Author Archives: mfortson

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

November 2018

“It’s my first lamb!”  Mariya Halapi was quite touched yesterday when Mama Iddi gave her a little lamb. I think we were all touched by yesterday’s events when one of our MAP widows, Mama Iddi and her handicap granddaughter got to move into their new home. It was quite a day.

Mama Iddi has been keeping her 12 year old abandoned granddaughter in her home where part of the wall had fallen in and she had hung an old tarp over the hole. There were large cracks in the back of the house and so many holes in the roof that she walked in mud inside the house when it rained. It was unsafe to say the least.

We had been out to visit Mama Iddi with some friends in August and were so saddened by her living conditions that we decided Neema, through the generosity of friends and the MAP program, could help.

We had planned at first to shore up the house, patch the cracks, put on a new tin roof and paint the house. But when our builders got started they realized none of the house was worth saving. So they bulldozed it and started from ground up. We took Mama Iddi and her granddaughter out yesterday to see the completed house for the first time. I realize this may not look like much to you but to this widow living in extreme poverty it is a mansion.

 

While the builders were working on her house for a couple of months, we had moved Mama Iddi and her granddaughter to a room down the street from Neema. We had also started her in a chicken/egg business through Neema’s MAP program. So the first thing we had to do yesterday was move the chickens. That was fun, feathers flapping and all!

All the neighbors came out to help including this handsome young man. He said he remembered a bible class we had done at his house a few years ago. Emily Broadbent, look how he has grown!

After getting all the chickens together we loaded up the trailer and our car along with the squawking chickens, the chicken coop, volunteers and Mama Iddi with everything she owned in the world and drove to her new home. She had not seen it painted nor the inside of the house, so we were all pretty excited for her.

She looked around at the metal windows, the creamy yellow walls and the smooth cement floor and all she could say was Wow, Wow! I felt like we were on that TV show where they blindfold people and reveal their remodeled house and everyone cries!

After the Wows! were over, we prayed with her and asked God to bless the house and her family with peace and that no harm would come to her while she lived there. Then the builders and volunteers all gathered round and sang, “Mungu ni Pendo”, an old African song that means God is Love.

Click this link to see video of singing:  https://youtu.be/MwBQ9bk19PU

We got the hugs yesterday from Mama Iddi but we know those hugs and blessings were really for those of you who made this new home possible for her. We love for our volunteers like Sophie Line (pictured below) and Linda Johnson, (she was helping with the chickens in one of the pictures above), to see the Goodness of God at work in Africa.

Thank you dear hearts for your loving care of widows and orphans.  I think surely nothing is closer to God’s heart than these.  We are so grateful that every day we get to be Administrators of His Abounding Grace.

Michael and Dorris www.neemavillage.org

For your enjoyment, below are three happy Neema babies, Isaac, Neema Grace and Sara.

 

2019 Kilimanjaro Charity Climb Benefiting Neema Village

Neema Village Announces

3rd Annual Kilimanjaro Charity Climb

Climb Dates: July 4 – 11, 2019

Details of the climb are still being worked out, but if you are interested in joining us as we climb the tallest mountain in Africa, 19, 341 feet, you need to begin planning now. It is a fantastic experience and challenge.

 Factoring in travel and a day or two before the climb and/or after the climb to visit Neema Village and/or take a great safari, climbers will need to block off the first two weeks of July.

This Charity Climb will benefit Neema Village.  Climbers from the 2018 Kili Climb were able to give Neema Village over $20,000 by soliciting donations!

Costs for the climb are  about $2170 for climb fees (food and lodging included), about $2000 for airline ticket, and your incidental expenses which vary depending on the climber’s tastes.

 If you are interested in signing up or receiving more information, please contact Michael Fortson by email at:  michael@neemavillage.org

Please pass this information on to others who you think might be interested in climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, East Africa.

