Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hi everyone!  It's Katie!  Today is Wednesday, and so far my experience here in Zambia has been unreal.  Over the past few days I have witnessed, experienced and done so much that I can't tell you all of it, but I can give you the highlights.  I have gone to St. Anthony's, the children's orphanage, multiple times.  I love to go there because playing with the kids and seeing the joy that I can bring them in the short mount of time that I spend with them is the coolest thing!  For a lot of the time that I was at the orphanage I was in the baby room!  In the room there are 16 cribs each with a child in it, some with two!  Every single kid would want to be pick up and if you ever set one down he/she would start crying.  So instead of just holding one child, I would go from crib to crib and play with each kid for about thirty seconds, then move to the next crib.  This brought me so much joy doing this because every time I would get to a new child, they would immediately start smiling and laughing.  I was thrilled to know that I was able to bring them happiness at least for that little amount of time.  While I was in the baby room I made a special connection with a little boy named Moses.  He is supposed to be three but he looked like he was only one.  His two middle fingers are formed together and one of his eyes doesn't open all the way, but he is the sweetest boy ever!  I walked in and he immediately smiled at me; I picked him up and would tickle his tummy, he would just laugh and laugh!  All of the other days that I have gone back to St. Anthony's, Moses would see me and immediately smile and reach to be picked up, one time he even tried to climb out of his crib to get to me :)  It was inspiring to see how much of a difference I could make on a persons life in that short amount of time,

Our Last Day with the Sisters of Fatima School

Hi, it's Mackenzie,

     Today Amanda, my father, and I worked in the dental clinic, where the line of people, once again, was out the door.  
     We experienced an unexpected event today! A bus showed up with many children from the disabled ward of St. Anthony's orphanage, after my father thought he had checked all the children twice the day before. It was quite the extravaganza trying to get the children to allow any of the tools near their mouths. Multiple times I was called from my normal duties of suctioning and drying the fillings to keep the children still. 
     One boy named Edgrant allowed us to clean some calculus off his teeth, but after awhile, Amanda and I had to step in and hold his arms down so he wouldn't  be able to hit my father's tools and arms. The sister there, Nassaleli, was so thankful for the opportunity to have an assistant and to learn how to use many new tools the group brought.  All she could do was thank us, and by the end of the day she was quite sad to see us leave. 
     I had a wonderful time and was thankful to have been allowed the opportunity to help Sister and my father! 

Hi everyone, it's Amanda!

     I was lucky enough to work in the dental clinic with Mackenzie and Dr. Grutzner today and it was eerily reminiscent of when the three of us got to work together in the dental clinic in Mutomo, Kenya last year. Despite the fact that I don't exactly see myself becoming a dentist, I love learning new things about such a vast field each time I step into the clinic. 
     This morning we had the honor of working on our beloved Sister Margaret's teeth and unfortunately it wasn't as easy as we had hoped. The particular tooth we needed to extract had roots that were going in different directions and were so close to the bone that Dr. Grutzner was forced to cut into her gum to get a better angle. Poor Sister was not in any pain, but I am sure the long ordeal was tiring! 
     As interesting as the entire process was of extracting each portion of the tooth was, I still hope no one has to go through that kind of procedure. We were all assured that Sister was not too mad at us in the end when she excitedly got up from the chair and hugged us all before she left. 
     My experience here has been filled with these kinds of responses to our work, so I am sure we are leaving a positive impression on Ndola with all of our hard work during this past week. I will be so sad to leave all of the people we have grown so close to here, especially the Sisters. They have gone out of their way time and time again to make us comfortable and I will never forget the kind and gentle spirit they exude in everything they do for us!!

Hello everyone, it's Rachel!

