8:00-9:25- The Nurse, Miriam, who is taking care of 2 of our twins and now B, came upstairs with me just to do a “checkup” on the girls to make sure their feet were healing well.  But it turned out to be soooo much more than that! She found MORE jiggers and eggs in all of the children and thus began the most drawn out, exhausting hour and a half of my life.

            Now, I witnessed a birth in Ethiopia and I had to hold my friend’s hands down so she wouldn’t push away the nurses who were trying to help. Throughout the time these children were having their feet operated on, I got flashbacks to the birth a few weeks before in Ethiopia and I could not decide which was more difficult. These kids were not given any pain medication and screamed as I, with help from our friends, had to hold their little hands and feet down so they wouldn’t kick the nurse or receive any unintended cuts their feet from the blade that she was using. I did my best to keep them calm, and sang to them as the beads of sweat dripped down their foreheads as they used all of their energy to try to kick us away. It was rough, and I can’t imagine what our neighbors were thinking.  If anyone had come into our room after it was finished, based on the blood splatters on the wall they probably would have assumed a crime  had taken place! All I can say is that

I hope no one had planned on going to bed early that night.

One by one, as the kids finished their “in-hotel” surgery we placed them on the bed for them to rest and/or fall asleep, but there was absolutely none of that. I prepared myself for a lot of crying and complaining (as I would have done if I had just had my feet sliced and prodded) but instead, all I heard was laughter and giggles from the girls who had just been reunited with their friend/sister, Smiley H.

They had a lot of catching up to do and they just talked, laughed, and sang songs for HOURS.

They wanted to get up, but since all they could do was sit with their feet propped up, I popped in a movie and they just loved it! I videoed this reunion of course 😉




Sept 28, 2012

The next morning everyone awoke from the first full night of sleep all of us have gotten since I arrived.

Everyone was in such a good mood, and were laughing all the way down the stairs, waking up all of our neighbors with a much more JOYFUL form of screaming then the ones heard by all last night!


Since then…

Since that dreaded day, every day has become easier and easier.  The prayers and encouragement from everyone has been incredible and I cannot thank you enough. Having Smiley H around has helped the entire dynamic of the group as she has been able to understand me when I try to communicate and has taken it upon herself to translate to the younger kids for me. She has such a calming presence and knows how to get everyone in a good mood



Even more than that, I now realize how much having the jiggers in their feet affect these kids. They are in so much pain and upsets them so much that they take it out on others and misbehave as a way of coping. The day after jiggers come out has ALWAYS been the best day we’ve all had and everyone is all smiles. The cuts in their feet are nothing compared with the pain they had from the bugs buried in their feet. So now, whenever there’s a brawl breaking out, a stubborn eater, or temper tantrum on the rise, I remind myself that it’s the bugs in their feet and I do my best to make the pain a little more bearable.


Being that my original flight was for last Tuesday and I am still here, it’s safe to say that I did in fact decide stay. My dad had to leave, but I remained here to make sure my kiddos did not have to go back to their orphanage prematurely. Fortunately all 5 of my little guys have been bug free for about 5 days now and everything is looking up! Hopefully I can keep the screams of laughter to a minimum at night so that people stop complaining about us and we don’t get kicked out to the curb and have to live homelessly for my last few days!


Thanks for following our journey!! We couldn’t have been able to help these kids without all of the support from all of YOU!!






 12:30-1:30 pm: Lunch time! Never do I wish I could speak Lingala more then I during meals. If only I could make them understand that they will not go hungry and I will get them their food as fast as I can! The kids get so panicked and will ask and re-ask until they get the food exactly the way they like it. One precious child, Triple T, will fight me all throughout lunch and won’t take a bite of food until we have 5 minutes left and the strict lunch lady takes her plate and kicks us out before she has time to eat enough. Any food on their plates which is undesirable to them is thrown on the floor and today they gave me an extra special treat of shattering a 3rd glass since our arrival during an attempt to get my attention to refill their glass with water.