Way More Good Than Bad

October 15, 2018

With sixty one babies and big kids at Neema Village now, I Imagine it is a loud and messy place. It is also quite wonderful.  Two new babies came to Neema a few days ago. Emily says they are very tiny and fragile.  The top one is named Rachel and the little one pictured below doesn’t have a name yet.  I’m sorry to show you the pictures but this is who they are and I want you to know them.

 

I know this is hard to look at but they look like skeleton babies, don’t they?  It is even hard to write that. Our hearts break for them and I wish we were there to hold them and keep them warm and safe and tell them they will be okay. 
We will love them until a new family member can be found to care for them or they can be adopted.  It is never our goal to keep these little ones. “No baby belongs in an orphanage” is our motto, even though I continue to stress that we are not an orphanage. We are a rescue center.
Until the babies have their forever families they will need sponsors. Please go to www.neemavillage.org and sign up to care for these little ones.
Pictured below, Baby Baraka #4,  came to Neema on Thursday.
He was born at home and shortly after the birth the mom developed complications with the placenta. She died on the way to the hospital. I sigh with deep frustration each time this happens.   Did you know that the biggest killers in Africa are all preventable;  Malaria,Typhoid and Childbirth complications.   
Even though we now have a large monthly give away program of formula through our Outreach Program to keep babies in their homes, there was no one at this home who could care for this little one right now.  African culture will not allow a single woman to live in a house with a single man so hiring a live in nanny for them is not possible.   We will care for him until his father remarries or a grandmother or aunt can take over.
Christopher, pictured below is an abandoned baby.
October 2018.  Christopher came to Neema a few days ago. He was abandoned in the back of a taxi. His mother said she was going to get something and would be right back but never returned. He is assumed to be about two days old. He was taken to a hospital, where they named him and cared for him. Neema was then contacted. He is not very interested in the bottle right now, but we are trying. Please pray for him and his mother. If you would like to sponsor baby Chris while he is here we could certainly use your help.  Sponsorships start at $30 per month.
 We are continually asked what makes someone abandon a baby? We have had babies left on roadsides, on porches, in latrines, in a gravel pit, in a house alone, anywhere. You ask why? It’s a hard one to answer. We don’t usually try.I have been visiting with family for a few weeks and we have a pretty spirited granddaughter who loves to argue American politics. She says there is too much greed, corruption, hatred and a lack of respect for individual life in America. She is right, any is too much.
 But those things are not an American “place” problem, they are a heart problem.  Governments or Politicians can’t make people be good, love their wives, or share with the poor, or take care of their families, says author Phillip Yancey.   Our granddaughter thought she might like to move to Sweden but I would guess the Swedes have their share of mean and selfish people
I told her don’t get discouraged with us humans, there are more good ones than bad ones. Just watch any tragedy unfold on the nightly news. To the few perpetrators of any tragedy there are way more good people rushing in to help. 
“Keep your eyes on the helpers” is a good way to not be discouraged about life.
In our work in Africa where we regularly see babies who have been thrown out, discarded, starved and women used, abused and left destitute, yes, it is easy to become cynical and want to move to Sweden.
That may be one reason we are so in love with our volunteers. They help keep us grounded, a regular dose of goodness every day! 

They are like the helpers rushing in to help clean up the mess and might I say with 61 babies at Neema that is a lot of mess to clean up!!
I also told our granddaughter that politics or governments don’t change people’s hearts. Only God can do that. But she is young and idealistic and also very passionate which is a good thing. 
I’m proud of her.
Neema Village is right where God wants it, helping the helpless, the discouraged, the down and out, the abandoned and the hopeless. So don’t get discouraged with life and remember there is way more good than bad in Africa and yes even in America.  I would imagine in Sweden too. 
May God bless you with great faith in the goodness of man.
Psalms 27:13 “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
Michael and Dorris Fortson
 

Four New Babies This Week

August 3, 2018

“Four New Babies This Week”

