Category Archives: Uncategorized

Baby Ruth Hits A Home Run

Baby Ruth Hits a Home Run

July 26, 2020

I always think I will write just a short note letting you know the latest from Neema Village. Then I start thinking about all the cool things that God has done this month like what happened to Baby Ruth and the astonishing transformation of Margareth, the girl from the dump, and the words just won’t stop!

On August 26, 2013 a newborn baby was found in the grass in a stranger’s front yard. He was naked, still had his umbilical cord attached, and had a rash on his cheek from laying in the grass all night. It still makes me cringe to think of what might have come up in the night to sniff at him. Poor little guy.

Social Welfare brought the baby to Neema and we named him Daniel. Daniel grew and grew, he became like a little tank, healthy and strong but with a gentle spirit.  A family from Dar es Salaam came to adopt a baby and they chose Daniel. They connected immediately, probably because the mom always brought cookies and Daniel loved food of any kind.

(I don’t know how the following picture got in here, except that I am a chocoholic and love Baby Ruth candy bars!)

But on with the story. A few years ago, another baby was abandoned when a mother asked a stranger to hold her baby while she went to do something. The mother left and never returned.  We named this little abandoned baby Ruth and called her Baby Ruth. She was quiet and shy, didn’t smile much and never stood out when people came looking to adopt. Ruthie got older, had not been chosen to be adopted and was finally moved up to the big girl’s UCare house.

The big kid’s houses, Montana and UCare are usually for the kids who have some family problems or medical issues that make them un-adoptable or unable to return home.   By the time the kids get to the big kids houses they are usually not adoptable and we foster them and put them in school in town. (Montana and UCare houses on the Neema Village campus pictured below)

But 400 miles away in Dar es Salaam, Daniel had decided he wanted a little sister and began to pester his mom about getting one. They didn’t want a little baby and when they came to Neema Village Ruthie was just the right age for them. So, Daniel got a little sister and Baby Ruth got a forever family. I like to think she hit a “Home Run” with this sweet family. (You probably have to be over 50 to understand that)

Last year we told you the story of a young mom picking up used plastic bottles from the dump. She would rummage through trash until she had a huge bag of dirty bottles and then take them to the plastic grinding plant where she was paid 1,000 shillings per bag, or about .50 cents.

We went with Anna and Kim to find this young girl and could not believe anyone could stay in such an inferno; the grinding machine was so loud it would “adle the brain.” Which is what we thought happened to Margareth. When we went to interview her, we knew there was something terribly wrong with her, her eyes were vacant, she never smiled or spoke a word, only sucked on a candy that we gave her baby.

Much to our surprise Margareth has flourished in Neema’s MAP program. She began taking sewing classes at Neema last year. When we returned to Africa after Covid 19 this year, we found she was taking computer classes at Neema!  I just have to laugh at how God surprises us all the time.

The schools are opening again in Tanzania and our Neema Village Day Care for Handicap babies will reopen in August. We can’t wait. These little ones, like Bryson, need all the help they can get to reach their full potential in life.

As you continue to buy things through Amazon, please remember to buy through Amazon Smile.  It is Amazon’s way to give back. Set up Neema Village as your “Charity of Choice” and they will give Neema Village 5% of your purchase.  We are registered with Amazon as a nonprofit so you just have to scroll down the list of nonprofits until you get to Neema Village, click there and everything you buy will make money for Neema. But be sure you choose Amazon Smile when you go to Amazon to purchase something. Asante Sana!

May you always be surprised at God’s Mighty Hand in your life!

Michael and Dorris

Mama Ezekiel and The Pombe Business

Mama Ezekiel and The Pombe Business

July 14, 2020

We have been back in Tanzania and Anna asked if I would go with her to check on a mom who needed help. Our MAP program helps mothers in need with housing, food, support and small business opportunities. After a year and a half, we have 72 moms in our MAP program. God is Good Indeed!

This mom had a business of making Pombe (a local corn brew which could sterilize your nostrils from half a mile away!) and which was not a good business for her. She has four children and the men coming to buy the beer were causing much trouble. The local Commissioner called Neema Village to see if we could help her.

We took off down the dirt road but soon had to leave the car and walk in. The path led us through a winding trail of mud and stick houses with squawking chickens and crying children afraid of the strange Mzungu (me) walking by. We called, “Hodi” as we came to Mama Ezekiel’s door.

