Author Archives: Sarah

Finding Her Purpose Through God’s Grace

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Varalakshmi was a happy child with many dreams for her future. However, at age 15 she was diagnosed with an incurable skin disease that forced her to give up her academic studies and shattered her dreams for the future. Without an education, her mother tried to find a suitable marriage for her, but her skin disease made it difficult. Finally, a young man agreed to marry her, but she would learn too late that he harboured a life-changing secret.

Within one year of marriage, Varalakshmi joyfully gave birth to a baby boy, only to discover that they were both infected with HIV. Her husband was aware of his HIV status before marriage but did not reveal it to anyone and now Varalakshmi had to live with the virus and the stigma attached to it.

Her husband died shortly after the birth of their son, leaving Varalakshmi abandoned and devastated. Turned aside by her family and village, she and her son faced the social stigma attached to their HIV status alone. She was refused jobs and rental homes; she lost all hope and her health was deteriorating.

While searching for a way to make her life meaningful, Varalakshmi came in contact with a Chalice staff member, which was the beginning of a new phase of life full of hope and opportunities. Her son became a sponsored child and Varalakshmi committed herself to serve the children and adults in her community living with HIV and AIDS.

Now Varalakshmi is one of our field workers in Nellore. She has tremendous love for the sponsored children and children of parents living with HIV. She is passionate in communicating God’s compassion to them and sacrifices her time and energy to assist those living with HIV, ensuring they are accessing appropriate medical care and taking their medications. Mothers of our sponsored children find strong support in Varalakshmi and they seek her guidance for a healthy life. She also has a good relationship with government officials in the departments related to HIV. She is an effective counselor, offering referral services to those living with the virus and accompanying people to the hospital when needed. She is a fierce protector of many of our sponsored children living with HIV.

Through family counseling, Varalakshmi helps families overcome all obstacles and empowers them to lead their life with hope and courage, to face a society that excludes them. She accompanies children who are under antiretroviral therapy to ensure consistent treatment and prevent a relapse. She remains a bearer of hope and light to the people.

Varalakshmi is proud to have found her passion working for Chalice and continues to remain an instrument for translating God’s compassionate love and life to these disadvantaged children and persons living with HIV.

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Traditional Kenyan Stew

 

Cook with Chalice brings traditional recipes from our sponsor sites around the world to you. Learn authentic recipes rooted in history that you can make in your own home.

On a mission trip, our videographer, Kate, had the opportunity to watch the preparation of a hearty, traditional Kenyan stew. This simple, filling lunch is easy to prepare and is a staple in many Kenyan diets. Kenyan stew is usually made with what’s on hand, so feel free to add some of the optional ingredients if you have them in your pantry.

Traditional Kenyan Stew

1/2 kg beef or goat meat, cut into bite sizes

4 tbsp vegetable oil                 

1 large red onion, diced

3-4 fresh tomatoes, diced

2 cups of soup stock or water

Salt, to taste

1 cup white or brown rice, prepared separately

Greens to saute, prepared separately

Optional:

  • * ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • * 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • *  1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • * 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

Directions  

  1. Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat
  2. Saute meat in oil over medium heat until lightly browned
  3. Dice red onion and fry with meat for 5-7 minutes until tender, stirring frequently
  4. Dice tomatoes and add to the stew, stirring well
  5. Season stew liberally with salt (for less sodium, 1/2 tbsp)
  6. Slowly add soup stock or water
  7. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until desired consistency

Separately:

  • In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water with 1 cup of rice to a boil, reduce heat and cover for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff rice with a fork.
  • In a small frying pan, saute fresh greens (kale, spinach) and other desired vegetables with 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat.

Serve Traditional Kenyan Stew over plain rice and with a side of sauteed greens. Enjoy!

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Ireen achieves her teaching dream

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Ireen from Zambia, Africa, had a difficult childhood. When her father passed away, her mother couldn’t afford to care for her children with her small income as a housekeeper. She sent her four children, including Ireen, to live with their grandfather. He also had trouble providing everything the children needed, and often could not afford their school fees. “I started at Kasisi Primary School when I was five, but had no one to pay for my school fees,” she recalls. Irene wasn’t able to regularly attend school for many years.

When Ireen was 10 years old, she was sponsored by Chalice through our Serenje Site. “I was so blessed to be a part of the Chalice sponsorship program,” she smiles. Sponsorship allowed her to attend school every single day with the proper supplies to learn. She received lots of support to help her succeed. “The Chalice site workers often visited me at home to see me and see how I was doing in school,” she recalls. Ireen worked hard in school, and had excellent marks upon her grade 12 graduation.

Ireen was accepted into college for her outstanding academic achievement. It had always been her dream to become a teacher, so she decided to study childhood education. Ireen graduated from college in 2016, and is now a primary teacher at Kasisi Primary School, the school she first attended when she was a little girl.

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“I’m so happy I’m able to give back to my community and help my family,” Ireen expresses. “I love teaching and would like to see all of the vulnerable children succeed in life. May God bless, guide, and protect all of you helping children through Chalice.”