     While Mackenzie, Amanda, and Dr. Grutzner were in the dental clinic, the rest of the group had the opportunity to go to two different outreach clinics, or "the bush," with Sister Elizabeth, the student nurses, and some volunteers from the Kavu Clinic. Sister, the nurses, and the volunteers go there once a month to give vaccinations, exams, and medications to the people in the villages, and if someone is sick when they are not there, they have to walk a long way to Kavu. 
     As soon as we got there in the morning we were greeted by the people waiting in the clinic with a welcome song, which was beautiful, as all the singing here has been. 
    I got to help weigh the children five years and younger before they went inside to get their vaccinations. I was surprised to find out that they weigh the babies in a bag, which looked like an old shopping bag with two holes cut in the bottom for their legs, that hung from the scale attached to a piece of wood that was part of the building. 
     After we weighed all the kids, Sister gave us a tour of the village. We were all speechless when a kind woman offered to show us her home--it was smaller than most of our rooms--and she shared it with her family of five. The village has a central bathroom, which is literally a hole in the ground. 
     I have met so many kind people during my time here, and today was no different. Most of the moms who brought their babies were not much older than me, if not my age. The experience was eye-opening, as the whole trip has been. I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity, and I know it is one I will never forget. I am sad to be leaving Ndola tomorrow morning, but I know we will also have a great time on the safari!  

     As the girls stated above, we are about to leave a very special place filled with love and learning. We have had the great good fortune to have met these incredible, kind, fun, and giving Sisters and their students. 
     It has been a privilege to work alongside them and to witness their unending optimism and compassion in their tireless works of community outreach. It is an experience the Vis girls and their chaperones have voiced over and over again during the past week. 
     We have been told their will not be Internet access at the Kafue National Park Reserve where we are headed next to decompress and access our trip for the next few days. 
     So think about us, pray for our safe return, and thank you for following along with our journey. It truly did take a village to get us here! 

Ann Mattson, Kenzie, Amanda, and Rachel for Team Mutomo

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Technology Challenges

Hi everyone! This is Katie!  So this is attempt number two attempt at blogging for me because the first time the computer died and I lost everything.  Due to the poor connection I am sorry to say that I will have to log out now, I hope everyone is having fun in Minnesota! Bye!!!

Hello everyone! It's Maeve! We are having an incredible time in Zambia at the orphanage, school, and medical/dental clinic.  As Katie said the internet has not been working, so I am going to have to sign off.  We miss you all.   See you in a few days!

Hi, this is Abbey! Sorry I can't write much, we've been trying really hard to make a post and it just hasn't been working out. We'll be sure to update all of you as soon as we can. See you next week!


Hello all, 

     We have been experiencing what Zambians call "loadshedding". Loadshedding is when the goverentment shuts down the power to certain districts in a published pattern to conserve energy. It wreaks havoc with Internet.

     We are frustrated not to be be able to tell you in greater detail how amazing our experiences have been, but hopefully our journals will fill in the gaps! 

Ann Mattson, Katie, Maeve, and Abbey for Team Mutomo

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012 Fathers' Day

     Our wonderful hosts, the Dominican Sisters, offered to take us to a mass in Ndola called Holy Trinity to witness a traditional Zambian mass in the Bemba language. Some of the chaperones opted to attend the Fatima girls' mass which started earlier in the morning. We knew the Vis girls should sleep in since they would be tired after winning the dance contest the night before, and because they would be attending mass in town at 10:30 am.

     We were all struck by the incredible sound of music: drumming, harmonizing, and swaying to the rhythm.
After the girls who have fathers on the trip wished them a Happy Father's day we set off to mass.

(Now the girls will take over the blog!)