Mama Ezekiel, Paulena, has four children. The youngest was damaged at birth and the husband, ashamed that he would have a child like that, abandoned the family. Paulena began making and selling beer in order to feed her four children. Inside the house we found she had only one bed and she, Ezekiel and one of the girls slept in the bed. The other two children slept with friends or neighbors.

Ezekiel is seven and a big boy now. It always touches me how these moms with handicap babies are so proud of every little thing their children can do. Paulena was proud that Ezekiel could bless Anna by putting his hand on her head, a common custom here. Anna is always so gracious to these moms and their babies.

It is hard to keep from crying as we hear these women tell their stories of abuse and abandonment. Paulena would make a pail of brew but the men who came to buy would often run away before paying. Drunken men would hang around her house and she knew this was not safe for her children.

Ezekiel is a sweet child who tried to smile at us even though he was afraid. After talking with Paulena we decided to move her to a safer neighborhood and start her in a vegetable business. Her new house, below with the yellow door, is concrete and close to a major road where she can do a good business.

After the visit Paulena and Ezekiel came out to walk us back to the car. I don’t know about you but when I see this mom holding this big boy I wonder just how much longer she can carry him around! We may need to get her a stroller.

These African women are the strongest women I know. She tied this big boy on her back and off we went!

A vegetable stand is always a good business here since local Tanzanians do not go to the big super markets. With six months rent at $102, the vegetable stand with vegetables at $250, and monthly support at $30 per month for six months while she gets her business going, Mama Ezekiels’s business will cost about $532. USD.

As we drive off from these visits Anna always sings her song.

“The time to be happy is now

The place to be happy is here

And the way to be happy

Is to make someone happy

And we have a little heaven down here.”

May you be blessed with Health and Happiness and a little Heaven down here,

Michael and Dorris Fortson, Directors and Founders of Neema Village Tanzania Inc.

http://www.neemavillage.org

Anna's song MG 6409

God Puts It All Together

God Puts It All Together

 

June 29, 2020

It’s Just the Sweetest Thing!

In December a newborn was found abandoned and the police were called to pick him up. The baby’s total history was on a paper tag on his wrist with the name “Tuesday.”

Today baby Tuesday has a new name, a new mom and dad and he will never be abandoned again.   Thank you, God, for the plans you had for this baby from the beginning. From such sadness comes such great joy. This sweet couple could not wait for the virus to be over so they could come in and pick up their new son.  Can’t you just feel the “Is he really ours!”wonder in this picture!!

That is baby Tuesday above, we called him Austin.

Our MAP program at Neema Village helps moms who have been abused, used and abandoned. This week Anna, the MAP Director and our daughter Kim White (below) went out to visit a mom who was in trouble.

Until a few months ago, Aneth and her husband were leaders in the small town of Usa River outside Arusha. They had a nice home and two children, they were looked up to in the community and were leaders in their Seventh Day Adventist church. But polygamy is accepted in this country and Aneth’s husband wanted a second wife. With Aneth resisting he decided he would just take off her head. He swung the machette but she put up her arm and he made a deep cut in her arm instead.  Then he ran off abandoning the family and Aneth and the children lost their home and became destitute.

After the interview Aneth was enrolled into the MAP program. She makes seventy-two women who have had a dramatic life change thru MAP (Mothers Against Poverty) at Neema Village. Have I told you lately how much I love this program!!

But now read how God orchestrated the rest of the story. 

Meshack, our second baby at Neema was one month old when he was brought in from the Maasai village eight years ago. His mother had died at his birth and Meshack was starving. At the father’s request we brought the baby in to Neema and he stayed with us for about a year then went back out to his village.

He is a very loving, gentle, eight-year-old now. We have had him in boarding school but we recently learned the boarding house had some big boys who had been on the street and were rough with the little guys and stealing their food.   We desperately needed another home for Meshack. (Our daughter Kim and Meshack below)

This is where the lives of Meshack and Aneth converge. A cleaning lady for the boarding school told Neema about the problems Meshack was facing at the school. A friend told Aneth to check out the MAP program that helps women at Neema Village. Aneth needed help and Meshack needed a home.  MAP has now moved Aneth into a two-room home close to the school, bought her beds for the children and will set her up in a business. We will pay Aneth each month for Meshack’s care and food. It’s a win win for both Aneth and Meshack.  Isn’t God amazing!!

Neema’s newest baby is this little heart-faced baby bull. Five baby bulls in a row, what’s with that! Scott suggested we name this one Ribeye. We are not too happy with our cows right now, they got out and ate the vegetables in our garden last night.

