Dedicated to Neema

You may not know but Michael and I have four children and sometimes you just have to tell someone how proud you are of your kids, don’t you?  Rob, our oldest son was a youth minister for 19 years and now owns his own business in Waco. Rob was born in Tanzania and when we went back to Africa in 2008 for a visit he put the dream in our hearts to start Neema Village. After hearing the stories of orphans in Africa, he said, “Mom you have to do something, when you retire you and dad can help.” He never let me forget so after a lot of research, we opened Neema in 2012. Rob is on the Neema board and handles the banking and wiring money for Neema when Sarah is gone. He is fun loving, hard working, a good dad with a beautiful voice and a bit of a cut up as you can see from the picture below.

Rob’s wife Becky, above, who works at Baylor University, is the smartest person I know in actuary and math and lots of other good things as well. She is solid in her faith, dedicated to her family and keeps Rob pretty steady. Becky is on the finance committee for the Neema Board.

Our daughter Bekah lives at Neema right there in the baby home, 24/7. She is an EMT and handles the medical emergencies and daily meds for the babies. She is pictured below with Carolyn Sue, one of our abandoned babies who has since been adopted. Sue had chicken pox as did about thirty of the other babies at the same time! Not our favorite week at Neema!

The nannies ring a bell located at the bottom of the stairs when a baby is sick. Bekah has committed her life to these babies, going downstairs from her bedroom at any hour of the night and at 7am in the mornings to check on what happened during the night, who vomited, who had fever, etc. She does the medical charts, takes babies to their hospital appointments, and picks up the abandoned babies from the hospital. She works closely with our pediatrician in Arusha and is in almost daily contact with him. As a board representative living at the baby home Bekah is our liaison between the board and the staff. She was born at the Chimala Mission hospital in Southern Tanzania.

Bekah at church with Maria is pictured above.

In case you didn’t know the Neema Board is made up of 14 highly respected people; a Scott and White medical doctor, a CPA, an attorney, 3 ordained ministers, a PHD, a nurse, an insurance agent and an engineer. There are four board members with doctorate degrees. They are hard working, Christ centered and dedicated to the vision of Neema Village. We cannot thank them enough for their hard work.

Our youngest son, Matt and his wife promote Neema every where they go, telling folks wherever they are about the babies. They are our prayer warriors and best supporters of Neema. Prayer is the best thing you can do for us!

Three of our grandchildren will be spending time this summer at Neema. Abby and Hayley Fortson and Tanner White from Montana.

Finally, Kim White, our daughter from Montana, is on the Neema Board and our educational board. Pictured below, Kim has been to Neema three times. She leads large groups of volunteers, organizing their trip, their travels, the work schedules, the projects, the safaris, etc.

We are so proud of the work she does, not only leading groups to Neema but as the person who keeps you informed about your sponsored baby. We added her to the board so she could have access to the donor list of emails. We don’t give that list out to anyone but board members. When you receive a quarterly update about your baby, Kim is the one who sends that to you. It is a huge job since we have now cared for over 130 babies!!

When Kim comes to Neema she doesn’t just come to hold babies. She brings lots of volunteers from Montana to get the Neema experience and hopefully become sponsors after they return home. Her group this year from Montana brought 24 suitcases of things for the babies and children!

 Her group taught a bible class in the village, bubbles included

they taught seven women how to do a mani pedi business, a women’s small business project where seven African women got to have their feet pampered by Montana women, only one of whom actually knew what she was doing! Thanks Debbie Chai in the picture below you were awesome!

One of Kim’s group brought everything to set up women in a massage business as part of the women’s program.

They bought and developed the play baskets program to teach the children about educational toys, (pictured below)

they built and painted a tire dinosaur project for the children to climb.

They set up reading book baskets in each of the big kids bedrooms, they cleaned out storage rooms and worked in the office. Cynthia, who runs a large homeschool coop in Billings worked in the office on her trip. She got to take a safari out to one of the Maasai villages on a break from the office. Cindy is the one in the yellow top.

 Kim’s group picked up two abandoned babies from the hospital during their stay at Neema. That is Rachel our granddaughter, Kim our daughter and Emily from Montana pictured below with abandoned baby Bethany.

Kim’s group planned and took the big kids on Friday field trips to the snake farm and different playgrounds in Arusha. They planned and paid for the children to ride camels, well those that would actually stay on the camels! That is Louise trying to keep Bakari on the camel.

They visited the poorer areas of Arusha and passed out soccer balls and candy, they taught bible lessons to the nannies and taught life skills to the children about how to cook and clean up and share your toys.

They did all this while, loving, holding, feeding and hauling around in the wagon the beautiful babies of Neema.

Are you tired now? I’m a little breathless myself!