     Hi everyone, it's Elsa!! I have the honor of being the first Vis girl to blog, so here I go! Today, my roommates, Amanda, Kenzie, and I woke up to the beautiful singing of the girls from Fatima Girls School. We started off the day going to church in Ndola where everything was spoken in Bemba - which was incredible! The singing of the choir and the music from the drums was something I have never experienced before and it made it so much more empowering and meaningful to experience it while in Zambia. Everybody was dancing and singing which is so different than back home (but a lot more fun!) Everybody here is so friendly - lining up to shake your hand wherever you go (makes us feel famous - almost!) 
     Next we headed to the girls' orphanage, where the girls, ages six to eighteen, loved to braid our hair and take lots of pictures! I loved seeing how much the girls in the orphanage and Fatima Girls School have in common with the Vis girls. We shares similar tastes in music, celebrities, books, movies, etc. 
     But what was the most interesting to me was visiting the boys' orphanage directly after the girls' where I helped out Dr. Sicoli and Dr. Grutzner. I gathered all the boys together and watched while they were examined, learning about all the different health issues these kids have. Multiple boys need fillings or need to brush more, with one boy needing an extraction. Dr. Sicoli examined a boy with ring worm on his scalp and another with a fungal infection on his scalp. It was so interesting to experience these health issues that I do not see back at home. The boys were so energetic while kicking our butts in soccer (or futbol!) 
     I've been having so many eye-opening experiences this trip and I have loved spending it with these group of girls, chaperones, and the Sisters. Everyone here has been so welcoming since stating on the first day, "Our home is your home!" Happy Father's Day!


Hey everybody, Anna here! Maddy and are going to talk about what we did yesterday, Saturday June 16th. 
     We traveled to St. Anthony's orphanage in Ndola. This orphanage was home to children as young as newborns, to children around the age of seven. In addition to this, there was a mentally disabled ward and an elderly housing unit.    As soon as we got off the bus, the children swarmed us. Many ran to our feet, hugging them and asking to be picked up. They would all say, "Hello, it is nice to meet you," and then it was as if you were their best friend in the world.
     I spent the first hour playing with a one and a half year old baby named Juliet. I walked by her crib and she reached out her arms, wanting to be picked up. I scooped her up and twirled her around. Her brown eyes locked on my blue ones and she let out a tiny gasp. She started leaning backwards and forwards as if to make sure they were real. Then she reached out and tried to poke one. 
     After setting down Juliet, I went into a small office to help Dr. Sicoli and Dr.Grutzner with giving check-ups to the children. It was my job to write down each name of the child and the state of their teeth and health after they had been looked at. I struggled with the spelling of the children's names and it was difficult to keep track of them. Many were screaming and crying, terrified of our doctors. It was hard to watch some of them examined, knowing that they had never had proper healthcare before and they have just had to suffer through their afflictions. 
     There was one boy who I thought to be only ten at the  most, and it turned out that he was seventeen. With what little they have, I find it absolutely amazing that they are so happy and good-natured. These children were so grateful to have us there and a few cried when we left at the end of the day. Going to the orphanage broke my heart, but it made me realize how blessed I am.
     Later that night, we all put on our skirts to attend Miss Africa; the pageant the Fatima girls were putting on in the dining hall. The night consisted of a group of girls that modeled their best clothing down a runway, and then were chosen for 4th place, 3rd place, 2nd place, and Miss Africa by a table of judges. In between the outfit changes, groups of girls went up on staged and preform dances. Then the M.C. went up on stage and announced, "Now the Americans will dance." 
     We had nothing prepared but we decided to go for it anyway. We went on stage and did our best rendition of Super Bass by Nikki Minaj. Now, these girls are AMAZING dancers and we were nothing in comparison, but we showed them a good time. We displayed some good old American dance moves that would make all of you at home proud - such as the worm, the corkscrew, and the funky chicken.       Luckily our efforts were rewarded with a scream of applause and encouragement. These girls were so nice that they awarded us first place in the dance competition and a bag of Blow-pops. 
     After the pageant, we met a few of the girls who attended the school. It was extremely surprising to find out that we all had so much in common and apart from the thousands of miles between us, we really were not much different at all. Before we went to bed, we promised to exchange addresses and write to each other when we returned home.
P.S. Happy Father's Day Dad!!!


