Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BLOG/Charles Haig

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Today I went to a township several miles away in the countryside. I was surprised at how much the countryside here looks like rural California. We visited a modest home where a woman was taking care of her daughter who was suffering from AIDS. The caregiver was there to bathe her. Both women wouldn't or couldn't admit that there was a problem.

When we went into the bedroom the mother indicated to me that her daughter was crazy, wouldn't talk, and hated her. Because of the lack of rubber gloves the caregiver wrapped plastic bags over her hands for protection during the bathing.

I was sent outside when the bathing began and went to stand at the door in the sun. While standing there an older gentleman walked up smoking a pipe and looked rather surprised to see me.

He asked me if I spoke Afrikan. He spoke a little English. He told me he was born in 1927. We laughed because he looked and acted much younger and he thought I did also. He disappeared for a minute and when he returned from the house he had his passport to prove his age. We laughed again because he still didn't believe my age.

He returned to the house and brought out a picture album that had only two pictures, one of him when he was young and another of his wife when she was young. He then brought out two very large photos of a young man in a military uniform and told me that it was his son. He was very proud showing me the pictures.

I was afraid to ask him where his son was. I then realized that the lady I had talked to was his wife and that things were not going well in the household.

He started talking to one of the caregivers and said that he was the one who was taking care of his daughter, not his wife. He got very emotional and tears welled up in his eyes as he showed his frustration and hopelessness. He then turned and walked away because he didn't want me to see him that way.
When he calmed down he returned and we talked some more. I told him I was from America. He was shocked I had come all that way. He thought I had come by boat. We took pictures of the two of us. He asked me to return someday to visit him again and I promised I would. When I had to leave we shook hands and then he hugged me.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More from South Africa: Richard Hoff

June 18, 2008 -- Lessyton, Queenstown, South Africa

Reflecting on the visits arranged by Tshwaranang Resource Center (a HOPE Africa/Episcopal Relief and Development partnership) for our visit one day after Mlumbisi

Washing the feet of an emaciated man, with loose falling skin who struggles to stand because of his long battle with TB. Glad my sense of smell is weak because the bedroom is full of the fragrance of a nursing home. The floor is dirty, the blankets are dirty – even the recently-washed clothes laid out for Jack Kampi for use after the bath, seem dirty.

The visit begins with Sally Roberts taking the blood pressure of Mr. Kampi, looked on by Mrs. Nomvuyo Mxhosana, and Zixolisile, Lessyton’s CHW leaders.

Following the cue of Zixolisile (Michael to you), I hesitate but hope neither he nor Mr. Kampi notices. Women are in the other room since they should not see a naked man. I begin to wash the feet of Mr. Kampi; at first, fearfully. Then, slowly, I realize how beautiful his feet are - the caracoled toenails themselves worthy of a doctor visit, not to mention the TB.

The skin on his legs, so scaly it looks like it will peel, is the same all over his body, plus back bedsores which look like half-eaten skin. I take his feet more firmly, making sure he is supported as he stands so Zixolisile – always smiling – can wash his hair, his chest, back and, finally his thighs, genitals and backside. Mr. Kampi seems to be gaining a little strength as we inject our energy into his body. The transformation is taking place: his legs now feel silky soft and smooth, clean and bright, and there’s a joy to wash and caress them, no matter how dingy the water has become.

After the bath, Mr. Kampi walks slowly to the kitchen, sits down next to his blind mother and with other family members.

It turns out we’re the same age.

Sally perfecting her Xhosa (‘click-click’ language): Nomvuyo and Zixolisile are advising her, with the wind-swept landscape in the background.
Sally perfecting her blood pressure-taking skills on Elsie, an elderly woman who never stops cracking jokes and laughing, prior to and during her bath

A typical roof protected against dramatic wind gusts by rocks, boulders and tires
A very small home to an elderly couple and their AIDS-afflicted son who was taken to the hospital for an epileptic attack the day before we arrived. Three of their five grown children have already died of the disease; the only surviving daughter lives nearby and also has AIDS. There are three grandchildren that someone must take care of.

One of our happiest visits with Mutile Nzube who had lived half his life in Capetown; he only came back ‘home’ because he was getting old and needed someone to take care of him (his sister and son). His animated face, wild eyes and excited voice – and judging from the response of our colleagues – describe ribald stories that are better left untranslated. If the arthritis had not nearly crippled him, we’re sure he’d still be raising cain well into his 70s.