We have been harvesting dried beans at Neema. You let them dry to a crisp in the field, the women bring them in on their heads, then you beat the bushes so the beans fall out onto the tarp. Kim decided this would be a good job for our big kids and it looks like Jackson had fun!

Kim says we may get enough beans to last the whole year. That would be nice since we feed about a hundred meals a day at Neema Village and we cook a lot of beans.

I love seeing pictures of our road at Neema. We made those bricks on campus three at a time. It took us months to get enough bricks to make this road! It is usually full of babies and strollers.

We are anxious to get back to our Africa home and meet the ten new babies who have come in since we left in February. It has been a bizarre trip home and not much we had planned to do has gotten done. We did get another audit finished and were tickled when the Auditor told us our administrative costs for Neema Village were still under 5%.

We have tickets on Ethiopian airlines, now if the planes will just be flying into Arusha and we won’t have to quarantine for 14 days!! Please be praying for us!

All by God’s Abundant Grace

dorris and michael

New Little Twins at Neema Village Today

New little Twins at Neema Village Today

June 23, 2020

Kim called from Africa today; little twin girls have come to live at Neema. They are a month old and their names are Happiness and Grace.

Their dad had been killed in a bodaboda (taxi motorcycle) accident before the twins were born. If you have been to Arusha you have seen the bodaboda as they zip in and out of traffic getting people to work and shopping. It is a rough way to make a living for these young men and accidents are common.

The babies’ mom bled to death during the delivery. They are Maasai and the Maasai prefer to birth at home but sometimes the older women who deliver the babies need a bit more training. Six of our newest babies have come from this same area and all lost their moms in childbirth. It is beyond sad and so needless.

We should do more Safe Birthing seminars like the one we did a couple of years ago with Dr. David Vineyard, a gynecologist from Nacogdoches. Lindsey, David’s wife, and Dr. Jeff McCormack and his wife Tina, from Oklahoma Christian University, helped with that Safe Birthing Seminar. But to get out to these remote villages for seminars as well as drilling water wells we are needing to buy a Land Cruiser. Our town cars are being beaten to pieces.

There were 6 children in the little twins’s family and the mother’s sister was trying to keep all six of them along with her own children. It was too much for her so the precious babies were brought to Neema Village.

We will love them until a family can be found for them, hopefully before the age of two.

You may not know this but Amazon will donate .5% for every purchase to a charity of your choice. Neema Village is registered with Amazon so we are already set up to receive their donations. It is so easy to do this. Just go to Amazon and click on AmazonSmile. It will prompt you to choose a charity. Please scroll down and choose Neema Village. You can certainly make a Neema baby Smile by choosing Neema Village!

From the two Champion Smilers, Julius and Maria, Thanks Everyone

Free At Last!

Free At Last!

June 10, 2020

The Lockdown at Neema Village is over and the President says Tanzania is free at last from Corona!  That is such a relief to know! With 60 babies on campus and a large staff caring for them it was a rough time with almost a hundred people including the babies, volunteer directors, five cows and a hundred chickens locked in at Neema Village! The nannies were overjoyed to finally be able to go home!

(ATT: We added a large group of new addresses to our email list this month so if you are receiving this email for the first time it is because at some point last year you donated to Neema Village.  We wanted you to know how your money is being spent.)

If you are new to the blog let me quickly tell you what we do at Neema Village. We are a baby rescue center for abandoned, orphaned and at-risk babies in Tanzania. We only take babies two years old and under. And let me tell you babies are just plain expensive! So thank you for your gift to Neema Village!

The Arusha Social Welfare sends babies to Neema Village that have been orphaned by the death of their mother, abandoned, or at-risk babies (born with conditions that they would not survive in the villages, like Loitapuaki being read to to by Ashley Berlin from Casper Wyoming). One in 22 moms die in childbirth in sub-Sahara Africa. Shocking isn’t it! When a mom dies the children have a drastically reduced chance of surviving to age five. 

Baby Phillip, who lost his mother, was 3 months old and weighed only 3.3 lbs when he was brought in to Neema. He is still on oxygen so please keep praying for him. Every time our daughter Bekah tries to take him off, his oxygen level goes back down. Neema bought a $2,000. oxygen tank to keep him alive during the lockdown since no one could go out to refill our smaller tanks. Way to go Neema Village, this is what saving babies is all about.

