A Scruffy Little Boy

A Scruffy Little Boy

February 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

We have seen poor before, this was really poor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to those of you who make this happen.

Being about the Father’s Business at Neema Village,

Dorris and Michael.

God Is Still Good

God Is Still Good

February 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know he would like that.

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

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

We love you guys,

Dorris and Michael

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

The A&M Students Visit A Maasai Village in Africa

The A&M Students Visit A Maasai Village in Africa

January 8, 2021

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

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

Nengai’s father welcomed us into the first village.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heri Ya Mwaka Mpya! Happy New Year, Everyone!

Michael and Dorris Fortson at Neema Village

Where Have All The Babies Gone?

Where Have All The Babies Gone?

December 31, 2020

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

or orphaned like Ruwayda below with Bekah,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He loves you too!

Michael and Dorris

The Mighty Warrior

The Mighty Warrior

December 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a Merry Christmas Everyone!


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

Flora’s Story

Flora’s Story

December 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By God’s Abundant Grace sometimes we can help.

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

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

Michael and Dorris

Saving Moms

Saving Moms

November 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even girls this young, below, are cut.

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

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

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

Love and Blessings,

Dorris and Michael

Trading Places

Trading Places

November 17, 2020

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

Entering Neema Village

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

The Neema Mothering Center pictured below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAP Mom Linett interview at Neema Village IMG 9365

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

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

Love you guys!

Michael and Dorris

The Pumpkins Are Loose!

The Pumpkins Are Loose!

November 11, 2020

Cathing Up!

All Social Media has been down for 2 weeks here so we have a lot of catching up to do with new babies and a new face around Neema Village! Kassie Stanfield made it to Neema a couple of weeks ago. She is the new volunteer coordinator and since we have no volunteers right now, she is helping Anna in the MAP program and holding babies when she has time.

Kassie is a graduate of Harding University and is a Certified Public Accountant. She gave up a job in Washington D.C. to come volunteer at Neema for a year.  

Kassie is teaching a class on Excel this morning for our directors.

These young people, like Kassie, who have such a heart for missions and helping the less fortunate of this world just amaze me. Welcome Kassie! 

She brought cute pumpkin outfits for the big kids, too.

Two little Pumpkins are Loose, the twins Furaha and Neyesu!

Three new babies came to Neema Village this week. 

Baby Kelle is three months old. Her mother, a prostitute, went out one day and left the baby with a friend and did not return. We don’t know how long but the baby was dehydrated, lethargic, barely moving and would not open her eyes.

She also had sores from what looked like bug bites on her little body and arms. The friend brought the baby in to the hospital.  The nurses were frightened for the baby and called Angel, our Social worker, to come pick up the baby. We have been feeding her a few ounces every hour by pouring milk down the inside of her cheek from a cup.  She is looking so much better this morning. Her name is Khauthar but we are calling her Kelle.

Precious little Innocent, (pictured below) is another new baby who came to Neema this week. He is one and half months old. 

His father is unknown and his mother is deaf, blind, unable to speak and cannot take care of this sweet little guy.  Social Welfare brought him in to Neema Village. We love him already.

Ruwayda is a long, skinny, frightened little girl who also came to Neema this week. Her mother died of clampsia shortly after the birth almost a year ago. An aunt has been feeding the baby Uji, a thin gruel with no milk. The baby only weighed 4.2kg (9lbs) at 11 months old when she was brought in to Neema.  

She is an at-risk baby with “failure to thrive” diagnosis. The aunt could not continue to keep her but hopefully other family members will be able to take her when she is stable. I love her little face, so full of questions.

The young mom, Tausi, with two Albino children living in the “scary village” we wrote about in the last email, is doing great in her new home just down from Neema. Her oldest boy is in school for the first time and loving it. Tausi is attending the classes at Neema’s Mothering Center and making friends with other young moms who were also deserted by their husbands because they had “special needs or different” babies.   

She has asked to study the bible and Ashley has set up some classes for her. She will start a small food business soon and will also continue selling firewood. Thank you to those of you who help these moms start new lives through our Mothers Against Poverty Program.

Life is full here but we miss our kids and especially since our son Rob and his wife Becky and their son Hunter all had Covid. We hear they are all recuperating and waiting for the sense of taste and smell to return.     

Love you guys!