We visit a home with three adult siblings who are becoming more and more mentally unstable – one smiling for whatever reason, one transfixed on something and one who is absent. Seemingly, the only well son is caring for the widowed, aged father (David Paul), the challenged siblings and a variety of children and cousins.

I forget if one person out of the 20 or so who were there is working; if not, they all survive on the father’s pension - $120 per month, not reassuring when food prices jump almost daily. A troubled family:

Laughter at seeing their photo on the digital camera:

A garden outside the after-school center that provides nutritional veggies for orphaned and vulnerable children

Some of the orphaned or ‘vulnerable’ children welcoming us through dance

What does Tshwaranang Resource Center do (in addition to accounting for funds their program depends upon for its existence from Episcopal Relief and Development through HOPE Africa)?

Regarding Community Health Workers (CHWs):

  • Interviewing, ’hiring,’ and then training scores of Community Health Workers to build camaraderie, competence and life-saving skills.

  • Providing extensive health kits to all CHWs

  • Providing stipends for travel to and food at workshops for CHWs

  • Workshops cover HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, planting gardens, nutrition, child and spousal abuse, mental disorders, drug use, crime and violence, orphans and vulnerable children, legal issues etc.

  • Sensitivity training involving advice and even interceding when women or children are being abused

    - A full-time staff person provides free and vital ‘legal’ assistance: helping families – or single grandmothers – receive government grants that will help pay for food, school costs and basic needs; CHWs are trained to listen for possible referrals to staff for legal advice.

    - Extensive library which includes a wide variety of books and relevant materials on topics of ‘today,’ in English and Xhosa.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Blog Continues: Mlumbisi Visit

Richard Hoff: June 11, 2008

Mlumbisi is a section of Queenstown on the Southeast Cape of South Africa. Poverty level among the highest in South Africa (unemployment at 60% plus, most people barely surviving on $1 per day). Some of the homes are made of bricks and compose a ‘shantytown,’ while newcomers and more impoverished people build ‘’ from anything they can find. They may live in their squatter homes – 200 square feet or less – year after year after year.

Another hold-over from the decades of apartheid and human degradation.

Accompanying the Community Health Workers – Lindiwe, Bukelwa, Mathabo, Ntombekaja and Mbuya - Sally Roberts and I find care and compassion on a level not easily found back home. Women who spend 5, 6, or 7 days per week visiting their neighbors who are suffering from HIV/AIDS, TB, skin infections, blindness, hunger, old-age ailments or loneliness.

We find an elderly woman who is caring for 11 orphaned children, all distantly related to her. They range in age from 2 to 17. She does not make ends meet on her small monthly stipend for food, school and care. The children – very cute, very rambunctious - are now destroying the small garden she has cultivated, unwilling to listen to her, waiting for something or someone that never comes. The old woman does not know how much longer she can carry on and fails in her effort to hold back tears. The health workers listen to the old woman and speak with the children.

The community respects these women who have taken courses from Tshwaranang Resource Center, which receives financial and technical support from Hope Africa, which, since its inception 7 years ago, partners very closely with Episcopal Relief and Development. Hope Africa and Episcopal Relief and Development have now expanded these and other programs to many parts of South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola.

The local government health center often refers patients they cannot help to the Health Workers. Patients who have nowhere else to turn find support, advice and encouragement within their communities from these women who understand their situations. Oh, yes: Linda earns $15 per month; the others receive no ‘honorarium’ whatsoever. They are ‘volunteers’ in the true sense of the word.

The next woman we visit has an infected leg wrapped with what is now a dirty bandage. Her husband died of AIDS, she is HIV positive, has no income and her 15 year-old daughter is now pregnant. Our health worker cannot re-bandage the wound because the woman does not have the $1.50 for paraffin to heat the water. She promises to return the next day with the paraffin.

Then there’s the older woman whose husband died four years ago. Her shack is the smallest we will enter. She has no living children, no relatives to go to, no income, and ‘depends on the kindness of neighbors’ to keep her alive. The pain she feels is hunger: She hasn’t eaten in several days. Quietly asking Mathabo if she will give our sandwiches to the woman, she agrees.