They were busy every day. We love telling our volunteers you will get out of this experience just exactly what you put into it. Our daughter Kim certainly knows how to put in a lot of love!  Below is part of the Montana women with Ashley Berlin from Casper, Wyoming. They were on their way to church with the big kids, all of whom we have had at Neema since they were little babies.

 From its earliest beginnings our four children and their spouses have been totally vested in Neema Village.

Thanks for staying with me to the end of this long epistle. I will leave you with a blessing and a challenge.

May your heart be filled with a passion to change someone else’s life so they can change their world and,

May your life be a Praise to God whatever you do.

Dorris and Michael, Founders and Executive Directors of Neema Village

Abbie and Ceb at Neema Village

We have a lot of volunteers at Neema. In fact we have 83 on our list coming in the next few months!  Ourvolunteers stay in the Pape house on campus and hold babies. They work hard loving the babies, teaching the big kids, helping Safina in the kitchen, working in the yard, organizing the store room, helping in the school and anything else they can do. Then they get time off to go to the game parks, or the Moshi tour and swimming at hot springs. Generally they have a blast. Abbie and Cebastien from Australia came this year and wrote their impressions of Neema Village. I thought I would share their words with you.

Volunteer Cebastien Isherwood from Australia

Volunteered Jan. 12 – 27, 2017

Ceb with Patricia above, writes:

“Neema Village truly is indescribable, it must be observed by the naked eye in order to gain a complete understanding of what occurs here. There are numerous reasons why this place is breath taking. At first the babies here at Neema stood out as the most amazing, however, as I settled in and became more familiar with the routine.

I realized that the workers, the directors, the sponsors, the medical specialist, the facilities, the surrounding villages and the people of Tanzania are all equally amazing. Without them Neema (Grace) would not exist. With that being said, I must admit the most instrumental person, sustaining an efficacious effect on Neema, is Dorris. Her life experience has helped shape this home into a little slice of heaven for these little miracles. Thank you for accommodating me, you have changed my life. Love, Ceb.”

Ceb and Abbie are on the back row of the volunteer group below with Julius on the right.

Dr. Abbie Jones-Stacpoole from Australia

Volunteered Jan 12 – 27, 2017

Abbie, with Mo, Little Zawadi and Patricia, writes:

“No words can describe the first time I drove through the gates of Neema Village drained of energy from the long flight. I saw cheerful babies staring through the windows and smiling nannies greeting us with open arms. I fell in love the first time I met the Neema babies. The children of Neema are raised by their nannies to love and accept everyone, they are full of happiness and laughter with their smiles being infectious to all those they meet.

“I feel so blessed to be surrounded by the employees of Neema during our stay. I have never met such hardworking, compassionate people that put all others before themselves. A special mention to Safina our volunteer house cook, she spent her days preparing beautiful meals for us five days a week. Her presence in the volunteer house brought so much laughter and joy. Thank You Safina! I love you and will miss you dearly.

Thank You to Julius and Emmanuel for driving us around town, dedicating your time to wait for us while we bartered at the Maasai market and overall being such great company.”

Emmanuel with Babu Michael in the picture below. Julius is in the picture at the top with the volunteers.

“The beautiful nannies, each and every single one of you are so special, it is evident in the love you share with the children. Thank you for allowing us to spend hours playing with the children and taking millions of photos. I will miss your beautiful singing.”

“To Dorris, Michael and Bekah! You have dedicated your lives to the babies of Neema. This village and home of miracles you have created is just so special, the children absolutely adore you and I can see why. You are so full of love and kindness while giving these children the opportunity to live a safe life. You have provided them with healthy meals, schooling, love and friendship and so much more! The three of you will forever be an inspiration to me.”

Traci and Janiece from Abilene with Dorris and Bekah and Linda coming around in the back ground in the picture above.

“Every member of Neema makes such a difference to this world in their own way. The opportunities we were given while at Neema like collecting an eight-day old baby from the hospital one day and returning one of the children back to his Maasai village and his home over three hours away! It was amazing and I will never forget that.

Neema is full of people giving and caring for others, their plans for the future and the mothering center will make such a difference to this world. I am already planning my next trip to Neema!

Thank you for giving me the experience of a lifetime!

Love Abbie”

Neema Village Says Goodbye

We are sorry to have to announce that Matt and Kelly Erdman and the girls are leaving Neema Village. After three years at Neema they will be going on to bigger and better things. Many changes have happened while they were at Neema and we are grateful for their time and their part in this precious ministry of saving abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies in Africa. We wish them all the best in their new adventures.

But the work at Neema goes on. Two new babies have come to us this month.

Ezekiel in the picture above was born on April 4, and is an abandoned baby. We will be watching for his Forever Family. Neema has now had 28 adoptions! Maybe Ezekiel will be number 29.