The first week open after Covid, one of our sweetest babies was adopted! Little Mason, above, was an abandoned baby and a couple from Dar es Salaam had been looking to adopt him. Some of our babies have been left on roadsides, in a gravel pit, by the river, a bus station bench, a latrine, in the grass. etc. Mason’s mother left him outside a health center and the police were called to pick him up. We were just loving him until his new mom and dad could get here.

They could not wait for the lockdown to end so they could get in to see him. This week they were able to come in and hold him. They spent a few days with him, feeding him his bottle, changing him and getting him to bed. They were a pretty excited couple as they flew off to Dar with their new son. Neither Neema Village nor Social Welfare accept money for adoptions.

Two other abandoned babies are being looked at and paper work is being done to adopt them. Austin, above, and Patric, below, will be the next ones to be adopted. Such cute babies who will soon have their forever families. Praise God they will never be abandoned again.

So Neema Village is back to doing what it does best. 

In addition to the 59 babies on campus now, there are 71 full time employees at Neema Village. Only Tanzanians are paid a salary at Neema Village in Tanzania. We like that and I think you will too. Hard working nanny below with three babies. This is what happens when we don’t have volunteers!!

Stay with us for the next few emails and we will tell you about our small business program for moms called MAP (Mothers Against Poverty) helping women who have been abused and abandoned and our outreach program to help the poor, and the Neema Village Day Care for Handicap Babies and the Water Well drilling project.  God is busy at Neema Village!

All of this is done, not by us, but by the Abundant Grace of God. Michael and I are just two retired people who love what God is doing in Tanzania, East Africa.  If you want to do something that matters, that makes a lasting difference in this world join us in the work at Neema Village. Thank you for supporting this precious work in Arusha, Tanzania.

And come see us, I think you will fall in love with Africa and the moms and babies at Neema Village too!

Michael and Dorris Fortson. www.neemavillage.org

Tanzania Water Project Leader Dies in Dar es Salaam

Tanzania Water Project Leader Dies in Dar es Salaam

May 19, 2020

The man who brought life giving water to over 50,000 people through the Tanzania Water Well Project dies in Dar es Salaam.

We were saddened this month to hear of the death of Mahimbo Mkumbukwa. Mr. Mahimbo was the leader of the drilling crew for the Tanzania Water Project in which so many of you have been involved over the years.   Sean Kennedy sent word this week that Mahimbo had died of blood cancer, most likely leukemia. We are still in the States and had planned to begin drilling water wells as soon as the country opens up and we can get back home to Neema Village. We are sad that we will not get to drill a well with Mr. Mahimbo. We were looking forward to that. Mahimbo came to Neema Village a couple of times and got to see the babies. He visited with Michael in the office and I took this picture of him then.

Sean Kennedy Writes:  “Mahimbo was a devout Christian, strong believer, and great advocate for helping those in the greatest need, regardless of their religious affiliation, by providing clean and free water to villages throughout Eastern and Northern Tanzania. He joined the Tanzania Water Project in February of 2015. Under his Well Team leadership, the TWP drilled 33 wells, located from an area surrounding Dar es Salaam all the way up toward Mount Kilimanjaro and Arusha. His wells served an estimated 50,000 people. His extensive professional knowledge in hydrology, geology and drilling techniques made for an incredibly successful track record in a region where water well drilling is high risk and fails regularly: 28 of the 33 wells drilled were productive and successful, an 81% success rate. He ends his TWP mission on 9-consecutive successful wells run, and had an 11-consecutive successful well run previously. The ripple effect of his work is impossible to estimate, hard to grasp. Each well provided safe drinking water, instantly and dramatically improving village health. Women whose daily task was to walk 2 to 5 miles to collect water instead began to stay home and care for their family. Crops could be grown and nourished where before that was impossible. The benefits go on and on, the reach even more so. As part of the transition of the TWP to Neema Village, which was formalized late last year, Mahimbo sent these closing thoughts to the parishioners of Christ Church. Originally contained in the Annual Report submitted for TWP in January, it is all the more meaningful now as he has joined the saints.”

Mahimbo Mkumbukwa wrote before his death: “I wish to thank the Almighty God for the Blessings to all of us for the work done so far, that He leads you to raise funds and mobilize tools and personnel to facilitate the project work, that thousands of people now are having clean water through this blessed work. God bless. We thank the board members of TWP for sustaining the project to date. We thank the donors; may the Almighty God bless you for your generosity. We thank the Church, Christ Episcopal, for initiating this project of giving clean water to our people. We know for sure that it is through this congregation for God, the Project was initiated. As Jesus loves us all, you also love our people, that you give them a gift of life, clean water. God bless you all. We would like assure you that we will proceed with the work, as we’ll be blessed. We pray God that you continue to raise funds so that we work for the people, to give them clean water. We hope through God this will be possible. God bless. We are so lucky that everything will be victorious in the Name of our Lord Jesus.”