Our intercession was momentary; these Health Workers speak with neighbors to assure future assistance and will return at least twice per week to befriend and assist this gracious, proud woman..

This community covers many square blocks and we spend at least 6 hours walking from one home to another this first day. There is constant conversation among the women, and with us. They joke, speak vibrantly and with great animation. There’s a camaraderie Sally and I are able to share in. Sometimes we understand, sometimes not – and we just enjoy it. And enjoy the hilly landscape all around un and the winds that come howling through.

Continuing on another 20 minutes, we are invited into a two-room house – a bedroom and kitchen, 150 square feet. The wallpaper is precisely that: newspaper that has been carefully pasted up, advertising cell phones and toilet paper, bicycles and soaps, from floor to 6-foot ceiling. This is the home of a 52 year-old woman who has recently learned she has AIDS. We meet her and her daughter-in-law who is helping care for her. Several of her children have died from the disease which afflicts 20% of all South Africans (a much higher percentage exists in the 18-45 year old bracket). We see a two-month old baby and are asked to take a photo of 5 of the 15, mostly females, who inhabit this household.

This woman is fortunate, because the local hospital deems her ill enough (less than 200 T-cells) that she is being given retroviral drugs to treat AIDS (these are free – if you can survive the opportunistic infections most people get prior to this point in the disease’s progression). This woman tells the Health Workers that the drugs are making her nauseous and she doesn’t want to take them. At this point, Linda says (in Khoshi, of course), “I was diagnosed with AIDS nine years ago. Look at me – I am healthy and strong. I smile and take care of my family. I took these drugs and they have helped me and they will be good for you. We will help you.”

Another woman adds, “Yes, you feel nausea, and have diarrhea, but you must take the pills. We will help you.”

Up to that point, we hadn’t known who had the disease and who didn’t, but it became clear that too many of these woman - and men - are living with HIV and AIDS, living with poverty, and still smiling and helping one another. It’s a spirit that will long outlive any individual, it’s a spirit that is the future of South Africa.

It they can have hope and laugh and continue their struggle, can we not take a moment to help them do this – through prayer, through activism, letter-writing, advocating and donating?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

From Sally

Sally Roberts

June 7
-- This evening I really made the transition from staying with the family to being totally committed to the Tranformational Journey team. We had met at 8:30 at the Robben Island Ferry. And it was a relief to have so many of my beloveds to experience the ferry, the tour guides with their moving, and at times, wrenching, stories, and to distance a little from the pain by joking with them, in that cynical shrthnd that we can use because we all know how deeply important these issues are for all of us. We had a relaxed lunch, and then made our way to the Cathedral. However, there I could not be on the sidelines being polite.

It was such an honor to be there for this amazing priest, Wilma, whose history we had begun to see more clearly the previous night in the tributes of her colleagues in struggle, and in the scrapbook of her struggle to be ordained in South Africa. While at times it is possible to withdraw in Pasadena, to call the Episcopal Church the place where many are cold, but few are frozen—suddenly we were seeing it through the eyes of the heroes of South Africa—through the eyes of students, of Bishop Tutu, the psychologists and the professors and the decent-hearted who didn’t know what to do—and that was where the grace of God and the faith of Christians became an inextinguishable beacon of hope, of steadfastness, and of courage.

I know Katie is uncomfortable about religion, and that Debbie has only been inside a church once before. Tonight, though, I felt it isn’t up to me to make this all OK for them, because I need the infusion of hope, of inspiration, of humility at the mighty power of God when one can open even a tiny window.

June 11—Yesterday, Richard and I went to Lessythan. Though only 20 minutes from the Tswaranang Centre, this township was quite rural. With Zixolisile Mbenene and Nomvuyo Mxhosana, we started up a steep gravel road to visit a family where the patient was Jack Kampi, who has TB that has left him bedridden.

Though the house is a single bedroom and kitchen with an outdoor latrine, it seemed spacious compared to many of the shanties we saw yesterday in Mlungwine, though it is shared by the patient, his elderly and blind mother, and two sons. Richard and Zixolisile gave Jack a bedbath and helped him to the toilet, while we talked with his mother and were joined by two more volunteers, Lydia Kweleta and Nokwakha Poswayo.

