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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

FAQ #3

 Why an orphanage?

As I said in one of my other FAQ posts, we moved to Zambia to work with a community school. Our line of thinking at the beginning of our time in Africa was that we would work to enable those already working in Zambia to do their jobs better. So, rather than being a teacher in one class, we wanted to help give all the teachers the tools to do their job. “Teaching others to teach others”.

We worked hard with the first school and helped to give them new buildings, a library, a small job for extra income, and plenty of training. It was a success! We knew though that as long as we stayed there in Lusaka, the leadership of the school would always depend on us to meet their needs. We made the decision to move to a town a few hours away. We were still available for training classes, to raise awareness of financial needs should they need it, or to help. But, we weren’t right on their doorstep.

And, as we knew they would, the community school thrived! They found donors, built new buildings, and today they have not only a school serving over 600 children, but residential care for orphans, a hospice clinic and a church! Fantastic!

In our new town, we kept busy working on teaching and training. We held leadership seminars, Bible courses and Tom took many trips out into the bush with Campus Crusade to shows  the Jesus film.

The kids and I wanted to spend some time working with children so we began volunteering at a local orphanage. It was a ‘transit home’. Only for children below the age of 3 years old, the orphaned babies would either be reunited with their fathers or other relatives or taken to another orphanage. Rarely, they would be adopted.

That house for babies broke our hearts. Poorly funded and even more poorly supervised, this institution (and it was firmly an institution) was not a home where children were loved and cared for. 

Desperate to do what we could to help, Tom and I decided to approach the board about becoming consultants. We would come in several times a week, teach the staff how to better care for the kids, identify needs and find ways to meet them, and best of all, fill those babies with love.

Sadly, although the board welcomed us with open arms, the director was less thrilled. Immediately we began to find problems with apathy, laxness, and even greed. The children had ragged clothing, but though there was a shipping container filled with new clothes, the director dragged her feet about opening it and taking anything out. The children had no toys to play with. “They’ll fight over the toys”. Again, there were plenty of toys in storage, but we weren’t given access.

There were wonderful babies in that house. I loved every one of them. Little James who had inquisitive eyes and clung to Tom every time he saw him. Baby Agnes who had severe mental issues and ended up tied to her crib. The other little babies who crawled around on the floor, largely ignored until visitors came to scoop them up.

My heart broke more and more every time we worked at the orphanage, but there was so little I could do to improve things without the support of the director.  One day I sat down and felt such heaviness on my heart. I just knew that nothing would be right in my world until I had done all I could for the babies who had no one to take care of them. 

Tom felt the same way and before we knew what had hit us, we were consumed with the calling. Now we just had to figure out how to make it happen.

Exactly One Year Ago: This is Africa--Computer Edition
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Yesterday:
Exactly One Year Ago: Spooky and Uncanny
Exactly Two Years Ago: Theresa

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