Memorials sent for Mr. Mahimbo will go toward the first well to be drilled in the village where one of the Neema babies lost his mom in childbirth. We have remained in close contact with this Maasai family, pictured above, and are always struck with the arid land around the village. Many of our volunteers love to visit Joshua’s village. It has been our dream for many years to give water to this village. Please pray for the success of this first well. To send a memorial gift go to www.neemavillage.org and on the donate page on the purpose line write “Tanzania Water Well Project”.

I think Mr. Mahimbo would love this.

All By God’s Abundant Grace,

Michael and Dorris Fortson

Directors of Neema Village and the Tanzania Water Project

Announcement: Neema Village to Drill Water Wells!

Announcement:  Neema Village to Drill Water Wells!

April 30, 2020

We are pleased to announce that Neema Village is broadening it’s outreach to include helping remote villages have water. We have long had the vision that we could provide water for some of the areas from which our babies come.

About five years ago, we became acquainted with the Tanzania Water Project, which was begun and operated by a Church in Nacogdoches, Texas. TWP shipped a portable drilling rig to Tanzania about seven years ago, and they have drilled 44 wells for rural communities in the Dar es Salaam area. In the last year, the decision was made that they could no longer continue that project. They also decided, however, to offer the project to Neema Village. After little discussion, our Board of Directors voted to accept this offer, with the idea that we would drill wells in the Arusha area.

Many people, like the Masai woman on the right, walk miles each day for a jug or two of water. There is a great need for clean and easily accessible water for thousands of remote villages.  TWP has now been transferred to Neema Village Tanzania, Inc. With this gift comes the portable drilling rig, a 20 foot container, and other supplies and equipment.

 

 

 

 

Neema Village is still in the process of restoring the drilling equipment to full functionality. A number of repairs and modifications have been necessary, and we are making plans to purchase a larger vehicle to tow the rig. All the equipment has now been transported to Neema Village in Arusha. We have had a number of talks with the drilling crew in Dar es Salaam, and tentatively plan for them to travel to Arusha when we schedule the next well to be drilled. We have already identified several villages that need water, and pending on the results of the water survey and receiving drilling permits from the government, we will choose one of them for our next drilling site.

We have decided to keep the TWP website, which has much good information and the history of this good work. The website will go through revisions in the next few weeks. There will be links between the websites for TWP and Neema Village.

Neema Village is a faith-based organization. In addition to rescuing babies, helping widows and women through small business opportunities, and now bringing water to remote villages, we want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Living Water. We believe that TWP will open doors to do just that.

Right now, we ask that you pray with us for the people of Tanzania, who are currently facing the spread of the corona virus pandemic in their communities. Tanzania does not have the resources to deal with the virus, so pray with us that God will intervene and spare the people from this contagion.

You are invited to let us know your thoughts about the above announcement. You can communicate through the below email address. You are also invited to financially support TWP. As I am sure that you realize, drilling water wells requires funding. We would appreciate your support. We would like to assure you that donations made to the water well project will only be used for that purpose. Should you want to make a donation, you can do so through the “Give Now” button on the Neema Village website. Be sure to specify that the purpose of the donation is to support the Tanzania Water Project.

A note of concern: While we are thrilled with the prospect of using TWP to drill water wells for remote Tanzanian villages, we do not want to divert donations away from our primary mission of rescuing abandoned, orphaned, and at-risk babies. It is important that we guard the funding which supports the babies. We pray that TWP funding will be new donations and that donations for the babies will not be diverted away from them.

We look forward to undertaking this great work of bringing life giving water to the people of Tanzania, East Africa.

God bless,

Michael Fortson, Founder/Director

Neema Village Tanzania, Inc.
www.neemavillage.org
michael@neemavillage.org

 

Quarantined But Happy

Quarantined But Happy

April 23, 2020

Day two of the Quarantine at Neema Village and a new baby is passed from Angel to Bekah through the gate.

Bekah and Kim had made plans about the “What Ifs” during the quarantine and this time a “What If” actually happened. Angel, our Social Worker, got the call on day two of the quarantine that a baby needed picked up at the hospital. Angel agreed to stay outside the quarantine so she can go to the hospital to pick up the babies. She has two virus protection outfits and I am sure she was the only person at the hospital in masks and full gear.