Then we tested his blood pressure, which has gone down alarmingly, mainly Nomvuyo explained, due to his poor diet. Since there is only his pension of 925 rand to support the whole family, food is scarce, and his older son is also verbally abusing the family due to his drug use. While this sounds dismal, we realized that part of the health workers’ job was to encourage the family and let the older son know that they are aware of the problems he is causing the family.
On our walk through pathways and dirt roads , we saw flocks of sheep, little groups of goats, relaxed looking pigs, and cows. Surrounded by the dramatic mountains, it seemed so beautiful, although the health workers must walk many miles each day because there is no public transport.

It’s winter here, of course, and the wind was blowing so hard that it blew the glasses right off my face three times—I had to remember to turn my face toward the wind no matter which direction we walked. The next visit was to a feisty old woman in her eighties, Elsie, who lives in a slightly larger, cozy house with her son, who has a job.

The health workers have arranged for a neighbor to look in on her, since shje is alone all day. She was delighted to have company, and when she saw our white faces began speaking cheerfully in Afrikaans—no luck. She laughed at my attempts to converse in Xhosa, but then politely said hello, she was fine, and how was I? Ndpilili, I said, fine. We women gave her a bath, from a round pail of warm water, then dressed her in clean clothes and she said she felt so fresh and nice. On this try I managed to take her blood pressure, which was only slightly elevated, not bad considering her hypertension and the edema in her legs. Her saucy, cheerful attitude lifted all our spirits, I think.

The day went on this way, with long walks in the wind, then visits in the home of a patient and the families. All of them wanted their pictures taken, and loved the camera feature that lets them see how they look. At the end of the day, we visited a garden that Nomvuyo uses to feed the orphans and vulnerable children that come to a center after school. When we got to the center, the younger children were singing and dancing together, and then we all had warm potatoes and porridge with cabbage, which was delicious.

The four volunteers we traveled through the rural township with receive no stipend, but feel a sense of satisfaction that they are serving their community, and giving assistance to people who are, in many cases, pretty desperate. Nonetheless, each of them would love to have a paying job if only jobs were available. It is so apparent that HIV/AIDS has left this community, like the one in Mlungisi, with many elderly people living on tiny pensions, with the burden of sick children and orphaned grandchildren, and the process for obtaining any help from the government is impossibly difficult to manage.

Nomvuyo gave the example of Jack, who has been instructed to find transport to the clinic in Queenstown for treatment. Jack’s pension is about 225 rand, yet transport to Queenstown is 180 rand, and then he has to get back home… and hope to have money to feed the five people dependent on his monthly pension.

Photo Album

Table Mountain

Nelson Mandela's cell at Robben Island

From Wilma, Hilda, Dale, Dorothy & Charles

Day Three
Time for church! We attended Church of the Resurrection in Bonteheuwel, with a very friendly congregation, and lots of incense! We drove around the area and visited the home of one of my former parishioners in Mitchells Plain, where a lot of stories and laughter was shared.

Sunday afternoon was spent with Themba Lonzi, staff member of the Institute for Healing of Memories, a moving and profound time.

Sunday night was a sociable dinner with Michael Lapsley, and my sister, niece and nephew, at a local Restaurant. Of course we were the loudest table in the place!

Day Four
Up at the crack of dawn to go to the airport! Slight delay due to a bomb scare at the International terminal, probably related to the presence of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town at the weekend. No problems though, and a quick flight to Port Elizabeth was followed by a very long drive to Queenstown, inland in the Eastern Cape.

A stop off in Grahamstown, university town and previous diocese of the current archbishop, and new home for my oldest friends, now dean of Grahamstown. By the time we arrived (yes it was a long drive in a slow, but brand new van!)
it was dark, so we settled into our home for the week.

Day Five to Day Nine
So here we are for the most exciting part of our transformational journey, hosted at Tshwaranang Resource Center, of the Diocese of Grahamstown for a most amazing week visiting the projects, assisting In various activities, and debriefing, reflecting and praying together each evening. Tears and laughter are the order of the day!

But the group members tell you for themselves! Everyone has been busily writing for the blog, we hope you are as inspired as we are!

Hilda Boulware

Today’s experience in Tshwaranang felt both humbling and empowering. Each person I meet in the homes I visited met a need, both to give and receive the bountiful blessings of God. Prayers with the people, afflicted by disease and extreme poverty, lifted all of us with hope and trust in God’s provision.


