Monthly Archives: December 2016

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 and click on donate.  In the purpose line put “Pave the Way” and Wallah!  You are done Shopping!
Glad we could help! 


Michael and Dorris


Pave The Way


Pave The Way Campaign

Buy a Foot for Christmas


While things are really shaping up at Neema Village, with the near completion of five facilities, our outstanding need at this time is for paved pathways to join the buildings. During the rainy season, our dirt pathways turn to mud. To get back and forth between our structures, we want to have “paving stone” pathways installed. Since we also like to take the babies and children on daily walks, often using strollers, the paved paths are important for that. So, paving the paths is both practical, and attractive.  We already have some of the pathways done, thanks to one of our great volunteers, Rylee.


                                                                                Babies going for a walk

The paving stones are made on site at Neema Village, and laid by skilled craftsmen.  Our contractor says that the cost for a strip of paving stones which is one foot long by six feet wide is $30. The paths are two yards wide.  You can by a foot for $30 or a yard for $90. Buy as many feet or yards as you want!  Our goal is to pave 1000 feet of pathway. We will send you a gift certificate which can be given as a Christmas Gift this year. It will state that you have donated in your recipient’s honor to “Pave the Way” at Neema Village.


                                              An example of our paving stone walkways at Neema Village

Keep in mind that your gift will be a lasting one which will bless our babies, workers, volunteers and guests for many years to come. And some day, perhaps you will visit Neema, help with the babies, be inspired by the awesome beauty of Africa, and walk the pathway you helped pave!

It is easy to donate to this cause. Just go to:—sponsor-a-baby.html and follow the instructions. In the “Purpose” blank put “Pave the Way.” 

May your Christmas Season be blessed with peace and joy! 

Michael and Dorris Fortson, Founders

Neema House Arusha

Giving Thanks for You

I love the Thanksgiving Holiday, don’t you! Crisp cool weather, fall colors in the trees and Holiday baking, mmm some of my favorite things!
I have just finished baking my traditional Italian Cream Cake, in honor of our daughter Bekah who lives in Africa. I’ll eat an extra piece for you, love! And to my three sisters – the cake had no soap in it! (They know the story of a Thanksgiving past when we had to put a whole beautifully perfect cake down the garbage disposal!)                                                    Quite often this year Michael and I have been hit with huge doses of thankfulness. People like you, who have encouraged us in this precious ministry of saving abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies in Africa, you make me all mushy in my heart with thankfulness!

I got a bit teary the other night when a friend texted to tell us about a little boy in her church who had saved a jar of coins for the babies in Africa.  That is Elaine pictured to the right.

And we just have to stop and thank God when we hear of those of you
who have sacrificed and taken on the big projects of building Neema Village; the widows home, the baby center, the new volunteer home, the school/church, the mothering center and the two homes for our unadoptable children. You take my breath away!
(That is Sylvia Pape with abandoned baby Tony Rector to the left.)  He is a chunk!
Below is how the property is shaping up.  Cool huh!
We could not do this work without you. When we hold these
babies, we know it is your arms too that hold them. It is your love that cares for them.  It is you who help us diaper and feed and cuddle them. It is beyond thrilling to see how God’s immeasurable Grace has touched the hearts of His people to help in this incredible work. We are thankful.  That is great helpers Kent and Joan Smith from Fort Worth, TX  below.

“In all circumstances,” Paul says, “give thanks,” but I know sometimes that is a bit hard.  If you are reading this and thinking, “I don’t have much to be thankful for this year.” Maybe you received a rejection letter this year, or a bad report from the doctor, or the bank called and there was just not enough or you’ve lost someone important in your life or things just did not pan out the way you wanted.
We have those times too. When we get a message that little twin girls age 10 months who weigh only 8 lbs had been starved and abandoned, our heart breaks and it is hard to be thankful.
When we hear a little newborn had been left by the river, it’s hard to be thankful.
But extended family of the twins has been found and the little river baby has a new family and will never be abandoned again and 24 of our abandoned babies have been adopted. All I can say is, “Thank God we were there for them!”
I am so thankful that we have been privileged to administer God’s grace to the 118 babies who have been helped by Neema Village over the past four years.
We thank God we were there for the little identical twins, Aneth and Alice above, abandoned by their mother and father and who came to Neema just a few weeks ago. The nannies keep fingernail polish on one of them to tell them apart!

I am thankful for over one hundred volunteers, like Olivia Deal left, who came to help us hold the babies this year!  Thank you also to Olivia for the great pictures for this blog.

I am thankful that Matt and Kelly       (pictured below) are living in Africa and taking care of the staff and volunteers and the babies and the building projects and the financial records and dealing with the sporadically helpful Tanzanian government etc, etc.
I’m eternally grateful that our daughter Bekah (pictured below) is there helping with the medical needs of the babies, taking them to the doctor, checking their daily meds and making their charts.
  And for our incredible staff of 43 Tanzanians, I just cannot say enough about these hard-working men and women.                              And I am grateful that a young family from Searcy, Arkansas, Jonathon and Whitney Striclyn (Pictured below with their new baby) have applied and been accepted by the board to come next year to handle the spiritual needs of Neema.
They are struggling to raise their support right now.
All our non-Tanzanian workers must raise their own support. It is hard, but they are full of faith in God’s people.  If you can help please contact them at
If you are having trouble giving thanks this year remember he didn’t say we have to feel thankful in every circumstances only to give thanks and it is not hypocritical to give thanks when you don’t feel thankful.  It is faith to give thanks when you feel nothing.

So whether you feel thankful or not this year, go ahead, give thanks, you’ll see God in all your circumstances when you do.

Thank You!

Dorris and Michael Fortson