Save The Mothers

Save The Mothers

May 9, 2021

I’ve tried to pick her face out in a crowd. We’ve sung with village girls like her many times, maybe she is one of them here. She was just 15, a few years short of hips wide enough to birth, when she had her first baby and died.

Frankie Village Girls Dancing IMG 7697

It is beyond sad, these young girls dancing their hearts out, never knowing that one in seven of them will most likely die in their teens having their first baby.

Baby Israel was born in January 2021 and his fifteen year old mother died three days later. The baby was brought in to Neema Village on Feb 5. At two weeks old he weighed 4.5 lbs or 2.05 kg. His head was terribly misshapen, it must have been a horrific birth, and he had a ringworm on his forehead. We are calling the baby Israel because we cannot pronounce his Maasai name, which is Ndorosi Ndiono Makarot.

He is looking better now in the picture below.

What happened you ask? Why do we lose so many young moms here?

I’m sure there are many reasons, lack of good medical care out in the remote villages, girls having babies too young, not enough healthy foods for pregnant women, the hard work of women carrying large loads of wood to cook the meals, carrying water long distances for the family and scarring from female circumcision. Scar tissue does not stretch like normal tissue. Maasai people are traditionally very tall, thin, narrow-hipped, beautiful people and they have learned over the years to try to have small babies. We learned at some of our Safe Birthing Seminars out in the villages that they stop eating the last month of pregnancy or they eat grass to vomit so they will have small babies.

The traditional “birthers” in a village are also the “cutters.” If a girl was not circumcised as a young girl between three to ten years old, when she has her first baby they will often circumcise her then. if we are going to do anything to help save these moms we have to work with the older women birthers.

We have decided it is time to stop asking “Why” and begin to ask “What.” What can we do to help save these mothers?

Isn’t it amazing, when the time is right God sends just the right person and in waltzes happy, giggly, energetic, extremely bright, talented, dedicated Kassie Stanfield, who is a certified CPA and left a good paying job in DC to come work free of charge at Neema Village. She also came with about 35 pages of lessons on Safe Birthing, some eye opening videos and an idea of training these “birthers” to become sort of “local midwives.” We have also hired an excellent midwife to teach the classes and she is already working on getting permission from the local government officials for the program. The midwife’s name is Mercy (teaching one of our birthing seminars below)

We plan to have our first Save the Mothers class at Neema the last of May. Twelve women from two Maasai villages will come for two weeks of intensive training and classes. They will stay in the new “Jeffery May MAP Houses.” The rooms are open , brightly painted and ready for moms!

It is going to be a big project, one that will save lives and if you want to help please let me know. We will schedule how many classes we have a year by how God moves people to help.

We are praying the “Save The Mothers” project will be a game changer for Africa’s moms. Please be praying for Kassie, Mercy and the women God will send for training. Also pray for our newest baby Sarah who weighs 1.25kg and still in the hospital with a feeding tube.

Have we told you lately that we think you are awesome!

dorris and michael at Neema Village

www.neemavillage.org

Who Will Cry For Me?

Who Will Cry For Me?

April 13, 2021

Michael and I have been back in our home in Africa a week and a half and it is time to get you caught up on the new babies who came in while we were gone. We are always anxious to get back to Neema Village to meet these new little ones.

Meet our new baby Hope. She is an abandoned baby and our nannies named her Hope, which we love since we have a granddaughter named Hope. Baby Hope was left at the hospital on March 8th. She weighed 4.6 lbs.

Little Hopie has been in the hospital for almost two weeks with pneumonia symptoms. While the babies are in the hospital our nannies take turns staying 24 hours a day with them. We take our own formula, clean water, clothes and often have to go to a pharmacy to buy the meds prescribed by the doctor. God is preparing just the right family to adopt this beautiful baby. Please remember you must live in Tanzania three years before you can adopt. Neither Neema Village nor Social Welfare receives money for adoptions.

Gideon #2, above, came to Neema in March. He is from the same family as our beloved gardener David Massawe who was killed in a car accident this year. The family realized the mother needed a blood transfusion after the birth and tried to get her to the hospital but they were too late and she passed away.

Gideon, above, is getting his first bath at Neema. Hopefully his family will be able to take him home when a family member is able to keep him. You may not know but Neema Village has reunified 84 babies back into their family unit. Many of them we still help through our Outreach program. Once a Neema baby, always a Neema baby!