Dale Sorenson

Our first day out in a garden run and used by a Grade School, Wilma and I got right down on our knees in the dirt and pulled out those nasty weeds from around the planted beans. Wasn’t long before this light-skinned Norwegian’s face began to redden. But—freedom for the beans, so worth it. Twenty plus students joined in with hoes (a weekly chore), later delighted to see the pictures we shot of them. African children—so beautiful.

We made a house call out of an AIDS Service Center to the home of a very sick older couple, the woman unable to leave her bed. Mostly, they lamented the inability to get the medical attention they felt they needed, for a variety of reasons. Tore us up.

In contrast, back at the Center, we were treated to a long show of songs and dance by 14 children, as part of an after-school program. Indomitable spirits. One girl such a natural dancer, I wanted to call Julliard or somewhere about her.

Life in So. Africa is such a challenge in the rural areas. The needs are so great, yet the people’s spirit is so open, so with dignity. And The Church is there, involved, serving the people, and with great commitment. Very heartening.


Dorothy Lee

Lessyton, a rural area near Queenstown, is hilly with blustery winds whipping off the mountains. In the landscape-dotted with few bushes and even less trees live many desperate people in concrete bunkers homes or lean tos made of irregular pieces of scrap metal.

These neat homes shelter many who suffer extreme poverty: lack of money, good health, food, clothing, jobs. There is no heat except that from home made braziers fashioned of a square piece of metal placed on top of a base made from a discarded part of a metal stove or a tire rim. Pieces of wood gathered from the area is burned for heat; a not very sufficient source of heat.

Volunteer caregivers, Nomvuo Mxhosana and Zixolisile Mbenene, demonstrate each case by describing the history and problems and then showing how the patient is bathed, the administration of medication, meals and the care of bed sores.

Each patient and family greeted us with kind hospitality to us, foreign strangers from a distant land. Despite the bleakness of the landscape, home conditions, health problems each patient welcomed us with genuine appreciation and many displayed much humor, despite their dire conditions. There is joy and hope and God’s grace in the desert conditions of this land, for which we rejoice.

Charles Haig

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 has been one of the most memorable days of my life. I joined caregivers Nomvuyo Mxhosana and Zixolisile Mbenene (Michael) on their rounds in Lessington, a township called Queensland, in the Eastern Cape near East London, South Africa. In the first home the grandmother took care of her 40 year old daughter and her five year old grandson. Her daughter had AIDS and could not walk because of a stroke.

The warmth and hospitality in which we were welcomed was incredibly overwhelming. When we left the only thing they wanted was for us to return. In the second house we visited there were two sisters and because one had AIDS the sister with the better house made the infected sister live in a shack next door with her toddler.

They were only together in the nicer house because we visited. I felt the least optimistic about this woman because she had fully given up on life and did not feel there was any reason for living probably due to the way she was being cared for by her sister who seemed like she was a burden to care for. In the third house we visited a grandmother who had a stroke and was bedridden. Her daughter took care of her and her own toddler. Again we were welcomed with great warmth and hospitality.

The only thing this grandmother wanted was a wheel chair so she could go out into the living room and be with her family. They also wanted us to return next year. This was an amazing day, because for the first time in my life I met people living in some of the most desperate conditions I have seen before but yet they live their lives full of hope and warmth.

But the memory that stood out the most of all this day was spending the day walking through Lessington township with one of the caregivers Zixolisile Mbenene (Michael). He was one of most friendly and happy people I have ever met. We spent our time together with humor while we dealt with such desperation that I was constantly amazed. At one point he told me that, “the lady we had just met who was dying of AIDS was a school friend.”

When I asked him how he could keep such a big smile on his face working in the township, he told me that it keeps him from getting too depressed. I asked him about his family. He lived in a house with six people, including his mother who got a pension. He doesn’t see his daughter because his ex-wife moved away to get a job.

I asked him if he could live on the salary he earns and he told me he did not get paid. The only money was his mother’s pension. That was when I could see the tears in his eyes. When I asked him what he would like to do, he told me he would like to learn about computers and work with computers someday. But he told me that, “will never, never happen.” What can a friend say to that?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

From Wilma

We're all here, safe and sound, and 2 quite amazing days into our journey. The unpredictable Cape Town weather co-operated to give us 2 fairly good days, and Table Mountain (aka 'the mountain') has shown us it's splendid beauty in different shades of light, covered in swirling clouds and not one but many rainbows as we had some rain showers today!

