Diana on the left - Her neighbor on the right
Some of her children were at school. These were the ones we got to meet.
Mama Sweetie has 3 biological children. The rest of the children have come to her as their parents have died (mostly of AIDS.) Their parents were her neighbors and friends. She is teaching them about Jesus. They sang many songs to us about God's love for them, and we taught them some new ones.
The 'buildings' on her property are pretty run down. They do have a few animals that produce some eggs and some milk (not near enough to feed 30 children) along with a little plot of land where they grow some vegetables. In the room where they sleep, there are 8 wooden beds. No mattresses. For 30 children. I think a future VO team may try to raise funds to buy some mattresses. Maybe they can get some more beds too!
This is the container that collects the rainwater from the roof for drinking.
The children were so joyful! They sang and danced. They made us dance too. There is a video out there that I hope never surfaces! We did a little craft with them. They loved it!
We made salvation bracelets with them.
After visiting with them, we made our way to an orphanage called Haven of Hope. There we found the neatest lady taking care of 29 little ones. Nelly is awesome! She told us that she'd always known that she wanted to have a home like this. A few years ago she was engaged to be married to a man that didn't understand her desire to take care of orphans. As a matter of fact, he was pretty against it. So... she lost him and got 6 brand new babies. :-)
Diana and Nelly
Seriously. She said she didn't sleep for 6 full months! I can't imagine having 6 newborn babies. Now they are the most precious 2 year olds.
She told us that, although it was not her original plan to have older children there, to get some type of government registration she had to have 20 children. So... she took in some older orphans. She has a few women that work with her, and they do the most wonderful job.
There were no toys. None of the children are sponsored to help with the cost of food and school fees. There is a church somewhere in the states that helps pay her rent. I don't know how she makes ends meet. She said she has to turn her phone off sometimes because the hospital calls constantly needing placement for abandoned babies. She can't save them all, and she knows it. She does absolutely hate to say 'no' though.
She said that now she gets a new newborn every six months. A brand new baby shares her bedroom for six months. Then that baby moves in with the other littles and she brings another home from the hospital.
Her newest one is this tiny girl. Her name is Precious. She is HIV+. She is 3 months old and so sweet. I got to feed her a bottle. Her whole digestive system was making all kinds of crazy noises. I asked what kind of milk I was feeding her, and one of the ladies that works there sheepishly told me that it was cow's milk because they can't always afford formula. So... I fed a tiny, HIV+, baby girl 6 ounces of cow's milk, because no one can afford the food she needs. :-(
We had to get back to Fiwagoh, because the kids were going to take us on a walk. We left Nelly's and hurried to Fiwagoh to see what we could gather from our donations that we brought for Nelly. We couldn't go back to her house, but our driver (Daniel) said he would take a suitcase full of goodies to her while we were on our walk.
We packed her a big suitcase full of cloth diapers, balloons, balls, jump ropes, bubbles, medicine, shoes (LOTS of shoes!); I can't even think of what all was in there. We were also able to bless her with a digital camera. When we were talking to her about creating a website (one of the guys with us is a web designer for Dave Ramsey), she said she couldn't give us images of the children because she didn't have a camera. Well it just so happened that one of the girls on our team brought two cameras on the trip and was willing to give one of them to Nelly. Wow!
We sent Daniel with the suitcase and a video camera. Of course we wanted to see Nelly's face when she went through the bag. It wasn't my camera so I don't have the video to show you, but it was awesome to see. Nelly and the girls that work for her were literally jumping up and down with excitement. They were passing out shoes as fast as they could. They let out the biggest screams when they found the camera. Now she can take pictures of her precious kiddos!
This post has gotten long, so I'm going to go ahead and post it. If I find any other pictures from this day that I want to post, I will post them later.
I'm so thankful that we were able to visit these wonderful women. We were truly blessed by their lives of service loving on His children.