Hello family and friends, It's Maddy! Although Anna and I were both at the same orphanage, we had very different experiences. I spent most of my afternoon in the mentally disabled ward. I found myself having to excuse myself often because what I saw brought me to tears. 
     There were three main rooms and about twenty-five people. As we walked into one of the rooms I remember thinking that these people were merely children with slight disabilities due to their size. Contrary to my belief, these people were suffering with a large spectrum of mild cases of diseases such as cerebral palsy, questionable autism and hydrocephaly, and were as old as forty-eight years old. It was heartbreaking. 
     Because of their disabilities the people were mal- nourished, often soiling themselves, and even had flies crawling on their teeth. Yet despite these problems, they were all very kind and welcoming, shaking all of our hands and even playing with us to some extent. Although we can't fix said issues with a snap of our fingers, we managed to make a difference in these peoples' lives for the time being, and hope to continue to put a smile on their faces. 
     This experience was extremely eye opening. It made me realize how trivial our problems at home are compared to the problems that the people of Zambia face everyday.
     As well as visiting the the orphanage in the afternoon, we also got a tour of the Kavu Health Clinic in the morning. It was very impressive and clean. We met the main doctor who was from Rwanda, and he was very kind. The Sister who runs the clinic showed us the different rooms around the clinic such as the childbirth room, x-ray room, waiting room, dentistry room, and the in-patient area. We also toured the maternity unit where they provided couples' counseling, informing them how to prevent HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to babies.
     For lunch, Team Mutomo had the pleasure of consuming a traditional Zambian meal, consisting of corn meal, vegetables, rice and sausage. Oh, I forgot to mention, we all ate fried caterpillars. Let's just say they didn't taste quite like  your McDonald's fry.
Happy Father's Day Pops!


Happy Fathers' Day to all the dads out there! We miss you but we are doing God's work.

Ann Mattson, Elsa, Anna, and Maddie for Team Mutomo

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's a Saturday Night in Ndola!

June 16, 2012. 
     We had a very emotional roller coaster of a day. We started it by being woken up by the rural sound of the Sisters' roosters. After breakfast, we toured this lovely secondary school for girls of which the Sisters are justifiably proud. There are over 400 boarders at this prestigious school who live in dorms divided by grade level from 8th to 12th.       Because it is a Saturday, the Fatima girls were doing assigned chores of sweeping sidewalks and driveways, raking the grass of leaves, and their own personal laundry. At least they didn't have to wake up at the usual weekday time of 4:45 am!
     Next, we set off to visit the nearby clinic the Sisters also run. We saw very clean, well-organized, cheery, and efficient medical and dental clinics and family counseling center. We saw tired joy on the face of a newborn baby's mother and felt the sadness of the Sister who showed us the wrapped body of a recently deceased AIDS victim. The girls also learned how to tie a chitenge (baby shawl/carrier) around themselves to carry the babies we would be visiting in the afternoon at one of the five orphanages the Sisters provide.
     After an authentic African lunch of nshima (cornmeal paste), ifishimu (caterpillars!) and more, we set off for Ndola Town and St. Anthony Orphanage to delight in the smiles of the orphaned babies, toddlers, and children under age six. While Dr. Grutzner and Dr. Sicoli screened the 100+ children's teeth and bodies, the Vis girls and remaining chaperones entertained the adoring orphans who never tired of being held, swung, rocked, or played with. What we had been warned of but hadn't fully acknowledged was how hard it would be to put a clinging child down. They cried almost as hard as some of us did. But the good news was that after we went to the cerebral palsy unit and adjoining elder care area and chapel, we got to reunite with the children as the exams wrapped up.
     Well, it is a Saturday night, and several of the Vis girls offered to add to the blog tonight, but they got the night off as the Fatima girls were staging a once-a-term only fashion show and dance-off. Naturally, some of our girls made an appearance onstage to the roaring approval of the assembled throng.
     Perhaps now you can see what why this day was both intensive and fulfilling.

Ann Mattson for Team Mutomo

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good Morning!