Editha, pictured below, came to Neema on Thursday, she is 14 months old and weighs only 9 lbs or 4.2 kg. Kelly Mollel says she looks like a small 3 month old. Editha was born with a cleft palette which has been repaired but she still has some other medical issues.

With good Neema love and care we are praying she will be healthy and happy in just a short time.

Kelly Mollel, her husband and baby are leaving today for Nairobi and heart surgery for Abigail. The hospital bill was paid from the Neema Village Medical Fund so Thank You to all of you who contributed to that fund so Abigail can live. Please be praying for the success of that surgery.

 As we say goodbye to Matt and Kelly and wish success for Abigail’s surgery we leave you all with a Blessing.

“The Lord Bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
And be gracious unto you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24

Michael and Dorris Fortson, Executive Directors, Founders of Neema

Returning Home

There is just something special about returning home, isn’t there. Unless of course you never really lived there! Then it could be a bit scary. That is Riziki’s story. Because it has been our goal since the beginning of Neema Village that no baby belongs in an orphanage, I love to tell the stories of our thirty babies who have been able to return home to their villages and extended family.

 

Riziki came to us when she was just ten hours old. Her mother had died during the birth and the father who was very poor had no way to buy formula nor a home to keep the new baby. Michael went out to the village to pick up the baby and we brought her back to Neema. It was sad as all the villagers were wailing and crying.

In the picture below, Riziki baby, just 10 hours old, gets her first bath from nanny Grace.

After her bath she had her first bottle. The villagers do occasionally have milk cows but raw cows milk can kill a baby. Formula is very expensive and

clean water, sterilizing procedures and medical care are not available out in most of the villages. Babies who lose their mothers in Africa have only a one in ten chance of survival. So Neema was called to step in.

 We all fell in love with this sweet baby who rarely cried and grew into a beautiful and a bit shy little girl.

A happy day came when Riziki’s dad came to tell us he had come into some money and would be taking Riziki home. He now has a new home, a new wife, a small store and even a nice car. So the happy/sad day came when Riziki got to return home. She was a bit scared and we are always a bit apprehensive when our babes return home. We were looking for a time to go out to the village to check on her in her new home. The drive was lush and green with banana trees along the road, just what you would think of Africa.

Four of our little girls were all best friends when they lived together at Neema and Malikia had been asking to go see Riziki. Which is funny since Malikia is blind but nevertheless she wanted to see Riziki! Below is a picture of the girls as we got out of the car and they saw Riziki for the first time. The couldn’t stop hugging her.

She showed us her new baby calf and then we took the long walk up to her home. It was on a hill and we walked past their corn field and banana groves on the sides of the path. There is a tall concrete wall around their new home and courtyard and a home for the grandmother inside the compound as well. It was a bit like a fortress on the hill! You can just see the house at the top of the hill in picture below.

We had brought suckers so everyone had a good time making their tongues red. We also brought clothes and books for her. But she was most happy just seeing her little friends from Neema.

Th neighbors all had to come stand outside and look at the funny Wazungu. They love to point and giggle at us. Fortunately we had enough suckers for everyone. Riziki was one of Ashley Berlin’s special babies so she got to go on the trip with us. Ashley is one of our great volunteers from Casper, Wyoming.

On the walk back to the car past the corn field, I asked the grandmother if we could pick some ears o corn for the children back at home. She said it wasn’t ready yet because they always wait until the corn is hard kernels and can be ground into Ugali flour. I wanted our children to try corn on the cob so I checked an ear and knew the corn was perfect for boiling and eating with butter. The girls got to pick enough corn for every one back home. It is always a learning experience when children get to see where their food actually comes from.

All in all it was a pretty good day. One of our babies who had returned home was happy and that is always a good day for us. 

May your home always be your safe place where you are loved no matter what.

Love and Blessings
Michael an Dorris

5k Race Cancelled

Neema Village

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow can stop us but obviously the sewer can! The 5K Race to raise money for formula for the Neema babies is cancelled. Bummer! First the city of Temple closed our usual site for the race, Pepper Creek Trail, where we have had the last three races. Then this week we got the call that Lions Park was closed due to so much rain and sewer problems. Poli Sana (so sorry). We know you were looking forward to this fun race. We will be looking at fall dates now since Michael and I will be in Africa this summer. We will also be working to get your sign up money back to you as soon as possible.

But our babies still need formula! So please check out the web site www.neemavillage.org and help us buy formula for this year. Thanks a bunch. Love you,
Dorris and Michael

The Video Says It All

I love sharing stories of Malikia and Julius. Be watching for our newest book soon to be out titled “Two is Better Than One”, published by Guardian Angel Publishing. It is our fourth book of the babies stories to be published and all proceeds are paid to Neema Village. Below is a sample of one of the pages from Malikia’s book, drawn by a local Tanzanian artist.

Neema Village

If you have been following the Neema story you know that Malikia (Molly-kee-uh) and her twin brother, Julius, just a few weeks old, were brought to Neema late one night by their grandmother.

