Monday, June 27, 2011

To boldly go where no NGO has gone before...

Much like Cpt. Kirk of the Star ship Enterprise, we at SP Liberia like to venture out where no one has gone before. Here in Liberia, these are often the places in great need.  Last week I was up-country in an area past our Bopolu base office.  We (Nikelle, Kim, boys and I) were going out to help our VBS team. however, two out of the three of our VBS team were very sick with malaria. So we made the decision to get them back to Monrovia for treatment and we would stay in Bopolu and visit some projects. However, before we flew them out we had to do some "slinging" of WASH materials to Palakwelleh and Zugborkwelleh (say that 3times fast!). 
SP Chopper lifting supplies...

In the new area that we are working there is no road access.  The villages located in this area are in great need and are often forgotten by government and other NGO's due to their location.  With the SP chopper we can get supplies and staff to boldly go where no NGO has gone before!!

Isaac and Felix 'helped'...most of all just ran and hid from the flying dust from the chopper.
Eating a snack and getting ready to cover their heads from the chopper dust!

Along with WASH projects in this remote area-we aredoing VBS, our CHE (community health education) and ministry.  All of these projects and more are what the SP staff will be running for on Aug. 28th.  As I stated in my last blog entry, I have been able to register our race and a place for people to donate if you want.  I know it says my name, but it's not about me it is about our awesome SP staff who is running for a purpose!!! There is no financial goal-I just want our staff to be part of something bigger...something for their country, something they can be PROUD to be a part of!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Team SP's Friday run...

Today at 3:30pm we had our first SP staff training run.  Some staff have been training already for the Aug. 28th 10km race in Monrovia, but we have decided to run together as a team every friday up until race day.  Today was a nice 5km-which is 2 laps of ELWA.  Everyone did great!! Here are some pictures I took while I ran around with our staff...
Debbie leading us in stretching
Everyone is ready to go!
And they are off!

Finance ladies Dorothy and Debbie

Iowa's finest...

Everyone did great-really they did, for some it was the first time they had run this distance.  It gave me such great joy to run with my co-workers who work so hard for SP Liberia! Most said it was hard while they were doing but that they felt great after :)  We had some people missing because they were in meetings or up-country but I have no doubt after they talk to their co-workers they will be excited to come out next friday as we tackle another 5km run.  We will bump the milage up mid-July to 3 laps, which is 5 miles-and will keep work up to Aug. when we will do 4 full laps=10km.

Pastor Kamara and newest SP intern Jamie coming into the gate!

Hawa and Danielle (who has had malaria this week...) finishing strong.

Another exciting aspect to the Aug. 28th race is that Team SP at our headquarters has allowed me to set up a fundraising page.  I know many of you gave towards my London Marathon-so please don't feel like you have to give again!! For me, this is more about our staff getting the opportunity to run for their country-and feel like they are running with a purpose.  I will be posting the link if you do want to support our SP projects on my next blog-still have some kinks to work out...

Please remember our staff in prayer-we have had some of our staff down with malaria, one down with a motorbike accident (is ok!).  We are in rainy season and with that brings mosquito's and bad roads getting worse.  Hopefully, we will all stay healthy and recover from sickness so we can train hard together!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jillean Micheals would be proud...

No, I am not the hard body, exercise guru, task master Jillean Micheals-but I can lead the odd work out here in Liberia!  Previously, our lovely former SP Liberia staff member Suzie Swenson, would lead an exercise class every Wed. for our staff.  Well, Suzie (and her hubby Matt) left us for our SP office in Japan-which was stinky and sad...BUT the Wed. afternoon exercise group lives on! 

With the race only two months away I wanted to show our staff some simple leg stretches and low impact/Ab exercises that they could do in 30min. to help them prepare. Yesterday we had about 10 people participate-with about a dozen more saying they will be ready for next week.  Here are some of them stretching after the work-out...

Staff stretching!

All of these people will also be running on Aug. 28th.  Minus the small freaky child doing the splits...good grief.

I am really proud of our staff-we have about 36 SP Liberia staff registered for the Aug. 28th 10km/marathon.  We have one staff member thus far (maybe two) running the full marathon!!! Alisa Buma will be running the full marathon-I am super proud of her and have no doubt she will kill it!  She is training up in Foya where she is stationed-lots of hills up there!  I will be 'showcasing' her on a future blog.