Dorris sings Jesus loves the little ones,. IMG 9750

We Needed A Bodyguard

We Needed A Bodyguard

October 19, 2020

I’m not sure I know what “The New Normal” means, do you? Every day at Neema Village brings a new challenge, a different experience, or a dozen upsets to the routine! I can plan the day but it rarely turns out that way. Thank God He has it all under control.

Friday was no exception. Anna, Neema’s MAP director, wanted some company going out to check on a woman who had been homeless with two children. The village was “different” she said and we would need a body guard, so we took David.

With the purple Jacaranda trees it was a beautiful drive out to the village. But after we arrived we knew it was one of the worst living conditions we had seen in our fourteen years living in Africa.

The young woman we came to see had been abandoned by her husband after she had their second Albino baby. An older woman in a small village by the river let the little family live with her. The house was small for the five people living there and children and chickens running in and out. 

There were big holes in the walls where the mud had fallen out from between the sticks, letting the cold wind blow through the house. She kept a cook fire going on the floor in one end of the house to keep it warm and there was a bed at the other end where they all slept together.

The old woman was cleaning small fish for their dinner during our visit.  

There were cute little kids everywhere playing in the dirt. They made up their own toys like this little boy with his push toy that clicked as he ran around the yard.

The little guy below kept running back to his “box” so I guess that was where he stayed.

Tausi’s oldest boy had built a motorcycle out of logs for himself.

Tall banana trees and a clear, rocky stream tripped along beside the village. It looked lovely on the outside but there was something sinister about this village. I asked why the men of the village did not fix the old widow’s house. She said it was a pombe village where they made native corn brew and the men got drunk and laid around all day.

One of the houses had a scary witch drawn on the door. It certainly kept me out!

Tausi, the young mother, had been chopping wood and selling it to have money for food. You would not want to arm wrestle with this woman!  

Ashley had brought a bible for her and she said she did not know about Jesus and asked if Ashley would come and teach her.  That of course made Ashley’s day.

Next week we will move Tausi and her children out of this scary village. She will move to the houses we rent for other MAP moms until we can get the Jeff May MAP houses built. Then we can start talking to her about a business.

 At Neema Village she will be able to attend the Women’s Rights seminars, sewing classes, computer classes, business classes or English classes. She will meet other women who have had the same experience of despair and poverty. She will learn that it is going to be okay and that there can be happiness again for her and she will hear that God dearly loves her.

When we go out like this to interview a woman who has been beaten down and thrown out like garbage, I always feel like we go with an incredible secret. She doesn’t know the secret yet but her life will never be the same because Hope by the name of Jesus Christ has just entered her life. It is one of the greatest joys we have as we get to be administrators of God’s Amazing Grace in Tanzania, East Africa. 

Colossians 1: 27. “To them, God has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ In You, the Hope of Glory!

Anna visits with a desperate mom.

September 2020

September 2020

October 1, 2020

I’m not usually good with numbers but I can tell by looking back at September it’s been a busy month with two outreach babies and their moms staying at Neema Village and three new babies from social welfare, three new MAP businesses, three babies went home this month and all four of our cows are pregnant! They are all four just big babies themselves and are at the fence begging for carrots.

These four little babies are currently in the isolation room at Neema with Loitapuaki.

Abandoned baby Dallas was left on the street and picked up by the police. His adoptive parents are out there somewhere. We are praying for you wherever you are!

Below, baby Ivan’s mom is a 16-year-old mentally handicapped girl who was raped by a 15-year-old mentally handicapped boy. All our babies have a tragic story or we would not have them. It breaks your heart.

Paul Jonson was born July 4 but weighed only 5.2 lbs. when he came to Neema. His mom died of fistula when he was a month old. PJ looked like a wrinkled little old man but is gaining weight now and looks good.

A friend brought two Maasai moms with handicapped babies to Neema Village this month to have treatment at the Daycare.  

.  One of the babies, two-year-old Lembursi, was not walking but should have been.

He spent the month at the Neema Village Daycare for Handicapped Babies and is now walking a few steps by himself.  If his mom will stop carrying him on her back, he will pick it up back at the village quickly now.

The other Maasai mom has three children but the last baby, Namayani is a year and a half and still cannot hold her head up. She is also blind and deaf.  Her little tummy and chest had rows of knife marks where the evil spirits were let out. Yes, we talked long and hard about that.

We were trying to fatten Namayani up before she begins treatment. Mom learned a new way to sit with the baby to strengthen her neck.

