I didn't get a post out last week, so I guess I had best catch you up to speed. We've been putting an emphasis on developing new projects. Here is a little bit of what we have been doing.
1. We've are submitting projects for the children's hospital that is located out in the beautiful countryside between Zagreb and Varazdin. There most urgent need was for sheets, pillow cases, and duvet covers. They also need about 25 sturdy wood chairs. We've been shopping around, I think the high school will come in with a good bid for the bedding, but they don't make chairs. They have a great wood-working program, but chairs are not on their list of things they do. One of the employees at the school however used to work at a chair factory here in Varazdin. It is closed now, but he has some connections and told us he would look into it for us. Do you know we are on a shopping mission! When we figure out how much the project will cost for big things, we will add a little for some new toys as well.
2. We are submitting a water project for Eastern Croatia, this is one of the hardest hit areas of the homeland war. The church has been helping,(by supplying the money) to clean out hundreds of wells that were contaminated by the war. Live ammunition's, dead bodies, and carcases of dead farm animal were thrown into the wells to pollute them. Over the last 4 or 5 years great progress has been made to clean them out, thanks to the partnership of the Church and the Red Cross. We will continue that work, more and more Serbs who left during the conflict, actually ran for their lives.... are starting to come home to wells that are polluted, but they are using them anyway. Having no other choice. This project is a major initiative of the church and has already been approved in S.L.C. but we need to put in the final paper work to get it moving forward.
3. There is an after school program in Osejek, Croatia that is amazing. They identify at risk children, those with parents who can't or won't supervise their children after school hours. Younger ones, do crafts, dancing, drama and of course home work. The older teenage children actually are wards of the state, usually having been taken away from neglectful parents. They sleep in a facility close by the after school facility. but while the younger children are at the site, so are the older ones. They are teacher aides, helping to run the program for the younger kids. They do all sorts of odd jobs, cleaning, laundry, (yes, the younger ones get their clothes cleaned) and they play and interact with the younger students. It was really fun to see them in action. They were doing a painting project when we were there. The older ones had painted a room and then the younger ones were doing art on the newly painted walls. It was well.....kids art, very colorful and fun! When asked what they needed most they said a sewing machine. So now we are looking for a sewing machine. After we find out approximately how much that will cost, we will submit a project for that.
4. We visited the Red Cross in Osejek and asked them what their needs are as well, they have a soup kitchen that works very well, but they do an outreach program for about 50 families out in the villages. They need containers to transport meals in. We are having difficulty finding the ones that they want, but in Bosnia this last week I think we found some similar. Now to see if we can find a Croatian distributor so we don't have to bring them across the boarder. We have a policy to buy "in country" so as to help the local economy. Still working on this one.
5. Our wheelchair project with Caritas is marching forward. Lot's of little hurdles to jump over. Mostly our inexperience. This is the first wheelchair project that we have done all by ourselves. The others were ordered and we just did the first distributions of them. We found out yesterday, that a "pre-clearance " customs form had to be filled out by Caritas. We had no idea. Thought the chairs were in progress and moving along. Then just by accident, Jim found out it was all on hold waiting for this pre-clearance paper work. Oh...we will learn. But unfortunately this puts the project behind 3 or 4 months.
6. Bosnia....we are working on several developing projects. but mostly this last week we visited two of the clinics that participated in the Neo-natal resuscitation training that we had a few months back. It is our job to do the follow up for that training. The two clinics that we went to were small, but enthusiastic about the training that they had received. They were both using the new technique and excited for the equipment that they had received at the training.. The OB department was a far cry from what we have in the United States, but the doctors and nurses were dedicated and determined to give the best care they could. One clinic asked for warming lights for the new-born baby and the other asked for infusion pump. We are on the hunt.
7. We went to a school that needs desks, chairs, and chalkboards. The ministry of education paid for a remodel of 3 new school rooms and new bathrooms, but then refused to fund the new rooms with books, desks, chairs and other supplies. So they sit empty and unused as the school battles to have enough room in their small class rooms. Way over our budget, so we had to tell them "Sorry, no can do".
8. We meant with a parents advocate group for some 150 disabled children in a collection of small villages.
They want us to build a community center where they can come, bring their children, get support from one another and have some training. A wonderful cause, but WAY out of our league. It was hard to tell them no. We are thinking of bringing in a partial shipment of wheelchairs for them. They struggle because the children grow out of the wheelchairs and are always needing a new size.
9. We went to a wheelchair basketball game. What a great experience! These super athletes have disabilities that were so sobering to us. One leg missing, both legs missing, and paralyzed legs tightly strapped into the wheelchair so they don't go flying every which way. We noticed some wheelchairs had bucket like seats with no backs and others had high backs. Some where very tall wheelchairs, some were very short. Which to us seemed like a real disadvantage to the short ones. But we found out after the game that they were all custom made according to each individual injury. They asked if we could help get some athlete wheelchairs in. It was so hard to tell them no. Each one of these wheelchairs cost about $9,000. But what we saw that they need the most was a new wood floor. It just made us cry to see them struggling over this horrible floor that the boards came up about 1/4 inch when they rolled over it. I kept waiting for them to get hung up and end up on the floor, but they have got skill I tell ya, nothing seems to stop them. Does any one have an "in" with the Utah Jazz? Next time they replace the hardwood floor at the arena, I know a great tax deduction/humanitarian project here in Bosnia! Spread the word .
10. One last little project that we are working on. Our little Roma pre-school. We were authorized to go ahead and start the project to replace all the bathroom fixtures. That will be done in a couple of weeks. We are trying to get heat into the building as well, but are running into a few problem with that one. The city close to the Roma village won't bring in a gas line, so we are trying to find a safe, affordable alternative. Right now a pellet stove it at the top of the list, but it requires a chimney to be built and some building modifications which are over our budget. But our partner organization, Caratis, might be able to spilt the cost with us or find some other donors to do so. The bathroom is a go, but heat....well, it might be next fall before we get it all figured. out.
I hope I haven't bored you all to death! We love doing what we do. We think of you often, miss you tons and pray for you always.