Category Archives: Uncategorized

On Loan From God

On Loan From God

April 3, 2022

We lost Loi today. I can hardly write the words.

Such a simple line to note the end of life for one of our precious Neema babies.

On Sunday April 3rd, 2022 Loitapuaki went to sleep in his little bed and woke up in the arms of Jesus. Loi never got to play on the swings or jump on the trampoline, he never went shopping or to school or to get an ice cream and he never got to go to church. He was already God’s little damaged baby. HIs was a simple life lived in his bed at Neema village with occasional trips in the stroller and sunny mornings on the front porch in his bed.

His last couple of years he was on oxygen and a feeding tube with the suction machine always close by.

Either one of his special nannies, Glory, Zawadi or Gertrude was with him, day or night, 24/7. We almost lost him a number of times but were able to pull him back. Doctors who stopped by would tell us he won’t live past age 2, then not past age 3, surely not past age 4, but Loi was six years old when he slipped away. We know the good care he got from his nannies kept him with us as long as it did.

He was Ashley’s special little boy. After teaching at Neema she would come in the afternoons to read to him and then prop his books up so he could see them. We never knew whether he understood a single thing we did or said, but we did understand that he belonged to God and was just on loan to us for a short time.

It’s ironic that a Safe Birthing Seminar is going on at Neema Village right now. We had to move the birthing class to the school to have the funeral. Some of his Maasai family came in for the funeral.

Loi and his twin were born out in a remote village. It was a horrific birth, his twin came first and later died. Loi was born four hours later and pulled out with crude forceps. After the mother died they brought him to Neema. Loi’s head was so damaged I had never seen another baby like that, I couldn’t imagine he would live through the night.

Our faith gives us confidence that today Loi can run and play and breath without a struggle. We hope he will tell Jesus that they took good care of me and loved me well at Neema village.

So many of you who volunteered at Neema loved Loi, we knew you would want to know of his passing.

It’s not just Loi’s life that was short, the older we get the more we realize Life truly is but a breath. The good we want to do, let’s do it now before it is too late.

Dorris and Michael

www.neemavillage.org

Click on the picture above to hear the Neema Nannies singing “In The Sweet By and By” at Loi’s grave site. He was buried next to our babies Christina Fortson and Olivia Fortson, two of our abandoned babies who died. This is hard.

Marching On

Marching On

March 27, 2012

Did you know that ten years ago this past Sunday Michael, retired and 69 years old, boarded a plane for Africa to start a baby home for abandoned, orphaned and at risk babies now called Neema Village? Isn’t God Amazing!”

March 30, 2022

Still going strong, Praise God!

In the baby rescue program two new babies came to Neema this month, Ivan and Fahima and two little ones, Jovin and Mohammed, were reunited with family. There are 55 babies in house today,

A young woman had knocked on a stranger’s door one night and said she and her baby had nowhere to spend the night. They gave her a room but around 3am they checked and discovered the mother had left and abandoned the baby. They kept him for five days and finally realized she was not coming back. Most of our babies are newborn so as an older baby little Ivan was very sad and missed his mother.

Sweet little Fahima’s mother died of the sickness and she has no one but a sixteen year old half sister who says she will take the baby when she finishes school. We have fallen in love with this bright eyed little angel and are praying God has a bright future for baby Fahima, pictured above.

Little preemie Mohammed was the baby Bekah took in at the gate during the Covid lockdown. Mo’s mother has recovered from her illness and was ready to take him home and baby Jovin’s dad and an aunt have decided they can keep him now. It’s a happy day for these two Neema babies.

The MAP program is marching on! This month we added our first rice business. The widow, Nasha Labahati, above, lost her daughter last year and was trying to feed and care for her six grandchildren. She came asking if we could help her get a field so she could grow corn to sell and feed the children. She didn’t know how old she was but we figured too old to be hoeing corn so we have set her up in a rice business through our MAP program. We will buy her a big burlap bag of rice, one per month for six months which she will break into small portions to sell. She can double her money and we will supplement her living expenses at $30 for six months until she can get her business established and have regular customers. A big burlap bag of rice cost about $150.USD.

You know Mother’s day is coming up, “A Bag of Rice for Grandma” would make a unique gift for your Mother’s Day! Contact me and I can send you a sweet picture of grandma.

Be sure and put simply “MAP Program” on the donation purpose line, or Sarah will get me! She might even send your check back since you cannot give a tax deductible gift in the U.S. to a specific woman!!

MAP moms Zainabu and Christina did not know how to read or write but through the literacy program in the Mothering center at Neema Village they do now! Zainabu, above, came up from the center to proudly show me her spelling workbook.

Christina, above, had run away from her Maasai village after her husband died and the village elders tried to force her to marry an old man. She wants to do a sewing business but she knew it would be hard to keep records without reading and writing. She is excited to know how to read now. We also have a Dress for Success room in the MAP center for girls like Christina who leave home with nothing but the clothes on their backs. After going through the program at Neema, Christina is ready to go!

