Africa

------ End of Forwarded Message