I'm on my way to Kaziba in about 5 minutes! And I am bringing our girls back with us. I am going with a driver, an interpreter (who is a friend and congolese). Please pray that the girls would not be too terrified and that our journey to and from will be safe. Hard to believe it is real and actually happening!
We received our adoption judgment today!! Finally!! Two little girls are coming home...it still hasn't hit me! They will probably come home Thursday because of logistical reasons! Yooohooo! Praise God!!
I just wanted to write briefly that OFA has given a donation to the orphanage to replace the money that was stolen, as an emergency donation. Some of you have asked more details about the funding. At this point, OFA can accept any donations, they just have to be marked clearly for Kaziba. I will be meeting with the Norwegian missionary in the next two weeks to get a better idea of how quickly their monthly funding will be decreasing. Otherwise, I am happy to email the fundraising letter to anyone who is interested.
Thank you for your encouragement, love for the kids, and your prayers.
Last week, I found out the director of the orphanage had been robbed. No one was hurt but half of the orphanages monthly budge ($1300) had been stolen. He went to the Norwegian missionary to ask what could be done, could she find the funds to replace the money as it was for the water bill, salaries and half of the food for the month. He was told there was no more money, that the money from that month had already not been sufficient and had been borrowed from another account. I knew that the funding of the orphanage was going to be dwindling in the near future, but I didn't realize there were troubles already. He also told me that 3 families in Norway had been providing ALL the school fees for the 85 kids that are under the orphanage care but not living at the orphanage anymore, would not be providing the fees starting this fall.
What I am providing right now, through money we have raised and through OFA is helping with 4 additional mamas, powdered milk and formula. Until 3 months ago these were "luxury" items and not included in the monthly budget. This is why so many of the kids were in the shape they were in when I first came to the orphanage. And why there have been so many drastic improvements.
I admit I am afraid. I feel like we were brought to this orphanage at this time for this reason. But, I feel very overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. I have a fundraising letter I have started and is in a rough draft. The thing is I know these children, I know their faces and (most) of their names. They know me. I love them. This is one of only a few orphanages in this area of Congo. They receive children from ALL over. Since I started coming in the end of February they have received 6 new infants! And when I came they had 3 small containers of formula to use for 15 children PER MONTH. One can (at $7/can) should feed one infant every three days!!! Again, it is not surprising the children looked like they did when I first came and why some are still struggling from the long term effects of extreme malnutrition. What is surprising is that they are still alive!
So, if anyone following along, feels led to help me-whether through advice, donation, or fundraising (whether it is talking to friends, family, or your church) let me know. I have a plan of sorts involving ongoing needs, short term immediate needs, long term needs and sponsorship fees for the children age 5 and over. This is a lot. But God brought me there for this reason I strongly believe. I was reading the verse in the end of John 16 the other day and I do want to "Take heart!"
Okay, Natalie is covering all four of the kids (including their hair) with burt's bag balm...maybe I should go!!!!
And, maybe, post bag balm, I will write a post on my emotional rollar coaster of waaaaiiitttting for our adoption decree!
Megan is a nurse and was here for 3 months working in clinics with a mission organization. She came with me twice, and on this visit she did a training on basic medical education and on nutrition. She also stayed with us for over a month to help us at home with the kids! We will miss her when she returns to the states on Monday.
Cammie with Le blanc
Cammie is my cousin from Santa Rosa (where I was born :). She came out with my sister in law, Shauna, for a 2 week trip. She did a training on dental care and handed out toothbrushes she had brought for the kids. She leaves on Monday too! Sad day!!d
Shauna with Chereba
Shauna is married to one of my younger brothers, Joel. They live in San Diego right now. She left Joel and her two kids (3 and 5) home for 10 days and came out with Cammie as a mission trip. The money she raised helped to fund the building of the first 2/3 of the wall that is very needed around the orphanage. She also brought cloth diapers, a bumbo seat, crib mirror toys, other toys, and some other items for the orphanage. She did a training on games and activities to do with the older kids. I was sad to say goodbye to her this week.
We were unexpectedly invited to an engagement party while we were visiting the orphanage. It was for the daughter of the king! We have become friends with the mwamikazi as a part of our work in the area. Mwamikazi means "working king". She is the "working" king, because her husband, the mwami (king), died a few years ago and her son is not quite old enough to be the king yet. This is the traditional leader in the area and is actually very powerful. She is very supportive of us helping at the orphanage, and it was fun to get invited to this party. We were in the front row, so we all did our best to not drop our plates or trip, or dump our drinks on the mwami's family.
