Saturday, December 21, 2013

“We, who have so much, need to reach out to the orphans of this world and show them the care, hope, and love they deserve.” ― Kim De Blecourt

Around this time, seven years ago, Juliana (our house worker) came to us with tears in her eyes and said her fifteen-year-old daughter was in the hospital after having just given birth.  Juliana said she didn’t even know her daughter, Graci, had been pregnant, but she was in serious condition.  We rushed to the hospital to be shocked by what we saw.  Graci was swollen beyond all resemblance to a teenaged girl.  She had very high blood pressure among other things.  The baby was fine—and a beautiful little girl.  I anointed Graci because I knew she didn’t have long.  She only lived five days after giving birth.  The father, also a young boy, had fled to Rwanda never to be seen again.  We buried Graci and took the baby with her grandmother, Juliana to the Catholic church to be blessed and christened on Christmas day.  She was named Charlini after me, Charles.  Of course the spelling changes depending on who is writing it, but Charlini is how it’s written on the birth certificate.  We tried to talk the grandmother into letting a friend of ours, who has an orphanage for babies up to two years old take care of Charlini.  Juliana would hear none of it.  She would raise the baby, so we have had kind of joint ownership of Charlini ever since.  She would spend her days here and her nights with Juliana until she started school. For the first two years, we paid for the special milk formula she needed since there was no one to nurse her (about $35 a month but too expensive for Juliana).  The picture at right was taken three years ago when she was four.  She has been in school since she was four and loves it (we will pay for her education as long as we can).  She has had to struggle from time to time and Karen has tutored all she could.  We pay for her education at the Catholic school near here (where Shaban’s Muslim son, Hemedi, also attends).  She is here every day and we make sure she has good clothes, shoes, has proper medical treatment when she needs it, and knows that she is loved.  We hug every day when she arrives after school and every night when she leaves, she has to find each one of us to say, “Bye Babu or Bibi or John, I love you and I will see you tomorrow.”  She says this in English.  It melts our hearts.  Maybe one day, when we are in our heavenly home, we will know why we were called to Tanzania.  Maybe it was so we could be here for Charlini.  There are a lot of worse reasons.

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