One afternoon almost four years ago we received a call from the police that a baby had been left on the side of the road. They asked Michael to come pick up the baby but by the time he got there the neighbors had identified the mother. She was young and living on the street, not a prostitute, just on the street with no way to care for the baby so she had laid him down and walked away. When Michael arrived, she was wailing and crying and the police asked Michael to take the baby away while they took the young mother off to jail. I thought then, she doesn’t belong in jail.
That day the dream was born in my heart to do something significant to help these women of Tanzania. The baby was Shabani, one of our sweetest little guys who is a big boy now but still loves to be held and still sucks his tongue when he is tired or scared.
By God’s immeasurable grace we have helped over 130 babies through our Neema Village program both here at Neema and as outreach to the Maasai villages.
But all along we knew that babies in need were not the problem. Mothers who are poor and desperate are the problem. And once again God would not let us forget Shabani’s mom and the dream of helping these women.
June 2017, MAP Begins at Neema!
This has been an exciting week at Neema as the MAP (Mothers Against Poverty) program got it’s first mom started in a very substantial business venture which will add a daily increase in her income.
Six weeks ago, two students arrived from ACU to begin researching how we could significantly help mothers in Tanzania.
Michael and I had spoken at a Business Finance class at ACU last year and met one young man with a spark of interest in his eyes and after a few weeks we received an email from him saying that he would like to come to Africa to help.
His name was Casey McMullan and in May he came with another student, Lexi Koon, to spend eight weeks at Neema.
program making sure we were within the laws of Tanzania as well as the US donor laws and meeting and talking with the women, helping them plan how to start, what they would need to begin and how to sustain a business.
Below is one of the women they visited, the triplets, Anna, Esther and Deborah’s mom who will start a sewing business.
We have interviewed five women, one who wanted to start a chicken/egg business and one who wanted to start a small business selling jams and jellies. We tasted some watermelon mango jam she made and it was yummy. Another woman wanted to expand a failing small duka (or shop) selling soaps, cooking oil, milk from her cow and other items.
Two of the women want to learn to sew on treadle sewing machines and begin selling skirts and bags made from the beautiful African fabrics of Tanzania. Below are two of our volunteers showing off the lovely skirts made with the colorful Tanzanian fabrics. The necklace is also Tanzanian handmade and take a peek at the cute handmade Maasai shoes!
It is an incredible thing to watch that spark of hope in a woman’s eyes as she sees the very real possibility of helping her family have a better life.
And so, this week through the generous help of a family in Montana, Bertha, known as Mama Alan, was able to begin her chicken/egg business by building a larger chicken coop.
Mama Alan works in the fields making 5,000 shillings a day (around $2.50) and now Casey and Lexi have helped her start a business that will make 3 times that amount every day! She is also one of the women who learned to do nails in the Mani Pedi business taught in the spring. Mama Alan is one of those lion-hearted women of Africa we talk about, an entrepreneurial woman with the drive and potential, to really change things for Africa. She wants desperately to help her family have a better life. I am not sure who is more excited, Mama Alan or Casey and Lexi.
In October, a young woman will be coming for a year to help with the MAP program. She is a financial advisor from Germany and will be bringing 10 laptop computers for the computer room in the Koala Center where the MAP program will be housed. One of our business ideas for women is document preparation and the laptops will be needed for that business. Most business transactions here are done with a hand shake so we think this could grow into a substantial business for enterprising women who want to learn about computers. Below Lexi giving Mama Allan her first grant money for her chicken business.
We are so proud of Casey and Lexi for dedicating their summer to get this program started. To give someone hope like this is beyond exciting. It will not only change Mama Alan’s life I think it has changed Casey and Lexi’s lives as well.
I told them one day as we walked home on the dirt path from Mama Bennie’s home that you will meet many people out in the business world with money, so much money they won’t know what to do with it. You can now say I know how to help you with that.
Who would have known that five years ago because we started taking in these little babies that someday we would start a program that would impact the lives of mothers as well. God is always able to do so much more than we think or even dream isn’t He!
May God’s richest blessings be upon you so that you will always have enough and more for every good work.
If you would like to help women in the MAP program go to our website www.neemavillage.org and click on Neema Mothers. You could be a very real part of changing Africa!
Being poor, or crippled or mentally handicap in America is not the same as being poor in Africa. Take a look at this picture I took yesterday just outside the church building. We woke him up from his sleep on a garbage dump to give him some cookies and clean water.
“Let the beauty of the LORD, our GOD be upon us an establish the work of our hands for us.”
Dorris and Michael Fortson