Another SUPER exciting thing is that I contacted our Team SP office at SP headquarters.  They said that I will be able to set up a way for our SP Liberia staff to raise funds for our projects here!!!!  One of the greatest things about running the London Marathon was the opportunity to raise resources and awareness for two of our programs, WASH and CLP.  Now, our own SP Liberia staff will be able to do the same thing for ALL of our projects (We currently have over 30!)! Our staff here are AMAZING-anyone who has come here knows that-so for them to now have the opportunity to run for not only SP Liberia but THEIR country and people is beyond awesome...What a privilege to be part of it all!  I will keep you all updated on this blog on how you can get involved.

Again, I want to thank all of you for supporting our staff in this endeavour-specifically Erin and Zawadi Morrow who are going to run a 10km on Aug 28th in the U.S. in support of SP Liberia!  I am so grateful for all of you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A "SPRING" in our step...

Yes, I am talking about the amount of SP staff I see walking/jogging around ELWA-but I also want to share with you about our new Spring protection (capping) project that was recently completed.  There are many underwater springs in Liberia-and Taya our amazing WASH program manager has been wanting to construct a spring protection 'box' for a long time.  Well the time came, and these past two weeks along with water technical advisor-Phil, from the UK, a spring was sprung!  Here are some pictures of the evolution of a spring being protected...

Step 1:  Here is the spring to be protected-at the top of the picture is the 'eye' of the spring.

Step 2:  A pipe is laid into the water source, "eye", and then a wall is built (this is looking down from the top of the spring).

Step 3:  The area is then filled against the wall-the pipe opening is on the other side of the wall.

Step 4:  A completed Spring protection project!  Phil, Taya and their awesome WASH team.  Where Phil is sitting is where the top of the open spring was...

The new Spring in action-protected clean water...

The community of Belibende now has a functioning protected spring that provides them with clean water.  Hopefully, spring protection projects will continue to be part of the WASH program-and money from raised through the marathon will help!  I want to thank Phil for coming down and being a great help to Taya and her team-the whole WASH team worked from 7am -6 or 7pm for almost 10 straight days-that not easy-oh!!!

As mentioned the other "spring"in our step is all the exercise our SP staff have been doing.  We now have close to 30 SP staff members running in the 10km road race in Monrovia on Aug. 28th.  We may even have one or two do the full marathon (no, not me!).  CLP/Communications program manager-Joni is also in on the fun!

Joni getting ready for a run!  Woohoo!

The majority of my training for the London marathon was done solo...which was good at the time.  However, it has been a lot of fun running with our staff and sharing this experience with them.  I have started running 3 times a week-just doing one lap of ELWA (1.6 miles). I know it sounds like so little after doing 26.2-but I want to take time to heal and not over do it-causing more injuries!  Two of the many reasons why I run:  providing clean water for Liberians and to be an encouragement to our SP staff team-and now they are inspiring and encouraging me...AWESOME!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Exercise Awakening

An Exercise awakening, movement, revival, whatever you want to call it is taking place right now.  Where?  Right here at our Samaritan's Purse office in Liberia...How did this happen?  Let me explain...

A couple of weeks ago I asked Kendell if I could do devotions (we have staff devotions for 30 min before the day starts).  He asked me what I wanted to talk about- I stated "I want to talk about what the Bible says about our health, exercise, and diet." There were many small and big things that led me want to share this topic with our staff.  First-I am not one that likes or feels comfortable leading devotions, but in the past few months I really felt I wanted to share something on this topic.  You see, we have had many staff who have been sick, with everything from high blood pressure, to type II diabetes. What really hit home for all of us was a recent death of one of our staff from complications with his type II diabetes.  He was only diagnosed recently not even really giving him time to adjust his diet-but even if did have time would he know HOW he could adjust it?  Or the benefits of exercise to help his condition?  I don't know.  I wanted our staff to know-I care and love our staff and wanted to at least share with them some simple steps to help with their health.

