Friday, July 4, 2014

“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

 There are 2.5 million orphans in Tanzania and our hearts go out to each and every one of them.  The number orphaned by AIDS is about equal to the number orphaned by malaria, but the cause is immaterial.  There are no governmental agencies, no government sponsored orphanages, no infrastructure to help.  The orphans rely on NGOs (non government organizations), churches, missionaries, and private individuals to help them.  Many do not survive the first two years, so there are some orphanages that take them as infants and only keep them for two years.  After those critical first two years, usually an extended family member or sometimes even a village will take the child and raise him or her.  Of course, being an extra mouth to feed is a burden in a poor country, and the orphans rarely get to go to school or get the same amount of food as the other children.  There are good people doing good jobs with many of these orphans.  Pete O’Neal at UAACC in Arusha started seven years ago by taking twenty children about four years of age.  Pete doesn’t even allow the use of the word “orphan” around them.  He calls them the “Leaders of Tomorrow” and loves and teaches and feeds them.  They get extra lessons at night and see Pete as their grandfather (Babu).  They are among the very lucky ones.  We have a friend in Bweri who takes them from birth to two and came here from Finland over twenty years ago.  At first, she and her husband were funded by a church in Finland but that church decided to stop funding all their humanitarian work in order to spend all their money on big revivals.  This did not stop Lisbeth.  Her husband goes to Sweden for six months a year to work as a bus driver to raise the funds to keep the orphanage going, and they are doing wonderful work.  I got my tribal name “Magesa” because I prayed for a dying baby with that name at that orphanage who is now eight years old and doing quite well.  We feed about sixty-five orphans every day and have taken care of Charlini since she was born.  Her mother was fifteen years old and died five days after Charlini was born.  She sleeps with her grandmother who feeds her and sees that she gets to school.  Charlini spends her time here when not in school and we pay for her schooling, food, clothes, school uniforms, and medical expenses.  She also gets a father figure in John (who loves her and she him) and a grandfather in me and another grandmother in Karen.  There are so many orphans that it is overwhelming and heartbreaking, but we can only do so much.  We do what we can with what we have where we are.  When Charlini comes to the house, the first thing she does is give Karen and I hugs.  When she leaves at the end of the day, she tells each of us, in English, “I love you.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”  Our hearts melt and we thank God that we were here for her.  She was named for me, hence CHARLini which means little Charles.  Of course, Kiswahili doesn’t have the “ch” sound as “sh” so all her name spellings are as Sharlini which is just fine.  She is a joy to us.  To have a small child in our home every day who loves us is a treat.  She also loves the tv shows “Castle” and “Bones.”  She told me the other day, in English, “I like Booth.”  We love Charlini.
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