New babies are always weighed, cleaned and dressed and then have their first bottle at Neema. The hospital does not have bottles so we get to give them their first bottle. For this baby he will have to go into isolation to make sure he has not brought the virus in to the other babies.

Little Mohammed was named at the hospital. He was born February 20. His mom had gone home after the c-section but the incision opened and became infected. A konga (large colorful cloth) was stuffed into the open wound. She also suffered a fistula from the difficult birth. She was admitted back into the hospital and is seriously ill. Please pray for her. Sweet Little Mo is malnourished, long and skinny but alert. He finally stopped crying and took his first bottle.

Just a few days later and Mo is looking so much better. He will need a sponsor. None of the eight new babies who have come to Neema in the last few weeks have sponsors. 

It has been raining for four days in Tanzania and finally the sun came out and the babies got to get out for a walk. Is there anything cuter than happy babies?

Maria, below in the red sweater, is holding Nasra who has finally gotten big enough to get out of isolation and go for a walk outside. Nasra was about two pounds when she came to Neema. She is a big girl now. Praise God.

Yehhh! Bryson in front, Dorcas in the pink dress and Jackson make for a happy walk. Look at that happy smile on Jackson’s face in the picture below.

Forty One Neema staff have left their families and moved on campus until the quarantine is lifted. They love to play games with the big kids. Since all Tanzanian schools are closed our big kids are back home at Neema.

God has provided a safe place for these abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies during this virus. We are so thankful many of you are praying for them. When this is all over we will expect you back at Neema Village. Please say a prayer for Bruce White since Kim missed her last flight out of Tanzania and is not able to get home.

Matthew 19:29 “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times back as much and will inherit eternal life.”

I think that must go for the ones who are anxiously waiting at home too.

Love you guys,

dorris

For Such A Time As This

For Such A Time as This

April 21, 2020

Little did we know that when we came home for a few months in February and left Kim and Bekah in charge of Neema Village that they would soon be facing one of the greatest challenges of their lives.

(Kim’s family above with her husband Bruce, the Saint). Neema Village will be going into hard lock down tomorrow, Monday April 20, 2020. Tanzania has now closed all it’s borders, the last flight in or out is now closed. Which means we will not be able to get back in and Kim will not be able to get back home to her family until the planes begin flying again.  She has accepted it and we believe God has put her at Neema for such a time as this.  (We are missing our volunteers!)

With so many new babies, the task of getting ready to lock everyone in has been daunting.  Kim is a super organizer, but I cannot even begin to tell you all the things she has had to do and think through to lock down this busy baby home. Michael and I are so sorry we are not there to help. Actually, Linda and I are thinking of wading a river in from Uganda with suitcases on our heads to get back in to help!!

On Monday morning the nannies who have no children at home will be moving into the volunteer house and they will not leave to go home until this is over. (nannies in volunteer house above). The guards, cook and maintenance men will move into the Mothering Center. They have all signed an agreement and understand they cannot leave campus and then come back in until the lock down is over. It was a bit rough for them knowing they would be leaving their own families and if something happened, they could not be with them. There were some tears. They will be compensated well with double pay, they all wanted that but it was still hard for them.

I hope they remember that Kim is half way around the world from her family and receives no money for her work at Neema. I can’t even find words to describe that, I think it is pure sacrifice. Kim pictured above with some of the diapers and goods for the lock down.

With the school kids home at Neema (all schools in Tanzania are closed) and all the new babies that came in this month, the idea of keeping 57 babies and employees fed, housed and safe from the virus was a full time job.   For two weeks Kim and Bekah have worked with Emanuel and the staff, making lists and bringing in essentials. The shelves in the stores are emptying out because the ships bringing in goods are not allowed to dock. “There are no more diapers to buy in this town,” Bekah said, “because we have bought them all!

She has had to think: Do we have enough formula for 2 months, what to do with the cows, the chickens, the garden, do we stop all building projects (we cook for the builders), will the nannies actually agree to leave their own families and move on campus, where can we sleep them all, how can we feed them all, how can we feed the chickens and cows, how would we get a plumber in, what if we run out of water or cooking gas or electricity, what if we get a new baby, what if we get sick, what if one of us dies??? 

All very real questions and many more they have been working through for the last couple of weeks. Yes, it’s been daunting. Someone asked about cutting the grass during the lock down since David the yard man is not considered essential. Kim answered, “I can’t think about the grass, I’m trying to keep everyone alive!”