Ibrahim #2 was born March 18th, his mom and dad had two girls and was so excited to have their first boy. Sadly later the father received a phone call that her blood pressure had fallen too low and she passed away.

Such a worried look little Ibrahim, above. Don’t worry sweet baby, Neema Village will take good care of you until you can go home to your father who loves you very much.

Ernest, above, was abandoned in a grave yard. The police were able to identify the mother through the hospital blanket. She had been afraid to let her parents know she was pregnant.

Once the police learned her story they decided not to take her to jail. Our hearts go out to these young girls. We have heard many of their stories from being kicked out and living on the street, to the threat of being stoned, they are too afraid to tell their parents. This family has come together now and they have been able to take baby Ernest home. Praise God another family saved!

Daudi, with his grandmother above, was born out in a Maasai village and only weighed 4.6 lbs. He was born in the same village as our first two babies, Franki and Meshack. His mom was 45 years old and had six children. When she began to hemorrhage they realized she was in trouble. They tried to get her in to the hospital but she died on the way.

Daudi is a beautiful baby now and hopefully he will be able to return to his village soon. We are hoping to do some training in safe birthing techniques out in this village.

Israel’s mom was fifteen years old when she had her first baby at home. In a Maasai village where there is little medical care, she simply bled to death. The baby only weighed 4.5 lbs. The nannies are calling him Israel because they cannot pronounce his Maasai name. He was in bad shape and had a ringworm on his head when he was brought in to Neema Village. I see such deep sadness in his eyes. It is a sadness beyond words.

After a few weeks at Neema, Israel is now a beautiful healthy baby. With God’s help he will have a beautiful life. But his mom’s short life is done. We lose so many Maasai moms in childbirth, I’ve heard it is like a major airplane crash happening every day but no one is reporting it, there is in no newspaper story, there are no marches to save the mothers, no banners, no t-shirts, no Oprah Winfrey. Who will cry for these moms?

Dorris and Michael Fortson

www.neemavillage.org

Rehema Means Mercy

Rehema Means Mercy

March 30, 20221

I just have to get you caught up on the story of the mom with the special needs child and the witch doctor.  Last blog I didn’t have pictures of her or her name. Rehema is her name and this is a story of Mercy.

If you remember after Rehema (in the yellow above) had the baby and they realized he was not going to be like other kids, the dad asked her to get rid of the baby. She said no. When she would not agree he brought his family in to ask for the baby. She found out they intended to kill him and again she said no. Survival of the fittest was practiced in the old days out in the villages. They would take a baby like this and put him outside the thorn bush fence for the hyenas. Rehema was holding tight to her baby and again she said no. We see this time and again with these moms of special needs babies that we work with here in Africa. They clutch them with a fierceness of “you’re not taking my baby.”

That is when the husband took her out to a witch doctor and abandoned her and Rehema became a prisoner/slave. She had no money and no way to get away. When she finally got a little money for a bus ticket she returned home to find her husband had married another woman and they would not let her in the house. She had lost everything.

Anna above going to see Rehema at her room.

Somehow, she rented a room but she couldn’t pay the rent and the landlord was ready to kick her out.  She had been praying, “God please help me.”

That is when Kim, Kassie and Anna went to see her. After listening to her story Kim told her, “At every step of the way, you made the right decision, the hard decisions, the choice for life and your family. God has heard you and now He will bless you. You have come in contact with His people. You’re going to be okay.”

Then they brought her to Neema Village and the MAP Center where our other moms were meeting and singing together. The MAP mom’s songs are not only loud and boisterous but healing and powerful. When Rehema joined in the singing Kim knew, yes this was the right decision. (Special Needs moms and nannies singing below)

Neema Village Special Needs Moms sing IMG 2273

Rehema has found friends and other moms with special needs babies. She will be starting her new MAP business soon and after talking with Kim and Anna her landlord has forgiven her debt and given her a place to set up her little store.   

God’s Mercy has struck again! And now you know the rest of the story

We will be praying God’s Mercy for you dear friends as you love and support these lion hearted women of Africa.

Michael and Dorris at Neema Village

A Good News Day at Neema Village

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A Good News Day at Neema Village

March 22, 2021

Don’t you just love to get Good News! Kim called this morning with her morning report from Neema Village. It was Thursday in Africa and the MAP moms were having their “Women’s Rights” class at the MAP Center when something happened that completely changed the day for Kim (pictured below with Dorcas).