The youngest in the group, YY Baby, fell asleep at the table… so the other 2 had to walk up the stairs on their own. Simple enough, right? Wrong. My temper tantrum girlie was still upset that her stalling tactic at dinner did not work. So she decided to try another trick in the form of a flailing fit at the bottom of the stairs forcing me to wake up YY Baby and make her walk while she flailed all the way up the stairs. If it were any other situation I would have dropped my 2 off and come back for her, but people were getting annoyed with me. So I opted to let her win this one and carry her up the stairs struggling with me the whole way up. This is the form of chaos and fun that we bring to lunch-time!!


1:31 pm: This is my absolute favorite part of the day in when the children begin to fall asleep one by one. But not me!


2:00 pm- Once all of the kids are asleep, my RUSH hour begins. This is my time to get everything done that I can’t do while they’re awake and to make my room look a little bit less like a tornado just came through. I finally got to shower to wash the Vaseline out of my hair from last night b/c YY Baby thought that a nice glob of it in my hair would make me look prettier. On my hands and knees with a bucket of water, I also cleaned up the artwork that YY Baby colored for me on the bathroom floor for me to enjoy later!  And since I was already down on the bathroom floor, I drowned the trail of ants that had found a piece of chicken from someone’s dinner from who KNOWS how long ago.


At this point I remember truly believing that I could not do this for another day and that I had taken on more than I could handle once again. I thought about single mothers everyone and gained a whole new level of respect for anyone who has raised well behaved children. Typical Julie, jumping into a role for which I am not equipped nor prepared to handle.  Typical Julie, trying to handle all of these kids who each require so much of attention at once. I knew there was a need here in the DRC and since I had the schedule, the opportunity, and the desire to go, I was determined to do everything in my power to help. But here I was, trying my hardest and it wasn’t good enough.


2:15 pm- In the middle of my rush hour I sent an SOS message to mom. I told her that I didn’t know what I was doing anymore and could not handle all of these kids with whom I cannot speak, by myself, in a guesthouse with other people’s eardrums to consider, any longer. If we could not get a second helper for me during the day while my dad is gone, I will have to send some of the children back to the orphanage. I love these kids and didn’t want them to witness a gradual downward spiral of their caretaker into clinical insanity. It had truly become completely out of my control.


Ironically, in this same conversation I brought up the fact that if my kids feet were still healing and were not ready to go back by the time my dad’s and my flight left, that I would stay in the DRC longer. If the situation became manageable and I got help, I could absolutely continue to take care of these children as they healed and prepared to go back to their orphanage. And I would miss cleaning makeup marker off from this little one’s face too much.


2:50 My mom had heard my plea loud and clear and scheduled a Skype meeting with a friend of hers here in Congo who may be able to help me take care of the children. We talked for about 30-45 min and I got some reassurance that things would get better. The kids weren’t ready to go back to the orphanage yet and all of the work done on them would be undone if they did. I didn’t want these still-healing kids to go back too soon.


4:15 came WAY too soon, and all of the kids started to wake up. They couldn’t have been awake for more than 15 minutes before I figured out that everyone was naked! Yuuuup. I don’t think anywhere else in the world is nudity more contagious than right here. I did the only logical thing and closed the bathroom door and let them have a shower/water fight. I considered the mess that I would have to clean up later but the only thing that mattered was the laughter of pure joy coming from the other side of the door. Sure enough, 30 minutes later, everyone emerged, squeaky clean and happy


7:00- I headed down to dinner with 3 girls for the LAST time!


7:30- Halfway through dinner my Dad returned with 3 more kids!! And no, fortunately they were not all staying with us. There was G Man who is one of ours and whom my dad usually takes with him to make my life a little bit easier. B Boy was brought by after his surgery and was here just for dinner, and the 3rd was our new addition Smiley H!!! I had been trying to get Smiley H here with us because her sister, Triple T, was already staying with us and I think that it would help the entire dynamic of the whole group to have her here. Being that she was an older girl and pretty independent, I believed that it would end up being more helpful to have her here, especially with her sister. Sure enough, I was right! 4 kids + 1 more child = more order, less chaos, and LOTS of laughter!!



