Friday, April 25, 2014
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ― Marcel Proust
We first met Pete O’Neal in 2003 when he received our first group traveling to Tanzania. We were met at the airport at about 10:00 o’clock at night and brought to his compound known as UAACC (United African Alliance Community Center) where we were met by traditional African dancers with fire brands, drums, and costumes. Since then, almost every group or family members who have come have stayed with Pete before journeying on over to Bunda. Five years ago, he started an orphanage for 16 five and six year olds that grew to 22 that first year. His life changed then and he became a Grandfather (Babu) to those kids. He has no regular income or support and relies on groups of students and others staying with him to provide income. The recession hit him hard and this year almost every group cancelled. We helped him when we could with what we had to spare. He has been very grateful and every time he has tried to thank me, I have brushed him aside because it was a little embarrassing to me. When Karen and John stayed with him just a few days ago, both of them gave him financial support without the other one knowing. Pete had gotten down to where he was almost broke and Karen and John’s gifts allowed him to buy food for his kids, and he was very grateful. This time, I wasn’t there to brush off his thanks, and he gave Karen a grand send off to the U.S. with all the kids singing songs to her, wrapping her in a new kanga, and bringing her flowers and greenery. The picture at right shows some of Pete’s staff wrapping Karen in her new kanga. As you can tell from the picture, Karen was very happy with the gifts and the attention. It is not why we give, but I am glad that Karen got to be the recipient of the Pete’s gratitude. We also have a video in which Pete gets to tell us how much he loves us and how important we are to him. We love Pete and what he is doing and will help him all we can as long as we can. He is one of my best friends and he and those kids deserve every good thing that happens to them. We are praying that more college students in the States will start making those trips again. We ask for your prayers for Pete and his orphans (he doesn’t use that word—he calls them the Leaders of Tomorrow).