Mama Noelle’s chicken and egg business is still going strong. She had enough eggs to make a gift to Paul and Jack Pape, the brothers who built her first chicken coup.

Teaching through videos and pictures, Kassie Stanfield’s “Save The Mothers” program is saving lives as the older women spend a week at Neema and learn how to safely deliver babies. I wish I had time to sit down and tell you all the stories that are coming out of that program.

They learn baby first aid along with how to handle things like retained placenta and the harm they are doing to young girls by performing the ritual of FGM (female circumcision)

On the “Save The Mothers” week at Neema it’s like a big slumber party for women 65 and older! We move out the sewing machines and move in the pallets and they all sleep in one room. Can you imagine the giggling and chattering that takes place in that room at night!!

Our staff got to take part in the big International Women’s Day held in Arusha this month. They had designed their dresses and hats and our sewing women made their beautiful clothes. Pretty Cool!

Michael and I have returned home for a few weeks but left some great volunteers including the Burkhalter family, John, Angela, Makenna, Aden, and Nicole and our Emily Moshi and a brother and sister from Italy, Nico and Viola Pattenati. Of course the Mighty Kim is Directing and holding down the fort! That is our little bundle of sunshine, Maria, in the middle. Missing you all like crazy!

May God bless you and keep you until we return!

Dorris and Michael

www.neemavillage.org

Once A Neema Baby, Always A Neema Baby

Once A Neema Baby,

Always A Neema Baby

March 2, 2022

We had been putting off this trip since December, now with the rains coming we had to go. Grandmother Shabani had come to Neema Village at Christmas time and begged for some help with her house. She said it was falling down, it leaked and when it rained, she walked in mud inside the house.

You could see daylight through the walls. It was not a safe house for Grandmother or Shabani to come home to from boarding school for three months a year. 

If you follow Neema Village you will remember little abandoned baby Shabani who went home to live with his grandmother a few years ago. His mom had been just sixteen when she left him on the street and the police caught her and took her off to jail. Like the Moses story, she had been watching to see who would pick him up. 

Shabani is a big boy now and one of our brightest little guys.

When Grandmother came to Neema Village in December, we had given her a mattress and she had somehow gotten that home on a bus. But a niece with her new baby had moved in to live with Grandmother and she had the bed while grandmother still slept on the floor. 

As poor as these people are they still try to take care of each other with the little they have.  Amazing.

Shabani’s name had been changed to Jackson when Grandmother decided he could be raised Christian since he had started life in a Christian home at Neema village. We were thrilled about that and especially when Grandmother herself became a Christian and changed her name to Neema.

But now it was time to check on Jackson and his grandmother’s house. It was a long day of driving; four hours out and four hours back. It only took a few minutes to see that they were in trouble and needed help. The house was definitely leaning and with a heavy rain might easily fall down.

There would be no way to “shore it up,” we would have to build a new house with a a good foundation. It won’t be expensive just a rock foundation, cement block walls and a tin roof. At Neema we will wield two metal windows and a door for the house and carry those out to the building site. 

But it will mean a couple of our builders going that far out to the village to stay for a few weeks to get the work done.  They will need a place to stay, a rented truck to carry the building materials and to travel back and forth to town and they will need food while they work. With out a Holiday Inn in Africa these kinds of problems are never easy but with God’s help we can do this!

It’s for our baby Jackson, and as you know “Once a Neema Baby, Always a Neema Baby.” Shabani has always been special to our family, our daughter Kim White’s son Tanner had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise support for Shabani a few years ago.

A big Thank You to the crew who traveled out to the village to check on Grandmother’s house, Marion Lamoriniere, Kelle Samsill, Kim White, Ashley Berlin and Emily Moshi.

We hope your house is standing strong today and in this shaky world of wars and rumors of wars that you’ve built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

Dorris and Michael

www.neemavillage.org

The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

The Rains Came Down and the

Floods Came Up!

February 20, 2022

The rains have come, Thank God, but with thunder and lightning crashing across the dark night and rivers of rain washing our top soil down the hill I was fearful that the cow barn would slip down the back side of the cliff this week! Instead of cats and dogs it rains giraffe and zebras here!

Rama has been sleeping in the cow barn since Daisy’s calf is due any day. Hopefully this baby will come soon. But we have no lack of babies in the baby home at Neema Village!

Kelle Samsill and the Fort Worth group with Maria and Julius love to sit on the baby love couch with the little babies.

New baby Ester, below, was brought to Neema February 16th by Social Welfare. Her mother is HIV positive, has throat cancer and some mental problems. The grandmother could not take care of both the newborn and the mom. Hopefully another relative can be found or mom can be healed. We should pray for that. We want this beautiful little baby doll to have her family to grow up with.

And yes this is a real live baby!

Ashley Berlin got to name one of our recent babies, Tayo, below, which means “boy full of happiness.” 

His mother abandoned him on a dala dala, the local transport system, but the people chased her down and took her to the police station. On the way she tried to smother the baby. Our staff went to pick him up and got to see the mom. She was talking to no one not even the police. We offered to bring her home to Neema with the baby but her eyes were blank and she did not seem to care who took the baby. 