Neema Village

Their mother had just died out in the Maasai village. Tiny, wrinkled and desperately searching for help, the old grandmother had taken the babies to another large orphanage in Arusha. But they didn’t take babies so they packed all three in their car and brought them to Neema. After we had checked the babies in, I watched the grandmother walk out alone that night and I remember hurting for the hopelessness of this woman in Africa. She had just lost her daughter and now had given her grandchildren to perfect strangers. As she turned to go back home alone to her empty, mud hut in the village I thought, God help us love her babies well for her.

Neema Village

But Grandmother did not tell us one of the babies had a problem and we heard a knock on our door in the middle of the night with nannies telling us there was something wrong with this baby.

Blind from birth, Mali has wiggled her way into all our hearts and has not let being blind stop her for one second. She is smart, funny, loving and can sing any song in the book which leads to the point of this story.

Mali’s buddy, Linda Johnson, pictured below, found a piano teacher, by the Grace of God, in Austin who lives in Arusha and after we contracted with her to teach, Sophia has been coming every week to teach piano and choir at Neema. She was teaching Mali a song one day titled “I can see, I can see,” and Maxine captured this amazing event on video. It’s about the blind man who came to Jesus.

Neema Village

“What is happening, why so much noise?” the blind man asked.
“It’s Jesus passing by” they said.
“I can see, I can see,” he cried for joy
“I can see, Praise the Lord, I can see!”

They were learning this song when Sophia looked at Malikia and said, “Mali, you know that someday you will be able to see.”

Now watch the video and see the same joy the blind man had as Malikia sings this song at the top of her lungs and jumps for joy in her chair. Joycie is singing with her and doing the hand motions to the song. If this doesn’t grab your heart you may be comatose!

Neema Village

The Race is On! Our 4th annual Formula Fund Run for Neema is scheduled for April 29 at Lions Park in Temple. Come run and help us buy formula for the babies.

Neema Village

Packet pick up and late registration starts at 7:30 and the race starts at 8:30 am. Lions Park is a new venue for us, so come to 4320 Lions Park Dr in Temple, just off Hickory. All the proceeds go to Neema Village. Remember no one takes a salary from Neema donations except our 44 Tanzanian employees. We like that.

At the 5K run we will have some items to auction off that were bought in the market in Arusha. Below is a picture of one painting that sold in a Nacogdoches auction for $350. Watch for the pictures for this sale on my Facebook page and you can bid there as well as at the 5K.

Neema Village

Now if you live in Australia or somewhere and you cannot make the race or if you just really want to spend the day in your easy chair then you can still run the race!

It’s a Virtual Race too! So sign up and stay home. We will send your t-shirt to you if you send me your size and address to dorris.fortson@yahoo.com.

You can register online at https://runsignup.com/NeemaHouse5K.

We are not sure who is going to win the virtual race but you are all winners in my book!

Neema Village

Meet Neema’s newest baby, Ezekiel. He was born on April 4, 2017 and left abandoned at the hospital. He is precious and weighs almost six lbs.

Come run the race with us and help us buy Ezekiel’s formula.

We also supply formula to off campus babies when possible. These two young Maasai girls are trying to learn how to fix bottles using the formula that we take out to the villages.

Neema Village

Formula is expensive anywhere but especially so to people who have so little of this world’s resources. Many Maasai people do not have money, ever. The average Tanzanian makes a hundred dollars a month so $15 per can of formula is way out of their price range.

You can help buy their formula by signing up for the 5K.

May you be blessed for sharing.

2 Cor 9:8God is able to make all Grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.

All Grace to You,
Michael and Dorris

Left on the Street

The busy street in front of the mosque was crowded and loud, people coming and going to work, dirty faced children playing with homemade toys in the garbage strewn streets, banana carts being pushed through the mud, mangy street dogs sniffing by, people calling to one another and no one noticed the little one sitting alone by the door. She was patient for a while, then hungry, then anxious, then scared. Dark eyes that filled her face searched the crowd. This was probably not her first time to be left alone. Someone always came. But not this time.

No one knows how long she sat there, maybe an hour or two, maybe all day, dirty diaper, no food, no milk, no water.

It gets me just there behind my heart and stomach. My chest feels a deep anxiousness. I cry for them. You see my sisters and I lived this life here, right here in America the land of plenty, the land where a puppy found in the trash can is heart wrenching national news and people get organized to stop it. But a baby abandoned in a pit latrine, too much, we don’t want to hear it. Let’s talk puppies.

Neema Village

Many of our babies at Neema were abandoned with grandmothers who are too old to care for them.  So were my 3 sisters and I. Four little girls abandoned with an old grandmother, its not unusual anywhere on this fallen planet. You see abandoned babies is not an African problem. It is a heart problem. Real poverty in a life and poverty of the heart happens everywhere.

