~HOW TO RESPOND TO A NEED ~
When someone mentions orphans, widows or the needs of the destitute in third world countries we often “turn away” because we just don’t want the ache this brings into our lives.
Each time I return home from Tanzania I struggle with how to express what life looks like 10,000 miles away. The poverty, loneliness, sickness and oppression there is bewildering and the heart angst we carry feels like it actually bears weight. However I know the picture I just created is only partially accurate because the contrast must be described as well or my story is only half true. The need is the first layer the eye sees but then looking closer into the portrait of the lives you will see the beaming smiles and squeals of joy that are like flickers of light bouncing off the life canvas there. Those precious sounds of “me, me” as every size hand reaches out to grab the treasure of something as simple as a tootsie pop or as life changing as a pair of shoes.
If you are one of those that do not “turn away” I encourage you to continue reading the remainder of this brief post.
In January we left for Tanzania carrying with us, as is custom, four 50 pound suitcases. One was filled with toys. Something we don’t always find important enough to bring. These toys however had been collected and donated to Africa Harvest of Hope by a young man named George. George goes to school at Wildwood Christian Academy in Yucaipa CA. George is in the first grade. His teacher, John Hardin, had made his first trip to Tanzania in August of 2016 and had amazing stories to tell his class when he returned.
On his sixth birthday George ask all of his guests to send a toy that he would in turn be sending to the children in Tanzania. His statement was, “It’s just not right that the children in Tanzania don’t have toys”, so he did something about it.
A month before this trip I received an online request. “Tara” found Africa Harvest of Hope on a search engine, responded to what she read and sent me her request. “Please send me photos of needy families along with their story. I’d like to begin supporting a needy family.”
While I was there figuring out who the toys would go to and getting pictures of families it occurred to me that these two small offerings would knit together well. The toys and the request for families needing to be sponsored. On each trip we try to take food/gift baskets to widows who struggle to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. So after church one Sunday we mapped out our visits, packed up the boxes and tried to match up toys with kids in the families. It was perfect. One of my downfalls is not taking enough pictures because we are engrossed in getting to know the families we visit.
Here are a few of the pictures and a brief history of each family.
Starting from the left;
Ester (16) is the eldest daughter. Ester had come to me that morning at church and ask if I could pray for her to do well on her math exam that she would be taking the following Monday morning.
After church on Sunday we came to this tiny home to visit Mama Neema (far right) and her 5 children.
She is a widow and has raised her children alone for 8 years. We gave them the set of toy cars and helicopters, a couple of puzzles and they were thrilled.
This is the building that their small home in located in. It is the second door from the left with the light colored curtain hanging in front of it.
Mama Neema works everyday except Sunday.
Paul works to help his family and wants to finish school.
Ester is in school and is working very hard to do well so she too can get a job to help her family.
Monica, Baraka and Yusti are all going to school but it is very hard to bye their uniforms and shoes. They cannot go to school without wearing them. They do not receive “lunch” because it is $40. per year for each child.
If you would like to help support Neema’s family in any way you can contact us at africaharvestofhope.org
Just a few ideas:
Uniforms are about $30. They need at least two for the year.
Lunch is $40. per year
The cost of food for a family of 6 would be about $80. per month.
However any amount someone gave toward this family would help.
Above is Mama Eva with her son Sylas (8) and daughter Lilian (3).
Eva’s husband died last year. Women who have been widowed often have to fight to keep their homes after their husband have died. Sometimes the husbands families come in and ‘claim’ their deceased son’s property. Eva is trying to stay in her home and send her children to school to get an education.
Another terrible plight these young widows face is if they choose to marry again very often the new husband will reject her children.
This is Mama Salvatori, Samson (13) and Upendo (17). We’ve known Salvatori for 10 years and she serves in the church, works very hard and takes great care of her children. We have seen these two children grow up. Upendo has a learning disability and has attended our Children’s programs since she was very yong. Last year she came to the young women’s seminar with her peers. Sampson sings on the worship team at church. Mama Slavatori has raised her children alone for 12 years.
Both children go to school. Salvatori works any job she can find to keep her kids in school.
This is Amani (which means peace). He is 15 years old. Amani suffers with HIV/AIDS. We are in the process of getting him started on the Antiretroviral Treatment. His mother is a widow but drinks and beats Amani so we have ask church member to watch over him and make sure he is eating and taking his medicine.
Amani does not go to school and the day we met him he had not eaten in 5 days.
He is a very special little boy and he needs your prayers.
This is Miriam (far right) and her little bother Mulika (4) and her Grandmother.
Miriam is 9 years old. She lives with her little brother and her grandmother who is mentally handicapped. We met Miriam at the elementary school she attends while on a team trip with Wildwood Calvary Chapel. While doing a VBS, Nick Gissler saw that Miriam did not look well. She was ill and had not eaten for a couple of days. Nick pointed her out and the team prayed for her and it was an instant connection between Nick and Miriam. The team drove her to her home that day where they met the family and realized how desperate the situation was.
Nick and his wife now sponsors Miriam for a portion of her school and food each month. What he does reminds me of a quote I just read this morning, “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something”.
Our last family to report on is a heart wrenching story of four precious children, a mother with a broken heart, which led her to live a broken life, and an abusive father who has lost all sense of reality due to alcohol.
2016 2017 at Teddy’s new school.
First meet Teddy (Teressea) in the above pictures. When we first met Teddy she was 2 years old. Our hearts melded during our first week together. Teddy’s family lives behind Yesu Anaweza church. Pastor Zac’s wife Redemta keeps a close eye on the children who live in the tiny brown house.
Teddy and her family’s home.
Teddy is the eldest at 13, Jennifer is 11, Neema is 9 and Baraka is 6.
We made sure Teddy always had a uniform for school and that her school fees were paid but her mother needed her to watch the kids while she is away. Teddy could have been a common statistic but for the grace of God, He blessed us with a relationship that only He could have foraged. I went home in 2005 with this little life in my heart and He opened the door that can never be closed.
The opportunities are endless; Go with Africa Harvest of Hope on a two week mission trip or begin sponsoring some small need or support an entire family. No gift is to small to help a child in Tanzania.
Neema and Baraka after church in 2017. Inside of Mama Teddy’s home.
Neema and Baraka in January 2017. They got ready and came to church all alone.
We originally went to Tanzania to build homes for homeless children but each time we go we see needs that cannot be ignored.
You are invited to come along side Africa Harvest of Hope to spread The Good News, to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and pour out love in any way we can.
If you would like more information about who we are and what we do go to www.africaharvestofhope.org
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing
because he could only do a little.”
God bless you,
Alan and Shannon Reed
A very special thank you to George!
God bless you young man and may you always have this beautiful gift to give. You were a blessing to so many children.