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Footprints of Love

Jan. 29, 2013

What inspires a family to travel to Africa every year to improve the quality of life of
African people? Do parents coax, bribe or motivate their children to join them in serving
indigent people in a foreign country? Perhaps it’s because upon meeting each other at
Eastbrook Church in Glendale, Wisconsin, Julie and Lance both heard the word missionary loud
and clear.

They were in college, Julie at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) Lance at the
University Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM), she studying Surgical Technology, he Geology. Eleven
months later they were married. When their first baby, Jeremiah, turned one and a half years
old, they knew it was time to put the unforgettable word into practice. Off to Somalia went the
family of three. That was 1984. A year later, Jenny was born in Kenya, the country which shares
a part of Africa’s eastern shore on the Indian Ocean, south of Somalia. Julie’s intense labor on
the way to the hospital caused Lance to flag down a van for help. Jenny was the only white baby
in the nursery.

After two years, the young family returned to the U.S., she to earn a Master of Nurse
Practitioner Degree at Concordia University, Mequon, he a Master of Civil Engineering Degree.
While attending school and, establishing relationships with Inner City youth and families, the
African people were ever present in the Parve’s thoughts.

Communication became cheaper, more fluid and easily translated. E-mailing back and
forth to their African friends, the Parves heard their needs. The desire to be there, to help them
acquire skills, nagged at them. But first they set up an organization to meet basic needs,
alleviate poverty, improve health, foster development through new business, even set up a
health team that could deworm a whole slum. It was named Hope Without Borders,
incorporated 2007. The next year, as its officers, Julie and Lance returned to Africa to show
Jenny, now a 22 year old adult, the place of her birth, and Josiah, 13 years old, what could be
done to help one’s neighbor far or near.

Fast forward to March, 2012, Lance Parve is employed by the Wisconsin Department of
Transportation, Julie by Froedert Health Medical Group in Kewaskum and Concordia University.
Lance attributes his yearly trips to the relentless pull of the poor as well as to easier transporting
of sanitation devices. With their three children now in their twenties, and a team of 17,
including three doctors from the Medical College of Wisconsin and 11 Concordia University
Nurse Practitioner students, Julie and Lance flew to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and the
environs of Kibera. They carried with them donated and purchased diagnostic tools and
medicines. (After a “packing “party” in their Fox Point home, the Parve living room and garage
resembled a medical storage unit.)

Kibera is one of the largest and most dangerous slums in Africa, also one of the poorest
in the world. Although aware of possible danger brewing at the time of their arrival, Julie says
that they were never threatened. Now a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Adjunct Faculty
at Concordia University, Julie, the three doctors and Nurse Practitioner students, worked in a
clinic located in a church, where there are no native doctors or nurses on staff. Unlike Somalia,
English is spoken. However, at times translators are needed to clarify a patient’s description of
his physical problem. The clinic has no x-ray or diagnostic tools. Patients used to living and
working with broken limbs tend not to complain. Blood kits are available for HIV, malaria,
typhoid and anemia but are too expensive for patients to afford. Students also worked in the
Makuru slums with two nurses from St. Luke’s Medical Center, one assistant from the Graduate
Nursing Program, a doctor from Tanzania and two photographers.

The American team treated the above mentioned diseases as well as open sores,
pneumonia, ear infections, wounds, ring worm. Julie Parve describes the streets of Kibera as
“Flowing with open sewage, unsanitized water, body waste, flies.” She adds, “The heads of
people waiting in line for treatment were covered with ringworm. The third Parve child, Josiah,
a premed student at UWM, tells of being “Overwhelmed,” on his first trip to Africa and of
wondering on the second trip, “How can I help?” But on the Nairobi mission, he says he knew
instinctively how he could help.

They also saw broken bones and deformities on many who had not been able to pay for
surgery. Kibera is home to approximately one million indigents who live without clean water,
sanitation or access to health care. With no insurance, families chip in, if possible. If major
surgery is performed, the patient is probably middle class and may have put up the title to his
house or car to pay for it.

The home of a poor patient may be a corrugated metal roof over mud dung and stick
wood walls, 12 feet by 12 feet, the first four of which are often used as a store selling candy and
gum. Nurse Practitioner students and Jeremiah Parve, now a Froedtert Hospital Emergency
Room nurse, helped in triage. About 1,070 patients were treated by the suburban Milwaukee
group, whose other goal was to train the locals in hopes of seeing a healthier community upon
return visits.

In the shadow of Africa’s highest mountain peak, Kilimanjaro, 19,321 feet on Kenya’s
southern border with Tanzania, Lance Parve engineers his skills to structure communities in
which inhabitants learn to solve their problems through education, employment, building skills
and micro business enterprises. Sanitation and clean water, his chief interests, were targeted
toward 73% of the Kibera population in need. In 2013 he will bring portable well equipment to
drill for water, safe for drinking.

Parve’s lightweight slab of strong fiberglass and polyurethane is placed over a hole in
the ground for human waste. Improved health, water, sanitation, formation of communities in
a continent far from home is what motivates the givers.

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