Elesha below helping in the garden is definitely essential.

 The little things like getting beds for everyone has been a chore but they have gotten it done. The farmer, cow men, and gardener will not sleep on campus but will walk in behind a rope down the fence line and into the bottom area to take care of the cows, chickens and garden.  We had to build a bathroom down in the garden since the men could not come up to the baby home.

The milk buckets and baskets of eggs and produce from the garden will be left there as well and clean milk buckets set out each morning for the milking. 

Kim has bought all the malaria medicine and Zpacks she could find at the local pharmacies. Our oxygen tanks were all leaking and no one could fix them so they had to buy a large oxygen tank which cost about $2,000 USD for baby Phillip who is home from the hospital but still on oxygen. There are no ventilators to be had anywhere or I’m sure they would have tried to get one of those! 

Kim said yesterday, “Mom we all have headaches every day from trying to think through everything we would need to have a lock down and keep the place running and everyone fed and the lights on and making sure no one gets sick.” She had told me earlier that she would do everything she could to make sure they were all safe no matter what the cost.  She has had our nannies sewing 450 masks. She sent 150 masks to the local hospital, (they had none) and she sent 100 to Social Welfare (they also had none). All our staff got 2 masks and gloves. The staff staying home were given bleach and soap as well. Kim and Bek called a big meeting and explained to them how to stay safe.    Our school kids are modeling the masks.  

Michael and I could not be prouder of our girls. They are amazing.  

I have to admit we are scared for Africa, this land we have loved for half a century. Our local doctor there says when it hits it will be hard and fast and then it will be over quickly. We are praying that the years of malaria medicine which most Africans have had at some time or another will protect them.  We are also praying that God will step in and say, “Enough!”

Kim says many of the people are terrified. Some of them have seen this before when smallpox, measles, polio, Ebola, the white man’s flu all came scouring over the land leaving villages deserted and babies motherless. Our nannies believe in the power of prayer and called for a three-day fast.

Then we got a new abandoned baby in and they named her Faith. How appropriate for such a time as this.

 For all those precious ones in lock down at Neema Village:

“When you come to the end of all the light you know and are about to step off into the unknown, Faith is knowing there will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.”

 I love that.

Loving all of you who support this beautiful work, too.

Dorris and Michael Fortson. Neema Village www.neemavillage.org

A Full House!

A Full House

April 14, 2020

A Note: Please watch for my next newsletter, I will be updating you on the plans to go to hard lockdown to keep the babies and staff safe when the virus hits Africa. For now here’s a.m. update on babies.

Angel, our Social Worker at Neema Village, went to the hospital to pick up a baby last week whose mom had died after having a c-section. When Angel got to the hospital they asked her to take an abandoned baby as well. So she came home with two babies.

It’s a tough time in the world today but I cannot imagine anything worse than being an abandoned baby in Africa in the middle of a world pandemic. The baby, (above) was left at the hospital. Nanny Juliette has this little no-name baby girl with jaundice outside in the sunshine.

*The nannies have since given her a name, Faith. How appropriate for this scary time in our world.

Little boy Mishack, above, was born March 25th. His mom had a c-section in the hospital. She died while in recovery and this little one was left motherless. Hopefully a family member will step up to keep him after he is stable. For now we are standing in the gap for him.

These four newborns are Furaha #1, Lucy, Neyesu and Furaha #2. Furaha means Joy in Swahili. You just can’t have too much “Furaha!” Baby Furaha #2 and Neyesu are twins. But how sad, three moms who will never hold their babies. Lots of mouths to feed, currently there are 19 small babies! with a total of 57 babies, toddlers, crawlers and big kids on campus.

Phillip, the little one who was brought in almost starved, is back in the hospital and our nannies are staying with him 24 hours a day. . They are giving him TB medicine and antibiotics for pneumonia. Poor little guy is a fighter. Please continue praying for him and the nannies who are staying with him.

Alive, Sung by Neema Village Children's Choir

Click on the picture above and hear our big school kids sing their favorite song “Jesus is Alive.” Some of them came back to Neema to make a DVD of thirteen songs for you. We are sharing a song a day for 13 days on Facebook as an encouragement during this trying time.

If you have never been to Neema Village and wondered what it looks like to drive on campus this is it. We are built into the side of a mountain, the bricks on the road are handmade right there on campus and we have had to plant lots of bushes and grass to keep the dirt from sliding down the mountain. Folks tell me it looks like a mansion on a hill and it does but we built for $24 dollars a square foot and All by God’s Abundant Grace!!