She might have been beaten since the volunteers saw bruising on her side.  Our babies go through so much before they come to Neema Village but I suspect these moms do too. Please say a prayer for this poor mom as you put your little ones to bed tonight.

Baby Joshua came to Neema on February 10th. His mom is mentally ill and burned the house down so Social Welfare picked up the baby and called Neema Village. He had been given raw cow’s milk so we were fearful there would be some tummy issues through his first night but he was a good baby. His eyes speak volumes and we will never know all that this precious baby has been through.

The twins, Nashooki and Esupati, came to Neema with their mother and a neighbor this month. The twins are around 18 months old. These little girls are Maasai and were severely malnourished with big heads and skin stretched over the bones in their little faces. Their tiny bodies and thin arms and legs don’t seem to fit their large heads.

Their mother has HIV and is not taking medicine and does not want to take it. She wants to keep the babies with her but keeps trying to breastfeed them. She is also very weak. We are trying to encourage her to get the medicine and take it so she will live for her girls. We know she loves them. We told her she is welcome to stay at the May MAP apartments on campus and visit the girls but she did not want to stay. Below the girls after one month at Neema. They love their cookies!

The twins got to come to bible class and learn to Pat Pat the bible. Thank you Lottie McCormack for the bibles. They have now been properly chewed and slobbered upon!

 This little dumpling below got to return home this month. Baby Grace went home with her dad and an auntie who has moved in to take care of her. Her mom had died at her birth but her dad came quite often to see her. She was ready to go home. It is exactly what we want for these little ones.

 We often see street beggars with their cups in downtown Arusha. 

This month a street beggar carrying little twins walked to Neema Village for help. Dorinni, below, had finally had enough and told us through her tears that she just couldn’t go back out there.  She is a widow and had moved back home to her mother for help after her husband died. When her mother died she went out on the streets with the little twins to beg. 

She was living in filth and the babies were sopping wet when they arrived at Neema. As Nicky and Abby tried to give the babies baths you could hear their shrieks all over the baby home!  

After they took the mom and babies back to their one-room home in town they laid the babies on piles of dirty clothes which seemed to serve as their bed. Anna and Gilead went back the next day to clean and were appalled at the bugs in and on everything.

I guess when water cost money and you beg for every shilling you must use water sparingly.  Dorinni really wants a different life for her children so she will begin coming to classes at Neema and then we can set her up in a vegetable stand business. Hopefully things will be better for Dorinni and her beautiful twins.

Kassie has planned two Save the Mothers birthing classes this month and these Bibis (grandmothers above ) continue to save mothers out in the remote villages through this program.

Rain and sunshine always bring new life to the earth and New Life is also what is happening for these babies and moms at Neema Village.   Bless you for being a part of that.

Our big girls Hosi, Lightness and Neema Grace are sending you Sonshine and Flowers this month. Cute photo Ashley Berlin!

Love you guys,

Dorris and Michael

www.neemavillage.org

Bibis graduation IMG 8895

It’s not Pomp and Circumstance but it’s just as exciting for the Bibi’s (grandmothers) graduation from Kassie and Mercy’s Save The Mothers class at Neema Village.

I’m Feeling 22, How About You?

I’m Feeling 22, How About You?

January 11, 2022

The little Maasai twins Nosiligi and Naleku at Neema Village look just like we feel!

It can’t be another year already!

It always blesses my heart to see how faithful God is every year and last year, with the world still in turmoil, it was no exception. As we wrap up the books on 2021 at Neema village, we thought we would share some news with you.

(Nothing like a Sunday Afternoon nap on the front porch, right Amy Miller? And Caroline the music teacher’s drum class, above, is always a hit with the babies and volunteers.)

Thirty Six (36) new babies arrived at Neema Village in 2021. That is always bittersweet for us, we love that we are here for them but we despise the tragedy in their lives that brought them to us.   All the Neema babies have a tragic story or we would not have them.

They come to us from Social Welfare and sometimes through the Police like little Edison, above, whose mother tried to sell him in the market.

A new baby came to us right as the old year was ringing out. Sweet baby Nelson, above, had lost his mommy in childbirth and had been in the hospital over a month. He was born Nov 25, 2021 and came to Neema on December 30, 2021. He was still so tiny and weighted only 1.6kg at over a month old, when he came to Neema. Babies in Africa have a hard time surviving to age five if they lose their mothers. We are in love with him already and Angel is working on a plan to get him into a family by age two. 

We were able to put 27 babies back into a family unit or in foster care/boarding school in 2021.

Tiny Baby Selah above, an abandoned baby, is growing big now and will have a brand-new mom and dad someday. Look at her fat little cheeks.

Neema Village had three adoptions of abandoned babies like Selah last year.

With the 36 new babies coming in and the 27 babies going out for adoption or reunification, we ended the year with sixty (60) babies in house.

Now this is a Full House Mr. Saget!