All our Neema babies have a story or we would not have them.  These four new ones who came to Neema this week have a story as well and it breaks my heart.  Bryan, sleeping peacefully now at Neema Village was left on the side of the road, the placenta and cord were still attached. I cannot imagine the heartache this mother must have gone through before she put her baby down.  We do tell our nannies this does not just happen in Africa, it happens in school bathrooms and dumpsters in America too.  It is not an African problem, it is a heart problem.  Many of these women are poor and desperate and feel they have no options.  Thankfully our Neema Village MAP program is giving many women options today.
This sweet little 2 month old pictured above, lost his mom last night.  Sylvia Pape, Angel, our Social Worker, and Mama Musa, our Director, drove out about an hour and half late yesterday afternoon to pick up baby Johanna.  The house was already filled with mourners while the mother lay in the back room.   This Maasai village was high up in the mountains with no clinics or hospitals and so hard to get to they probably had been unable to get her to the hospital in town.  We will be trying to find a family member to keep him.
Newborn, Joshua above, is abandoned as well.  His mother is a drug addict and abandoned him but then she was found and put into a drug help program.  She ran away again and has not been found again.  We are not sure what is the matter with his eyes but we think he has a problem.  They are swollen and he will not open them.
Sweet baby girl Hosiana, lost her mother too.  I love her name.  It reminds me of “Hosana in the Highest” and how often we praise God for allowing us to do this work of saving babies in Africa.  
I was able to cuddle little Hosiana for about an hour yesterday afternoon.  She is precious and melts in under your chin.  When I hold these new little ones like this I am always crying inside for what they have lost.
   “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do everything changes.”                                               David Platt
If you knew your mom and had a good mom, Thank God for her for me would you!  I never really knew mine.
Love,
Dorris Fortson

An Internet Cafe and Fresh Juice Bar

August 1, 2018

An Internet Café and Fresh Juice Bar

This is just the coolest thing!  One of our MAP moms has started her business, Upendo’s Internet Cafe and Fresh Juice Bar.  
Upendo’s husband left her owing back rent, little food and a two year old handicap child. She was destitute when she came to talk with Mariya, our MAP director.  
After talking with Mariya about what she could do to help herself and her baby, Upendo thought she could start a food business making mandazi (like a donut).  We began to look for a small shop and found a great spot on a busy corner.  But when we interviewed the neighbors they said we have a food business here, what we really need is an internet service. 
Upendo had never used a computer so we hired a couple of university students to teach her for a month.
We bought a small fridge to keep the fruit fresh, a blender, some glasses and Mariya, Jennifer, Ashley and Emily had fun experimenting on juice combinations. Upendo always works with her little boy on her back.
Mariya had brought some laptops from Germany so she put two in the shop for Upendo.  We bought a printer, some paper and ink cartridges and Wallah! an internet service is born!
We love taking volunteers down to the shop to get a fresh juice, my favorite is orange, pineapple, mango. Yummy! 
Now really, how cool is that!  An Internet Cafe and Fresh Juice Bar comes to Arusha!  Turning hopelessness into Hope.  Love it!
You can help us keep this MAP program going by sponsoring a business.  Please remember the IRS won’t let you deduct it for taxes if you put a specific person on your donation.  Just put MAP program on your donation, we will see that it goes to the right place.  I promise.
Love you,
Dorris

Gloria Leaves Neema

 

