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