People have finally started braving the airways and our volunteers are returning. With the Aggies for Christ students from A & M University, we have 22 volunteers at Neema today.  Whoop!   

What a cool day our Aggies for Christ girls had last week! They helped with a program for young girls at an orphanage down the street on how to avoid early marriages and pregnancies. Many of these orphan girls have run away from villages to keep from marrying old men. Some sweet bonds happened between the university girls and the young girls who have been so traumatized in their lives.

There are 88 moms now in the MAP (Mothers Against Poverty) program at Neema Village.

Our newest MAP mom, Shamimu with her baby and MAP Director Anna above, ran away from her husband because he beat her. He beat her a lot and so often that she became deaf from the beatings. Beating a woman seems to be acceptable here. Ugh! This poor mom found her way to Neema Village for help. If you look at her wall upper right, she had written “God Save Us.” Fortunately, she came to Neema on a Thursday when we were having the “Women’s Rights” seminar where an attorney, Winnie, teaches these women they have the right not to be beaten. I love this program.

We will try to find some medical care for Shamimu and maybe her ears can be repaired. She is so frustrated and sad because he took away her hearing. We have moved her into the Jeffrey Scott May MAP houses and will help her start a business. Right now, she doesn’t see how she can do anything because she cannot hear. Our volunteer, Kassie, who is 24 years old, was broken hearted for this poor woman who is exactly her same age. Every MAP mom we help is depressed and sad when we first meet them and you can see the hopelessness on their faces. I hope we never grow so used to these tragic life stories that we cannot feel their sadness.

You can see it on Shamimu’s face as she holds her baby above.

Interesting story! About eight or nine years ago an ACU Bible class professor let me speak to his class about our work at Neema.  A young girl named Julia Prior attended that bible class. Years later she took a job at Young Life and then learned her boss was planning a trip to Neema Village to volunteer. Julia remembered that class and the lady who spoke all those years ago. Amazing isn’t it. Now Julia and her boss Karla and daughter Ella are here volunteering at Neema.  Our Mighty God, not limited by time, always remembers and is constantly putting things together for His people. Romans 8:28.

Neema Village did three “Save The Mothers” programs last year and 34 traditional birthers (older women who birth the village babies) came to Neema, spent a week on campus and learned how to more safely deliver babies. They also learned the great harm they have been doing by circumcising their young girls. Kassie Stanfield plans to have nine more STM sessions this coming year.  

The Daycare program is one of the saddest yet sweetest programs we do at Neema.  We are in our third year of keeping special needs babies so their moms can work and each day we are at capacity at the house we rent down town. We are hoping soon to move that daycare into the Mothering Center on the Neema campus and then build a new Mothering Center for the MAP program. We have way outgrown the Mothering Center for our women.  All in God‘s good time. We won’t build until we have the money so if you know someone whose name would look good on a Mothering Center building in Africa and they have a heart and resources to give let them know about this life changing program. 

One of my favorite pictures from 2021 is Sophia, our little Muslim girl, out of her wheelchair and sitting on the front porch reading her Bible. Isn’t She gorgeous.

Wonders never cease.

May God grant you laughter, some quiet time and plenty of hugs in 2022.

Dorris

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

December 24, 9 p.m. Tanzania Time, 2021

Merry Christmas from Neema Village!

Our 59 babies and children are nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of mangos dance in their heads… Well, it may be something like that.

Christmas is a big holiday in Tanzania and we don’t neglect it here at Neema Village. Our staff payday and Christmas celebration was held on Thursday, and it was quite an event. Everyone pitched in to prepare more food than we could eat. We killed the fatted goats, and everyone received a Christmas gift. Thank you to the many who contributed to those gifts! As we read the story of Jesus birth on Christmas Eve we are most thankful for that one special baby who came.

Following the lock-down last year in 2020, this year has been much better. We have loved the return of many volunteers, and look forward to even more volunteers in 2022. If you haven’t made your plans to come to Neema Village to help out next year, it is not too late. Honestly, Dorris and I feel safer from Covid here in Tanzania than we did in the USA.

This month, December, has been a month for receiving many new babies, like our newest baby, Edison, whose mother was trying to sell him in the market. The police brought him to Neema Monday night. Rescuing babies who are orphaned or abandoned, or at-risk is why we are here, and even though we are often over capacity, we will continue to make room for one more. We know that God will provide a way and we are dependent on his Grace and Mercy.

Dorris and I are so thankful for the many people who donate to keep Neema Village running. We truly live by faith month to month and God has never disappointed us. Thank you for allowing God to use you to care for these precious babies and children. Although others may not contribute funds, we know there are many who lift up Neema Village in prayer. Thank you for doing that. From the first day until now, almost ten years and 380 babies later, prayer still sustains and encourages us.

Dorris and I are blessed to serve God as volunteers at Neema Village, and we are happy to spend Christmas with the babies and staff.  We do miss our children and grandchildren, but we pray that you and your loved ones will have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Praying for God’s Mighty blessings to be upon you,

Michael and Dorris Fortson, Co-Founders

Neema Village

Those Pesky RMDs!

