I can’t imagine what living in Africa must be like for a child with a handicap.
It would be hard enough in England, America or Australia where every kind of government help known to man is available. But here in Africa there is nothing and children are hidden in back rooms, neglected, abused, made to beg on the street like the little girl pictured above or worse just not fed. In the old days those babies were put outside the boma for the hyenas. Sorry to write that, I know it makes you sick at your stomach, it does me too.
We met this mom with a handicap child this week. We deal with so many moms at Neema Village through our MAP program, whose husbands have left because their child was born with a handicap or birth defect. There must be a stigma about that. The young mom above had to move back home with her mother who has no income and lives in a mud hut. She thought she could start a milk/cow business.
Pendo’s husband left her after the birth of little Calvin who was born handicapped. Pictured above, she is one of our successful MAP moms today. She started an Internet/Fresh Juice Bar. We provided her with some computer training, she did not know how to turn a computer on at first! Then we gave her a computer which Mariya had brought from Germany and now she charges by the hour for people to use her computer in her shop to search the web for jobs or products while they drink her fresh juice.
Sophia and her little boy, Martin above, were left destitute when the husband left so she began getting up at 3am in the morning to make mandazis (like a donut) to have money so they could eat. She stood out on the street to sell them to people on their way to work. Sophia has had a rough year but hopefully is back on track now with her MAP program. When these women who have been so poor get a little money they want to buy more than they can afford and still have money to run their business. Sometimes the husband who sees his wife now has money comes back and wants the money. We know we won’t win them all but we try. But we are glad Sophia is back in her shop and making mandazis.
The little fellow with a missing hand pictured above, was also deserted by his dad. His mom has five children and a kind lady has let them live in her rent house. The family has no income and is allowed to get only one bucket of water a week. The kids are dirty with horrible sores on their heads. She cried when we came to help.
The children pictured below are fortunate ones. They are in school and learning new things, They are curious, energetic, determined, tenacious, well fed and happy. I seriously doubt any of them would be alive today if God had not intervened.
Malikia, a twin born blind, is in boarding school in Moshi and comes home to Neema on school breaks. She is going to be a music teacher when she grows up.
Above Elesha, born with Bells Syndrome, is at Neema and doing well in school. He is one of our big kids now. I love this picture of him above taken the first day he was put in the walker because he looked so happy. He runs everywhere by himself now.
Editha is making progress by leaps and bounds. She loves to clap and can mouth the words to songs now. Who knows what this child will be able to do in the future.
Above, Loitapuaki was born four hours after his twin. The doctor says he was pulled out with crude forceps like they use out in remote Maasai villages. His head was so damaged the doctor thought he would not survive. He is three years old now. Our nannies love him and he is fed everyday through a tube Bekah put in his stomach. That is easier for him because he gags so much trying to swallow and breath at the same time. We will love him as long as we can.
And there are other mothers and grandmothers like the one above who are dealing everyday with handicap children. They cannot go to work because there is no place that will take the babies. God is dealing with us about this. We need a day care for handicap children. Social Welfare tells us there is not one in Arusha, a town of 1.6 million. Mama Musa, our Managing Director, who is on the governing board of all day cares and orphanages in Arusha says there is not one that will take a handicap child. She has tried to find one. Our Neema Board and Social Welfare have given us the go ahead to open one. All we need is money. And a bit of courage too.