Saturday, May 14, 2016

Milk Project building...we have a long row to hoe

I feel like adding the sub-title to this post..."And all I think I have is a spork"

Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news?  Every time someone asks me that, I ask for the bad news first.  Much like eating dinner before dessert...I want to end with a sweet taste in my mouth and not something potentially bitter.

Bitter like tears.

Dr. Darwin had a group of nutrition students working/volunteering at the clinic recently.  Maria got the results of their labor this week, and it was shocking.  Sure, I know the Milk Project is there to help those that are really struggling, kids that really need the help...so I guess I was just naive.

I have removed this 10 year old girl's name from the report. (This was the first report I picked up...there are more like it.)  It shows that her height puts her in the .3 percentile, and weight at 11.6 percentile.

And she is listed as being in "chronic dis-nutrition grade II"

Not all the kids are in this extreme (hard to get under .3) but the majority...I was not able to actually read them all.  I was floored.


Some of this could be from their past, it is not all necessarily a reflection on today, but it is the first time I have been able to see such a report here on anyone.  We know, we see, that especially those in rural areas are shorter...lack of good access to protein, varied foods, vitamins, etc. but, well...I mean I was not expecting to read that about kids we know, we love, and we try to help.  Yeah, I know...naive.
On the positive side I guess...it means that in the selection process, Maria is doing a good job identifying families that really need help.

She was sharing about a neighbor that morning, whose son Esnel is in the project.  She knows them well.  They have been unable to find work, to provide...and finally they are selling everything they own and moving back to a very rural community where they have extended family.  Imagine the kids...from being in the capital city, plenty to see, friends/people everywhere, school (although...this year with no money, all the kids could not go)...to rural life:  no one living near them (very rural), no electricity, school even harder to attend/afford.  More bitter tears...this time from Maria.

It reminds me of something groups ask on occasion...when dealing with hard stories, hard life staring you in the face and the lack of a seemingly great weapon, answer, or something to say...how do you handle that?  I wish I knew.  Seems to be a combination of a heart that is hardened...then broken and softened, and repeat, sometimes more than once in a day.  Holy Spirit intervention required.

On the good news side of things, Maria, Oscar, and I sat down to talk about different design options for the new building, as that has to be decided for plumbing and such well before we actually get to building those walls.  We are also waiting for an architect brother in the USA to give us his professional opinion as well.

The different ideas we had were for the most part pretty similar.  My favorite part of Maria's plan was the two meter hallway after coming in the door of the building.  It will serve to accommodate kids that arrive early (oh how I wish financially we could be open all day)...but the main purpose is actually a safety one.  The building will be close to the bottom of a hill, a well traveled road.  The hallway is there to provide a buffer...a speed bump if you will, for any speeding bus or vehicle that is coming down the hill and loses its brakes, to hit that and not come right into a classroom instead.

I have to admit...that was not an initial consideration I had in my planning process, but was good to know.

Also good news:  We were also blessed to start doing construction every day again!  We have saved enough donations from camps and individuals last year and with a big donation this year...to have enough to guarantee labor for four guys!  This includes one foreman (Rolando, who has worked for us in the past.)  I wanted a foreman so Oscar does not have to oversee and make sure everything is proceeding apace every day, someone to keep ) and have the materials they will need to keep working.

Hopefully by the end of the year we will then have the actual first floor poured, and the two basement levels somewhat finished.

Then for 2017 perhaps...done?  Finishing in 2017 with exterior walls, interior walls, AC (for security...cannot have too many windows), and all the little details that add up... seems very optimistic, but then again I would not have thought we would be able to go this fast in 2016 just a few months ago.

So, I guess this post is a bit bittersweet.  I had not thought about that previously.  Not sure I will think of that word quite in the same way again.


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