Those Pesky RMDs!

December 21, 2021

If you are over 70 years old and required to take a yearly minimum deduction, (Required Minimum Distribution) from your IRA, you can have that deposited directly into the Neema Village 501c3 account. If it saves on your taxes it could save an abandoned, orphaned, or at-risk baby at Neema Village! Two of our donors decided to do that this year; we thought you might want to know about it too. We have a broker ready to receive your RMD; just give us an email at neemavillageinc@neemavillage.org before December 31st!

The Isolation room has seven tiny babies, Nanny Glory and Nanny Gertrude are caring for those little ones today. Caroline, in the middle, is our music teacher and just goes around to sing for the babies after her classes.

The work you do at Neema Village is precious, we are so grateful to be the administrators of God Grace through you! www.neemavillage.org

Dorris and Michael

Drummer Boy video IMG 7279

in the small baby room Teacher Caroline and Nanny Anita are singing for the twelve little babies in that room. There are 58 babies on campus right now!!

What a way for Michael and I to spend our retirement!

No More Room at the Inn

No More Room at the Inn

December 13, 2021

The knock  didn’t come at midnight, it came at 5pm… quittin’ time… on Friday.

A mom with newborn triplets and nowhere to go. Her abusive and drunkard excuse of a husband had no food at the house, no clean diapers waiting, no soft blankets.

All she could do was cry, the thin, government issued sheet soaked with her tears. She couldn’t stop. Hopelessness.

The nurses call God’s people. They will help. But it’s 5 o’clock Friday and we are full.

The twelve beds in the Jeff May House for women each have a mom with little ones, full up, no more room at the Inn.

How could we say no?  Not at this time of year. A mom and her babe with nowhere to go?

So, we buck up, we get on the phone and start calling. Call Cliff to be ready to go pick them up. Gather up some tiny clothes and blankets. They never have blankets. Tell Ephram she’ll need some good warm nutritious soup to make her milk. Ritha will need to head back to work, let’s clean out a room at the Edwards/Dawson Blessing house. We’ll need diapers, lots of them, sheets, water, the room has no bathroom so she will need to walk outside and down the porch to the visitor’s bathroom.  Don’t forget the toilet paper. And she’ll need towels to take a shower. And soap.  The room had been empty for a year waiting for those Covid restricted volunteers to return. It was full of bugs. The floor crunched under my feet as I inched the door open.

Bado Moja, one more, come on guys, we can do this. One more mom in trouble, three little precious bundles of hope. Let’s go. Hold us up Father God!

When your life is full, make room for Jesus. Unlike the Inn keeper that dark night, don’t let the biggest thing that could ever happen to you slip by because you didn’t have room.

Michael and I are wishing you a Merry Christmas, full of Joy and Peace.

Love You

Our First Mobil Maternal and Fetal Health Clinic

Our First Mobil Maternal and Fetal Health Clinic

December 7, 2021

We left Neema Village at 5:45 am Wednesday. Guzzling early morning Ugandan coffee, we were glad to reach Longido and the choo by 7:30. We were picking up a doctor and two nurses at the government clinic and traveling with them to do our first mobile maternal and fetal health clinic out in a remote Masai village. Many of them live in very poor conditions and have little access to good health care.

We were excited. We were going to be working with a government health clinic and we would be doing pre-natal care, family planning and AzIDS testing for pregnant women, baby wellness, vaccinations against Polio, teen girl counseling and Covid shots for those who wanted them. We would also set up a prayer corner for the pregnant moms and babies. 

AIDs is still a killer in Africa with about 12.2 million cases and often they do not want to admit they have it so they don’t get the free medicine that will save their lives. We were hoping to get the pregnant women tested so they could live for and protect their babies.   Many of our babies are from these remote Maasai villages, including our latest baby, little Dorcas whose mom died.  

Along the way we were to meet up with some of our TBAs (traditional birthing attendants) who had been to Neema for Save the Mothers training.  We also met up with these guys (below) along the way as well as gerenuk, gazelles and a flock of guinea fowl.  Since Kassie is a giraffe magnet we saw plenty of giraffe on the trip.

Not sure you can see the animal below but it is there.

After a long wait of “they are about ready” (“about” being relative to anything from 5 minutes to 45 minutes) and then, “Oh we don’t have copies to hand out, can you stop at a store in town and make 50 copies before we leave,”( it was a fairly large assumption that anyone they would hand these out to could actually read), we pulled out of Longido at about 10am just a few hours late. 

When I asked how far we were going, Kassie said, “Once you turn off the paved highway, you go until the dirt road turns into a path and then you keep going!” Sure enough there was a path.

With the lack of rain as we traveled we noticed how “maskini” the cows were. Maskini actually means poor but that seems to fit these poor cows.

In the car a lot of chattering was going on as Mercy, our midwife teacher, grilled the two birthing attendants we had picked up about how things were going since their class. We have now taught 34 traditional birthing attendants some safe birthing techniques and are always interested to see if they have used any of the skills they learned. They had and were eager to talk. But we were finally glad to arrive.

