Wednesday, September 14, 2011

the smallest of heroes

I have been very humbled this past month by the number of people who have partnered with us to care for the children of the Save the Children orphanage, with both sponsorships and one time gifts.  Embarking on this journey about a year ago (and more formally about 6 months ago), was a very big leap of faith for me on so many different levels.  But one I had to do, and I trusted that God would provide if I took the step of faith.  Which He has abundantly, not only in provisions, but in the other members of Tumaini who are doing this with me (and who I couldn't do it without).  Please check out the contact section of our website to meet them!

Shauna, the finance manager for Tumaini

I've felt so privileged to work with the Congolese women and men at the orphanage who work tirelessly with little to do so much.  I have been honored to share in their joy as the little ones gained weight and conquered milestones, which are so commonplace here, but are extraordinary there given the circumstances of the past.  I also now am inspired and encouraged by those that have come alongside us and made these changes possible.  Lives of little children have changed for the better because of the work and dedication of so many (because of YOU!).  Prayer, encouraging words, dedication to sharing the message, giving resources and time, loving, visiting, donating money to buy formula, milk, and more mamas to love on the babies and children, raising awareness, sharing life-giving trainings, playing with the children, building walls, rebuilding the kitchen, helping children go to school, building beds, repainting cribs, bringing bumbo seats and crib toys, big kids toys, toothbrushes, cloth diapers, soccer balls, and the list goes on and on--all given in a spirit of love and hope for the small children of Kaziba, that they would thrive instead of living in neglect and starvation.

One of the lovely mamas, holding baby Zawadi

Cammie, sponsor and amazing promoter, with baby Gloire

I wish I could take everyone of you with me on the long, beautiful, bumpy drive to the orphanage.  I would take you through the crowded areas of the city, full of people, out to the hillside decorated with rolling hills full of banana trees and casava.  Then we would head higher and drive along the escarpment, a narrow road cut out of the rocky mountainside.  We would look behind us and wonder at the beauty of this place, so hidden and full of sorrow and also joy.  We would amaze at the green mountains and not wonder that the Norwegians had first chosen this as their missionary grounds so long ago as it probably felt so much like home.  We would drive through small villages and finally, three hours later,  we would come to the mission hospital nestled in the hills and we would drive behind it.  We would go to the small building that houses the orphanage. The kids would spy our white land cruiser and they would come running yelling our names and yelling "visitor" in swahili.  They would know to expect our bananas and cookies.  They would sit politely on their grass mats, quietly waiting for their banana.  The bananas dwarfing their little hands.

Beautiful Sabina

The drive to the orphanage.  

Some would climb up onto your laps immediately vying for your attention, others would stand quietly nearby.  Sifa would hang on your hand, Leblanc would beg to be held and thrown into the air.  Chito would come wandering up and hold out her arms and tears would come to your eyes, because you would know her story.  Or Moise's story of strength and perseverance.  You would know that you are looking at giants, at true heros, that have already faced so much in their little lives yet still hope, still reach out despite it all.  You would know that you have been a part of helping them believe again.  That their legs are strong and that they are walking because you too cared for them and helped the mamas feed them and hold them by providing resources to make it possible.  And when Chantal comes walking up to you, you will know that part of your heart will be left behind here too, as has mine.  And you might wonder "what if?," like I do so often, yet you won't linger there for long.  No, it would be too hard to think of the past, there are children wanting to play, babies wanting to be held and loved on.  Time to look forward to the future.

Safari with a papa, during a training.  

Babies and their beds.  

There are currently 36 children living at the orphanage.  We have full sponsorship for 26 of them!  That is amazing!  It has all been through word of mouth, from old friends and new.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you for sharing the story of these children and trusting us to help take care of them.

We are still looking for 9 full sponsors (or 18 partial sponsors), and one more partial sponsor.  The babies are the ones that are waiting for sponsors.  I will be getting new pictures and updates on them in a week, so now is a great time to sponsor one of the littlest ones.

As a reminder, a partial sponsorship is $25/month, a full sponsorship is $50/month.  This covers formula for the babies (a full month of formula for a baby costs the orphanage $70/month), powdered milk for the older children, and 7 more women to care for the children (in the past ratios have been 2 to 35 babies, now it is 4-5 to 36 children).   The sponsorship also helps cover the part time salary of the Tumaini manager on the ground in DRC.

Would you consider sponsoring a baby?  Or would you help us by spreading the word?  Would you consider sharing about Tumaini?  Feel free to repost a link to my blog or to our website.   Thank you.

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