The Day the Goat Came to Visit
It dawned in Africa like any other day, sleepy babies waking up, finding clothes to put on 35 babies, morning bottles, changing dirty diapers, finding enough bibs for breakfast, porridge that can’t be fed fast enough, dirty diapers, checking morning medical charts, notes on the board for who was sick in the night, more dirty diapers, potty chairs, gathering shoes for the morning walk and did I mention dirty diapers!
But unknown to those busy with Neema babies inside there was a party brewing outside the gates.
The Maasai family and friends of our sweet baby Joshua, who has lived at Neema House Arusha since the day he was born, had arrived early outside the gates of Neema. They began lining up to practice; people, chickens and goat, for a dance into the yard. Joshua, a first baby for his young mom and dad, had lost his mother during the birth and the grief stricken father had been at a loss at what to do. The young father has a job that keeps him away from home for weeks and their culture will not let a single man hire a live-in woman to work in his home. The grandmothers could not keep the baby and with formula at twelve to sixteen dollars per can in a country where people make less than a hundred dollars a month, the dad realized the baby would have little chance of survival without help. That is when a friend recommended that he call Neema.
So today a grateful family arrived outside the gates of Neema House Arusha to say thank you. They brought a goat and gifts of handmade beads, necklaces, Maasai cloth and chickens and lots of singing, clapping and dancing. It’s party day at Neema!
And that is when the goat decided he needed to see the inside of the house. With a goat running around inside the house with 35 babies and a crew of nannies and cooks, you can imagine what that sounded like! Between the laughing and squealing the goat was finally caught and persuaded that outside was where he belonged. Actually, we soon learned that where he belonged was in the stew pot, and our visitors made short work of putting him there. Soon lunch was bubbling in the big pot outside in the back yard. Poli Sana Mbuzi! (So Sorry, Goat!)
Baby Joshua is one of our little sweethearts. He will be going home soon and we are so happy that we have had a part in helping this little guy make it past the first critical months that are the hardest for these babies who lose their moms. Our problem is that he has lived at Neema for over a year and has never had a single sponsor. We never refuse to take a baby in, no matter what shape they are in or whether we have the money to take them, but it does get a little tough at times.
Just so you know, it takes over $300 per month for us to keep a baby at Neema. You ask why that high? Glad you asked. With 32 full-time employees, for whom we pay salaries, social security, and half of their medical bills, plus 3 meals a day for all employees on duty, salaries and benefits are our biggest expenses. There is no McDonalds where they could go get their lunch and since we have 24 hour care we do feed employees and volunteers as well as the babies. High medical bills, petrol at nearly $6 per gallon, rent $1,800 per month, formula and food at around $600 per week, utilities that work sometimes and sometimes don’t which then means using the generator at $6 per gallon, all of which adds up to a whopping $13,355 per month budget! I think you begin to see why keeping babies is so expensive. Keep in mind that only Tanzanians are paid from Neema sponsorships. All non-Tanzanians are either volunteers or have raised their own support.
With 39 babies in house now we have many new babies who need sponsors.
Bregetta and Jackson above are brand new at Neema as of Sept 7, 2015.
Please check out the “See Neema Babies” on our website (www.neemahousearusha.org) and choose a baby to sponsor. You can sponsor for as little as $30 per month. I do so hate asking for money but I decided a long time ago that I am willing to do what it takes to care for these incredibly beautiful little ones of whom Jesus says “If you will take care of the least of these, it will be just like you are taking care of me.”
If you are already sponsoring,
Michael and Dorris Fortson