When we arrived we met first in a tin box. Literally.

We met first with the village leaders in the small tin room. You never start a meeting without everyone of any importance having their say.

Kimwati is an area with about 6,000 Maasai, and at first we didn’t see very many women but we soon learned they were in the school rooms.

Getting the room set up for the exams was quite fun since we had to hang the babies from the rafters with our car tow strap to weigh them.  They had forgotten the rope. Kassie and Grace had fun fashioning a makeshift sling to put the little babies in to weigh them.

Grace Moore from Ireland had gone with us and we were grateful for her help. She works at a big Safari Lodge in the Serengeti game park and came to spend her month vacation holding babies at Neema Village. Grace was a low maintenance, high work volume volunteer. Thanks Grace!

As the day wore on, the women kept coming.

We saw one little guy who seems to have epilepsy because his mom said he keeps falling over. He had open, caked-with-dirt, sores all over his face from the falls. The mother thought he was cursed so during the prayer with her we mentioned how much God loves this sweet child and wants him to live. The doctor visiting with the mom learned that she would not or could not walk the 50 km every month to get the medicine since she has another small baby. It is hard for these villagers who live so far from medical care.  We also saw a little boy whose tongue and eye lids were white. He looks pretty anemic or has leukemia. He held my hand as long as his mom stayed with us. 

We saw one child that the nurse thought had polio and one two-year-old still not sitting up. Those three we gave transport money to come to town to Neema Village next week. We pray they will come. It is sad that we must still give polio shots.

At 3pm the women kept coming but I was getting weak in the knees so had to stop for a PB and J sandwich, our standard fair for Maasai trips.

As we were getting ready to leave, the school principal said he had ten school girls that he thought might be pregnant. They checked out four girls and it ended that two of the girls, in primary school, were pregnant and will have to drop out of school. These girls are between 12 and 14 years old. Once girls are circumcised, they become women and get married and then they have a baby and school is finished for them.  

FGM continually creeps up on us as the basis for so much that is impossibly hard for these women. Mercy said 90% of the women we saw today had been circumcised.  It is a slow process to change a centuries old custom but we keep praying and remembering that our God is a God of the Impossible!

It was a good day and an estimate count of women and children seen was 87 children vaccinated, 20 nutrition assessments done, 15 pregnant women checked and 28 women counseled for family planning. Others received various shots and medicines.

It was a good day, long but good. We hope to do many more of these clinics.

Even though we saw some hard things to deal with today we are confident with David in Psalms 27:13 “We will still see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Blessings,

Dorris and Michael

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Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

November 18, 2021

After packing 15 suitcases, weighing, repacking, weighing again, repacking again… finally just paying the fee for overweight bags, we made it to our Home Sweet Home in beautiful Tanzania, East Africa.  This picture was taken from the front of the David and Lyndy Edwards Blessing house. It is dry, dusty and hot here but still beautiful with lots of mangoes in the trees.

Now we will have time to unpack and look at all the lovely clothes everyone sent for the babies’ Christmas and to restock our baby closets. It may look to volunteer Grace from Ireland that new clothes were just in time too!

The toddler girls in their Sunday best below. Kelle in purple and Arianna and Venosa together with Ivan and his girls in the bottom picture below. Could they be any cuter? Well, maybe a little smile would be cuter. They usually go through a “you left me so I am going to be a little standofish for a while” thing when we return.

Ivan and his girls. Poor little buddy, he is in the toddler room all by himself with a group of baby girls!

A Great Big Thank you to everyone who helped fill this closet with clothes for us!

And Thank You to the loving fingers who crocheted the colorful, soft blankets for the isolation room babies.

When we send babies home, we always send a bag full of clothes and blankets with them so we get low on clothes sometimes. So far this year we have sent 20 babies home to their forever families, like little abandoned baby Hope who was adopted this year,

Monday night we returned to Neema Village to a full house especially in the isolation room where there are 8 new babies. The smallest is Nasiri, he is two months old and still only weighs 1.7kg

This little precious one below is in the hospital with a stomach bug. They stuck her a number of times in the hands and finally went to the head for the IV. Baby Judith may be little but Emily says she has a grip.

It’s the end of the year and three of these big boys, Isac, Ema and Eben, will be going together to the big SOS school in Arusha next week. They are excited. 

I know you will be emailing me about this but please remember we are a baby home and only take babies up to age two at Neema Village. We have always believed that no baby belongs in an orphanage so we try to have them back in a family home or adopted by age three or four and if that is not possible into a good boarding school. Sometimes their home life is not good enough for a return and the relative will not release them for adoption so boarding school or foster care is the next option. We have twenty-four children in our foster care/school program. Most English schools start children at age three here. It’s hard to think of these little guys in boarding school but remember this is Africa, not America or England.