Michael and Dorris

Sikuku, Oh, Happy Day!

Please Click on the link above and let the Neema Village nannies sing a beautiful song of hope and peace to you.

In trying times, songs of Happy Days ahead can lift us up.

Psalms 27:13 “I am confident of this, I will still see the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

Now that you have heard that beautiful song, let me tell you I am a bit discombobulated!

When this evil virus was announced a few weeks ago I went to the store along with everyone else and bought lots of canned food in case there was a famine. Things like canned meats and vegetables, dried fruit and enough rice and peanut butter to feed an army.  Now after being in the house for two weeks I am beginning to wonder whatever possessed me to buy canned peas! or canned turnip greens?  I can tell you canned pot roast does not taste like real pot roast no matter what the label says. And dried beets, what’s with that! And who eats spam except on a camping trip? Actually, if you fry the spam until it is crispy it’s quite editable.

And I was driving to my sisters to take her lunch today and turned my blinker on to signal the turn. The windshield wipers came on!  The blinker was on the other side of the steering wheel and I turned into the wrong lane! I haven’t been outside driving and had digressed back to how we drive in Africa. Fortunately, no one else was out driving. They were all in their houses where the President has told us to stay!

Yes, I am a bit discombobulated!

And then I talked to our daughter, Kim White, who is in Africa with the abandoned and orphaned babies at Neema Village until we return in May.

She had read something she wanted to share.

“Social Distancing is a privilege. It means you live in a place large enough to spread out.

Hand washing is a privilege too. It means you have access to running water.

Hand Sanitizers are a privilege. It means you have money to buy them.

Lockdowns are a privilege. It means you can afford to stay home.”

And your school closed means you were privileged enough to go to school.

Most of the world’s people are not privileged enough to do any of these, including many of the people working at our baby home in Africa.

As I thought about our nannies coming to work each day in crowded face-to-face dala dalas (public vans) and how they bring the day’s water for their family into their house in a bucket from the public spigot down the road or the polluted stream in front of their home and how most of them live in a one room home and sleep in a crowded bed with the whole family, I know we are privileged.

This pandemic crises, which is truly awful, will be over someday and we will go back to our privileged lives, most of us unaware that the everyday crises of half a million moms dying in childbirth every year and handicap babies hidden in dark rooms and 3 million little girls cut every year in FGM and millions of children dying from drinking dirty water, and 200 million little girls waking up every morning wishing they could go to school and knowing they never will, etc.. etc… and that these crises will continue on because they happen to the poor and not the privileged.

And we will be left wondering what we are going to do with ten cans of peas and turnip greens.

Stay Safe Everyone,

Love you,

Dorris and Michael.

Still Saving Babies at Neema Village

Still Saving Babies at Neema Village

March 18, 2020

Amid Corona Virus, Neema Village staff and directors are doing everything they can to protect our vulnerable babies such as Neema’s newest baby Phillip, pictured below. His grandmother had been trying to feed him raw cows milk after his mom died in childbirth.

Kim White, better known these days as The General, has put Neema on lock down. Volunteers have been cancelled, some are still trying to get home amid the airlines cancellations.

No drop-in visitors are allowed and staff is checked at the door with thermometers and hand sanitizers.

The Arusha stores are having the same run on supples as the rest of the world so Kim is buying a 3 month supply of baby formula, rice and beans, corn, oil, baby wipes, diapers and other essentials. The diapers filled up one load in the van!

Diesel to run the generator is critical so they have stocked up on that as well. With babies like Phillip, who have no fat on their tiny little bodies, power to run the heaters, incubator and warming table is essential. City power here is notorious for going off.

Schools are closing all over Tanzania so our big kids in boarding schools are coming home to Neema. It is always fun to see our school kids like Meshack, Nengai, and Memusi. It does mean extra mouths to feed. God is Good!

I dislike posting pictures like this, we prefer to show our chubby, happy babies but real life happens at Neema Village. I wanted you to see little Phillip’s eyes. He is three months old and weighs about 4 lbs. Please be praying that this little guy will survive.

We are so thankful that our daughter Kim is at Neema. With her organizational skills Neema Village is preparing to meet the Corona Crisis. I know she and Bekah, Hannah and Ashley as well as staff and nannies are exhausted. Please be praying for them as well as baby Phillip.

Did you know that 365 times in scripture God says “Do not be afraid.”

Blessings,

dorris and michael.