Everyone waiting to get in to the party.
Including the village kids trying to get a sneak peak of the party.
Mwamikazi Pascaline, she is really the person who enabled us to start working in the area at the orphanage and has been continuing to support and help our work there.
The kids looked good this visit, aside from many having colds. None of the children were in the hospital, and they all looked like they have been gaining weight. Some still look malnourished and most are very small for their age (this is stunting, chronic malnutrition affects height). I really enjoyed being able to stay overnight this time, I didn't feel rushed and was able to spend more time with the kids. I also saw more of their routine for a whole day. The kids get porridge in the morning made with sourgum, soya and corn flour in the mornings, then warm milk (twice a day), they get lunch and dinner. This consists of whatever they have that month (which depends on their budget). We have been bringing formula and powdered milk up to the orphanage for 3 months now, so this has freed up some of the money available for food. They will eat food like rice, beans, fou fou (which is a thick paste that is eaten with meat, beans, or cabbage in tomato sauce), and occasionally fish or beef is they can afford it. There are vegetables in the sauces usually. There is a lack of fruit. Depending on the month and the amount of money they will sometimes only eat rice plain, or the fou fou alone. They nap after lunch. The babies are now fed more often, and I can see that many are gaining weight and strength. Some of the children are still grossly delayed given how long they have not had the proper nutrition.
They are sweet playful kids, though some still don't interact a lot but appear to be "learning" how to play. Little Chito is one of those learning! She loved the new crib toys we brought. I still couldn't get any smiles out of this little ones, but she was much more interactive and playful than when I first met her. When I first met her she was one of the babies who was left in her crib all the time, she shuddered when I touched her and just rolled her head back and forth in her crib all day. I don't think I will every forget the despair and hopelessness I saw in her eyes that day. She is sitting now, and I watched her interact with one of the older toddlers sharing her toy. That was good to see. It is good to see her sitting too, it means a lot less time in the crib. It is all tied together really. Better nutrition equals more strength equals the ability to sit equals more energy equals the ability to sit equals less time in the crib equals more stimulation, touch, and interaction equals increased development and felt love equals happier and healthier baby (which also gives the caregivers something and makes it a more reciprocal relationship, and the reality is that the sicklier weaker babies/toddlers are held the least). Really, one can start in any area I suppose, and I think that giving the kids food really speeds it all up. But it is so much more than only food. I think it starts the cycle, but without love, touch and affection, the children do not thrive. With love and affection (and food), what a difference in these children's lives!
Chito, the first day I met her.
Chito, 18 months old.
Bertin is 20 months old and just started walking. He was so proud of himself!
I had to start my Kaziba postings with a picture of this sweet guy! My family who was visiting this week from the states brought out a bumbo seat (which he loved!) and some toys to hang in the cribs. It was SO fun to put these in and watch how much he loved waving to himself in the mirror. Did my heart good! They also raised money which, together with some other money we raised, will enable us to fund the building of a much need wall around the orphanage!
We have some good friends here who work with street boys. There are many reasons that the boys are on the streets here. Some are orphans, but most have some family that they have left behind. Some are kicked out of their homes for misbehavior, some leave on their own, some are rejected by their fathers' new wives, some are beaten and run away. My friends work with the boys for 6 months in a day program. They do education, job skill training, but most importantly they get them off the streets. The boys agree to come. The goal of their program is reunification with the families and back in school at the end of the 6 months. They do a lot of work with the families and offer micro loans when the family reunites with the boys. They have had a lot of success with this approach and do it on a small scale. What is sad to me, is the boys who start and drop out because they can't stop the behaviors that they participate in on the streets. Recently she to stop working with a couple boys because they wouldn't (couldn't) stop sniffing glue. I witnessed this first hand when I was out with a friend a few weeks ago. A young boy, probably 12 years old (one of the boys that left the program) came to us and talked with us for some time in a monotone voice with blood shot eyes that just stared at us. He didn't make a lot of sense and said the same things over and over again. The entire time he kept sniffing from the bottle that he had up his arm hidden by his long sleeve shirt. He made my heart ache.
Two sweet girls! They are getting big. Mia still cried a lot when I held her, but I did get some time with her when she wasn't crying. We stayed overnight for the first time at a guest house next to the orphanage. That was wonderful, I got a lot more time with the girls and with all the kiddos at the orphanage. I travelled with my sister in law and cousin who are out here for a visit.