A woman came in to the MAP center to ask for help. She was carrying a special needs baby, the family had no food, they could not pay their rent and were about to be evicted onto the street. 

This is not new, it is something we hear almost weekly at Neema Village now but the interesting thing was she had been to Neema a year ago looking for help. She had a husband then and did not fit our criteria, so we recommended that she take a three-month training course to learn how to care for her handicapped child.

But instead, the husband took her and the child to a witch doctor in a remote village. He left her there with the witch doctor. She had no money to get away and he kept adding to what she owed him for room and board so she now owed him a large sum of money and he would not let her leave. She had become a prisoner/slave.

Finally, after months of this she was able to get away and buy a bus ticket home.   When she got back to her home she saw that her husband had moved in another woman, the new wife had taken all her household items and stolen her children and they would not let her in the door.

She and her handicapped child were homeless, hungry and hopeless when they came to Neema Village. What happened next was the surprise.

Angel (pictured above with Zawadi who was returning home) and Anna, Olivia and Kim were visiting with the mom in the office when Kim finally said let’s tell her what we have been saying. That is Olivia below with abandoned baby Hope.

They had been talking in English in the meeting so the woman did not know what they were saying.  Finally Kim turned to her and said, “You have been accepted into the program, you are going to be ok, don’t be afraid, we are going to help you.”

When the mother heard that, she dropped to her knees, crawled across the room and began to kiss Kim’s feet and legs while crying profusely, thanking and blessing her. By the time it was over everyone was crying. Kim assured her that she had not done this, that God does all the good and we just get to help.

This makes us so happy, like Anna, below, singing her Happy Song which she always does after she sets a new women up in business.

Anna sings her happy song.

That evening at the volunteer house around the dinner table they were talking through the events of the day. We like to hear from our volunteers how God has worked in their lives that day at Neema.

Kim asked them, “What in your life could someone do for you that would make you drop to your knees and crawl across the floor and kiss someone’s feet to say thank you?”   Hmmmm, other than when we will all see Jesus, I could not think of a thing.  But I do know He will say the same thing to us, “You have been accepted, you are going to be okay. Don’t be Afraid.”

Surely it was a Good News day at Neema Village!

Michael and Dorris Fortson

A Scruffy Little Boy

A Scruffy Little Boy

February 17, 2021

It was late in the afternoon when Social Welfare called. “Can we bring a two-year-old boy to Neema? The little guy was found going from house to business in downtown Arusha asking for food.” They called him “a walker” but his name was Emanuel.

They told us Ema’s mother was a drunk and an addict, homeless, and sometimes slept in a cardboard box behind businesses. Ema was a scruffy little boy with scars on his face. When we took his clothes off for a bath, we saw other cuts and bruises. He had been living hard. And with a mouth full of teeth, he was way over two!

Neema Village does not take babies over age two but we said okay, for a few nights only, until you find a place that takes older children. For the next few days we watched this little boy run from one toy to the next, we saw him hide food in his pockets and climb any fence that got in his way and oh my goodness, we saw his smiles!  

This little boy has the brightest smiles. Beggar children always seem to have the best smiles. After a few weeks when Social Welfare did not return, we decided he was two and we would keep him. We have been in love with this tough-as-boot-leather, little boy ever since.

It is always our goal to get the babies back home by age two. With Ema it was beginning to be a challenge.  He can’t go back with his mother to live on the street. We have been out to his grandmother’s house a couple of times. 

We have seen poor before, this was really poor.

After visiting grandmother later we found she had moved into the goat shed and was sleeping there. There is no room for Ema with his grandmother.

Now for the happy ending, last year Neema Village took in a new MAP mom named Anetha. Anetha and her husband were leaders in the community and their church. Her husband had a good job and with two kids all seemed well, until the husband decided to take a second wife. Anetha would not agree so he kicked her out. She was destitute when she came to Neema Village for help. Kim and Anna, our MAP Director, went out to interview her.

Through MAP we set her up in a small shop selling vegetables, salt, sugar etc. We also learned she was a great seamstress so we gave her a sewing machine. She is doing well and is fostering Meshack, one of our older Neema boys. 

Meshack is one of Michael’s favorite little guys since he had picked Meshack up at a Maasai village eight years ago after his mom died in childbirth. Grandmother had been feeding the baby raw cows milk and Meshack was close to death. Meshack is Frankie’s half-brother from his dad’s number two wife. 