Neema’s newest baby was left by the door of a mosque. The police were called and came to pick up the baby. That is where the second baby’s story comes in. “There’s another one,” somone said. A baby boy left at the open air market. So the police pick up both babies, take them to the local government hospital who checks them out and then calls Neema Village to come pick them up.

Estimated to be about 2 months old, the nannies named the little boy, Brim. Hi Brim, we love you little one.

Neema Village

The nannies got to name Jade too. She is beautiful and is estimated to be about a year old. Precious smile little one. Grandmommy and Papa will be there soon to hold you.

Neema Village

Bless you for caring about these babies at Neema Village in Tanzania, East Africa! You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t care. Please pray for these babies in our care at Neema.  Pray that they will soon find their forever family and never be abandoned again.

We cannot say thank you enough for your support of this precious ministry.

Love,
Michael and Dorris Fortson

Dear Volunteers (April 2017)

Thank you for volunteering at Neema!

Michael and I hope you had a blast while you were volunteering at Neema Village this year! I know we always do! Our babies and staff love volunteers who come to hold babies and help around the houses. They ask about you after you leave and we miss you!

May God Bless you for giving of your time and money to come and love some of the neediest children on the planet. One of you even bought an elephant for the children this year!

All of you brought gifts in your many suitcases and they probably felt like you had packed an elephant! This group, pictured below, brought 17 suitcases! Still cannot believe we got them all on top of the van!

We know that for each one of you that was a sacrifice and we want you to know that we know and we appreciate that so much. More importantly God knows of your gifts and the hearts of love that you brought with them. May God just richly bless you for that!

Aren’t our babies beautiful!  No matter how they come to us abandoned or preemie after just a few weeks with us they are fat and happy. But remember, they have all lost the most important thing to a baby, their mothers. Babies in Africa who lose their mothers, have only a one in ten chance of survival so we are thankful that we can increase the survival rate of these precious babies at Neema. (below a Safe Childbirth seminar taught by two awesome volunteers from Montana.)

We truly appreciate everything you have done for these babies and the strong hearted women of Africa. From teaching a women’s class, fund raising, changing a dirty diaper to just reading to your readers, we are so thankful for you.

We hope you had a good time. Most of our volunteers are sad to leave and many even ask, “Can we stay and live here!”  We wish you could but unfortunately the Tanzanian government prefers that we hire Tanzanians to do our work and does periodically ask NGOs to justify hiring non-Tanzanians. Thankfully due to God’s Grace we are still able to tell them we do not hire non Tanzanians!

We hope you have made it home safely and have some wonderful memories of your time in Africa. We would love to hear some of your best stories and see some of the pictures of your stay at Neema and who was your favorite baby! I tell people, yes, I have a favorite baby, it is the one I am holding at the moment! Osiligi and Nengai are two that I hold a lot!

Please continue to follow the Neema story on the Neema Village Facebook page as well as our personal Facebook pages, Michael Fortson or Dorris Fortson. Send me a friend request and I promise I will accept so you can get our monthly blog.

In case you didn’t know, we operate solely by private donations, we do not accept money from the Tanzanian government, Social Welfare, for adoptions nor from the US government and we must work constantly to find sponsors for our babies to keep the home running. We are not a “dirt floor” orphanage as you well know and must maintain certain standards for our babies.

We may look wealthy but we are not and we beg for every dollar.

Since the beginning of Neema, to best of my count, only twelve of our 120 babies have ever been fully sponsored. Just a few were over sponsored. Some of our babies lived at Neema for two years and were adopted or returned home without ever having had a single sponsor! God was gracious and took care of us anyway.

Sponsorships for Neema children start at $30 USD per month but it cost us approximately $300 USD per month to keep a baby at Neema. We take our monthly expenses: nannies salaries, food, formula, utilities, medical costs, petrol, etc. and divide that by the number of babies for that month. It fluctuates some each month depending on medical bills or car repairs but generally averages around $300 to $400 USD per month.

Only our Tanzanian Neema staff are paid a salary from Neema donations. All our “Wazungu” (directors) are either retired with their own income or they have raised their own support from their friends and family.  So please remember the babies and when “your ship comes in” remember that little baby home where you volunteered in Africa. We need your help!

(Volunteers Kim, Emily and Rachel above went to the hospital to pick up an abandoned baby.)

It is easy to set up a sponsorship on the website: www.neemavillage.org/how-to-help

Just click on the donate button and fill in the blanks. If you are not in the US please don’t fill in your address, it just confuses our poor donate program. If you have problems sitting that up, let me know, we can help

Also, if you are active in a church, please share your experiences with your pastor and let him/her know of our need. We love to go to churches and tell the Neema story. (Volunteers below on their way to church with the big kids.)

