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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 order provigil from canada 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

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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.

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

Michael and Dorris

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” 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

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“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 purchase provigil generic 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

 

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Announcing….

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

                                                                                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.

example-of-walkways

                                              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: buy provigil online south africa 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

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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 striclyn@gmail.com
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

 

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The Little Cousins

Quite often something just too precious happens at Neema and I have to share it with you. Almost four years ago a sleepy little newborn named Bahati came to Neema.
His mom had just died out in the Maasai village and with the high cost of formula and lack of clean water and electricity the father needed help keeping the baby. The baby had lots of soft black curls and I think he slept for two weeks before he decided to open his dark eyes to see his world. 

He was really a cute baby and a young Tanzanian woman who came at night to help us feed the babies their bottles and put them to bed fell in love with the baby named Bahati


At the same time a baby girl was left in a kind lady’s house who had offered a place to stay for a mother and baby who needed some help. The lady went out shopping one day and came home to find the mother gone, her valuables stolen from the house and the baby girl left in return. I always thought, now some people just do not know what is truly valuable!


The baby was cuddly, sweet and never cried- except at night when we thought for sure an alien baby who looked like her was dropped off in her place!  Debora had colic and had her days and nights mixed up at first so she cried every night until she was about three months old.  We loved her anyway and the colic did not last forever.  She became a happy, healthy little girl and she also caught the attention of a young woman who came to help with the babies at night after she got off work.

The two young women helpers were sisters and they came almost every evening after work and helped us put the babies to bed, but one sister always made sure she spent extra time with Debora and the other sister diapered, fed and rocked Bahati to sleep. One of the sisters began the procedures to adopt Debora and it was finally granted so one happy day Debora got to go home with her new mom. Matt and Kelly did the honors.
 

Meanwhile the other sister continued to come and care for Bahati and asked for permission to adopt him but since he has a father the adoption did not work out.
It is always best if we can get the babies back home by age two but time passed and Bahati began to grow older.  The procedure bogged down and the longer it took, the harder we knew it would be for Bahati to go back out to the Masaai village.

 
 

Even though the Maasai people are happy and love their children very much, it is a tough place to grow up and many children die before age 5 from lack of clean water and medical attention.
Many Maasai children never get to go to school.

That is Bahati on one of his visits out to his village with some of the village children.

This year Bahati started to school at Neema and was a very bright student, helpful for the teacher and could sing the Tanzanian National Anthem along with the other children.  Jenny, a volunteer, is helping Tumi the registered teacher at Neema in the picture.  They are doing colors and counting and Bahati is laughing and laying on the floor in the middle.   

 
The great news now is that Bahati’s Dad has agreed for the sister to foster Bahati. She will send him to a good school and he will learn so much  with her. He’ll still get to see his dad and his village and we think with a good education he will be able to help his village and his family.  
So with the two sisters raising Neema babies that makes them cousins!!  Now how cute is that!  Presenting Debora and Bahati, the little cousins.  
So once again, that is Neema House Arusha doing what it does best, making happy families! 
May God bless you with lots of family, friends and some cousins too!
Dorris and Michael, Founders of Neema House Arusha

 

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Neema Shares the Water

Every day the women and children from our village where we live in Africa walk down the hill to a small ditch that runs through the banana trees to haul water up the hill to their homes. From our porch at Neema we can watch them carrying the water on their heads up the hill as they walk along our fence line.


  It can’t be too hard, even small children can do this without spilling a precious drop!

Water really is life, especially when you live in a land with so little of it. Out in the Maasai villages there is no running water, not in the houses and not in the streams. It’s dry and dusty and overgrazed with cattle.

These little children are not able to take a bath every night in a tub full of water. Can you imagine how good that would feel for these two dusty little boys.  Women walk 3 to 5 miles a day to get water to drink and make their food. Our trips out to the villages to check on babies who have returned home or to take food to our outreach babies like the twins (below) can make you long for a tall cool glass of water.

