Training is going very well. This week was Compost making, building a Compost Nursery table and planting lettuce,eggplant and tomatoes,building the rabbit house, making yogurt, natural insecticides, Hope for Africa.
Our trainees start the day with one sharing devotions. They have been doing a great job with that. This also gives us a chance to see how they teach. They have asked me to teach them English so we are doing three to five phrases or words a day. It is helping me get past “oui, oui” which is pronounced “we,we” and no it doesn’t mean I have to go to the bathroom.
Without a doubt the highlight of the week has been the yogurt making. Due to the size of the group we have had to split them in two to teach that. This of course has created a little competition. After the first group made their yogurt one of the guys (who was not in the group) said ” any man who says this is not good yogurt is a liar” … He liked it a lot and so do I. The great part about two groups is that we have had awesome yogurt for breakfast two days this week! Making yogurt is new for us.
I sent Eliphaz, our trainer for training this year to help expand our Nutritional emphasis on the program and he learned how to make it there. This training has really opened his eyes to our need for focusing on nutrition. He is now looking at how all we do impacts nutrition. Yogurt is a great nutritional supplement to the diet and another way we can emphasize the importance of nutrition in promoting better health. We even made some Moringa yogurt to pump up the nutrition that much more.
Speaking of Nutrition, here is the definition that the class came up with for Nutritional Agriculture, our program: It is providing food in a necessary quantity and quality to maintain our body balance and good growth and will produces good health. I thought this was a great definition of what we are trying to accomplish.
The Director of Agriculture for the region visited us again this week and was quite complimentary about what has taken place in such a short time. We spoke with him about having our trainees speak on the local radio about what they are learning to help spread the word. He said he could arrange that and also said he would like to have the television station come out and report as well. It’ s starting to take shape!
Yesterday one of our better trainees told us he has gotten a job teaching Agriculture at the school and would have to leave us. We are sorry to see him go but it has now opened up the opportunity we have been praying about to later on have our trainees teach in the school system here.
This is not only a great way for our trainees to learn how to present what we are training them but is a great way to get the information disseminated to the community through the kids. This is why the 4-H youth program got started in the US and those of you who know my background as an Extension Agent for Penn State know that this makes me tick!
– Ken Winebark, Agriculture Program Administrator
They come from far and wide, wearing large headscarves and balaclavas to hide their faces—and their shame. In West Africa, a disproportionate number of children and adults suffer from large, life-threatening facial tumors. Shunned by their communities, and sometimes by their own families, they have nowhere else to turn.
But onboard the Africa Mercy, a floating hospital docked off the coast of Conakry, Guinea, they find hope. Doctors and nurses provide life-changing maxillofacial operations, among other procedures, for these patients who would never be able to afford them. This past spring, five Trinity Western University School of Nursing alumni, including Brian Drebert (’06), served with Mercy Ships on the Africa Mercy.
Drebert’s own journey to the Africa Mercy began about 10 years ago, when, as a second-year nursing student, he visited a Mercy Ships booth at Missions Fest. “That’s when the idea really began to take root,” he says.
Fast-forward a decade and Drebert, who has spent the last 5 years as an Intensive Care Unit nurse at Vancouver General Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital, found himself dissatisfied with the direction his life was taking. “I knew I needed to do something drastic to change,” he remembers. “Overseas work had been on my mind but I had put it off. Eventually, I got to the point where I couldn’t not go. I needed to.”
So in the summer of 2012, he completed the Mercy Ships application and started fundraising. The application part was easy. The fundraising was, well, less so. But Drebert persevered, setting up a website for donations, hosting a fundraising event, and, he says, “learning to trust that God would provide.” And God did provide.
For nearly three months, Drebert—along with Trudi Attema (’06), Hannah (Hoffman ’06) Calvert, Karin (Larson ’07) Benson, and Laura Ziulkowski (’05)—watched the transformation the Africa Mercy patients experienced. “When they come in, patients are initially closed off, withdrawn,” he said, “ But when they’re cared for as a person, not just an illness, a transformation takes place. They begin to come alive, as though the disfiguration isn’t even there.” Craving love and acceptance, they find it on the ward from the nurses and other patients.
But the experience isn’t just life-changing for those on the receiving end of the surgeries and care; the caregivers—surgeons, nurses, and support staff—are deeply affected, too. “Some days, I just wanted to head to my room and cry,” says Drebert, who initially didn’t feel equipped to do the work. Over time, his trust in God deepened. He was able to let go of his hesitation and freely serve.
Now back home, Drebert wants to integrate some of his experience into his work here. “The biggest challenge is to enter into my patients’ stories,” he says. “In Africa, much of the patient’s suffering was beyond just the physical. Healing was only possible by listening to their story, entering into their journey, and walking alongside them.”
“My heart is still there, but this is home,” he continues. “I’m feeling challenged to find the same meaning in life in Vancouver as I found in Africa.”
Read more about Drebert’s incredible experience serving on Mercy Ships on his tumblr.
Fellow alumna, Trudi Attema (’06), also blogged about her time on the Africa Mercy here.
Interested in studying nursing at TWU? Learn more about our highly regarded School of Nursing, which offers the only faith-based nursing program in Canada.
Written by: Wendy Delamont Lees