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Planting the Seeds of Hope

 

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After Ajai’s father passed away in a tragic accident 13 years ago, his mother Sudha struggled to make ends meet. “I was helpless at that time, and did not have the helping hands of relatives,” says Sudha.

In 2015, Ajai was accepted in to the Chalice sponsorship program through our STAR site in India. Thanks to God’s grace, he was chosen by a sponsor shortly after. “Sponsorship eased my burden and allowed my children to be educated to a greater extent,” Sudha explains. Ajai’s now a thriving grade 11 student, and his brother has continued his education in college.

With the help of the circle group that helps manage sponsorship funds, Sudha took out a small, low interest loan. Combined with the extra funds from sponsorship, she was able to start her very own agricultural business. She now leases a half-acre of land to grow jasmine flowers, a highly valued product on the Indian market. She’s able to pick flowers every second day for up to six months a year. Her jasmine garden allows her to provide even more support to her family.

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Sudha is proud to own her own agricultural business, and is overjoyed by her newfound stability. She’s able to support herself and her children without constantly worrying about her income. “I thank Chalice from the bottom of my heart for providing this wonderful opportunity to fulfill my family’s needs, and allowing me to become self-sufficient,” Sudha says. “Thank you for all your support.”

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World Malaria Day

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April 25 is World Malaria Day, an occasion to highlight the ongoing effort to fight and eradicate malaria. Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes. It causes severe flu-like symptoms, and can lead to death if untreated. Some of our sites are in areas where malaria is prevalent.  We work with our sites to prevent malaria by providing mosquito nets and preventative medication. Sponsored children are able to receive crucial medical care for the treatment of this serious disease.

Kate, our Creative Specialist, contracted malaria while working in Ghana, Africa. Read about her experience that inspired her to sponsor a child through Chalice:

“In 2013, I had just turned 22. I had also just graduated from York University, with a degree in Film Production. The ink was barely dry on my diploma, and I found myself in Tamale, Ghana, on an internship. It was supposed to be a communications job, but when I got there, they saw my camera. At the time, I was not a trained photographer, but my Nikon looked professional enough to them, and photographer soon became my primary role.

One organization in our membership group was just launching a new project with some of the poorest households in northern Ghana, which is the most impoverished and underdeveloped region of the country. They had no photos for their marketing materials or reports, so off I went, on the back of a motorbike, to rural hospitals, schools, and homes.

There’s a town way up in the northwest called Wa. Going to Wa is well known to be a harrowing journey. The roads are not just unpaved, but require a Land Cruiser to even think about driving on them. Our trip kept getting delayed, as it took only the smallest detail to derail the whole plan. My anticipation was mounting, and I was thrilled when we finally had a date for it to happen.

Kate in Wa, Ghana

Kate in Wa, Ghana

The morning before we left, I woke up not feeling well. I hoped it was dehydration, so I drank some juice, and set off for the 45 minute walk to Mass. I lurched and staggered up the road, and realized I couldn’t make it. Determined that I was not sick, I rested in bed for the day.

I awoke the next morning faring no better. I started telling my roommates that I was going to the hospital to be tested for malaria, and started asking about where to go. I realized in all my frenzy, I was actually feeling better. Maybe breakfast had kicked in, I reasoned. I felt good enough to go. So I went to Wa, not saying anything to my companions about the scare.

The roads were as atrocious as I’d been promised, but I was otherwise fine. The next day, however, the nausea was back. I later learned this is a common aspect of malaria – symptoms come in waves. Later, I felt well enough to work , only to arrive at the site to be ushered to a chair or the back of a truck to curl into a ball while my colleagues did their jobs.

One of the days, they dropped me off at a guest house run by a Catholic convent. The sisters let me stay for the afternoon, free of charge. I was so grateful for their generosity. Through my stubbornness, I had not just become a burden to my colleagues, but was imposing on these kind and busy Sisters. After about three days of this pattern, my colleagues took me to a doctor for malaria treatment.

When I returned to Canada a few months later, I landed a full time job in my chosen field, film making. I knew I finally had sufficient means to start sponsoring a child through Chalice. My parents had always sponsored at least one child. To me, it was just a matter of course that I would sponsor someday too.

I learned that Chalice has a sponsor site in Wa, as I probably would have observed if I hadn’t been quite so… hindered. Wa’s dry climate and unpredictable rains create frequent water shortages. Sustaining small-scale farms is precarious, and most educated youth move to the prospering southern regions. Retaining teachers is a constant challenge. Hepatitis B is a pervasive issue.

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Those were all reasons to sponsor a child in Wa. But as I was on Chalice’s website, a smile jumped out at me. Her name is Geraldina, and at the time, she was 12 years old. And what did she want to be? A nurse, just like the ones who cared for me when I was vulnerable. 

That is my story of why I sponsored a child. There are thousands, tens of thousands more. Over the years, Chalice staff have heard hundreds of reasons of why sponsors chose that child. Some felt strangely compelled. Some happened to pick up the folder of a child with their own name, or the name of a deceased relative. Some see a child who wants to have their profession when they grow up, or have the same hobbies as their own children. I have sponsored Geraldina for 3 years now, and I hope one day she can be among the ranks of those kind and compassionate nurses.”

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