July 16, 2018

Gloria Leaves Neema

It’s been another one of those days when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  So you do both!  
Five years ago we got a call about a little girl who was found living in a shed where they had kept chickens and goats behind the house.
She had been abandoned with her grandmother who is an AIDS patient.  The grandmother had to work in the fields and was leaving the baby in the shed while a neighbor was supposed to come in to feed the baby.  She wasn’t and the baby was emaciated and starving.  
Her name was Gloria. 
Gloria has been our big girl at Neema for a long time.  We thought she would be with us until college age. But lives change and grandmother has been taking her meds, is healthy now and in a better place emotionally and physically.  She showed us the shed behind her house and I think was truly sorry about what she had done.  
Her son has now built her a shop on a good road and we have put grandmother into our MAP program and helped her with the capital to start a shop selling flour, potatoes, oil, tea, etc. 
Our big girls all came to tell Gloria bye as she left Neema. 
Gloria makes 36 Neema children we have been able to return home!  We are excited about that.  We have had 183 babies helped through Neema, there are 54 currently in house, we have had 36 adoptions and 57 in our outreach program.  Yes, you can be sure we will be going out to check on our girl!
It’s what we do but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Watch Gloria singing “Jesus Loves me this I know” for a great lift to your day!!

Thanks Hannah Huddleston Key with “The Freckled Key” for a great photo at the top!

May you always have a warm home to come home to,
Dorris
 

To The Top

July 15, 2018

To The Top

The Big News is that all our Mt. Kilimanjaro climbers made it to the top of the tallest mountain in Africa!
Our second charity climb was a great success as Dr. David Vineyard, leader of the group, took Mariya Halapi, Emily Broadbent, Hayden Liebl, Tina McCormack and Dr. Jeff McCormack up to the roof of Africa to raise money for the Neema babies.  You can still give on their behalf, just go to www.neemavillage.org and on the purpose line put “In honor of the Awesome Kili climbers.”
We have had lots of great volunteers this month.
Above, the Aggies for Christ from A & M University along with Elaine Carter, a retired school teacher and Jeff McCormack from Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond walked down to the village to support a couple of our MAP moms by buying Saturday morning breakfast from their little food shops. 
Below is the Mark and Kelle Samsill group of young people with Neema babies.  
Our policy has been that Neema Village only takes in babies two and under.  There are lots of orphanages that will take older children but Neema is the only home in the city limits of Arusha that takes only babies.  But what could we do when Social Welfare called one evening and said, “The Police have just picked up a little twelve year old girl in a wheel chair begging on the street and we have no where to put her for the night. Can you take her?”   
That was almost two months ago and Social Welfare still has no place to put her. Little Miss Personality Plus, Sophia, has scooted her way into our hearts and after meeting with Social Welfare this week, we think we will keep her.  We have come up with a plan.  It took three days in doctors offices to certify her handicap so we could get her into school.  She had never been to school, cannot read or write so last Monday she started to school in the first grade. 

We got a call Friday that a new mom had died and there was no one to care for the baby so three of our volunteers along with a Social worker took off in the red Prado to go up into Maasai country below Mt. Meru to pick up the baby. The red Prado had other plans and decided to break down with three or four miles left to go, so Emanuel walked back to find help.  The girls decided to walk in and pick up the baby. Gulp!
They took off over fields and through the banana groves trying to find the right house to pick up baby Lightnes whose mom had died. Emily Moe below telling baby Lightnes its going to be ok baby girl.
I love the “Mama Bear protecting the baby bear” picture of Lindsey Vineyard on their way out with the baby. 
The next day we got a call about another baby needing help so we picked up baby Ivan. The mother had abandoned the baby and the father was not able to care for the baby.  Ivan is beautifully sweet and precious.
Custom here will not allow a man to have a live in woman in the house so for now there seems to be no solution other than keep the baby at Neema until a family member can step up.  Ivan is a smiley baby and doesn’t cry a lot.  They said he was about three months old but Bekah thinks more like six months old.
Below is a cute picture of new baby Lightnes.  
These three new ones, Sophia, Lightnes and Ivan at Neema Village need sponsors.  We have 55 babies along with our big kids living at Neema today and many of them do not have a sponsor.  It costs us over $300 per month to keep a baby but you can begin with $30 a month.  That pays for nanny care, food, formula, petrol, and utilities.  It doesn’t pay for buildings or the MAP program.  Only Tanzanians are paid a monthly salary at Neema Village.
Please go to www.neemavillage.org  to set up a monthly sponsorship with your credit card or through you bank.  It’s easy to set up and we really need your help.  Bless You!
Dorris Fortson

The Doctor Is In

It took two interpreters, one from English to Swahili and one from Swahili into Maasai to get the message out.  But with Anna and Halimah interpreting, Dr. David Vineyard, an OBGYN, from Nacogdoches, Texas was able to teach some safe birthing techniques and how dangerous FGM (female circumcision) is for young women during childbirth.   