If you are already sponsoring a baby – Thank You! Thank You!

Once again thank you so much for coming our way and being part of the Neema Family! We hope that it made you as happy as it did Debbie Chai in the picture below.

May God bless you with His Abundant Grace and Mercy and Love,

Michael and Dorris Fortson

Founders and Executive Directors of Neema House/Village.

Updates on the Neema Babies 3/10/2017

Updates on the Neema Babies

Four in and three out made for a busy month at Neema Village, our home for abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies in East Africa.

This little girl was found crying on the side of a busy road.  She had been there a good part of the day when people finally realized no one was watching or coming for her.  She continued to cry, scream actually, for three or four days at Neema before she finally settled down.  When these little ones are old enough to remember their mother it is so much harder for them.  I just cannot imagine what they must go through before we get them.  

We have estimated her age at just over a year since she is starting to walk. The nannies voted on the name Destiny and we gave her January 14, 2016 as her birthday.  Hopefully God has a forever family out there for her and in the meantime we will love and care for her. 

This little newborn pictured on the right, was born on Feb 17, 2017.  She was abandoned at the hospital.  We were told the mother had threatened to take her to the river.  Thank God she did not do that.  I got to name her and chose the name Bethany.  Bethany is beautiful and is such a good baby.  I know that mothers everywhere love their babies and it must have been something very tragic to make this mother leave her baby.  We are too busy loving and caring for these babies to take time to judge a mother who felt she had no other choice than to walk away from this beautiful little newborn.  Neema is “A Place of Forgiveness and Hope.”  Forgiveness for the moms and hope for the babies.  Please say a prayer for that mom.

 

One of our sweet volunteers from Billings, Montana got to go with Bekah to pick up baby Bethany.  It was an experience Emily Broadbent will never forget.  I love this picture of Emily smiling through her tears.

Faith is about 20 months old.  Her mother, suffering from substance abuse, has repeatedly abandoned her.  She has an uncle who would take her but the current drought has left him barely able to feed his family. The interesting thing that happened with this baby is that the uncle who lived all the way across town had been told about Neema but did not know how to get to us.  Arusha is a very big city with 1.6 million people.  The uncle got on a dala dala (the local transport system) to try to find us.  He sat next to a lady and asked her if she knew how to get to a place called Neema Village.  The lady was Orupa, one of our nannies who was on her way to work. Now how sweet is that! 

Faith is very lethargic and we have had her to the doctor to make sure there is nothing wrong.  She was limp, not eating and lay on the floor with her face to the wall, even during song time when the other toddlers in the room were singing and dancing to “The wheels on the bus.”  It was scary.  Yesterday Bekah was able to get her to eat a little Ugali with some liquid vitamins so she seemed a bit more alert last night before bed.  We have never seen a baby so despondent.  It is very sad, please pray for little Faith.

  *An update on Faith, we had to call her uncle who came today to see her.  Faith clung to him and would not let go and the uncle decided to take her home.  We will see if we can continue to help this little one.

  Born at 29 weeks gestation, tiny baby Joanne, named by the nannies, weighed 2.2 lbs when she was born on Dec 17, 2016.  Both the father and mother are extremely ill with HIV and left the baby at the hospital.  The hospital called and said  she was finally big enough to come home to Neema.  She is very precious and we will have to see what the future holds for this little one.  We definitely need your help to care for all these new babies.  Bless you if you are already sponsoring a Neema baby.  If not, why not?  There is so much sadness in the world an abandoned baby should not be one of them. 

Please go to our website www.neemavillage.org and click on the donate button.  You can set up a monthly support of $30 a month as easy as pie. 

 We have had three of our babies able to go home this month.  Sweet boy Rusty got to go home to an auntie.  His mother had left him with his father and the father had abandoned him.  When the mother learned of this she told her sister that she had a baby at Neema Village and if she wanted him she should go get him.  Rusty loves everybody and was just fine as he and his aunt pulled out of the drive at Neema.  He was waving to us.  The auntie has invited us to visit him anytime.

Asha Bella’s mom died at her birth and her dad has now remarried.  The new mom came and spent a few days diapering and feeding Asha and has fallen in love with her.  We are so happy for this little baby and her new mom.                Angel is a quiet shy 2 year old that we have had since she was abandoned at a few months old.  She was finally able to return home with an aunt this week.  Her mother has had some mental problems but Social Welfare has now granted the Aunt permission to take Angel home.  Angel has cuddled up very nicely with her Aunt who has said we could visit her any time.  We like that.So babies coming and going has made for an exciting month at Neema.

We love it that we try to put these babies back in a home when possible.  It has always been our policy that no baby belongs in an orphanage.  You can help us in this work by sponsoring one of our new babies until we can find forever families for them.