Three new MAP businesses were also set up this month. Mama Purity had gone out one day and returned to find her husband had abandoned her and her little CP baby. He had taken everything. She was begging in the little village below Neema. The village elders asked Neema to help so we have set her up in a new vegetable stand and here it is! We love this!

Mama Angel was very sick for two years after the birth of her baby so the baby Angel lived at Neema Village.  Now mom takes her medicine every day and comes to all the classes at the Mothering Center. 

She is doing great in the sewing class at Neema Village and has a contract to make 100 “Days For Girls” washable feminine pads for a medical mission next year out in the Maasai village. Those young girls do not go to school when they have their periods so they miss a lot of school. Educating girls in Africa is the single biggest thing you can do to lift women out of poverty, so let’s keep these girls in school!

Mama Angel received a sewing machine this month for her sewing business. Don’t you love her purple hair! Because of the sickness her husband gave her, this young woman will most likely never remarry so if purple hair gives her some joy I love it!

Another chicken business was begun this month to help Bibi (grandmother) Ebeneza. One of our happiest Neema babies, two-year-old Ebeneza, was scheduled to return home in October. His mom is mentally handicapped and had tried to kill him when he was a baby so he was brought to Neema Village. 

The grandmother has been asking that Ebeneza be returned to her but she did not have an income so we set her up in a chicken business this month.

We have had one adoption this month, baby Faith was adopted and flew off to her new home in Dar es Salaam. Most of the new moms do not want their picture posted.

Our big boy Johanna returned home this month. Two years ago, Sylvia Pape went out to a remote Maasai village to pick up a baby whose mom had just died.  Now little Johanna has traveled that road back home.  We cannot regulate the homes our babies return to but we do know they go home with a song in their heart that Jesus loves me, this I know. It’s still hard.

The women’s sewing classes have started again after Covid with nine women in this class. They are all doing so good that Anna has asked that we get them all treadle sewing machines. We have raised money for five machines so far.  

When you lift a woman, you change her world. If we can lift enough of them, we can change our world. 

Love you guys,


11 Corinthians 4:7 “We have this treasure in jars of clay that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

The Life of a Missionary Teacher in Africa

The Life of a Missionary Teacher in Africa

September 15, 2020

At eight thirty every morning, Monday through Thursday, you will find Ashley Berlin at the Neema Village school building in Arusha, Tanzania.

Our kids are always eager to get to school with Ashley and Caroline who make learning fun for the five to three-year old children at our baby home in Africa. 

Ashley Berlin, from Casper, Wyoming has been directing our school program for four years. May I just say she is an incredibly dedicated, resourceful and talented teacher. 

Her classroom is filled with learning and life and happy students going from one project to the next, like the cute drawings below. 

Her students who go on to regular schools in Arusha are always top students in their classrooms. Ashley’s class day starts with bible stories, songs and prayer. Our “Littles” are praying in school below, well some of them are!

Last year we completed the Neema school building on campus with two classrooms, library/music room, office and bathrooms. The building is located behind the baby home on the front corner as you pull into our drive at Neema Village.

The windows in the classrooms open to view beautiful Mt. Meru, the fifth tallest mountain in all of Africa. I would be tempted to just sit and stare out the window! 

And the students are off to a good start this school year. 

Elesha who is six years old is reading and doing double number additions. He read Psalms 19:21 for us at church a couple of Sundays ago. “The Heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Pretty good for a six-year-old!

The big kids have music and drum classes with Caroline. The two-year olds come later at ten in the mornings for music and they love singing with Caroline, too.

When Ashley has time she loves to hold the little babies at Neema

She also does toy time in the evening for the big kids.

We know this is a ministry of love and sacrifice for Ashley. She misses her family and church in Casper. At Neema she loves to take the big kids like Nengai to church.

For a young woman there are few prospects for marriage and family here and right now with Covid scaring off all our volunteers there are no young people here for her to pal around with, just us old folks. 

But there are things that make it all worthwhile like this little face below, cheery little bubbly Isaac!

Sacrifice comes in many different forms today but I am confident that if you asked Ashley if her work was a sacrifice you would hear a resounding, “No Way!” . 

May God bless all our teachers but especially those serving in foreign countries.

Mom and Dad Berlin you did an awesome job raising this one!

And Thank you to all the wonderful people who donated time, money, books, furnishings and suitcase space for educational supplies for this project.  We know it was a work of love for you

Love and Blessings,


Ashley Berlin sings with the Neema kids.