David and Lindsey Vineyard, Jeff and Tina McCormack, Mark Samsill and niece Riley, with Anna, our MAP interpreter, and Michael and Emmanuel the group traveled three hours to a remote area of Tanzania yesterday to help women who are often at the greatest risk of dying during childbirth.  Many of our Neema babies over the last six years lost their Maasai mothers during their birth.  

Probably for the first time the women got to see pictures of how their body looks on the inside.  I’m not sure it looked like they believed it!  Maybe a little shock and disbelief in the picture below.

Dr. David and Anna, the interpreter showed the women pictures of how the baby looks inside the tummy.  

The women got to ask questions from the doctor.

David and Lindsey pulled the older women “baby deliverers” out from the group and gave them instructions on how to use the safe birthing kits designed by Sharon Bonogofsky Parker.  The pill that stops hemorrhaging is an important part of the kit.

They also gave out some “Days For Girls” kits to the young girls who are just becoming women (pictured below).  They were pretty excited since I’ms sure there are no maxipads available out there and these are completely washable pads for young women.  

These beautiful Maasai people are always excited to see us and so appreciative of anything we can do for them. 

We usually take lollypops and it’s always a good day with a lollypop.

Thanks to Mark Samsill who brought a bee suit for the village’s new honey business. Michael said the bees were swarming in the new hive.

And Thank you to Riley O’Pry, pictured below, for some great pictures.

And Thank you to all of you who stay with me to the end of my rather long blogs!  I do love sharing this journey of saving babies in Tanzania East Africa.  Bless you for coming along on the journey.
In all that we do may God be Glorified and Jesus Lifted Up!
Michael and Dorris
 
  

Five Minute Video Worth Seeing

“Five Minute Video Worth Seeing”

Many of you have asked for a five minute quick video to show at coffee groups, bible classes, Rotaries, Lions meetings, lunches and churches about Neema Village taking care of abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies and the MAPS “Mothers Against Poverty” program in Arusha, Tanzania.  Thanks Dr. Sue Hamby and Eric Coley for a great video!!  It’s on Youtube on the link below.  Enjoy and please send it to all your many friends!
Now go forth and spread it around!! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbzgJiErXdc

Catching Up On The New Babies at Neema

“Catching up on the new babies at Neema.”

Ruth is an abandoned baby.  Her mother was living with her dad and step mother and when they found out she was pregnant, they began abusing her. So, she left home and later abandoned the baby. Baby Ruth was found and the police were called.  Later they located the mother. When the baby’s mother told her story of abuse instead of putting her in jail the police called social welfare who then called Neema Village.  Now this mother is getting the help she needs. She has visited Ruth at Neema. Hopefully as soon as she is stable and can provide a safe home for her daughter, they can be reunited.

This mother may be a candidate for our MAP program which was designed to help mothers like this who abandon their babies not because they don’t love them but because they are poor, desperate and feel they have no other choice.  Please consider sponsoring baby Ruth while she is at Neema Village. Go to www.neemavillage.org.
Thank you to Marve Sattiewhite (pictured in the first photo) from Fort Worth for the cute photo of Baby Ruth Burrito above.
Namnyaki came to Neema a week ago, she is also an abandoned baby.  Her name in Masaai language means “blessings”. 

She is about 3 years old but weighs what a healthy one year old would weigh.  Her mother abandoned her with a neighbor. After a few days when the neighbor realized the mother was not coming back she took the baby to her grandmother who said “if you leave her with me, I will kill her.”  So the neighbor called Social Welfare who called Neema Village. We love this shy, timid, precious baby girl and she is now beginning to smile and join in the fun at Neema.  Please consider sponsoring her, we need your help with all these new babies.  Go to www.neemavillage.org.