Neema hit water at 95 feet when we drilled our well last year and, Thank You God, we have clear, running water at the baby home. Can you imagine our nannies hauling water on their heads from a stream to wash diapers and clothes for 46 plus  babies and to fix the endless supply of bottles our babies drink every day?  Shivers the mind doesn’t it!   Most water in our part of Africa is full of E. coli and chloroform bacteria and the water from our well seems to have more than its share of those two ornery organisms. So we are trying to treat the water with two systems, one to purify the water and one to take out the excess Fluoride which would make our babies have brown teeth.   For the tiny babies we still use bottled water that we order from the store in large 10 gallon jugs.  Since our well is located at the bottom of the hill in the banana grove and not on our fenced property, we had to buy a small plot of land in the middle of a neighbor’s banana field to drill the well.  Women wash clothes in the ditch close to our well site. You can just barely see the water in the ditch but its there and the woman in the picture to the right is getting her clothes amazingly clean.


Our new home is located inside the city limits of Arusha but there is no water delivery to homes in our area. There are a couple of spigots that stick up out of the ground at the bottom of the hill where the city turns on the water a few days a week.  The women gather around with their buckets and haul water on their heads to their homes.
The newspaper reported that some women from the poorer areas of Arusha, like our Moivaro area, objected to the wealthy parts of town getting water every day while their area does not get water every day. So the women organized a protest and walked through the downtown streets with empty water buckets on their heads.
           Neema comes to the rescue! We are now sharing our water from the well with the local villagers. We have placed two 2,000 liter tanks in the village and are so grateful to those of you who helped us get the well so that we could share the water with our neighbors. I know the village women are grateful too.

Two make that Three sets of twin girls!
Two sets of twin baby girls have come to Neema in the last few weeks.

Mercy and Mary and Alice and Anneth are living at Neema now.  But nine month old twin girls who weigh only 8 pounds each are still in the hospital and not in good enough condition to come home to Neema.  The two in the hospital were abandoned and their eight year old sister was trying to care for them.  The babies were almost starved.  They need your prayers and with all the new babies we certainly need your help to care for these six new babies.
Go to buy provigil dubai and click on “Sponsor a Baby.”  Sponsorships start at $30 a month but it takes $300 a month to keep a baby at Neema.  We appreciate any amount that you can help.
May God bless you with cool clear water today!
Love,
Dorris and Michael

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It Feels Like Home.

Just when it is beginning to feel like home in our new house on the mountain in Arusha, Tanzania, East Africa, it is time to return to our alternate home in the U.S.  But we will surely miss these big kids at Neema.
We made the long awaited move to our mountain home in the Moivaro area of Arusha town this month. We’ve been here two weeks now and it still takes my breath away. God is so Good to let two old people be doing this! That is our 41 Tanzanian staff and 44 babies on the new front steps. 
It is beginning to be hard to answer the question “Where do you live?”   We try to spend six months a year here at Neema Village with the babies and then six months at home telling folks about the babies. Our hearts are firmly planted in both places! 
If you are new to the blog, check out our website to see pictures of the babies and read the Neema story.  Also the Neema House Arusha Facebook page is an open to the public site and fun to watch the babies grow in pictures.  buy provigil forum
The long dreaded moving day went off without too many hitches, at least we didn’t have any babies left behind. We moved the baby home and the volunteer home in two days. That’s 2 kitchens, 9 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 5 refrigerators, 50 baby beds, a couple hundred baby bottles, 16 adult beds, 6 couches,  2 stoves, food, formula, furniture, sterilizers, clothes, toys, curtains, pictures, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Oh and 46 precious little ones! That is surely a record in some book somewhere!!
Volunteers each took one of the small babies to keep calm on the move.   The babies did great, not sure about those of us who went back to the old house to remove the signs. We have had 106 babies cared for out of that rented house which we had filled to the brim with so much laughter and tears over the last four years. Remembering the babies who have come and gone over the years from that home was a bit rough, like Maxine, Elliott, the tiny triplet girls and all the others. We had 21 adoptions and 21 return homes from that house. But we were crowded and it was time to move.
Kelly, the drill Sargent, directing traffic, did a terrific job getting things in the right rooms.
As usual in a new house, things didn’t work at first, toilets leaked, hot water heaters kept overloading the power, kids who thought bides were for squirting your friend in the face, the playground not finished and the biggest problem, “Where to put the trash!” The bides in the children’s bathrooms have thankfully been removed. Just a little too much culture for us.
Washing got out of hand until we hired a couple of extra ladies to get us caught up.
They washed in big tubs and hung clothes on the fence line until we could get the washer and dryer hooked up. 
But even with the move, life went on at Neema.  Some great volunteers came by to help like the John Bardini family from North Carolina.  I would have never gotten the sign out front without the steady hands of this good doctor. 
We had two new babies come to us this month. One little one whose mom died in childbirth and the family left the baby at the hospital.  We named her Bella. The other one a sweet little newborn, whose mom died,  named David.
We will be home in a few days ready to come speak at your next class, meeting, life group, club, church, coffee group whatever. Give us a call, 254 541 4869
May the LORD bless you and keep you,
Michael and Dorris

