Empowering HIV/AIDS orphaned children in Africa to a self sustainable future

Catherine Koch

Catherine Koch

Founder and President of Love Is The Answer, a Canadian registered charity serving orphaned children in Africa.

Sunrise and Moonlight!


Peace, Joy and Love to you…

Earlier in the week, back in Bukedea, I sat at Betty’s compound and found myself explaining to the boys Morning and Peter as well as to Grandmother and Rose that Betty has been enrolled in a tailoring course for the next three months. We talked about details… including how she will use their new bike to travel daily to the course, how by helping to make it possible for her to fulfill her dream to learn a new skill I along with people back home are endeavoring to help them all well into the future, how the family may need to reorganize themselves to accommodate this change, how it is important that everyone play their part to the best of their ability, everyone’s role being a very special contribution to the whole.

I brought enough maize and millet along to feed them all for one month (we will replenish as time goes by…more than a month’s supply can spoil) ensuring food or the need to earn the income to purchase it will not be as serious a concern as usual for them while Betty’s days are filled with school. We turned our attention to school for the boys due to begin on Feb 4th and looked at their new backpacks filled with school scribblers and a couple pens/pencils along with a math set. We discussed having new uniforms sewed for them both. I happily learned that Moses, their 13 year old brother whom I have not met yet, will soon be returning to be with his family at the compound, and I assured them I will

supply him with all they have received this day. The wind came up while we were sitting there and little Peter took it upon himself to stand closely behind where I sat sheltering me from the dust that blew from that direction. Morning, although smiling when I arrived, became very quiet and introspective as he took in all the new information and he and I shared a couple very serious and lasting moments staring into each other’s eyes. I told them how one day, still months from now, it’s likely I will be returning to my country and everything I am doing to help them now is intended to uplift life for them long into the future building upon their strength, courage and independence. Before I left, I asked if there was anything on anyone’s mind. Rose spoke saying that she wanted me to know they have no blankets to cover themselves through the night (…which at present can be quite cold… this being the ‘dry season’ it is a bit like living in the desert, the days very dry and hot, the nights cool). I thanked her and told them we will continue, we will keep taking steps to set them on their way well and I will try and bring blankets next time along with mosquito nets…( I also plan to bring them a few foamies, they currently have a 36” wide one that 5 of them share). As before with Gideon’s family, when I prepared to leave and started saying my goodbyes, the children presented me with a beautiful white rooster… the greatest most valuable and meaningful possession they have in this world to give.

I brought ‘Moonlight’ home and introduced him to Sunrise by placing him in the same tree that Sunrise has taken to spending the night in. By the next morning the two of them were inseparable and they have remained so every since. Whenever I look to see where they are or what they are up to, I find them following one another around each protecting and watching over the other as they navigate their way into their new large family that consists of a head rooster, a few other young roosters like themselves, a number of hens, a couple with several chicks and 4 guinea fowl all contained within the fenced compound.

Friends here are openly amused by my naming of and affection for my roosters…but I can tell within their laughter they understand completely and value for me the beauty and Love I behold in the reflection my ‘two boys’ are mirroring…

The day before I returned to their compound, Rose, baby Stella and I met at the hospital in Mbale to see to a check up for the little one. I had given Rose 10,000 shillings for transport money (to give you an idea of the context, she earned 500 shillings at the market selling water last week…the price of transport here has more than doubled in many cases due to the fuel issues caused by the situation in Kenya) and we had planned to meet at the front gate of the hospital. When they arrived right on time, tears came to my eyes. The two of them were dressed in their very best, baby had on one of the dresses I had brought for her before Christmas, (the other dress was tucked neatly in a bag in case of a need to change) they were both so clean and tidy, the absolute opposite to what I see when I visit them at home. I could only imagine how early they had gotten up that day and how much effort had been put into preparing themselves so wonderfully for coming in to town.

Happy am I to say Stella is doing quite well according to the Doctor. Although her head is large as the photos show, he explained to me that the operation already performed is working well at keeping the amount of fluid around her brain normal and at present her head is growing at a standard rate. He explained due to the fact that care for Stella was started after she was 6 months old, the bones protecting her brain had already grown to an abnormal size and this cannot

be reversed. Likely above average in its size for life, over time as the rest of her body grows Stella’s head will not appear to be as out of proportion as it does now. The Doctor did a blood test and found Stella does not have malaria or pneumonia at present but does have a persistent cough so gave medicine to help heal that. We discussed her development, things like sitting up, pulling herself up, looking around from side to side, managing her head well, and he encouraged Rose to help Stella (who is now approx 20 months old) to learn to walk. He recommended a pair of shoes that squeak when she walks to help entice baby to enjoy trying to take steps. Rose and I found a pretty pair at the market afterwards… I had to smile as I watched Stella’s amusement and Rose’s joy with the new sandals, seeing as I had just remembered and shared my story about new shoes with you…

Among other things, I intend to work this week on the next revision for the ‘Project’s’ page for this site. I’ll try and bring us up to date and address current ACIO and community empowerment developments/issues as well as long term intentions for both the families of Betty and Gideon, etc etc etc…

4 months today in Africa! Wow, 2 more weeks and I’m half way into my scheduled journey. All the while I find my roots here deepening, growing stronger, and then there’s the family around me that appears to be emerging…!

Much Love to you from us all…
Sunrise, Moonlight and me!

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