A “Not So Average” Day In My Life

 Hello from Congo! I’m so glad my mom asked me to write a blog post about my time here has been. I’ve been wanting to write about it on my own blog for quite some time, but when I have any free time at all, I usually choose to sleep. And as you can tell it’s taken me over a week just to get this post out! I think you may be able to understand why after reading this.  I’m going to give you an idea of what my life is like with an hour by hour log of one day last week. It was a really important day around here b/c this was the day that everything changed. My day started very differently then it began, and things have been getting better and better ever since!


September 27, 2012

6:30 am: We all woke up after a long night of restlessness. The kids were still in a lot of pain and each woke up several times to cry and pull off their socks to scratch. I woke up to a soaked bed b/c I had twice as many bed wetter’s in my bed than usual (curse that lost bag that had our extra air mattresses in it!). But aside from all of that, the real reason I could not sleep was due to my own nightmares in which I got jiggers myself!!

6:42 am: I gave each child an outfit to put on, only to have them reject them and insist on the pinkier, girlier, more adorable DIRTY clothes from the laundry basket… awesome!




7:00 am and not a minute later, we showed up for breakfast. Being the huge party we are and the excessive amount of time we take to just get settled, we always try to be the first ones at the table so that we can have the full hour to eat and so that we don’t cause any more of a ruckus then we already do!


7:01-8:59 am: is a strategically choreographed stress hour in which my dad and I toast a whole loaf of bread for our whole clan while making sure everyone gets their choice of spread (butter, jelly, nutella, honey) on it. We’re learning important words in whatever version of French-gala that the kids are using that day. Our most popular choices around here are “lipa” for bread, “my” for water (which when they all ask for it at once, they sound A LOT like the flock of seagulls in “Finding Nemo” saying “mine” 😛 ) and “zumba” for bathroom. And yes, every time some needs the bathroom it DOES make me feel the need to bust some of my exercise dance moves.


9 am-11 am: My dad left for the day, taking the easiest child with him, G Man, of COURSE.  This left me with my 3 favorite wild girls, Lil S, YY Baby, and Tripple T. I embrace the fact that there WILL be chaos so I begin my role as damage control.  For example… Sometimes I repack all of my clothes that YY Baby took upon herself try on. I hurry to recap all of the markers that had been left out to dry, and I try to make sure no one is plotting an escape and scatter from our room like Lil S cooked up a couple days before to get out of getting their meds!


            All of that was normal and tolerable until the girls got so wound up in our tiny hotel room that they start breaking things and getting hurt.  Kids refused to put socks and sandals on,  so going outside was out of the question! It was especially difficult b/c my full attention is required in 5 different directions at all times and demanding a lot of energy and patience as I try to understand what the kids are trying to tell me, as I to try to meet their needs. G man tends to compulsively asks for bread all morning (he usually eats 10 slices of bread I might add…). Girls that feel left out throw temper tantrums to get attention, while others choose the silent treatment to punish me for making them follow directions. Being that half of us were running on no sleep, all of these problems just became intensified by my desire to join my face to my pillow and sleep the rest of the day away. I hadn’t left the compound since my arrival to Kinshasa 5 days before, and I was ready to explode. At that point that everyone is exhausted, I have to gain the strength to do the impossible. Bring them to lunch!


Coming tomorrow

Posted: September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

Blogpost “A day in the life of Julie”… tune in tomorrow to laugh and cry with Julie!

Sad Feet, Happy Feet!

Posted: September 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

Precious feet of a 3 year old girl before intervention                                                Same feet after intervention.

A peaceful picture for today!

Posted: September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

The W Questions

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized







and many many more children who have been given relief from their painful condition, thanks to YOU!