Friday, January 25, 2008

Dagama Home

Thursday, January 24

Dagama Home

Today we went with Sister Josephine, the Franciscan sister in charge of some Catholic charities in this area. First we visited Dagama Home in the nearby town of Luanshya. This is a boarding school for 150 children, most of whom are crippled—and some profoundly so. These children, if left in their villages, would be dead. At Dagama they find love, security, food, education, even their medical needs are cared for. They return to their villages only for school holidays. The home was clean, orderly, and the children seemed happy and playful. Although the school was formerly only for disabled children, the Sisters have also taken in AIDS orphans and integrated them into the program.

While at Dagama we met two doctors from CURE International in Lusaka (the capitol) who came up to assess the orthopedic needs of children and arrange for their surgeries in Lusaka. One doctor was from Congo and the other a retired British doctor out volunteering for several years now in varied African countries. Eighty-eight children were accessed this morning and 14 will be going for surgery. We had lunch with the Sisters and the medical team at Dagama Home, which is where the Sisters also live. This work began years ago with a small post of the Knights of Dagama caring for miner’s children in the Copperbelt region. In 1965 it changed its purpose to caring for handicapped children.

I was able to take pictures at the Home and so I am posting a couple. It was really kind of funny at times. A little group of boys with stubs for legs were just tussling about in the grass and hamming it up for the camera. It was obvious the children can be quite independent in spite of some serious deformities; we often saw them helping each other.
All in all, it was really quite a pleasant place.
Some of the AIDS orphans who live at the home receive special instruction as they are being integrated (in English, for example). The Sisters have turned steel shipping containers into classrooms; we overheard lessons in “English Dictation.” Their pink and yellow interiors were very bright—and I imagine very hot at times, too. All the children were polite, standing when Sister Josephine came by and saying “Good Afternoon” with their (very accented) new English skills.

1 comment:

Dorothea said...

Ah, this sounds like just the sort of place where Evangel wants to go to employ her nursing skills. She has believed God wanted her to be a medical missionary since about age nine and has always wanted to return to Africa after seeing the great needs. She graduates in May and then hopes to leave as soon as feasible.

Gina, do you see more humanitarian work being done by the Catholic church there than by anyone else? In Kenya, it seemed that way to us. We learned a great deal from them as they treated every person as they would treat Jesus Himself, all people valued because they are created in the image of God.

Glad you are tucking in your mosquito netting tightly. Malaria is such a dreadful, painful disease like none we have here.