Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hi to all our Family and Friends:

It is past time to send our August blog and to report on some of the events that have taken place.

We held three graduation ceremonies and two water handovers this month. It was a very busy month full of celebration and travel.

We held a borehole commissioning in Muzarabani the first part of August. This is the area where we drilled and fitted 24 new boreholes and constructed 48 Blair type latrines. 2,400 family members were taught a total of 8 hygiene/sanitation lessons by 46 volunteer trainers, assisted by the LDS Charities team of trainers. We provided fencing material to the communities and donated one pump-minder kit to the project to be used if repairs are needed in the future. Graduates of the sanitation course received a certificate, a hygiene kit and two bars of green bar soap, as well as a mosquito net. This water project was supposed to take us two and at the most three months to complete, but ended up taking nearly a year because of all sorts of problems and set-backs. We can now take it off of our “to do list”, and we are so happy that it is finished. We have struggled with it almost the whole time we have been here. It has been a cause for much discouragement, second guessing our decision to drill there when we encountered several dry holes, and other problems. We felt like it would never be finished.

If anything could go wrong with this project, it did. It is a three to almost a four hour trip driving there from Harare, so the distance created a problem. We had a drilling rig tip over and had to haul it back to Harare for repairs. There is no phone communication in this remote area and so our site monitor had to ride a motorcycle to the top of a mountain to be able to call us and keep us informed on what is going on. The rainy season interrupted many days of drilling, and we had one of the driller’s cannibalize an old non-working borehole drilled by UNICEF a few years ago, and remove some old parts from it. He then put the old parts in one of our new boreholes and sold the new LDS parts for his personal gain. We hire a site monitor to avoid things like that, but somehow the monitor found out after the deed was done. All this had to be dealt with and finally we are finished and feel good about the completed water project and the much needed help it will be to the people in this very hot dry area.

We invited our mission president and his wife to join us for the big handover celebration. It took almost four hours to get to the site area, so we left our apartment at 5:00 am to make the appointed start time. The program started with the Zimbabwe national anthem, then a prayer, several speakers, which included the mission president and his wife, dignitaries from the community and the Beans. This was followed by singing, dancing, skits and poems all about clean water and thanking LDS Charities for the clean water. My favorite part of the program is cutting the blue ribbon wrapped around the borehole and pumping clean water for the cheering, singing, excited crowd. This officially turns the boreholes over to the villages. It was very hot and windy in the area of the celebration and the hot wind, coupled with the dry sand and dirt, made us even happier that we persevered through it all and made the decision that we would try again to supply water there. The river beds were all dry and cracked and this area is quite barren of green bushes and trees. The people living there do not have gardens or crops growing in their fields, because of the lack of water. We asked what the people ate and we were told they grow sorghum and a kind of a drought resistant grain that they grind to make sudza, the food staple all over Zimbabwe. They raise chickens, goats and some cattle, but they have a limited diet and it is a very hard life just to get enough food and water to survive. The people suffer from all kinds of water borne diseases like cholera, diarrhea, malaria and other terrible things. So hopefully this clean water will make a difference for them and the worry, discouragement and discomfort we experienced in drilling there is such a small thing in the big picture.

We enjoyed watching a very colorful program. All went well until we noticed a small whirlwind start to form in the distance and it got bigger and closer and bigger and closer and then it hit us full on. It tore the tarp off the shelter that had been shielding us from the sun. The tarp was held up by slender tree poles pounded into the ground with a notch cut out on the top of each pole and the roof consisted of another pole that fit horizontally into the notch. The poles were tied together with long strong grass and it was very sturdy, but the whirlwind broke it apart in a matter of seconds. It also threw dirt and sand in our faces, tipped over chairs and after it messed us all up, it went on its way to do more mischief. The program stopped while the shelter was put back together and we dusted ourselves off, then the program went on as if nothing had happened.

Clean Water Skits
A clean water skit was performed, which was very funny and also very impressive. It depicted what not to do and then depicted what to do. Dirty dishes were left on the ground for animals, insects and dirt to get into and then they used them unwashed for the next meal. They diapered a baby and didn’t wash their hands before handling food. They acted out all kinds of unsanitary situations and then they portrayed a man having an attack of diarrhea, and people running behind him trying to clean up. It was funny and the crowd loved it. Then they showed the correct way to do things, washing hands, washing dishes, putting the dishes on a tall drying rack out of the reach of animals, insects and dirt. They showed going to the borehole for clean water with a clean container, all the things they had been taught in the sanitation training. It was nice to know that they really understood the things that contribute to making one sick and what needs to be done to keep one healthy. What has been interesting to us in providing sanitation training is that we thought knowledge of good sanitation/hygiene comes naturally to people, but it does not. So much of this sanitation information, like washing hands before preparing food was new to them. We feel the sanitation training was almost as important as bringing people clean water.
More Skits!