Well...what a week!!! To give a quick summary I started with the amazingness of our bodies that God has created-the intricacies and complexities that work together to help us function each day.  Day 2-3 we talked about how to figure out how many calories your body needs-depending on your weight, sex, and level of activity; this was coupled with a list of main Liberian foods how many calories they contain.  Trying to explain that if your body needs 2000 calories daily-and you take in 2500 and don't exercise you are going to gain weight-was difficult but it was like a self realization was taking place!  I want to thank our Health experts here at SP Aimee Ashoff and Rosanna Schaak for helping me explain all of this!  The last two days were spent on explaining that food cannot become your god and at the same time your body cannot become your god-we need to balance between being good stewards of our bodies that God has created, but also have a healthy perspective of food and our body image.  I then introduced some easy exercise and diet 'plans'  IF people wanted to do they could.

I started to notice something...after work-there were more SP staff walking around campus, at lunch people were out walking, people came to my office after every devotion to ask questions or to pick up an exercise plan.  The great exercise awakening had started!  To my surprise-one of our staff members was sharing what he had learnt to some of his friends who work at ELWA radio-they asked if I would be willing to come and talk on the radio on this topic.  So every MWF from 10-1030am for the month of June I am on the show "Facts you should Know"-HA! 

BUT the awakening was just starting...and now it is in full swing!  On August 28th there is a 10km and marathon race in Monrovia.  Myself and some of our ex-pat staff have signed up for the 10km race-even bossman (Kendell)!!! During the week of devotions I mentioned the race and how bossman and others were training for it.  Yesterday-Kendell came home and handed me a small piece of paper with 23 names of our SP staff.  I asked him what it was-and he stated "It's everyone who wants to register for the 10km race in Aug.!"  James Hooper one of our ex-pat staff members, said that yesterday he was filling out the registration form and some of our staff saw him and wanted to register too-next thing you know 23 names...

This morning I shared in devotions as a 'follow up' to last week-it was a great time to hear how people have made small adjustments to their lifestyle to include exercise and small changes in their diet to help their overall health.  I also shared the 3 "D's" for training for the 10km-I can't take credit for these-after one of his 5km walks Kendell came in and announced that he was going to write a book for bigger people to loose weight!  He said the first D is Determination-being determined to just start-get up early and just get your body used to a schedule.  The second D is diet.  Little changes like no snacking after 7pm...not easy-oh!  And the last D-discipline-probably the hardest one, staying discipline to your schedule, even when you are tired and don't want to,this is where the rubber meets the road for exercise!  So thanks to bossman for the 3 D's!!!

Afterwards, we had more people sign up for the race-here is a picture of the majority of them!!!

What a great bunch!  We are missing some like Joni, Alisa, Taya and others who were up country or in meetings...

I had no intention of having people sign up for the 10km in Aug.  All I wanted to do was to share with our staff about the benefits of healthy living-and how simple it can be.  One of the highlites for me last week was interviewing Marie-who used to cook for our office.  Marie had to resign about 18 months ago because she was diagnosed with type II diabetes and was too sick to work . Recently, Marie has come back to SP-when I first saw her I was shocked!!! As they say here in Liberia she had reduced (aka lost weight) and looked GREAT!  She shared with our staff how she started walking around her house and jumping rope-and how she started to eat healthier foods like bulgar wheat instead of big helpings of rice everyday.  When Marie went for her follow up Dr.'s appointment -after the tests were done he told her that she no longer had to be on medication...Marie has a self testing blood kit to help her stay on track-but she has kept up her exercise and diet-and is back to work! 

I cannot put into words how proud I am of our staff-all of them.  During the marathon they were on my gratitude band-and all of their faces floated through my mind.  They are another reason why I ran and continue to do so.  I can't wait for Aug 28th-to line up with my SP brothers and sisters all 25+ of them and run 10km.  But more importantly I can't wait for them to experience the "Hey, I can do this" and then the "I DID IT!" sense of accomplishment.  What an honour to not only work with them but run with them!!!

You can still give to our projects up until the end of June-many of the future blog entries will follow the journey of our staff as they train and run in Aug.  I am hoping that we can do some sort of fund raiser through it for a specific project. So our staff can also experience running with a purpose... I will keep you updated!