Day One

We began our trip at the District Six Museum, which used to be a Methodist church, and long, long ago, a wine cellar! Its an interactive museum that tells the painful, poignant story of the essential social, political,emotional wound of Cape Town - the forced removals in the 1960s, of people from an area which was multicultural, vibrant, and close to the city, into squalid townships far away with not much beauty or hope.

The guide was someone who grew up in District Six and was moved out - Joe told his story with grace and irony and sadness. A huge map on the floor outlines the various streets, and people who were moved out, have come back and signed their names on the streets where they lived. We will see this same story played out in the townships that we visit this trip.

An excellent way to catapult us into our journey - by listening to someone's story, and learning about the history that shaped this amazing place.

Hope Africa introduced us to all their staff and Bishop Garth Counsell welcomed us to the Diocese of Cape Town and the Anglican Church in Southern Africa. We heard about the work of Hope Africa in different parts of Southern Africa, and were impressed to be in the powerhouse and nerve center of it all.

My friends had arranged a reception in celebration of my ordination anniversary. It was a great gathering of people, including John Allen, the biographer of Desmond Tutu, and Lavinia Browne, his personal assistant, and Michael Lapsley of the Institute for the Healing of Memories. No less than three previous chaplains to Desmond Tutu were present! Little did I know that my friends would roast me and let out many secrets that were little known over the years! Quite a joy to have so many friends present whom I have know for more than twenty years! Two of my former high school students from my early teaching days were there - they became friends over the years. We remembered stories, laughed and cried and were amazed at the rich events of the past 20 years.

My sister, niece and nephew were there, which made it even more special.

Mama Afrika!
Our dinner was at this great African restaurant, complete with a marimba band which is a project of Hope Africa.

Great music, good dancing! they gave the Pasadenans special treatment - on a break we were invited to try out the marimbas and drums. Hilda, Sally, Dale and I managed to get up a not-too-shabby sound!

Day Two

Robben Island
An early start to get the ferry to Robben Island! This trip is the story of South Africa. The island housed a leper colony before it was the home of maximum security prisoners. The tour guides are all ex-prisoners and told us their prison numbers. Our first guide grew up in District Six and told us that story and the story of his imprisonment. His name is Sadick Levy, a true product of multicultural District Six.

A bus trip took us around the island, to the leper graveyard, to the house of Robert Sobukwe, famous leader and prisoner, to the limestone quarry where Nelson Mandela and others did hard labor, to the little Anglican church of the Good Shepherd. The church is the only non-state owned property on the island. Another guide, Sipho Nkosi (which means gift king) took us around the prison, including the communal prison cell where he stayed. It was all profoundly emotional and there are some stories from the group we will share later.

Celebration Service
Today was also the celebration service at St George's Cathedral. A wonderful gathering of sixty people from all the different parishes I have worked in, plus all my family, made this a very special occasion. The priest who was ordained with me, Wilfred Meyer, was present and he and I shared the gospel reading and the dismissal.

We were 7 celebrants in all! Rowan Smith the dean, Michael Lapsley, Margaret Vertue who was the other woman ordained with me as a priest in 1992, Nangula Kathindi, a Namibian woman priest who is now holds a high office in the church structure, Gail Paulse, a young priest who was a highschool student in my first parish and found her vocation at that time, Wilfred Meyer and myself! That was quite something. Songs in Xhosa, (of course Siyahamba and Ukuthula) and hymns from my earlier ordination, lots of singing, and prayers in English and Xhosa, and the eucharistic prayer we used at All Saints on Pentecost Day, made this an occasion I will not forget.

Nomfundo Walaza
We enjoyed dinner with Nomfundo as our guest. Nomfundo directs the Desmond Tutu Peace Center and was a speaker at a Rector's Forum last year. She told us stories, helped us understand the current realities of Cape Town and South Africa and the refugee crisis. More about that later, but so many churches are housing people in their church halls and this has been a crisis that has pushed open people's hearts with compassion and support. Yet so difficult to deal with the issues.

Stay tuned!
Others from the group will write about their experiences as the days go by. There is more to come!