A few weeks ago, we had one of those Aha moments. Let’s see if Anetha will keep Ema, too! We were so happy when she said she would keep him. Anetha is a very calm mom, just what Ema needs, I think.  Their MAP home is just a few blocks away from a really good English school, Tumaini, in Usa River. 

We think Meshack will be a good influence on Ema too. At Neema Village devotionals Meshack says the sweetest prayers.

In January, Ema went to live with Meshack and Anetha and started school at Tumaini. Angel tells us he has already been in one fight at school.  Maybe for this scruffy little boy one is not bad!

Many of you have asked when the babies go home do we check on them. Yes we do! Yesterday Ashley got to visit Ema and check his school work while Kim and Debbie got to see Ema’s new home and bed.

It is pretty special for us when our work with the babies connects with our work with MAP moms. We like that.

Please pray this plan works. God always has good plans, we just want to make sure ours fits His!

“I know the plans I have for you… plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11. With a good education the future for these two boys looks bright.

Thank you to those of you who make this happen.

Being about the Father’s Business at Neema Village,

Dorris and Michael.

God Is Still Good

God Is Still Good

February 3, 2021

With a new baby just six weeks old, David had dinner and was planning the trip tomorrow to bring his wife and baby home from Moshi. He must have been excited as he crossed the road at the crosswalk heading home after a long day’s work at Neema Village. That was where David Masawe was hit by two dala dalas and life here was done, all plans were cancelled and this chapter of his life was closed.

To those of you who do not do Facebook and have been to Neema, we knew you would want to know. David was killed January 30, 2021.

David was in charge of “beauty” at Neema Village. He planted all the flowers, kept the grass cut and trimmed all those hedges he had planted to keep the soil on Neema’s hillside from sliding down the mountain.

So many of you have asked if we will be helping David’s young wife and family. Our daughter, Kim, has visited with her and assured her that Neema Village will continue David’s salary for six months. The baby will be 8 months old then and we can give her a job at Neema or set her up in a MAP business. We have also had one friend offer to send the two children to school so they will be added to our list of Neema children going to school.

At the bottom of the garden there is a spot where there are no flowers or hedges, because David kept reminding me that we planned to put a Gazebo there. Volunteers come to Neema to help with the babies and they live in the volunteer house sometimes with 15 or 20 other volunteers. It can get crowded. We talked about a Gazebo where volunteers could get away from the crowd and have quiet time with God. When we return to Neema the “David Masawe Place of Rest” Gazebo will be constructed at the foot of the hill in his memory. I think he will like that.

I pulled David from his garden work more than I should have when we needed a driver to go with Anna to help the MAP moms. He never once said, I am too busy. Some of those trips were scary and dangerous. It was always good to have this strong, young man with us. What made it fun was David loved to sing about Jesus as he drove. I can hear him singing, “We are walking in the light of God” as we drove, and then laugh as he changed the words to “We are driving in the light of God!”.

Kim called this morning to tell us about the funeral. There were 300 to 400 people present. Neema took four buses full of friends, co-workers and MAP moms from Arusha. Kim read the sermon Michael had emailed, David’s minister talked and then Neema Village fed all of the people. David was laid to rest in a banana grove at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

I know he would like that.

But life must go on; there are babies wanting their bottles and needing their diapers changed, like our Little Mighty Warrior, Gideon, above. He is at 2 kg now!

Amidst such great loss, life is still worth living and God is still Good indeed.

We love you guys,

Dorris and Michael

Please remember that if you want your donation tax deductible in the U.S. you cannot specify a person. The funeral expenses and help for David’s family and school for the children will all come out of general funds.

The A&M Students Visit A Maasai Village in Africa

The A&M Students Visit A Maasai Village in Africa

January 8, 2021

“I’ve Lost my heart to these beautiful people,” one of them told me when a visit to the grandmothers turned into an event that fifteen young people volunteering in Africa will never forget.

Yesterday we took Memusi and Nengai out to their Maasai family villages for a visit. The girls are home for Christmas break from boarding school and we always try to get them out to see their grandmothers.  We have had these two girls since their moms died in childbirth. Memusi wears glasses now.

Nengai’s father welcomed us into the first village.

Nengai was a bit scared, well a lot scared actually, and cried every time someone from the village tried to pick her up. We kept assuring her that we were not leaving her.  She got to hand out candy to her cousins and that helped some.

The Aggies for Christ group from A & M University in Texas brought beads for making bracelets, which turned into a great time for making friends. 

