Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Praying for Chickens

We are in full tilt preparing for our upcoming trip to Chirripo.

And it's amazing.

Last time we were in Chirripo, back in December (read about it here or here, or see a short video of it here) we met many of the beautiful Cabecar indigenous people that live there... We also heard (and witnessed) some of their many needs. After returning to the Latino community, and after the Chief of the indigenous community stopped by our house for coffee (like that happens everyday) and we were able to discuss the needs of his community further, Tom and I were left with one thought ringing through our minds: As LEC-CR servants here in the field, What are we going to do about it?

We knew half of the answer was "return" and the other half was "help", but HOW was still the issue.

The following is what's been approved and is what we're going forward with... With the best of intentions. And we are more than excited to share this experience with Ben, a short-term mission team member from Lakeshore Evangelical Church. Ben will be serving with us for a week in March and helping with:

1) The Solar Panel Project

A need greatly emphasized by the community’s chief is for solar power to light the church building. Sinoli has no access to electricity; providing solar energy to the community’s sole gathering place would benefit the entire village and result in a safer place for people to meet.

Tom and Ben, along with a Costa Rican gentleman who knows the area and an indigenous individual from the Sinoli community, will be installing a solar panel and lighting system. We may be there for their first ever lit church service!

2) Raisin' the Roof

The Sinoli church roof, in two sections, in supported by posts. These posts are currently sitting on floor planks, halfway between two joists. The floor planks are not designed to be load-bearing. In other words, the roof is prone to collapse and must be proactively repaired. Tom and a local Costa Rican will lead the project, Ben will assist, and volunteers will be recruited from the local community to provide any additional required manpower to alter the current design to create a stronger support.

3) Reducing the impact of childhood parasitic infections

Candice has teamed up with  a nurse who heads the medical outreach aspect of the Chirripo hikes, to undertake an intestinal de-worming clinic while in Chrripo. Albendazole, a broad spectrum anti-helmintic, will be distributed to all willing mothers to treat as many children as possible. In order to provide informed consent as well as educate the community on infection transmission, Candice will be providing an education session to all families emphasizing infection prevention methods. 

4) Combating Malnutrition… With Chickens

Sadly, childhood malnutrition is visually evident in the village of Sinoli. Stunting (short stature for age, indicating long-term protein-energy malnutrition), bloated bellies (indicating protein malnutrition, and possible intestinal infection), and skin lesions (indicating inadequate intake of micronutrients, especially those found in animal based foods) are common in the childhood population. As a nutritionist Candice was able to undertake a nutritional-assessment interview with the chief of the community and some of the local women. From the information gathered, it is clear that not only malnutrition, but also food insecurity, is endemic in this community.

In Sinoli, the responsibility of food gathering is that of both the woman and man, however if the man were to leave or pass away, the responsibility is solely that of the woman.  Additionally, and very importantly, families do not share food supplies.

In order to address malnutrition in this community, we proposed to bring hen-laying chickens to Chirripo to distribute to families most in need. Hen eggs provide highly nutritional animal-based whole proteins and much needed micronutrients to the diet.  We wanted to purchase 20 egg-laying hens... Mature, scavenger fed, and culturally acceptable, to distribute based on the needs of the families and recommendations of the chief, to respect the community’s leadership order.


So, as you can imagine, we've been doing a lot of preparing. And at times we've been asking ourselves if we really know what we're doing... Especially when we'd receive raised-eye-brow looks when pleading for people's chickens.

For the first while there were just no chickens to be had... Oh, there were lots of chickens around, but no one wanted to give up their chicks! I prayed to God, and knew that if He indeed want us to bring them, He would provide them. But there were still no chickens to be had.

Then last Saturday, a man approached Tom after church and told him that his 12 year old son wanted to give his chicken away to a family that needed it. Yes, God provided a chicken... from a 12 year old boy, and in doing so I've been provided reassurance to go forth with the plan. (And it just so happens that today we got news that a friend found us many more that are available for purchase... Now we are up to 11!!)

There are many many things that can go wrong on this trip, from logistics to weather. I ask for you prayers in our preparation, for both of us and for Ben, and I ask that God's will be done on this trip, and we be nothing more than willing agents in His plan, no matter how crazy we may seem!

1 comment:

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