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,