Architect students at Neema.
From a slab to a roof in eleven days!
This month thirty architect volunteers; students from all over the world, a professor and his wife, Paul and Barbara Hahn from Minnesota and their team came to build one of the four homes planned at Neema Village for our unadoptable babies.
It was quite amazing to watch them work. It reminded me of a verse in Nehemiah, “The walls came up…because the people had a heart to work.”
Two years ago a young medical student in Arusha studying tropical medicine, Lovise Mhyre, from Norway came to volunteer at Neema.
She fell in love with the babies and when she returned home she decided to do something to help. She decided to build a house for our unadoptable children. Even though we have had 21 adoptions so far at Neema, we have seen that all our babies will not be able to return home or be adopted. Like Malikia who is blind and whom we’ve had since her birth. Mali is Maasai and would not have survived out in that harsh environment.
And Frankie our first baby who at six months weighed a tiny 5 pounds and is still fragile. And Elesha with Beals Syndrome and others who may have one surviving relative who has AIDS and can’t keep them but will not release them for adoption. We love them, so we will keep them, we decided. But they don’t belong in the baby home, so let’s build four small family style cottages on our 9.8 acres. And Lovise caught the dream. She also caught a cute fiancée while at Neema.
That is Lovise with Eric who got engaged early one morning on the front porch of Neema. I came out to find her ecstatic and Eric, the romantic, leaning over the rail crying. Love it! I told them I wasn’t sure I could take much more of this sweetness!!
Early every morning the students came piling out
of the rented bus and headed to the construction site. They divided into 4 teams and each took a section of the slab to begin building.
They took turns leading the groups so each could have input in design and management. They added special touches as they went along, little peep hole windows down low for the children to look out, wrap
around corner windows, vaulted ceilings for cooling, and what will be a stunning full wall of glass facing Mt. Meru, the fifth tallest mountain in all of Africa.
To all of you special students who came from so many different countries; Belgium, China, Australia, Norway, Dares Salaam, the USA and left a part of your heart in Africa and with the babies of Neema, we love you guys! (Below student Architects tell the babies bye.)
As we served cake and ice cream on their last few moments at Neema, we told them that we knew they would go out into the world and build great things, sky scrapers and bridges but that we hoped they would always remember this precious work of building a home for some unwanted and thrown away children in Africa as a highlight of their careers.
How appropriate that we close our tribute to some pretty cool young architects with one of my favorite pictures of our feisty, little Dorothy who, as a newborn with umbilical cord and placenta still attached, was thrown away as garbage in a construction site into a gravel pit.
May the LORD bless and keep you and may His Face shine upon you.
Michael an Dorris