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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

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(be sure and click on “see images” to see all the cute pictures)

A Hodge Podge of Happenings

boy with toyI went out walking around our new neighborhood this afternoon and some neighborhood boys wanted to walk with me.  Of course they did, I had candy!  They had made a little rolling stick toy and were laughing and having fun the whole way  boy with toy 2They can make the cutest toys out of nothing and have just as much fun as if it were store bought.                                I thought you might like to see the home of one of our closest neighbors.  That is Neema’s new green roof just peaking up in the back of this home below.

Arusha may be a modern city of 1.6 million people but many Africans still live in houses in the city just like this.  It does make us wonder how we can get so concerned about not having new furniture or a new car or whatever is the current “must have” in our lives at the moment.  I would love to really live the motto “Live Simply so others can Simply Live” but I am afraid I am just as “must have” as the next person. 

One of our Maasai babies, Nengai, whose mom died at her birth had a visit from her grandmother on Friday.  The father’s new wife came with her.  I asked the driver if she was twelve years old and he said no, she is eleven.  Oh My!

Since we gave up our room at Neema to make room for the crawlers and have been staying out at the new property in the widow’s home, we are able to see the progress at the land as it is happening.

The baby home is basically finished, just a few odds and ends left to do but we are waiting to make the big move until we can drive the trucks up to the side door to unload furniture.  They were packing the gravel bed down today and will start laying the paving stones on the driveway tomorrow.  Those of you who bought bougainvillea I hope you can see your money growing beautiful in Africa along the drive way there.

On Saturday, we were cutting down a small hill by hand and hauling dirt to level the playground for the children.  We still so need that tractor with a blade!  Surely there is some farmer out there whose heart could be touched by the need of a tractor for this incredibly precious work of saving babies in Africa. 

 We ate lunch with the men building the new Neema on Saturday, lunch was quite delicious, a spicy tomato meat sauce poured over rice. 

 One lady cooks for all the workers, anywhere from 20 to 50 men depending on the different jobs going on at the time.  Jamie Huddleston do you see how much rice she has cooked?  Cooked over an open wood fire in a huge aluminum pot, it was still fluffy and wonderful. 

We have had to say goodby to some great groups of volunteers in the last few weeks.  But the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  We gained Taylor Wittel, Hannah Loban and Linda Johnson. We took them out to Moivaro Lodge this evening for a coke.  We felt like we had driven up to the movie set of “Out of Africa.” 

Maria Halapi and Ashley Berlin are coming in this next week and the architect group of 25 to 30 from Minnesota will be coming in tomorrow to begin building the UCare home.  It will be a busy place around here for the next few weeks.

Our 41 Tanzanian employees got a raise this month. That usually means lots of dancing and trilling from the nannies.   We had been promising to pay their transport to and from work when we could and since we will no longer be paying rent we thought it was the right time for our hard working nannies, guards, cooks and drivers to get a raise.  Thank you to all of you who support this work and made this raise possible.    

I’ll end this hodge podge of Neema news with a picture of two of our little Neema buddies, Rusty and Joeli.  Our volunteers have taught us a new adjective to describe our babies.  They tell us, these two are just too stinkin’ cute!!

Remember, live simply this month and may God simply bless you so that you can bless others.

Dorris and Michael