The MAP program, helping African women who have been abused and abandoned, continued while we were in America.  Nine young women are in Neema’s current sewing class. We will need 7 more sewing machines for them when they finish the class in a few weeks.   $325 USD helps us pay for the teacher and house cleaner, their machines, sewing items, fabric, food on class days, and keeps the lights on! You might think about that as a Christmas gift for someone who already has everything but would enjoy the thought of helping someone else at Christmas.  Let me know and I can send you a picture of one of the seven to receive a sewing machine. Christina (shopping below) will start a business sewing Maasai wraps.

Editha, (below) is our newest MAP mom. She is seventeen and was in quarantine at Neema for a few weeks while her baby’s horrible skin condition healed. At home in USA River her mother has died and her father is very sick. Her five-year-old brother lives with them and they have very little in the home. MAP will help Editha support her family with a small duka (shop) selling things like salt, sugar, and soap. Our shop manager Baraka built her stand where she will sell her products. We bought her a bed and her business and support for six months will cost $600. Supporting a MAP mom would also be a great Christmas gift.  

This week Neema’s “Save The Mothers” program is in session again in the Mothering Center. This is Kassie’s third session this year teaching now thirty-four traditional birthers from remote villages how to safely deliver babies.  Can I tell you how much I love this program! These Bibis (grandmothers) cannot speak a word of English or even Swahili but we love them. We love their spirit, their smiles and willingness to jump into songs and dancing and the fact that they would come to a strange town to a strange home with things they have never seen like stoves and coffeepots, and that they would all sleep together on the floor for a week, eat different foods and listen to strangers speak a different language all day and show gory, moving pictures of birthings so they can then go home and completely change how they have done things for centuries in their villages!  I just admire them so much. They give Kassie a run for her money somedays but she is tough and committed and holding her own. Actually, Kassie doesn’t take any money to do this program. She has paid her own way here at Neema for over a year. That is what our volunteers do!

Traditional Maasai Birthers

While in America this trip we did purchase a compressor for the Neema Village Tanzania Water Well project. With the down hole hammer that we brought last trip home, we were able to get through the black rock but were not able to rent a compressor big enough to blow the chips out of the hole so the bit kept getting stuck in the hole. The compressor cost a bit more than we had hoped to pay, $14,000 USD and the shipping costs, because of Covid and ships unable to dock, has almost doubled in price. While in the States we also purchased 20 more drill stems to go down 400 feet. Each one cost $175. USD. Now that would be an unusual Christmas gift!! 

“Hey Hon, your Christmas gift this year is a drill stem for African water wells!”  I like it!

Scott Lockett and Alan Sandor are looking for a 20 foot shipping container to send the compressor and drill stems. If you have one sitting in your back yard and you would be willing to donate it to our nonprofit for a tax write off, we would really appreciate that. Or if you are willing to buy one for us that would be great too. Please let us know soon, we need to get this compressor on the ship. 

Scripture tells us, “You don’t have because you don’t ask.” So, today we are asking and believing! I am convinced God’s people have everything we need to do His work. It is His job to touch your heart. It is our job to tell the story. www.neemavillage.org

Love you all,

Dorris and Michael

Witnessing A Miracle

Witnessing A Miracle

November 7, 2021

Kim calls with news from Neema Village.

A mom has come to Neema begging for help. A few years ago, her husband had gone to work in the mines and there was a cave in. He and nine other men were buried and their bodies never found. 

You can see it in her face as she talks, there is no closure for this mom; she is still hoping he will come walking in the door someday.

Her name is Anna Francis but we call her Mama Neema. She has four children; the oldest girl is named Neema. One year after she lost her husband, Neema fell into the fire and was burned over much of her body. Many Africans still cook on a wood fire on the floor in the middle of their homes and children being burned is a common problem. Neema’s hands and arms did not heal well and her fingers were frozen like claws.

Mama Neema had sold everything she owned to pay for surgery to help Neema’s elbows bend but her hands are still needing surgery. She had been at Plaster House and was recently released and had nowhere to go. Flora, one of our MAP moms who was there learning to walk without four toes from a burn, told her about Neema Village. (Flora, below, after her surgery)

So Mama Neema came begging. The family has been sleeping on the floor of friend’s houses. They have nothing.

Kim was with Anna, our MAP director, as Mama Neema told them her story. (Below, Kim and Anna out interviewing another mom)

When the mother realized that Neema Village was not only going to help with her immediate needs, that we were going to give her a place to live while she got back on her feet, that we would start her in a business to help her take care of her family and that we would help pay for the surgery for Neema’s hands, she fell on her knees, arms raised in Praise, and began crying and shouting “I’m saved, Praise God, I’m going to live!” 

There are no words adequate to describe moments like this. “This woman received a miracle and Anna and I got to witness it,” Kim said. Knowing Kim and Anna, there were no dry eyes in that room that day!

Kim says, “To see God’s miracles in your own life is an incredible thing. Witnessing a miracle in someone’s else’s life, right in front of your eyes, is nothing short of a Gift from God.” That He lets us be administrators of His Incredible Grace is our beautiful gift! I sometimes think we are just like a great big “God funnel.” He funnels it in and we get to funnel it out!!