Thanks a bunch,

Dorris and Michael

Joshua’s Home

Joshua’s Home

The Montana women who are volunteering at Neema traveled with Michael out to a remote Masaai village on Saturday. One of our babies, Joshua, whose mom had died in childbirth three years ago has been able to return home. That is Joshua with his Masaai grandmother in the picture below.

  Our daughter Kim and her Montana group wanted to go out to the village to see him. They took food, blankets, clothing and of course Carol Wald’s soccer balls. I had made the trip a couple of weeks ago so I was excited for them to see Joshua and his home.They told us, it was a hot, dusty trip through rocky gullies and they were not sure the big van would make it. They did make it but had to walk in to the village the last part of the way when the van could not go any further.

 

It is very dry and there is no grass for the cattle out in Masaai land.  Even though Joshua’s home is made of mud, his grandmother had decorated the walls outside with broken pieces of mirror and pretty mud flowers, as well as a large “Y” for Yahweh and the name of Jesus in a heart.  Women are the same everywhere and we all love to have a pretty home.   It was also spick and span clean!

The people are so very poor out there and since the short rains did not come this year, food is scarce and they have lost many of their cattle.  The people seem very thin to me and I am not sure if this is normal build for Masaai or if they just do not get enough to eat.  I think you can see how thin the two men in the picture below are.  We saw no crops in the fields and no water anywhere close.

The Masaai love their cattle, they live off their cattle and count their wealth by how many cows they have. The Masaai are famous warriors of the old days of Tanganyika and claim to have never lost a battle. They are very tall people and would raid other tribes and capture their tall women. For hundreds of years their young men had to kill a lion single handed to become a man. Of course, since there are very few lions left outside the game parks now, they have stopped that ritual. But it is interesting that they still bring their cattle into the middle of the village at night into a boma, a thorn fence, to keep out the lions.

And they still do their traditional Masaai dance which tells their stories of killing lions, their battles of conquests and how they bargain their cows for a new bride.

 

  The story/dance is punctuated by one of the warriors dancing out to the middle and doing their famous high jump from a standing position. It is quite amazing how high they can jump. Of course some of our group had to get in on the dance.

Joshua came to Neema when he was just a few days old. His father is now concerned that his son will not be able to go to a good school. They start children in school at age three here but many Masaai, especially the girls do not go to school at all. Even government schools are few and far between out there.  Joshua’s cousin has a school sponsor but Joshua does not have a sponsor. Joshua actually lived at Neema over two years and never had a sponsor.  Below is Joshua with his cousin, grandmother and father.

 

We are trying to find a school sponsor for Joshua so if you have always wanted to help a very poor African child be able to go to school but were not sure it would actually go to the school here is a good chance for you to do that. This is truly a worthy family, his dad works with Masaai men trying to train them in better ways to care for their cattle. Maybe you and a friend could share the cost and each pay $30 a month. Just a dollar a day and you can change the life of a this little boy and maybe his whole village. Please pray about that.

Even though Joshua lived at Neema over two years, we could see that he is now happy back at home with his very loving Masaai family. We have had 23 of our Neema babies whose moms died in childbirth that have now been able to return home.

Angel is our social worker and part of her job is to check on our babies who have returned home. We do take trips out to see them ourselves too and are always so excited to see how well they are doing.

As Joshua’s dad talked with our group while the village women served tea, he told how we are all now bound together because Neema saved Joshua’s life. He said, “When my wife died it was very bad for us because we had no way to take care of him and no way to pay for his care. But you took him in and now he is a big strong boy. That is Joshua’s dad standing by Michael and talking to the Montana group in the picture below.
He said, “We see Neema House as our family and Babu Michael and Bibi Dorris as our grandparents because they did a great thing which we could not repay. My father, (picture below) says thank you, thank you a lot and your family is now our family.”

Then the head momma spoke and said, “Neema House was an angel of Joshua. We are one big family now and today our tummies will be full of food because you brought gifts to us. Many people are getting a blessing today because of Joshua. Now let God go with you.  Our gate is always open for you.”

Then they wanted to pray for Michael and our group of women and had them face in all four directions while they circled the group and prayed for them. To have a group of people who are surely some of the poorest people on earth pray for you is quite a moving experience. Kim said there were no dry eyes in our group that day.

Michael and I thank God every day that He is letting us share this beautiful land and these precious people of Africa with so many friends and volunteers who come to help at Neema. Africa captured our hearts over 50 years ago and we tell our volunteers as they go home, “You can leave Africa but Africa never leaves you.”

Just like Joshua’s home our gate is always open for you.

 

(The gate into Joshua’s village.)  If you would like to see Carol Wald’s sweet video of the trip out to the village click on the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMT6nxos9Fg&feature=youtu.be

 Our Neema Gate is always open to you too. Karibu.