All the important people in the area attended and the biggest surprise was that a Zimbabwe senator also came to our event. A senator is a very high position in this government and the people stood when she arrived and clapped and shouted and gave her a big welcome. She was the “Big Drum” at our event and we all treated her accordingly. When she spoke she was very complimentary to the Church and the people listened attentively to her and clapped often

The entertainment was wonderful and the dancing was incredible. The dancers jumped so high that their knees almost touched under their chins. While they were dancing a little girl about five or six years old with bare feet and a dirty dress stepped out of the crowd. She was watching the dancers very closely and was dancing with them on the sidelines. She was really good. She finally got enough courage to step out and join the dancers and then I noticed that her little foot and leg had been badly burned and her left foot was just a stump. She danced even better then the adult dancers and her little knees were brought up almost under her chin. The crowd cheered and clapped and the Senator gave her a dollar and Sister Dube gave her a package of biscuits. She stole the show and then disappeared into the crowd. The thought crossed my mind if she were in the United States; she would have that little leg and foot fixed up. So many children here are badly burned because most of the cooking in the villages is done on an open charcoal fire.

Dancing at Handover

Star of the Show!

At the end of the program, the Senator, President and Sister Dube, Elder and Sister Bean and a few headmen cut the ribbon on the borehole, pumped the handle and when clean water came out, there was much noise and cheering. The Senator cupped her hands and drank some of it and then threw water on the bystanders. We furnished a package of biscuits (cookies) and a bottle of orange soda to all in attendance.

Ribbon Cutting!
 At the end of the day, the Senator, the mission president, a few dignitaries and the Beans were served a dinner of sudza, chicken and spinach. It was a fun way to end this water project.

The next week we assisted with a Church training program called “Helping Babies Breathe. Dr. and Sister Bentley from SLC were the short term specialists for this program. They were in Zimbabwe last spring and we assisted them in setting up this training program and they returned to actually do the training. We partnered with UNICEF and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health. Their responsibility was to invite the appropriate people to be trained. Two different groups of fifty nurses, doctors, midwives and other medical people attended a two day eight hour training sessions back to back. They used the equipment the Church donated to help them practice and become skilled at reviving non-breathing babies. Written tests were given at the beginning and end of each session. They were taught about the importance of the “Golden Minute”, the crucial first minute after the non-breathing baby is born. The procedure is to clear the airway and to stimulate breathing. This procedure was new to the medical people attending this training, although they had delivered hundreds of babies in their lifetime. At the end of the course they received Certificates of Achievement, stethoscopes, booklets, masks, resuscitation bags and “neo-Natalie’s”(training dolls) donated by the Church. Their responsibility is to return to their hospitals, clinics, villages and home facilities and train others in this procedure. We will assist with planning another neo-natal/ helping babies breathe program in Zambia the end of this month. We are anxious to visit this country. We have a small budget to do some projects there, but have been too busy to go.

We have completed the first part of our two part water project in the District of Goromonzi. We are finished with the drilling and with the sanitation lessons. Our first maturation project in this area is completed and it appears so successful that we are very excited about the continuation of it in other schools. We will add this training permanently to our future sanitation training course. Women and girls from all over the district are coming to help sew pads and attend these classes. There is such a big need for training in this area, since the culture here does not address female issues. Our trainer tells us that it is exciting to see that girls and women issues are being openly discussed, questions are being asked and ideas and experiences are being traded, something they have never done before .We have great hopes that this project will get stronger and stronger and will spread to other areas. We ordered 1,000 pairs of panties, two pairs to be given to each girl attending this class. They will be enclosed in a cloth purse along with three pads, a pad holder and a recipe for soap.

Distribution Team

To celebrate the completion of the sanitation and hygiene training, we held three graduation ceremonies. We asked the mission president if we could use four young missionaries to help with loading, unloading and distribution of soap, hygiene kits, soda, biscuits and certificates to the people that had finished the training. He assigned four missionaries to help us and they were delighted. It was fun for them to go into the villages and see what life is like in the rural areas. They loved seeing African dancing, singing and other fun things involved in these graduations. These nice young missionaries worked so hard and were such a big help. They really stood out in the crowd with their beautiful white shirts and polished shoes, which didn’t stay that way very long. They were lifting dirty boxes and hoisting them in and out of trucks and moving them into rooms for distribution, which they also helped with. We also used them as guards to watch over the distribution items, for some reason these nice things, grow legs and walk away if they are not closely watched.

Efficient Movers!