Abigaeli, pictured right, was born on April 24, 2018. She is a healthy baby. Sadly both of her parents have died. Her mother passed away during Abigaeli’s delivery. Both sides of the families were fighting over who would keep the baby and someone took the baby from the hospital.  She was found and brought back and Social welfare has stepped in to help settle the dispute. We will keep her until things are settled. She does have an older sister that is interested in taking care of her after she is stable. Hopefully we will only have her for a short time but if you could sponsor her we could certainly use your help.  Please go to www.neemavillage.org.

Dennis and David are twins and their mother is 18 and alone. 

She does not have family who can help her and did not seem to know how to properly care for the babies.  The baby boys were in “failure to thrive” when they were brought to Neema by friends from the Andrew Connally School of Preaching, Justin and Anna Maynard, who live on the other side of Arusha. 
The mother and babies have been in the isolation room at Neema for over a month.  They are now healthy, cute little boys.The mother has decided that she can not care for the boys right now so she will be leaving them at Neema.  Neema will help her set up a used clothing business and will apprentice her to another MAP mom who is doing a successful business in used clothing.  We will be asking friends to help pay for her apartment for 6 months while she gets her business going under the condition that she visit the babies regularly each week.  Hopefully then she will be able to take the boys home.  Mariya Halapi set her up with business clothes from our “Dress for Success” room at Neema.

Elisha and Edward, pictured below, are two little boys from a set of triplets who have been at Neema for 3 weeks.  This is the second set of newborn tiny triplets we have had at Neema in the last two months and makes 12 sets of triplets we have helped over the past six years.  What gives with this!!!
Their little triplet sister, Esther, was able to leave the hospital yesterday with their mom, so the family is finally back together again with all three babies and the mother in the isolation room at Neema.  The boys weighed 1.67 kg and 1.68 kg when they came in and are now up to 2.12 kg. 

The boys looked really tiny until their little sister came in.  Esther pictured above is skin and bones!  We have had round the clock nannies in the isolation room for 2 months to help these moms care for their babies.  That is a lot of overtime!  Our nannies do love the overtime but it does put a strain on our budget!  If you can help while we keep the triplets at Neema we would be very thankful.    

May your Blessings always come in Triplet!
Dorris and Michael

The Bees Are In!

THE BEES ARE IN!

We drove out to a Maasai village on Thursday to set up a bee keeping business.  Today a text comes that the bees are in!!  We are so excited for them.  Honey is a very profitable business here and we are surprised that it only took two days for the bees to move in.  Notice the termite mound in the background.  Fried termites and honey, yummy!

On May 15, Neema Village hosted a bee keeping seminar to show people how to make money with bees.  We had around 30 women show up for the seminar along with our head gardener, Ramah.  Mama Frankie also came in with her twins for the day to learn everything about bees. 
Frankie was our first baby at Neema six years ago.  He was the smallest of a set of triplets and at 6 months of age he weighed only 5 lbs.  He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy but at six years of age now, he is a happy and loving boy.  Mama Frankie had twins after she had the triplets!!
Everyone in this loving family wanted a hug from both Frankie and Meshack.  Frankie was not afraid on this trip, he usually is a bit frightened.  This sweet boy will receive as good an education as we can give him and hopefully someday he will be able to help his village and his family.  Looks like he made a new friend in the village. Ramah talked with the adults on how to manage the bees, while I put together a make-do bee suit from a rain suit and my kitchen rubber gloves.  We will need to get a real bee suit for them somehow.  They will also need a double sieve to clean the honey before they can sell it.
We also got to do a Bible class for the village children.  It was a little rough working off the ground but we managed to do the creation story and each child made a necklace with the days of creation.  As you can see from the background below there were flowers everywhere which I’m sure added to the bees coming so quickly to the hive.
Maasai live off their cows, buy their wives with cows, count their wealth by cows and put the cows in the middle of the village at night so there are always lots of flies.  It is a bit hard to look at the picture below but I have to tell you the children are happy, flies or not.
Baba Frankie likes to cook a goat for us when we come for a visit so we watched as he cut slabs off with his long knife.  Even though I don’t normally like goat this was delicious.  I think the smoke helps.
The women in their colorful garb like us to buy their jewelry.  If you are coming this summer to Neema be sure and look at the MAP store for some of their beautiful jewelry.  You will be helping some of the poorest women on the planet.
On the way home, we ran out of candy for all the children with their hands out along the road.   Poli Sana Watoto!