     We awoke today in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, to sunshine and birds singing. We were enjoying a wonderful breakfast on the hotel patio when a crocodile about 2.5 feet long surfaced in the pond adjacent to the umbrellaed tables. We ran for our cameras, and fortunately, we weren't the only tourists fascinated by our amphibian guest.
     We met many wonderful people while waiting in the Customs line at 12:30 am last night. One Swedish woman is coming to Ndola to adopt a 5 year old Zambian boy - possibly from the orphanage where we will be working. An English woman is coming here to do research for her PhD on the eating habits/nutrition of Zambian children. A Zambian native returning home was so complimentary that we Visites would come this far to do service for his country.
     Next, we are leaving for the four hour ride by bus to Ndola where we will be working for the Dominican Sisters in the weeks to come. We are all anxious to divest ourselves of the many medical supplies, sports gear, and toys generously donated to our quest that we packed into our personal luggage at the packing party...which seems so long ago now, but was only Tuesday night.
     If I may speak for the group, I continue to feel incredibly blessed and privileged to be here thanks to the hard work  and support of our group leader Philip Goldman, Katie McMurray his assistant, Angie Ohmes our travel agent, Visitation Convent and School, and of course, all of you!

Ann Mattson for Team Mutomo

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We're Here!

Team Mutomo, after roughly 16 hours in the air, has arrived in Lusaka, Zambia! We were greeted at the airport by Sister Christine and Gertrude at 12:30 am! All is well -goodnight!

Ann Mattson for Team Mutomo

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Packing Party for Team Mutomo

     Students and chaperones representing the 2012 Team Mutomo from the Convent of the Visitation will be participating in a packing party this evening at the school. The purpose of this gathering is to pack the gifts, clothing, sports equipment, books, games, and school supplies being donated to the Dominican Sisters of Ndola, Zambia and their community where the Vis group will be working in the weeks to come. After distributing these items among the 17 members, their luggage will be repacked and weighed to ensure airline weight limitations are met.
     The journey begins in slightly over 24 hours. Pray for tailwinds and clear skies!

Ann Mattson for Team Mutomo

Monday, June 11, 2012

Departure for Zambia is Approaching

On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, a group of ten Convent of the Visitation students and seven chaperones led by Philip Goldman will depart for the African continent. We will be working with Dominican Sisters in the country of Zambia. Please include us in your prayers for both safe travels and for the fulfillment of some of the many needs of these Sisters and their Ndola community.

Ann Mattson for Team Mutomo

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Team Mutomo Heading to Zambia (instead of Kenya)

Team Mutomo Heading to Zambia Several weeks ago, the U.S. Embassy issued a travel warning for Kenya based on information that an attack on hotels and government buildings might be planned for Nairobi, Kenya. Team Mutomo’s work is based in eastern Kenya, and only one night was planned for a layover in Nairobi. Still, while the risk was minimal, it was determined by both the chaperones and the school that students’ safety is paramount and that the trip should be relocated. Through the connections of Vis parent and board member Philip Goldman, who also serves as the lead chaperone for Team Mutomo, Visitation School has secured an opportunity to work with the Dominican Sisters in Ndola, Zambia. In Ndola and surrounding areas, the Sisters support three orphanages, a secondary school, and a health/dental clinic. The ten students and seven chaperones who are going to Zambia will be housed at the convent and the pastoral center. In her introductory email to Team Mutomo, Sr. Margaret, the Regional Superior of the Dominican Sisters in Zambia, said “We believe that the Lord plans what comes our way and there is always a purpose for it. One of our schools, Fatima Girls, is celebrating 60 years of its inception and the jubilee theme is ‘Count your blessings, look back with gratitude, and embrace the future with confidence.’ For us we see your visit as part of our Jubilee blessings!” Team Mutomo counts among its many blessings the generous donors who contributed to the group’s fundraising efforts, which were originally intended solely for the Sisters of Mercy’s work in Mutomo. Through the generosity of several donors, a significant shipment of medical equipment was collected and shipped to Kenya. At this writing, Team Mutomo has determined that it would like to donate half of the fundraising proceeds (net of the costs of the above shipment) to the Sisters of Mercy in Kenya and half to the Dominican Sisters in Zambia. There is a great deal of excitement about the new trip, and the Dominican Sisters have been hard at work preparing for the group’s arrival. As in Mutomo, the group will be addressing the needs of children at very high risk, and the Sisters have a wide range of pressing needs for the group to support. Team Mutomo welcomes your prayers as we embark on this endeavor! Please continue to follow our activities on this blog.