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