May you always have honey in your cupboard!   I’ll leave you with this cute video below of the happy village children singing for us. 
Bee Blessed.
Dorris and Michael 

Taking MAP Out to the Maasai Village

“Taking MAP out to the Maasai Village”
Sharon Bogonofsky Parker from Billings Montana was hoping to deliver a baby during the three days she spent out in Maasai land.  Alas no baby would cooperate, but she was able to work with the women on some safer birthing ideas.  
Three of our long term volunteers pictured below, Ashley Berlin, Mariya Halaipi, and Jennifer Pappas along with Sharon headed out to a village to spend a few days working with Maasai women.   We lose so many Maasai moms during childbirth that Sharon, a nurse practitioner, wanted to see if she could help.  This was her second seminar out in the village but the first for her to spend some nights out there.  We were a little uncertain about them spending the night at first but after seeing a wonderful tent lodge available for them, it looked pretty safe. 
 
Maasai women prefer to birth at home, they also believe that because of their slender frame and very narrow hips (typical traits for Maasai) that they should try to have small babies.  So they starve themselves and sometimes eat grass to make themselves vomit during pregnancy.  They had asked Sharon why Maasai women faint during childbirth.  It was obvious to us that they did not eat enough calories to do the hard work of childbirth. 
Sharon showed them pictures of babies in the womb, something they had probably never seen before.  They were excited to see what babies looked like inside the tummy.  She had also brought a Doppler so if anyone was pregnant they could hear the babies heartbeat. She wanted them to see that it was a real little person in there and that they needed to eat properly to protect it.  Hearing the heartbeat of your baby should be a great motivator to eat better and be healthy for your baby.   
Sharon had started the class with a male interpreter who after trying to interpret some female anatomy terms quickly decided it was too much for him so he found a women to help interpret into Maasai.  Phillipo pictured below had to bow out after a few minutes.
Sharon had brought a baby doll with a sample womb to show them how to deliver a baby, head first, how to turn if it is not and some first important things to do for the baby.  She also gave out some of her safe birthing kits with a pill that stops hemorrhaging, one of the main reasons many of these women die during childbirth.  
The older women who deliver babies got to spend some extra time with Sharon.  They are also the ones who do the FGM cutting which is something that makes birthing much harder for these women and also kills many young girls.  The practice is illegal in Tanzania but many Maasai men will not marry a woman who is not circumcised so the girls still submit to it.
As the women left the seminar we could see from their smiles in the picture below that they had a good time.  I always love to see the Maasai women come in for a seminar.  Sometimes in their drab, dusty world overgrazed by cattle and goats they are the only colorful thing to be seen on the horizon.  
Doing something like this was a bit out of their comfort zone and ours too as we watched Ashley, Jen, Maria and Sharon drive off to sleep out in the Maasai world.   But stretching a bit out of comfort zones seems to be good for all of us.  I love the idea that each of us should sometime in our life  “do something that requires a gospel explanation.”  Knowing Sharon she would say God was the reason for this successful trip.  I know He is certainly with us each day as we care for the 51 babies and children in our care today back at Neema Village! 
So stretch out there, do something different and watch God work!
Dorris and Michael