Big sisters helping little sisters make a bracelet was fun to watch. Some of the older folks, experts at bead making themselves, got in on the fun too.

In a song trade, the Aggies sang fun songs for the village kids and then the village kids sang their Maasai songs for the Aggies. 

After taking poloroid pictures to leave with them, we traveled on down the road to Memusi’s village.  This gracious woman invited us in and we soon realized she was preparing tea for all of us. 

“Guys, you will pray and drink this tea,” I said. They didn’t know if it was made with goat’s milk or cow’s milk, if it had been boiled, or if the cup had been cleaned with sterile water?   

 But we were determined not to offend and the students were troopers and drank their tea, everyone.  As Grandmother tried to cram more of the students into the tiny room of her hut, we were humbled as she shared cup after cup of the precious tea and sugar with us.

After tea I visited with the elders and grandmother about Memusi’s future schooling while the students sang outside.

Then we had a surprise when one of our former babies, little Zawadi, walked over from her village with her mom and dad.  Zawadi is doing great, and is ready to start to school. 

We are so grateful to God that she has survived and is happy and seems well adjusted.  Zawadi came to Neema after her birth when her mother,who had not been expected to live, could not feed the baby due to advanced breast cancer.  

Mom did survive and had another baby, after treatment with the local traditional medicine man, who, if you remember from previous blogs, is also Memusi’s grandfather.  

There were some fun things to see on the way home, like this rare long metal Maasai spear which was used in the old days to kill a lion single handedly. Miles has a way of talking people into letting him handle their weapons!

On the way home we caught this young boy with his homemade motorcycle which he seemed quite proud of.

A great day was had by all and we arrived back at Neema in time for dinner.

You might ask what good does short term missions like this do? You hand out sticky candy, you sing a few songs, you drink tea, you make a bracelet, and then you go home.

Michael came on a short-term mission trip to Africa in 1963. It changed the direction of his life and mine and the lives of our four children and our nine grandchildren and the three hundred plus babies God has placed in our care. And I think it has changed the lives of these 13 young people serving at Neema Village today.

If you helped send these young people to Africa, Bless you! You may never know what comes from this but God has a plan and it’s a good one! I’m sure of it.

Heri Ya Mwaka Mpya! Happy New Year, Everyone!

Michael and Dorris Fortson at Neema Village

Where Have All The Babies Gone?

Where Have All The Babies Gone?

December 31, 2020

It is always encouraging to see the totals for the year at Neema Village in Arusha Tanzania. Due to your generosity, in the midst of a world pandemic, our doors have remained open to receive babies who have been abandoned, like baby Dallas below,

or orphaned like Ruwayda below with Bekah,

or at risk babies, like Phillip who was almost starved and near death when he was brought to Neema Village. Look at this little cutie pie now and below that when he came in. Amazing, yes, it is the same baby!

By the end of December 2020, twenty-four babies have been admitted to Neema Village this year and Twenty-Six babies have been adopted or reunified with a family member, like baby Dorcas who came back for the Christmas celebration last week when Kassie Stanfield got a big hug! 

Our highest number of babies in house for one month in 2020 was 52 and as of today there are 43 babies living at Neema Village. We have you to thank for that as you help us “Stand in the Gap” for these precious little ones.  In eight and half year’s operation through in-house care and off campus support Neema Village has supported over 300 babies! Our God is not only Good, He is Big!

On our Christmas Celebration day last week some of our kids came back to Neema for a visit. It was quite a day especially when the five babies who are on our business cards came in and we took their picture in the same order they were in for the original picture. Elliott, the little boy in the picture above, was abandoned at the hospital and weighed only 1.65 kg, Zawadi on the right was abandoned at the bus station. The triplet girls were so tiny and the mother so near death that we brought all of them and the mother to Neema. All five were adopted or returned home by age two.

We cannot even describe to you how it makes us feel seeing all these beautiful children who lived at Neema as babies and then were adopted or reunified with family. Even Michael teared up once or twice that day.

Our goal has always been to get them back into a family. This year was a good year.  I lost almost my whole two-year-old bible class!

Shabani came back for a visit with his teacher/preacher last week. Shabani was one of our abandoned babies five years ago. After leaving him on the road, his young mom was found and taken off to jail and she became the impetus for our women’s program. But that is not the end of this incredible story. Stay with me!