Michael and Dorris

A Child of Hope Is Born

” A Child of Hope is Born”

In trying to communicate with you and say things in more meaningful ways, I’m always on the lookout for a good word. But words are slippery, they can change on you. They can become something totally different over time, like “cool.” Perfectly good words, like “cherish”, get lost in the tons of verbage thrown at us every day. When was the last time you heard someone say “I cherish you.”   Words can dissolve into meaninglessness (is that a word?) by overuse like “awwwwesome”. They can lose their punch when we begin to “love” too many things like toothpaste or a pair of shoes. It’s hard to find a good word nowadays.

Even Swahili words change. Fifty years ago, when we lived in Africa when someone knocked on your door, you would yell, “Karibu” which meant “Come In.” Nowadays it is used almost exclusively to mean “You’re Welcome.” It drives me crazy at a restaurant in Arusha when a waitress brings you something and you say, “Asante, (Thank You)” and she replies, “Karibu (come in!).” I thought I was??

  But Hope, ahhh Hope, now hope is still a good word. Unless it has something tacked on like “less or lessness.” We had a sign above the door at the old Neema House that read “A Place of Forgiveness and Hope.” We still are, but I miss the sign. I loved telling folks we are a place of Hope for the babies we keep and Forgiveness for the moms who had lost all hope. When we lose Hope, “Life is a broken winged bird.” It will never fly. We need Hope. We can never have too much Hope.

All of which is a rather lengthy introduction to my topic, “A Child of Hope is born.” Now there is an awesome string of words!   Said breathless on a snow sparkled night, it can make your heart race. When you add the words “To Us” it can become downright wondrously stunning, awe inspiring and marvelously magnificent! To Us a Child of Hope is Born!

This child who came to live with us, to show us how to be kind and forgive each other, to give us power to live good and meaningful lives, how to not hate, steal or kill, how to hold close the thrown out and abused, how to love the unlovable, and then helps us work it out in his own power, since we have so little power of our own, now this is something that gives hope!

In my own vastly inadequate life, Christ working for and through me in his power is my only hope. I’m not good at “pulling myself up by my own bootstraps.” As we work for these babies at Neema I quite often have to tell God, “You know I am too little to be doing this, don’t you?” To keep a busy home going where 119 babies have found love and hope and provide a monthly pay check for 43 Tanzanian families who work at Neema, it is too big for me. And I am pretty sure Bekah, Matt and Kelly and Michael would all say the same thing.

Without Christ working within us we have no hope of making this work. And without major help I think we are all in the same boat, we are all too inadequate. We need what Paul talks about in Colossians 1: 27 “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”

And Thank God, he promised to stay right here with us, to the end, to be “Emmanuel” which actually means “God with us.” He came on that starry night so long ago to stay and live with us and walk these thorny paths with us so we’ll never have to walk alone. To us a child of hope is born!  Wow! It’s simply breathtaking isn’t it!

And so, I hope you have a Merry Christmas, I hope you get to see all your loved ones, I hope you have peace and joy in your life. I hope you have found meaning and purpose in your life. I hope you have what you need today. I hope you have LOVE and lots of it! And most of all I hope you have Christ living in you, giving you power and great hope.   I really do.

For lack of better words, Thank You for all you have done for these beautiful babies this year.

We cherish you!

“If Jesus is not born once in our hearts, he can be born a thousand times in Bethlehem and we will still be Hopeless.”  Corrie Ten Boon

Dorris and Michael

Herding Chickens

“Herding Chickens”

Poor Nanny Elizabeth, trying to get the big babies all on the same path for their morning walk is a bit like herding chickens!  It’s never a dull moment at our home for abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies in Tanzania, East Africa. 

That is the Montana House in the background where the big kids who are unadoptable now live. You can see our banana trees in the back that Julius planted last year.  I think Jack Pape cleared this path for the children to walk.  Thanks Babu Jack!


Although we are planning on buying chickens to have our own eggs in January, our beautiful, happy, funny babies are nothing like chickens!  Below is Happiness at it’s best!    Here for your enjoyment are some of my favorite happy pictures of Neema babies.   Not your typical African orphanage is it?   

 

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The babies above are Emmanuel, Jess, Malikia, Joeli, Osiligi, Dorothy with Taylor Wittel volunteer and Maria. 

Could they be any cuter??

We are trying to pay for the paving for the walkways between the buildings at Neema Village this Christmas.  The babies have always loved their morning walks but the new property on the side of the hill had no place for them to walk.  To get these happy babies outside in their strollers on paved walk ways you can help us by buying a foot of path, six foot wide by 1 foot long at $30.  It will make a unique gift for someone you can’t think of what to buy for Christmas.  We will email you a gift certificate you can put in a card for your recipient.
Just go to www.neemavillage.org and click on donate.  In the purpose line put “Pave the Way” and Wallah!  You are done Shopping!
Glad we could help! 

Love,

Michael and Dorris