We told them that they could not proselyte, but to wear their white shirts, ties, and missionary badges and be friendly and socialize with the people. If someone asked a question about the Church they could answer, but could not actively proselyte. We knew they would like to tell everyone there about the Church, but they respected the reasons that humanitarian missionaries are instructed not to proselyte. We are sure their presence and their manner was noticed and they were very much identified with the Church and LDS Charities. It was a wonderful experience for all of us. Their help and their fun spirits were much appreciated. We had approximately 400 – 450 people at each of the three ceremonies.

We invited the mission office couple Elder and Sister Heck from Caldwell, Idaho, to attend one of our graduation ceremonies. They have been here about four month and it was great to have them with us. They also helped distribute and hand out certificates. It was a fun day for all. We also invited Elder and Sister Bowen to help us on another day. They are also from Idaho; in fact we have four couples in Zimbabwe from Idaho. I asked Elder Bowen how come so many couples are here from Idaho and he said “because Idaho people don’t know any better, they just go where people send them”. They have now left to go back home to Idaho and we all ready miss them.

Hecks and the Beans
We did get the opportunity to go to Zambia to help set up the Neo Natal/Helping Babies Breathe program there. Gary and Janet Flake from SLC are the short term specialists in charge of this program. They had been in Zambia the previous year helping with the measles campaign, and were acquainted with the area. They met us at the airport and suggested we attend an outdoor African market, which is only held once a month and sponsored by the Dutch Reformed Church. It was great and it had all kinds of food, crafts, and things for sale. Right away I liked brother and Sister Flake. Brother Flake has been a mission president and is asked by the brethren to fulfill many difficult assignments all over the world. They are leaving for Ethiopia in a few short weeks to carry out an assignment regarding the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. They are very interesting to talk with. He also acted as our personal banker, until we could get our money changed to Kwacha, which is the Zambia money.

Flakes and Beans

Shopping in Zambia

Kennedy and the Beans


We accompanied them to hospitals, UNICEF offices, and other places to set up the Helping Babies Breathe program for next year. We spent three days with them and when they left us contacted people that they suggested and we thought would be a help to us in finding and setting up projects in Zambia. We had an especially interesting and wonderful time when we contacted Kathy Headlee Miner, the founder and CEO of Mothers Without Borders. Their main office is in American Fork, Utah, but they have some land and an orphanage in Zambia. We first met Innocent, the manager of this orphanage. He met us at the hotel and drove us some distance out of Lusaka to the orphanage. It was very nice and consisted of dorm rooms for the children, a school, an outdoor kitchen and construction was underway for offices and storage. The most wonderful part was that we got to meet the little boy, named Kennedy, who is the little boy you see in the beautiful painting called “The Worth of a Soul” by Liz Lemon Swindle this is the picture where Jesus is holding the little African boy. Kennedy lives at that orphanage with his older brother and sister and is now about 8 years old. Both of his parents have died from AIDS. He was found living alone a few years ago with his six year old brother and ten year old sister and taken to the orphanage. He was around four at the time. We have that wonderful picture in the entry way of our home in Mukilteo, so it was a real treat to meet the real little boy. We took pictures, gave him candy and I just wanted to take him home with us. The next day Kathy Miner arrived in Zambia and she called and made an appointment with us to talk about what we might do to help her organization. We had a meeting with her and her husband, who is the man in the picture who portrays Jesus holding the child. It was really great to meet them both. They do such good work and their life is devoted to helping the kids in the orphanage in Zambia as well as other things. Different agencies, or the police, or concerned people call them and tell them about abandoned orphans and they try to take them in. It is really heartbreaking to see these darling children, alone in the world, but thank goodness for people like Kathy and her organization that provide shelter and food and education for the few lucky ones. We are awaiting her official request for assistance.

If anyone wants to contribute to a wonderful project or cause, contact “Mothers Without Borders” organization. We have seen it first hand and it is doing wonderful things for abandoned kids in Africa.

With Kathy Keadlee Minor - CEO of "Mothers Without Borders"

A very nice family event happened in August. Our grandson Ryan Carreon and his fiancĂ©, Brenna Richardson were married in the Orlando, Florida temple Most of Ryan’s family flew to Orlando to accompany them in the temple. His grandparents, Ron and Sandra Bean were also with them, if only in thought and spirit. The newlyweds are now back at BYUI where Ryan is currently the news editor for “The Scroll” and has one semester left before graduating. Brenna has graduated and has a full time job as a copy editor with a local newspaper. Congratulations to you both.

Our time is growing very short here and we have mixed emotions about coming to the end of this mission. It is exciting, rewarding, frustrating at times, tiring and wonderful!! We miss our family, our friends and our home, but we love this humanitarian work and will also miss it. Our replacement couple has already been called and we have our going home date. Wow! The time has just flown by; we can’t believe we have been here this long. We will also miss the sweetness of the people and the colors of this lovely country.

Spring is just starting here and the trees and bushes are in full bloom. They are beautiful.

Love to all, The Beans