Shabani went home with his grandmother at age four to a remote village where the elephants still occasionally came through and destroyed her corn field. She was very poor but loved Shabani and sent him to a little Christian village school.

Even though Grandmother was not a Christian she said Shabani could be raised Christian since he had started Christian at Neema Village and she changed his name to Jackson, a Christian name. This year Grandmother became a Christian.

Jackson’s teacher told us that Jackson called his grandmother from school and told her that now you must have a Christian name too and he named his grandmother Neema, which as you know means Grace.

If you have been following the story of Gideon, our little Mighty Warrior baby, here he is a couple of days ago. From 800 grams when he came to Neema to 1.69 kg, he is growing big and beautiful!

So you ask, Where have all the babies gone? Some have been adopted, some returned to grandmothers, some in Foster homes, some in boarding schools but each one left Neema Village with a song in their hearts, “Jesus Loves me This I know.”

He loves you too!

Michael and Dorris

The Mighty Warrior

The Mighty Warrior

December 23, 2020

He is the smallest baby we have received at Neema Village.

Little Gideon weighed a tiny 800 grams, not even one kg yet, when he came to Neema Village last week from the big Mt Meru government hospital in Arusha, Tanzania. Kassie Stanfield went with Angel to pick him up.

He was born on November 23, 2020.  His mom has been desperately ill since the birth and the father decided to take her out of the hospital and go back to the Maasai village for traditional medicine.  She is the second wife and Gideon is her seventh baby, she also has the sickness. Please pray for this poor mother, they lead such a hard life out in the villages and motherless babies have much less chance of surviving here in Africa.

When Angel and Kassie went to pick up the baby he was alone in a little wire basket in a backroom where the abandoned babies are kept, no tubes, no wires, just a baby wrapped in a kanga. He is certainly a fighter! We are calling him our little Mighty Warrior. We put him right into our incubator at Neema Village. Thanks to “Good Samaritan” in Abilene, Texas for the incubator!

Our wonderful nannies jumped right in, volunteering to kangaroo the tiny baby when he wasn’t in the incubator.

Bekah got a feeding tube in and we put three heaters in the isolation room at Neema Village to keep him warm. Not an ounce of fat on him, in three days he was up to 850g. 

When our big oxygen tanks ran out on Sunday afternoon we were scrambling trying to set up the oxygen machine Kassie had brought from the U.S. which makes oxygen.

Then we had a scare with his heart. Thank God Bekah was checking him when his heart rate went down to 21. We rushed him to Arusha Lutheran hospital where he is doing great and is now at 1kg.  Please say some mighty prayers for this little guy who is not out of the woods yet.

We had thought Michelle was little until we got Gideon. Michelle weighed 2.05kg and came in a few days before Gideon. The baby’s mother had died in childbirth and grandmother had also passed away so great grandmother brought the baby in to Neema. Hopefully a family member can be found to keep the baby when she is a little older and stronger. A virus is going around and we also have this little one in the hospital. We are not looking forward to this hospital bill with two babies in the NICU this month!

Arianna #2 was brought to Neema from an orphanage where one of the young girls had gotten pregnant. It has been one of those sticky situations and we are trying to stay out of it until Social Welfare can decide what to do. Our job is to love and care for this baby until a permanent home can be found for her.

Innocent, our latest abandoned baby has been sick but is doing much better now. He is a little cutie pie! I don’t get a lot of time to just sit and rock them these days.

At Christmas time with all these small babies around, we cannot help but think of the great gift God gave us when His Son came as a tiny baby, defenseless and helpless so that we would not have to be defenseless and helpless! He is our true Mighty Warrior! It is an amazing story if you have not heard it.

Tonight, as we tuck all our little ones in, we thank God and You for warm beds without hay, sterile floors without cow pooh and peaceful calm without all that cattle lowing!

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone!

Dorris

Away in a Manger IMG 1338
Our three boarding school kids, Malikia, Memusi and Nengai are home for the holiday and all our big kids are singing “Away in a Manger”

Flora’s Story

Flora’s Story

December 10, 2020

We ignored him, don’t make eye contact, Anna had said. He was drunk and yelling at us as we walked into the narrow ally followed by a curious, non too happy crowd.

You ask why were they angry? We wondered why too. We had just come to help. But the man who followed us out later, also angry and yelling, said we should have helped the old man. The old man followed us too and after I had shut my car door and started the car, to my surprise, he opened the car door and tried to push himself in, still fussing at us. I told him that at seventy seven I was probably older than him and he should back away from my car!

