It is very late here. I just checked on my sleeping children one more time. The gratitude fills my heart and tears cannot be stopped.
The thing is, on the other side of the world, there are women that I call "mama" that give to little ones with no mamas day in and day out, they are the women that care for the children at the Save the Children Orphanage in eastern DRC. It is a small place nestled at the foot of mountains, green and lush. It is a forgotten place. The mamas truly love the children, they do what they can with what they have. Then the children grow up to 4 or 5 years old, like my Natalie. She is sweet, vulnerable, innocent. Tonight I am grateful that as her mama I don't have to say goodbye to her tomorrow. I don't have to send her off to a foster home that is already over-burdened with children and in the throes of the effects of dire poverty. I don't have to send her to someone that doesn't know her, that doesn't know that she throws the covers off in her sleep and needs me to cover her back up, that doesn't know she has a huge heart that shelters little ones and watches me closely to gauge my emotions, my heart. No, tomorrow, she will stay with me. I will care for her every day that I am given here. And I am grateful for that. Not so very far away, the mamas say goodbye to the children they have raised since infancy (when their own mamas died giving birth to them).
When I first met these mamas and I brought them formula, they didn't trust me to bring more. They were barely keeping the babies alive on watered down formula, from the little they had. But they kept them alive. And they loved these same babies too much to trust a foreigner (what reason did they have to trust me?), so they kept feeding those babies watered down formula. And I kept going, and I kept saying, I WILL bring more. I WILL. God will make a way, He will honor this love you give them. And he has made a way, so many of you have partnered with us and we HAVE brought formula every single month since that day (Feb. 2010). The man that has taken over for me since I left is a trustworthy, hardworking man who loves the children and works hard to make our work transparent, honest, and with excellent accountability. He is independent of the orphanage and it's leadership, so that also helps with accountability. I am very grateful.
But these little ones, the Leblancs....the little ones who have left and been unwelcomed in their homes. They weigh on me tonight. Paying for their school fees seems like such a little thing, but it's not, it's a huge thing! It takes a burden off the foster family. They can send the child to school. And it gives the child a chance. It is small (some schools are $5/month) to us, but huge to them. Did you know that most people in that area are fortunate to make $30/month? How in the world would you feed your family, pay your rent, your taxes, and still send all of your children (probably over 8 in your home) to school? It is impossible.
Would you consider donating to help pay the school fees for these little ones? We would like to raise at least $1200 to help contribute to the school fees for 80 plus children for the next three months (some are in secondary school and some in college, which makes their fees higher). Would you consider passing this blog along or our website along?
These are the little ones I tucked into bed tonight, and I'm grateful that I don't have to say good bye to them tomorrow and watch them go into an unknown future.
I don't think I have a particular gift at fundraising. Pretty much all the money we have raised has come from people who have listened to the stories (or visited the children themselves) of these children, passed their stories on to others, and given. I feel so vulnerable when I write every single post, putting my heart and these children in the public eye. I don't have any gifts to give any of the donors that might like to support Tumaini; things are still in the rough beginning stages on our end and we fumble along and start this small charity. Some amazing folks have come together do this work and I'm excited for the next year. I only can tell their stories of the children I have come to love. The mamas that love them and have kept them alive day after day, and given them love, not knowing what will come in the future. I can honor this that God has placed on my heart every day, speak and not be silent.