On that same day Social Welfare brought in another mother with her new baby (Kasim, Above).  The mother is very young but is a prostitute on the streets and does not want the baby. She said, “You take him or I will put him on the street. I can have four men a night and make 50,000 shillings a night, I cannot have a baby.” 

Anna tried to talk her into staying with the baby at Neema Village for one night.  “Just give us one night,” Anna pleaded. She told her about our MAP program and that she could have a different life but it remains to be seen if she will stay and if she will keep the baby. Please be praying that God’s love for her will reach this young mother’s heart.

Two other new babies came to Neema Village this week, Nasiri (above) and Philbert (below). Kim says, let’s just call him Little Bert. I don’t know their stories. I will get those later. The baby home is a full house, so be praying for the Nannies, too!

From the highs and lows of daily life at Neema Village, a day can leave you breathless one minute and exhausted the next. But this is not unusual, it is what we do by God’s Overflowing Grace.

As we head back to Africa and the babies and moms at Neema Village please remember our personal mailing address (Not the Neema Village mailing address) is now :

Michael and Dorris Fortson

524 Tynes

Robinson, TX 76706

We hope you get to see a miracle this week; if not, be one for someone else!

Don’t Be Afraid, You’ve Got Me!

Don’t Be Afraid, You’ve Got Me!

October 22, 2021

Two adoptions this month and one baby is reunified with his mother. That makes us so happy. Baby Innocent’s mother was deaf and had other disabilities when Social Welfare decided she was unable to care for a tiny baby. We are so happy that she is now able to take Innocent home. Our little granddaughter Maria loves all the babies especially Innocent. (Video below is too cute for words!)

Innocent goes home 28237AED 973A 45A0 9442 A5B8B40CF81F

Handsome Prince abandoned in one of the gardens at the hospital, was brought to Neema Village a few months ago. He had been well cared for and left with a note telling us his name and medical records. It is so sad that this poor mother felt she had no choice but to leave her sweet little boy. A Tanzanian woman who had been wanting a baby for a long time adopted him.

We have been wondering when God would send a forever family for little abandoned baby, Hope. Her mother, who had wanted a boy, left the hospital to get some food and never returned. A member of parliament came this month to adopt this baby. It is always our hope and prayer that these babies find a loving and stable home and that they find Jesus there as well. Go with God Little Hopie, remember we loved you first.

When you have little resources in your life you can feel very alone and afraid. That is how Esther felt talking to Kim and our Women’s Rights attorney, Winnie last week. Esther speaks Maasai and leads the Birthers around campus below. She gets them to class, activities and meals.

She is one of the young girls living in an orphanage down the street for Maasai girls who have run away from their villages usually to keep from marrying an old man. Esther was caught in a pre arranged marriage with a huge bride price already paid. She ran away and we were visiting the little Swahili church down the road a couple of years ago when her mother walked seven hours in from the village to see if her daughter was ok. It was a tearful reunion and a bit hush-hush because money and cows were involved and the husband was looking for his run-a-way bride. (Esther below reading her Maasai Bible)

Esther told Kim how angry the jilted husband was and how he was harassing her family in the village and now her father is beating her mother to get the money from Esther. Kim set up a counseling meeting with Winnie, the Women’s Rights attorney. When the meeting in the office was over and Esther was crying and saying how alone she has felt with this problem Winnie, the attorney, got up, went around the desk, put her arms around her and said, “Don’t be afraid, you’ve got me!” Kim says that has become the new mantra around Neema when volunteers, moms and staff express a problem they are facing, “Don’t be afraid, you’ve got me!”

Sweet new baby Judith (above) came to Neema Village this week, another little one who will never know her mother. It is so sad to lose important, well known, big people in the world but who will know and who will cry for these little ones? Bless you for following their stories and supporting them.

Updates from the last blog; the mom with the baby with the horrible skin condition (above) has been at Neema in quarantine for about 3 weeks and is looking better. We have moved her out of quarantine and into the MAP houses. She looks so happy now and I am sure that baby feels better.

The mom who came to Neema with a horribly burned leg had surgery and is doing well. Her husband was abusive but she is in our MAP program now and is living in the May MAP houses on campus. She will join the Women’s Rights classes and learn that she has the right not to be beaten. Many African women do not know that!

One last bit of good news for you today. Anna, our MAP director came into the office a few days ago with big tears running down her face. She said Tausi, one of our MAP moms, came to see her today with a box with 2 million shillings (about $1,000) inside. Tausi had been homeless after her husband left her because she had two Albino children. After we brought her to Neema, through our MAP program she attended business and Bible classes and then started a charcoal business and a vegetable stand. Now she has saved enough money to buy some land so she can own her own home! Awesom, from homeless to homeowner. She also accepted Jesus and was baptized this summer. The Grace of God at work!!

I pray that we all know today that we are not alone. Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:20 “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”

I’m pretty sure that is what Jesus is saying to us today, Don’t be afraid, you’ve got me!

Dorris and Michael