It was a bad area of town and we worry about Anna going into these areas to find a woman in need. God please protect her.

Flora is eight months pregnant; she has two children and was begging around town for a place to sleep.

A man let her sleep in a house being constructed and she left all her belongings there and went to the market to buy or beg for food. When she returned all her possessions had been stolen.  When we arrived what we found were a few pieces of rags, torn and dirty, on a small piece of foam on the mud floor.  The women selling vegetables in the market had given her something to eat and then called Neema Village to ask for help for this poor woman. 

As we listened to Flora’s story Anna began to cry first. She was interpreting for us through her tears. It is hard to hear how cruel, abusive and unfeeling we humans can be to one another. 

Flora is 26 years old, Joseph her son is seven and Faith is five. No matter how bad life got she said she would never leave her children. 

We feared for her safety after we left, afraid that the angry men would return and retaliate against her. Kelle had left her a little money and we were sure the men would take it from her.  We knew we had to get her out as soon as possible. And we did.

Today we went to visit a new woman. (above) Flora, safe and secure in a new home rented for her by Neema Village’s MAP program, has a big smile now; her kids are laughing as they welcome us.

Kassie Stanfield and Kelle O’Pry Samsill gave Flora lots of hugs and a welcome bag of fresh veggies from our garden.

I just could not help but think of the passage in Psalms 30:11 as I saw the stark difference in these pictures.

“You have turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sack cloth and clothed me with joy..”

Flora has a new big bed now with a soft mattress and blankets and sheets where all five of the little family will sleep together, and a gas cook stove, dishes and good food. Her children have not been in school because they did not have money for lunch or uniforms.  Their faces are expectant and bright now with hope that we will help them. God willing, we will. 

Back at Neema our baby love couch was full for a couple of weeks as we welcomed our first after-Covid volunteers. Ali Maddox, Kelle Samsill, Kassie Stanfield and Ashley Berlin with four of the sweet Neema babies pictured above.

With 49 babies at Neema Village, Kelle was doing double duty. Below she was welcoming our newest little one. Michelle at 2.05 kg was brought in from Social Welfare by her Maasai great grandmother after the death of her mother.

You may think you have heard Flora’s story before. Yes, you have, this story is being repeated almost daily in the lives of abused and abandoned women in Africa.

By God’s Abundant Grace sometimes we can help.

The MAP women’s craft store opened this month, five of our babies were adopted in the last few weeks and one little triplet girl returned home. By God’s Grace it’s been a good month.

It’s December of this crazy year 2020 now. Merry Christmas to all and may you have a soft mattress, a warm blanket and lots of good food for your Christmas table!

Michael and Dorris

Saving Moms

Saving Moms

November 23, 2020

We learn something new every time we do a safe birthing seminar out in the Maasai villages around Arusha, Tanzania. This trip was certainly no exception!

One of our volunteers last year, Karly Hargood, from the UK wanted to do something with lasting results out in a village. We told her the safe birthing seminars save lives!

Thursday we sent our big car and rented another car and 2 groups traveled about 4 hours out to a remote village. Karly and Anna greeted them with fun, games and lollypop quizzes like which mom has had the most babies, etc.

This is the village where our baby Neema Grace is from. She lost her mother in childbirth almost three years ago and her father was unknown. Many of our babies come from these Maasai villages. You may ask why? There are probably many reasons; lack of good medical care, lack of good nutrition, their tall, thin bones and narrow pelvic structure typical of Maasai and any number of other reasons. But one thing that certainly does not help is FGM or female circumcision.

If you follow Neema Village you have seen this picture below of baby Neema Grace with Bekah when we picked her up as an abandoned baby from the hospital. She is a big girl now walking into her village, above, with Nanny Juliette.

As the cars drove up to the village, they were greeted by the excited women singing and trilling.

I love their faces of joy as they greet visitors to their village!

It is such dry and desolate land out there it makes the vibrant colors these women wear almost pop your eyes.

They separated the group, young girls in one, women in another and then they pulled the men out into a separate group and Ben talked with them. The men don’t usually stay long at the women’s seminars anyway once the teacher starts talking about birthin’ the babies. (If you are squeamish you may want to skip this next part.)

Two Tanzanian midwives did the women’s seminar and they actually had a life-size partial mannequin of a woman’s reproductive parts to help demonstrate. It raised some eyebrows! Two lifesaving things they told the girls, first you must wait until age 18 to have a baby, your hips are not wide enough to birth until age eighteen or more. Some of these girls marry at 11 or 12.  Then they tell them the circumcision you do of scrapping off a woman’s private parts leaves her with scar tissue which does not stretch like normal skin so she tears and bleeds to death during delivery.  

At the seminar Karly gave out the safe birthing kits with nine things that save lives to the older women who deliver babies in that village.

The interesting information that came out of this seminar was that not only do they suture up the young girls after circumcision but if a woman’s husband goes off for a year or so to work, they cut and re-suture her closed again! UGH! These poor women don’t have a chance! When Ben talked to the men, he told them, “You are killing your women by doing this.”

The loss of Maasai women in childbirth is much higher than the average maternal death rate for Africa which the last time we checked was about one in twenty nine. This is not a statistic but we have been told by a group from church that works with Maasai that one in seven moms out in the Maasai villages will die in childbirth which makes having a baby the most dangerous thing a Maasai woman can do. It makes you cringe doesn’t it!

Even girls this young, below, are cut.

Since Neema Grace does not have a mother or father, the village leaders have given us permission to put her in school in Arusha. She will attend the same boarding school, Hope for Maasai Girls, where Memusi and Nengai go. The three girls will all come home to Neema village for school breaks and we will take them out for visits to their villages.  We have also told them if you cut them, we will bring the police and put you in jail!

Hear the excitement of the Maasai women as they greet the Safe Birthing Teachers in the video below.
Maasai Women Dancing at Safe Birthing Seminar IMG 3979 2

Bless those of you who sponsor our boarding school children. We just need about 16 more sponsors to have at least one sponsor per baby at Neema Village!! Contact us if you would like to know which babies have no sponsors. dorris@neemavillage.org

Love and Blessings,

Dorris and Michael

Trading Places

Trading Places

November 17, 2020

I will be as discreet as possible but I want to tell you the story of two prostitutes. No, not the ones in the story of King Solomon although that was quite a story too.  This story happened at Neema Village this month. A woman who was five months pregnant and has been making her living on the street since she was 16 years old came to Neema Village for help.

Entering Neema Village

Our plan was to eventually set her up in a MAP business but first she had to go through a program to get rid of the label in her head of who she had been. While she stayed in the Mothering Center at Neema this month, Ashley and I were studying the bible with her and telling her that God loves her no matter what she has done.  

The Neema Mothering Center pictured below.

She was sleeping a lot and didn’t want to come out and be with the other moms. She has Aids and is very skinny but didn’t like any of the food we cooked. She spent a lot of time in her room crying. Our nannies tried to make her feel welcome and the other MAP moms tried to include her in the weekly programs.  Anna, our MAP director was doing a lot of counseling. But she was having a hard time believing she was not at the bottom of the heap of humanity.  

Moms fun class below
Moms having fun making earrings in the Mothering Center.

Yesterday she was to go to a program designed specifically to get women off the street. With 91 young women, Pippi House was a bee hive of activities, children laughing, moms visiting together and a sweet red heart welcoming sign. 

We had been able to secure a place for her in the program but only if we would take one of their moms who had just finished a two-year program.   The new mom had just finished the program and others were there to see her off on her new life.

So, yesterday we made the trade. It did not go well.  

Our lady would not look at the director and facing the door she cried big desperate tears and told us that she didn’t want to stay. It broke our hearts too but she has to do this. We prayed in the office for her but it was still hard to get up, walk out to the car and leave her.

On the other hand, the woman we traded for is excited about her new business of opening a small food shop through our MAP program and is grateful for the help. She has cute little twin boys age two. We have found a home for her and gotten permission from the owners for her to open her food business in the courtyard by her house. 

 We bought her a bed, pots and pans, sheets and towels, mosquito net and everything she will need to start her business and begin her life over.  She had come to us with nothing and now could hardly find enough words to say thank you. We prayed over her new home and asked God to protect her from evil and bless her new business. 

So, this week we traded one very unhappy prostitute for one so grateful she could hardly speak.

Oh, the Ups and Downs of this work in Africa! Some of the things we do are almost unbelievable but as I have said before we can’t make this stuff up!

It is so true, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

MAP Mom Linett interview at Neema Village IMG 9365

II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.”

Can I just say how grateful we are for your support with the babies and the moms at Neema Village.

Love you guys!

Michael and Dorris